Tag Archives: vintage

ottawa’s vintage clothing fair

many people ask me where my love and knowledge of vintage clothes began. for a while, i found it difficult to pinpoint. as long as i can remember, i’ve always been drawn to fashions from bygone eras, poring over the descriptions of decadent garments from the past in my favourite books, or oggling the outfits in old advertisements i found in tattered magazines or black and white films. it wasn’t until i began thrifting on my own as a teenager in small town ontario that i realized vintage clothes belonged in my closet, on my body – not just in storybooks and period pieces. but my knowledge of them? that has a very different starting point; not in books, but in very much in the flesh.

i first found out about ottawa’s vintage clothing fair from a little flyer in an antique shop in peterborough, back in 2005. i had seen a smattering of vintage clothes here and there in antique shops, or had stumbled across the rare find in thrift stores, but had never been to a vintage clothing store, let alone an entire bazaar or fair. i had some cursory knowledge thanks to helpful folks in livejournal communities, namely vintage_look and thriftwhore, where i learned things like how zippers or buttons could tell you what decade your find was most likely from, along with what was valuable and what was a dime a dozen.

but the stories behind the clothes, what decades they are from, the real nitty-gritty? those are the kind of things you learn about from meeting and talking to vintage sellers. and once a year, a great gang of canadian vintage sellers bring their best wares to the ottawa vintage clothing fair, ready for all the grubby hands and curious questions.

photo of the ottawa vintage clothing fair in 2005

now that my closet is pretty much full and my bank account still tight, the appeal of the vintage clothing fair for me now isn’t so much the shopping experience: it’s the people, the stories, and how much you can learn about vintage clothing. as much as i enjoy browsing gorgeous garments on etsy, it’s not quite the same as touching 1930s velvet, as seeing the vibrant colours of the prints, asking the seller the story behind the item.

not to mention the venue! this year i hear it has changed, but in years past it has been at the chateau laurier. absolutely gorgeous.

chateau laurier ottawa 2006

julia at the vintage clothing fair in 2007

this will be my fifth time attending the vintage clothing fair now, and i still vividly remember the stories behind most of the items i’ve purchased there over the years. here are most of them:

vintage clothing in julia's closet

a purse and a set of earrings i nabbed at the vintage clothing fair back in 2006.

a purse and a set of earrings i nabbed at the vintage clothing fair back in 2006.

this dress no longer fits me, but i think it is one of my all-time favourite finds. i think i paid something like 40 or 50 dollars for it, since it wasn’t in the best of condition. the last time i could squeeze into it was shortly after i had been very ill and lost a lot of weight, and luckily holly norris took these beautiful photographs of me in it then.


one of my favourite fall dresses!


the story behind this strange skirt is what really makes it.

the woman who sold it to me told me it belonged to her aunt. (background: usually, when you buy vintage, it is kind of standard to ask if it came from a smoke-free or pet-free home, but you usually don’t get this much detail) she went on to tell me her aunt was a devout jehovah’s witness, who never smoked, drank, or married. this seemed like a bit of a “wink wink nudge she died a virgin” type situation. all of these factors did not make the garment pristine, however. it has little stains around the waist, but that makes me love it even more (and made it affordable; it was originally priced at $40, then marked down to $30, then i snagged it for $15) and the story makes it all the more precious to me. it makes me want to be particularly debaucherous every time i wear it.

most of the other items i’ve purchased were earrings or small pieces of jewelry, some of which i’ve unfortunately lost, like this precious brooch:

another thing i thought about last time i went with annemarie back in 2010 was how the online market for vintage clothing in the last few years (or as i often refer to them, the “post mad men” years) had become slightly oversaturated, especially with lax rules about what constitutes “vintage” over at etsy. it’s not rare to see pieces from the 80s and 90s online listed as vintage, but you don’t really see that at the fair. it is not rare to come across top hats from the 20th century, or halloween costumes from the 30s! and even though that’s not what i go there to buy, it is fascinating to see such quality vintage goods all in one lovely place.

tips if you attend a fair like this one? i’ve told a lot of friends to go, so i’ve given these tips out before:

  • arrive on time, and with cash. there is an ATM on site but who likes to pay those overcharge fees anyway? i tend to be very strict with my budget, and only take out as much cash as i can spend. that way you can’t splurge on a 300$ gown you don’t need and will wear once just because you saw it and it fits you and it is beautiful.
  • dress for the occasion. now this doesn’t mean getting decked out to the nines, trying to impress fellow bargain hunters with your gorgeous duds. if you’re going here to buy things, you will be trying them on. so dress appropriately! wear something that’s easy to slip in and out of. i almost always wear a slip, so i can know how much wiggle room i have.
  • ask questions. as i said, i learned almost everything i know about vintage from asking sellers question after question. it can be short and sweet, just asking what decade a dress is from and how they know that, or you can go into detail.
  • be patient. give yourself a lot of time. in my experience there have always been large crowds, whether you show up at 10 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon. take your time, don’t let people push you, and be polite with others.
  • be gentle with the goods. most sellers will ask you to leave a piece of id behind when you head to the change room, but what they really want from you is to be gentle with their items. try on dresses by putting them over your head, not stepping into them. assess whether the garment has stretch to it or not before jerking at the seams. don’t force it. there are literally thousands of other items for you to try on, you’re sure to find at least something that suits you.
  • don’t take photos of yourself in the change room. or do. whatever. if you’re anything like me, however, these photos will lead to you kicking yourself five years later as to why you didn’t buy that gorgeous dress.

now you’ve got almost a week to prep – november 18th – off you go, and be sure to show me your fantastic finds after you’ve conquered the crowds! see you there.

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SUMMER OUTFITS: june

to say this summer went by quickly would be the understatement of the century. you see, i’m still recovering from my post-student days, where things would slow down in the summer rather than speed up. yes, i’ve been working full-time most summers (with one exception) for nearly a decade now, but never as intensely as this year. in june, it really didn’t look like it would be that way… but hey! a summer election campaign and your colleagues taking their summer vacations will give you a lot more to do!

i know, i know, everyone finds the summer goes by too fast. i just wanted to give you a bit of context for these very belated outfit posts. spending far more time at the office did not mean i toned down my warddrobe or forgot to take outfit photos! it simply meant it wasn’t until now that i found the time to share them with you.

let’s begin with june.

as i mentionned earlier, i started the summer with a haircut and a trip overseas. before hopping on a plane, i checked out the

i had the chance to have a sneak peek back in may, but was so excited to see it when it officially opened in june. in the end i visited the museum three times this summer to try and take it all in, and am very glad i did. you can listen to my radio report on it if you missed it.

wearing: thrifted dress from value village, 10$
sandals: hush puppies on sale

the summer also means high-time for yard sales, flea markets and church basement bargains. while riding my bike one sunday i came across a particularly awesome yard sale and picked up this stunning 1960s wiggle dress for a whopping 6 dollars. it is a wee bit snug for me (but aren’t all wiggle dresses?) but i simply could not resist for that price. one of my smaller-hipped vintage-loving friends might be able to give it a good home if i don’t end up wearing it enough.

dress: vintage, thrifted shoes: thrifted ages ago photobooth bag from meags fitzgerald

dress: vintage, thrifted
shoes: thrifted ages ago
photobooth bag from meags fitzgerald

simon and i in his favourite colours: black and white

simon and i in his favourite colours: black and white

even though we live together, simon and i try to make date nights a priority. not just hanging out, but getting decked out to the nines for no particular reason at all and enjoying the sights and sounds of our gorgeous city. i didn’t get the best photos of my outfit, but believe me we turned heads that night.

dress, vintage 1960s from courage my love in toronto. 1960s handbag thrifted.

so there’s june: i’ll be sharing photos from july and august shortly. thanks for looking!

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my favourite clothes are free clothes

may 1st julia

me in my neighbourhood on may 1st, 2012

it looks like i unceremoniously ended my commitment to share outfit photos with you guys on a regular basis here… partly because of the massive time commitment and work involved, but because i’ve been rethinking what it means to flood the internet with images of myself… but that’s topic for another post. right now, i feel pretty excited about my warddrobe. the changing of the seasons will do that to someone who lives in a climate of extremes! last week, a big part of my spring cleaning involved taking my summer dresses out of suitcases and putting my winter scarves, coats and woolly garments away. this ironically coincided with a heat wave! it feels like summer in may.

julia wearing her jean jacket

my new (free) jean jacket in my very pink and blue neighbourhood

i wasn’t the only one doing spring cleaning, though. coworkers of mine were clearing out the work closet and there were a few unclaimed stragglers. after a few days/emails, they were deemed officially up for grabs. most weren’t my style, but i tried some on anyway… and found the jean jacket i never knew i lusted for. it fits me like a glove and makes me feel super tough. i seriously own next to no denim (after having spent my teens basically living in jeans) so it’s a really nice change. great for spring evening bike rides!

julia wearing a green 1960s dress with a short beehive.

trying new things with my hair, as i’m way overdue for a trim

following the trend of free garments: i’ve had this dress for about two years, but have never worn it! when i volunteered at le vestiaire, a local thrift store, we were “paid” by basically having first dibs on the clothes we sold. for someone like myself who loves variety, it was ideal. i could take home a dress one day and if i didn’t absolutely love it, i could bring it back my next shift. my closet definitely expanded a bit too much during that time! i put this handmade vintage garment aside at some point, and must have lost sight of it in the shuffle. i don’t know why it took me so long to rock this dress because it’s definitely a new favourite. my necklace was a gift from my friend salima.

green dress and hair down

when i say “next to no demin” i literally mean you see all the denim i own in this post. that black denim pencil skirt was a gift from a friend, and this shirt is what i THOUGHT was denim… that is, until i read the latest issue of WORN, i realized it is in fact chambray. (i’ll be making a post about some of the best magazines i’ve read lately, and WORN is among them!)

blue dress and my little pony graffiti

posing with my favourite my little pony stencil

speaking of worn, this is one of my softest most worn-in dresses… so much so that i wear it quite rarely for fear it will soon end in tatters. i’ve shown it to you guys before, in april 2010! and that my little pony stencil at my feet? one of my favourite things about québec city is the abundant street art. these particular guys have been around for about a year now. i did a short radio piece on them last year, which you can listen to here.

last but not least, one little photo from april when i was visiting one of my best friends, morgan, in kelowna. it did my heart so much good to spend time with some of my favourite people when i had time off in april, and i’m so grateful to have such generous and loving people in my life.

i’m posting this on the train. i’m on my way to visit my sisters in ottawa, go to my younger sister’s bachelorette party and celebrate my older sister’s birthday! so expect a bid of radio silence. june holds many adventures for me, too!

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spring has sprung: what i wore today

hanging out in the alps

i’ve got so many ideas and words running around in that head of mine, and for a rare occassion, a bit of time to work on them. it feels really good. but! before i start posting a million new conversations, i’ve got an obscene back-up of outfits from january, february, and march. let’s start with the surreal weather that’s hit most of ontario and quebec for the past two days.

you see, in québec city, spring doesn’t really feel like it’s here until april. mid-march is often the time of year where i long for the southern ontario springs i’ve known and loved, where the sun beats down on the happy folks drinking pints on the freshly opened patios around mid-march. but this year, for the first time in 65 years, we’re reaching double digit temperatures before spring has even officially arrived!

march 18th

yesterday was one of those deliriously joyful early spring days, where i squeal at all the adorable passing puppies, laugh at the melting snowbanks, and want to stay outdoors until the sun sets. look! bare legs! no winter boots! GRASS!!! suffice to say, i dressed for the occasion and took a long stroll around my beautiful city.

allthatglitters01 emu

outfit details: everything thrifted over the years except for the hat and shoes
hat: mino delavictoire, borrowed from simon’s generous friend marie-hélène
shoes: hank & co.

we strolled around st. roch, and i stopped by one of my favourite antique stores and oggled some particularly impressive couches… that happened to match my hat.

allthatglitters03

allthatglitters02

cute my neighbourhood

highlights: a big great dane wearing a red cape (yes, cape), strangers telling me they loved my hat, a gorgeous young woman with my little pony lilac hair (who i stopped to tell her i adored, of course). last but not least, laughing ridiculously with simon as a result of this image:
hilarious

i hope it made you chuckle as well.

singing off for the most recent me me me me me post, julia.

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what i wore: december

december

well i sure am late on this one. here’s a quick post of what i wore in december, so i can bring you up to speed and show you what i wore in january. phew! these are more work and dedication than i anticipated!

december1

i started the month by travelling light, and heading off to visit my parents for the first week of december.

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getting ready for a friend date!

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a date to see my dear friend ashlee in trenton! we went to the quinte mall, of course, my old teen stompin’ grounds, and i fawned over beautiful books like this alexander mcqueen one. why didn’t i get it!!!

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my new favourite dress, hands down. here it is again later in the month, paired with cool new tights from my mom (click the photo if you want to see better details):

sixtiesdress

i got it at lucia f! it’s hard to sell things there, instead of getting paid i tend to trade with other sellers! such good stuff there.

cleaning out the closetthis probably my most “outside the box” look of december. definitely a new kind of thing for me: animal print. i’ve never owned anything animal print, ever. but i kind of love it these days? feeling like i’m channeling slutty badass housewifes, i.e. peg bundy. when i bought it, my sister jasmine dolled me up:

all dolled upIMG_9819

and let me hang out and cuddle with her awesome dogs.

now for some more “professional lady” looks:

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catching up on the latest worn journal… i swear, it was my lunch break!

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IMG_1124betterIMG_1133tights

sequintits

ha, i called this file “sequintits.” and i’m saving it.

oh yeah, and i guess there were holiday things in december too?

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IMG_0485dancing nights

celebrating my friend karina finishing her job! and starting new adventures!

christmas dinner

christmas with the in-laws in bellechasse.

christmas dinnerchristmas dinner

birthday girl

birthday!

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working on december 23rd, my sad attempt at looking festive!

flapperflappertights

my sister bought me those tights for my birthday, and the photos don’t do them justice at all! i layered them over red tights so it was warm enough for a december evening date.

camera presents!

playing with my new cameras and lenses.

date night: the artist

that black flapper style 60s dress above is what i wore under this coat. i took simon on a date to go see the artist (WHICH I LOVED) and people were staring at us and pointing. it happens when you look this good :)

NYEnyetights

last but not least, here are some really bad outfits of my fantastic new year’s eve outfit. we had a pretty low key night but it’s always a good excuse to get super dressed up. a neighbour stranger told us he always loved our style, which was very nice! glitter glitter glam. it’s where it’s at.

PHEW! january coming soon, i hope that satiates your appetite for my outfits for now.

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