Tag Archives: vintage



“I think I’m in a bit of 1970s phase,” I text my friend Steph. “You don’t say!” She replies. She’s partly to blame, lending me the loose tent dresses of her wardrobe for the duration of my pregnancy. I went through a “1970s phase” when I was 17, long-haired and venturing into my first coffee houses, becoming politicized by my studies, and greatly influenced by. But this was different. If anyone had told me back then that a dozen years later I would be wearing long psychedelic polyester dresses at 40 weeks pregnant, I probably would have laughed in their faces.


This paisley cotton nightgown is a DREAM. I had my hopes set on finding a bolder, more graphic muu-muu style garment but this one was of the easiest, most comfortable pieces to wear in my last trimester. It has pockets!


In the colder months, I adapted one of my vintage coats into a bit more belly-friendly format. This Jeanette Hardy (Made in Quebec) coat has been in my closet for nearly a decade but doesn’t get much wear. I changed that by taking off the too-snug invisible snaps and belting the coat around the waist instead.



And how badass do I look in that Holt Renfrew dress. Well, perhaps more surly than badass. Empire waist cuts, why did I avoid you for so long? Here’s a better picture of the Made in Italy design:



I snagged this great little corduroy dress while visiting Iris in Seattle, and even though the exchange rate was brutal, I do not regret it one bit. It has probably been my most worn dress during my 3rd trimester. It’s not an official maternity dress, as you can tell when I turn to the side and the front of the dress is a wee bit higher than the back.

The dress was made by Candi Jones, and from a little bit of googling it looks like a lot of her dresses from this era are quite similar to Gunne Sax. I’m glad this one has a little less frou-frou than those for sale on Etsy


Admiring the children’s section at Drawn and Quarterly, one of my favourite places in the world


This one was lent to me by my friend Steph, and it automatically makes strangers smile. It’s a wee bit snug in the sleeves for me but so so great for my big wonderful belly. And from the shortest dress… to the longest.


At le Lièvre et la Tortue, the tea shop that has become a regular hangout for me since it’s around the block from my midwife appointments!


I love love love this dress! Can you tell? All of these long dresses have been in my wardrobe for quite some time, but rarely got worn for whatever reason. May and June have changed that.



I can’t wait to one day show these outfit photos to my baby! In the meantime, I hope you all enjoyed them. Now wish me a swift and painless labour.


Filed under maternity, personal, Uncategorized

1950s outerwear


Wearing a black deadstock FashionWise maternity dress from the 1950s (41 weeks pregnant)

In November, just as I was started to share the news with friends and family, I hit the vintage maternity wear motherlode while thrifting at Emmaüs. Racks and racks of mostly deadstock vintage maternity clothing from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. The first time I set eyes on them, I think I audibly gasped and was totally flustered. It was 15 minutes until closing time on a Saturday and I knew I wouldn’t have the time to come back until the next week. Fearing they’d all be gone, I frantically tried on 3 gorgeous pieces and left with all of them for 20$. I’ll be back, I told the woman at the cash. I’ll be back, I told the dozens of immaculate deadstock dresses.

I returned, and the dresses had waited patiently for me. With original tags that read “Expectantly Yours” and “FashionWise Maternity” along with illustrations of storks and terrifying cherubs, these garments waited for me for decades. Not only were so many pieces in fantastic condition, many were in my size. In fact, many would only look good on someone as tall as myself, which is a rare thing to find in vintage (I’m 5’11”). Best of all, they were practically giving them away. I think the most I paid was for a silk number you’ll see in my 1960s post, which was more than worth the 20$ price tag.

The most common item were these strange top/skirt sets, complete with expanding window for your belly. Yes, just like this one. High-waisted pencil skirts but with room for baby. Or at least, very tiny growing baby.

This red maternity set has one of my favourite tags: Expectantly Yours.

red-exThat said, these skirt/top sets were not the best for my constantly changing body. As lucky as I was to find these pieces only weeks after I found out I was pregnant, I didn’t get much wear at all out of the skirts when my hips grew in the 2nd trimester. The tops, on the other hand! I am still wearing at 41 weeks, and were really great to wear at work.

Also, I was mostly pregnant during the winter months and these would have been far more wearable in a warmer climate than Quebec City.


Wearing a Prestige maternity top at work (just about 7 months pregnant)


This one has pockets! But didn’t come with a skirt.

IMG_1952These two grey tops are both parts of Hildegard Geisler sets. The skirt never fit me for either top, but I loved details and quality of the design of the tops… and pockets! Lulu approves.


And lastly, two of my favourite, most wearable 1950s maternity dresses. Have you ever found a dress with an ADJUSTABLE WAISTLINE? incorporated into the design of a vintage dress? If you have, chances are this was once a maternity dress. I cannot believe how brilliant the design of these dresses are.

This black Fashionwise Maternity number has three hooks and one clasp on each side of the waist, and can be adjusted depending on how big your waist/belly is. This is one I will be able to wear belted when I’m not pregnant anymore, which makes me love it even more. On this black one, it really is “invisible” thanks to the pleats, but on the burnt orange one the buttons made it a little trickier. In fact… I may even prefer to wear the orange one when I’m not pregnant! I love it so much, these pictures do not do it justice.

Look at how not pregnant I was! 12 weeks! What a lifetime ago.

Next up, 1950s loungewear.

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Filed under maternity, Uncategorized

1950s lingerie


Get ready for things to get very… pink and blue. It is the baby-boom era after all, and we’ve got to start imposing those gender roles on babies before they’re even born! I’ve got a lot of great slips and vintage lingerie, but I’m not about to post a million pictures of myself wearing it on the internet. Because… nipples. I have basically lived in these outfits for the last month of my pregnancy! And best of all? I had them all in my closet before I even knew I was pregnant.


This Pink Lady number is the best. A matching lace-trim coat to go with a sleeveless tent-style slip underneath. I feel very Betty Draper circa Season 1 of Mad Men when I wear this. I also have pretty much the identical set in… you guessed it… cotton candy pink.



This white one has beautiful embroidered red roses on the neckline.


Last but not least, the one I wear out of the house like nobody’s business. Yes, in this picture I have just woken up but if I brush my hair I look like a Serious Grown Up who wears vintage maternity lingerie wherever she wants.



On to the next best things: the 1960s and 70s.

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Filed under maternity, Uncategorized, vintage

1930s/40s Maternity Wear


Wearing a 1940s black crepe dress in January (at 20 weeks pregnant)

Look at how happy I was! Most of the 1930s or 1940s clothing I ended up wearing was during the first and second trimesters of my pregnancy. I was lucky enough that some of my vintage dresses fit me for quite a long time; mostly those that weren’t fitted at the hips. The items that got by far the most wear were looser slips, like this 1930s bias-cut one I love so much. So comfortable, the next best thing to being naked. I would wear an even older piece of vintage lingerie over top to be a little warmer in the winter months. These photos don’t show either item off in the best way, but gives you an idea… and shows you my guest room/walk-in closet which has now evolved into baby’s room!


Photo by Amélie Laurence Fortin



Now, for something I’d wear outside the comfort of my home. I was really surprised to find how comfortable this outfit was, up until maybe month five of my pregnancy. The dress was something I thrifted ages ago, just a simple black 1940s dress. The jacket was designed by Hildegard Geisler, someone who I have found absolutely nothing about in my online searches. If you look at the picture of the tag, you see the amazing texture of it. The quality of the garment! I love it. I’m not sure what year it is from, it could be from 50s, but I’m lumping it in here.

Next up: this coral top is way “cuter” than what I normally go for, but come on! Look at the collar! The buttons! Sadly, this one got a little ruined in the wash but I got a lot of good wear out of it. In these pictures I’m wearing it with pyjama pants, but I wore it with a black skirt in the earlier months, and maternity pants later. This is one that still fits, even now at 41 weeks pregnant… because pleats! Betty Hartford, thanks for designing this gorgeous top ages ago.


Lastly, we have this dreamy dreamy dressing gown. I only found it around month 7 of my pregnancy, and it’s not necessarily exclusively “maternity.” It does make me feel really glamourous, which I definitely needed some days. Maybe a bit Veronica Lake? Femme fatale goes goody-two-shoes?

I must admit, other than the nightgown, I’m not super into the 1930s/40s maternity wear… because it was all about concealing. This post at Just skirts and dresses goes into more detail about what the dominant discourse was around how pregnant women were encouraged to dress. Witness to Fashion also outlines the impact wartime fabric rations had on the way mothers-to-be dressed, which is fascinating.

I also recoil at the idea of maternity girdles… Today, it is strange to think of how much pressure there was to avoid making others uncomfortable by being “visibly with child.” Personally, I wanted to show off my belly as soon as I had one, so the idea of emulating the style of this era wasn’t terribly appealing to me. As you’ll see in the coming posts, I think the 1970s works for me best!

I leave you with this terribly condescending fashion advice from 1944:


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Filed under maternity, personal, 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.


Filed under fashion, self-portraits, vintage


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!


Filed under fashion, personal, vintage, what i wore today

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!


Filed under fashion, quebec city, self-portraits, what i wore today