vintage love affair

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Spent the nicest afternoon in Fort Langley recently. I was there for a tea party at Little White House (have you been? it’s lovely) since I was having tea with some amazing fashion & lifestyle bloggers, I wanted a ladylike look but with a classic edge.

Living in Vancouver, BC we are so fortunate to have some pretty spectacular Fall weather – bright, warm and sunny. Hence the open toe booties and blatant disregard for pantyhose.

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Before children I was a bit of a clotheshorse, to put it mildly.

After children, I didn’t fit into any of it.

Now that I have my health back on track, I get to play dress up in my own closet and it’s been really lovely to revisit some of my favorite items. It’s got me thinking about something my Aunt’s taught me, and would oft repeat when we were out shopping. The translation is clunky at best but goes something like this…”you only cry once when you buy quality”

If there is a family motto between my cousins and I – I think this is it.

I love fashion, but I love investing in classic pieces more. Fashion changes. Style endures.

No matter which end of the closet I am in, I can always count on my collection of quality pieces to pull my look together, and feel polished. A great handbag, shoes and jewelry, make a world of difference to the simplest dress. I believe they are worth the investment of time (to care for them properly) and money (you only cry once!)

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This vintage Gucci handbag is a great example of an investment piece.

It’s a timeless label, timeless shape and neutral enough to go with most anything you throw at it.

Finding quality vintage is so much easier now than ever before – there’s eBay, designer consignment shops, even Instagram shops – I recently discovered @vintageguccifinds on Instagram for example.

Unlike buying new, where you can walk into any Gucci flagship store and pick out your handbag, vintage requires some skills. There’s the nerves of steel necessary to weather the auction storm, if you go that route. And the philosophy that you appreciate an older model, as well as being able to discern just how “old” and “weathered” you are willing to go. Personally, I have collected vintage since I was a teen so I have an appreciation for some “character” but I am pretty picky about the wear and tear on any vintage item.

There’s no value in something that has not been cared for properly by it’s previous owner – even if it comes with a fancy pedigree. Worn out, is worn out.

Lastly, as with all quality designer pieces, fakes abound. You must educate yourself.

Fortunately, as easy as it is to source vintage nowadays, it’s also much easier to learn what to look for and what to avoid. You can’t rely on others to do your due diligence – learn the markings and signs of a real quality item versus a fake.

There are lots of online resources for identifying new used designer, but vintage designer can be trickier – one of my go to spots is the forum area on www.purseblog.com – the collectors there are a wealth of info and really helpful. Study the photos, find the style and designer you like best and educate yourself on all aspects of that piece before you buy. Once you know which era, or style or designer you are aiming for, you can start with a simple search on eBay to see what’s available and what the going price is for that bag. Again, study the photos, ask questions of the seller and educate yourself.

Something else worth noting : The investment of a vintage designer bag does not depreciate the way it’s new counterpart does. If you educate yourself, take care of your investment properly (that’s another post) you will most likely be able to recoup your investment if you decide to sell your piece in the future. It’s a win/win.

I love vintage because an older prestige item is much more affordable than new, and more importantly to me – tends to be timeless and unique. I’m not carrying the “it” bag necessarily, but I am carrying a fabulous designer piece that I love, cherish and can pass on to my daughters.

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Style endures friends, style endures.

sunglasses: Gucci
navy wool dress: Theory
navy cashmere cardigan: Brooks Brothers
burgundy boot: Vince
bracelet: mother of pearl buttons DIY  (future post)

heart on my sleeve tutorial

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Ever get your winter sweaters out of storage only to find they have suffered a moth attack? yeah. me too. Instead of throwing out my cashmere hoodie, I decided to make the best of it and use a little trick I learned along the way. Needle Felting. Wool fibres fuse to each other with friction and this is a great way to “hide” those moth attacks or just add a bit of whimsy to a plain sweater.

What you need:

– 100% wool or cashmere sweater (it won’t work with acrylic or cotton – only wool, friends)

– a felting needle (available at your local yarn shop or Michaels)

– thick sponge, foam or felting brush (to back the sweater as you needle felt (also available at yarn shop, Michaels or your kitchen)

– wool roving (available at your local yarn shop and can be found in a braid or ball)

that’s it.

Okay, let’s do this!

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Needle I am using is an actual Needle Felting Tool (costs a bit more but worth it) otherwise the single felting needle works great too.

As I have a moth hole on the sleeve, I thought I would do a whimsical play on the situation by creating a heart shape for that “heart on my sleeve” look.

I amuse myself.

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Place the hole you are working on over the foam (make sure it’s just the ONE layer otherwise you end up fusing your sleeve together) and pull off a small piece of wool roving from the roving braid. Place this puff of wool over the moth hole and with your needle going in a straight up and down motion, begin to attach the roving to your sweater.

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As you work the needle up and down, keep checking on your shape. I had to add a bit more of the roving to get the rounded tops of the heart shape I wanted.

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Keep felting your shape till you like what you see. That’s it. Easy peasy and I have my beloved sweater back, just “new and improved”.

You will notice a difference in texture from the wool roving to your knit sweater – especially if you are working on a cashmere, but that is just the nature of the felting versus knit. You are going for a cute highlight or detail here – not matching your original sweater. Think of using simple shapes or lines for the best effect and you don’t have to stay on just the moth holes – sprinkle those hearts, or dots, or what have you around for an over all effect.

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Basically, just have fun, experiment and enjoy your beloved sweater again!

DIY hat corsage

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I love hats. Most women do.

Most women have one or two in their wardrobe that make the occasional appearance.

Summer is prime hat wearing season and I think it’s much nicer to reach for a pretty sunhat than an old baseball cap – they serve the same purpose but get the job done with vastly different style.

Investment wise, always try to opt for a fine woven straw if you can. There are a lot of paper straw hats out on the market that are really lovely but keep in mind they won’t stand up to moisture or packing for a trip – so choose wisely. Try on as many styles as you can to find what you like best – and if this is your first hat investment I would encourage you to stick to a solid basic like natural, ivory or black.

You can change up the look with a silk scarf, ribbon or flowers easily and it will go with so much more in your wardrobe.

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Today’s little DIY is about giving your straw some personal flair – by adding ribbon, millinery flowers or as in this case, fresh flowers.

I start with my vintage woven straw sunhat (I found this one recently at a vintage market in California – it was pretty fun carrying it on my flight home, a real conversation starter) and decide if you want the brim pinned up or left down. If left down, I would be adding my flowers to be base of the crown. As I have decided to pin the brim up – I will make a “corsage” and use it to keep the brim in place.

You will need:

  •  fresh or silk flower
  • ribbon or florist tape (available at Michaels or most craft shops)
  • corsage pin (basically a giant pin) or you could sew your silk flowers to the hat temporarily with a couple of stitches
  • ribbon
  1. Pick the fresh flowers you want in your “corsage” – as I want this to have a soft, romantic vibe to go with the outfit I have in mind, I have opted for a white rose, greens and lavender from the garden.
  2. Play around with your little bouquet till you like what you see – remember that you will be laying it against the hat so it needs to have a ‘flat’ side.IMG_0152
  3. Florist tape becomes ‘sticky’ when you pull on it – so give it a tug to get it activated and then when you like what you have created you want to secure the blooms together.IMG_0154
  4. Simply wrap a couple times with the tape and tear to secure. Remember to pull on the tape slightly to make it tacky and it will stick to itself. It comes in green or brown – I decide to have it show a bit, so I went with brown.IMG_0159 
  5. Now pin it to your hat! I like the pearl end of the pin to show so I pinned it thru the front but you could easily use a plain pin and hide it inside the hat. I go thru the straw and into the florist tape wrapped bit to secure, then back thru the straw on the other side.IMG_0161
  6. With faux flowers you can sometimes find the kind that come with a pin already attached and you just play with placement. If you would like to stitch them on for a slightly more permanent look – use a thread colour that will disappear into the arrangement. It won’t matter that you can see the green thread stitches on the inside of the hat – that will make it easier to pick out later when you want to change it up. More important to not have the stitches show on the floral arrangement!
  7. Consider adding a bit of ribbon in a pretty knot or bow to your hat “bouquet” for another look. Or simply tie the ribbon to the crown of your hat. Leaving the tails long gives a much different vibe than tying a bow – so play around and see what feels right.

How to: Ginger Mint Julep

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With the dog days of summer finally upon us, bbq-ing, dinner el fresco and drinks on the patio become the everyday. While Vancouver is most famous for it’s rain, a well kept secret is how glorious our summers can be. This year is no exception and we have had a remarkably early start so I have been making the most of eating out in the garden.

With Deighton Cup just around the corner (a fundraiser with a 1920’s Derby theme held at our Horse racing stadium) I got inspired to break out my silver julep cups and serve up some Ginger Mint Juleps – like the traditional but with a twist.

Don’t be put off by the simple syrup part of this little DIY – it’s dead simple and once you start making your own simple syrups you won’t look back! It also add another layer of personality to the cocktail.

So, without further ado, here’s my take on a Mint Julep… the Ginger Mint Julep.

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Step one is our simple syrup. for this you will need: sugar, water, small piece of fresh ginger and handful of mint.

For this cocktail (and most retro style libations), you need to make a simple syrup. All this means is that you will take ½ cup of sugar and ½ cup of water and bring this to a soft, low boil until you have dissolved the sugar. That’s it. Done.

Remove from heat and voila! Simple syrup.

However, for our Ginger Mint Julep, we are going to infuse this simple syrup – with ginger.

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Peel and slice a 1inch piece of ginger into about 3 slices and place them into the simple syrup to just sit and do it’s thing. You will also be adding a handful of mint leaves. That’s it. The mint and ginger should sit in the warm syrup for at least 2 hours to infuse – so I sometimes make my syrups the night before or morning of to get them out of the way. Place in fridge and your syrup is good for a week (if it lasts that long).

When you are ready to make this cocktail, get your simple syrup and remove the mint leaves (now wilted and brown – don’t worry it’s normal!) and the slices of ginger. Fish it all out and squeeze so you don’t lose your simple syrup. You can strain it if you want but it’s pretty simple with the large bits to just scoop them out.

Now, let’s make this drink!

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What you need:

You will need an old fashioned glass (I have mint julep glasses because I’m fancy that way, but you could serve this short in the old fashioned glass, or tall in a juice glass, it’s all personal preference and what you have on hand).

Bourbon you like (I use Bulleit as it’s my fave)

Ice

Fresh mint

Ginger beer (not ginger ale – you want that strong ginger flavor for this cocktail)

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Step 1. Add ice into your glass

Step 2. A tablespoon of your simple syrup (you can do less – it’s all a taste thing. Experiment!)

Step 3. Bourbon in next – most cocktails are an ounce, feel free to do less as it can be pretty potent.

Step 4. Fill with your Ginger Beer

Step 5. Garnish with mint

That’s it!

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A traditional Mint Julep would have you crushing the mint (like a caipirinha), but the infused simple syrup gives you the mint flavor without the green sludge at the bottom of your glass. Cheers to summer and a day at the races!