With the incessant amount of rain and dreary winter weather we’ve been having this week in Vancouver, I’ve found myself yearning for sunny warm skies, where all we need is a light jacket to keep us warm on dreamy summer nights. This summer outfit was photographed in late August, and it’s one of my ultimate favourites. I’ve been able to recycle each piece over and over again, in many different ways, which is why I love it so. That and the fact that pastel is a huge upcoming trend for spring 2014, makes me want to throw on this Halston-inspired dress the first chance I get weather-wise.
From as early as age 14, when my interest in fashion and personal style began, I have shopped and loved vintage/thrift. Those first experiences with vintage were rummaging through my mom’s closet, picking out fabulous pieces that she’d kept from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Wearing them might have gotten me a few weird looks from the other girls at my high school, but I felt great, not only because I looked so unique, but also because I knew the stories behind the garments. Stories like how my mom went to Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City in 1973 to pick out a professional wardrobe, or finding small-town jewelry shops in Idaho on road-trips (as a side-note, my mom did her university studies in the US). Fashion has proved to be cyclical, but rather than always buying it new, I love incorporating the same trends from when they were first appeared on the radar. Not only does it give you a chance to have and wear one-of-a-kind pieces, but there’s also a history behind those pieces and the designers who made them…many of whom don’t design anymore. The added bonus? It’s good for the environment too.
Shopping vintage can be a bit overwhelming however. Many times the stores are jam-packed with a hodgepodge of different things, all displayed together, so searching through them can take a lot of patience and time. From my experience, I’ve compiled a list of my tips when shopping vintage, to make your shopping trips a whole lot more productive and fun.
- Give yourself a lot of time. Vintage shopping isn’t like running into Club Monaco to quickly grab a blazer. As I mentioned above, items are not always merchandised as clearly as other stores, and if you’re going to a thrift store like Value Village, it’s even more spread out.
- For the ladies, when shopping vintage, wear a handbag that’s cross-body or just bring your wallet. You’ll need your hands to look through garments and feel things, so the last thing you want is your hands to be tied up.
- Look at the make and quality of the pieces before purchasing. A lot of clothes were manufactured in North America or Europe back in those days and it should say so. Also look at the materials; if an item is mostly made up of acrylic or synthetic fibers, it’s not really worth it.
- Go for pieces that are classic, rather than what’s funky or outrageous, for example, a beige trench, a navy pea coat, military jackets, cashmere sweaters, etc. Also, any designer pieces that are classic to the brand, like a quilted Chanel purse or an LV suitcase are great finds. Not only do those pieces never go out of style but they actually increase in value if they’re keep in good condition.
- If it doesn’t fit but you absolutely love it, find a good tailor! This is something I think a lot of shoppers are weary of. They see something they love but if it’s not in their size, they disregard it. A good tailor can customize a piece to fit your body perfectly, which can modernize it as well.
Lastly, if you’re in the Vancouver area and want to know where to go for great quality vintage clothing, check out the clip below from my show West Coast Style. I featured two of my favourite local shops on an episode I did in season 1.
*I LOVE VINTAGE photo courtesy of the talented M’c Kenneth Licon.
Most Vancouverites, expats, and even some of the city’s visitors are aware of Gastown’s cool factor when it comes to being a hub for fashion, design, and chic locales to consume food and drink. In recent years, more and more independent one-of-a-kind boutiques have been popping up in the neighbourhood, proving that if it’s something unique you’re after, skipping the crowds on Robson and heading straight for the cobble streets of Gastown will be your best bet. Speaking of unique, I knew there was definitely something special about Amaly Narong, the owner of Gastown boutique TODAY, when I met her many moons ago. Her effortless bohemian style, passionate personality, and down-to-earth vibe always left an impression, and those are the same qualities that welcome customers when they step through her Powell Street store. On the window it reads, “TODAY YOU ARE SPECIAL”, a perfect tag line for what this boutique offers: contemporary women’s fashions from international and local independent labels (many of which you can’t find anywhere else), displayed in a beautifully designed store, all at a price point that’s affordable. That combination would make any gal feel special, I’d say. On a recent visit to TODAY, Amaly and I chatted all about her love for fashion, which took her from studying fashion design at Blanche MacDonald, to interning at Nanette Lapore in New York City, to being the managing director Oak + Fort, to finally opening TODAY. Here are some of the highlights:
First off, who are your style icons?
Stevie Nicks is a big influence for me because she’s so comfortable in her own ways, there’s this unapologetic demeanor about her that I really like. The Olsen twins, I love them. And I like a lot of men’s fashion as well, for example, Johnny Depp, I love the clothes that he wears, and I love how they almost have an androgynous nature too, something that both a male could wear and a female could wear.
How would you describe the TODAY girl?
The TODAY girl really values comfort, is definitely fashion conscious, and is consumed by fashion as well, so always researching blogs, looking at magazines, and looking at street style. We really focus on the female who is either early in her career or just finishing post-secondary.
What do you think makes TODAY unique compared to what your competitors are doing?
We really do a lot of research on our customer, so we’re constantly on blogs, the same blogs that they’re checking out, the same labels that they’re taking note of. But something that is also really important to us is the morals and ethics of the business, where the designs are made, where the products are manufactured, and who their customer profile is. We aim to bring fashion-forward concepts (before anyone else can) that still align with our morals.
Your store also has a lot of vintage incorporated with the new pieces, why did you want to merge both in your store?
I’ve always been a big vintage collector myself, I love vintage. I think a lot of current fashion is influenced by the past, so that’s the main reason we brought it in. We also want to let people know vintage clothes is a sustainable way to live, it gives clothes a new purpose.
Your store not only has beautiful pieces, but also is beautiful to look at. What was your vision when you were designing the interior look of the store?
I wanted to keep it really minimal, to have an industrial feel. My boyfriend is a carpenter and when I was first putting the vision of the store together, we collected a bunch of images that inspired us. Luckily, a lot of the job sites that he works on, they dispose of the material once when they’re done with it, so we said, why not keep it, collect it and make something of it. So a lot of the materials that we used in the store are reclaimed. We wanted people to come in and almost feel like it’s a secret, like it was a vacant warehouse that we just put a lot of pretty clothes in. That way, when it’s a minimal environment, you also focus on the clothes a bit more too.
TODAY is located at 158 Powell Street in Vancouver…consider yourself Styled-IN.
This cozy classic is no longer reserved for the gym or lazy Sundays on the couch. As countless recent fashion runways and magazines have attested, the sweatshirt has now transitioned into a stylish staple, seen paired with pencil trousers, leather pants, and even sequined skirts for an easy way to create some contrast amongst bolder dressy pieces. But the sweatshirt has also gotten an update of its own, with either fun prints, embellishments or silk or leather accents, giving a whole new meaning to just “putting on a sweatshirt and jeans”. I recently did a photo-shoot demonstrating two ways to wear a printed sweatshirt, the now popular “Love and Soul” sweatshirt from Army and Navy. The first look is a bit more dressed up (Date-night), and the other is more casual (Drinks with Friends).
Look #1, Date-Night:
Look #2, Drinks with Friends:
Welcome to Style By Mana, on online publication where I can share with readers my passions for everything lifestyle, fashion and design. Putting this site together has been a long time dream of mine and I am so thankful that you’ve stopped by!
How did Style By Mana come about? After I created West Coast Style, my weekly fashion and beauty segment on local television (in my hometown of Vancouver), I realized that there was so much more that I wanted to share and inspire about fashion and design that went beyond the confines of a short timeslot on a television schedule. With an online space, whatever I share can be accessed anytime, anywhere and by anyone! Another reason to start this site came from YOU, my lovely viewers and fans of my work. So many women (and even some men!) would message me on social media or come up to me asking where they could find the trends we featured on the show, what myself and my interview subjects were wearing, or further questions about what we were discussing (i.e. what skin care should I get for oily skin like mine? etc.).
I do however want to put this out there, Style By Mana is not just a personal style profile. From time to time, you will see outfit posts, so that I can share my ideas of how to assemble outfits and trends, however this online publication is an extension of my work as a journalist, sharing tips, stories, and inspiration that you can translate into your own life. While this site will be primarily focused on fashion and beauty, we’ll be diving into other lifestyle topics from personal wellbeing to interior design, featuring some special guests and contributors along the way.