Yikes! What to Wear to a Job Interview

Here’s the situation- I’m going in for a job interview, at-you guessed it!- a vintage boutique! This lovely store is looking for a manager, and it is so much more than just vintage. They offer high-end, mid-range, as well as vintage. So what would be appropriate to wear?

I wanted to look professional, of course, as well as stylish.  I didn’t think that going for a full-on vintage look would be suitable, so I opted for a blend of new and old. This adorable polka-dot dress I found at Value Village for a few bucks, a couple of months back. I admit that I bought it mostly  for it’s 50s vibe, but also because it’s bloody comfortable, and skims over the lumpy bits in a flattering way.

Matching is fun! My 1950s cashmere cardigan, a wonderful find that I’ve had for many years, matches perfectly with the red stiletto contemporary pumps, acquired from a local thrift store.

**A side note on cashmere- if you come across a vintage cashmere cardigan or sweater- buy it! In my experience, the quality far exceeds anything new, unless you are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for one sweater. I have owned some new, pricey cashmere, and they unfortunately all start to pill after just a few wears. My vintage sweaters, some of them probably almost 60 years old, are still wonderful.**

The bag with the lucite handle I have owned for probably 20 years. It is very special and unique-it converts 3 ways. You can change the outside of the bag from black patent to the other side, which has a funky print. Or leave the cover off entirely, and have the bag be navy crepe.  In all of my years of collecting, I have only ever seen one other one of these bags.

A few well-selected accessories complete the look- a black patent skinny belt, and a cameo brooch with matching earrings. And let’s not forget the real-deal charm bracelet. Smart, comfortable, and chic.

 

Sunday afternoon at the pub

My neighbourhood has a wonderful monthly event called Sundays for Sinners, at The Princeton Pub. I thought this would be a great opportunity to dust off my cowboy boots, that I haven’t worn in eons, plus do some much-needed catching up with friends.

Sometimes getting dressed to go out is like problem solving, or figuring out a puzzle. I knew I wanted to wear my cowboy boots, and I also knew that I really didn’t want to wear them in the traditional way, like with jeans and a western shirt, for example. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I just really felt that I wanted to do something different that day. But how to do it?

So I actually cheated a bit, and googled outfits with cowboy boots! I’d never done that before, and it certainly gave me some good ideas. This super long, leopard print cardigan turned out to be the perfect thing. I picked it up two years ago at some local thrift store, and had only worn it once. Being a slightly chilly spring day, it also made sense.

Then, the dress. More of a tunic, actually. I got it a few months ago for a whopping $5 at Value Village, and I just love it. I’ve worn it many times already, because it’s what I call an “idiot proof” dress. It looks great and feels great, no matter how bloated or gross I’m feeling that day. I find it really flattering and slimming,  it’s  comfortable, and simple enough to go with practically anything. And what can I say, but pockets! Every girl should have at least one “idiot proof” dress.

Finally, the accessories! The cap finished it off perfectly; it was especially bonus as I couldn’t be bothered to do anything with my hair. Then one of my many owl necklaces, and one of my favourite vintage tooled leather bags.  I don’t know, but I’ve always loved long, bold necklaces. Possibly because of how it brings the eye down in a flattering way.

Here is my friend Robin, a well-known local singer-songwriter. She has always rocked the casual look, and knows how to use accessories like nobody’s business. Mustard is not my favourite colour, but boy is it amazing on her! It makes her eyes look the most amazing gold colour. The scarf and beret go perfectly, and she has the most beautiful, 50’s style silk, watercolour print blouse underneath. And I must say I’m rather envious of her cross-body bag. Perfect pub outfit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotty Girl

This contemporary outfit has a fun, vintage vibe to it. Every item has been sourced from a thirft store. I’m mixing prints here, but it works. The common theme is of course black and white, and the two different animal prints work just fine with classic polka dots.

I pretty much always wear accessories. I feel naked going out of the house without them. And frankly, this outfit would be quite dull otherwise. Hence this adorable wool and angora beret, originally from Atmosphere, and the cotton short-sleeve cardigan, from Jacob. The silk scarf is  Anne Klein, and it gets plenty of use. I’ve been wearing hats a lot lately, berets in particular. I guess I just really like the French thing, and obviously is great for days when I can’t be bothered to do anything with my hair.  The simplest, plainest outfit can be brought to life with some fun accessories.  I could easily see this same combo brightened up with a red hat and scarf, or some red shoes.

I love wide-legged trousers. They look so chic, and are oh-so 1930s Hollywood. These ones are rather high-waisted, with a flattering front panel, and a zip up the back. They are just an inexpensive mall brand, but I think they are pretty cute. Of course they look much better pressed!

The charm bracelet is a hoot. This is the real deal, an old lady charm bracelet, inherited from an (ahem) old lady. It even has a charm that says Granny; my favourite is by far the teapot, with a lid that actually opens. And it makes such a fun, musical sound when it is being worn. The tooled leather bag, absolutely becoming a staple of my wardrobe.  And finally, the trench coat. I sure have been wearing it a lot lately, but hey, I live in Raincouver, it goes with so many things, it’s classic, and I love it. I can look like a greasy punker another day. Because hey, I like to mix it up. Always keep folks guessing, I say.

 

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London Fog trench and vintage bag

 

 

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Welcome to Spring

Spring has sprung quite nicely, at least in my little corner of the world. My daughter is off school for 2 weeks for spring break, and it’s lovely out today. We’re off doing errands in the neighbourhood, and I’m feeling bright!

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Dress from Dots Discount Designer Wear, Victoria, BC.

I start my Spring outfit with a dress from Dots in Victoria. This cute little dress cost me all of $5, new! I love the splashes of colour, and the cut is very forgiving. Though it’s sunny out, it’s still not warm, maybe 10 degrees Celsius, and I’m not ready for bare legs. I’m feeling that bright tights are the way to go. So I dig through the various colours, and teal feels right. I’m not sure why exactly I have so many different colour tights; I guess I just collected them when I was working at a thrift store . They’re not really something that I would go out and buy new, unless it was for a very specific outfit. I guess that’s how I end up with most of my funky, random things. The next step (ha ha!) was shoes, and my 10-year old thought that blue suede loafers were the right choice. I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen them, but I am now in love with this shoe and tights combo. These shoes I purchased  at Spring many years ago while working as an assistant costume designer. I love them, they are comfortable; why do I wear them so rarely? It must be the subconscious Vancouver rain thing- I don’t want to ruin these shoes by getting caught in a downpour. But I think I’m over it now, finally!

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London Fog trench and vintage bag, both from Value Village.

 

The dress is sleeveless, so I topped it with a long black cardigan to keep warm, and my wonderful $25 London Fog trench. I have already gotten so much use out of it, it’s absolutely the perfect spring topper for Vancouver. Then I finished it off with the cutest pale blue Angora beret, and this black tooled leather bag. When I spotted the bag at Value Village for $12, I grabbed it and paid for it as quick as I could, before someone realized they had made a mistake! It cracks me up to think how long it took me to figure out that I could pair the beret with the shoes- I’ve had both items for several years. Not a perfect colour match, but close enough for me.

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Vintage tooled leather.
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My daughter took this photo. Thanks lassie!

Later in the day, my daughter wanted to go out for a bike ride, so I kept the dress, put on some grey leggings, and these adorable Keds, another great Value Village find at $3. I don’t generally like mixing prints, but the colours matched the dress so perfectly, and I thought it was a very fun look. Add my jean jacket, and it’s off to the park we go! If you are shopping for the perfect jean jacket, I swear this is it. I have two; one old and faded and covered with patches, and this newer one. The original one I purchased new at the Gap a few years ago. I’m sure you have surmised by now that I don’t generally frequent establishments like the Gap, but sometimes you just gotta. It has 2 breast pockets, two roomy pockets for your hands, and two very spacious inside pockets-virtually unheard of in a women’s garment, which makes this the perfect traveling jacket, or for those days you can’t be bothered with a purse. The fit is very nice too, tailored to a woman’s shape, not boxy at all. This jacket is pretty much my uniform in the summer- it just seems to go with everything! Happy Spring and happy thrifting!

 

 

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A few of my favourite things

We all have some old favourites, things that we refuse to part with, things that make us feel good, make us feel cool. Here are a few of my favourite things. Most of these things I have had for about 20 years, pieces so unique, or so cool, that I keep going back to them.

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These slingback spectator shoes from the 60s are just way too much fun. I like to wear them with a simple black dress, or something in a 60’s A-line. Cigarette pants also do the trick.

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The necklace, also from the 60s, is massive! I found this wonderful piece when I was living and working in Helsinki in the early ’90s. It is so huge, so heavy, so tacky, and so unique, that it is absolutely one of my favourite necklaces. Go big or go home! It is such a statement piece, that it really makes the outfit; whatever you are wearing is merely a backdrop for this stunning necklace.

 

 

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This cardigan, which woefully has seen better days, is dyed camel hair, the sleeves are wool with leather trim.  This is so fun and funky. Awesome with just a t-shirt and jeans. It is the grandpa sweater gone bad, not for the timid. I think I got this at the long-gone Vancouver vintage store, Cool Stuff, also probably 20+years ago. Great store; the owner relocated to Edmonton many years ago.

 

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I love this jacket so much, but this photo really doesn’t do it justice. To me, it just screams Rock ‘n Roll! And it probably literally does- I have worn this jacket to countless punk and rock shows, ever since I picked it up when I was working at True Value Vintage in the mid ’90s. (God, I’m old) It’s tight and sexy and it’s red leather! What else do you want? Or need, for that matter. Every girl should have a red leather jacket! I’m just waiting until I can get the zipper on it done up again. Either that, or my daughter will inherit it one day. But honestly, I’d rather wear it myself.

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Wonderful vintage tooled leather from C’est La Vie in Vancouver.

This gorgeous vintage tooled leather bag is one of my new favourite things. I recently acquired it at a great vintage store on Main Street in Vancouver called C’est la Vie. I was ecstatic when I found it, because I had been looking for a nice black tooled bag for quite some time. It’s the perfect size for everyday use; not just for going out to shows. I’m sure I will use this for years, until it falls apart.

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Lastly, my trusty Dayton boots. I bought these in the mid-90’s when I returned from living in Finland. God, they were expensive, but obviously worth it. This is a fine example of investing in a quality item. These boots have been to countless gigs, twice as many as the red jacket! They were so stiff when I got them, they took a good 6 months to break in. But hey, you need good footwear in the mosh pit! When I got them, I never dreamt I would actually get to use them as motorcycle boots, but now I am. For a solid 10 years, I wore nothing but these boots. I took a few years off after babies, because I didn’t have time to do all the laces, and they were snug from my enlarged feet. But I am wearing them again, along with my 4 other pairs. My husband has a few pairs that he has also been wearing for many years; they are the most bad-ass motorcycle boots out there. Jeez, I should be a spokesperson for Daytons.

Looking back through all these pieces, they would actually make a pretty great outfit, just throw on some jeans!

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The Timeless Appeal of Stripes

I love to wear stripes. I have at least half a dozen striped t-shirts, 2 striped skirts, 2 striped dresses, and 2 striped sweaters. What is it about stripes? Certainly they have been trendy for awhile, and according to the March edition of Vogue, continue to be so. Just a quick flip through this venerable fashion tome,  and you can see stripes being shown in campaigns by Dior, Ralph Lauren, Target , and Givenchy. No, I think my love of stripes goes far beyond any trend. Stripes are classic, and there is history behind them. And history is something that speaks to any lover of vintage.

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The popularity of the striped shirt can be traced back to Coco Chanel. She fell in love with the Breton shirt on a trip to the French coast around 1913. This shirt started being worn as part of the French Navy’s uniform in 1858. After doing a wee bit of research, I learned that the original shirt incorporated 21 stripes, one for each one of Napoleon’s victories. This style was originally worn by the fishermen and merchant sailors of Brittany. The Russians liked it so well, that the Imperial Russian Navy adopted it as well in the 19th century. The Telnyashka can be sleeveless like a tank top, but I think the most gorgeous one I’ve seen is the one given to my husband during a tour in Russia with his band The Real McKenzies. It is long sleeved in a quadruple knit, heavy enough to wear in cold weather. Beautifully made, and built to last. Hopefully someone will give him another one soon, because his shirt is disintegrating from years of sweaty touring!

In more recent times, the striped sailor shirt has been made iconic by everyone from Pablo Picasso, Audrey Hepburn, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Brigitte Bardot, to name a few. Doing a quick search on the internet, it is easy to see that several companies specialize in just the French marinière, several of them claiming to be the original.  And I love that striped shirts always make me think of pirates too. Nothing wrong a bit of pirate action to liven up your day. My verdict is that as long as there are sailors, pirates, and rock ‘n rollers, stripes will be here to stay. Ahoy!

 

 

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It’s a Rock ‘n Roll weekend

This weekend I was tagging along on a wee bit of a tour with my husband’s band, The Real McKenzies. I joined him in Victoria, BC, and again the next day in hometown Vancouver. The forecast called for cold and wet (surprise!) so I opted for this incredibly cool leather coat that I haven’t worn nearly enough. Paul acquired it for me in Europe- it is a WWII German police officer’s coat. It’s really heavy, and warm. It was just the thing for the ferry crossing to Victoria, and it doesn’t get much more rock ‘n roll than head-to-toe leather!

There is very little thrifty about this posting; the coat was about $350, but I’m sure it will keep its value, and man will it ever be great on my motorbike. This totally reminds of the creepy character Willem Dafoe plays in The Grand Budapest Hotel; this is exactly the coat he would wear. Dayton Boots are a beautiful thing. This company has been around making hand-made boots since 1946. They started out with men’s work boots, and later added motorcycle boots. They start at about $500, but are worth every penny, because  these boots will probably last for decades; my first pair is over 20 years old, and still look and feel great.  Paul had me order these exorbitant tall, zippered, custom motorcycle boots, and he claims that I will be buried in them. For the amount of money I paid for them, I sure hope so! And you gotta have good sturdy boots when you’re in the mosh pit.

My husband is quite the shopper too. Somewhere while touring in the US, he bought me this black Panama Jack hat. I kind of scratched my head dubiously when I first saw it, but then quickly realized that he sometimes knows me better than I know myself. I pretty much always wear this hat when I travel, and of course it is great in the rain. 99% of the time I can’t be bothered with umbrellas, so a great hat is the way to go. I love every item in this outfit, they are all really special. But I hold an especially warm place in my heart for this ancient McKenzie pladdie, which was given to Paul a few years ago. It is also great for travelling; it’s a scarf, it’s a wrap, it’s a blanket, and can even be a sarong in a pinch.

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I find the pladdie always just makes the outfit. So elegant.

Whenever I go to a McKenzie’s show, I always always wear the pladdie, for obvious reasons! It’s the family colours after all, it is just such a cool and beautiful thing to wear, and I’m honoured that Paul always lets me wear it. It is truly the linch pin of my rock n’ roll outfit, and I wear it with pride. Speaking of pride, I always wear my Finnish Kalevala jewelry too, because I want to fly my flag as well as Paul’s; besides, the Finnish and Scottish flags rock the same colours! This stuff is also not inexpensive. The long necklace I acquired 20 years ago while living in Finland; I believe it was worth several hundred dollars, but this too I treasure.

The vegan leather miniskirt I bought at H&M when they first opened in Vancouver. It’s a great travel skirt, with 3 deep zippered pockets. The shimmery navy leather top is by Danier, another recent favourite from Value Village, because for 15 bucks, it is sexy and slimming! The leather pouch I purchased at a now-closed store on Commercial Drive in Vancouver called Rabbit and Empee. I spotted one very similar on a female musician during another tour, and had to have one. It’s like a belt, and a fanny pack, but way cooler! It will keep your money and passport safe, has a spot for your cell phone and cash, and another wee pocket for your earplugs and lipstick. The perfect touring hands-free purse. I like to complete my show-day outfit with a hat. Sometimes it’s my bonnie blue bonnet, on this occasion I opted for this wee tam. It is actually McLaren tartan, but close enough to McKenzie that I thought I could get away with it.

So there you have it folks! Extremely traditional, combined with a modern punk rock aesthetic!

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The McKenzie colours vibrate!
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My Kalevala jewelry
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Thistle pin, purchased in a thrift store
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Cooler than a fanny pack
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It’s a family affair
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Paul is wearing his beautiful, custom made McKenzie kilt with a horsehair sporran from the 1930’s, Dayton motorcycle boots, traditional kilt belt, socks, and flashes.

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