Ultimate Guide to Thrift Shopping for Clothing

Thrift shopping has been a serious passion of mine for as long as I can remember. As much as I love luxury goods and fast fashion, nothing gets me quite as amped up as spending hours shopping at Value Village rummaging for treasure. The prospect of coming across one-of-a-kind vintage pieces that I’ll have forever ignites some kind of carnal female "gatherer" shit within me. 

Since I was younger, I would go with my mom who operates the same way as I do once within the walls of a thrift store: shopping cart at the entrance, start from one end of the store until you make your way all the way through. NO SECTION GOES OVERLOOKED! This is NOT an activity I would ever partake in if under a time restriction. You’ve gotta go in knowing you could be in there for several hours. Pretty sure I have spent up to 6 hours in a Value Village. Is that wack?? Whatever, I’m proud of it. Through my many, MANY years of thrifting, I have picked up a ton of tips that I hope might help less-experienced and potentially apprehensive thrifters. This post is long overdue! Here we go:

-Like I said above, prepare to spend a few hours in the store. If you’re not in the mood to HUNT, don’t even bother. You really have to put in the time looking for the goods. 
-There are “good” and “bad” Value Village (and any other thrift store, but I'm a V.V. girl) locations. In my experience, the farther into the suburbs you go, the better. Suburban Value Villages are goldmines and not at all picked over. The one by my parents place in Ajax is my JAM. If you’re in Toronto, the only location I have ever had luck at is the one on the Danforth. My Nonna used to live just around the corner from it so I have been going to this location since I was like?? 2 years old??? It still has a special place in my heart and I always find the best things there. Sorry to say, but the Bloor & Lansdowne location is awful. 
-If you find something you love but it’s stained, ripped, or needs to be altered to properly fit you, just pass it up. It’s not worth it and chances are you’ll never get it altered (unless you have a tailor who you frequently go to).
-I don’t like to thrift items from stores that I normally shop at. Thrift stores these days have tons of items from Zara, Forever 21, Aritzia, etc. These are not things I typically like to go for. When I’m thrifting, I’m THERE TO THRIFT! Aka unique and/or vintage items only. If I do find something relatively current that I loooove and it’s in great condition, I’ll of course still pick it up, but this is rare. When I find an amazing item, I know I've really hit the jackpot when I look at the tag and it looks super dated with font from like the 70s.
-This one is imperative: go by yourself or with someone else who’s thrifting vibe will align with yours. For me, that means someone who wants to disappear into the Value Village vortex with me. My mom is the perfect companion, as are a few of my friends. 
-Certain categories have much higher success rates than others. Blouses, sweaters, trousers, purses, blazers, leather/furs, and vintage tees are all good bets. Shoes can be tough because they take a beating so most are not in great condition. Vintage denim (like Levi’s etc) is such a hot item right now and that makes it really challenging to find because it’s what everyone is looking for. 
-What clothing size are you?? Not anymore! Size means next to nothing when thrifting because of how many different decades the clothes come from. I’ve purchased trousers in size L that are probably from the 70s and they fit like a modern day size S. Also, things like blouses, blazers, and sweaters can still look great if oversized. So don't make the mistake of only looking in your usual size section!
-In that vein, make sure you take a thorough look through the men's and even kid's sections. Two of my fav finds ever (a double breasted mini houndstooth blazer and a vintage Clash tee) came from the boy's section. Menswear can have great sweaters and graphic tees. And don’t forget the seemingly random “fringe” categories for women’s like sleepwear (my #1 find EVER EVER EVER is a black and tan printed kimono-jumpsuit hybrid that came from the sleepwear section, they had categorized it as a “robe”), suits (they categorize most two piece sets as “suits”, including matching tops and bottoms), and gross as it may seem and not recommended for beginners, lingerie (silk and satin slip dresses are in abundance there).
-When it comes to styling thrifted & vintage pieces, it’s important to modernize the look and be creative. Remove the massive 80s shoulder pads from blazers and dresses. Pair a vintage blouse with leather skinny pants and white sneakers. Knot a shapeless shirt at the front and wear it with high waisted pants. Roll up/cuff sleeves that are too big and boxy. Artfully wrap and tie up big vintage scarves to make them into tops/skirts/hair wraps, etc. If you can’t think of how a thrifted piece would fit into your existing wardrobe and style, pass it up. It will just end up sitting unworn in your closet forever. 
-Once you've made your purchases and arrived back home, keep everything in plastic bags until you are ready to wash or dry clean it. Obviously we all know that second-hand items are usually not freshly laundered, so don't mix your thrifted purchases into your closet just yet. It freaks a lot of people out not knowing where the items came from and I totally get that! The first thing I do when I get home is sort my purchases into "wash myself" or "take to dry clean" bags. With items I am washing myself, I make sure to use a mesh bag and wash on the hot/cold cycle to get the items really clean and sanitized. When taking more high maintenance items like silks or blazers to the dry cleaners, unfortunately you'll have to be prepared to likely spend more on the dry cleaning than you did on the item itself.  

PHEW ok I think that's all for now! Honestly if I could leave you all with one final and very important tip it would have to be: don’t get discouraged if you don’t find much the first time you go. Give it a month and try again, or try a different location! It takes a while to find your thrifting groove and to start to have an eye for unique/quality/timeless/whatever-it-is-you're-searching-for pieces. The saying practice makes perfect is definitely true when it comes to thrift shopping! Good luck and please leave any of your own tried-and-true tips below!

Meeting my Match with TōN Cosmetics

What's your skin tone? Warm, cool? Fair, medium, dark? I shamefully had no clue about mine, and have gone through life buying lipsticks entirely randomly without giving my skin tone much thought. Outrageous, I know. Luckily, two Canadian sisters have stepped in to help us all find our perfect matches. TōN Cosmetics was launched a few months ago with the intent to help simplify finding shades that work for your skin tone. Their website guides you through a short quiz where you answer fun questions about your complexion and colouring. At the end, they show you your perfect red and nude lipstick matches. As it turns out, I am a Medium Warm skin tone and the nude and red lipsticks I received really do suit me perfectly. The lipsticks are made in Canada, are super high-quality, and are 100% cruelty-free. Right now you can find your perfect nude and red shades on toncosmetics.com, and later this year they are introducing pink lipsticks too. Can't wait to see what's next for this brand!

Clover & Sloane

So happy to be a part of today’s launch of Clover & Sloane - a brand new brand offering the sweetest dresses and jumpsuits. All of their pieces are so ideal for dressing up or down! I paired the Soho black jumpsuit with sneakers and a leather moto for daytime (above), and dressed the same jumpsuit up the day before with tan block-heeled booties and an oversized peacoat to go to the art gallery. The Carroll dress features my fav print of the season, cherries!!! I wore it out for a coffee date with a cozy cardigan, tights, and sock booties, though I really need it to be summer ASAP so I can wear it bare-legged with a straw hat… Clover & Sloane’s pieces feature sweet feminine details like ruffles, bows, and girly prints, done super tastefully in the most wearable styles and silhouettes. Shop now at cloverandsloane.com

Cranes in the Sky

Just returned from South Beach and I just have to express my love for it! It is the place to go to be EXTRA, but for a quick and easy getaway somewhere hot, beachy, stylish, and fun, there isn't a better place to go. The bar and restaurant scene is amazing... Some of my fav spots include the Broken Shaker (the bar at the Freehand hotel), Ola (amazing Latin food), Casa Tua (incredible Italian in a gorgeous courtyard patio setting), River Oyster Bar (in Brickell, so good), Habitat (for brunch or lunch, such an adorable patio), Mandolin Aegean Bistro (Greek, featured in Vogue), and Dreamer (most adorable brunch). The pool at the W Hotel is my fav but the Shore Club also has a great vibe. Our stays down there never feel long enough and there are so many other things I would love to do that I haven't had the chance to yet! Itching to go back and see the Museum of Ice Cream, explore the design district, and drive down to the keys. 

I'm wearing my favourite outfit ever from MISSPAP... A crane print culotte and kimono set paired with fluffy block heels and a cute little backpack that perfectly fits my DSLR camera. Easy, stylish, fun, and just a little over the top... just like Miami ;)

Make Me Blush

Now that we are a few weeks into 2018, I wanted to take a moment to put together a brief post about why last year was such a significant year for me. I had a lot thrown at me in 2017: I got laid off from my job of 6+ years, I had a flood in my apartment that rendered it unliveable for 2 months, and I dealt with a considerable loss that brought grave disappointment and uncertainty. I also traveled to amazing places, started a new job, and began to take charge and ownership of my life and the direction it was going in. Looking back on it all, everything I went through made me stronger and more confident that I can handle all of the ups and downs that come my way. Over the last year I threw myself into my passions, overcame anxieties, stood up for myself and my ideals, and of course made a lot of mistakes. When I needed people to lean on, I was so incredibly lucky to have the best family and boyfriend a girl could ask for, plus the most amazing and supportive friends both old and new. I’ve never been one for resolutions, but it’s funny how much the beginning of a new year can feel like a brand new chapter full of hope and opportunity. In 2018 I want to keep pushing myself to do better and to get outside of my comfort zone, but also not let setbacks and things beyond my control get the best of me. I want to use the start of a new year as an opportunity to have a more positive outlook overall, one that consists of mindfulness, gratitude, and composure.

With all that said, this was my New Years Eve look! A little blush velvet wrap number from Tobi. I layered a blush mesh bodysuit underneath to make it a bit more weather-appropriate, and added in some star earrings and a pair of thigh high boots. Rung in the New Year in style and good spirits.

Elizabeth Arden's Legendary Eight Hour Cream

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Well here we are in the dead of winter… the coldest one in 60 years they say! That means plenty of windburn when outdoors and cranking the heat when indoors. A perfect recipe for THE WORST SKIN EVER. This winter has legitimately been the hardest on my skin, it’s freaking out. I have horrible dryness on my forehead (make up basically just flakes off) and the most chapped lips ever (applying lip balm every 10 mins), while my chin has been breaking out like crazy. My saviour has absolutely been Elizabeth Arden’s cult favourite Eight Hour Cream… this formula has been around since 1930 and there’s a reason why it’s still hailed as a miracle solution. I’m always sceptical when trying these iconic products but this one completely lives up to the hype. I have been using the classic Eight Hour Cream liberally on my forehead and my make up is finally able to glide on with ease. Word on the street is that Kim Kardashian’s make up artist Mario Dedivanovic also uses it for an additional glow wherever highlight is applied and YES I can confirm that it looks amazing. The Eight Hour Cream is also available in an unscented version, which I far prefer as the classic scent is way too reminiscent of a dentist’s office for my liking. I’m also using the Eight Hour Cream Intensive Lip Repair Balm which is targeted specifically for dry lips, as well as the face oil because I’m a total oil convert now. Thanking the heavens for the Eight Hour line & Langton PR for bringing my skin back to life during these frigid months! 

Blizzard Attire

Happy 2018 guys! It's been a while since I've posted... The holidays and work have totally taken up my time but I'm hoping to get back on track with regular posting. I have a few posts lined up over the coming weeks! These photos were taken over the holidays at Elliot's family cottage in Muskoka. I have always been a warm weather person and I liiiiive for the summer. Winter and I just aren't meant to be, but the beauty and allure of winter up north is undeniable and this year I finally can say I appreciate it. 

We drove up from the city late one night and the forecast was clear. As we drove further north, however, we were suddenly enveloped into a complete whiteout. The snow was falling fast and heavy, it completely shrouded our vision to the point that we could only see a few feet ahead of us. The storm was completely mesmerizing and it felt like a winter fairytale. Pine trees heavily coated with snow tightly surrounded the road and everything was so quiet. There was something so magical and ethereal about it all and as corny as it sounds, I felt so at peace and lucky to be able to experience winter at its finest. It was probably way more nerve-wracking for Elliot since he was behind the wheel, but I trust his driving and the fact that our lives were in his hands haha. We made it to the cottage safely and went straight to bed, and the cold morning came clear and bright. During our stay, we headed to a nearby road to take some pictures in my very appropriate winter attire. I'm wearing these jeans by Tobi. Love the wash and the rise! So easy to wear, even in the winter... toss on a cute pair of booties and a cool coat and you're set :)

New Skincare Routine With Miracle 10 (Botanical Oil Concentrate + Eye Treatment)

Upping my fall skincare routine with the help of Miracle 10! The air is getting colder, the wind is picking up, days are getting shorter… all of which is having a negative impact on my skin. Miracle 10 just launched their Botanical Oil Concentrate, which I was super excited to try. I had never used any oil on my face, but had heard they can do wonders. I also tried out their Eye Treatment to see what it could do for my pesky dark under eye circles. Both products became part of my nightly skin routine. I washed my face with my usual cleanser, applied the eye treatment, applied the face oil, and then applied my night cream. Right off the bat I fell in love with the smell of both the eye treatment and the oil. Application was super easy and both products felt amazing on my skin. I could feel the soothing and hydrating effects right away. But the real magic happened overnight! My skin still looked super hydrated, glowy, and smooth, and my under eye area became firmer and brighter. I have only been using the products for 5 days so far but am super excited to see their continued positive effects on my skin! 

Fall Style with Zaful

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Teamed up with Zaful on a style post to make my fall looks shoppable. I have recreated all of my looks with items available on Zaful, plus you can use code brandrewardZF for 12% your entire purchase (including sale), in case you weren't tempted enough by their prices already! As you can see I have been pretty enamoured with my beret and newsboy cap so far this season. As sad as I am to say goodbye to summer, fall has been pretty fantastic so far and I have definitely felt a shift in my style towards layering and texture. Read on to see the looks and click the links below each collage to get shoppin'!

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Cinque Terre Travel Guide

Just about the most charming and picturesque region you could travel to in Italy, the colourful cliffside towns that make up Cinque Terre are a dream destination. In my previous post from the area, I outlined where we stayed and a few other noteworthy bits. This post will focus solely on the 5 towns in the Italian Riviera which are (from N to S): Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Aside from the obvious beauty of the towns, one of the major reasons they have become so adored is due to the seaside hike that takes you from one town to the next. Due to the earthquakes in 2012, some of the hikes are still undergoing remediation and are closed to the public. As of currently, the closed trails are between Riomaggiore & Manarola, and Manarola & Corniglia. Unfortunately, those are said to be the least challenging of the trails. Clearly for me an easy jaunt > a strenuous hike. The only one I personally did was one of the most challenging, between Levanto (NOT one of the 5 towns) and Monterosso. Honestly it was a pretty tough hike, but luckily you are shaded for most of it, and Monterosso waits at the other end! For those who want to avoid hiking altogether (like I did every other day), the train system is easy, reliable, and fast. Make sure to stamp your day passes though because they are always patrolling the train cars! And word to the wise: do not use the boat system! It sounds great in theory but we decided against it. When we were in some of the towns we saw the insane lines of people waiting for the boats… it looked like mayhem and far too crowded to be enjoyable. 

The region is known for white wines, limoncello, seafood, focaccia, and pesto. And probably some things other than food & alcohol, but who cares about those? To be honest, I find the food in southern Italy just incredible and way more to my own personal liking, but who can hate on pesto and focaccia? Though after a week it did get a bit tiresome, and almost all restaurants have a slight variation on the same menu, but you will definitely enjoy it while you are there! See below for restaurant recommendations by town, as well as any other town-specific info I picked up on while there!

Monterosso: The largest of the 5 towns, situated right on the seaside, with a small but very recognizable beach covered in orange and green striped umbrellas. This town is possibly one of the busiest, although they ALL get very busy which is a shame. We came here most often, as it was the closest to where we were staying in Levanto. It is not worth it (in my opinion) to try to lay out on the beach here. It is all paid spots and they fill up so early in the morning. It is also super overpriced (in Levanto we paid half of what we would have paid in Monterosso for a beach chair). Two restaurants that were fantastic were Torre de Aurora (just opened this summer, in a castle on a cliff top with different patio levels all the way down) and Miky (a Michelin starred restaurant that was incredible).
Vernazza: Did not have the best luck in Vernazza! I wanted to do a partial hike from Vernazza to Riomaggiore, as supposedly the best view of the town is about 30 minutes into the trail, but it was ridiculously hot that day and we got too frustrated trying to find the start to the trail. We were also dying to eat at Ristorante Belforte (in my photos, it’s the place with the blue stripey umbrellas. SO DREAMY.) but we learned that most people make reservations months in advance so we were SOL! We ended up having dinner at a cute spot called Gianni Franzi that overlooks the main beach.
Corniglia: The only town I did go to. Corniglia is the only town of the 5 that is not on the sea. It is high up on a clifftop and has incredible views. My family ended up doing the hike between Corniglia and Vernazza and their photos were pretty incredible.
Manarola: Painfully perfect. Like, I look at the photos I took from the lookout point in Manarola (facing back towards the town) and feel physical pain at how pretty it is. It looks like a painting! Colourful buildings spilling down the cliff to the rocky sea where people swim. It is heaven. Two restaurants that you can’t miss are Trattoria del Billy (great views if you can get a spot out on the patio, amazing food) and Nessun Dorma (the best view you could ask for of Manarola… the entire restaurant is on a patio covered in tropical flowers and plants, and the food is so delicious and fresh. After eating pesto and focaccia for days on end, we were able to get amazing salads and bruschettas here, along with ridiculously good drinks).
Riomaggiore: Started our day here one day and did lots of wandering. So many pretty look out spots! Did not do much in Riomaggiore other than walk around, but it’s just as pretty as the rest of the towns, and I love the photo of the little harbor with the bright buildings snuggled up around it.