I love fashion. I always have. When I was little, I would look forward with great excitement to my family’s annual back-to-school pilgrimage to Yorkdale Mall in Toronto. Being a young girl growing up in small-town Ontario, this was a very big deal not just because we were escaping to this shiny metropolis with its tall buildings and spiderweb of highways but because I was going to get new clothes. Fancy new clothes. Big city new clothes. This sartorial love only grew stronger in my teens when an inappropriate amount of my babysitting money was spent on fashion magazines.
I’d peruse the pictures and see what I had in my closet that I could use to recreate the looks on those glossy pages. I didn’t have a lot of spending money so I would pick one, maybe two items that I could add that would instantly snap my wardrobe into the current seasons trend.
Now trust me, I’m well aware of how damaging the messaging is from the fashion industry. Standards for women are set impossibly high and perfection is never good enough; it only gets harsher as women age. And then there’s the complete and utter lack of diversity in size, ethnicity and gender of the imagery which is only becoming slightly better these days, although it often wreaks of tokenism. I totally get it and I completely agree. I’m still undoing the negative self-image brainwashing the industry was successful in affecting on me but what isn’t impacted is my love and appreciation of the artistry produced at fashion atelier.
This love of mine hasn’t diminished at all over the years. I still pay way too much for fashion magazines (John will attest to this) and my ‘hobby’ is now augmented by the creativity and ingenuity of creators on Instagram and TikTok. So much to see and be inspired by!
Back to a big city
I mentioned here that we recently visited Vancouver for a few days. I’m coming to appreciate Vancouver more and more with every visit; I’ll admit my first foray was limited by weather and my own sadly touristy-focused exploration. It was not great and I came away missing Toronto even more that I already did. But subsequent visits have changed that mindset as I find new, interesting and fun areas to discover and wonderful restaurants to enjoy. Vancouver is most definitely growing on me!
This past visit, my time was spent with my stepson while John was at work every day. We shopped. And we shopped. And we shopped. Anyone who has delusions of gender bias when it comes to shopping hasn’t spent any time with this fellow. I almost did drop at the end of our second day of shopping-palooza. We spent a great deal of time in what I think is referred to as South Main (at least that’s what Google Maps tells me) where there is a cluster of vintage and consignment shops.
Having come from Toronto and enjoyed the abundance of vintage stores dappled across the city and also grouped in Kensington Market, it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to vintage shopping. I have to say, Vancouver did not disappoint. We stumbled upon one store in particular, Front & Company that is in my experience, the BEST consignment shop I’ve ever been to. Huge. Amazing selection. AND they discount items 20% if they don’t sell within 30 days of arrival. What’s not to LOVE about that?!
Browsing through the racks however, the same though process repeated in my mind. It went something like this…
I spy a piece on the rack, pick it up and hold it out to observe.
Oh my god, I LOVE this! What a great price! Hmmm. Where would I wear it? No, it’s great but I have lots of clothes and I don’t really have any occasion to wear this.
I put the piece back on the rack and keep looking.
Over and over again.
My love of fashion has often been disproportionate to the ‘style’ of places I’ve lived, with the notable exception of course, of Toronto. Anything goes there, and usually does, to my ultimate delight. But going back to elementary school, through high school, as a baseball mom, parent counsel mom, board member, corporate employee, I have always worn clothes that were just a little ‘out there’. I get a kick out of stretching just beyond what’s accepted as ‘average’ apparel in everyday situations and wearing something that minimally inspires contemplation. It’s just plain fun. Well, the opposite actually. It’s just stylish fun.
So, what has happened? Where did all of that fashion love go? Is this a resurgence of Irish Catholic guilt that I thought I’d long ago done away with? I no longer work outside of the home and it certainly does cross my mind that I’m spending money I, myself, haven’t earned. Now don’t get me wrong, John has done his very best to dispel that mindset reminding me over and over that we wouldn’t be here doing what we’re doing without both of us. It’s a team effort and I should be looking at it that way. Some things, as we all know, are easier said than done.
But ultimately, I think it’s because I ponder where am I going to go? ‘Night-life’ is not really a thing here; most restaurants roll up the carpet and turn off the lights by 9:00pm. The arts scene is spotty and events are minimal. I know part of it is due to this seemingly endless pandemic but I’m getting the impression that this is just the way things are here.
Right from when we arrived here last summer, our neighbours have been warm and welcoming. We’ve been included in impromptu gatherings around the fire pit, porch parties and street potlucks; it’s great! But early on, one of the women on our street, after complimenting me on my outfit of the day (which I remember thinking was pretty mundane) noted to me, “don’t worry; you’ll give up on the fashion stuff before long and settle into the local attire… leggings.”
*insert stunned-face emoji here*
Don’t get me wrong…
Don’t get me wrong; I love leggings as much as the next gal but I’ll be cold in my grave before I resign myself to thinking of them as a ‘staple’ of my wardrobe. Global pandemic be damned.
Now months have passed, we’ve hibernated through winter and I’m trying to snap myself out of my self-imposed fashion coma. I spoke about this last night on my weekly call with my girlfriends back in Ontario and they, knowing me like they do, said, “you love it, buy. And wear it. Who cares about everything else?”
And they’re right. It would seem the only person holding me back, is me. Time to change that.
Playing dress-up begins at age five and never truly endsKate Spade