I just wanted to pop in and say that my uploads may be slower than usual for the upcoming months. With school approaching, I’ll obviously have limited time to write and create projects solely for this blog—but don’t fear! I’ll probably have my hands full in fashion school, meaning that I’ll be tackling a lot of creative work that are sure to be featured in the future. I can’t wait for what’s in store, and hopefully, you’ll get to see the proverbial ‘cogs and wheels’ of what I have going on behind the scenes.
Arguably, one of the main advantages of knowing how to sew is never spending thousands of dollars on designer clothing. Sure, it doesn’t entirely alleviate the temptation of copping a few garments from Moda Operandi, but there’s definitely a level of pride in thinking, ‘hey, I could totally make that.’ Over the years, my skills in pattern-making, drafting, and machine sewing have improved to a level where I can confidently construct my own haute couture closet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no expert. I’m still a work in progress.
My next project consisted of a semi-easy DIY: the Ivory Ruffle Apron Top from Selkie. At first glance, it’s relatively simple in construction. I didn’t have to worry about fit as much, as the most complicated step is the short bodice. I made my own variations in terms of the shoulder straps and back. Instead of opting for a corset detail or a zipper, I decided to install shirring for a more comfortable fit. I’m pretty proud of the end result, as it offers the right amount of volume and drama.
What I’m Wearing
Top: Handmade (Inspired by Selkie)
Skirt: Aritzia (Sunday Best)
Hair accessories: Sukoshi Mart
Next up, I wanted to tackle the Paris Georgia Singlet top. This proved to be rather detail-oriented, as it was quite difficult to nail the heart neckline as I was sewing the bias in. Additionally, I wasn’t keen on buying special fabric for this project, given that I wanted to reduce the amount of material I had on the backlog. The best that I could do was black satin, meaning that I needed to add in darts to ensure the perfect fit. Since the fabric offered no stretch, I decided to opt for shirring again in place of a zipper. The end result gives me mixed feelings, as it’s not totally on point with the real Paris Georgia top, but it does bear a slight resemblance.
As Canada’s abnormal humidity persists, I find myself bathing in complimentary a.c granted at my local thrift stores. Obviously, I’m not just there to soak in the crisp cold air, as I also picked up a few key pieces along the way. Dresses are something that I should generally avoid, given that I’ve amassed a sizable collection over the years. Nevertheless, I still managed to find three incredible designs that I just couldn’t say no to. In my own defense, I have been quite strict in how I thrift, so it’s been a hot minute since I picked anything at my local second-hand shop.
I’ll admit that these three looks are not the most friendly considering the weather, but they’ll do just finely in normal 22° degree humidity. I wanted to keep things flirty and fun, since we’re nearing the somewhat end of summer. Oh, and to switch things up a little, I put on a pink wig for a pop of color. I’m not totally accustomed to this hue, but it’s started to grow on me. As a note to my future self: don’t buy $30 wigs off of Amazon. This one managed to lose a significant amount of hair after two uses.
Without further ado, let’s jump ahead in this summer-inspired lookbook!
The upsurge of thrift-tok has risen over the years, which may come as a surprising shock for experienced thrifters or a ‘been there, done that’ eye roll for some. In my experience, buying second-hand clothes was considered taboo, given their affiliation with being cheap. In a way, it’s reassuring to know that the stigma is no longer there, but I’ve got to admit that it’s a little unnerving for people to label thrifting the newest in-thing. Call me a special snowflake; I’ve been doing this for years.
Obviously, you shouldn’t view my thrifting skills as the peak of expertise, as I’m sure that my methods may be questionable for some. With that being said, I’m fairly confident that I picked up a few things along the way. If you find yourself at a stand-still at your local Goodwill (or Value Village), I’ll share some tips and tricks for thrifters to keep in mind. In my opinion, the goal of every shopping trip is to walk away satisfied—haul or no haul.
Look for quality, not the brand tag
I’ve seen a fair amount of thrifters scour for the brand tag when it comes to clothes. Obviously, fast fashion labels such as Shein or Romwe get a bad rep for being cheap and unsustainable. I’m not here to defend companies with questionable manufacturing practices, but I’d like to re-instate the fact that sustainability starts at the transaction. The person behind the Shein purchase is half-to-blame, but you can at least decrease their carbon footprint by picking up a pre-used Shein dress. It won’t win any awards in quality, but I’m sure that it’ll last for a decent amount of time. If that Boohoo shirt calls your name, don’t be ashamed in adding it to your shopping cart.
2. Leave no aisle unturned
I’m not referring to children’s clothes, as most experienced thrifters advise newbies. Instead, I’m talking about aisles pertaining to fabric, loose material, sleepwear, and even maternity garments. You’d be surprised with the number of finds tucked away in unseen corners. A good amount of my thrift finds are found in random places.
3. Don’t pay attention to shoe sizing
Popular thrift stores, such as Goodwill, Value Village, and Salvation Army, aren’t known to be super curated and organized. This bodes especially true for shoes, as most shoppers aren’t keen to put back pairs in their original spots. As a result, it’s not uncommon to find a size 7 in a size 6. You should also look for footwear in other sections, such as the men’s, women’s, or even children’s.
4. Be skeptical about designer finds
This includes behind-the-counter items and products sold openly for customer viewing. Some store reps confuse counterfeit goods with the real thing, as it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate designer from dupe nowadays. Unless you’re 100% sure about a certain purse or garment, I suggest double-checking on the internet before committing to purchase.
5. Never underestimate the power of a one-piece (and a pair of slip-on shoes)
If you often shop for second-hand clothes, chances are that you’ll be stuck in the try-on stall for a majority of your time. Instead of waiting around for the next open booth, I advise wearing a simple jumpsuit or romper to make the process easier. I recommend opting for a neutral-toned one-piece, as it can easily test a garment’s versatility and practicality. Of course, wearing hassle-free shoes is also an asset. Trust me, there’s nothing more frustrating than untying and re-tying your Chuck Taylors over and over again.
Summer humidity gets the best of us. While we usually affiliate laziness with the lack of entertainment, we typically gloss over the fact that fashion is often cast aside. On most days, I can’t be bothered to dress up, given that I generally resort to plain basics and breathable clothing as my go-to option. What can I say? I love practicality. With that being said, I’m often disappointed with the outfits I choose to opt for each day, as I’m all always hungering for something a little extra. After all, summer (and spring) is the season for flirtatious cuts, romantic silhouettes, and lots of floral print.
This week, I decided to jazz things up by creating three looks. I’ll be totally honest with you, most of them aren’t practical for beating the summer humidity, but as the saying goes: fashion demands sacrifice. It’s also worth noting that 90% of the pieces I’m wearing are thrifted.
The story starts at the thrift store, because of course it does.
More specifically, I spotted this gorgeous silk polyester blend that was hanging around in the drapery section. It was originally a curtain, considering that it had a scalloped hem with a tasseled trim. I loved the stitching details, as it showcased this stunning floral decal from top to bottom. Since the fabric looked so regal and sophisticated, it was only fitting that I make a dress. If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, then you already know of my obsession with sewing skirts and gowns. Obviously, I don’t need another dress in my overflowing closet, but when the material speaks to you, you listen.
Instead of opting for the usual mini, I wanted to add shorts underneath to make it more wearable. In the past, I’ve had my fill of wearing bottoms underneath for extra modesty, but it always made the resulting outfit look too bulky. Fortunately, the fabric at hand was relatively thin, so I didn’t have to worry about excess material. To keep things flexible, I decided to shirr the front bodice. Originally, I thought to make a corset to make the dress more romantic, but I knew it would sacrifice a bit of comfortability. Trekking forward, I used a pre-existing pattern I had for shorts and fused them together with the finished top. I pleated the remaining fabric and managed to sandwich the hem into the waistband.
The result is a half win. At first, I wanted the waist to have a more v-line cut to help accentuate the torso, but that proved rather difficult for stretchy fabric. I think it would’ve been easier if I stuck with the corset bodice, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have gotten many uses. Secondly, the shorts aren’t as obscure as I wanted them to be, but it did remind me of those early Victorian bloomers that women wore for biking. All in all, I think this is a super cute romper to wear for the summer season.
A couple of days ago, I chanced upon BestDressed’s Instagram page to view a project she originally designed. It was this gorgeous mini dress with a flared skirt and puff sleeves. I’m assuming that Ashley was originally inspired by the Insta-famous Selkie dress that’s all over social media. I happen to own the Baby Banana Puff number, so I absolutely had no reason to make another version. But, c’est la vie—I still wanted to try.
What made Ashley’s version so enchanting to me was not primarily the silhouette. Her fabric of choice featured this gorgeous vintage floral fabric. In a bizarre turn of events, I happened to chance upon the same kind of material at my local thrift store. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very different from what Ashley had, but it still imbues that same antique vibe. Instead of flowers, I got fruit, which in my opinion is a lot more decadent.
The construction itself wasn’t very hard. With that being said, I did run into a few problems regarding fit, so I had to add more fabric in the back. It’s a bit janky, but you honestly couldn’t tell unless you really squinted at it. The dress itself is relatively heavy, due to the fact that it comes with chiffon lining on the inside.
I’m well aware that this is my billionth post about summer fashion, but what can I say? The beauty of nature, the tranquility of chirping cicadas, and the flirtatious attitude of sun-swept afternoons beckons to me. Plus, it’s the only season of the year in which you’re free to wear a mix of autumn and springtime fashion. For this collection, I wanted to imbue that fantasy of summertime romance, something that you’d find in a classic Ghibli movie.
The three garments featured are 100% handmade. I made these over the cusp of 2 months, with one taking the majority of my time. The two short-sleeved blouses I crafted were relatively easy to create. To be fair, I did have the help of a pre-made pattern I bought on Etsy. Shout out to Anna the Tailor; she did the real grunt work in regards to measurements.
So, without further ado, here are the three projects I’ve completed so far.
The China Porcelain Blouse
Using a pattern I bought from Etsy, I created this poetic blouse using chiffon silk. I wanted to imbue that delicate nature of blue-painted porcelain, so I thought to embroider the neck collar and the cuffs manually. I didn’t plan to add the pearl buttons on the sides, but it helped to provide that romantic element to the entire look. The shirring detail helped to give the blouse some shape, especially when paired with the dramatic sleeves.
What I’m wearing:
The Pink Tie-up Top
A couple of weeks ago, my uncle gifted me this gorgeous pink fabric that was originally used as a tablecloth. Originally, I wanted to make pants, but I dreamt of this cute blouse with tie-up detail. It’s a little hard to see, but there’s a sizeable cut-out on the back to help give the garment more oomph. The fit is perfect, minus a few raw hems here are there. It’s a little bit stiff, but I think it gives the blouse some needed structure.
What I’m wearing:
The Silk Cowl Neck Top
I bought this luxurious creamy silk eons ago, and I originally made plans to make a bustier out of it. It didn’t turn out how I wanted it to look, so I thought to make use of the remaining fabric into a silk top. Using a pattern bought from Etsy, this cute blouse was relatively easy to construct. I think I used a polyester/silk blend, so it didn’t drape the way that I wanted it to fold. As a temporary fix, I used some double-sided tape to help create that dramatic ‘curtain effect.’
It’s Toronto Metropolitan University, but we’ll discuss the name choice on another day.
My passion for fashion is a decade-long love affair, so it ultimately made sense for me to pursue my studies. I remember driving up to God knows where with my mother in the passenger seat and the casual topic of sewing came up. After a thoughtful conversation, she encouraged me to spread my wings and dip my toes into the creative arts. I was filled with excitement and hesitation. For one, it meant another four years of essays, homework, and commuting. It also drove a colloquial axe into my future savings, in hopes of renting my own place. But, she convinced me that it was more of a once-in-a-lifetime investment. Would I regret it? It only took me a few seconds to say yes.
It was relatively easy picking my top three.
During the time, COVID was still a rampant issue, so I decided that international studies were not the most feasible option. Inevitably, I chose Ryerson, George Brown, and Humber as my top-tier contenders. I knew that Ryerson had the best program since I was already exposed to the fashion curriculum there. Ironically enough, the application itself was trickier to fill out compared to the portfolio itself. I’ll spare you the details, but basically, it was a bunch of hopping back and forth about completing the right forms and submitting the correct documents.
The portfolio consisted of an essay and three creative works. I knew I had the write-up in the bag, so I decided to focus a majority of my time on the projects themselves. I chose to create my own outfit from scratch, which proved to be quite expensive. I wanted to show off my passion for fashion history, as well as demonstrate my sewing skills as well. I came up with a bejeweled corset and a slim turtleneck dress underneath. I also wanted to include a French hood for a bit of sophistication. It wasn’t integral to the look, but I needed to balance out the glitz showcased on the top.
I won’t go into the specifics about how I constructed this outfit, but let me tell you—I was definitely self-conscious about my own sewing skills and pattern-making abilities. The fit wasn’t exactly perfect, but my mom gently reminded me that every fashion school candidate applies with some sort of detriment. At the end of the day, it didn’t look so bad. Thank god for angles and the nuance of black fabric.
If you happen to chance upon this article looking for tips and tricks, I’d be more than happy to share my own experience. The best advice that I can ever give is to proceed without insecurity. It’s normal to have imposter syndrome, which is why it’s important to remind yourself that school exists to improve your abilities. Other tips include starting early, making sure you have enough fabric, and try on the garment as much as you can.
After months of nervously waiting, I’m happy to report: I GOT IN! I was waiting for that offer of admission to come in before uploading the post. Of course, I would’ve published this article regardless of the result, but the tone of the write-up would’ve been more somber if it was a deafening negative.
Before I end this post, here are a few concept sketches I illustrated for other outfits. They’re a bit more complicated in design, so you can see why I opted for the corset/turtleneck look to help save some time.
I have no legitimate excuses as to why this post is so late, so I’ll spare you the sob story. Today’s topic is about spring fashion, and the excitement I have in shedding my bulky winter coat. The warm season is finally upon us, and we’re one step closer to wearing mini skirts, dresses, and shorts. Of course, you’re ultimately free to wear whatever you want, but this transition period is the sweet spot between chilly and warm. I got the chance to head over to downtown Toronto in the past couple of weeks, and it would be a missed opportunity to not wear something cute.
Below, I created two cohesive outfits that are casual enough for everyday wear, but imbue a subtle sense of romanticism for those who want to celebrate spring. You may have already seen some pieces in older posts, but I guess it goes to show how versatile they are 🙂 Anywho, enjoy!