Wednesday, 1 October 2014

On Style Identity

My favourite thing about fashion is being able to use my body as a canvas that I can dress up or down in whatever style I want, every single day. I was out with a friend Sunday night, discussing the fluidity of fashion and personal identity. As a former '50s and '60s addict, my style has gone through some major changes over the years, oscillating from vintage to modern and everywhere in between. Well before I had a blog I was far more rigid in my style. I felt like my clothing was synonymous with myself, like a brand or emblem. If an article of clothing wasn't vintage or didn't fit my retro look perfectly, I'd feel pangs of guilt for buying new things and like I had to justify why I wanted/needed something out of my style zone. Along the way I set my vintage persona to the side in favour of more modern looks, tired of the negative attention received, the constant altering and upkeep of vintage items, and feeling like I was wearing a costume. But lately I've been enjoying mixing up my styles. I can be retro, primped and polished one day and casual and laid back the next. The two are not mutually exclusive. I think sometimes people put too much stock into their "looks," which I do understand as that used to be me. I am glad I've found a healthy balance within my style because fashion is fun! While the fifties and early sixties will always have my heart, as I love the tailoring, details and outrageous prints, I am greatly enjoying rediscovering my wardrobe by playing around with different looks. I happily have reconciled my love of vintage with my love of modern day styles and casual wear. 
Speaking of casual, here's an outfit I wore out for brunch on Sunday. Blue is my colour right now...

Charmaine x 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Is Toronto Having Its Moment?

My goodness, I still have so much to write about regarding my trip to Toronto! On my second full day in Toronto I met up with my friend Alisa, a former co-worker from my days in corporate retail. For such a tea-cupped sized lady who looks so prim and proper, Alisa has dirtiest mouth, and tongue in cheek sense of humour. My saucy Russian and I brunched at one of my favourite College street joints, a rough-and-tumble Jewish eatery called Free Times Cafe. After brunch we crossed the street from Little Italy to Kensington Market where we vintage shopped, bought stationary, and took too many photos of street art. If you are ever in Toronto, Kensington Market is a must-visit. Chalked full of local, organic food stalls, cheap restaurants, great shopping, incredible street art, cafes, cars turned into planters, and sprawling turn of the century homes, Kensington has an infectious energy and so much character. I lived on the cusp of the downtown core and Chinatown when I lived in Toronto, and spent lots of time in Kensington as it was a ten minute walk down the street. 
Alisa on College street. 

Kid Icarus, a really amazing stationary and bookstore! I came away with a pretty nifty cocktail recipe book and a new notebook. Fact: I am a notebook hoarder. I buy waaaay to many and have yet to even fill half of them up. 

While Canadian media (perhaps all media?) likes to paint Toronto as a soulless, stark city full of new age high rises, outside of the lakeshore and the downtown financial core, most of central, east and west Toronto are far more quirky when it comes to architecture styles. Almost every side street has a mural or graffiti on it. Toronto is an overwhelmingly photogenic city to me. There is always something to look at, from beautiful people to interesting buildings and city scenes.

The interior of Anice, a favourite jewelry store. Owned by a gal from Edmonton! 

Some graffiti in the area

Ah man, I love Toronto. Kensington is just one of the many wonderful communities in Toronto full of character and culture. Right now there is such an air of excitement and energy, that I really do believe Toronto is having it's moment on the world stage. Vogue just named West Queen West the second coolest neighbourhood in the world, the city has been popping up on lists of must visit cities for millenials, foodies, as one of the best cities in the world for quality of life, and most recently as a cultural capital. Toronto is comparatively less expensive than big, famous cultural epicentres, as well as less pretentious and competitive. There's a lot of collaboration and support within arts communities in Toronto, helping the city becoming the cultural hotbed it is currently. More movies are set in Toronto over the past few years such as Take This Waltz and The F Word. Aside from Toronto International Film Festival, there are several small film festivals. The music scene is on fire right now, especially in the summer festival circuit. The visual art scene is crazy, with Dundas, Ossington, Queen and College streets chalked full of hole in the wall galleries throwing crazy parties and exhibitions. The city is home largest English language theatre scene in the world after London and New York. With a huge influx of immigrants, the city boasts one of the best food cultures in the world, with access to some of the most authentic cuisine from everywhere on the globe and at every price point. There's seriously so much going on it's overwhelming - last weekend alone, Lena Dunham did a talk with Jian Ghomeshi  (all time crush of mine, oh dreamy Jian) for the Toronto Comedy festival on Saturday, Sunday two bands I wanted to see did a show at a famous venue, and on Monday the largest award in Canadian music, the Polaris Prize, was given out. And that's just one random weekend in September. 
Point being, Toronto is a great city with heaps going on when it comes to arts and culture. But even if you don't like the arts, there's something for everyone. If it hasn't been on your list before, I can guarantee you won't be disappointed if you visit now! 

 I cannot wait to call Toronto home again. Visit me when I live there! I'll show you a good time. 

 "If I could live anywhere, it would be Toronto" - Kendrick Lamar

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Just Hold On, We're Going Home

Hey babes, 

I just got back from Toronto! West Jet had a seat sale, and for five glorious days I caught up with friends and cousins, brunched, explored, drank delicious craft beers, bought beautiful things I don't need, saw Ty Segall and La Luz play a gig at Danforth Music Hall, and took in an Alex Colville retrospective at the AGO. It was extremely busy, exhausting and so much fun
Most of my time was spent in central or west Toronto, and mostly hanging out with my boo Samim, the handsome chap in these photos. Samim and I celebrate our five year friendship anniversary this September where we met in creative writing class. He moved out to Toronto six months ago, and is currently living in a dreamy Victorian house in the west-Toronto neighbourhood Parkdale, with a stylist and furniture designer named Neil for a housemate. It warmed my heart to see this dear friend flourishing and finding himself amid the intimidating Toronto hustle and bustle. 

I can't even begin to quantify how much I enjoyed myself or how much this little trip meant for me. Returning to Toronto after almost exactly a year away felt like coming home. I am surprised at the personal revelations and newly found perspective I took away from my visit. Perhaps I'll share more specifically in other posts, but in general, a reassurance of myself and my choices, personally and professionally. There will be a smile on a face and a spring in my step for a while, that's for sure. 

Stay tuned for a few more posts! Here are a few shots Samim and I took in a back alley on Ossington Avenue. I bought a Birds of North America dress from Victoire, a dreamy boutique that only stocks Canadian made clothing, and then stopped off at Bellwoods Brewery for tasty craft brews which were promptly consumed in the sunshine on Samim's rooftop patio. A perfect Toronto day!

Hold On We're Going Home by Drake feels an appropriate song for this post, seeing as the rapper is from Toronto and reps his city with pride.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Sana and Ramez Get Hitched

Here are photos of my co-worker Sana's wedding! She was the most beautiful bride. I ate delicious food, caught up with co-workers, and even got a little teary-eyed during the speeches. I felt like I was at an award show! There were three hundred people there. Here are some photos from the two day affair. 

My Eva Franco dress I wore on day one, at the Mehndi. 
Erisha dressed up traditional eastern style. I love Erisha. Her last name is Lowe, too! She and I didn't get a long when we first started working together, but she's become one of my favourite people to work with, and someone I love hanging out with. She's all sass and class. 
The ONLY photo of me and Sana. 
Lowe squared. 

Look at the groomsmen dancing! 

Day two - reception. 
Erisha and her daughter, Jada. 
My and my work ladies! I love these girls. Sad I won't be working with them much longer, as I've handed in my notice! 
Sana and Ramez's entrance! Sana had her dress custom made in Pakistan (where her family is from). I'd seen sketches and photos over the last few months, but was blown away when she came down. Not going to lie guys, I teared up when she came in. 

I love weddings! I can now tick Muslim wedding off my list. All the best to Sana and Ramez while they take Dubai by storm. 

Charmaine x 

Monday, 15 September 2014

A Colourful Weekend, and Showing Gratitude

I had a truly spectacular weekend. After a real crap week, three days full of fun and festivities warmed my soul. Colourful is the perfect way to describe my last few days. On Friday I enjoyed over-the-top costumes and tongue-in-cheek dance numbers performed by ladies of all shapes and sizes at the Edmonton Burlesque festival, followed by an amazingly grand, sumptuous Muslim wedding of a favourite co-worker who looked like A PRINCESS, topped off with coffee and a lazy sunday afternoon perusal of a local outdoor festival downtown with my mother.  I also saw my friend Henry who is visiting from Vancouver. I am full of joy! 

I am happy because this weekend reinforced the importance of perspective and showing gratitude. People act like it's lame to be schmaltzy, emotional, saccharine, but sometimes that corniness is exactly what you need to shut-up those negative thoughts. It's bizarre, I have zero to complain about or be unhappy about, and lately I've been feeling stressed about stupid, small things, and more introverted than usual. This week was really cold, and trying to balance my work schedule while transitioning into being a student again has been harder than I anticipated. I've also put on some weight recently due to some meds I am on, and I've broken out in stress acne that just won't seem to go away. I hesitate to even mention this on my blog because would I HATE being one of those people that seem like they are fishing for compliments or pity. But there really isn't anything more personal than your body, and how you feel about your body can majorly influence your thoughts and feelings. While being bigger doesn't bother me, not fitting any of my clothes sure as hell does. In a way it kind of ruined my summer, having all these beautiful clothes in your closet that won't even do up. 
And then I'll have a weekend like the one I had and I remember that all these negative thoughts are meaningless in the grand scheme of things. I got to see someone I adore get married and experience my first Muslim wedding. The last few weekends have been crazy fun, filled with all the laughs, dance parties, cards against humanity, and Denim Daddy cocktails. Being back in school is exciting. I am learning interesting things, joining clubs, and meeting new people. It's GORGEOUS outside despite the wasps, and the leaves haven't even started turning yet. There's fun stuff going on in the city. And gaining weight has taught me a lesson in appreciation, if only to snap me out of whatever body dismorphia I've had in the past. I am learning to love myself at any size, and if I ever magically fit into my smaller clothes again, I won't even dare belittle or doubt that body again. I didn't appreciate it when I had it, but I sure as hell will from now on. 

Also corny but effective: when feeling negative, write down five positive things. About yourself, your day, your life. It really helps me with getting over downer voices in my head when I get in a funk about something. 

Here's an outfit from the weekend. I bought this 60s dress in Portland last February, but have found it surprisingly hard to style. It has a really specific colour palette, and any variation just seems to clash. Here's how I styled it over the weekend when I visited the Kaleido festival on 118 Ave.
This soda is so goood! 

Anyways, I hope you all are well, and had wonderful weekends too. Expect a photo dump from the wedding over the next few posts. 

Talk soon! 

Charmaine x