Vintage Style: The Flapper Party Look

It’s the roaring twenties and you step out of your Lincoln L-Series Sports Phaeton with ornate cigarette holder gracefully held in hand.

A long pearl necklace gracefully drapes your neck and your short bobbed hair frames your face.

You stand up to reveal your sleek knee-length dress with dropped waistline and it moves in the wind slightly to reveal the sheer silk stockings and lace garter beneath it.

A quick dash is made to the ladies room to reapply your vibrant lipstick and dark eye make-up then you head to the stage with your high heel, button fastened Mary Jane’s. The lights are on and the music is fierce – the Charleston dance fills the floor. You break only momentarily to place your form fitting beaded cap and flirty fringe purse on the sidelines.

The Flapper look is sexy and comfortable making it often emulated. Want to know what to look for at your local vintage store to create this head turning look?

Buy a Dress:

Though it features a garçonne (vertical & boyish) shape it is still considered very feminine and tends to include a plunging neckline in both the front and back. Some of the dresses were made of flashy beaded and sequined material while others were more plain. They were all generally sleeveless and a bit more heavy weighted. Women often topped these off with a more voluminous shawl-collar coat.

Add Accessories:

The most popular accessoires were chandelier-style earrings, lighter coloured (or sheer) silk stockings, lace garter belts, narrow neck scarfs, long glass bead (or pearl) necklaces, intricate cloche hats or headbands with feathers. Shoes would of been comfy and classic for dancing the night away. Mary Jane’s were a dominant shoe. Don’t forget a pretty cigarette holder!

If you need help with 20’s make-up you should visit this Historically Accurate 1920’s Make-up Tutorial. For more on the full fashion of the 1920’s take a look at Pinterest’s Fashion and Apparel from the 1920’s. If you look through the fashion make sure to take note of some different hair options for those (like myself) who cannot pull of the Louise Brooks “Bob.”

To achieve this Great Gatsby look don’t forget to bring this shopping list I created to inspire you. Simply save the picture to your cell or computer. Check back often for more on vintage style and where to get it.

Flapper look shopping list
Flapper’s 20’s Look – Shopping & Inspiration List. Simply save the picture to your cellphone or computer.

Flapper: The term “flapper” first appeared in Great Britain after World War I. The exact origin of the word flapper is unknown. It is believed to have stemmed from a reference to a young baby bird that is learning to fly for the first time and flaps its wings. It was then thought to describe younger girls, not yet graceful in movement who had not come into womanhood yet. Adding to that in university campuses (post-World War 1) girls with unfastened rubber galoshes over their shoes often made the tops “flap” around.

Men’s Vintage Clothing – Styling and Shopping List

mens fashions 2Hello Fellas,

The good news is vintage clothing for men is becoming much easier to come by these days. The bad news is it can be hard to distinguish what pieces will be worthwhile additions to your existing wardrobe. Before you purchase vintage pieces it is good to consider a few important things:

Manliness & Fit: Take it from a woman, the worst thing is when a guy is trying to pull off vintage style and he looks too feminine or like he should be wearing things in a size up. There is a fine line between form fitting vintage clothes and vintage clothes that are too tight. A few signs a piece may not be for you is if:

  1. Your “package” is creating a prominent bulge in your pants (not in a good way). In short, your pants look painted on. 
  2. You try doing a minimal stretch and the shoulder area in your jacket feels too snug. Test movement of the piece. 
  3. Your wrists and ankles are very exposed when wearing full length garments. (Note: it is okay if they are showing a little) 

Try Mixing & Matching: Vintage clothes can age you if you don’t do it right. Wearing too many pieces of older clothes can in fact make you look older, especially if you already have a thick beard and larger glasses. The key is to not hide behind the clothes or let them weigh you down. Vintage pieces should be mixed with a few modern pieces to give you that overall sharp look. 

Suitability: Understand what suits you! Some people (myself included) can’t pull everything off. Know your proportions, existing style and plan accordingly. Ex. I look terrible in large sunglasses because of my face shape so I generally just don’t wear them.

I know it sucks when you find only one of something in a store and you try it on and it isn’t 100% what you hoped but sometimes you have to just put it back.

Now that you have digested a few style considerations why not add some vintage staples to your closet. Keep in mind when purchasing some of these it may be worthwhile to splurge on select pieces as you could have them for a lifetime.

Vintage clothing shows such as the one coming up in Ottawa this weekend may be a good place to start.


Jackets & Blazers:

Biker Style Leather Jacket: Should be black or dark brown with a bit of a worn/distressed look. Should not be longer than your torso and should be zip up with a high collar.

Military Style Trench Coat: Should be cotton, not pea coat material. Double breasted is your best bet! Burberry made some awesome coats in the past. Don’t forget to make sure it has its belt. I went to a few vintage stores lately and the trenches were missing the matching belt. Full length coat only. If you prefer a more polished look rather than casual pull a Don Draper (from Mad Men) and go for a high-collared tan trench that’s a bit more refined.

Barbour Wax Jacket: You can usually find them in a variety on cool colour combos. Be picky about the number of pockets. Too many pockets overpowers this jacket. Check for holes in the pockets and any re-stitching.

Tailored Tuxedo Jacket – A black satin lapel is always nice and allows this jacket to be versatile – easily dress it up or add some dark denim and dress it down. There are some nice wool blend tuxedo jackets out there. Some people love velvet ones however keep in mind velvet is kind of heavy so not ideal to wear in all seasons.

Timeless Tweed Jacket (with elbow patches): These jackets look smoking hot in a darker brown or deep blue colour. Obviously they are woven with other colours to make them appear a bit lighter. The darker the blend the more this jacket will make for a good evening look.

Shirts & Sweaters:

Plaid Flannel Shirt: Go for a long sleeve traditional flannel shirt. Try something a bit different and casual Friday appropriate and aim for no Christmas colours if possible.

Denim Shirt: Long sleeve only! Can be paired/layered nicely with flannel.

Band T-Shirts: Black & White band shirts are classic. It is also okay if there is a bit of fading, it just adds to the look. New can be overrated and doesn’t add that vintage vibe. Authentic T’s are always rockin.

Chunky Knit Crew Neck Sweater: Any colour. It is also a good layering piece. You could also try a Cable Knit Sweater. Get a colour that brings out your eyes and goes well under some of your work button down collared shirts.

Carefree Button Up Cardigan: These are so versatile and can go over dressy shirts or more casual shirts. The lighter the better than you can layer more. Go for standard colours like beige, black etc. so you can pair with more pieces.

Fun Times Fair Isle Sweater: Go for a fun knitted one with a bit of character. This is better for the Spring, Fall and Winter. Its a good conversation piece at a party. All the ladies (and men) will likely bring it up while chatting with you.


Jeans: Go for a slim straight leg pant. Dark washes are preferred! If you are going to get lighter vintage denim stay away from a long zipper crotch and high pockets on your butt.

Thick Chinos: Also try and find a straight leg. These pants look great in tan or navy.

Looking for a full ensemble?  Pair these items above with a pair of Brogue or Chelsea boots and you are good to go. Come back for more next week on men’s vintage accessories – ties, hats and sunglasses oh my.


Artistry was in the air – The Ottawa Antique Show Day 2 Recap

April 6, 2014

Elaine Barre -Jewellery Case
Elaine Barre -Jewellery Case

The crowds were thick today and the customers were happy. Artistry was in the air and I was loving it.

It was not long before I set foot in an enchanting display and was greeted by the welcoming Elaine Barre. The polished pendant that was my “buy of the day” yesterday at The Ottawa Antique Show was from her booth. Today I confirmed that it was from a previous Joan Rivers collection.

Elaine Barre -Stunning purses
Elaine Barre -Stunning purses

After admiring all the women’s accessoires including ritzy coin purses (pictured here) and learning of a local antique & vintage store I have to visit real soon called, Antique Hoarders, I was on my merry way.

The Curiousity Shop-Georgette Hat
The Curiousity Shop-Georgette Hat

Down the hall, The Curiousity Shop sparked my interest because of all the shiny objects that flanked their booth. On the back tables I could see some womens wear including a few hats. I wondered over and almost instantly bought this $4 Vintage Georgette labeled hat made of the Finest Imported Fur felt (Tchecoslovaquie).

Dorothy Bradley, the friendly vendor, mentioned the hat came from a sale in Westboro (Ottawa, ON) years ago. Right next door, I took a quick peak at some antique prints and maps.

Shortly after I landed at Pollikers Antiques featuring fine country furniture all the way from Greenwood, Ontario. The owner Gerry Marks was very informative and his Hoosier solid oak cupboard from Sutton, Ontario circa 1900 was the apple of my eye.

All of the items is his display had a very distinct look and a real homey feeling.

Pollikers Antiques -Cupboard
Pollikers Antiques -Cupboard

I always cherish the people that I meet at antique shows and the stories that are traded. It is just a bonus that I get to add some great new pieces to my own collection in the process.

I highly recommend checking out the upcoming Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show on April 13th. I heard through passing that some of the vendors from this past weekends Antique show may make an appearance there as well.

Hope to see you there!

(If you missed Part 1 visit: It spoke to me -Ottawa Antique Show Day 1 Recap)


What is the Difference between Antique, Vintage and Retro?

what does the word mean

Good Afternoon Readers,

It has taken me a while to understand what the difference is between the terms (and classification of) Antique, Vintage and Retro.  I wanted to share my informed answers built from many different resources and research over the past few years.

Antique: Refers to an item that is at least 100 years old. You may notice in recent years that antique shops are filled with items from the fifties and sixties. It appears that some people deem antiques can also fall in the 50-99 year range as well.  I have also read (and heard) that while you can restore/repair an antique to be considered an antique it should retain its original character after any restoration or repairs. Many have thrown around percentages that relay how much an item can be adjusted (during restore/repair) without diminishing value. I have not found a widely accepted number. 

Definition: of or belonging to the past; not modern. dating from a period long ago: antique furniture. Source:

Vintage: Refers to an item that is around 20 years old or older. With this being said some people (retailers included) consider anything that is between 7-15 years or older authentic vintage because it is from a previous era. The line is blurred in many cases and it is not entirely understood what the oldest age would be. It is said that vintage is anything that approaches the age of being an antique.  

Definition: representing the high quality of a past time: vintage cars; vintage movies. old-fashioned or obsolete: vintage jokes. Source:

Retro: Refers to an item that appears out of fashion or is not in style for the current time period . Again with this being said you will find many objective opinions on what retro means and what decades people believe fit the retro time frame. Most people think retro consists of items reminiscent of the 1950’s-1980’s. Whereas others believe it is a “once upon a time popular item” that may not be so popular at the present time. 

Definition: of or designating the style of an earlier time: retro clothes. Source:

On another token Wikipedia mentions clothing which was produced before the 1920s is referred to as antique clothing and clothing from the 1920s to 20 years before the present day is considered vintage. Source: Wikipedia®

To be clear many would say there is no 100% correct answer as this (the definition of these 3 items) can be quite subjective. These above are my best compiled answers.

I hope this post helps you to easily distinguish the difference between the items your find in your travels. Come back soon for more on how these terms came to be and what some of the experts say about how these pieces can be further defined.

* Note: Antique/vintage car (vehicle) classification does not generally follow the same definitions above.

Vintage Clothing Shows – Toronto and Ottawa

Fellow Fashion Hunters,

vintage show graphic

Looking forward to a room filled with all things vintage? I know I am!

Friendly reminder that there are some wicked vintage shows coming up. I will definitely be visiting the Ottawa show. Check out the event websites below for more information.

The Toronto Vintage Clothing Show  Sunday, March 23, 2014  (Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2W6)

The Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show Sunday, April 13, 2014 (Ottawa Convention Centre, 55 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, K1N 9J2)

Show Time: 10am-5pm
Admission: $10 (may be best to bring cash or get ticket in advance if possible to avoid line-ups)

Happy hunting!