Diary of a Frugalista:Stamped Denim

Diary of a Frugalista:Stamped Denim

When it is gloomy and rainy outside, it is the perfect time to stay at home and start some DIY projects!

Today I will show a sequel of my  Bleached Denim post. Let’s stamp!

My inspiration was these bleached-n-painted jeans shorts. I loved the idea of combining a bold black and white design with the subtle denim texture. The problem was… I could not do it by hand because I am so bad at drawing! What could be the solution? Stamping! Stamping is perfect for me. It is very easy to do, and gives a greater uniqueness and personal touch than what you can find in stores.

To my surprise, it was not easy to find good stamping accessories in Montreal. Some stampers were available at the art store DeSerres. Stamping kits were there too, but they were paired with a regular paint that is not suitable for fabric. Even Dollarama failed to help: I was only able to find toy stampers for kids there.

Of course, I could have bought the accessories on the Internet. But I did not want to wait – it was time to get creative!

I made a stamping inkpad out of a dish sponge that I cut through the middle. Small air-tight plastic containers from Dollarama became inkpad cases. The fabric paint was bought at DeSerres. Also, I bought a few floral and heart-shaped stampers there and got a bag of toy finger stampers at Dollarama.


At first, I did some sample tests. I diluted the pink paint with a bit of water and poured it on the sponge.  Then, I stamped the fabric and realized that- surprise, surprise! – results are better when stamping is done on a flat surface.

After stamping is done, the design needs to become permanent! The paint gets fixed by ironing for 5 minutes in cotton selection. Once fixed, the design resists machine washing and dry cleaning.

After waiting for the paint to dry, I washed the samples. Woo-hoo, it looks so cool!

Floral stamps looked pretty too.

Although I liked the resulting floral pattern, I wanted to make a geometric ornament with circles and rectangles. To do that, I bought an eraser and used its wide side as a stamper. The circle was made out of a finger stamper with the shape part removed.

The result was not perfect enough for me. The surface of the eraser side was too large, and the paint got unevenly distributed across the surface. The same happened with the circles.

After experimenting more, I decided to use the most narrow side of the eraser. It greatly improved the quality of the prints. Hurray!

I liked the brick pattern the best. Instead of the circles, I decided to use the star finger stamper.

Ok! So the pattern and the technique was all set! It was the time to prepare the shorts.

I bought a pair of jeans at a thrift store.

Then I cut and bleached them using the instructions I have recently published.

Stamping time! Making the very first prints was so exciting!

The left part was stamped with stars. Some stamps turned out to be untidy, because the circular edge of the stamper left marks. Another hint: to get a good quality print, use good tools!

On the back, I only stamped the pockets.

Before fixing the design, I waited one hour to let the paint dry.

Fixing by ironing was long and inconvenient, so I decided to use a different method! I baked the shorts in the oven for 5 minutes with the temperature at 300F.

(OMG, my oven is so dirty! Have not noticed before!)

Here comes the result! I rolled up the trouser legs and sewed them underneath in a few places. After baking, the fabric got some yellowish tint. The tint was resistant and survived washing, so I decided to pretend it was by design!

The view from the back. The flaps need to be ironed after every washing.

Stamping is cool!

A few practical tips from my experience:

  • Quality of the print depends on the quality of the stamper, so it is worth to spend money on accessories.
  • Do stamping carefully on a flat surface; to make sure the fabric was  flat, I put a magazine inside the shorts.
  • The fabric should be stretched and secured with pins.
  • Whitebright paint will probably not be visible on a light cloth; while choosing the paint, pay attention to what fabric it is designed for (darklight).
  • It is much easier to dry the paint in the oven than doing so by ironing; of course, it will work only if the garment has no plastic details or buttons.

This is it! Happy stamping!

My blog:

Interview with 4 elements

Interview with 4 elements

Dear Swappers,

Please give a warm welcome to Marie from 4 elements, who has kindly offered us her store as a drop-off point for clothing donations.

Boutique 4 Elements  is located on 4326 St-Denis (map) and clothing donations can be made during the following times up until July 22nd:

Mon – Wed: 11am – 6pm

Thurs – Friday: 11am – 8pm

Sat: 10am – 5pm Sun: 11am – 5pm

When would you say are the fashion world’s peak moments during the year?
The fashion world usually has 2 seasons, which in “fast fashion”, is then divided in two. But at 4 elements, the switch-overs are fall-winter into spring-summer, as we are based in a country where each season requires quite a different relationship to clothing in order to accommodate completely different climates.

What’s your definition of sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion starts with two ingredients: quality and style. We carefully select fashions according to their materials (certified organic cottons and low impact fabrics such as hemp, tencel, linen, wool, etc.) and review the story behind the clothing, where it is made and how. Styling also plays into our definition of sustainability, as we believe we should be able to wear garments over and over, season after season, not so much according to trends but according to fit. This changes our relationship to clothing in general: buying a piece of clothing that makes us feel great has more impact on people than buying a piece to follow a trend. It also changes our relationship to the products we choose to consume. We relate to each product, artist, and designer we represent, or as we put it: It’s conscious culture and fashion as storytelling.

Do you consider 4 Elements to be an Eco-friendly boutique? If so, how?
Ecological materials, brand stories, social involvement are highly sought traits by our buying team at 4 elements. Our mission is to offer only ecological quality products in order to create a healthier life and a more accountable one,  all while experiencing more enjoyment. Being smart and beautiful according to the ecologicalconcept is possible. We will attempt to convince everyone  of this, through our modern and unique selection, always according to our sustainable, ethical and eco-friendly guidelines. From organic cotton to hemp, recycled bike tubes or recycled pop bottle fabrics, there’s so much to discover. It is conscious culture and fashion as storytelling that makes being “green” feel great!

How would you like to see the fashion industry change over the next ten years? How do you think they should do it?
With stronger awareness about the environment, better education on the benefits of the global organic movement for both the earth and mankind, sustainability is starting to gain momentum with consumers. As Laure Waridel puts it, “Acheter, c’est voter”. Consumers have a voice and we want to support them in using it wisely.

We need to relate once again to what we wear and buy, we need to value the materials we take from our lands and the human resources used to transform them. This is not an overnight shift: our relationship to the goods we consume is key.

What’s a day In 4 Elements like?
At 4 elements, we not only strive to change the relationship to goods, but we have also created an environment where we encourage human connection. On a daily basis, we have sustainability conversations with our customers. Sometimes they are already aware; sometimes this information is completely new to them. Our one-of-a-kind boutique is an integral part of our distinctive character as we provide a shopping experience that is on a human level.

What designers do you sell in your boutique?
From Montreal, we carry clothing lines from Jennifer Glasgow, Pascale Viau, Advika, Musky, Kiitsch, Mademoiselle Valérie, Pas de ChiChi, Sugaristik, handbags we have Ressac, Deborah Adams, Sens Inverse, Lucie Bélanger and jewellery we do Otra, Arterre, Chikiboom, Z Créations, Estrella, Rose Pedals, Elk, Ada Jito, Vuela Vuela and much more to discover!

We do also carry other  Canadian designers  such as We3, Elroy, Lindsey M, Echo Verde, just to name a few!

What sales or deals do you have now?
We always have a great sale selection from 20% to 70% off but we are also helping locally made Soap to clear out their remaining line.

Tell us about the history of your boutique. How was it founded? What was the idea behind it? How did you start working here?
4 elements was founded in 2010 to follow the founder’s dream of an eco-friendly lifestyle boutique. Supporting sustainability and local flavours is first and foremost, but  we also offer different price points to reach to a wider audience. We provide basics that everyone can jazz up with style and unique accessories!

What plans do you have for the future?
We launched our online boutique on June 1st, as we want to showcase our local flavours and eco-fashion outside of our physical location. We continue to spread the eco conscious word and want to take part in this major shift towards sustainability. In the future, we would like to spread our wings and carry more goods, always keeping within our sustainable, ethical and eco-friendly guidelines.

If you had all the power of the world, how would you change the fashion world?
I would slow down the pace of fashion, design and production. “Fast fashion” terribly affects quality, durability and humanity. “Slow fashion” allows us to bring back more grounded values, such as the well-fitting piece in our boutique. We have a great selection of yoga clothes, mats and accessories because we are yogis. We’ve selected organic beauty and hair products that will amaze with their quality, their natural scents and other special properties. Last but not least, we carry home products for everyday use, from well designed mugs to reusable lunch packing solutions.

Behind the scenes of The SWAP Team’s Spring/Summer 2012Look Book Photoshoot

By Flora Law

At The SWAP Team we have been super super busy making preparations to bring you the most fashion-tastic swap event on July 28th and 29th at the Place des Arts Montreal! We have been cooking up some pretty amazing stuff and pulled off quite a few great looks from the various swapped items from several donors and our awesome local and eco-friendly sponsors to put together a look book for spring & summer 2012!

We’ve even come across some rare gems, like a Christian Dior blouse, Gucci sweater and other unique pieces donated by our amazing local designers. We are not pulling your designer boot leg here. See for yourself:

Dress – Quartier Mode

Jean-François Brière, our very own talented photographer has managed to capture some really glamorously gorgeous shots! We went all out and gave our bloggers the fully-packaged star treatment, including hair styling and make-up by Martine Fillion (514-889-0001) and Susannah Rupnik (514-586-2656) and wardrobe styling by Caroline Alexander from Ludique with some help from Kimberly Maturo.

Oh, what fun the fashion bloggers had going through the various assortment of outfits and trying them on! Look at these hot poses below — it’s like they were born to be standing in front of a camera lens!

We couldn’t contain ourselves, so we decided to share with you some of the amazing behind-the-scenes shots we took:

Blazer – Cokluch
Pants – Ludique (Christian Chenail)

Kim Ninkuru, @FakionIshon of

Blazer – La Gaillarde (Jones New York)
Skirt – The SWAP Team
Bracelet – Cat, The SWAP Team
Necklace – Cat, The SWAP Team
Top – Annex Vintage

Lisa Kisber, @LKiSStyle of

We hope this inspires you to clean out your closets and get excited about the things you might find at the swap! You never know what treasures you will discover while updating your wardrobe in an environmentally and fiscally responsible way!

Special thanks to our sponsors BijoutiaQuartier ModeLudiqueCréations Encore, PwarkCokluch, ChikiboomAnnex Vintage, La Gaillarde, Tomate D’Épingles, Meemoza, Jennifer Glasgow Design, 4 Elements, Éthik BGC, Atelier Tri Cycle and Créations Compulsives.

Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to get the look book delivered to your inbox!


Look forward to your likes, shares and comments! Sharing is GOOD 🙂

30 Swaps in 30 Days

By Caroline Alexander

30 swaps in 30 days – For the next 30 days, leading up to the SWAP Team’s 2012 Take Off Your Clothes event July 28 &29 2012, I will swap one piece of clothing a day with you! Become part of a swap chain and refresh your wardrobe. Would you like to be the new proud owner of my Max Studio skirt/dress (see below)? Then show me what you would like to swap for it! Post the picture of what you want to swap on The SWAP Team Facebook wall to see if at the end of the day you are the lucky one. Keep the swap chain going! Tomorrow your piece of clothing could be the next item to be exchanged in the swap chain, so choose something cool and funky without stains or holes. Let’s get the swap on together.

For those of you who do not know me, I am a Montreal based fashion stylist, co-owner of Ludique Personal Stylist and SWAP Team volunteer since 2010.  All of this to say I LOVE clothes.  I love dressing up, and dressing other people up.  I feel that clothing gives everyone the opportunity to delve in to the realm of the creative on a daily basis. Such clothing play does not mean endless shopping, but rather experimenting with what you already have, trying new combinations, and improvising. Swapping is a great way to extend the possibilities of one’s wardrobe, and change it up a little.

Swap Number 1: Black and white Max Studio maxi-skirt/dress.  Have I mentioned I love clothes? What I love even more than clothes are clothes that are multi-purposed – “wear me as a dress, wear me as a skirt, heck throw me over your bathing suit and look fabulous.” This particular item has a black bandeau waistband that can also be worn as a top.  It is a size small, but as it is made of a rayon jersey with 5% spandex, it stretches to fit anyone from size 2 to 8.  It measures: 28 inches at the bust or waist, but can stretch up to 38 inches, the hip is flat 44 inches, but can stretch to 52 inches.

Please note, on offer for Swapping is the Max Studio skirt/dress.  The white tank top and accessories are just styling suggestions.

Swap ’til you drop for 30 days! Join me for this great challenge! 

5 Spring Tendencies to Reinterpret

written by Marie-Ève

Hello! My name is Marie-Ève Laforte and it is with great pleasure that I am joining The SWAP Team as a guest blogger. I am a mother of two young kids, namely a 5-year-old boy and girl of one and a half. On my own time, I work as a florist for special events, as well as manage a personal blog along with another blog focusing on food for Sympatico Lifestyle.

Since I was little, I have always had a great liking for fashion and a soft spot for vintage, and consider myself a professional collector and inquisitor. Having children led me down a road with many questions that urged me to turn over a new leaf and maintain a healthier lifestyle, from nutrition to beauty products and even our impact on the environment. In short, this is who I am.

For my first entry, I thought of showing you guys five tendencies in fashion, this season, which could easily be found through hand-me-downs, second-hand clothes shops and swapping. Quite simply, these are pieces to be interpreted in your own way, since that is essentially what style is: to observe and acquire through personalization!

1. Oxford Shoes

Classics and yet casually chic with a wisp of androgyny, these oxfords can be found everywhere this season. Finding a pair that is used does nothing but adds to their charm: the leather becomes even more supple and fair through age, while the fitting is even more comfortable than a pair of slippers. But more stylish!

Image by etsy. These are for sale on the website

2. Colour!

Image : LOVELYish

3. Military-style vest

Image : Pure and Noble

While forgetting the total camouflage look, the vest inspired from the military is still the rage. The idea here is to find a vest that is rigid and adorned with a few sharp edges, yet with a structured silhouette, in hues of khaki and that could quite possibly have leather trimmings. The more it was used, the better.

4. Floral Prints

Image : Ruffled

The small ethereal dresses with romantic floral prints are usual quite easy to dig up. Think of vests or even pants as well. Whether a small cottage in the prairies or even the 70’s, the effect remains unchanged!

5. Colour blocking

Image : Parsimonia

Rather popular in the 60’s, this style offers us large blocks of colour in a fabulous contrast, usually quite bright, on the same piece of clothing. We can also create about the same look with a colourful belt on more neutral pieces, or with clothing of different hues.

Diary of Frugalista:DIY Safety Pin T-Shirt

written by Nadya

While browsing my favorite DIY blogs, I spotted this t-shirt. Old tee and safety pins, wow! I loved the idea from the very first glance. The project seemed to be super-easy to do, and I got too many basic boring t-shirts in my closet.

Here is the original boring t-shirt.

I bought two boxes of safety pins at Dollarama for the total price about $2.50.
I needed only the silver ones, so at first I had to become Cinderella to separate them!

Here is the result! The golden pins are sorted away, and the silver ones are sorted by size.

First comes the neckline.
Initially I wanted to use the medium ones to get a bolder effect, but there were too few of them. So, I took the small ones.
Attaching the small pins was the longest part of the process. After some experimenting, I decided to make the distance between the pins approximately 1 cm.

The biggest pins came in handy, too. I attached them to the pocket.
Then, I made two small cuts in the place around my waist line and attached the medium pins.

Safety pins!
In total the t-shirt now carries six big pins on the pocket, six medium pins on the cuts, and sixty-four small pins on the neckline.

Here comes the result!

I have worn it a few times already, and I can tell you that it is easy to look after.
Initially I intended to wash the t-shirt by hand, since the fabric might get damaged by the metal pins. However, by mistake, I put it in the washer with all my other clothes, and it survived! The pins and cuts and fabric were all intact. No need to bother with manual wash!
Another thing that worried me was that my long hair might get stuck in the pins. So far, no problems here either! The pins close well, and my hair does not get caught into them.

If you loved the project and want to repeat it, than I have a good news for you! Even if you do not have an appropriate t-shirt, you can always get one at our upcoming clothes swap event. I am sure you will find plenty of them!

Good luck with finds and with experimenting!

Diary of a Frugalista:Volunteering at a Mega Clothing Swap, July 2011

Diary of a Frugalista:Volunteering at a Mega Clothing Swap, July 2011

by Nadya Ershova

The S.W.A.P. Team organized a mega clothing swap on July 9-10 in the Grand Foyer Culturel (indoors) of the Place des Arts in partnership with Zoofest and Renaissance. I was a volunteer for both days.

The First Day
On Saturday my shift started at 7 AM, and that wasn’t an easy thing to do. I am definitely not an early bird, and on weekends I usually wake up around noon. This shows how motivated I was to participate in the event and to see how things would be going from the very beginning. 🙂

However, coffee early in the morning is a must — our managers felt the same way and took care of that. Everything goes a lot easier if you have a coffee in your one hand and a croissant in the other — mmm !

Laura Vizbara (on the right)

Our designer Neelan Rach showed us how to arrange the racks — we wanted our visitors to feel excited about swapping right away!

Neelan Rach, Jana Piest (both on the right), and volunteers

We also had to lay out the shoes. There were so many of them! I spotted lots of items that I gave away for the event. When the swap started, I saw girls trying on “my” stuff and felt very happy. The items would find a new  home and would not end up in a landfill somewhere! Swapping is good.

Dresses and shoes waiting for new owners

Now, if you want to see some nice swapped clothing, look no further than the people organizing the event! Here are some examples:

Aleece Germano

On the first day, Aleece Germano, President and Founder of The S.W.A.P. Team, chose a lovely second-hand pink dress.

The next day, Aleece was wearing a black dress with a red belt. She got the dress at the swap we held at the YWCA back in February.


Sabina Tang

I liked Sabina’s dress. On Friday night she went to the volunteers’ swap where she found a few nice items such as this red leather belt. She decided to wear it with her outfit the very next day.


Neelan Rach

Neelan’s outfit was both practical and stylish. I simply fell in love with his Chanel purse!

So, of course, seeing so many people swapping (there were over 400 visitors all in all!), you cannot help it but sneak through the clothes a bit as well and try something on, when you have the chance — just for the fun of it!

Look at our first finds! Annie (Annie Cliche, Montreal Chapter Director) found a white jacket with a leopard collar. Stephanie was having fun trying out a funny summer hat with a matching purse.

Annie Cliche (on the left), Stephanie (on the right)

The dress in the following picture was one that I had already noticed when arranging the racks. It was made out of silk and had a balloon skirt. I would have loved to take it home with me. Unfortunately, it was a small size, and it didn’t fit anyone else but the very skinny Annie.

Sabina tried on a velvet beige vest with flower shaped holes, but eventually decided to leave it.

Annie Cliche (on the left) and Sabina Tang (on the right)

Cole, Annie’s daughter and our youngest volunteer — she is only 8 years old! — dug out a nice head scarf and a matching purse. Look at her, this girl will definitely become an advanced thrifty fashionista in no time!

Cole Cliche

The fitting rooms simply looked like magic. They were constructed with white, slightly glossy curtains and were lit up with red LED lamps from the inside. In front of the fitting rooms was standing the dream of every girl — a personal style consultant. Stylist Jeff Golf of Montreal wardrobe consultants Ludique was mainly there to help out with one crucial question: “Shall I take it or not?”

Stylist Jeff Golf

Aleece giving the opening speech (on the right)

The Second Day

On the second day I came at noon when the first public swap session started.

I was super-busy during most of the day.

First, I was assigned to the PR team and had to check the stamp on the visitors’  hands before allowing them to go into the swap area. Also, I answered questions from people passing by. DJ THE WIG from Boston was playing music at the event all day long, which attracted lots of attention.

Later, I was helping out at check-in. Looking at the participants, it was very clear from the beginning that guys were a rarity at this event — but the ones that came, gave away some really nice stuff, like designer jackets, leather bags and wool sweaters. Believe it or not, some of the women coming to the event brought along their suitcases! They left the swap with their luggage filled with nice clothing.

Later on, I joined the sorting crew and helped them put more items on the racks that people had brought to the swap. Busy!

Since The S.W.A.P. Team was partnered with the Zoofest, we also had some artistic and music performances during the event, like the group Street Hearts:

Street Hearts (on the left)

Small cardboard labels were attached everywhere. They presented some interesting statistics about clothing consumption and recycling.

Statistic labels

While working on the floor and refilling the racks with clothes, I suddenly spotted another item I brought for the swap! It was a brownish orange jacket of great quality, made in Russia by a local designer. I used to like it a lot — however, I recently changed my color scheme to bluish gray, so this piece didn’t fit my wardrobe anymore.

The orange designer jacket I brought for the swap event

At five o’clock my shift was over.

I spent two great days full of excitement and joy. I worked with nice and dedicated people who care about nature and the environment. I liked this volunteering experience very much, and I will definitely help out again at the next event.

And of course, I did find something for myself. 🙂 Three nice dresses and a few other items. I will write about my finds in the next post.

Stay tuned!

I totally forgot! A picture of me appeared in the 24H newspaper, July 11. I am the girl in the middle with her head tilted down. Wooh-hoo!

Gentlemen of Style -An interview with Simon Law

Gentlemen of Style -An interview with Simon Law

by Allison Gryski

The following is one of a series of email interviews with men on their personal style perspectives. This week’s inspiration comes from:Simon Law

Simon Law, 20-something
Montreal, QC
Resident Geek for The S.W.A.P. Team

Tell us about yourself!
I’m an optimistic twenty-something who dabbles in fashion photography, smartphone technology, and Canadian banks. I’ve lived in Montreal since I visited one day and forgot to leave. When I’m not busy swapping clothes for The S.W.A.P. Team, I find time to teach the fine art of bow-tying (it’s like tying your shoes.)

How would you describe your approach to fashion/style in the past vs now?
Like lots of other guys, I didn’t care too much about how I looked when I was younger. I would throw on a shirt and some pants and walk out the door. As long as I was warm and comfortable, what did I care?

These days, I’m a little more choosy with my outfits. I like to look sharp when I’m going out, throwing a party, or just to grab an ice cream. But you know what? It’s still important to be warm and comfortable, so I’m not ashamed to wear whatever I want, whenever I want.

How would you describe your current aesthetic?
I dress a little older than I actually am, mostly because I’m lazy. It’s cool to be able to keep up with the latest trends, but I don’t want to worry about collars and buttons and the like. My rule is to find clothes that are well made and timeless, so I can feel confident about putting anything on.

How does your job influence the way you dress?
Since I write software, I’m well aware that the geek uniform consists of witty T-shirts and jeans. That’s a popular look nowadays, as men have rejected the business attire of the previous generation. I’m a little too eccentric for that, so I’d rather have a more interesting wardrobe.

What would you say to convince other men to join in clothing swaps?
It might seem a little intimidating to walk into a clothing swap. There are racks and racks of clothes and people are picking stuff up and lining up for the changing rooms. At The S.W.A.P. Team’s events, you won’t be alone — there are quite a few men who participate, too! In the end, it’s all about having fun and meeting people. Swappers are friendly people who like to look good and want to be part of a community.

Simon LawWhat do you look for when shopping/dressing?
I try to pick stuff that I’ll really want to wear. It’s no good getting clothes that you never feel like taking off the hanger. Sometimes, this means getting whatever it is you like, even if other people hate it. Other times, it means wearing stuff that makes you look good. It’s fun to look good and it’s not too difficult to do so.

When I look for clothes, I find that picking high-quality basics and matching them with fun accessories can make it easy to find an outfit for any occasion. I look for good shirts, sweaters, vests, and pants that are well-made and will last. Guys typically wear the same clothes more often than women, so spending a little more for a shirt is fine if it’s going to last. I’ll open up packages and touch the fabric to make sure that it doesn’t stretch and feels good. I’ll always try on clothes, preferably with a fashionable friend, to make sure the colour looks good on me and that the fit is fairly close.

For colours, there’s the basic black and brown. If you’re not clumsy, white is also a great background colour. Then I’ll stick to a few accent colours, like bright blue or a classy red. When I first started, I was really conservative about colours, but as I developed my sense of style, I’ve gotten a little more daring.

Simon LawAny advice to other guys aspiring to dress with more style?
Guys should consider mixing formal wear with casual.  You can definitely make things interesting by wearing one informal item, like sneakers or a casual hat, with a sharper look. Or vice versa. The point is to find stuff that you feel like wearing all the time and put a little bit of your own personality into it, whatever that is.

Another point, that I think is often overlooked, is that caring for your clothes is the key. If you’ve bought quality clothes, you don’t want to just throw them into the wash and pull them out crinkled. If you’re lazy, look for clothes that don’t have any special cleaning instructions and take a little time to hang up your shirts to dry. If you’re really lazy, bring your nice clothes to the dry cleaners. It may cost you a couple dollars per shirt, but they keep their colour and shape for a long time.

Speaking of shapes, a lot of guys don’t get their clothes altered. If you do go to a great men’s store, they’ll do alterations as part of buying clothes. And if you pick up clothes at a swap, you can bring them to a dry-cleaner or tailor to get them changed. It’s amazing how fitted clothes can make you look incredible.  Plus, getting quality clothes and having them altered is often cheaper than buying expensive brand-name luxury.

What are your personal clothing challenges when shopping?
For me, I’m often a different size than other guys in North America, because I’m Asian. My little secret is that I buy women’s socks, because my feet are too small.

Do you own lots of clothing or a minimal wardrobe and why?
I don’t own a lot of clothing, but I do own a lot of accessories.  Hats, scarves, ties, handkerchiefs, and such don’t take up a lot of space.  Plus, it’s a great way to build your wardrobe if you hate the ordeal of shopping.

Accessories are also a good way to play with colour. A lot of mens’ clothes come in ugly colours; they just seem to make more colourful clothes for women. But us guys don’t have to be all drab. If you’ve got a fun pair of sneakers, you can even liven up a suit.

Simon LawFor dressy events, do you prefer ties or bowties (or neither) and why?
I know a lot of guys hate the tie and I can see why. It’s really corporate-drone and you don’t want to wear one if you’re having fun. But the bow-tie is versatile! One with a quirky pattern is great for drinks at the bar and the classic black bow-tie looks really sharp at a formal event. And if you do have a black bow-tie, you’ll be ready for almost any gala.

What do you think about hats? Outdated and impractical or trendy and trying too hard or stylish and useful?
I think that every guy should wear a hat. Somehow, the hat fell out of fashion and I’m not saying you can’t go around bare-headed, but they’re very practical. They keep the sun out of your eyes and the rain off your head.

And they’re not just practical, they’re also fun. I recommend finding a hat store and trying on silly hats with a friend. Even if you don’t find one for you, you’ll get a feel for what hats flatter your head and which ones don’t. And who knows, you might walk out with something you like! Don’t be afraid to match a fancy hat with jeans or something casual with a suit.

Any advice to other guys heading to a thrift store or clothing swap for the first time?
If you’re not a fan of clothes shopping, bring a friend who is. Maybe he’s someone whose style you respect? Or maybe she’s someone who likes dressing up her guy friends? It really helps to have an honest opinion of what looks good on you and to have someone who can help you choose clothes that will flatter you. Don’t forget though, you have to like what you wear, so don’t get pressured into choosing something that will hide in the back of your closet in the end.

Any other final words on Style, Fashion, or Swapping?
You can be stylish and feel good about how you look, but you definitely don’t need to be a slave to fashion.

A big thank-you to Simon Law for taking the time to answer my questions. Know someone perfect for this interview series?  Email us!

Want to find a clothing swap near you? Check out the Happenings page.

Allison Gryski is a Canadian living in Amsterdam. She describes herself as a bookish artist, exuberant baker, usability snob, discerning gourmandise, and occasional freelance dragon seeker. She’s also passionate about thrift store bargains, bicycles, and afternoon naps.

For me, I’m often a different size than other guys in North America, because I’m asian. My little secret is that I buy women’s socks, because my feet are too small.

Gentlemen of Style -An interview with Brian Go

Gentlemen of Style -An interview with Brian Go

by Allison Gryski

The following is one of a series of email interviews with men on their personal style perspectives. This week’s inspiration comes from:

Brian GoBrian Go, 36
Cambridge MA, ex-Montrealer
I.T. Senior Analyst.

How would you describe your approach to fashion/style in the past vs now?
I used to be a Dockers and Gap shirt kinda guy.  That is until I realized that looking like a clone was not a good way to present myself.  Then Simons opened in Montreal, and my life changed and I look better.

What fueled any significant shifts?
When it dawned on me that I was not a khaki kind of guy.

How would you describe your current aesthetic?
During Winter I’m wearing more fitted darker tones.  Even though pinstripes have been out for a few years now, I still love the lines.

What inspires the way you dress?
Classic styling and movie villains.

How does your job influence the way you dress?
I work in I.T. and everyone is on the casual end of smart casual.  I’ve adjusted accordingly.  I no longer need to spend 20 minutes ironing shirts in the morning. That is, unless I feel like it.

Do you have any favourite clothing swap or thrift store stories?
Not yet.

It seems like more women than men are involved in swapping, why and how did you get involved?
I’ve never liked the disposable society, and support anything that brings awareness to the waste that we as a society continue to foster.  My grandma tells stories of swapping clothes in my home village.  Well, it’s more of a hand-me-down kind of approach, but everyone still made do with what we have.  We’re lucky to have so much choice and abundance.  With a bit more foresight, our children and grandchildren might get some too.

What would you say to convince other men to join in clothing swaps?
Swapping lets you trade up.

What do you look for when shopping/dressing?
Something that works for my personality and fits well.

What are your personal clothing challenges when shopping?
I have a more typical Asian body type.  Sometimes it’s tough to get pants.  I love shopping in HK: everything off the shelf fits.

Do you own lots of clothing or a minimal wardrobe and why?
I have some eclectic clothes which I’ve carted around with me for years.  I’m waiting for the next swap to downsize a bit more.

Do you have any favourite accessories?
Pinstripes… 😉

For dressy events, do you prefer ties or bowties (or neither) and why?
I like tuxedo tails.  Something 007 would wear and kick ass wearing.

What do you think about hats? Outdated and impractical or trendy and trying too hard or stylish and useful?
I’m actually not a hat guy.  I suspect the right hat has yet to find me.

Do you have any personal fashion quirks or trademarks?

Any advice to other guys aspiring to dress with more style?
Toss those khaki pants.

Any advice to other guys heading to a thrift store or clothing swap for the first time?
The selection won’t be good unless you contribute.

Any other final words on Style, Fashion, or Swapping?
Swapping is better than shopping!

A big thank-you to Brian Go for taking the time to answer my questions. Know someone perfect for this interview series?  Email us!

Want to find a clothing swap near you? Check out the Happenings page.

Allison Gryski is a Canadian living in Amsterdam. She describes herself as a bookish artist, exuberant baker, usability snob, discerning gourmandise, and occasional freelance dragon seeker. She’s also passionate about thrift store bargains, bicycles, and afternoon naps.

Gentlemen of Style -An Interview with Guy Few

Gentlemen of Style -An Interview with Guy Few

by Allison Gryski

The following is one of a series of email interviews with men on their personal style perspectives. This week’s inspiration comes from:

Guy FewGuy Few, 47
Elora, ON
pianist, trumpeter, cornist, and singer

How would you describe your approach to fashion/style in the past vs now?
My fashion sense in the past was extremely eclectic.  These days I am sometimes more conservative.  I like the mix.

What fueled any significant shifts?
I like traditional looks and great quality in the articles I wear.

How would you describe your current aesthetic?
As one can see by my publicity photographs – sometimes I am conservative with a twist and other times I am off the charts. This goes for my everyday approach as well.

What inspires the way you dress?
I am inspired by the places I go, the people I see, theatre and music.

How does your job influence the way you dress?
My jobs have a great influence on my style. I dress to compliment my performing partners or to accommodate the requirements of a concert or venue.

Have you ever been to a clothing swap and if so, why and how did you get involved?
I have not been to a clothing swap – but I have given many of my things to my friends and vintage stores. There is a list of people in my town who wish to see my departing clothes before I donate them to my local “new to you” store. (At present I live in a very small town. The clothing swap options do not exist here.)

Do you have any favourite clothing swap or thrift store stories?
I have purchased numerous stage items from a wonderful vintage store here in Elora, ON, Canada. Sweet Trash has great stuff! I have also found some really great items at second hand stores in the Kensington Market area of Toronto and in New York City (the store names escape me at the moment).

It seems like more women than men are involved in the secondhand clothes market, what would you say to convince other men to join in?
For those that are interested I encourage them to try it out. If it is not possible for you – find a friend whose stuff you like and ask to be on their list. When they have things to share you will be the first to choose! Kind of like a personal one sided swap…

What do you look for when shopping/dressing?

What are your personal clothing challenges when shopping?

Do you own lots of clothing or a minimal wardrobe and why?
I am a clothes horse.

Do you have any favourite accessories?
I like belts. I have one with a glass buckle.

For dressy events, do you prefer ties or bowties (or neither) and why?
Most dressy events are performances for me. When playing in an orchestra I wear tails or tux with the required ties (although my black tie is actually a “boxer” tie that my grandfather owned). As a soloist I bow to the requirements of the presenter. If they let me go crazy I will! When in concert with one of my duos I like to go outside of the box. I own many ties and will try to wear them occasionally but find it difficult (as I am a trumpeter and my neck swells when playing).

Guy Few and Nadina Mackie Jackson
What do you think about hats? Outdated and impractical or trendy and trying too hard or stylish and useful?
Hats ROCK! I own numerous hats. I shave my head – so hats are necessary.

If you wear hats, what style(s) of hat?
I have a great Panama hat, numerous other fedoras, lightweight summer hats and various wraps in leather and silk.

Do you have any personal fashion quirks or trademarks?
I often wear clothes by Canadian Designers onstage.  In this photo I am wearing a jacket by the Canadian – Magpie Designs, a necklace borrowed from my friend Nadina (pictured beside me) and second hand trousers.  This is my duo “Guy and Nadina”.

Any advice to other guys aspiring to dress with more style?
Have fun.

Any advice to other guys heading to a thrift store or clothing swap for the first time?
Try stuff on!

A big thank-you to Guy Few for taking the time to answer my questions. Know someone perfect for this interview series?  Email us!

Want to find a clothing swap near you? Check out the Happenings page.

Allison Gryski is a Canadian living in Amsterdam. She describes herself as a bookish artist, exuberant baker, usability snob, discerning gourmandise, and occasional freelance dragon seeker. She’s also passionate about thrift store bargains, bicycles, and afternoon naps.

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