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[When I think style, I instantly think about my friend Suzanne. She's new to the blogging world but those who follow the dog blog may remember her guest post "Tales of a Dog-Sitter." Well, now she's caught the blogging bug and has started up her own site called Just A Little Rouge. Here she is sharing some of the best kept secrets in Halifax's fashion and furnishings world.]
By Suzanne Hickey
I am a proud Maritimer. Born in New Brunswick, lived in both PEI and NS as well, so there is no getting around it. But I moved away, fleeing to see what the rest of the country had to offer. And I loved almost every minute of it, but I always knew I’d move back here at some point. After all, it just feels like home to me. So, about 6 years ago I made Halifax home once again (I had lived here briefly before). So, yes, I am from the Maritimes, but I am also an East Coaster-er by choice.
I love this city. Do I think it has the potential to be a much, much better city? Hells ya. But that’s another blog altogether…
For now, let’s talk about style. I could get on my soap box about that one too. I believe one the sacrifices of living in a small city is that, well, it’s small. So, there isn’t the same kind of access to fabulous boutiques, high style furniture or accessories as any number of large cities. True. But, it still makes it’s way here, Halifax.
Let me introduce you to my little evolving neighbourhood. I’m not going to talk about the pros and cons of re-gentrification and all those very real issues here (cue: soapbox). Let’s just say I bought a lovely home on my favorite street in Central Halifax. And one of my favorite strolls is along Agricola Street. Have you been lately?? You might be surprised what you’ll find. Grab and coffee and walk with me…
Starting at the corner of Almond and Agricola, check out Finer Things & Curios (2797 Agricola Street). Quickly becoming one of my favorite places, I find myself stopping here often. And am always thrilled with my purchases – a vintage ’70s lamp, and antique locket, and beautiful sterling silver & moonstone antique ring. There is so much to look at here, be prepared to spend some quiet time letting your imagination run wild.
Traveling south, the next stop is Bellissimo! (2743 Agricola Street). Located in an old brick building, they have huge curb appeal. It’s very hard to walk by. Their slogan? “Decorative finds for beautiful living.” They deliver the goods.
Now, steady yourself and carefully run across the street to Army Navy Store (2660 Agricola St). This is a look at the grittier side. Their ad in the phone book says “New & used clothing and footwear. Hunting and Fishing supplies.” Huh? One look at the building and the always-interesting window display will give you an idea of what you are in for. You will be stared at with the slightly intimidating “you are not a regular, who are you and what are you doing here” look as you enter. Don’t let that stop you. Besides, this is the Maritimes, and relatively speaking, we are a pretty friendly bunch at heart. A little secret about this place is that they buy furniture from a couple of the local big hotels. Dig around…there are some really great deals to be had (and some strange things to see), if you’re looking for a furniture make-over project.
Next up is Norman Flynn Design (2698 Agricola Street). We’re not going to stop in today, but soak in the incredible lighting fixtures as we amble by. Also make note that here’s where to go to get Pratt & Lambert paint (can you say one coat, please?) and lots of great advice on your painting project. These guys have been featured all over the place, including in Enroute Magazine. They know their stuff.
Time for a little break? All this discovery making you hungry? Here we have two great choices. Stay chic and pop into Fred – salon, gallery and café (2606 Agricola Street). While you are here, you may have to remind yourself that yes indeed, you are still in Halifax. Central Halifax, in fact. Option two is to dash back across the street and venture into Gus’ Pub (2605 Agricola St.) for a taste of the old-school neighbourhood. I can’t even fathom what they were thinking with the new paint job, but am trying to get past it.
Moving on to Statement (2534 Agricola Street) and immerse yourself in the upscale, trendy options available here. Ah…perhaps I could just move in for a while??
With a sigh, we are almost at the end of our stroll. But no shopping trip, window or otherwise, would be complete without a few clothing stores thrown in. Check out Lost & Found Art Vintage Kitsch (2383 Agricola St.). You will find lots of wonderful vintage clothes here and more than likely visit the change room. You may even get to meet the resident hound dogs, if you are lucky.
Finally, take a left off Agricola St. onto Cunard, past the new condo building quickly taking shape, and stop into Pretty Things Boutique (5685 Cunard Street). Retro & rockabilly inspired fashions – fabulously feminine fashions inspired by the 1950’s and 1960’s. I bought my most favorite fancy dress here that I call “1950’s housewife does new year’s eve” and I’ve never felt so great or had so many compliments.
If you know me in real life, we’d pop around the corner to my place to have tea (or a glass of red) to review the fantastic finds of the day. Either way, you would have noticed that on our stroll we went by many other interesting places…cafes, bakeries, a local source market, art spaces and so much more nestled in between new and old.
I’m sure you’ll be back. And I look forward to seeing you one of these days in my ‘hood.
Suzanne is public relations/communications gal by trade who just opened a small staging & design company in Halifax. For more, check out Little Red.
Let’s be honest. Some of the boutiques in downtown Halifax (as in other cities) are intimidating. Online shops have been appealing to me lately because a) I don’t have a lot of free time and b) I want to look at my options on my own time without someone shadowing my every move.
An added benefit of shopping online is not having to deal with snobby shop girls. Having worked in clothing retail, at upscale locations like Hazelton Lanes in Toronto, I can make this statement without impunity. Granted, some of the clientèle were equally as snobby (please, don’t get me started). And really, if I’m going to be spending my money on anything, I don’t need to feel like I have to bring in my pedigree papers just to get through the front doors.
Back in December I discovered Bluefly which dubs itself “the ultimate hookup for the fashion obsessed.” Now, that’s not exactly me but I’d been searching for the perfect winter coat to replace an almost decade old one that I finally had to admit was outdated. So, here’s what I’ve got to say about the online shopping experience so far:
I caught a Boxing Day sale and was very excited to save a whopping 57% off retail value. Since it was my first order with them I found a promotional code that covered the shipping cost too. Then, recently there was a President’s Day sale at Bluefly and Cokebaby treated me to two tops and a dress as a Valentine’s gift (yes, I know, I’m a very lucky girl and he’s a very sweet boy). Both shipments arrived at my doorstep in under a week and were everything I was hoping for.
Even though we paid a fraction of the retail price, once the $30 shipping and then brokerage fees are factored in, the savings aren’t what you see at face value. At least not within Canada. You’re still getting good quality designer brands for about half the cost but I’m going to have to shop around to see if this is really the best value for my dollar. Not that I shop that much anyway but I like to feel that my dollar is going as far as it can for what I’m buying.
On a side note, an interesting tool they have on the site is an online shop assistant. If you’re ogling a piece of merchandise for too long a little pop-up box appears asking if you require assistance. For those who are intimidated by technology this is a very helpful tool. It’s also nice to know that if I ever have a question there’s help just a click away. Plus, unlike real shop girls she won’t judge me for slumming it in my regular clothes (or, more likely, my pyjamas).
Overall, I’m not totally convinced that smaller items are worth it unless you buy a number of items together. However, for big ticket pieces like my winter coat, I think for the quality it’s a bargain compared to what I might have paid otherwise.
Have you shopped for clothes online before? If so, what’s your experience been?
[Next week, as a special treat, I'll be having fashion & style week on East Coast By Choice. A few lovely bloggers have agreed to post about their views on style (or lack thereof). Check back from March 2-6 to see what East Coasters have to say about the topic.]
In what seems like another life, I used to be quite the fashionista. During my early years of university I worked at a variety of retail clothing stores, from Le Chateau to Club Monaco to the Gap and finally Boutique Jacob. Because of my flare for style back then, I even got a gig as a merchandiser, a job that involved dressing up mannequins and display boards. It was like playing doll.
I became a clothes hog. Every paycheque went toward buying some new item to feed my addiction.
But eventually the reality of a career and life kicked in. No disrespect to the folks who make and earn a living as sales associates and retail store managers, but I needed to move on. I had to find “real work” where I could write and do the things that interested me most which meant no more beloved discounts (up to 50%!).
As the years went by, my wardrobe dwindled. I had to choose more carefully clothes that would outlast one season’s trends. Then, I decided to go back to school as a full-time mature student. There I fell into a wardrobe of jeans and t-shirts.
But it was worth it in the end. Though I may look shabby, today I’m in a dream job making good money to do what I love most: writing, reading, and interacting. It also means I’m finally back in the financial position to buy nice clothes.
Alas, here is my dilemma. I am now out of the fashion loop.
Since declaring I would not buy a fashion magazine because of the industry’s flagrant disregard for the environment, I have been mostly without a clue. There are days where I manage to look stylish but then there are other days where I feel that I may be a fashion train wreck.
In eight sleeps time, Cokebaby and I will be travelling to the south of France for our (belated due to conflicting schedules) 10 year anniversary. Coincidentally, we’ll be there in the middle of soldes d’hiver, a massive nationwide sale.
So my question is: what to buy?!
This is a fashion 911 emergency. Someone please save me.
Is there something fun that should be in every girl’s wardrobe for the upcoming season? And what about Cokebaby? Or Tofu (I’m assuming there will be dog boutiques)?