It’s November and in Ottawa that means frosty nights. Remembrance Day, of course. Some gorgeous sunsets on the river. And for vintage clothing lovers, the annual Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show.
Vintage hat, Max Mara tweed blazer
Vintage hat I bought last year at the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show

I’ve always loved vintage clothing and jewellry. I have quite a good collection of vintage brooches and bracelets… and I love each and every one. But my passion is for hats. And my problem is that while I buy, I don’t always wear. This year I attended the show with a friend, and she had strict instructions to effect some sort of intervention if I even attempted to buy a hat. To use force if necessary.  As it happened, I saw some lovely hats. But, as Mr. Darcy famously says of Lizzie Bennett, they were “not handsome enough to tempt me.” Or they were so similar to hats I already own, that I found the strength to resist.
Vintage hats at the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show
An array of hats at the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show

And anyway, there was so much more to admire than hats. The Victoire booth had some beautiful stuff. Including this white dress. And this lovely young lady working the booth who allowed me to take her picture. Her striped knit mini-dress is vintage. And looked adorable on her with those black tights and ankle boots. Everything at this booth was under $50.00 she said.

   An vintage white dress and fur hat at the Victoire booth at the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show
 Working the Victoire booth at the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show in a vintage knit dress

Yep, there were deals to be had. My friend bought a fabulous leather cross-body bag, which looked like it might have been 1970’s era, for $35.00. There were high end booths, too. One had wonderful Chanel pieces. And this booth below had a very cool, rusty-orange Missoni dress for $375.00. Which when you consider the fact that you’d be hard pressed to find a Missoni dress anywhere under a thousand dollars, is a bit of a steal.

Vintage Missoni dress at the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show
A bit pricey, but still a deal for this Missoni dress

But I wasn’t seriously looking to buy anything this year. Sometimes I just love to look. Soak up some of the glamour of days gone by. And watch other people discover treasures. I had to wade in a couple of times with comments when I spied people trying on items. I couldn’t resist. One girl, as I passed, was pulling on a black sequinned, scalloped-edge top over her tee shirt, and she looked so cute I had to say something. I mean she might pass it by otherwise. She thanked me because, as she said, she was shopping alone and really needed a second opinion. I was only too happy to oblige. She went home with a top that I assured her would look equally awesome with a blazer, jeans and boots for everyday… or with black tuxedo pants for a festive party. Sigh. My work here was done. It was time for lunch.

Vintage postcards at the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show
Glamorous looks on vintage postcards.

Then this morning it dawned on me that my new Max Mara coat might be pretty awesome with one of my vintage hats. So I tried my fuchsia coat, with a white ruffled blouse, my black Vince leggings, my new Stuart Weitzman lace-up ankle boots, a burgundy scarf. And this burgundy vintage hat from the forties. Oh my. That hat and coat… they could have been made for each other.

I adore this hat. But, you know, I’ve never worn it. Well, except for during fun role-playing activities in my creative writing class. When we used to don hats, or hold props, and write from the point of view of the person, or character, we became when we were wearing it. Why… in this hat I might be Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. Except this outfit might be a pinch warm for Casablanca weather. Or I might be Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver, bravely surviving London during the blitz. I’ve always loved that movie. But… maybe I’ll just be myself… in a really cool hat.

Vintage 40's hat, Max Mara coat, Holt Renfrew silk blouse, Nordstom scarf, Anne Marie Chagnon earrings from Magpie Jewellry
Channeling forties glamour in my vintage hat… sort of.

You know, vintage is a perfect way to jump on the “slow fashion” bandwagon. Previously owned and loved garments, treasured by someone new, and carrying on their new life in someone else’s closet. That’s pretty much the antithesis of fast fashion, I’d say.

But don’t take my word for it. I rarely find vintage garments to fit me, and so I generally stick to accessories… and hats, of course. So I am no expert on vintage clothing. But there are great blogs out there written by women who are much better acquainted with vintage fashion than I am. Patti over at Not Dead Yet Style is an expert thrifter. The outfits she features on her site almost always have some element that’s been thrifted. And Suzanne Carillo is the vintage queen, in my opinion, with a thorough guide on her blog to shopping and styling vintage clothing, and her own Etsy shop. You can check out her blog here.

Now I’m off to try to finish my book that’s due back at the library soon. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave was recommended to me a while ago by a blog reader. Thanks Laurel. And I’m gobbling it up. It’s set in London during WWII… and, in my mind, the female characters are all wearing fabulous hats!

Are you a lover of vintage? Either shopping, wearing… or maybe just admiring the fashions of the past?

sunset on the Rideau River, near Manotick, Ontario
November sunset on the Rideau


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From the archives


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I just purchased my first pair of winter boots in decades. Yep. Even though I live in cold, snowy Canada, I have long eschewed winter boots. Until now.


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Life of the Substitute Gardener

This week Hubby is away canoeing. And I am substitute gardener. Looking after our large vegetable garden, and trying not to get it wrong.

27 thoughts on “Vintage: The Best Way to Do Slow Fashion?”

  1. LOVE that hat! What a stunner! You are right of course, it is perfect with the coat.

    I'm currently stalking online estate sales looking for 1920's hats. I blame that obsession entirely on Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.

    I envy your visit to the Ottawa clothing show. I would have spent loads of time there, like you, just absorbing the atmosphere and admiring all the amazing pieces although I highly doubt I would escape without making at least one purchase. I lose a bit of control when I am around one-of-a-kind pieces. I am serious *collector* as I like to call myself…not a hoarder! Ha ha. Nope. Not one of those ; P

    Thanks so much for the shout-out. I will admit that aside from the occasional slip-ups now and then with Winners (most often for shoes) I shop almost exclusively thrift or vintage now. There are too many delectable treasures waiting to be discovered. It isn't shopping in the traditional sense, it is an adventure, and so much more exciting and rewarding.


    1. Thanks, Suzanne. Wow…that vintage guide on your website is fantastic! I can see that you are a very serious collector. I have a couple of 20's era hats and watching Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries always makes me want to pull them out and wear them again. I particularly love the 20's fashion.

  2. Yes , lovely hat & you wear it well . In my teens I was always trying on hats & they suited me . I looked so sophisticated & grown up -like a film star , as you say . I looked forward to wearing them when I reached the advanced age of thirty 🙂 By then I was wearing my specs , & hats seemed to put years on me . It's just got worse & very few hats flatter me now . Precious jewelry like gold , diamonds & pearls doesn't move me at all , but the arty vintage stuff …. I've been collecting it forever . A lot of it gets worn but some is just my treasure . I go through it on a dreary , rainy day & enjoy the inventiveness & craftsmanship all over again . I'd quite like to go through your collection – perhaps we could have a special blogpost ?
    Wendy in York

    1. Thanks, Wendy. I look ridiculous in many hats…the fedora that many people are wearing now just looks sad on me. And like you I prefer kitchy vintage costume jewellry to the "real" stuff. I may just follow your advice and do a jewellry post. Might be fun.

  3. What an absolutely FUN hat and coat! I would totally wear it, both of them. I have to say though, that I really do like diamonds. Send me all you have if you don't want them. LOL

  4. What a lovely hat! And it's perfect with your coat! I love hats, too, but they mostly sit on my closet shelf. Sigh.

    The SW boots are fantastic. Are they this year's?

    So glad you are enjoying the book. I agree that your hat would be perfectly suited to one of the women in that novel. 😉


    1. So I just realized I missed the post where you bought the coat. (It's been a busy week.) The coat department at the NYC Macy's is amazing. I used to travel to Manhattan for business and was always amazed at the options there. Wish I had a reason to return, but for now, I'm living vicariously through you. Beautiful choice!

  5. Lovely to see the close up of your new coat Sue, gorgeous fabric. I was lucky enough to meet Ingrid Bergman, many years ago. I was in my teens and with my mum …Both equally starstruck! She was not only beautiful but kind and gracious…and yes, I can imagine her in your hat.I think maybe if you wear it out once with your coat you may feel more confident about wearing it more regularly!You really suit it.

    1. How wonderful to meet Ingrid Bergman. I have seen Casablanca so many times I probably know it by heart. I may venture out one day soon in a vintage hat. But I need an occasion. Hmmm. Maybe I'll just concoct a vintage hat outing.

    1. Ah well… I need to find some way to keep it on my head to be able to wear it for any length of time. Sadly, I noticed when I was taking the pictures that allowing my class to use it as dress-up in my class stretched the band in back and it's way too big. It used to fit perfectly.

    1. Thanks, Mary. Yes it is herringbone tweed…I love that kind of tweed. Although it didn't show up very well in the full length shots. Bleak indeed. The best medicine for me today was to pull on a great coat and get outside.

  6. I like your hat and it suits you well (also the herringbone tweed close-up, just perfect!)-please,wear it! It would be a pity not to wear it together with your coat-they are meant to be together!
    I love to wear hats from time to time-all kind of them. Primary, it is hair protection in a rainy climate 🙂
    We have only a few vintage stores here-nothing to write home about,so all my vintage stuff came from family and friends.

    1. Thanks, Dottoressa. My problem with actually wearing hats is that I often want to take them off after a couple of hours…but by then the hair is not so good underneath:)

  7. Wow! The Vintage Clothing Show sounds like such fun. A lot of my wardrobe is thrifted, though most of it isn't vintage. Many of my Fashion Friday posts are about thrifted items.

    I love your vintage hat! You really should wear it somewhere.

    1. Mr. Darcy said that Lizzie was "tolerable…but not handsome enough to tempt me" when asked at the dance when he and Lizzie first met why he hadn't asked her to dance. Such a snob…but what a hunky snob!

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