Monday, May 5, 2014

Secondhand First™: Sheila, Superstar

Hello! I'm Meghan, from Cirque duFrock, and I'm helping Bella out with a new feature for Citizen Rosebud where we talk to some pretty amazing secondhand fashionistas! Today we're going to meet our first style icon, I mean SUPERSTAR, Sheila from Ephemera. Sheila has some amazing glam style and is just an all-around awesome, nice lady.

Hi Sheila! If it's okay, for those who aren't familiar with your blog, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a mid-40s chick, married for a long time to L, my partner in all of life’s shennanigans. We have an evil cat, Vizzini, and we live on the west coast of Canada, where everything is very chill and laid-back. I grew up surrounded by artistic influences and became interested in the transformative power of clothing in my teens. I’ve experimented with clothing my whole life; I credit fashion for helping me figure out who I am as a person (not that I’m anywhere close to having an answer!). It’s been a blast so far!

You've been chosen as the first official Secondhand First™ SUPERSTAR. You have a gorgeous, distinct style and I love the looks that you put together. I think one of my favorite things about your outfits is how rich they feel. There are so many beautiful fabrics and draping and tailoring, and don't get me started on your shoes. Do you have any style rules or goals for when you shopping that help you achieve that style or influence you when you purchase items for your wardrobe?

I’m so flattered – moi, an icon? Oh, go on.

I’ve always been pulled to the most luxe fabrics and patterns and colors, so when I shop, I gravitate to the most high-end looking clothing, regardless of the label/brand and size. Start with quality and you’ll never go wrong. I am also a big details person, so I seek out the fine little finishing touches, whether that’s an extra clasp at the waist, a hand-sewn hem or a beautiful button. The more I shop (and it’s a hobby for me – I do it a lot!) the more I learn about quality in garments. I turn clothes inside out, I look at the composition labels, I look at where pieces are made.

The second thing I always aim for is fit: it’s got to flatter! I have tried on gorgeous clothes that look amazing on the hanger but do nothing for my shape. You can’t get discouraged if the item doesn’t fit – it’s not you, it’s the clothes! Move on and find that piece that makes you look and feel fabulous. I rarely go by size, and as I’ve noted before, I have sizes XS to B to 48 in my wardrobe. The sizes are just guidelines, so try everything that appeals to you. You never know unless you try. I recently wrote this post about tips for thrift shopping: Come Shopping With Me

Have you always bought secondhand or was there a moment where you decided you needed to do it more? 

I grew up in the 70s with hand-me-downs from my babysitter, so I had some pretty rocking 60s clothes (so totally not cool – I was a major nerd). My family didn’t have a lot of money when I was a kid, so I owned very few clothes aside from birthday and Christmas gifts, and one back-to-school outfit a year, and those hand-me-downs. New clothes were just not purchased that often in our household; they were a big deal.

When I was in my mid-teens, I discovered two things; vintage stores and Mom and Dad’s closet. In 1984 I remember buying a 50s prom dress with my babysitting money. It was pink strapless with a “crumb-catcher” bodice and a full skirt, and I wore it to my high school Christmas dance – I felt exotic and high-fashion, and I stood out in a sea of sameness. I liked that feeling – that I had this completely unique dress.

Dad's Blazer really makes this outfit!
My mom and dad’s clothing and accessories were also a treasure-trove to me. I made my dad’s suit pants into paper-bag-waisted tapered trousers, rolled up the cuffs on his big-shouldered blazers, and wore his oversized sweaters (I still have one of the blazers and two sweaters). I acquired one of Mom’s vintage coats, complete with mink collar and wore it to school. I looted my mom’s jewelry box for her best costume pieces – to this day I frequently wear them. My Grandma J also let me pick out some pieces of hers when I was in university in the late 80s; I’ve never stopped wearing those.

My clothing acquisitions weren’t consciously about going green or being ethical in my choices; it was about just using what was available. As a retail worker in my 20s, I didn’t make much money, so shopping second-hand was a matter of being thrifty. I still bought new (on sale) and didn’t really think too hard about where my clothing ultimately came from. This pattern of some new/some second-hand continued for me until I started Ephemera in 2008. I had just lost 50 pounds, I’d had to replace my entire wardrobe in a hurry, and I’d done that partly through fast-fashion and partly second-hand. I got used to shopping a lot, and I loved that everything fit me. I was a pretty indiscriminate shopper for a couple of years, until I decided to try a year-long fashion challenge to rein myself in: to only shop second-hand/swap and to institute a one-in/one-out rule. (Link.) It really opened to my eyes to the differences in quality and origin of my clothes, as well as underscoring that I wanted to support my city’s charities and downtown business owners, rather than the giant conglomerates populating the malls.

When Bella at Citizen Rosebud put out the call to shop SECONDHAND FIRST, I signed on. I had read “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Fast Fashion” by Elizabeth Cline, and it opened my eyes further to my own responsibility to myself and the place where I live. It’s important to me that my clothes express my personality, but also be sourced in a responsible, thoughtful and mindful way. I love that I support local downtown businesses, and that I’m giving my money to charities instead of faceless multinational companies. I live this ethic every day – and I do try not to be too preachy about it! I believe in setting an example, and educating others about the exciting possibilities in shopping thrift, consignment and local.

What is your favorite thing that you've scored lately? Do you have a favorite second hand score of all time?

I had to go browse in my closet to think about this question – 10 minutes later, I’m still waffling about it. I love so many of my clothes, which I think is the ultimate goal. But a few things I really love:

Fugitive Shoes!
· The purple/green/orange handmade velvet dress (thrifted for less than $35).

· Fugitive vintage-looking shoes (brand new, thrifted for $10).

· Tara Jarmon made in France polka-dotted trousers (consignment for $19).

My favourite second-hand score of all time is my Andres Courreges vintage 80s cashmere and wool pencil skirt. This would have been a designer piece costing several hundred dollars originally – I found it in a thrift store for $5.

I was reading some of the facts about you on your blog. You talk about how your mom was a pretty good fashion influence on you. What's the best fashion advice she gave you and how has that helped you? Did she also like to thrift?

My mom is an artist, so I grew up not being afraid of color or of wearing something a little wacky (thanks, Mom!). When I first started experimenting with my look in high school, she said one day, “Don’t ever wear the same thing twice. Don’t get stuck in a rut.” I don’t think I’ve ever worn an identical outfit once in the last 30 years since; even if it’s just changing up the accessories or shoes, I make every outfit count. Mom didn’t thrift shop but she passed her love of colour on to me. She is a pretty cool mom.

As someone who finds herself influenced by fictional and real people a great deal, I'd like to ask - Are there any ladies or gents out there that influence your style – celebrities (past or present), book characters or family or friends that influence you?

All through my childhood, I was interested in seeing what people were wearing – I grew up watching a lot of TV (we had 12 channels!), and I made paper dolls (of Betty and Veronica from Archie Comics), then I would copy the glamorous outfits I saw on shows like “The Carol Burnett Show”, “Sonny and Cher” and “The Love Boat” into outfits. I wish I still had my giant shoebox of paper dolls and clothes!

In addition, the women in my family have always been a direct influence on my style, including my eccentric Great-Aunt Ann, my red-headed Grandma J and her chunky costume jewelry, to my hats-and-gloves-to-church very proper Grandma S, to my artsy and colourful Mom. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was a big influence on me (“Moon River” was my parents’ wedding song, so I saw the movie early on), with all those gorgeous Givenchy gowns. In my teens, Molly Ringwald’s looks in John Hughes’ movies, including “Pretty in Pink” and “The Breakfast Club,” were touchstones.
These days, I’m influenced by everything! As I get older, I feel a freedom to say, “Why the heck not?” and wear what I feel good in. I love pushing the fashion envelope and the endless variety of combinations out there. The amazing sea of fashion and lifestyle bloggers constantly inspire me – and how cool to be able to inspire someone else in return. It’s really a wonderfully supportive environment, to know that there are others out there who have as much fun with fashion as I do.

Do you have any parting shots? Words of wisdom?

· Don’t be afraid to try! Try a color, try adding an accessory, try something that scares you!
· Be visible! You matter, so put yourself out there – you deserve to be seen and to feel good about how you look.
· Think about where your clothes come from. You’d buy organic and locally-grown produce, so why not do the same with your clothes? Make your purchases count.



Sheila said...

Aw, thank you both so much - I am totally honoured to be featured. Meghan, thank you for the awesome interview, and Bella, thank you for the inspiration. You both rock in the best way.

Natalia Lialina said...

What an amazing, amazing interview! The questions are very interesting, and the answers are so dynamic and inspiring! Thank you all for this. Sheila, you have the coolest Mom ever! :) I only now, when I am 40, came to the same conclusion: never the same outfit twice. Love your style! Why I don't have your blog on my reading list yet?! That's just wrong. :)

Mrs. D said...

Lovely post!
So nice to get to know Sheila a bit more.

Val said...

Sheila is a perfect pick for your first Superstar - what an amazing wardrobe and sense of style!

Patti said...

Great post! Sheila is indeed a star, one of my favorite blogs to read. And I really want to go shopping with her! xo

Shybiker said...

Sheila is THE BEST. Her taste, her fashion ability and her friendliness are exemplary. Nice interview.

Curtise said...

What a good interview, well done to both Meghan and Sheila! xx

Forest City Fashionista said...

Shiela is a great subject for the inaugural Secondhand First star. I've always admired her thrifting skills and the way she accessorizes her outfits.

Shawna McComber said...

This is a great feature! Thanks for putting this interview together, Meghan and thanks to Sheila for her thoughtful responses. I am totally in awe of Sheila's wardrobe and her styling abilities are fantastic. She is definitely a clothing artist.

Becky said...

Wonderful!! I adore the velvety wiggle looking floral dress!!!!

Vix said...

What a fab read! Well done. xxx

Jazzy Jack said...

Really enjoyed this. Have admired Sheila for some time! How do we take the secondhand pledge? I'd like to join in if I can?

Jayne H said...

Sheila is just fabulous and I love the way she puts outfits together. Great interview and interesting to find out a bit more about her influences.

The Style Crone said...

Great interview. I have always admired Sheila and loved learning more about her. Brava!

Unknown said...

Yes, she is! (You both are, actually!) Lovely acknowledgement of a really responsible fashionista!