Thrift, gift and sale: A short jaunt

Recently, I've been thrift-trolling, picking up sweet baby clothes for the snapper (at six months, no one wears out a onesie).

Late last month, I made a short trip to Almonte, Ontario, to visit my girlfriend Marina, and because this retro-bombshell artist is crazy for vintage, I checked out the women's dresses as well as baby items. I found three hip and immaculate dresses, at $7 each!

Marina insisted on wearing one immediately:

Can you see the planet paintings behind her? Those are her work. She has recently moved into a charming cottage which she's decorated in her singular courtesan-on-absinthe style, sharing the space with Mr. Oreo (rabbit), Bhumi (cat), and Bubbles (immense turtle).

Marina and I are deeply fond of Queen Elizabeth, and she had a gift for me, a china box made to commemorate HRH's coronation.

While I was scouting for her, I found this black velvet blazer, in mint condition. At $7, it's hard to think of parting with hundreds for a J. Crew version, but thrifting means you have to grab it in the moment, and there is no "trying the next size".

I left Marina, the animals and Almonte, hopped on a Greyhound and met Le Duc in Ottawa. Before we drove home to Montréal, we stopped at one of my all-time favourite boutiques, Muriel Dombret (Clothes), where I found a black skirt with asymmetrical side detail on the sale rack.  I've had a number of Muriel's black jersey separates over the years and they've never let me down.

Back to black, back to school and back home. Could Frugal Scholar, who visited Montréal this past summer, have left behind a little of her extraordinary thrifting karma?

Or maybe it was first time lucky? Whatever the reason, I've been bitten. All it takes is time, careful inspection and curbing the urge to buy if what you find isn't perfect for you or your friend. Or a six month old.


Jane W. said…
Courtesan on absinthe!!!! Made me laugh out loud.

Great finds. I'm a veteran thrifter, and it's taken me years to develop the difference to leave less-than-perfect-for-me "bargains" on the rack.
Great looking skirt!
I love garments with a splash of fun...
We are still enjoying some late summer sunshine but the leaves are turning so Fall is on its way.
LauraH said…
My comment disappeared somewhere:-(

Will try again.

LauraH said…
Such a pleasure to see your post this morning, started my day off just right.

Your thrifting karma is excellent. I remember the beautiful wool coat you found a couple of years ago, plaid I believe? Happy hunting.
This is a refreshing read - I am appalled by the amount of wastage we are encouraged to make due to economies being built on insecurities and consumerism . We all have a responsibility, regardless of our incomes, to conserve and reduce the volume of "stuff" we throw out............ my Scottish heritage also loves a bargain!
I'm not a huge thrifter but a couple of years ago I found a black velvet mid calf dress coat, 3/4 length sleeves...a perfect evening topper, probably from the 50s, early 60s. $60 (that I should not have been spending) later and I had this beauty. No place to wear it, no use for it but o my! So lovely. Then this past Christmas I had a black tie wedding to attend. Found a gorgeous navy blue/black cut velvet sleeveless dress that screamed for this little coat. Perfect weight, perfect look and it seemed quite comfy snugged up on the coat rack with the furs. Delighted that this year I am seeing lots of velvet because I look forward to having an excuse to wear it again.
Lovely post, and I like all the clothing shown. A year or two ago, I bought a black velvet bomber jacket, Jones New York or something, also for around $7. It was already a bit large for everything but my Lizzie II bust and I've lost weight, so I may take it to our skilful Colombian retoucher...

I like the skirt too, though too many asymmetrical garments I've been seeing are destined to wind up on the clearance rack.

Yes, I have an odd fondness for Liz2, and not only because she is short and buxom. Is it because she has always seemed to be strangely egalitarian? Dad dying of smoking when we were young and dad just middle-aged? Who knows.

Here in Montréal, we have certainly been enjoying splendid weather!
Duchesse said…
Jane W: I always loved thrifts but usually do better finding things like sets of new steak knives than clothes.

hostess: I have had to mentally shift even though it's still hot, to thinking of fall necessities!

LauraH: Thanks for reposting your comment. Yes, it's an Italian plaid mohair. The moths flock to it so I've had to store it in a sealed bag.

Elizabeth E.: You are among kindred spirits in the Passage. Way too much bought and barely worn.

Nelson Bartley: Now that sounds like a magical coat! Could you possibly also wear it over narrow pants and a fine knit top or silk shirt?

lagatta: When we pay $7 some alteration is not a huge deal, but jacket alterations are among the trickier ones. The skirt is a bit of a puzzle as the side detail is asymmetrical but the hemline is same length all round; I don't know how she did that.

Queen Elizabeth- sui generis.
Moths! Les mites! screaming for help on this topic. I bought two very pretty merino pullowers at Simons and they are currently living in my fridge freezer compartment, in large ziploc bags. I threw out two sweaters and a béret... Don't want to spend the rest of my life wearing only "polar fleece" in cold weather, and it has serious environmental impacts as well.
Duchesse said…
lagatta: Now that I have had them for a year I am only able to beat them back. They are very difficult to conquer and the most aggressive methods involve professional exterminators.

I buy Aeroxon clothes moth traps, which I order from Urban Nature Store. These are fairly effective as I have placed them in all rooms and closets, and keep count. (They trap only the males so reduce breeding.)I also hunt them. They tend to come out more at dusk. (I can go weeks without seeing any.) I also keep clothes in closets clean, store woolens in breathable bags, vacuum like a madwoman and keep cotton balls saturated with lavender oil in all drawers, refreshing those monthly. The SOBs will even eat my cotton damask napkins.

An important thing is to not let things like wool shawls or sweaters sit long undisturbed. I move pieces around, inspect, and air in the sun on my balcony. They attacked Le Duc's wool suit because he never wears it. So far my things are OK, and believe me I am not going to live in fleece either. But neither am I going to fill my home with nasty chemicals.

A plague and more people than ever have them.
The environmental impact of polar fleece (and other tiny synthetic fibres):
Barbara said…
You look great with your silver locks, velvet & a bit of lipstick.
Very glamourous!
Yes, also the silvery tones in the top.

As for the Elizabethan.2 friend, she needs these:
materfamilias said…
So great to have you back! I'm loving your hair so much -- the grey curls are just lovely. And I remember consignment shopping with you in Toronto -- a fun day. I've heard much about Muriel Dombret and hope to check out her wares some day. And you can't go wrong with a black velvet blazer.
Six months? He's six months already? Such a delightful age -- the changes really begin now!
s. said…
You are missed here in Toronto. I have excellent luck thrifting for my toddler but none whatsoever on my own behalf! I share your admiration for Elizabeth II - she works hard and without a fuss: such a sensible, stark contrast to the plastic-surgeried, selfie-posing celebrities of whom we see too much, these days.
Duchesse said…
mater: I wish you had been able to stop there on your last visit but the god news is MD are opening an e-shop soon.

s.: My most stylish TO friend shops only at consignment (not thrift, but she still looks astonishing for very little.) Her favourite store is I think on St. Clair. She avoids the most luxe ones and does have things re-tailored sometimes.
Leah said…
My entire wardrobe is thrifted so I love to see a thrift nod from others! Courtesan on absinthe made me laugh, too - and made me wonder what she's like in person! Glad to see the Passage open again - I somehow missed it and so happily have three new posts to peruse at once :)
Leah from
Duchesse said…
Leah: I've visited your blog and enjoy it very much. In person, Marina manages to be both whip-smart and daffy at the same time. She is a painter, composes electronica, and volunteers at animal shelters.

The posts with the most