A Shopper's Guide To Vintage & Independent in Vancouver by Cathy Carey

Best vintage, consignment and boutiques in Vancouver

Nestled at the foot of BC's Coast Mountain Range, if you've heard one thing about Vancouver it will probably relate to its proximity to, and enthusiasm for, the great outdoors. Ask around a little bit more, and you might find the city also rates anecdotally for its high number of sushi restaurants, rent prices, and an unfashionable tendency toward yoga pants. Having lived here a grand total of almost 4 months, I can tentatively attest to this short list of general truths – with a few revisions.

Yes, there are plenty of outdoor sports to be enjoyed, from hiking, to biking, to skiing and beyond. True, the rent prices are high, and rising (for a single room in a euphemistically-named “basement suite”, I’ve seen prices over and above $1,000 a month).

The sushi restaurants do serve fresh, tasty fish, and they are very reasonably priced for the most part. I’m working on finding a local for every neighbourhood, which is a difficult task only because of the sheer abundance of places to eat.

And finally, okay to the yoga pants. But, here I feel compelled to rectify a misconception. It’s true that lululemon products probably hang in a good portion of this city’s wardrobes, regularly donned for a walk to the gym or a trip to the supermarket, but activewear is as much a part of the fabric of this city as its diverse Asian population, or the omnipresent London Fog Earl Grey latte (at least, I'm almost certain that last one's a thing).

Fortunately, during my short time living in the 3rd least fashionable city in the world, I’ve uncovered that its sartorial critics have a lot of unfair press to answer for. Maybe the broad presence of fitness apparel has distracted from one of the city’s best assets, or maybe times have changed, but scratch the surface even a little bit and you’ll find an unsung array of vintage and boutique stores. These independent shops are full of unique, well-priced clothing sourced both locally and internationally, so seeking them out makes for a more intimate, challenging, interesting, and infinitely more rewarding shopping experience than an afternoon on the strip of high-street haunts.

It’s thanks to this that I’ve put together a short list of my discoveries up to this point. I write "discoveries", but they haven’t been particularly hard to find – most of them have a great social presence which I will link to if I can. Bear in mind that what follows is by no means exhaustive, and I hope to add many more spots on down the line. For now, here it is.

Community Thrift & Vintage

Community Vintage & Thrift Vancouver Frock Shoppe

Where? 11 West Hastings St. & 311 Carrall St. What? Community Thrift & Vintage runs two stores in Gastown, both gems for finding second hand clothing. In their Hastings St. location you'll find all manner of unisex pieces, with T-shirts ranging from $8 to $30, wool overshirts at $30, and jackets between about $60 and $100. Classic converse in good nick are generally priced around $25. This location also stocks a number of local artists' illustrations, as well as pins, badges, accessories, and crockery.

Last time I visited the smaller, women's fashion-oriented Community Vintage Frocke Shoppe (on nearby Carrall street), it had a cashmere rail for $30+ in a rainbow of colours, all in good condition, as well as coats, jeans, tops and accessories. Funky jazz piano sets the atmosphere, and the staff are very friendly.

Instagram @communitythriftandvintage


Woo To See You

Woo To See You Store Main Street Vancouver

Where? 3671 Main St. & 1062 Mainland St. | wootoseeyou.com What? This well-curated collection of clothing will have something for women who like cool, modern looks that you probably won't encounter anywhere else in Vancouver. Woo To See You definitely has an aesthetic: oversized coats, simple knits and wide-leg trousers are just some of the styles you'll find hanging in their cute and clean stores.

They stock both Vancouver-based and international brands, as well as affordable jewellery in gold and silver, and lots of other bits including a small shoe offering with standout pieces from the likes of Australian brand Sol Sana. I highly recommend visiting for a browse, and even if you don't go home with a purchase, your sartorial interest will be piqued. 

Instagram @wootoseeyou


Duchesse Vintage

Duchesse Vintage Vancouver

Where? 430 Columbia St. What? Centrally located in Chinatown, Duchesse is stuffed to the brim with Northwest vintage style. With their warm lighting, wood-panelling and exposed brick interiors, Duchesse's goods also remain close to their down-to-earth Vancouver roots. Here you'll find casual West Coast cool in everything from Carhartt workwear and Levi jeans to fur-trimmed wool coats (the blue one pictured above right was $120), all for thrifty-ish prices considering the quality.

Instagram @duchessevintage


Front & Company

Front & Company store Vancouver

Where? 3772 Main St. (and a few more next door) What? Consignment store Front & Company should be high on the list for second-hand clothing shoppers of this city. Of two Main Street locations that sell apparel, one houses a permanent selection of branded clothing that has been only lightly used, as well as a section with brand new pieces including clothes, bags and jewellery.

The other nearby location changes according to the season; at the moment its theme is centred around Christmas party looks, but it will no doubt be something new next month. This store is great if you're seeking out both high street and high-end brands, but don't expect items to be a steal, as items are generally well-preserved and priced accordingly.

Instagram @frontandcompany


Half & Half

Half & Half Store Vancouver

Where? 436 Columbia St. What? Brightly-coloured Half & Half is so named because of its curation style: half of the store's products are chosen by one owner, and half by the other. It sells a variation of products, from locally-designed clothing and jewellery for women and men, to badges, patches, cards, and even candles made by one of the owners. Just a few months old, this charming store is located right beside Duchesse in Chinatown, so you can kill two birds with one stone while you're down there.

Instagram @halfandhalf.shop



E:CLE Store Vancouver

Where? 486 West Cordova St. | shopecle.com What? Though you can expect to spend a little more in E:CLE than in the above-mentioned stores, you might just find it's worth it for their trendy/quirky selection.

This little boutique's brick-and-mortar location houses a host of independent labels and Korean brands, like Rocket x Lunch and Andersson Bell, while London-based cool-girl brand Miista is also featured here. The kind of place that opens your eyes to previously unknown labels, it's worth some attention as you pass from downtown to Gastown.

Instagram @shopecle



Much and Little Clothing Store Vancouver

Where? 2541 Main St. | muchandlittle.com What? much&little is split into two conjoined stores, one for wearable apparel, and the other for homey things. This one has some stock for the guys and a huge selection of gift-appropriate items. Prices here are the highest on this list, but clothing fabrics tend to be natural, and many brands are locally-sourced and pretty rare in this boutique, so they'll be treasured for a long time to come.

Instagram @muchlittleshop



Zebraclub Vancouver

Where? 3101 Granville St | zebraclubvan.com What? I don't just love this shop because it's five minutes from my apartment, but it definitely doesn't hurt. Nestled among the many designer shops in South Granville, Zebraclub is a haven for well-priced clothing and accessories aimed at the 20s to 30s age group.

Both men and women are catered to, with local brands including Bianca Barr, Millie & Lou, Maggie Jayne, as well as international brands like Cheap Monday, Herschel, Camper and Neuw. You can see the full list of labels stocked on their website, but you can only shop their beautifully-curated ladies vintage rail in the store.

Instagram @zebraclubvan


C'est La Vie

C'est La Vie Vintage Clothing Vancouver

Where? 3247 Main St. What? Situated on lower Main Street, Cest La Vie's bubblegum pink exterior befits the unconventional cool that lies within. Expect to hunt through boho-chic looks including tulle skirts, fringe jackets and plenty of cowboy boots in this vintage spot, with good prices on everything from jeans to flannel shirts. 

Instagram @cestlavievintage

Let me know if there are any shops I should check out in the comments below! And big thanks to Gavin for the photos.


New Year, New View by Cathy Carey

Walking in Howth, Co. Dublin

Walking in Howth, Co. Dublin

Who actually starts their new year’s resolutions on January 1st? Rhetorical question if you do, I’d rather not know since I tend to ring in a fresh new year with an annual hangover the likes of which will not be repeated until its next anniversary. This January 2nd 2017, after a day in bed recovering from a banging headache and grumbling tummy, I had the reprieve to enjoy a beautiful sunset in the Burren in Co. Clare. Then I promptly fell ill for a week.

So “January” in the truest sense of the word – well-intentioned, frugal, resolution-charged, ‘dry’ January – actually started about halfway through the month. That’s when I made a list of goals for 2017, and chastised myself for getting lazy with The Well-Loved Wardrobe in the past few months. Yes, I started a new job at the close of 2016, and okay, it’s harder to do interviews when the sun sets at 4.30pm but I still think about working on and updating it almost daily, so I’ve promised myself that work and excuses won’t get in the way anymore.

So here goes. I've started planning, and I hope to be back with a bang soon. Beginning with next week, when we'll have a new interview up – stay tuned!



So, You Like Style Interviews? by Cathy Carey

You've probably noticed by now that we love making style interviews on The Well-Loved Wardrobe, but did you know we love reading them too? Below is a list I've created to share a few that I've particularly enjoyed.

afterDRK Style Talks

afterDRK’s interviews take a peek into the label-jammed wardrobes of fashionistas, and explore what makes them tick style-wise. Lovely clean shots of the subjects and their homes punctuate each list of thoughtful questions. There hasn’t been much posted since the end of last year unfortunately, as creator of afterDRK has decided to call it quits, but the archives are sure to keep you reading for a while.


“Making it” i-D and Asos

Asos has been pushing the boundaries with their up-and-coming labels recently, and i-D has long been making videos about the world of design, so their partnership for the new “Making it” series just works
Split into short segments, these interviews have a dreamy, film-like quality, and give an insight into the person behind the designs sold on the site. Entertaining not only for those interested in the fashion industry, they have a very authentic, personal appeal.


“You must in life know who you are, and then you'll be happy. It's a little work, or I should say a lot of work, but it really really pays off."

Life According To... Iris Apfel

Listen to self-proclaimed "geriatric starlet" Iris Apfel dole out nuggets of advice on life and style in this interview. Straight-talking, wise and always fun, Iris' interview is accompanied by a little 10 lesson article, click the link to read it in full. 


11 Women and an Illustrator on Personal Style

A community that celebrates the “sartorially offensive mode that may result in repelling members of the opposite sex”, any interviews these women find interesting enough to make are bound to be cool. What’s unique about these is that you get the subject’s approach to style and an artist’s perspective on how this translates to the world. Illustrator Izak Zenou accompanies each shoot with a sketch and a little paragraph. Read it full on the link below.


I hope you've found something on the list for you - leave a comment below if you have any suggestions we need to watch/read! 


Words by Cathy Carey

NEED SUPPLY: 10 Unique, Wearable and Affordable Pieces by Cathy Carey

Jumpsuit: 77.23e

If the sun has shone any knowledge upon us in the past week, it's that we may actually have to break out the summer clothes soon. One store that's great for long-lasting pieces if you are "Scandily-inclined" (I may or may not have made that word up) is Need Supply Co. Carrying a range of different designers with a simple aesthetic that could work for the office or the weekend, they are a lesser-known alternative this side of the pond, making them perfect for those who are looking to make a unique statement. 

Need Supply Co. ship from Richmond, Virginia to Ireland for a $15 fee and though prices range from 10 to 500 dollars (or more), all the items in this list are under 100 euro; in short, easy on the eye and the wallet. Click the pictures to browse each item on the site. Enjoy!

Wrap shirt: 79.86e

Converse: 46.50e

Wrap skirt: 86e

Wide leg pants: 68.45e

Kimono: 95.65e

Slip-ons: 85.99e

Blouse: 72.83e

Watch: 82.48e

Top: 59.68e

Words by Cathy Carey

Can You Afford To Go Fashion-Vegan? by Cathy Carey

Della La

It sometimes seems like the last decade has prompted a bizarre switch wherein everything that was once good for us has turned evil, and revealed to have been horribly damaging to ourselves and the environment all along. 

New information conflicts wildly with old truths (the food pyramid is a perfect example of this: am I not supposed to eat LOADS of bread?!) with many opinions and contradictions to match. These are resolved usually with an answer in a shade from a vast ocean of greys. 

The problem is, it has become so difficult to separate fact from fiction (and to find transparency), and if we really look at our consumption, very few people are squeaky clean. I certainly amn't.* All we can do is educate ourselves and do our best to make choices we feel good about. In terms of fashion, we can try to avoid stores that employ cheap labour (if the clothes are really cheap, there must be a reason), and buy things we love and are going to wear lots. Ask yourself, are you getting #30wears out of your clothes? If not, that's probably a red flag.**

There's always the excuse that we aren't making enough money to spend loads on our clothes, but I'm not suggesting anyone break the bank. On the contrary, spending a bit more money less frequently might actually save you a few bob. It might also encourage companies to sell fewer unethically sourced products. 

On that note, below are some lovely, cool brands that are either: 1. vegan, 2. made with ecologically-friendly materials, or 3. pay their employees real wages - in most cases all three. Once you've checked them out let me know if you know any that are worth a mention, and be sure to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments!

Della - dellala.com

Handcrafted by a community in Ghana, West Africa, Della sells bright women's clothing and awesome accessories like African-style printed laptop cases. Shipping from the US to Ireland costs $18.

Della LA dresses

Matt & Nat - mattandnat.com

You may have heard of this Canadian company that makes great bags and accessories for women and men in loads of pretty colours. It's sold on ASOS and in Avoca shops, and it ships to Ireland too. Free shipping over €70 to Ireland, or under that, it's a €10 flat rate.

Matt and Nat Bags

Borgeouis Boheme - bboheme.com

This English company makes smart vegan leather shoes for men and women that are crafted by traditional methods in Portugal. They're expensive enough, but maybe worth it if you plan to wear them lots! They also do sales in their 'outlets' section so check back for bargains.


Everlane - everlane.com

Another brand that's gaining popularity fast, this LA-based company doesn't yet ship to Ireland, but promises it will soon (sign up for the newsletter, they'll inform you when it happens). Simple and stylish, their practices are transparent, and you can read about them on their site.

Everlane linen

Uncommon Goods - uncommongoods.com

If you're looking for a unique present, Uncommon Goods stocks a number of small retailers and boutique brands with lots of ideas. Some of them ship to Ireland, and some of them don't, it depends on the seller.

Uncommon Goods gift

Soko Jewellery - shopsoko.com

I got a pair of Soko's earrings not long ago and I love them. You can read all about their practices on their site, but in short, they connect Kenyan artisan jewellers with the world, and drive development within their communities.

Soko jewellery combined

Lastly, vintage is always a good option! Read my suggestions here.

Words by Cathy Carey

*There's no glowing halo over my head. I read that some of the brands I buy, and put up on this blog, are engaged in less-than-transparent behaviour. More on this later.

**Some questions, if you will: Does your salad - vegetarian though it may be - come in an non-recycled plastic container, wrapped in a non-recycled brightly printed paper? And where does it go when you're finished with it? If you eat vegan but you buy clothes from cheap labour employers like Primark and H&M, have you got any more moral high ground than someone who eats local meat and buys their wearables from sustainable brands? 

Snazzy Sandals For Day To Night And Back by Cathy Carey

I don't think I actually ever wore sandals until I moved to Spain for a year. So unused to getting my toes out, I couldn't have been bothered to buy myself a nice pair, so I bought the cheap and cheerful kind and wore them every day - and eventually, into the ground. Dirty, dusty, with the laces snapped off, my most useful item of clothing was thrown rather unceremoniously in the bin. Next time I made sure I bought better quality, and now I'm loathe to return to anything less.

In Ireland the weather tends to be not good enough for sandals for the most part. But - and I'm just throwing this out there - they could be an investment all the same. Get a nice pair of statement sandals and you can not only take them away on holidays with you, they'll encourage you to embrace what little warm weather we do get. If you like them enough, maybe you'll take them out with you in the evening, and even into next summer. 

Ever the optimist, I've researched a bunch of LOVELY versatile sandals that I'm convinced will come in handy when the weather warms up!

Firth Footbed Sandals, 165 pounds from Whistles


Fully Suede Bow Sandals, 45 euro from ASOS


Cleo Yellow Snake Sandals, 55 pounds from Urban Outfitters


Flat Sandals With Crossover Strap, 49.95 euro from Zara


Luma Ankle Strap Sandal, 175 pounds, Whistles


Interwoven Cord Sandals, 49.95 euros from Mango


Rounded Heel Ankle Strap Sandals, 75 euros from & Other Stories


Alezia Metallic Sandals, 55 pounds from Anthropologie


Wyatt Suede Sandals, 148 pounds from Anthropologie


9 Vintage Finds Your Granny Won't Also Be Wearing by Cathy Carey

Vintage shopping shouldn't evoke mental images of musty rails and oversized jumpers you'd be most likely to find hanging in Father Ted's wardrobe. Glamorous, enduring, and most importantly ecologically friendly, I try to consider vintage a way of finding unique items that can last for years if you choose them well (it's managed to stay relevant this long, right?).

One side-bonus is that pre-loved items can work out cheaper, but try not to let price guide your choices too much. Instead, focus on quality, versatility and fabric where possible, that's where you'll get value in the end. Now that vintage shopping is online and easier than ever, it doesn't matter if you're living in the wilds of Connemara or the Wicklow Mountains, the postman will deliver your purchases dutifully to your door (I'll include shipping prices at the bottom, in case you were wondering about those).

That in mind, below is my pick of 9 pieces that won't steer you wrong, click on each image to link to the site! And sure while you're here why not watch my interview with consignment store supporter Seana from SiopaellaI promise you'll love it.

Orange wool and elastane top, ASOS Marketplace - 26 euro


Woven flats, UK 6. Beyond Retro - £24


Suede bomber jacket, ASOS Marketplace - 43 euro


Leather Chloé wallet, Siopaella - 149 euro


Pink cashmere jumper, Beyond Retro - £32


Suede shirt, ASOS Marketplace - 17 euro


Levi 501s, ASOS Marketplace - 39 euro


Embroidered dress, Adored Vintage - $168


Brown brogues, UK 5. Beyond Retro - £24


Shipping from UK-based Beyond Retro: about £11
Shipping from US-based Adored Vintage: about $11 (depends on weight)
Shipping from ASOS: price list on each item (depends on weight)
Shipping from Siopaella - 6.99 euro to Ireland (or free! depending on price)

Words by Cathy Carey

No Regrets: Top 5 COS Mid-Season Sale Buys by Cathy Carey

How many times have you bought something on sale, taken it home and thought: 'What on earth am I going to wear this with?' If you're like me, it's more times than you can shake a pair of glittery 6-inch T-bar platforms at. But not all sales are created equal, and though some might seem stuffed with doomed-to-be-discarded items, COS is one store that's usually pretty easy to find wardrobe mainstays in during the sales. There are reasons for this:

1. The fabrics are pretty good quality, and long-lasting
2. The clothes are timeless: COS reinvents it's clothes just subtly enough season after season that I've often rediscovered pieces a few years old that slot right into my current wardrobe. And finally,
3. The Price is Right: If you can't afford it full price, hit the sales!

Bearing all of this in mind, below is my pick of 5 items in the mid-season sale that you won't regret buying come the weekend:

Cotton jumper, 48 euro.   Light enough for Spring, and great with colours and neutrals

Cotton jumper, 48 euro.
Light enough for Spring, and great with colours and neutrals

Fitted V-neck dress in black, 55 euro.  Midi length, long sleeves, V-neck. Team with a polo when it's cold, dress it up with sparkling finery for evening wear.

Fitted V-neck dress in black, 55 euro.
Midi length, long sleeves, V-neck. Team with a polo when it's cold, dress it up with sparkling finery for evening wear.

Striped cotton T-shirt, 10 euro.  Great for layering and with jeans. Bonus: super comfortable.

Striped cotton T-shirt, 10 euro.
Great for layering and with jeans. Bonus: super comfortable.

Silk blouse, 62 euro.  A nod to the slip style, it will go with anything, day or night.

Silk blouse, 62 euro.
A nod to the slip style, it will go with anything, day or night.

Navy leather lace-ups, 63 euro.  You've worn your black ones to death, and it's spring now so get this navy pair half price. They're perfect!

Navy leather lace-ups, 63 euro.
You've worn your black ones to death, and it's spring now so get this navy pair half price. They're perfect!

Any others to add? Let us know where your favourite spot for bargain hunting is in the comments below!

Words by Cathy Carey

5 Ways To Look Like A Delicious Candy This Easter by Cathy Carey

In honour of our pastel-painted, chocolate-fuelled holiday, I'm counting five ways to make yourself look like a beautiful, brightly-coloured sweet shop. Even those who don't want to stuff themselves to the eyeballs with toothache-inducing sweets should at least make the effort to LOOK like huge multi-coloured ball of sugar. Because the clocks go forward on Easter Sunday (yay!) and, let's face it, every black and grey wardrobe needs to be made happy again. Let's do this!

The Cotton Candy Fudge Dress
Make yourself look like a giant, gorgeous slab of cotton candy fudge in this dress by The White Pepper. Delicious.

The Mentos Earrings
Ok, so you're a demure lady when it comes to the candy. You've never had much of a sweet tooth. Freshen up your ears with these Mentos Earrings from Suzywan DELUXE at ASOS!

Skittles Nails
They won't taste great but they'll make your egg more appetising (and photogenic) in the seconds before you devour it. Grab random nail colours from around the house and splash 'em on!

Refreshers Shoes
If you're looking to upgrade your wardrobe with some funky shoes, this style from ASOS is ready to lemon-aid you (geddit?)! So (re)fresh(er).

The Golden Egg Skirt
They've unwrapped the secret to Easter-themed dressing and they're selling it in Zara. This gold foil skirt ensures you'll look exactly like an untouched chocolate egg. Team it with a multi-coloured jumper to evoke the full Sunday range of colourful treats.


Words by Cathy Carey