Monday, May 31, 2010

Cheap and cheerful sundresses for little ones

In this baby bargainista post, Jenny shares tips for buying sundresses for little girls.

With the hot weather comes my annual search for inexpensive,
yet pretty summer sundresses for our girls. Our oldest is 5 and is deeply into wearing dresses – the frillier, the better – but they don’t always stand up well to her active, still rough-and-tumble lifestyle.

For special occasions, I splurged on a couple of beautiful dresses from Happy Wear. I love their cheerful, colorful designs and the dresses are very well-constructed in such a way that they can be easily adjusted to fit as your child grows through the season, with double-snaps at the shoulders and drawstring waists. Best of all, they are durable, and I’ve bought from them every year so I have a growing collection ready to pass along to Daughter #2! (As I tell my husband, it’s not really splurging, it’s an investment!)

But these gorgeous dresses likely wouldn’t survive a kindergarten birthday party unstained, so I also visited our local Winners and picked up a couple of marked-down frilly dresses. They’re fancy enough to keep Daughter #1 happy, but at $15-20, they’re cheap enough that I won’t mind the occasional cupcake stain.

And for school and active summer holidays, I always swear by Joe Fresh and H&M. Very simple, light cotton dresses can be found for $6-$12 at either store, and their A-line construction, while not fancy or fitted, is perfect for staying comfy and cool on hot summer days.
Top 3 tips:
1. At Joe Fresh and at Winners, stock moves quickly, so when you see something in the right size, buy it – it might not be there next week!
2. If you’re not sure about size with Joe Fresh, because they’re located in the supermarket it’s often easier to buy a couple of sizes and try them on the kids at home, then return them during your next grocery run (rather than try to wrangle cranky kids plus a full shopping cart into the fitting room!).

3. At H&M, lines at the checkout can often stretch around the store. Bring a friend to wait in line while you browse, or better yet, if the line is more than 6 people long, do a little browsing for yourself – you might find that the line has shrunk significantly when you are done (and you might discover a few bargains for yourself!).

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jean Yee visits The Clothing Show

Since winning tickets to The Clothing Show, Jean Yee and I have been having a lot of email conversations. She was nice enough to share her experience. Hope you’ll enjoy her guest post as much as I did.

What a wonderful weekend of shopping we had at The Clothing Show! Thank you again for holding the free tickets to the show contest. My niece and I attended Saturday and Sunday. We felt a special going up to the guest counter to pick up our tickets and have them look up our names on the guest list.

Our shopping agenda was to find accessories for my niece’s prom dress. This included shoes, jewellery and purse. After that, whatever money was left over was a “free for all, buy what you want.” This was the first time my niece attended The Clothing Show. She is has talent for art illustration, so this was the perfect event for her to be this weekend.

We watched one of the runway shows to get an idea of what some of the vendors were selling and how some pieces can be worn. Yes, some of the ensembles were strictly for the runway (a bit risque for streetwear by certain standards!), but they did provide inspiration for adapting it to ones own style. And some of the other ensembles were perfect for an event or day wear.

There were ample bargain boxes at vendors' booths to rummage through – we found a lined vest in the $5.00 box, a hooded mohair sweater for $10.00 and some frilly dresses for $15.00. All from vendors selling new stock. In the vintage section, we found a patent black leather clutch for $9.00 and a pink/black bustier for $18.00. Some vendors were selling all their wares, every piece for a flat price of $10.00; everything in their booth! We wondered if we should go beyond budget and buy as much as we could. Experience told us, to stay within budget and stick to the shopping plan. Breathe. Plan the shopping, shop the plan.

Sunday afternoon, we found deeper discounts as vendors wanted to move their stock and I couldn't pass up two Indian 100% silk shawls for $5.00 each. The DIY nail art booth was really different – they were 'rubber stamping' various designs on our fingernails (from lace patterns, to flower designs) that mimics the designs of salon nail art.

One of the advantages of shopping local and small business, is sharing one on one conversations with the owners and designers. I find that part of the shopping experience at this event is getting to know the vendors; what inspires and motivates them. Some showed me their favourite pieces and why/how they made them, found them etc. We had a most inspiring conversation with Glen Anthony, one of the artists creating a Marvel comic mural that was to be auctioned off when he completed it.

At the end of the weekend, we found all the items my niece needed for her prom (and a couple of things myself!), under budget,so we were able to splurge on a couple of extras! Did we enjoy it? Absolutely! We were impressed and inspired by the artistic talent we saw and got our dose of nostalgia browsing and buying in the vintage section. Would be go again? In a heartbeat! Once we save up our money...

Thanks again for the tickets and for making our weekend a memorable one (I can't wait to see the prom photos!)

Did you go to The Clothing Show? What did you think?

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sex and The City 2 - Toronto Premiere

Kudos to the gals at Veritas for inviting me to the SATC2 premier last night. I hope they’ll understand that sometimes things come up at the last-minute and I wasn’t able to attend. Fortunately, my colleague Aly Robb stepped up to the plate. I hope you’ll enjoy her guest review. In addition to being an account exec on High Road’s digital team, Aly’s is an avid lover of dance, shrimp cocktail and Bill Murray.

“Do you want to go to the Sex and the—” I don’t think I let the oh-so-lovely Bargainista finish her sentence, inviting me to attend an advanced screening to Sex and the City 2 last night, before I eagerly replied “Yes, Yes, YES!” The clothes, the shoes, the men – how can a girl refuse? Accompanied by my best gal-pal, I headed off to the screening sponsored by Trojan and Nair, excited to get my Sex and the City fill a little earlier than anticipated.

I arrived a full hour and a half before the movie was scheduled to start as I was instructed to do, thinking that I would be at the front of the line, but I misjudged the die-hard Toronto SATC fans, and found myself among a large crowd of party dresses (should have re-thought my jeans) and stilettos (should have re-thought my flip flops).

As we arrived, we were greeted by organizers adorned with pink boas and the Trojan Man, a bare-chested gladiator hunk you could get your picture taken with. Although it was a long wait until the movie actually started, we were entertained with Sex and the City trivia and prize packs that would make any girl blush.

As the lights dimmed and the movie began, our great MC reminded the crowd that it was a girls night out – and we should all embrace the girliness within us as we watch... and embrace it, I did...

I laughed, I squealed, I cheered, I even got a little choked up – I won’t lie, I LOVED the movie. It was like being reunited with four long-time friends, and for just over two hours, I got to live the life of Sex and the City.

As the night sadly ended and I walked away with my Sex and the City gift bags (filled with sweet Nair and Trojan swag), I felt a little more glamorous... even in my flip-flops!

Are you planning on seeing SATC2? If so, share your thoughts and leave a comment.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I won’t accept money for writing reviews. Period.

Working on both sides of the blogger relations’ equation full-time for the past year or so has really been an eye opener as far as the challenges facing bloggers, brands and the agencies that represent the latter.

Over the past few months in particular, I’ve been exposed to a few situations where the concept of paid reviews and/or pay-to-post has been the subject of discussion. It’s something that I grapple with frequently and when it comes to how I govern my own blog and my relationships with agencies, brands and retailers, I’ve drawn a clear line as far where my comfort level and leanings lie.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dish Jeans denim event at Long Legs


Vancouver-based Dish Jeans is having a denim event at Long Legs the next two Thursday nights and Dish representative and denim fit expert, Christina Pillar will be on site to help ensure you get the perfect fit... and save 20% off all regular priced Dish denim and tops.

It’s been a while since I wrote about Long Legs and some of the challenges my tall, long-limbed friends have finding clothes that fit. Well, Nancy Pehar, co-owner of Long Legs contacted me to introduce me to her store this week. She was surprised when I told her that although I’m barely 5'3", I’m familiar with her store and had blogged about it before. (Tip: Google Alerts are a great free tool small businesses can use to see what’s being said about them online. If you’re not using them already, start now!)

Long Legs Toronto Store
2717 Yonge St., Toronto
Thurs., May 13, 2010

5:00 p.m.-8 p.m.

Long Legs Mississauga Store
299 Lakeshore Rd. E., Mississauga
Thurs., May 20, 2010

5:00 p.m.-8 p.m.

Can’t make it in person?
You can order online May 13 and 20 (two days only) using the promo code “DISH20” and still get the 20% discount.

A lot has changed in the past few years. Long Legs has a blog and you can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.

Let us know what you get if you go.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Ron White is giving away a $200 gift certificate on Twitter

Ron White is a Toronto-based high-end shoe store named after it‘s owner, with a focus on premium brands that put comfort first yet are equally fashionable.

Well, Ron White is new to Twitter and as a way to attract new followers and gain awareness for his store, he’s launched a Twitter contest. All you need to do between now and May 11 is email your favourite one of his tweets to for a chance to win a $200 gift certificate to Ron White. Make sure to use “Ron TWEETS!” for your subject line. Make sure to check the website for complete details and while your there, check out the good work Ron White does in the community.

Just one word of caution, most items in the collection are well above $200, so while the winner probably won’t be getting a new pair of shoes or sandals for free, she will get a hefty discount.

I’d be curious to learn the total number of entries for this contest and the number of followers he gains compared to entries. How about you?

Hat tip to Connie Crosby for sharing.

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Bargainista interviews Patricia Pinkney from Pangea Collection

Patricia Pinkney introduced herself to me on Twitter last winter. We got to know each other on Twitter a bit and I invited her for a Bargainista interview to learn more about Patricia and the work she’s doing with the Pangea Collection – her fair trade jewellery business.

What can you tell us in a nutshell about your different collections?
The name Pangea Collection comes from the name of the continent “Pangea” (or “Pangaea”) which was the name of the super continent that existed before the break up of the continents as we know them today. The idea is brings the world back together again so you can find all the beautiful fair trade and artisan jewellery from around the world in one easy place, at a click of a mouse.

Each jewellery collection reflects the culture from which it originates. Pangea Collection has jewellery from Asia, Africa, North and South America and Europe. Some of these jewellery crafting techniques date back centuries. Purchasing a piece of jewellery from these fair trade and independent artisans not only helps the artisan achieve the art of self reliance but also helps to preserve traditional techniques which might otherwise be lost if a market couldn't be found for their jewellery artwork.

Pangea Collection jewellery is fashionable AND socially conscious. That's what our customers love about Pangea Collection jewellery. They feel like they have a little piece of culture adorning them and they feel good about supporting the artisan.

Our most popular collections include the Handmade Silver Jewelry from Mexico, the Bali Jewelry (Harmony Balls in particular) and the Fair Trade Indian Jewelry.

What type of customer do you have in mind when choosing pieces for your collection?
Pangea Collection customers look for pieces that reflect their personality. Jewellery that they won't find at mass stores or shopping malls. They like to travel and explore different cultures and usually shop when travelling. I look for jewellery that reflects the cultural origins and when our customers wear them they will get that "that's beautiful, where did you get that?" question. They can then tell the story of the jewellery, it's origin and artisan who handcrafted it. Our customers love that.

Where can Bargainista readers buy items from Pangea Collection? – everything is available online, starting at just $20 including free shipping! That's a bargain, for a bargainista!

What inspires you?
Travel and the discovery of how much beautiful creative work there is in the world. I am also inspired by women entrepreneurs, especially women in developing markets who start businesses even under very challenging market conditions and through pure persistence make a viable business to support their families.

I‘m also a huge fan of micro financing and organisations like Opportunity International. For as little as a $50 loan, a women in a developing market can use that loan to start a business.

What would you like people to know about your approach to jewellery?
That I seek the world to find the most beautiful jewellery pieces that are handcrafted by fair trade and independent jewellery artisans so that every woman can feel beautiful. The woman who wears it and the women (and sometimes men) who handcraft it.

I am aware of trends and always keep them in mind but that is not what drives my buying. I look for jewellery that I would feel great wearing today and in 20 years. Sometimes a piece that Pangea Collection has had in stock already becomes “trendy” the next season.

Why Twitter? Is it helping you build your business? How do you know? Are you using other social media tools? Which ones and why?
Twitter (@pangeacollecton – no “i” in collection) and other social media are fascinating. I use both, Facebook more than Twitter but I really need to find more time to use Twitter. These social media tools aren’t really driving sales for Pangea Collection but they really do help me from other business perspectives such as finding new artisans understanding who is talking about issues that are important to us and connecting with media, etc.

How do I know if social media is successful? I measure everything I do. I use the available free tools to measure success of any initiative that Pangea Collection uses.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Ladies’ Night at Mark’s – save 20% and support the Breast Cancer Society of Canada


If you’ve seen any of the blog posts or tweets about the spring #Marksover events, you probably already know Mark’s isn’t just for men, industrial wear or health care workers’ uniforms. There are lots innovative and fashionable items for women. (I first stumbled upon Mark’s women’s collection when shopping for my teen son last summer.)

This Thursday night, all regular and sales priced items will be 20% off with $5 from every minimum purchase of $65 or more going to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada. So far their 8-year partnership has helped raise more than $1 million for the fight against breast cancer.

So, if you’re curious about Mark’s or a regular customer, Thursday’s a great time to visit, save and help do some good.


Thurs., May 6, 2010

5:00 p.m.-closing (some stores open until 11 p.m., check your local store for hours)


At Mark’s and Mark’s Work Wearhouse stores across Canada.
Find a store near you.

Let us know what you get if you go.

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Dear Bargainista – #19 Sample Sales

Dear Bargainista,
Thank you for posting all these wonderful deals! Especially your review about the Kobo – I was curious.

As for the Lida Baday sample sale next Friday, I'm definitely going. I already booked my day off! :)

I fell in love with this blue dress of hers but it's out of my price range, so I'm hoping to find it or something similar at a lower price.

My only concerns are what's the size range and what is the etiquette of a designer sale?

I've been to one sample sale with friends - fcuk - somewhere near Sherway and that was a nightmare. Clothes/shoes/bags/people strewn everywhere. I was not comfortable shopping there at all. Also I don't think I'm a sample size - dress size is an 8, shirts etc. can be a medium with pants 10/12.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions.



Dear Janice,

Expect long line-ups especially for the change rooms. My understanding is although there will be items in a variety of sizes, most will be sample size (6, I think).

It's typical for merchandise to be messy and disorganized at sample sales.

As for tips, be open-minded. The chances of finding a specific dress in your size and colour are probably slim but the odds of finding some great additions to your wardrobe at excellent prices are high. Also, wear comfortable shoes and clothing that's easy to change in and out of such as leggings or yoga pants and a black cami or tank top under a lightweight blouse or jacket. Leave the accessories at home.

Please leave a comment on the blog and let us know how it goes.

Happy Shopping!

Dear Bargainista would love to hear from you too! Have a question about shopping, fashion or food? E-mail us or send a tweet to @Bargainista.

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