What to Wear: 10th Annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival

By: Emily Y.
Did the lack of female nominees (other than lead and supporting actress, of course) at the Oscars get you down? Never fear–the 10th annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival is running March 4-8th 2015, supporting female filmmakers in all sorts of roles. 
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Above: Melissa Bergland stars as Lexi Ivy in Relative Happiness. Image found here.


The past couple years I have had the pleasure of volunteering as a judge for the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, a local event which is put on by Women in Film and Television Vancouver. I’m really proud of this year’s lineup, and for those of you here in Vancouver, I personally invite you to attend this fantastic event.


The festival runs March 4-8th downtown at VIFF’s Vancity Theatre, and already the screenings for opening night film Margarita with a Straw, and the Highway of Tears documentary block have sold out! Given that the festival runs during March 8th, International Women’s Day, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate women’s achievements.


For a film to be eligible for our festival, a woman must fill three key creative roles (director, writer, producer, editor, cinematographer, music, etc).


Filmmaking for women in Canada has been particularly difficult this past year—in our festival committee, we noticed a distinct lack of feature-length narrative films compared to our 2014 festival. This means in that in an industry dominated by men, women had a harder time than ever getting their films made and on screen at festivals. As such, I really encourage you all to show your support for female filmmakers by spreading the word about the festival, and showing up to watch some really excellent films.


Personally, I would recommend a few films in particular.


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Image above found here.


Relative Happiness showing on Friday, March 6th starting at 9:30 pm has my recommendation for a few reasons. It’s a feature-length dramedy from back East, and it’s actually funny—I watched it twice when I was judging just for fun and laughed out loud all the while. I love the film’s protagonist Lexi Ivy (played by Melissa Bergland), who is a fiery 30-something who runs a bed and breakfast, wears dresses even when she goes camping, and makes jams and preserves for local craft fairs in her spare time. I also love that the film has some body diversity—Lexi Ivy is a ‘plus’ size gal and totally steals the show. Bonus for Closet Feminists–you can read an interview with the costume designer for Relative Happiness, Sarah Dunsworth, here.


Lady Be Good: Instrumental Women in Jazz showing Friday, March 6th at 6:30 is a great, fun doc. Yes, the music is amazing, and the subject matter fascinating. Even if you don’t like jazz, I can guarantee you’ll get into the ‘swing’ of things. Thoroughly researched, the film covers musicians from the 1920s-1970s, and has tons of interviews with women who were in these bands back in the day. This film also stands out to me as it features the perspectives of many women of colour—a must-see, for sure. In the spirit of things, the festival will also have a jazz reception featuring performer Jillian Lebeck!


Lastly, I want to suggest A 5-Star, an Iranian film showing Saturday, March 7th at 9:30 pm. I didn’t get a chance to see this film while I was judging, but the other judges said its quite funny and unexpected—it’s about a mother and daughter working at a fancy hotel, and all hell breaks loose when a major guest’s watch gets stolen. They didn’t tell me much more than that, but I’m quite intrigued, and we don’t see many films from Iran coming through our festival usually.


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Both images above found here.


Wondering what to wear to a film festival? I personally would take cues from the character of Lexi Ivy in Relative Happiness--her wardrobe was adorbs. I love how super-femme it is, and they totally discuss it throughout the movie, too–her friends make fun of her for wearing a dress and tights when they go camping.


inspired by Lexi Ivy of Relative Happiness

Milly purple dress, 1,075 CAD / Petit Bateau pea coat / Black tight, 21 CAD / Evening shoes, 56 CAD / Red purse, 75 CAD / Henri Bendel black bracelet, 145 CAD / Freshwater pearl earrings, 86 CAD / Deepa Gurnani hair accessory, 85 CAD


You can check out the whole schedule online here. 
You can purchase tickets online in advance here OR you can get them at the box office. All movies are shown at VIFF’s Vancity Theatre downtown.
Be sure to check out the festival Facebook group, and if you attend any screenings or events for the festival, tweet about it using #VIWIFF2015.

Vancouver Holiday Gift Guide: Editor’s Picks

By: Emily Yakashiro

So it’s that time of year where you might want to exchange gifts with friends and loved ones. Whether it’s a Secret Santa thing, hostess gifts, or picks for the fam, here are my recommendations for your bestest year of gifting yet. As a total bonus: everything on my list is from here in Vancouver or other cities in the lower mainland AND most of the places mentioned below are run or owned by women!

For Your Fave Grown-Up



Above: The 2014 Hope in Shadows Calendar, found here.

Do you know about the annual Hope in Shadows calendar/project? It’s a great local initiative, and this beautiful calendar not only gives lower-income folks in our city some holiday spending money of their own, but showcases our city in a very non-cheesy postcard, beautiful way. If you live or work in Vancouver you might have seen some folks out there selling this calendar. From the project’s website, The Hope in Shadows project is a,

“Community project based around a photo contest and calendar for low-income residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside” and “is sold through our vendor program, which creates seasonal employment for people impacted by poverty. While most of the vendors we work with are Downtown Eastside residents, the program is open to anyone who identifies as low-income.”

-from the Hope in Shadows website

ALSO A GOOD PICK FOR:  This a practical, artistic gift, and as such would be good for an office gift exchange, a Secret Santa exchange, or for a friend or loved one far away who could use a touch of Vancouver in their life! If you work or run an office, get one for the break room, or get a bunch for each member of your team!

For the Discerning Teen in Your Life


Above: Image of the coolest undies ever from Daub + Design here.

I would get this one for my stepsister, Britney, or my cousins who are in their late teens/early twenties: a Panty of the Month Subscription from Daub + Design, because OMG how cute is this idea, and the designs are awesome– not too cutesy or too mall-chain-y. I have some of these undies myself and they’re great!!

BONUS: Check out my interview with Vancouver-based Daub + Design owner and designer Lexi Soukoreff here.

WOULD GO WELL WITH: The Rookie Yearbook 2, obviously. Not a BC gift, but seriously, every young woman out there (and twenty-somethings like me) would get something out of this amazing anthology of articles, how-tos, advice columns, essays, etc.


This is Vancouver, where yoga and outdoor culture reign supreme. Ditch cheaply made goods by fatphobic/sexist chains, and  get your favourite yoga or Grouse Grind champ a solid pair of workout leggings from Daub + Design. I obviously really like their stuff…


Got a stylish or artsy friend? Get them local boutique extraordinnaire Front & Company‘s 20th Anniversary Book. It’s a pocket size book showing off some of the best window displays (what they’re known for besides a great selection of clothes) from the past twenty years! I can’t seem to find details on their website, but if you call or drop by I’m sure they can help you out.

ALSO GOOD FOR: mailing someplace far away–since it’s the perfect size, it wouldn’t cost too much to ship. Send it to your Toronto blogger friend who has their doubts about Vancouver’s style scene.

BONUS: Did you know Front & Company is owned and run by two women of colour? Pretty awesome, no?


Guys are notoriously hard to shop for, but my vote is that you head on over to the newly renovated Community Thrift & Vintage, specifically, the Casual Corner-Menswear & Unisex Apparel location (there’s two stores, this one and The Frock Shoppe) and get him some cool, perfectly vintage t-shirts. Can’t go wrong with that–the staff are super-helpful and chill if you don’t know where to get started. Their Facebook page has a sampling of the goodies held in store.

BONUS: Did you know that Community Thrift & Vintage is a social enterprise? In their own words they are a,

“social enterprise in the heart of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver selling hand picked thrift and vintage clothing in a warm and dynamic environment.  Our purpose is to inspire positive transformation through fashion.  We will accomplish this by having the best selection of clothing at the best price, by employing women with barriers to traditional employment, giving them valuable job skills in a transitional period in their lives, and by donating all profits back into the community through key programs of the PHS Community Services Society.”

-from the Community website

READ ON: I spoke with Community owner & manager Maryjane earlier this year on how to get the best Mad Men-esque look, check it out here.


For those of us without youngsters, it can be hard to think of what to get them for the holidays. I’ve come across two solid picks for the kids in your life, here they are.

1. ABC’s in Harmony by Kim Oshiro


Above: This tiny image I found doesn’t do this amazing book by Kim Oshiro justice.

Okay, this is totally biased as Kim Oshiro happens to be one of my many aunties, but seriously, this beautiful little book is AMAZING (yes, I have a copy and I love it even though I’m in my twenties). In her own words this book,

“With lyrical words and poetic rhymes, the ABC’s are used as a vehicle to deliver manners, morals and positive messages to children around the world.”

She wrote it with the idea of building self-esteem as young ones learn to read. She was also very concerned with representing diversity in the book, and as you read it you will see children of all backgrounds represented. One of my favourite things growing up was having adults read to me, and this book would have been my favourite.

BUY IT: On iTunes here, in print (get it in print, it is totally worth it) here.

BONUS: It was illustrated by Lonnie Barber, who lives in BC like my aunt. Come to think of it, it’s actually an effort entirely driven by women as my aunt wrote it, self published it, and Barber illustrated it!

2. “Draw Me a Lion” Colouring Book

–or stickers, greeting card pack, etc! This local line of stationary encourages creativity and artistic skills by selling a variety of colouring activities. So fun, and perfect for kids at Christmas dinners who prefer to do their own thing.

BONUS: Go see the”Draw Me a Lion” merch in person this Saturday and Sunday in Vancouver at the Got Craft? Christmas market!



Above: Prince Edward Island-shaped serving board from Love my Local.

I personally don’t really “get” foodie culture as I hate cooking and really only like pizza and desserts BUT I know that foodies are a big thing. Plus, I saw these beautiful, locally made, province-shaped serving boards  by Love my Local, and who can resist? They look solid, and it’s high time somebody started making something for gifting in the shape of Canadian provinces (sadly, territories are not represented).

ALSO GOOD FOR: A generous hostess gift, or for a friend/loved one who entertains a lot. They look pretty big though, so probably best for someone who has lots of cupboard space!


This is a pet peeve/manners hang-up of mine: if you are going to a big family dinner or dinner party, you need to bring the host/hostess something, especially during holiday dinners. Hosting people takes a LOT of time, energy, preparation, money, and planning. Show them you appreciate their efforts by bringing them a little something. Flowers, chocolate, and wine are standard, but here are a couple things to go above and beyond without breaking the bank.

1. Trio of Local Honeys by Mellifera Bees

Last year I hit up Got Craft? and Mellifera was selling a trio of local honeys in a sharp gift bag. I got one for my partner’s parents, who hosted us for Christmas last year. Mellifera honeys are nicely packaged and traveled well, not to mention are produced right here in Vancouver, so they’re a way to bring in local flavour-literally! I’m not sure if they’ll be selling the trio again this year, but check out their website just the same for details.

2. Caramels by [in the oven]

Oh-em-gee these are good caramels! Made here in Vancouver with unique flavours like Lime and Smoked Salt, you should definitely stock up on a few bags to give to your hosts. I got some of the Coconut ones a while ago and my grandparents loved them, and so did one of my aunts–a hit for folks of all ages for sure, and decidedly less routine than a box of chocolates!


Got an adventurer in your life? Get them a Map and Pin set by cabin + cub! I’m sad that there’s not one of Canada though there’s one of the States, but there’s one of the world, too. The bright colours and sharp design are totally fresh and inspired–it’s art, a conversation piece, and a diary of sorts all in one!

ALSO GOOD FOR: The university/college student in your life, they need cool art for their dorms or apartments. They can plan their future adventures when they need to distract themselves from midterms!



Above: Image from Strathcona 1890 here.

I have never bought these seed collections personally, but I like the sounds of this Strathcona 1890 Urban Seeds business. It sounds like they have a vision of how to support Vancouver’s communities by helping to create quality gardens and skilled gardeners. Get your loved one with a green thumb a tin of (beautifully illustrated/packaged) seeds in theme packages like “Junior Farmer” and “Urban Apothecary”.

GET THEM STARTED: Don’t know a gardener? Give someone a new hobby with these seeds! Strathcona 1890 focuses on people who want to learn to garden/produce their own food but don’t have a lot of space–perfect for your friend in a basement suite or sharing a house with 6 roommates!

WOULD GO WELL WITH: A beginners gardening book by You Grow Girl blogger Gayla Trail who writes/blogs in Toronto!


Not seeing what you need? Then I would recommend heading out to the Got Craft? holiday market this Saturday, December 14th and Sunday, December 14th here in Vancouver which will have all sorts of cool, locally made stuff.

I would also suggest a cool magazine subscription like Briarpatch (produced in Regina!), Shameless (also Canadian!), Bitch, Ricepaper (produced here in Vancouver!), or WORN Journal (hey Toronto!).

Dressing for August Weather in Vancouver

By: Emily Yakashiro

So am I the only one in Vancouver struggling with the cloudy-but-sunny-and-muggy weather, style-wise? Monday I was on campus at UBC and I just wore a lace shawl thing and it was cold walking around. When I left, it was boiling hot and I was a sweaty mess. Other days lately have been cloudy but very warm. Figuring out what to wear has been difficult, but I think I have finally nailed down a formula or two for dealing with this mercurial  end-of-summer weather.

My first inspiration comes from a short article in LouLou magazine. There’s a piece on p. 67 by Associate Editor-in-Chief Joanie Pietracupa called “I Hate Summer Fashion,” where she goes on to show that Nicole Richie is surprisingly a relevant style icon. I like summer fashion enough, but Richie’s looks shown (I scanned it below just for you!) are indeed quite relevant for our present Vancouver weather. And just relevant for, well, Vancouver style: minimal colour, breezy silhouettes on top with skinny jeans. The flow-y tops help keep things cool when it heats up again, or can be shed for a simple but chic outfit. See for yourself–pretty good, no?


My second inspiration comes from the much-mythologized French style (see the September issue of Elle Canada, it has a special section on Parisian Chic). Classic basics paired with eye-catching details have gotten me through a few of these humid, grey days. Creep the APC site for simple, crisp basics that will disguise weather confusion with general chicness. I personally have been living in my simple black-and-white striped top with long sleeves–it looks equally polished with the sleeves rolled up for when the sun comes out again. If you’re doing this route of basics (like the ones pictured below), add a few personal touches–cute printed canvas tote (like these from Robbie Vergara), bamboo brooch (like these from cabin + cub), or an interesting necklace (this one from Sarah Mulder) and you should be good to go!

august 1

Steven Alan short t shirt, 75 CAD / J.Crew white t shirt, 46 CAD / Paul & Joe mini flare skirt, 405 CAD / Circle skirt, 21 CAD


Pride Weekend in Vancouver: What to Wear

Whether you’re walking on the new rainbow crosswalk at Davie and Bute, checking out Genderfest in East Van, participating in the Trans and Genderqueer March, or joining in the many other fantastic celebrations taking place throughout the city this weekend, be sure to dress up! Some of you might want to be as rainbow-y as possible, while others prefer to keep with the classic Vancouver palette of neutrals. Here are a few outfits to get you started. Either way, have fun and be safe this weekend!

Learn more about Vancouver Pride events here.

Pride 1

Floral top, 34 CAD / Black knee length skirt, 20 CAD / Topshop high heel shoes, 160 CAD / Sperry Top-Sider canvas handbag, 105 CAD / Yellow earrings, 21 CAD / Boohoo straw hat, 21 CAD / Linda Farrow black glasses, 750 CAD / Tube mascara, 8.74 CAD / OPI glitter nail polish, 18 CAD

Above: Don’t have a pre-made suspender skirt? Make your own! Take a black skirt and wear normal suspenders with it, or wear a long, thin black scarf unfolded/untied over your shirt to give a similar effect.

Pride 2

Rag & Bone , 390 CAD / Rag & Bone , 235 CAD / Forever New , 65 CAD / Steve Madden boots, 155 CAD / Cuff bracelet, 25 CAD / Forever New chronograph watch, 28 CAD / H&M cord bracelet, 9.39 CAD / Wayfarer sunglasses, 10 CAD

Above: Have a day full of activities planned? Take a backpack with you and don’t forget the essentials–phone charger, sunscreen, snacks, and band-aids cuz UGH if you’re breaking in new shoes you’re bound to have blisters.

Pride 3

Rag & Bone sleeve shirt, 335 CAD / STELLA McCARTNEY button front shirt, 360 CAD / Whistle & Wolf cropped jacket, 100 CAD / Printed skinny jeans, 36 CAD / Lucky Brand lace up oxford flat, 81 CAD / Ray-Ban wayfare, 160 CAD / Madras Cotton Bow Tie Red/Navy/Green, 38 CAD

Above: Classic staples are far from boring! Add a few choice accessories, or wear an entirely black and white outfit and and fun touches of colour with neon nail polish or a pocket square.

Get the Look in Vancouver: 5 Local Vintage Stores, Mad Men Season Six

By: Emily Yakashiro

Mad Men Season Six premiered last night, and it seems like everyone is buzzing about it. What I’ve always liked about this series is the many strong female characters, and the perfect 1960s clothes they wear! Every episode has me wanting to emulate nearly every outfit I see. Fortunately for me, Vancouver has lots of excellent vintage stores. To celebrate the premier of one of my favourite shows, I decided to check out 5 Vancouver vintage stores to see what they had to offer to make my Mad Men wardrobe dreams come true!

One thing I quickly discover is that Mad Men fever has indeed swept over our city. Ironically, while I’m talking to Community Thrift & Vintage owner & manager Maryjane, she is pulled away from our conversation by a customer who is going to a Mad Men themed birthday party. After helping her find the perfect outfit, Maryjane shows me a hat on sale at Community that she herself wore to a Mad Men themed Christmas party this past year.

Natalie, owner of Woo Vintage also has had fair share of interactions with Mad Men-obsessed people. Vancouver is known as Hollywood North, and Natalie is certainly fond of that label-she has worked with many stylists who have come into the store for TV shows looking for the perfect period costumes. She even dressed an AMC (the channel which Mad Men is shown on) actress for a wrap party of one of the seasons of the show itself, which was of course themed with the 1960s clothes.

Mintage on the Drive has also had it’s brushes with the silver screen business. I talk with super-stylish staff member Katie, who says they too have done lots of work with TV shows, movies, and have had many people come in for costumes for theme parties as well. When asked about Mad Men-worthy garb, she selects a bunch of beautiful dresses, saying she could, “go on forever,” and indeed I can see why–the store is full of many vintage gems. Katie surprises me, and even throws in a few vintage swim suits for variety (see above pictures).

Faustine, the woman behind the vivid pink C’est la Vie Boutique is bustling around her store, singing along to the Adele softly playing in the background when I drop by hoping to get her styling advice. She considers my questions carefully, and before I can blink she’s pulled out a bunch of dresses worthy of any Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price gala or work day. One of my favourites I saw during this report, a black dress with a turtleneck and red, yellow, and green stripes she declares, “very Megan,” and I agree.

After checking out C’est la Vie, I stop next door at Bohemia Gallery. I’m distracted by their great collection of vintage slips (I’m such a sucker for them), when the owner, Jann, encourages me to step upstairs to the loft to see even more vintage. I oblige, and it’s a good thing–I remarked to Jann on my way down again that it was like ascending into vintage heaven! I’m lucky to catch Kelly Hannah while I’m upstairs, she’s a veritable vintage expert to be sure. In our relatively brief conversation we touch upon everything from women’s rights to the impact of the fashion industry on the environment, and I’m riveted by every word she says, keeping the silhouettes of the outfits above in mind.

Something I’m relieved to see is that all five stores I stopped at had vintage clothing in a wide variety of sizes, sure to fit everyone from a svelte, Megan-esque figure to someone with Joan’s killer curves. Sizing diversity is important to these stores’ owners as well. Maryjane says that Peggy is her favourite character, “because we see her change, like how she really fought for it [her work].” She also notes the interesting politics of calling Peggy’s character “fat” at the end of Season 1 when she was in fact pregnant, and how Peggy navigated her way through that situation. Maryjane goes on remarking that late-1960s clothes, “were very body-conscious, but not in the way that we think of ‘skinny’ now, it was more about function […] and working in a conservative atmosphere.”

Kelly also reminds me that our perceptions of body size and shape today has changed along with beauty standards remarking, “People get frustrated shopping for vintage clothing. They look at the number of the size, but size has nothing to do with it. In the 80s, sizing numbers went to one digit. During the 50s, 60s, and 70s sizes were shown in two digits. So for example, a size 14 on a vintage dress is more like a size 2 today. Just look at vintage sewing patterns, the sizing is totally different. And people get so wrapped up in size they lose out.” She further emphasizes the importance of trying on vintage clothing, “Even if it looks big but you love it, try it on,” she suggests, “There’s a likelihood it will fit you! You’ve got to have that visual.” Shows like Mad Men are especially important, she says, as we can see how women worked with, not against, their great figures with perfect outfits.

The attitude towards vintage clothing in Vancouver nowadays is certainly a varied one. Natalie shares that oftentimes people aren’t interested so much in buying matching dress-and-jacket combinations that we often see worn in the show. One trend she has noticed is that people aren’t as used to having higher necks on dresses or covering up their arms with longer sleeves. “We’re trying to get people back into it,” Natalie winks, waving at the many beautiful outfits arranged on mannequins.

Maybe it’s the very Vancouver, ‘West Coast Casual’ style spirit that has folks hesitant to try vintage? Mintage owner Skylar suggests that vintage clothing is actually a lot more versatile than one might think, “It’s surprising how many vintage items can disguise themselves as every day wear,” he says. “There’s stuff that’s obviously, absolutely vintage, but there’s a lot of stuff being reproduced today […] you see a lot of big box stores even copying vintage [designs]”. Vintage clothing has not only stood the test of time (literally), but has the potential to be something really special. “It’s definitely unique, it is the unique-ness and ‘one of’,” that draws people to vintage clothing, Skylar says.

Maryjane also suggests that flexibility of vintage is just one of the perks saying, “people want to wear old-fashioneds mainly to say they don’t want to purchase new ones, and the quality too […] I think there’s more of a feminism about wearing whatever you want, that’s not restricting […] it’s a new kind of sexy, it can be empowering.” Kelly agrees, and as we watch Peggy and Joan on screen struggle with sexism and prejudices in their workplace, we can see that reflected in their clothing. “I think it was a revolution of women in their own independence,” Kelly says. Looking back, it was literally like women were really ready to embrace new things, and put themselves out there, “It was a time of change […] it was a bit more open, women were wearing pants, capris, just looking hot!”

When I think about what Peggy was wearing when she first started at SCDP, compared to what she’s wearing by the end of Season 5, I really think of all the growth we’ve seen her experience. She ditches the sweet, small-town getups in favour of more sophisticated looks worthy of a trailblazing woman breaking the glass ceiling. Looking hot, indeed.

Supporting local, independent business is important. Be sure to check out these stores for quality vintage and expert shopping advice:

Bohemia Gallery

C’est la Vie Boutique

Community Thrift & Vintage


Woo Vintage



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