Liisa Winkler's blog: My secret place to shop in Toronto

Fashion is such a constantly changing market, where last season’s "pinks" turn a hideous hue when compared to this season’s "reds." It’s hard to keep up with what is current and what will leave you looking like Jan Brady.

Away from the trend followers, there is a growing movement of people trying to "green" their lives and their wardrobes.

Being a bit of a "greenaholic" myself, I feel I must share with you a little secret: the store where I do most of my shopping is not found at any mall or in any trendy downtown area.

Value Village, with its rows and rows of sweaters, dresses, shoes and abandoned knick knacks really speaks my language. "Come pick thru my wares and sample my finest no name cardigan," it seems to call to me.

You never know what you might run into in the dress aisle. I should also mention that children’s clothing purchased here is usually in great condition. (I keep my kids in Village fashions 24-7)

I find it an inspiring and refreshing change from the same old trendy shops in my neighbourhood. Clothing purchased here is sure to be original and it’s ALREADY very "last season" so how can you go wrong? Value Village is to me now what the shops of Kensington market used to be 10 years ago. Fun, original, a bit out of the way and a little bit dirty.

Buying used clothing is of course just one way to maintain a "green wardrobe." Buying or (if you have skills with a sewing machine) making repurposed clothing is another. Preloved (881 Queen Street West) is a great shop that has been turning old undesirables into amazing pieces for years. I also love Susan Harris for her one-of-a-kind creations using only recycled materials. I love her patched together cardigans and whimsical dresses.

If you know what you are looking for exactly, someone on ebay or craigslist will often have what you crave at a fraction of the price. Just beware of knockoffs from large quantity sellers.

Anyway you look at it, fashion is a bit of a wasteful industry.  By shopping at vintage stores, buying directly from earth conscious designers, and choosing pieces that are well made and will survive the seasonal turnover of trends you will actually end up injecting a bit more personality and fun into your wardrobe. You will also discover many unique treasures that are sure to live out full and happy lives in your bedroom closet.

Instead of throwing it away:

  • Reconstruct old garments or salvage interesting details (buttons etc.)
  • Use worn out t-shirts as cleaning rags
  • Donate to a second hand shop, charity or a designer who uses old clothing for fabric
  • Try consignment stores for your nicer items, sell on ebay or craigslist
  • Swap clothing with friends
  • Have a yard sale

Liisa Winkler is one of Canada’s biggest supermodels and mother of two beautiful children. Her blog appears bi-monthly at

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