Friday, August 27, 2010

The Where to Buy guide, Part 1: For the Feet and the Private Bits

Where’s the best place to buy…..

Cheap socks?

YokoYaya 1-2-3
at Tinseltown (Chinatown & Stadium SkyTrain station). For $2.00 a pair, you can buy cute ankle socks that are thicker on the soles than the top, wash and dry well and have colourful but tasteful patterns. My boyfriend says they’re cute, and I find I can even wear them in my runners without blistering or having them slip off my heels. You can also buy Japanese-style toe socks and look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, or the full 5-toed toe socks as well. YokoYaya 1-2-3 is also a great place to buy rubber dish gloves if you don’t like flocked lining (which I simply abhor). Just look for the package that says “No Back Hair”. No, I’m not joking. Most are labeled “With Back Hair” (a literal translation of cotton fibre backing?), and I almost bought a package just to laugh at it.
Strange sizing, but they fit a 7 to 7 1/2 foot perfectly.

On a side note, I once bought 3 pairs of adorable ankle socks from a vendor at the UBC SUB. After washing in warm water (and before they had hit the dryer) they shrunk to doll-size. Don’t buy SUB-socks. I was also attacked by a rabid squirrel that day - nothing good comes of SUB-socks. Beware of Night Market socks, too – the very same socks come out at night!

Cheap shoes and boots?

True Value Vintage Clothing (Robson near Granville, downstairs by the smelly donair shop). This may not be THE cheapest place in general, but I bought a pair of very trendy, sturdy, convertible ankle/knee-high non-leather boots there last year for an obscenely low price ($55). I wore those boots all fall, all winter and into the spring. I always got compliments on them, and a fellow Fluevog-loving friend of mine (we have expensive taste…!) saw them on me during the Winter Olympics. I had to take her to where I bought them, and lo-and-behold there was a single pair in her size, this time in brown with a wooden heel, on sale for only $25. Beautiful and mostly puddle-tested water-proof - an important consideration for a Vancouver winter! True Value also sells vintage shoes, as you have probably already gathered by the name.

Army and Navy (Hastings near Carrall). This is the perennially cheap place to buy shoes, and today was my first visit. I almost bought these gorgeous wooden-soled sandals with multi-coloured fabric straps and small but effective buckle motif for $19.99, but soon discovered that the shoes here, albeit interesting and surprisingly cheap, are mostly of the completely impractical or very uncomfortable variety. The $14.99 sneakers (Converse-style) lured me in, but they were so cheaply made the glue rode up on the seams - I didn’t even try them on. There was, however, a $4.99 shoe rack that contained some interesting shoes that didn’t overly tempt me (most were insanely impractical), but that’s maybe their strong point – if you have a wedding or event to attend and need to find a pair of shoes to match a dress, check here first! There’s a $9.99 rack as well, and the common racks (by size) are also fairly cheap (under $40 for the most part). Don’t get me wrong – I own plenty of shoes with 6” heels and platforms and embellishments! But if you can’t stand in them for more than 3 hours, or can’t dance in them at all, they are a little too frivolous and should be reconsidered.

Payless and Aldo Liquidation (both on Granville near Robson). It’s always worth checking out the outlet/clearance stores, but don’t go in with high expectations. If you luck out and hit a good sale (usually end-of-season sales as the new stock is coming in), you can buy $15 Airwalk canvas (Converse-style) high tops and a $5 pair of kitten-heeled sandals, for example. I’m still pretty happy about my $20 spent for two pairs of shoes, one of which I wore daily for 6 months until I wore the soles through and the other my $5 mostly-useless but fun-for-going-out-in bright orange sandals. That was in February, right before the spring and summer styles hit the shelves in full-force. It was also during the Winter Olympics, which may have been part of the reason for the sale.

Shine (West Broadway at Bayswater) and Turnabout Clothing (West Broadway at Balaclava). Buying used shoes is risky business, especially when they've been well-worn and broken in by a different pair of feet. But there's been a few gems at Shine and at Turnabout that have almost convinced me otherwise. I actually purchased a pair of white peep-toe, open-weave heels that I love, in brand new condition, for $25. That was 3 years ago - I'm still wearing them! Can't remember which shop it was for sure, so I'm including them both.

Cheap bras and panties?

Army and Navy (Chinatown/DTES). For $8.19 ($9.17 after the mo fo’ing HST was added), I bought a really cute and mostly practical bra and two pairs of thongs! This is the best deal yet – and I was pretty thrilled with my $9.99 bra and $4.99 matching ginch from Winners last month! To think of the crappy, easily stretched-out bras I bought all those years at places like La Senza for upwards of $40 a pop – argh!

Most of the clothing at Army and Navy is woefully low-quality, but there was a large selection of bathing suits and bikinis for ridiculously low prices. And we all know how many seasons a bathing suit lasts for – not many! Gone are the days of me investing more than $60 for a suit with the exception of a TYR or Speedo practical suit for doing laps or triathlons. There’s really no substitute for those.
$9.17 - for everything! Army and Navy stores

WINNERS (Granville and Robson). Twice now I’ve purchased cute, seemingly good-quality (as good as La Senza or La Vie En Rose anyway) bras and matching, detailed underwear here for around $20 in total.

StupidStore (Superstore – several locations). People don’t like Superstore (I can’t take credit for the slang – thank you Elli for that!), and I think I know why. Of all the grocery stores in all the land, Superstore has the patrons who are the least spatially aware, the brattiest children running free (sprinting, screaming twerps!), and the messiest and ugliest produce and dairy sections that are enough to put you off your food. Sure, the prices are a little better, but not enough to warrant that kind of chaos and disarray. But on the positive side, you can buy your friend Macapuno Balls made of Mutant Coconut for her (now defunct) Culinary Abortions blog, and also find all the Indian spices you could ever need, for which I am grateful. I love those candy-coated fennel seeds. And to its credit, Stupidstore also has a large bulk foods section. Avoiding excess packaging is a very good habit to get into.

But the Joe Fresh clothing line, however poorly hung-up and presented, is good and cheap. And I like cheap! Especially when there are staples like beige, undecorated, t-shirt appropriate bras for $13. You can never go wrong with a skin-tone bra (provided it’s in YOUR skin tone, I suppose!). Just avoid the Bridget Jones granny panties.

Check out the tempting fall line-up at their website but stay away from the fake-fur jackets. No one, but no one, looks good in faux-cheetah or leopard print jackets. They should teach these things in school. Worse, there’s always the chance that some rich git will suffer from reverse fashionism and be inspired by the white-trash version to wear the ‘real’ thing. Fur is not okay with me unless it’s still on the original animal. In short, there is never a good reason to wear a leopard-print fake fur jacket.

London Drugs (several locations). Speaking of panties, here’s a very cheap place to buy them! And no, I’m not talking about the old-person disposable type! I’m talking about stretch-lace Brazilians that are, alas, not high quality, but for $2 to $4, it’s tough to complain. Brands like “Sweet Intimates” appear at Army and Navy as well, and perhaps that’s a less weird place to buy them. But if you suddenly realise that your black ginch is fully visible through your summer dress, or worse, you’ve made the cardinal mistake of wearing full-bum underwear under yoga pants or stretchy jeans (DON’T DO THIS! EVER! YUCK!) and are rocking that hideous underwear-line look, pop into your nearest London Drugs and get yourself some cheap undies! Another in-a-pinch idea is to buy a pair of gusseted panty hose to wear instead, although I’m sure the new ginch is a more comfortable option. Although the lace thongs available at London Drugs are cheap and will probably not last as long as you’d like, it will at least take the sting out of buying ones that are infinitesimally better for 3 times the price at La Senza. Oh if I had known what I know now when I was a teenager with money to burn!


  1. such useful info on your blog, thanks! (allyson got me onto your site)

  2. Thanks, Eva! :) (I like your profile 'profile' pic, btw!).

  3. ugh, LOVE true value vintage. haven't been there forever! Eva and I used to always drive in from Abby back in the day, just to go to that store.

    Also, on the bra subject, I find that it is nearly impossible to find one that fits at any place that sells them cheap. I pretty much am forced to shell out $50+ for something that's actually going to hoist me up to an appropriate level. :/

  4. Hmmm, I hadn't considered the needs of those who aren't bosom-challenged like myself! If you're in the A/B size zone, the advice holds. If you're battling gravity with lovely big knockers (so envious!), maybe it's not such a great tip. Thanks for mentioning this! :)

  5. For those with ample bosoms, check out I'm sure buying a bra without trying it on is insane, but the prices look pretty decent!