“I turned 26 this year and I’m trying to re-invent myself,” Mandie tells me as we embark on the days shopping excursion. “This is the first year I’ve really tried to find my sense of style. I’m focusing on single pieces that I can have forever.”
Miss Mandie Brown is a vintage clothing buff and consultant at Herbal Magic in Orleans. Her go-to outfit is a T-shirt, baggy sweater and leggings with “awesome” layers of jewelry. “I live in leggings – and I’ll probably die in leggings,” she jokes.
She loves shirt-dresses and anything flowing. Her favourite combination is black with a nice pastel, and save for the occasional bold piece, she tends to stay away from big prints or patterns.
We’re on route to Ragtime, one of Mandie’s favourite locations for all-things vintage.
“It’s the ultimate accessory store, it’s the place to go in Ottawa,” she says.
But unfortunately, when we arrive at the unmistakeable, purple brick storefront, we discover Ragtime is closed.
No matter, Mandie decides we should torture ourselves a little and head to Holt Renfrew instead.
“Sometimes I shop at Holt Renfrew when there’s a sale, but mostly I just go to admire,” she says. “[When I go] I visualize finding the same styles at Value Village. Why spend $170 on something when I can find the same thing for $6. I love Value Village.”
Mandie has spent somewhere around 10 years accumulating a vast collection of vintage items ranging from clothing and accessories, to pillows and other home decor. She has become skilled at scouring the racks of vintage oases, and has found some rather impressive items; like a Diane Von Furstenberg scarf, a Badgley Mischka camisole and a tiger-print blouse from Oscar de la Renta.
“Oh no… I wish I didn’t come here – I LOVE this, it’s stunning!” she says of one of the Joie “Mikko” blouse (it’s $185). “I think I might have to come back on pay-day.”
After vowing to return for her beloved blouse, we head back to the car.
Mandie was going give me a brief tutorial of her hunting methods at Value Village, but we’re running out of time. Instead, we go by her apartment where she introduces me to her many bins of fantastic finds.
There, the tables turn as I pillage her collection and begin stacking up a pile of my own must-haves; her apartment has become my fitting room.
Mandie will be heading overseas in a few months to live, work and travel. Although she always wanted to open her own boutique, this dream will have to wait. For now, since she can’t possible bring her entire collection with her (and will undoubtedly accumulate more over the course of her travels) she plans to sell off her stockpile to other vintage collectors and retailers in the area – and luckily, that includes me.