On beautiful clothes and learning not to care

March 16th, 2013Posted by Nancy


What people think of you, that is.

This has taken me a very, very long time. I’ve always been extremely self-conscious and aware of every idiotic thing I do or say. Someone once told me that I promptly forgot every good thing that I did yet could remember in excruciating detail an embarrasing moment at camp when I was twelve. My husband will attest to the fact that I still come home from parties or conventions wailing “I can’t believe I said/did that” even though I know perfectly well that no one is spending one nanosecond thinking about it (because they’re all so busy worrying about whatever foolishness they think that THEY committed).

But I have improved. I’ve gotten older and realized that most of the things I’ve worried endlessly about over the years didn’t happen and if they did, I lived through it with remarkably little damage. People like me, or they don’t, and at the end of the day there’s not much I can do about it either way.

Surprisingly, one of the things that has contributed to my (relative) devil-may-care attitude is my wardrobe. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fashionista, don’t follow trends (except maybe well after they’re over), and hate shopping. My attempts at style have always fallen woefully flat (flood pants, a red leather jacket with big shoulders, and an unfortunate striped dress are part of my past). Then one day about thirteen years ago, I was walking through Yorkville and someone handed me a flyer for a sale at a store on Queen Street. The slogan on the card was “Be Strange, Don’t be a Stranger” and the clothes looked intriguing, so off I went for my first visit to Annie Thompson.

I fell in love immediately. The clothes were funky and original and the staff was fun and helpful, spoiling me for any other shopping experience. Even though everything was definitely more money than I was used to spending on clothes, I found a few pieces on sale. I went back and bought a few more pieces. Then a few more. Now my closet is probably 80% Annie. She’s closed the store and runs her business from a studio in the Junction, when she’s not in India learning to hand-dye fabric, working with local artisans, and making her own art. A couple of times a year, I go to the open studio days and sales, which are even more fun than the old store visits used to be. It’s a pleasure to be surrounded by beautiful clothes and fabrics, by the creative women who are her clients (where else would another customer drive you to the bank machine to get some extra cash?), to meet the women who work on her patterns and manage the sewing, and to absorb the energy, optimisim and spirit that Annie brings. The wine is always nice, too.

I still wear some of those first pieces I bought. That’s part of the joy of Annie’s clothes. They’re well-made and last forever. They’re never in style so they’re never out of style. Every season things change but the aesthetic that informs everything she does means that a jacket from 10 years ago will go beautifully with a skirt you just bought last week.

What does this have to do with not caring what other people think? Well, many of Annie’s clothes are not for the timid. Wearing them requires that you not care whether anyone else likes them or not. That’s not something that fearful, self-conscious me ever imagined I’d be able to do. Some of her designs daunt even me. I tried on an incredibly gorgeous jumpsuit twice before I summoned the nerve to buy it. It took me until this week to wear it. No one stared and pointed – or if they did, I didn’t see it. I like to think I wouldn’t have cared, which may or may not be true.

The jumpsuit is below. I’m not as lovely as this model, and I wore a jacket over it.


I also bought the black and gold vest above because it was just so damned beautiful.

You can find out more about Annie at the link above or on her Facebook page

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1 response

  • 1 Auntie Judy · Mar 16, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Nancy, I am amazed and impressed with your blog!! Hugs to you and know that I love you.

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