Chelsea Ward looks for quirky, colourful, vintage pieces
CHELSEA WARD recently looked around, took a deep breath and made a diving leap into the unknown.
It was scary, she said, but quitting her job as a social media co-ordinator to focus more time and energy on her vintage clothing Etsy shop, The Mermaid’s Purse, was exactly what she needed.
“I felt like I needed to take a chance and go for something I was passionate about rather than always waiting and wondering what could have been,” says the 24-year-old Waterdown resident.
“Mermaid’s Purse” refers to the small black pouches from the bodies of stingrays or sharks that contain their fertilized eggs, explains Ward. As a kid in Nova Scotia, she used to hunt for the empty sacs that would occasionally wash up on the beach, but the sightings were rare. Much like unearthing exquisite pieces in her daily quests for unusual vintage finds.
Her hunts take her to area thrift shops and sales daily, searching for items that fit with her brand, she says. She buys colourful, quirky pieces from the 1940s to 1970s eras, always purchasing items she would wear herself. That means no, or very little black, and lots of fun patterns and prints. Her look seems to resonate most in Los Angeles, where she says about a quarter of her clients reside.
“I refuse to be boring when I get dressed in the morning,” says Ward, who honed her store management skills during her five years as an assistant manager at the Salvation Army in Burlington. “I’m drawn to crazy pieces.”
Dresses are a must. She wears them almost every day, even though they require ironing, steaming and aren’t always the most practical choice in winter. Here she dons a green satin fit-and-flare dress from the ’50s with ivory crochet pumps from the ’80s.
She accessorizes with lace kid gloves and a genuine cowhide bag, circa 1970s.
Most eye-catching piece:
A pink 1960s go-go dress with feathered sleeves. It doesn’t even fit me but I will never sell it … it just looks so pretty in my closet.
Quirkiest wardrobe item:
Strange clothing never fails to catch my attention. If I see something odd and out of the ordinary, I can’t pass it up. Some of my quirkiest clothing: a silk pink pantsuit, a lime green minidress with a zebra print all over it (actual zebras), and a sparkle nightgown in silver — I wear it as a jacket. Sometimes I’ll wear sleepwear as my normal clothing.
A good variety of vintage dresses in a spread of colours. I like to colour code my closet, which I learned at the Salvation Army. I find it easier to dress for occasions like that. I like to theme my clothing … that way, when you’re looking at it from afar, it’s all together. I just find it looks more appealing ...
I recommend a good pair of vintage high-waisted jeans or mom jeans. I usually go for Levi’s or Lee’s. They’re really easy to throw on with a cropped blouse or a vintage band T-shirt. And I feel like it gives you “cool girl” vibe without trying too hard.
My favourite items to purchase would have to be vintage swimsuits. I find them hard to find. The same with vintage sunglasses. So if I really want to treat myself, I’ll go order one online ...
A 1960s (one-piece) bathing suit. I have pictures wearing it. I got it from (a vintage store) in Waterloo. It just fits me perfectly and it’s full of these crazy colours … purple, blue, it’s like a rainbow, floral …
Anything from the mall. I made a promise to myself not to buy anything from the mall anymore, except for underwear and bras. I find that they’re all set around trends and they fall apart over time.
And I also don’t want to be wearing the same thing that my friend’s wearing.
Loves to shop at:
I’ve worked at thrift stores since I was 15. I support places with good causes like the Salvation Army … I also like to support local businesses and artists, so a lot of my purchases are through Etsy or at stores in Hamilton (like) Girl on the Wing, Newolds, Out of the Past, Antique Avenue on Ottawa Street, Cheapies Records.
Ridding her closet of:
I’m a bit of a hoarder so I try to clean out my closet regularly. It comes with thrifting a lot. Sometimes you just take things because you want them to have a home. I’m not a fan of black clothing, so I’ve gotten rid of everything that’s black in my wardrobe. I just find that colours are so much more exciting.
Any dress that fits in all the right places. It’s hard for me to find vintage dresses that fit me properly sometimes, so I’m willing to spend money on it if I find that perfect dress.
Beauty product she can’t live without:
Red lipstick. I like Mac Ruby Woo. It’s a matte lipstick.
Chelsea Ward, 24, owner of the popular vintage e-shop The Mermaid’s Closet, wears a satin emerald vintage dress (1950s era) with ivory lace pumps (’80s era) and lace gloves. She accessorizes with a ’70s era cowhide bag.
Ward likes to make a statement with colour, right down to her fingernails.
Ivory lace pumps (1980s era).
Ward’s 1970s era cowhide bag.
“I refuse to be boring when I get dressed in the morning,” says Ward. “I’m drawn to crazy pieces.”