Etsy Part 1: My Favorite Purchases

I noticed that in a lot of my articles, especially those about shopping, I mention Etsy as one of my all time favorite online shopping sites. This most definitely hasn’t changed, so I thought it deserved an article all its own. I’ll talk about how it works, the awesome stuff you can find there (in a word, everything), my favorite shops and stuff I’ve bought, and a little extra fun.

I first discovered this site when I became a member of Offbeat Bride, an online community for non-cookie cutter people who want non-cookie cutter weddings. Actually, I discovered a lot of my favorite shops when I was planning my wedding. All the girls raved about Etsy constantly, so I had to check it out. I’ve been hooked ever since. As I’ve said many times, it’s like Ebay in that it’s a site that hosts countless shops held by individuals. The difference it’s all about vintage and handmade items, so everything available is unique, and there’s no bidding. You can find EVERYTHING here, from the stupid, ridiculous, hilarious, amazing, useless, perfect, gorgeous, clever, and everything you never thought you needed SO badly. Best. Site. Ever. Want to see some of the things I’ve bought as an example? If you like what you see, click the pictures for links to the shops.

This is the first thing I bought besides a pendant made of watch parts. It’s an alternative to a ring bearer pillow, made like a treasure chest. I found it so perfect and elegant, and so unique. The seller added red roses at my request. I now keep it on display in my living room.

These earrings are really simple, and really pretty. They go with everything. EIGHT bucks. The shop is one of my favorites for elegant steampunk jewelry.

This is a beautiful gold hair vine with pink accents I wore on my wedding day instead of a veil. It’s made of wire so you can bend it to work any way you want. Around a bun, horizontally across the back, along a french twist; the possibilities are endless. Unfortunately the shop no longer seems to exist, but there are a lot of shops selling similar items still out there.

This soft shrug was bought just in case it rained on our wedding day. This was also custom made for me in a vanilla color. A while later the name of the shop, Pinar Eris, was bugging me, because it was just so familiar. So I plugged it into my trusty Wikipedia and read that this designer has actually made dresses for the Oscars. How amazing is that?

From Poppenkraal, another great shop for gorgeous Victorian and Steampunk style jewelry, fancier than London’s Gate. Now you tell me where else you could ever find earrings like this.

Etsy has a huge selection of beautiful hair clips, and this one is definitely stunning. It even curves, so it conforms to the shape of your head without sticking out like one I bought from another shop. Just make sure you have some good glue. This one is currently sitting disassembled on my coffee table. I really hope I can bring it back to life 😥

This here is a perfect example of what we here on Etsy call “upcycled.” It’s like recycled, but it’s just been revamped to be made better, not something entirely different. This lovely item is a pimped out vintage clutch. It’s too much fun.

This amazing Victorian necklace is another purchase from Poppenkraal, and was only $35. It even came with extra beads in case any fell off. So far, they haven’t.

My first vintage dress. It’s too big, and I knew it would be. Maybe I’ll have it tailored down – in a temporary way, I wouldn’t want to damage it. Even so, I’m in love with this dress. The color, the golden sheen, how light it feels. Even its size. With a belt it looks even older than the early 1960s. It billows almost in the way of something from the late 1910s, or early 1920s. At least that’s the feeling I get. It makes me feel like I should be sitting on a porch on a hot summer night while it rains. Do I sound ridiculous? That’s how you know how much I love this dress.

This is a phone I bought last Christmas for the owner of the Foxy Shoppe. She’s been an incredibly generous sponsor of Drawn and Plastered, and she’s such a great lady. I had to buy her something to thank her. I’m pretty sure this phone is from the 70s, but it was made to look like it’s from the 30s. When Pam opened the box she was speechless. It turns out it’s exactly what she’s been wanting since she first opened the shop. Now it sits out on display.

And finally we come to my most recent purchase, dress from about 1958-1960 (according to the style of zipper) by Mr. Mort. It fits great except for a little room in the shoulders which I stitched up. It seems to me like a poor girl’s version of that stunning tweed Dior dress Dita von Teese loves so much. All I’d need to complete the look is some long leather gloves. I wore it during the long day I spent traveling to Vegas, and felt like a lady Cary Grant or somebody from Mad Men. Traven7 is the very best when it comes to beautiful perfect vintage dresses from the late 40s to the early 60s with full skirts. Her prices are high but everybody knows she’s worth it. I’ve missed out on a few of her dresses before because they sold so quickly, but I’m so glad I finally got this one.

Wow. It seems I got pretty excited there and rambled on a bit. Let’s say I save the rest for another post?

Wedding Bouquet Alternatives

Because of the volcano in Europe, there’s been a real issue getting products sent where they need to go around the world. This has created many shortages, including flowers. I’m told that due to this a lot of brides are having a bit of a freak-out. I’m here to help.
The reason flowers became a tradition is because in the middle ages, people only bathed about once a year. By the time wedding season rolled around, people were pretty smelly, and they needed flowers to mask the smell. You, being a 21st century woman, I’m guessing do not stink. Not to mention the many people out there allergic to flowers. So are flowers really necessary then? Nope. You and your maids are free to use any number of gorgeous and non-perishable alternatives, including fans, parasols, feathers (my personal favorite), fake flowers, and even buttons. I’ve supplied you here with some pictures to inspire you.
A much better article about this than mine can be found here at Offbeat Bride.

Weddings!

It may not be wedding season quite yet, but you can bet the planning is already well underway. And because a wedding article probably wouldn’t be quite so useful the very month of your nuptials, I’m writing it now by special request.

I have an issue with weddings. I love weddings, I really do, but what I don’t like is how retailers take advantage of engaged couples by making them believe that they have to fit a mold or their day just won’t be what they imagined it to be, while in fact the opposite is much more true. The truth is weddings are about you, the couple. It’s not about a formula or conforming to other people’s expectations. I really believe that the best weddings are the ones which show most the personality of the couple in a fun and unique way. You only get one chance to do this, God willing, so you should be having the most fun and least stress that you can manage. I’m going to focus on two main things here, the dress, and Etsy, both great fun.

That wedding dress… damn. Have you heard of “white blindness”, that thing brides get when all those white dresses sort of start to blend into each other so they start looking all the same and the process becomes simply overwhelming? I can relate. And I didn’t even start out looking for a white dress. Have I mentioned that conformity for the sake of conformity bugs the hell out of me? I have? Oh, good.

So anyway, I was in the market for a blue dress at first. I never wear white, so I thought starting now would be a little off. And I liked blue. So I went into bridal boutiques looking for bridesmaids dresses (which is a great option if you don’t want a white dress). Everyone in the shops assumed I was graduating from high school until I told them it was for my wedding, after which point they tried pushing the most hideous and expensive wedding dresses, and even uglier bridesmaids dresses on me that I had ever seen. I’m not sure if I was just in the wrong shops or what, but I felt like the 80s had exploded all over downtown. The whole thing quickly became a little unnerving.

What I learned from this was not to focus on labels. Slap the word “wedding” into the name of an item and watch its price jump and originality plummet. Not a great thing. You’ll notice that I tend to focus a lot on what things cost, but weddings especially are already really expensive. It’s important to save where you can. If you want a white dress, that’s fantastic. If you want to purchase it in a bridal salon, that’s also fantastic. I just feel it’s important to know about all your options.

For example, many formal dresses come in white. Many very beautiful ones that you wouldn’t find in a bridal salon, especially if you don’t go for the whole poufy ball gown thing. Outlet stores are especially great if you’re on a budget. I found myself a lovely backup dress at the Le Chateau outlet for 20$. A little too simple maybe, but when you’re dealing with something as important as that, it eases the mind to know you have a plan B in case anything terrible should happen to your plan A. In my case, it almost did. Long story, but my plan A almost never arrived.


I bought my own dress, a traditional white wedding dress, on eBay. A lot of people would recommend against that, and depending on who you are I will too. However if you’re a very casual laid back person, then it’s worth a shot as long as you know what you’re getting into. EBay dresses are factory direct designer knockoffs. They don’t tell you that, but it does have both a good side and a bad side. The good thing is that since you’re purchasing a dress that has yet to be made, they can make it custom according to all your measurements, and even color choice. I think this is amazing. It’s not likely to need much tailoring, especially great if you don’t fit into standard sizes, and you’re not stuck with white if that doesn’t float your boat. You can even choose the color of your trim. And many of the dresses are reproductions of the most gorgeous and expensive gowns you will ever see, all for around 200$ including shipping. Fabulous!

The bad side is that they are after all knockoffs, and while they’re not horrible, you can definitely tell the difference, so here’s where you just need to determine how much perfection you want. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting something legitimate so you know you’re getting the best possible quality.

If you like things a little retro-glam, you have to check out Unique Vintage. I think they’re awesome, and they have shoes and accessories too. I especially love this bridal emergency survival kit.

Enigma Fashions also has a beautiful and diverse little bridal collection, so I’m going to slip them in here too just for the hell of it.

Another great place to look for dresses, especially if you’re a little indie, is Etsy. If you love the thought of something lovingly made by hand just for you, this is likely your best bet, and you don’t even need to know anyone who can sew, because these fine people are just itching to do it for you. These dresses will range from the very cheap to the very expensive, and are made by some extremely talented people. You might even find a semi-famous designer in your search. I had a custom shrug made for me just in case it rained, and it turned out the woman who made it designed dresses for the Oscars. Wow.

If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, many sellers are more than willing to take on custom orders. They’ll do pretty much anything you want, and this is a great way to make sure you’re getting something that nobody else will have.

Speaking of Etsy, there’s much more than just wedding dresses there. They not only have a huge wedding section, but they sell pretty much anything you can think of. After all this you might be asking, What the hell is Etsy, anyway? It’s a huge website hosting a ton of individual shops that sell all things vintage and handmade, catering to every taste. It’s a great way to get something with a really personal touch, and I highly suggest you check it out, even if you’re not getting married any time soon. Personally I’ve become a little obsessed with it, and have gotten quite a few of my friends hooked too. This is where I get most of my jewelry, including a beautiful gold hair vine I wore in place of a veil, a velvet bag, and a ring bearer pillow that was made as a treasure chest. I’ll leave you to search the site and let the awesomeness you find speak for itself.


The last thing to mention in this article is rings. You can get some great rings on Etsy too, but I want to do a special shout out to the place where we got our amazing rings, Hand Woven Bands by Todd Alan Studios. And surprise, it’s online. Don’t worry; I’ll do a tutorial of online shopping soon in case this is something you’ve ever been apprehensive about. The name pretty much describes what they are, wedding bands expertly woven by hand in a variety of gorgeous braids. They are truly stunning, and let me tell you, the service is exceptional. We were phoned by Todd twice to make sure our color selection was correct. I can’t recommend him enough.


Never mind, that wasn’t the last thing. I just have to tell you about Offbeat Bride, which is both a book and fantastic web community. You don’t have to be offbeat to enjoy communicating with other brides and getting loads of ideas for the big day. It works sort of like Facebook. You get your profile, and you can join groups relating to all sorts of different wedding topics where you can have fun and insightful discussions with all the other girls, and even a few grooms. I absolutely love it. The best part of all? Wedding Porn, the greatest and most fun source of inspiration on the entire internet, in my humble opinion.

And finally, if you’ll be doing your own makeup on the big day, check out my coworker Danielle’s truly fantastic makeup tutorials on Youtube.

So I think that’s about it for the wedding article, but of course if you have any questions or if there’s anything more you’d like to see just let me know and I’ll see what I can do!