The Yellow Wallpaper Diaries: Women & Mental Health – By Shreya Patel

The Yellow Wallpaper diaries are written by the team behind Bygone Theatre’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”, and provide additional context and resources for the show.

Mental health is something that affects all of us, regardless of our gender or background. However, women often face unique challenges when it comes to mental health due to various social, cultural, and biological factors. 

As a woman, I understand firsthand the pressures we face in our daily lives. From juggling work and family responsibilities to dealing with societal expectations, it can be challenging to find the time and energy to take care of ourselves. But I’ve learned that prioritizing my mental health is crucial for my overall well-being, and there are certain habits and tools that have helped me maintain good mental health. Let me share a few below: 

1. Connect with others 

One of the most effective ways to maintain good mental health is to connect with others. Social support can significantly impact our mental health and well-being. I always say sharing can be so healing. We can benefit from spending time with family and friends, joining social groups, or volunteering for a cause we believe in. Talking to a therapist or a mental health professional can also provide a safe space to discuss concerns and receive support. 

2. Practice self-care 

Self-care is crucial for mental health and well-being. We should prioritize self-care activities that make us feel good, such as taking a relaxing bath, reading a book, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or going for a walk in nature. Adequate sleep, healthy eating, and regular exercise can also boost mental health and overall well-being. 

3. Learn to manage stress 

Stress is a common cause of mental health problems, and we often face unique stressors, such as juggling work and family responsibilities or dealing with societal expectations. Learning to manage stress effectively can significantly improve mental health. We can try various stress-reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, yoga, or journaling. It is also essential to set boundaries and learn to say no to avoid overcommitting oneself. 

4. Engage in activities that bring joy 

Engaging in activities that bring joy and meaning to life can boost mental health and overall well-being. We should pursue hobbies, interests, or creative endeavors that make them happy, whether it’s painting, playing music, or learning a new language. Doing things that bring joy can reduce stress and provide a sense of fulfillment. 

5. Seek professional help 

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, mental health problems can arise. It is essential to seek professional help when needed. We should not hesitate to reach out to mental health professionals or their healthcare provider for support. Early intervention and treatment can prevent mental health problems from becoming severe and improve the chances of recovery. 

In conclusion, as women, we face unique challenges when it comes to mental health. However, by adopting habits and utilizing effective tools like connecting with others, practicing self-care, managing stress, engaging in activities that bring joy, and seeking professional help when needed, we can maintain good mental health and prioritize our overall well-being. 

By Shreya Patel, Associate Producer, The Yellow Wallpaper

BIO: Shreya Patel is a multifaceted individual, who has made a significant impact in the worlds of entertainment, activism, and mental health advocacy. Model-turned-actress, filmmaker and mental health advocate, Patel is the honoree of Top 100 Most Powerful Women of Canada, Forbes 30 Under 30, Women’s Achiever Award, Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award and Emerging Leader Under 35. Patel has been acknowledged for her efforts in advancing equity in her community, with an honorable mention from the City of Toronto. She was also listed among DissDash’s “Top 50 Coolest South Asians of 2021” alongside notable figures such as Priyanka Chopra, Kamala Harris, and Hasan Minaj. She has also graced the pages of fashion magazines like Vogue and Grazia. As an actress, she has brought raw emotion and depth to her roles in films like Strangers In A Room, Vivid, and The Intersection, which explore themes of mental health. Patel’s debut documentary, ‘Girl Up’, is an unflinching look at the reality of domestic human trafficking and was partnered with the Toronto International Film Festival and the Civic Action Summit. Her music video directorial debut, Freedom Dance, which featured famous personalities from 7 countries, has over 1.2 million views on YouTube. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, she rallied 66 countries to come together for Unity- #LOVESPREADS Faster Than Virus, a documentary that showcases the plight of the human spirit, which was the closing film at the Munich Film Festival. As one of the faces of the Canadian Screen Award-winning national mental health awareness campaign “Bell Let’s Talk”, Patel is committed to raising visibility and breaking the silence around mental illness and support. Currently, she is working on a comedy series, Layla is Relevant and writing a film about trafficking while also producing various projects under her company, Window Dreams Productions.


The Yellow Wallpaper Diaries: Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper Diaries provide additional context and information for our March 2023 production of The Yellow Wallpaper at Campbell House Museum. Learn about the original author, Charlotte Perkins Gilman in this post.

Early Life

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an American novelist, humanist, lecturer and advocate for social reform. She was born in 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut to Mary (Fitch Westcott) and Frederic Beecher Perkins, a writer and librarian. She spent most of her young life in poverty after her father abandoned the family due to his wife’s inability to safely birth more children. Her mother was unable to support Charlotte and her brother Thomas on her own, and so much of their time was spent with her father’s aunts, including suffragist Isabella Beecher Hooker, writer Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin), and educationalist Catharine Beecher. These strong, feminist influences clearly affected Charlotte’s interests in later life.

Her chaotic upbringing meant that Charlotte spent only a cumulative four years in school, ending at the age of 15, however she was bright and spent much of her time in the library, often studying ancient civilizations. Her mother was distant and did not show affection, and she had minimal contact with her father. Most of Charlotte’s friends were boys, and she was known to happily refer to herself as a “Tomboy”.

At 18 she enrolled in design classes in Rhode Island with the financial support of her estranged father and subsequently supported herself as an artist of trade cards. During this time she met Martha Luther, one of the most important relationships of her young life.

Love Life

An extensive collection of correspondence between Charlotte and Martha exists, demonstrating the uniquely close relationship the two women had. Charlotte herself admits to loving Martha in her autobiography, although she claims there was not a sexual aspect to the relationship. Whether or not there was, it was clearly romantic, and continued for about 4 years, until Martha called things off and married a man, devastating Gilman.

[Archive]: Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Lost Letters to Martha (1882-1889)

In 1884 she married artist  Charles Walter Stetson, and their only child Katharine Beecher Stetson was born the following year. Charlotte suffered a very serious case of postpartum depression after the birth, something that would later influence her writing of The Yellow Wallpaper. To help aid this, she moved to California with her daughter and lived with friend  Grace Ellery Channing – in 1888, Charlotte and Charles separated, and, in something highly unusual for the time, divorced in 1894. Shortly afterwards Charles married Grace – despite this unusual relationship, the three stayed close friends, and all three were involved in raising young Katharine.

After the split from her husband, Charlotte met journalist and social advocate, Adeline Knapp, and the two developed a serious relationship. It was later written by Cynthia J. Davis that, “with a woman as life mate (Charlotte) might more easily uphold that combination than she would in a conventional heterosexual marriage.”Eventually the relationship ended.

After the death of her mother in 1893, Charlotte moved back east and re-connected with her first cousin, Houghton Gilman, whom she had not seen in nearly 15 years. The Wall Street attorney quickly became interested in Charlotte, and the two almost immediately struck up a romantic relationship. Unlike her first marriage, Charlotte seems to have been passionately in love with and attracted to Houghton, and they were married in 1900.


Charlotte was a devout feminist who frequently wrote and lectured on the subject. In 1896 she was a delegate for California at both the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention in Washington, D.C., and the International Socialist and Labor Congress in London. Charlotte published a series of satirical poems about feminism and social change that were well received, but it was her 1898 work, Women and Economics that truly propelled her to fame. She had begun to consider more deeply sexual relationships and economics in American life, and this book discussed the role of women at home, arguing for the opportunity to expand their work to the public sphere.

In 1903, she expanded on this work with The Home: Its Work and Influence, proposing that women are oppressed in their home and need their environment changed for their mental health: that same year she addressed International Congress of Women in Berlin.

Today, her 1892 fictional work The Yellow Wallpaper is what she is best remembered for, a sort of feminist horror story about postpartum depression, the rest cure, and woman’s role in the home.

Controversial Beliefs: Euthanasia and Eugenics

In many ways Charlotte was a progressive, liberal leader of her time, however her beliefs that the presence of a large Black American minority was a “sociological problem” was undeniably racist and problematic. For her part, she acknowledged that the unfortunate situations (poverty, segregation) Black Americans found themselves in was the fault of White Americans, and recognized the role slavery had in systemic racism. Her Wikipedia article states:

Gilman was unequivocal about the ills of slavery and the wrongs which many White Americans had done to Black Americans, stating that irrespective of any crimes committed by Black Americans, “[Whites] were the original offender, and have a list of injuries to [Black Americans], greatly outnumbering the counter list.

However, it was her proposed solutions to this that were disturbing. She suggested that Black citizens who were not “self-supporting”, or who were “actual criminals” be enlisted into a quasi-military force and made to work in agriculture or infrastructure until they gained skills that were deemed good enough to allow them to “graduate with honours”.

While she did speak out against literacy voting tests in an effort to gain the vote for all women, she is quoted as having said once “I am an Anglo-Saxon before everything”, and was known to espouse eugenicist beliefs when discussing immigrants and their supposed “diluting” of the nation’s “racial purity”.

In 1932, Charlotte was diagnosed with terminal cancer. An advocate of euthanasia for the terminally ill, she committed suicide on August 17, 1935, by taking an overdose of chloroform: in both her autobiography and suicide note, she wrote that she “chose chloroform over cancer”.

The Yellow Wallpaper Diaries: Indigenous Mental Health During COVID-19

“The Yellow Wallpaper Diaries” are a series of blogs connected to our March 2023 production of “The Yellow Wallpaper”. First up, a look at Indigenous mental health during COVID-19.

For the first in our series of blogs about the creation of The Yellow Wallpaper, we are going to look at a group of people who unfortunately report much higher instances of poor mental health (particularly depression and anxiety) than the majority of Canada: Indigenous people.

Suicide rates among adult First Nations people and Métis are twice as high as among non-Indigenous adults, and the suicide rates of children and youth are, in some areas (such as the Inuit homeland far North – Inuvialuit Region, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut) a shocking 33 times higher than for the rest of Canada (2004-2008 data). Sadly, suicide is one of the leading causes of death among children and youth in areas with a high proportion of First Nations people. There are numerous theories as to why this is, including stresses such as historical and intergenerational trauma; marginalization; social, political and economic inequalities; separation from family and culture; the impact of substance abuse caused by these various factors; and the insufficient use of mental health services due to a lack of culturally competent services and inadequate access. A detailed look at these problems, pre-pandemic, can be seen here. For this post, I am providing this information just as a backdrop as we look at the impact COVID-19 has had on Indigenous mental health.

It’s no surprise that those who already suffered from feelings of loneliness and depression were hit hardest during the early months of the pandemic, when sudden isolation, the fear of the disease, and potential instability due to loss of income turned everyone’s lives upside down. So knowing that Indigenous people are disproportionally affected by poverty, housing and food instability, and mental illness, it is to be expected that they found the effects of COVID-19 isolation especially difficult. In a recent study of crowdsourced participants, six in ten Indigenous participants report that their mental health worsened with the onset of physical distancing. In general, women and girls are disproportionately affected by public health emergencies, and according to this study, Indigenous women were hit especially hard. Indigenous participants described their days as “quite a bit stressful” or “extremely stressful” at a rate of 41%, compared to non-Indigenous participants who compared at 27% and 25%, respectively.

We have years of data to reflect the mental health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, so what can we do to help change that? Truth & Reconciliation is about more than just acknowledging the harms of the past – a land acknowledgement before a show means nothing if we are focusing only on people who used to be here, and not those who still are and who are still struggling today – we need to actively work on improving the lives of our Indigenous neighbours. Here are a few of our suggestions, and we would love to hear yours:

  1. Support Your Local Indigenous Community: Not sure where to start? The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto shares programs, events, and links to Indigenous artisans.
  2. Donate to Indigenous Charities: Have been stripped of their rights and their culture, one of the best ways to help Indigenous communities is to provide them with funding so they can do the necessary work internally, according to their own beliefs and customs. Here’s a great list of Indigenous charities that support anything from clean water on Reserves to fostering better relationships between Indigenous & Non-Indigenous people.
  3. Practise Anti-Racism: The term “anti-racism” may be new to you, but it’s something very simple: chances are the people reading this are not overtly racist, and do not think they cause any harm to their Indigenous (or other minority) neighbours. However, when you exist in a society that was built on racist principles, simply being “not racist” yourself is not enough to move forward to equality. Acknowledging systemic racism and learning about micro-aggressions is a good place to start – learn more here.
  4. Educate Yourself: Make sure you are aware of things like the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, and the National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation. The NCTR provides resources and archives and exists for “Survivors, their families, educators, researchers, and the public can examine the residential school system more deeply with the goal of fostering reconciliation and healing.”

Our Part:

As part of our commitment to Diversity and Truth and Reconciliation, Bygone Theatre provides free admission to all workshops, shows and events for anyone who self-identifies as Indigenous: for free tickets to The Yellow Wallpaper, please email As well, we provide free ad space in our program to Indigenous run Canadian businesses – email us for more information.

Mental Health Resources for Indigenous People:

Hope for Wellness: 
Help Line: 1-855-242-3310
Live chat:

Kamatsiaqtut Help Line
Toll Free 1-800-265-3333
In Iqaluit 1-867-979-3333

Kids Help Phone
Toll Free 1-800-668-6868
Text 686868 (no data plan, internet connection, or app required)
Live chat:

Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419

Anishnawbe Health Toronto: 416-360-0486  | 
Mental health & addiction services provided in English, Cree & Mohawk

Michael Garron Hospital: Aboriginal Healing Program: 416-923-0800
Support of balance and harmony with the medicine wheel and walk with the Seven Grandfather Teachings for a mutually agreed upon care plan

Native Canadian Centre of Toronto: 416-964-9087 |
Programs delivered in English, Cree & Ojibwa including for youth & seniors

Talk 4 Healing: 1-855-554-HEAL (4325)|
Support for Indigenous women by Indigenous women, available in: Oji-Cree, Ojibway, Cree, Algonquin, Inuktitut, Mohawk, Oneida, Odawa, Potawatomi, Micmac, Black Foot, Anishinaabe, Moose Cree, Swampy Cree, English & French

An extensive list of mental health programs for Indigenous people in Canada can be found here.

A comprehensive list of mental health resources in Toronto and the GTA can be found at If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide or are having a mental health crisis, please reach out. If a life is in immediate danger, call 911 – crisis workers and mental health nurses can be requested in place of police or EMS.


StatCan COVID-19: Indigenous people and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, June 23, 2020.

National Household Survey: Aboriginal Peoples
Suicide among First Nations people, Métis and Inuit (2011-2016): Findings from the 2011 Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort (CanCHEC)

The Yellow Wallpaper Diaries

We are now a month away from the preview performance of our next production, The Yellow Wallpaper. This show is a marked departure from our usual work – it is taking place in Campbell House Museum and is utilizing technology to tell a story of isolation and powerlessness. As we piece together this immersive production we are researching mental health, and in particular, how the isolation of COVID-19 has affected those who were already suffering from mental illness, and how it led to an increase in mental health problems for those who had not experienced them previously. We are also experimenting with technology in ways we have not before, thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Now Grant, and so this whole process is a big learning experience for us all.

Over the next few weeks, we will be posting a series of “diaries” that chronicle the creation process and provide insight, resources and context to our work. If there is something you would like to know more about, please let us know in the comments.


Vintage-Inspired Gifts for the Homemaker

Vintage-inspired gifts for the homemaker on your list!

1. A Mini History Lesson:
Radical Dishtowels

ABOUT: “As a family, we’ve always been interested in the amazing stories of history’s radical thinkers and campaigners, and how much hope these stories can inspire relative to the politics of today. We didn’t have much business experience. But we realized that there must be other people with progressive values out there who wanted to give gifts that actually mean something, make you think, and give you hope. We all loved the idea that you might come across a design in someone’s kitchen, and that it would spark a conversation about an idea or philosophy. As a teacher, I imagined that children might see a design and ask, “Who was she?” Together we made the decision to start our very own Radical Tea Towel Company. We do all the designs ourselves, and get them manufactured in the UK with ethical partners.” Read the full story, here.


SOCIAL IMPACT: Made ethically in the UK, the main impact is in the message on the towel. What a fun way to strike up a conversation about something important, even controversial.

WHAT WE LIKE: This is such a unique idea. I’ve seen some cool tea towels, but never anything like this. They cost a bit more than the average tea towel, but are still inexpensive enough I could justify buying it if I had a place to have it visibly hanging in my kitchen.

2. Placemats and Doormats Inspired by Vintage Tiles:

Tusset Floor Mat.

ABOUT: “The first hydraulic tiles were produced in Barcelona in the mid nineteenth century.   The creativity and durability of these attractive yet functional handmade floors caught on quickly and their use spread across Europe and beyond.”

The brand is carried by Locus Vie, a distribution company for home decor products in North America.  They focus on small European design companies that are looking to make an entrance into the North American market, and you can find local retailers via their site.


SOCIAL IMPACT: The site says that they are “phthalate-free and recyclable, for an eco-friendly conscience”. While made in Spain, there are many local shops, usually small ones, that carry some of these designs.

WHAT WE LIKE: They have a vintage vibe but are super practical. They make great door mats or a runner for a high-traffic hallway, they are easy to clean and can cover up ugly rental flooring. They are a bit on the pricey side for the larger ones (I saved up and watched for sales for years before I finally got one), but a set of the placemats could make a lovely gift, and they work well inside or out!

3. Textiles Based on Traditional Indigenous Designs
Indigo Arrows

Copper and Black Moons Lumbar Pillow
This Copper and Black Moons Lumbar Pillow is currently sold out, but it’s my favourite and I had to share.

ABOUT: “For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples in Manitoba, including my Anishinaabe ancestors, created beautiful patterns to adorn their pottery collections and host of bone tools. Most of the surviving pieces are held by museums now, but I think the world needs more than exhibition- we need these patterns in our homes provoking thought; we need them bridging gaps; and, we need them inspiring our loved ones. The Indigo Arrows line picks up where my ancestors left off.

Destiny Seymour is an Anishinaabe interior designer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She graduated with her master’s degree in Interior Design from the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba. She worked at local architecture firm in Winnipeg for over 10 years as their interior designer before starting her own design business in 2016.

Destiny started designing artisan textiles for interiors that respectfully reflects local Manitoban Indigenous peoples and their history after struggling to find materials that she could incorporate into design projects. Her company, Indigo Arrows, now offers a range of table linens, pillows, and blankets that showcase patterns from local Indigenous pottery and bone tools that date from 400 to over 3000 years old. These patterns are picking up where her ancestors left off.

Destiny formed Woven Collaborative in 2018, an Indigenous led design studio with fellow designer Mamie Griffith. Their design practice takes a critical look at the representation of Indigenous cultures within spaces. Their design mission is to respectfully reflect local Indigenous cultures & identity within architectural forms, interior spaces, furniture, and textiles. Their design process acknowledges community engagement, inclusiveness, and collaboration when creating new works.”


SOCIAL IMPACT: These beautiful linens are handmade, individually hand-printed in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 100% linen using non-toxic ink. This Indigenous-run company is making something that is simultaneously modern and traditional: these designs look like something you’d find in a magazine today while many of them are actually thousands of years old. Destiny names them in her ancestral language, Anishinaabemowin, and the pieces have a little description of what the word means and its significance, so it’s a nice little learning moment as well.

WHAT WE LIKE: If I had seen these without the context I would have thought they were totally modern, but when I read the history I knew they were perfect for this post: vintage-inspired doesn’t have to mean “old looking”, and it doesn’t have to be a perfect reproduction of something either. It also made me realize that a lot of the modern “boho” things you see in chain stores have (whether intentionally or not) designs that were used historically in Indigenous art, and so why not support the maker who shares that history? Promote the use and creation of something that comes from generations of artisans rather than buy a knock-off mass produced in China? And honestly, while some fellow artists may not have the money for a $100 decorative pillow, I think we all know that given the work that goes into it, that’s a steal. A lot of these are less expensive than things you’d find at Crate & Barrel or West Elm, and you can shop guilt-free knowing you’re supporting the artist who made them, not some faceless corporation.

4. Retro Canadian Pillows:
Persnickety Designs

Each pillow features a bright, bold design on each side: it’s like 2 pillows in one!

ABOUT: Peggy McEwan is a Toronto-based artist with a background in classic animation. These pillows are what she calls “comfortable art”, and they come in a range of retro designs – Toronto landmarks, old movie stars, vintage maps – there’s something for everyone.


SOCIAL IMPACT: You’ll be supporting a local female artist!

WHAT WE LIKE: I’ve been eyeing several of these for years, but found they were usually a little out of my price range. However, that was when I came across them in stores – I just realized you can buy from her site at about half of what I’d always seen them for before, and I may have to redo all my cushions! I love pop art but you don’t find a lot of it locally made, so I’m happy to add these to my already massive pillow collection.

5. True Vintage Serving-ware
Ethel 20th Century Living

This mid century piece is a great way to hint, “invite me over more!”

ABOUT: “Ethel – 20th Century Living is a vintage furniture, lighting and accessories store in the East Danforth neighbourhood in Toronto.

After helping to establish “Retro Row” in Leslieville 20 years ago, Ethel was starting to show her age. After the store changed ownersip in October 2009, it conducted business in the original location for 3 more years, and in May 2012, Ethel moved to Corktown. In the fall of 2016, we decided to close our bricks and mortar location at 327 Queen St. East, and now, two years later, we have a new home at 1781 Danforth Ave.

Owner Shauntelle LeBlanc has re-established Ethel’s brand as a store for outstanding vintage modern furniture, lighting & accessories. The store’s focus is on affordable vintage because you should enjoy your furniture, feel free to put your feet up on it and certainly not feel like you’re living in a museum (or magazine spread…unless that’s your thing, and in that case, Ethel is cool with that too).

We’re a proud Canadian indie boutique, and along with classic American & Scandinavian design, you’ll also find Canadian Mid-century pieces here. Sure, we all love Eames, Nelson & Knoll, but have you heard of Russell Spanner, Lotte Lamps or Clairtone? 

Vintage is nearly always one of a kind so our merchandise is constantly changing. You might find a complete Brady Bunch kitchen in here, or maybe a film noir detective movie set, complete with tanker desks & typewriters. Ethel has a little bit everything, from gondola sofas and teak dining sets to oddball pieces like 80s Russian propaganda posters and vintage tiki mugs.

Along with 20th century furniture, lighting and accessories, we also carry new products by RetroVerte, Umlaut Brooklyn, and more.”


SOCIAL IMPACT: A local, female-run boutique selling vintage – sustainable in many ways.

WHAT WE LIKE: There are MANY vintage shops in the city (though sadly, not as many as there once were) and I have my favourites for various things. Ethel’s is where I go for mid century. You can rely on finding a lamp, vase, serving piece etc. from the 50s-60s there, likely in whatever colour you’re looking for. She often has a selection of small retro furniture as well, like card tables and chairs.

Have something you think should be on our list?
Let us know in the comments.

Vintage-Inspired Gifts for the Fashion Lover

Vintage-inspired gifts for the fashion lover on your list.

1. Vintage With An Indigenous Twist:
Resist Clothing Co.

Shirts and sweaters in a variety of colours feature this vintage postcard inspired look.

ABOUT: “RESIST Clothing company (formerly Our Feather Clothing Co.) started in 2020. It was created by Mitch Gegwetch (Ojibwe/Anishinaabe and a member of Sagamok First Nation). 

RESIST is a premium streetwear brand. We never cheap out on our inventory. We promise, our products are worth every penny, if you disagree, we offer a 30-day money back guarantee, no questions asked. “


SOCIAL IMPACT: “We are native owned and operated. Our company is certified by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. A certification only obtained by proof of the company owner’s status. View CCAB listing here.

Our mission is to build an authentic Native clothing brand that amplifies the presence and voices of Indigenous people. 

We do this by creating unique designs on high quality garments that grab your attention and provoke thought or reflection. 

We also stay true to our native roots and operate the brand ‘in a good way’ by sharing our profit with Indigenous charities that protect and uplift our Indigenous Communities.”

WHAT WE LIKE: This streetwear brand features designs by Native artists with a focus on community and sustainability. Plus, they follow a unique “quadruple bottom line approach” that places importance on more than just profit. Bonus, the prices are really good.

2. Loungewear and Lingerie:
Gigi’s House of Frills:

Golden Apricot "Hi-Craft" Cold Rayon Slip Size 40 XL #147
Gigi’s offers both true vintage (like this) and beautiful vintage-inspired and reproduction pieces.

ABOUT: “Gigi’s House of Frills is a dream realized for owner…Gigi!

After many moons of dreaming of a shop full of all of the vintage inspired brands and one of a kind true vintage lingerie pieces, Gigi decided to make it reality!

Our little brick and mortar boutique is located in Gigi’s hometown: Toronto. That’s Ontario, Canada for those of you not familiar!

Gigi’s little shop of frills has been operating since November 6th 2015, and there’s no greater joy than bringing you the latest in retro and pinup lingerie, cosmetics and hosiery alongside all of the wonderful vintage treasures we find just for you!

We strive to offer you superb customer service and aim to make lasting relationships with our lovely clients!

Come see everything Gigi’s has to offer, including local designers such as With Love Lingerie and Inspiration Vintage, world renown vintage cosmetics brand, Besame cosmetics and much, much more true vintage lingerie and hosiery!

You can visit Gigi’s in Toronto at 731 Dovercourt Road, just south of Bloor Street West.”


SOCIAL IMPACT: Lingerie is lovely, but a lot of the things you pick up at LaSenza or Victoria’s Secret are cheaply made and not built to last. Plus, they tend to come in a very limiting number of sizes. Gigi’s carries local brands like Inspiration Vintage as well as big ones like Dita Von Teese that are well-made and unique. She also carries authentic vintage, and you know how much we like to reuse!

WHAT WE LIKE: We love Gigi’s. She was one of our sponsors for The Rear Window and did a phenomenal job helping us find the perfect under things for a true vintage look. This small local shop is female run by one of the nicest and most open-minded women you’re likely to ever meet, so don’t be afraid to go in and ask for help picking out a perfect little something – she has products for people of all shapes and sizes AND has a handy sizing chart on her website if you want to make sure there’s something for you before you go.

3. True Vintage Clothing:
Victory Girl Vintage

1940s Printed Rayon Long Sleeve Dress Size Medium image 1

ABOUT: Curated vintage clothing from the 1910s-70s. You can shop online through her Etsy shop, or visit her in-store at 29 Kensington Ave., Toronto.


SOCIAL IMPACT: This female-run local small business sells beautiful vintage clothing and accessories – hurray for sustainable clothing!

WHAT WE LIKE: Everything she carries is beautiful. Seriously. I’ve been in dozens upon dozens of vintage shops and there’s always something that you go, eh, kinda ugly, but not here. This woman has amazing taste, and while her prices are a little higher than some vintage stores in the city, they are fairly priced: everything is in great shape and very wearable.

4. Vintage Fashion Mags:
Gaddabout Vintage

ABOUT: “One of the best curated stores in Toronto. Gadabout is the old curiosity shop only better! It’s filled with items from the late 1800s through the late 1970s. Curios, nostalgia, ephemera – oodles of paper, incredible vintage posters, tons of fabulous vintage clothing and accessories for men and women. Amazing textiles. It is a well-known haunt for wardrobe, prop and set decorators for film and theatre production. Gadabout does not carry furniture. If it’s small, cool, enigmatic, it’s probably in the store. The store contains a myriad of drawers all labeled and organized with items ranging from spats and opera glasses to slide rulers and office supplies. There’s even a whole area of vintage housewares.”


SOCIAL IMPACT: Gadabout is another female-run store and it carries a bit of everything. Here you can get the kinds of vintage ephemera that so often are tossed in the trash, but that really are treasures. They rent items, so if you’re doing a show or a film you can check them out for props.

WHAT WE LIKE: This place has everything. Really, I mean it. If you’re a fan of “smalls” like I am, expect to spend several hours rooting through the dozens of drawers and boxes filled with papers, pins, pens – you name it. The clothing prices are a little higher than where I tend to shop when I’m dressing a show, but this is where I go when I need something good and fast: I can always leave with the thing I need.

5. An Exploration of Vintage Fashion:
The Fashion History Museum

From the Portraits of Mali exhibit.

ABOUT: “When Toronto fashion collector Alan Suddon unexpectedly died in 2000, the 10,000 piece collection he had amassed over forty-years, and that featured important nineteenth-century Canadian clothing and twentieth-century French couture, was purchased privately with a promise that it would someday go to an institution. However, much of the collection was sold off or destroyed via poor storage conditions over the next 15 years. The best surviving pieces were eventually auctioned off internationally with a small remainder selectively donated to Canadian museums, of which the Fashion History Museum received about 200 pieces. The collection that should have been Suddon’s legacy and a museum’s prize collection had been damaged, dismantled and all but forgotten.” The Fashion History Museum has a long and detailed history which you can read in full on their website.


SOCIAL IMPACT: As with any museum, the FHM preserves our history and makes it available to the public.

Their mandate is: “The Fashion History Museum connects the history of fashion with the world that created it. What we wear is a subconscious human expression, guided by habit and need, that reflects aesthetics, culture, identity, politics, economics, and technology. The museum collects, preserves, researches, and exhibits historical garments and accessories that illustrate these connections to better understand our past, present, and future.”

WHAT WE LIKE: The beautiful outfits, unique exhibits and wide-range of clothes from different times and cultures.

Bonus Listing Kingpin Hideaway

Unfortunately his shop had to close due to COVID, but Jonathan “Kingpin” Hagey still has a whole host of gorgeous menswear and accessories, you just need to book an appointment to see it. His selection of high-end suits, shoes and accessories cannot be beat, and this man knows everything there is to know about vintage menswear (and about a lot of other fun vintage things too). It can be hard to buy something like a suit as a gift (at least if you’re trying to keep it a surprise), but he has ties, cufflinks and other little accessories that would make excellent presents, or, for a truly special gift, you can hire him as a personal stylist. If you have a gentleman friend who loves vintage fashion but doesn’t know how to dress himself, bring him to Jonathan. He will pick out something that suits your body, style, and pocketbook, all while giving you the history of the piece and all the new things he’s picked up at auction. Be sure to follow him on Instagram – I for one eagerly await the return of his Hideaway.

Have something you think should be added to our list?
Let us know in the comments.

How To Find The Perfect Vintage Lingerie

Get some tips and tricks for finding the perfect vintage lingerie for this week’s #sustainablesunday!

If you’re a fan of true vintage clothing, chances are at some point or another you’ve tried something on, and even if it fits, thought “something isn’t right…

Chances are, the thing you’re lacking is the right underclothes.

Vintage women’s clothing was made with the assumption that you were wearing specific garments underneath – chances are this included a corset or girdle. While the styles changed with the decades, the desire to shape the female form into something it was not stayed fairly consistent through the 20th century (and before). You can read about the changing styles in our previous post, here.

A late 1930s girdle advertisement.

The same can be said, though to a far lesser extent, about men’s clothing. If you’ve ever tried to put on a pair of vintage trousers over some baggy boxers, you’ll know what I mean. Similarly, a lot of shirts look strange without an undershirt underneath as their fabric is too transparent, and even then it is clear they assumed you’d wear a jacket or blazer, otherwise the outline of the undershirt is clearly seen.

When we did The Rear Window back in 2019, we visited Gigi’s House of Frills to learn all about vintage underthings, and I can tell you the difference to silhouette is incredible. While the dresses already looked lovely on our actors, the addition of a bullet bra and girdle stepped it up to Hollywood glam levels.

There are many places in the city and online where you can find authentic vintage lingerie, but I highly recommend your first stop be Gigi’s. She is not only lovely and knowledgeable, she carries the widest range of sizes I have ever seen for underwear and lingerie. If she doesn’t have true vintage in your size she will have a modern alternative that is sure to work.

When it comes to buying vintage lingerie, there’s a few quick tips I would share to make the process go smoothly;

  1. Sizes Change: sizing hasn’t always been standardized, and when looking at vintage patterns or clothes sometimes the number can be a bit of a shock to your system because you’re judging it by the sizes we use today. If you can’t try something on, make sure to at least read the measurements and not assume that the number listed will give you an accurate idea of fit. For example, this helpful article explains how someone who was a size 14 in 1937 would be a size 8 in 1967 and a 0 today.
  2. Most People Were Shorter: we tend to think that everyone was smaller “back in the day”, but that’s not really true. Just as slim men and women today get more representation in the media and in stores, the same could be said for the 1920s, 40s, 50s etc. So while data suggests that there are more overweight people now than there were then, that isn’t to say that everyone was super tiny like the actors we picture from golden age Hollywood. Rather, the materials we have left today are more likely to be what was most produced then, and so it’s easier to find pictures of slim people, and clothing in smaller sizes. It’s really a numbers game. What has increased across the board (in Canada at least) is people’s average height. This means when you are shopping for vintage stockings or girdles, if you’re on the taller side (as I am), it can be hard to find something with the right fit. I often find my torso is a bit too long for pieces I would otherwise be able to fit. I don’t have any great advice for this other than to just remind yourself that there’s nothing wrong with you if you’re having trouble finding something that works, it was just made for someone at a very different time.
  3. Fabrics Were Different: those of you old enough to remember the days before lycra in jeans will have an easier time with the unmovable, unforgiving fabrics from days of yore, but today most clothing is made with so much stretch we don’t have to give much thought to the fit provided it is in our size. Compared to Spanx, vintage girdles can feel like a bit of a torture device, but when you get used to getting them on and off many people find the fit not at all uncomfortable, and I think they do a FAR better job at shaping, if that’s what you’re going for. If you’re new to vintage shape wear go for something that is adjustable, whether with lacing or multiple hooks, as even something that “fits” can be a bit extreme for someone new to the game. And if you see something that says it was “cut on the bias”, that’s a good thing. That’s the old-timey way of making something have a bit of give, and is the closest you’ll find to stretchy material in a lot of vintage wear.

So there you have it! A quick rundown on vintage underclothes. They’re fun, they’re glamourous, and they’re sustainable because as we always say, the most sustainable item is the one that already exists. So shop vintage.

To Wrap or Not To Wrap: Minimizing Waste Over the Holidays

Here’s some tips on how to be a little greener this holiday season, without losing some of the magic of those pretty boxes and bags under the tree.

Many of my fond memories of holidays past involve me eagerly tearing away wrapping paper to find a surprise underneath – sometimes unwrapping was half as good as the gift itself. But as I get older, I feel an increasing level of guilt every time my eye is caught by the pretty papers at the store – isn’t this just adding to waste? How can I justify buying something that will have so little use?

This year I’ve decided on a bit of a half measure, which is to wrap (with paper I already have) the gifts for the young children in my life, and to use only reusable things for adults or any I’m not positive will appreciate it. When you’re trying to go green it’s ok to do it in stages – every little bit helps.

So here’s some tips on how to be a little greener this holiday season, without losing some of the magic of those pretty boxes and bags under the tree.

Knot Wrap

It's Christmas Deer
It’s Christmas Deer wrap from LUSH – sweet little retro vibe!

Knot Wrap has grown in popularity here the past couple years, but it’s not a new concept. LUSH states it nicely on their website;

“Based on the Japanese tradition of Furoshiki, Knot-Wraps are a great way to wrap any gift. Made from either organic cotton or two recycled plastic bottles, each one of our beautiful Knot-Wraps is extremely kind to the environment. And the best part? They’re meant to be used again and again as a scarf, accessory or tote, so it’s a bit like giving two gifts in one. How thoughtful of you!”

Natural Ribbons

Not only pretty and eco-friendly, you can let friends know their gift is wrapped in artisanal ribbon, because we all know the true meaning of Christmas is giving the best gift.

Probably 90% of my gifts as a kid can wrapped in that thin plastic curling ribbon that has been virtually unchanged since my parents were kids – until now! Admittedly, it’s a bit on the pricey side, but this seems to be a very pretty eco-alternative to that oh-so-synthetic stuff we all know.

Our artisanal ribbon maker in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is committed to the highest levels of sustainability. They use water-based dyes, soy-based non-toxic inks, and cotton yarn that is 100% grown and dyed in the USA.

Joy Wrap

joywrap x Sarah Gunn Collection
Hurray for adorable, diverse Santas! They also have some more winter and less Christmas themed bags.

Made here in Canada, these reusable sacks are washer, dryer and iron safe, and come in a variety of cute patterns – PLUS you can make your own. Who doesn’t want a bag with your face plastered all over it? Reuse them next year, store xmas decorations in it, use it to make your laundry more festive – the possibilities are endless. The best part? Made here in Canada.

With joywrap, you never have to throw wrapping paper away again.
A 2017 study by Zero Waste Canada found that more than 540,000 tonnes of wrapping paper ends up in Canadian landfills after the holidays.

That’s the equivalent weight of about 100,000 elephants of wrapping paper trash each year!

joywrap makes all the same fun sounds as traditional wrapping paper, but without any the waste.

Reuse joywrap as part of your family traditions or give it away as part of a gift.



Christmas gift wrapping ideas
Brown paper packages tied up with string…

Ultimately, the most sustainable item is the one that already exists. Try reusing old newspapers, or magazines, have children decorate some brown packing paper with their own cute holiday designs. Attach natural items like cedar twigs, or pinecones – really the only limit is your imagination. And when you make something like this by hand, the person receiving it can really see the effort and care you put into it, which always makes it that much better.

Greenpeace has a great article on some ways to wrap presents without having to buy any wrapping – check it out here.

Got some eco-friendly wrapping ideas of your own? Let us know in the comments.

A Very Vintage Christmas Part II: Retro Reproductions

Have yourself a merry little Christmas with these retro reproductions.

Sometimes, try as we might, we can’t find our dream vintage piece no matter how hard we look. Didn’t find what you were looking for on our post about sourcing vintage Christmas decor? Read on to see some A+ reproductions.

Tru-Tone LED Bulbs

These traditional-style glass bulbs really capture the look of mid-century string lights, with the added bonus of being LED (less power wasted, less heat generated). Now you can recreate Christmases of yore without the fear of one bad bulb knocking out the whole string of lights, or an overheated one setting your tree ablaze! We love the eco-friendly combo of glass over plastic and LED over incandescent: “Tru-Tone LED bulbs consume 0.6watt. Standard Incandescent C7 bulbs use 5 watts. That’s a whopping 88% savings. Standard Incandescent C9 bulbs use 7 watts, so you’ll save even more at 91% energy savings! Put another way, a tree with 125 C7 Tru-Tone bulbs will use 75 watts and glow just as brightly as a tree with 125 C7 incandescent bulbs consuming 625 watts! No wonder the tree served as a space heater!”

Tru-Tone bulbs consume 0.6 watt. Standard Incandescent C7 use 5 watts. That’s a whopping 88% [energy] savings!

Kurt Adler “Early Years” Ornaments

Kurt Adler’s beautiful collection of vintage-styled glass ornaments have been on the top of our wishlist for years. From mid-century indented bulbs to beautiful wartime novelty pieces, Adler’s delicate, detailed ornaments make for a stunning addition to any tree. These are available in many stores and online, but before you go to order off Amazon, we suggest checking out Retro Festive, the pop culture and Christmas store in Oakville, Ontario, just outside of Toronto. Shop local this Christmas!

Vintage Tinsel Wreaths

A mid-century Christmas isn’t complete with tinsel. Lots of tinsel. Unfortunately the loose stuff can get a bit messy, so we recommend sticking to something cleaner, like this sparkly wreath from Putti Fine Furnishings.

Light Covers

When the first Christmas lights were introduced to a captivated public in 1884, they were not only expensive, but were unrealistic for most people as many still did not have electricity in their homes. However, by 1914 the cost of lights and electricity had come down considerably, and by the 30s most families had some sort of colourful light for the holidays. I’m not sure when exactly the first shaped and figural light covers arrived on the market, but I believe I’ve seen them from at least the 1920s. Early versions were glass, and ranged from mini Santa Claus to animals, fruit and even licensed characters like Betty Boop. Today you’re more likely to find ornaments that mimic this style, but some of the classics that pop over lights are still to be found, here and there.

Are you searching for a modern take on a vintage favourite?
Let us know in the comments.

Modern Vintage Style (The Sustainable Way)

Can’t find the real thing for your authentic vintage look? Check out these modern retailers who are working to keep the style alive while keeping sustainability in mind.

Can’t find the real thing for your authentic vintage look? Check out these modern retailers who are working to keep the style alive while keeping sustainability in mind.

Besame Cosmetics

Created by artist and cosmetic historian Gabriela Hernandez, Besame has a line of truly beautiful reproduction makeup. From authentic period styled false lashes to collections celebrating icons like Marilyn Monroe, you can be sure to find a little vintage something to dress up your vanity and your face. The best part? Besame is creating with sustainability in mind, so you can replace makeup pans without tossing away a whole plastic compact. Plus, their makeup is cruelty free: read their blog post to learn more about that and why it’s so important.

LBCC Historical Apothecary

This company’s motto of “live natural, be historical” truly is the best way of describing their shop. LBCC creates organic, eco-friendly makeup, skin and hair care products based off historical recipes dating from the Regency Era up the the 1930s. Their work is meticulously researched and perfect for anyone who truly wants an authentic vintage experience. Their products feature copies of the original labels, so they look very sweet on a vintage vanity as well. Because they have few ingredients, they tend to be good for those of us with sensitive skin – I haven’t had a reaction to anything I’ve bought from them. And the prices are incredible, they are clearly a group doing this for the pure love of it.


There are times we’re lucky enough to stumble across a vintage pair of thigh-highs, and if you’re like me you wince every time you pull them on, worrying that they will snag and run. By and large stockings and pantyhose are not as common as they once were, but I think most of us who wear skirts or dresses have a pair or two tucked in the drawer for certain occasions. That’s where Sheertex comes in. Yes, they are very expensive, but these babies WILL NOT RIP. You can see on their site the many trials they put them through and I don’t know what magic they’ve used, but I’m here for it. The best part? They make a sheer, backseam thigh high that’s perfect for us vintage lovers.