Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Yoka. How do I love thee?

I am a serial monogamist. In terms of shopping.  In every other way, I am pretty indiscriminate. 

Once I find a store that I like, I pretty much will stick with it until they no longer carry my size or the staff stop treating me like the super-entitled-to-everything person that I am. This rarely happens because I continually funnel money into these chosen stores, and most retailers are smart enough to recognize a cash cow when she waddles in the door. 

To that, I say "Moo".

And to be clear, no cash cows were harmed in the creation of this super interesting blog post.

I used to be fickle. I'd shop at Le Chateau one day, Holts the next. I'd do Express and BCBG in the same day, even. I didn't care who knew. I was spreading my money around like a whore, or like a very conservative investor, but only I was investing in disposable fashion, and not in, say, gold or stocks. 

When I am old, I will eat no-name cat food, but I'll have a super fabulous, super out of date wardrobe. Can you say Grey Gardens? 

I used to shop exclusively at a store on Queen St. West here in Toronto. It carried a lot of club wear, but also slightly more conservative stuff, say for the business lady who also wants to make people wonder if maybe she's a dominatrix. A friend and I would go there all the time. On more than one occasion, we would show up at closing time, the owner would lock up and pop a bottle of champagne. Champagne shopping. This is what I freaking love people. I felt very Rodeo Drive.

Then I gained weight and couldn't fit into any of their clothes and they didn't seem to stock anything past the occasional size 12, if they were feeling magnanimous. After a while I stopped going there altogether. I went back, on a whim, about 5 years later. The owner didn't even recognize me, or pretended not to.

Then I found a store in Toronto's Leslieville that catered to more mature women, without being Tan Jay, you know? Beautiful pieces mostly by Canadian designers. The owner was very sweet to me. Always phoned when there were new things in (she wasn't stupid). I spent more in this store than the yearly Gross National Product of Bangladesh. 

I will have to admit to something very sucky here. I stopped going there 1) because I'd gained weight and was embarrassed, and also 2) there just wasn't enough obsequious slobbering going on to suit me. The level of attention diminished in direct proportion to the amount of cash I handed over.

After awhile, I lost a bunch of weight (again) and was looking to bedeck my fine ass in some new duds. 

I found a new store. 

A new love. 

Yoka, on Queen St. East, in Toronto's Beaches neighbourhood.

It started with one piece. A stretchy, high waisted leopard print pencil skirt that screamed Naughty Secretary. It did not end there. But you knew that, didn't you.

Below is a photographic true representation of SOME of my Yoka purchases laid out on my bed. There are many layers of clothes. My bedspread is white. 

I have worn some of these clothes items up to one time.

Yoka is owned by this vision of Nordic blonde excellence named Carla. 

She brings in lines that are tough to find elsewhere in Canada, let alone Toronto, many of them from Netherlands and Denmark. 
There are some Canadian lines as well. She cherry picks the best from each brand, only bringing in things that she, herself, likes. She has an excellent eye. She also carries a human range of sizes, from XS to XXL, and a range of styles, from sensible and comfy to "if you can breath, it's not tight enough".  I love Carla.

Another favourite at Yoka is Ashton, currently on leave. He's an actor who you've seen in actual TV things. He's the son I never had. The kind of son who tells you when you're ass looks too big in those weird green pants. But tells you without saying one word. Just that head tilting to the side and a slight pinched nose movement that speaks volumes. 

Now, I love Carla and Ashton, and I always will because I'm just that way, but my heart belongs to Amanda. I'm sorry Carla. It's just the way it is.

Amanda works for Carla. She is half my age. She listens to weird French pop music. She has perfect skin (freakishly so). And she knows exactly what will look good on me, and if something doesn't, she'll tell me. Nicely, of course, but I need honesty, people. 

Amanda could present me with a really full kitty litter box, and if she says "sooooo cute", you gotta know I'm going to buy it and wear it. She's that good. She and Carla have dubbed a couple of items "the Ellen" in their inventory list. This makes me happier than it should, as a grown up.

Now that I've gained some weight back onto my previously fine ass, Amanda has the ability to make me truly believe that it is actually the clothing's fault that things look... um... different, now. For this, I thank her.

I stopped going in for a few months (yah, I know), and when I went back in, Amanda greeted me like a long lost friend. I told her I was trying to save money and wouldn't be able to buy clothes for awhile (the truth) and she still engaged in conversation with me. She is stylish, fun and kind.

But I have returned to my overspending ways. I can't resist the siren song that is Yoka. 

The change rooms of fate.

As a new vegan, I am well aware that part of the whole being a perfect vegan is to not participate in rampant unnecessary consumerism.

I am not perfect.

I will have to answer to my conspicuous consumption sooner, rather than later, I'll bet.  It's an addiction, though. I'm in the contemplation stage.

But for now, it's either Yoka, or meth. I chose the option with better teeth.

Going to Yoka makes shopping so much fun. I mean, more fun than it already is to spend my money on clothing instead of, say, saving it for when I will eventually have to replace my roof, or furnace, or pay for retirement. There's always something perfect for me there. Always something that fits. And at reasonable price points. 

I just bought my entire fall wardrobe there. I am sitting here, cursing the bloody humidex because I have an amazing sweater dress that I want to wear. 

Here are some things I got there:

But for now, I know the sweater dress, and all her many, many friends, is waiting in my closet, patiently for the mercury to dip to a normal, livable temperature. And when it does, I will amaze you with my fabulousness.

So thank you, Yoka, for being my happy place. For taking me in when other stores denied my hip girth or stopped recognizing me by anything other than my visa card number. You've stood by me through thin and thick. You've got the prettiest colours and the stretchiest leggings.

I can't quit you.


  1. Awesome post! Your drawings are great (esp. the Grey Gardens one).

    I kinda want to move to Toronto right now, just for that store and the ultra-helpful Amanda. They should give YOU a commission for writing such a glowing endorsement.


    1. I would gladly squire you to Yoka. They'll make you a happy MOV.

      Oh, and I wanted to write a comment on your most recent blog about the fact that your husband is a big believer in natural tomatoes, but it was just going to be some lame attempt to connect the word "big" and "naturals". And I'm a lady so I don't say stuff like that.


  2. I love this store so much - most days my outfits are head to toe Yoka and I love it. Although my experience with Ashton is more 'have her try on this thing that makes me laugh, do the head tilt, then offer something appropriate'.

    My closet is now about 70% Yoka and I have never looked better.

    1. Have you seen the new Sandwich?
      Uh Muh Guh!

  3. Amanda got me into my favourite boots of all time. Love how you captured a great store!

    1. Amanda is the source of all things good.
      L.A.M.B. coats coming in next week apparently. I'll race you there!