11 Mar
Dressing from the Drinkle

Although my title sounds like the beginning of a nursery rhyme, it is, more accurately, an invitation to a treasure hunt. I am referring to the Drinkle #3 Building in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. For my readers outside of Canada, the point I want to make is that every city has retail secrets worth discovering. I love to find charming, off-the-beaten-trail businesses when I visit a new city, but exploring at home provides an equally exciting outing. As my mother-in-law, who is 96, often tells me, “You don’t know what you need until you see it!”

On Third Avenue in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in a truly historic building, I was able to put together a fun and slightly retro outfit with the help of three local businesses. The Drinkle #3 Building was erected in 1913, the third of a series of very tall (for that era) buildings erected by Mr. John Clarence Drinkle. I could write an entire article about Mr. Drinkle and his family, but you can find information about him on the Internet. Instead, I want to talk about the treasures I discovered in the basement of the building, below the renovated apartments.

About a year ago, I went in search of the clandestine, lower level shopping mall after reading an article my husband had given me about a married couple operating a tailoring business known as Immanuelle Tailoring. Designing your own clothes with a tailor is a sublime experience that I will write about later. It is a perfect solution for women over 60 because regular stores don’t always meet our needs. Experience can make us more discerning. Our ever-changing bodies are unique, to put it nicely. I often have new clothes tailored anyway, because I am not a tall woman, so I thought why not have something made, just for me? From my first phone call to Oriol and Ebrahim Armaghan I was excited about creating clothes with them. I am an experienced seamstress, but they are tailors. At our first meeting, they drew photos and took measurements. We have, over several months, developed a relationship.

 

One day, as I left the tailors’ shop, I walked into a little store where a lady was hand embellishing a hat. She told me about using steam to shape a flat piece of felt onto a hat block, creating a base, and how she never uses glue and always trims, sews, and embellishes each hat by hand. I recognized her work as an art form, and I was impressed. She handed me a catalogue depicting well-dressed women wearing a variety of hats. The milliner I am referring to is Sherri Hrycay of Sova Millinery Designs. I had read about her in the Star Phoenix but hadn’t remembered her location. I tried on hats, and I knew I would buy one eventually. Sherri would make it from scratch to fit me perfectly. I was excited by the idea of a perfect fit. My head hasn’t changed with age; it has always been difficult to fit.

I walked past a little grocery shop back in the hallway, knowing I’d explore there eventually, but I moved toward the enticing sign, quite near the stairs to the street. I followed the arrow to Back Then & Again Jewellery Boutique, a vintage jewellery shop. An old movie played and posters of movie icons took me from decade to decade inside the store, where vintage jewellery was beautifully displayed. I realized I had worn, over a lifetime, many of the styles that were on display. Some of the looks made me wild with nostalgia, while I have happily left others in the past. I have a fondness for the 1960s. I bought a grey and black metal pin, much like one I had owned in high school. I decided to ask the tailor to make me a sixties dress, and certainly, I needed a Sova Hat to accessorize.

Oriol and Ebrahim created a dress very similar to one I had made in the sixties. It swings away from the body and is perfect for my age group. The pin enhances the look. I added a Sova fedora, which I will wear often. It is timeless. The look came together in time to wear it to the Sova Millinery spring fashion show, held in March of 2016. I have already worn the dress several times and associate it with having fun. The dress is washable so that it will be perfect for travel.

Sherri Hrycay, of Sova Design Millinery, purchased a special hat blocking machine which allowed her to produce her first full collection of men’s hats.  Sherri will send hats across the pond, too, so have a look, wherever you live. A special hat, perhaps a straw hat, makes a lovely gift for your wife, mom, husband, or father. I think the boy from the Get a Bigger Wagon stories needs a hat for Father’s Day. 

If you love unique shopping experiences and helping family businesses to succeed, then I have just given you a great reason to go exploring…and shopping!

Did you know?

1. Did you know that inside the historic 102-year-old Drinkle #3 Building, there have been many different restaurants. Chandelier's restaurant provided a peaceful vintage environment for lunch. Wearing a hat was optional!

2. If you enjoyed this blog, you might also enjoy these Pinterest boards: Glamour for Grandmothers and Fashion for My Age and Stage.

3. Take a minute to enjoy this video where Dave Denny speaks about the Drinkle #3 Building he loves!

NOTE: Some of these businesses have relocated since this blog was published in 2016.  

Comments (6)

  • Lorraine Drinkle Browne
    February 4, 2021 at 01:53 pm

    Just discovered your blog. Well done! I am J.C. Drinkle's granddaughter.

  • Dave Denny
    September 27, 2016 at 04:57 pm

    We manage the building and we are quite proud of our little mall in the basement. I cant tell you how many people come downstairs and say "wow, I had no idea this was here!" Thanks for spreading the word. Its a big help for small entrepreneurs.

  • Bev Gardner
    March 14, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Wow- I always love that view of the outside of the Drinkle, but have never ventured inside- how wonderful to know there are some interesting entrepreneurs inside. I will have to explore there soon.

  • Marion Murawsky
    March 13, 2016 at 04:50 pm

    What a wonderful fashion show. Thank you Maureen. Loved The Chandelier and especially love ALL the hats!!! What a talent.

  • gayle senger
    March 12, 2016 at 01:21 pm

    as always, I enjoyed reading your story but it was personally wonderful to see you and your smile.!!

  • Carol Senger
    March 12, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Lovely article as usual! I too love Sova Millinery Designs, and Immanuel's Tailoring. We had Danielle's wedding dress altered their and my dress, very nice couple. I haven't got a hat but it's on my list. Certainly will have to check out Back Then and Again Jewellery Boutique.

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