Here's to Canadian Shopping!

Last week marked the eagerly anticipated opening of the first H&M ever in the Vancouver area. Excited shoppers lined up outside of Coquitlam Centre starting at 4 am; by the time noon struck and the doors opened, the line-up had more than 800 people. The ones at the front of the line practically ran inside as they zoomed in on the racks of clothes.

Because I had to work, I only heard about this on the 11 o'clock news the night of H&M's grand opening. However, seeing the feeding frenzy on the news hour made me think about how obsessive we Canadians can get over stores from abroad, especially stores that seem to be available everywhere but here. Call it "the grass is greener on the other side" syndrome, call it fashionista envy, or call it whatever you want. Many Canadian girls (myself included) look south of the border at Forever 21, Victoria's Secret, Anthropologie, Hollister, Target, and Mango, coveting the cheap chic these chains promise and wishing they'd hurry up and open a location in Vancouver. As a result, our proximity to Seattle makes cross-border shopping a popular guilty pleasure.

Nonetheless, we have a lot to be grateful for as Canadian shoppers, especially when it comes to chains that are distinctly Canadian and not really available or accessible on a grand scale outside of Canada.

Aldo shoes and accessories. I think Aldo is such a well-known standby in Canada that we take it for granted sometimes. For me it's always a fail-safe store if I want to find a pair of shoes or a handbag that knocks off the latest runway trend.

RW & Co. I've been in love with RW & Co. since I was 18. It's a fantastic place to get classic, high-quality clothing at surprisingly reasonable prices.

Jacob. Recently I bought a couple of clearance tops from Jacob. The fabric was an extremely soft cotton jersey, and the cut of both tops was very flattering. I don't shop at Jacob as often as I do at RW & Co. and sometimes even dismiss it as a store solely for office workers and young professionals who need workplace attire. Whenever I buy something here and wear it though, I'm surprised at how that piece instantly makes my entire outfit look more polished and how many compliments I get as a result.

La Senza. There's a pretty prevalent attitude above the 49th parallel that La Senza is basically the cheaper Canadian version of Victoria's Secret. I know because I used to feel this way. Then I read an interview with Rebecca Romijn in InStyle where she praised La Senza as a great source for cheap fun lingerie while she was in Canada filming X-Men. They had an unsolicited and wholeheartedly enthusiastic endorsement from Rebecca Romijn...that's gotta count for something, right?

There are probably a ton of other stores that are distinctly Canadian and worthy of mention here, but these are the ones that come to mind most readily for me as a source of good-quality but reasonably priced fashion.

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