Badlands Toronto
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Badlands Vintage

Badlands owner Ali Rideout is her own best advertisement: a gal of coltish beauty, she strolled in to the store while I was there in a pair of high-waisted shorts, plaid button-up tied jauntily at the navel, and vintage pumps, topped off with a slick of red lipstick and a pile of sandy-blond hair. Her effortless style makes you want to start buying immediately.

She opened her small Ossington shop to make room in her closet for new treasures, meaning that the place is stuffed with the outlandish pieces that Rideout favours. This ain't no demure, shrinking violet vintage - you're more likely to find a pair of purple cowboy boots ($35) or a handful of Technicolour shorts (including a pair in red leather). "I like anything weird, or stuff from the eighties and nineties," she laughed.

This philosophy extends to a gold metal baguette, a black-and-white striped crop top ($18), an acid-wash jean skirt ($26), a canary-yellow ruffled blouse ($17), and a shiny cherry-red ruched skirt. Many of the pieces can be had for under $25, making it a bargain-hunter's paradise. At $30 or so, the men's leather jackets are a steal.

Badlands Vintage

I've often spent long stretches of time in the store's lower level, trying stuff on and kept company only by the various taxidermied creatures - sans a visit from pesky salespeople. It's really nice.

Guys should definitely check out the sweaters. They usually have a little flair to them, too - a recent favourite was a gray one with heavy suede patches at the shoulders and elbows and a pony crest on the chest ($26), or a sporty red v-neck.

Finish off your visit by trying on some of the many vintage shoes, such as a pair of white leather vintage heels with orange snakeskin toes ($22), white and gold beaded slip-ons ($50), or satin pumps with an art print ($29). They may not give you legs as mile-long as Rideout's, but it's a start.

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