Introducing Canada’s Most Stylish Thrifter 2024, Maidene Morris-Dixon


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After the second-ever countrywide search, ‘FASHION’ declared the Orangeville stylist as Canada’s 2024 Most Stylish Thrifter.

Maidene Morris-Dixon was surprised when she learned that she had been declared Canada’s Most Stylish Thrifter for 2024. Her friends and family, however, were not. In fact, it was a fellow stylist working with Morris-Dixon on a pilot for a new CBC Gem show who sent her the link to FASHION’s callout for submissions. “She said, ‘You need to do this; I can so see you being selected,’” Morris-Dixon recalls.

Morris-Dixon often starts shopping by searching the men’s racks, which is where she found this suit at Value Village. Shirt, Just Thrift. Earrings, AKA.The Store. Photography by Alpheus Anthony Newby

The 53-year-old mother of two from Orangeville, Ont., sent us images of herself in three thrifted looks: a shapely checked blazer, faux-fur shawl and metal-studded miniskirt that screamed “Balmain runway”; a Paris street-style combo of oversized ostrich-leather jacket, big white shirt and frayed denim short shorts with heels; and a gold kimono with matching clutch and boots that would be perfectly at home on the Met Gala red carpet.

“She’s giving Cynthia Erivo vibes,” one of our FASHION team members remarked. And what was meant to be an hours-long judging session was over in a matter of minutes.

Maidene Morris-Dixon
This animal-themed look was one of Morris-Dixon’s submissions that impressed the ‘FASHION’ judges. All the items are from Value Village, purchased separately over a period of 10 years. Photography by Alpheus Anthony Newby

After meeting Morris-Dixon, we knew we had chosen well. In our initial chat over Zoom, she spoke to us from her mother’s house in Mississauga, where the overflow of her wardrobe is stored, and shared how she would dress in weekly themes when she was working in marketing for TJX Canada, the parent company of Winners, Marshalls and HomeSense. “I would do a whole week of leopard,” she said. Or head-to-toe green. Or prints. “I could probably do a month of leather, I have so much,” she laughed. Her main aim wasn’t to amuse her colleagues, though she certainly did that. “I wanted to be able to make use of what I had bought and also showcase my talent. Putting things together brings me joy.”

Since leaving the corporate world, she has been strutting her stuff for a different audience. “Church is my runway now,” she says. “People actually come up to me and say, ‘I look forward to seeing what you have on.’”

Dress made from upcycled neckties
Morris-Dixon and her mother sewed this collection of 36 thrifted ties into a dress. Photography by Alpheus Anthony Newby

As we watched Morris-Dixon style herself for our shoot, it was clear that she has an expert’s eye for proportion, texture mixing and colour. Case in point: the tailored military jacket she paired with a tassel dress. And the collection of 36 neckties her mother helped her sew into a dress.

Like a true fashion stylist, Morris-Dixon doesn’t buy fits. She walks the aisles and plucks pieces that catch her eye from the racks and then takes them home, where they often hang unworn until she finds the perfect mate. For our shoot, she combined a Dolce & Gabbana skirt she scored for $34 last June with a matching polka-dot Zara top she had thrifted more than a year prior. But most surprising is that the Dolce skirt is one of the few recognizable names in her wardrobe. In fact, she is probably the least label-conscious fashion person we’ve ever encountered.

“If it looks good on me, and the colours, patterns or textures speak to me, that’s what I’m going for,” she says. “I just love finding unique pieces. I don’t like looking like everybody else. So thrifting is it for me.” And while she has her favourite spots — Just Thrift in North York and multiple Value Village locations in Mississauga — she will thrift anywhere, any time.

Canada's Most Stylish Thrifter 2024 Maidene Morris-Dixon
This Zara top and Mahima Mahajan skirt are both from Value Village, purchased many months apart. Photography by Alpheus Anthony Newby

She was waiting at a stoplight in Caledon last June when she spotted the gold kimono in a store window. “I was late to meet my mom, and I was on the phone with my daughter. I said: ‘I gotta go. I’ll call you back.’ I pulled in and parked, and I think I only paid $29 for it,” she says. The gold boots that pair so well with it were purchased pre-COVID from Just Thrift. “They were having a designer sale, and I saw those boots in a video they posted on Instagram. I didn’t know if they were my size, but I got there early and was one of the first people in line. And they fit!”

Morris-Dixon only got into thrifting 10 years ago, when a friend first took her to Talize in Brampton. “I remember walking around following somebody who had a black bustier with off-white trim,” she says. “I kid you not, I waited for that person to put it back. [She still has the bustier.] I still do that. Just the other day, I saw this guy looking at a green 3-D sweater and he was hemming and hawing. And I thought, ‘Bro, you have no idea what you have in your hand.’ So I waited, and luckily he put the sweater back.”

Canada's Most Stylish Thrifter 2024 Maidene Morris-Dixon
Morris-Dixon found this authentic military jacket at Urban Catwalk in Toronto’s Kensington Market. The tassel dress under it is from Value Village, and the clutch is from the Leslieville Flea. Shoes, Saks Fifth Avenue. Photography by Alpheus Anthony Newby

Though she was already in her 40s when she started thrifting, Morris-Dixon says that fashion has been a creative outlet for her since she was a child. “My mom tells a story about how when I was seven or eight years old and we were heading to church, I forgot my quote, unquote jewellery, which was actually plastic accessories.” She insisted on going back inside the house so she could complete her look.

That was around the time the family emigrated from Jamaica, where Morris-Dixon used to wear a uniform to school. Her mom also tended to dress Morris-Dixon and her sister, who is a year younger, like twins. “And my mom, being a seamstress, used to take me with her to the fabric store, where I would flip through the pattern books while I waited for her.” In Canada, Morris-Dixon was exposed to more fashion and didn’t have to wear a uniform, which gave her the urge to experiment. She acknowledges that she’s a bit of a chameleon, even with her hair — it’s currently blond and buzzed, but she has worn it as a red faux hawk and in locs. “I am all over the place with my style,” she says. “It just depends on what is feeding my soul at the time.”

Thrifted metallic gold clutch with gold snakeskin boot
Clutch, Value Village. Boots, Just Thrift. Photography by Alpheus Anthony Newby

After graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce from Ryerson (now Toronto Metropolitan University), Morris-Dixon entered the workforce in marketing, but helping friends and co-workers style themselves or their homes became a sideline. Then, around 10 years ago, she put her talent to the test by launching a business called Styling Head to Toe. “People at my son’s school would walk up to me and ask: ‘What do you do? Because you’re always so fashionably dressed,’” she recalls. “Random people in stores would always come up to me when I was shopping and say, ‘I just want to know what you think of this.’ And my sister said to me, ‘I think you need to make this a business.’ My intention was to do personal styling, but what seemed to take off was the reselling of items. So I started to do pop-ups at the Leslieville Flea and the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show. I loved that people would come back each year and look for my stall. What I didn’t love was the time it took away from my kids, because at that time, I was a single mom and these events were on the weekends.”

Yellow kimono with colourful graphics
Morris-Dixon uses double-sided tape to wear this kimono from Talize as a dress. All the jewellery on this page is from Value Village, except where noted. Photography by Alpheus Anthony Newby

She closed that down in 2016 and went to work for TJX Canada. The desire to do her own styling thing lingered, but with a mortgage to pay, she was nervous. “I was afraid to take a chance on myself and really go with what everybody else seemed to see,” she laments.

Then, just before the COVID lockdowns hit, with her children older and more independent, Morris-Dixon left corporate life and dived back into wardrobe styling and interior decorating along with home staging. And she is breaking into the world of TV and film, working for the production company Shaftesbury on a couple of CBC Gem shows. This is perfect because, like many fashion lovers, she is a constant shopper. “I try not to, but I have a real issue,” she admits. “It’s an addiction, especially when it comes to thrift shopping. There is definitely a high for me when I find something unique. I get really stoked about great finds.”

But Morris-Dixon also wants to use her talent for the greater good. “I would love to work with young women and children on body image,” she says. “And help people who are getting into the workforce, because there are a lot of ways you can look good on a budget.” In the meantime, thrifting provides the tools for her art. “I have far too much going on up here in terms of creativity,” she smiles, pointing to her head.

Canada's Most Stylish Thrifter 2024 Maidene Morris-Dixon
Top, Just Thrift. Corset, Talize. Bag, Value Village. Earrings, Revibe in Port Stanley. Ring (left) and bracelet, Winners. Ring (right), Morris-Dixon’s wedding ring. Photography by Alpheus Anthony Newby

Maidene Morris-Dixon shares her top thrifting tips:

1. Don’t be a label snob. There are many obscure European designers who deliver excellent quality.

2. Don’t be shy about haggling. “I’m frugal,” Morris-Dixon declares. “Sometimes I’ll say: ‘There’s a little wear here. Do you think you can do better on the price?’”

3. Shop the “put-backs” — items people have tried on and then hung at the end of a rack. And if the store has a change room, look for what people have left there as well.

4. Go often, and vary locations. Morris-Dixon has found matching pieces of a set, including an Adidas track suit, in two different locations a year apart.

5. Search Google while you shop to confirm whether you have scored an incredible find or whether an item is worth the price. You may be able to negotiate a better deal based on what you learn.


This article first appeared in FASHION’s April 2024 issue. Find out more here.

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