Friday, December 31, 2010
This illusion has now been shattered forever, with the discovery of New Years thrifting. In what I thought was a desperate attempt to scrounge up a thing or two before heading back to NYC, I headed to the St. Vinnies in Green Bay, figuring I'd be lucky to find anything at all. When I arrived, I quickly noticed that the "eveningwear" section was totally stocked, and triple its usual size. There were lace and sequins and satin absolutely spewing from the racks. It was clearly a SPECIAL NEW YEAR'S EVENINGWEAR SECTION. An unprecedented thrifting discovery.
For me, at least, because Green Bay's drag queens seemed to be well aware of the bonanza. Luckily, they were my only shopping competition, and were also, luckily, definitely not my size. I came away with these two gems.
An open front gold lamé jacket......
with a back keyhole cowl!!!!! I LOVE me a creative use of a cowl, and this gets an A++ for being both a back cowl, and and keyhole cowl, something I don't believe I have ever seen before.
Next, is this real deal vintage 60's sequin cocktail dress with POCKETS. Just what every cocktail dress needs. By Agapi Paris, for $5. This dress is in stiff competition with the party top to end all party tops for New Year's Eve 2011 outfit. The lovely little old lady who checked me out said that I "couldn't go wrong" with this dress. I totally agree.
And as if that were not enough, there was also a special vintage New Year's party favor section. Yes, I said VINTAGE PARTY FAVORS.
Get over it. These amazing relics set me back a whopping 25 cents each. I might have to start a collection.
Friday, December 24, 2010
It is during my last few minutes in the land of cowboys—Oklahoma, USA—that I am very pleased to bring you my wild, wild west themed #1 Black Friday Thrifting find.
I have learned many things about cowboys during my short time in Oklahoma. My boyfriend’s five-year-old British nephew, Leo, is fascinated by the subject, as there are no cowboys in London at all. With the help of Leo's research, I have come to understand that cowboys sing lullabies to cattle at night, that branding is not at all painful, and that spurs are commonly worn on last minute Christmas shopping trips to Walmart. I was also made aware of the shocking rapidity (approx. ten minutes) with which antiquated, highly questionable Hollywood depictions of the historical dynamic between “cowboys and Indians”, impress a childlike audience, resulting in timelessly politically incorrect playful reenactments.
But more importantly, we have cowboys to thank for a lot fantastic fashion. There are the jeans. There are the boots. Bandanas. Chaps. Bolo ties. OK, maybe not those. And of course, fringed leather jackets!
Rolling in at #1, a purple shawl collar drawstring waist fringed suede jacket!
This may not scream “cowboy” at you, as the purple and the suede are assuredly 90’s design hallmarks, but the influence is certainly there. There are truly many amazing elements to this jacket, but it is the fringe that really sings. While thrifting, one certainly comes across fringe on a pretty regular basis. It often looks mangy, chaotic, or tacky, amongst lots of other kinds of wrong. On this jacket, however, the fringe is like a beautiful soft cascading waterfall over your shoulders. And as though that is not enough, fringe laughs in the face of excess and takes it to the next level, adorning the pockets and the ends of the waist ties. The shawl collar is a modern, sophisticated twist, while the drawstring waist solves the problem that plagues so much 90’s outerwear: boxiness. It is a total package that is hard to resist.
And because it is Christmas Eve, here is a gratuitous picture of my own personal cowboy fashion icon, Marlon Brando. Enjoy.
A cowboy has never worn a paisley scarf so well.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Which brings me to my #1 pick, one which thanks to Laurie's post on wanting to punch me in the face, I am sure you were all anticipating eagerly: the vintage, faux fur coat. I can't wait to wear this tonight on public transport to pick up my littlest brother from the airport this evening—talk about classy!
While I found a great faux fur coat earlier this fall, it does not compare to the beauty that is my #1 pick.** The silky, black, faux fur is so thick and sensuous that my boss was almost duped by its (non)authenticity. She also told me that the coat's brand, I.Magnin, was some sort of big deal back in the day (a little bit of wikipedia research taught me that I.Magnin used to be a fancy department store and was later bought by Macy's. I've also learned that a I.Magnin real fur jacket can sell for over a grand. Yowzah!).
Beyond its pedigree, my #1 pick wins extra points for the amazing gold details (adorable black double breasted buttons trimmed in gold, and the forgettaboutit chain that links across the waist to finish the belt, which is made up of the faux fur on the backside), a huge furry collar that I can pop up, and a perfect***satiny, floral print lining.
I can clearly understand why Laurie wanted to punch me in the face.
*When people complain about how Midwesterners have no style, I would like them to try being stylish and living in the coldest metropolitan area in the continental United States.
**Another great thing about thrifting? There is no limit to the number of fabulous vintage fur coats you can have!
***While the coat fits me very nicely, it is a bit tight in the armpits and apparently was made for someone who was not expected to have to grab things from their backseat, scrap ice off windshields or do movement of any kind.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
When applied to apparel, however, I find 3D to be utterly fresh, sophisticated, and terribly clever. What am I implying, do you ask? That my #2 Black Friday Thrifting find is in some way 3D? 3D CLOTHES!? Believe it.
This find--an amazing early 90's Limited brand 3D airbrush effect harlequin printed knit top--makes it way to the #2 because it features the most amazing print design on a garment I have ever seen. *
Before I delve in to the incredible qualities of the print design, there is also the design of the garment itself that needs to be explored. The tent silhouette and chelsea collar combination is something I have never come across before. A chelsea collar, in and of itself, is pretty hard to come by in the form of anything other than something a polygamous wife might wear. That is an accomplishment of its own.
Then there is this print. First of all, it is a harlequin pattern. The harlequin pattern gets its name from its namesake character, the comedic servant in the Italian Commedia dell'arte. The pattern was utilized to emphasize the foolish, comedic qualities of the character. In other words, it is meant to look ridiculous and most often does, and is not very often utilized in non-costume fashion design anymore.
So how is that this harlequin ends up looking amazing instead of ridiculous? It comes completely out of left field, and applies an airbrush effect to it. This quality makes it very modern and inverts the history of it. Then the application of the pattern is made irregular, instead of the traditional checkerboard, and the effect created by it is 3D. Throw in a couple of choice 'pop' colors, and there you go; the very first spray paint 3D effect multi color harlequin pattern I have ever seen. All accomplished without a computer.
*This is a hyperbolic statement that I realize I will probably make repeatedly throughout the history of this blog. Please bear with me.
That is what you get for image, I suppose, which also brings me to the discussion on my #2 find: the silk vintage cocktail dress.
What do the increased costs of drinks labeled cocktails have to do with vintage thrifted dresses? Well, one of the frustrations about thrifting in this day and age is that some thrift stores ridiculously inflate the prices of pieces in their "vintage"* section**. While we have discussed the freak economics of resale clothing in the past, this sort of "keeping up with the joneses" of thrift stores pretty much ruins much of what is so exciting about thrifting.
One such store was the second Fox Valley Thrift Shoppe we visited during our BLACK FRIDAY THRIFTING trip. I ended up trying on approximately a fourth of their vintage section, but only came way with this piece, partially because some pieces didn't fit, and partially because most of the prices I couldn't justify paying. I did throw down $13 for this number, however, because it has an amazing fit, has very little damage to it (only a small hole in the armpit), is made of great fabric and is rather unique with the weird painterly floral sash thing going on.
That is the problem with thrifting—even though $13 is a HUGE amount of money to spend on one piece, sometimes you will find something that you can't justify passing up. Passing on a great piece becomes even more difficult when you figure in the fact that this dress would cost much more than that at any number of vintage resale shops. So, it is a win-win.
I was going to wear this to my work holiday party, with a lot of Amy Winehouse-style make-up, but the huge snowstorm a few weeks back squashed that dream. Now I might just have to settle for debuting it at something a bit more classy, like a key party at my friends Sarah and Tim's new mid century modern house.
*I say "vintage" in quotes because these sections often also include large amounts of clothing that mimics the traditional dress of various immigrant populations in which ever area you are thrifting in.
**Jury's still out on whether or not a thrift store having a "vintage section" is positive or negative. Thoughts on this?
Monday, December 20, 2010
I was but a young woman in the full throes of my fashion internship during my first summer in fashion school. I of course made the unconventional decision to intern with the design collective threeasfour, Chinatown’s very own space cowboys. In retrospect, this was perhaps not the most career-savvy internship decision, but by far the most fun one.
Threeasfour are without a doubt some of the most innovative designers out there, and there was much innovation happening on a day-by-day basis in their studio. Some of that innovation had to do with creative exploration, while some had to do with supply shortage.
I was instructed to make a sample of a signature threeasfour kimono robe pattern with curvy seams and rounded sleeves, in silk charmeuse. I forget why exactly. Upon looking through the fabric room, I found that there was not enough yardage of a single color/pattern of silk charmeuse to be found. So I grabbed a skinny bolt of red and a skinny bolt of white, cut half of the pattern out of each color, and sewed the two sides together. The result was what I thought was a hilarious half and half kimono robe.
Then all the designers circled around, and I was a little worried maybe it was too wacky for the desired purpose, and I was going to have to do it all over again. Quite the opposite! The response was ooo-ing and ahhh-ing and an unanimous decision that Bjork would love the robe. I was skeptical, but flattered, and totally forgot about it.
A few months later I get an email from a fellow intern containing pictures of Bjork wearing the robe to a film premier.
My #3 top Black Friday Thrifting find--this black and beige half and half zigzag silk top--might not quite be Bjork-worthy, but it is definitely me-worthy.
Holly has already explored the values of color blocking as a design quality in her earlier Black Friday post, and all the same rules apply with this top. Between the boldness of the half and half color blocking, the boat neck, and the spiky stripe effect, there is a lot to love about this top.
And, call me crazy, but I find something strangely satisfying about looking down at my arms and seeing two different colored sleeves.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
When Laurie suggested doing "wish lists," I knew I had it covered—until I went to actually write mine. As I previously mentioned, I'd rather go blindly into a thrifting situation than focusing on a specific item I am willing into existence, so when it came time to condense all my thrifting hopes and dreams into a master wishlist, I panicked. It wasn't until breakfast time of BLACK FRIDAY THRIFTING that I was able to clear my head and jot down other items that I have been searching for.
Black cut-out booties
Cropped/shwide print graphic/phrase t-shirt (I used to have this yellow one I won at bingo in 4th grade that had "Jean Naté!" across it in amazing black script and I want it back)
Knit hat (large)
Long sleeved/long netted sweater
Black lace-up boots (à la Laurie)
Awful scoop-neck baby tee
Led Zep tee
Purple Rain (on VHS)
I share these with you because, I kid you not, the very first item I scored with upon entering St. Vinnies (and promptly walking right to the footwear section**) was my #3 pick: the black lace-up boots (à la Laurie, who may have actually found these first and passed them on to me (I was so excited, everything is hazy in my memory)).
Not only do these little boots fulfill a major item on my list (great footwear is one of my most favorite things in the world to find thrifting), but they are unlike any lace-up black leather boot I have seen. I am absolutely in love with the subtle variation in leather texture (plain, smooth leather and one that sort of looks like an uneven reptile skin), the skinny laces and the cut at the top of the boots. Somehow, they seem both modern (with the differing leathers) and Victorian (with the cut)—perfect for the Gemini inside me!
*If you are thinking I should just have one big master list, I have occasionally done this, usually around New Years or at some arbitrary turning point in my life. The results are similar to my daily lists, so after about a month, I usually abandon master lists.
**Tip: I always hit up shoes when I first walk into a thrift store because, as I mention in this post, great footwear always ranks extremely high on best thrifted finds. Shoes are also the easiest item to get through, as you just need to scan shelves, as opposed to riffling through bins or racks. This is, however, a purely personal preference, though it is good to prioritize based on your interests, values and needs.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Last night was my bookclub's long awaited holiday party. Along with the audio book version of Life, by Keith Richards, as read by Johnny Depp (don't judge), the prominent feature of the evening was a specialty cocktail called "The Christmas Miracle". "The Christmas Miracle" (now being served at the Roebling Tea Room) somehow manages to contain whiskey, tequila, and be red, all at the same time. Not to mention delicious.
It is in the spirit of such seemingly impossible holiday combinations that I give you my #4 top Black Friday Thrifting find--the party top to end all party tops--the multi-colored, multi-sequined, super shiny sweater!
BAM! Rolling in to a holiday party in this little number, which set me back a whopping $4, will surely turn heads. I know you don't need me to tell you that sequins are very a la mode these days. But have you EVER seen so many different colors and kinds of sequins contained in one single garment!? I think not.
There are flowers. There are stars. There are circles. There are squares. Every color of the rainbow. This sweater takes the trend of sequined party tops and fearlessly raises it 1 million dollars.
I hope that your holiday party styling options might be so blessed.
Friday, December 17, 2010
One thing that I can say with some conviction, however, is that I get a gross feeling wearing anything that is too little girly/frilly/catholic school girl uniform. Maybe it is because I am getting older, or maybe it is because sexualizing little girls is totally gross (almost as gross as grown women desperately clinging to their youth) , but I cannot get down with dressing like I am anywhere between the ages of 11 and 17 (ages before and after this are fair game. I mean really, have you seen how stylish kids are these days? I love it when they are all mismatched and look like a Skittle's factory exploded all over them). That said, there are some items in my closet which verge on the edge of "too innocent," but have made the cut (like this most adorable scalloped collar white button down I just got at work. As this one is a bit boxier than I would like, I am adding this blouse to my thrifting wishlist, should I find one to replace my new one).
Another item is my #4 BLACK FRIDAY THRIFTING pick—the red striped button up jumper with shorts.
I have been really into these jumpers with shorts lately, though it is difficult to wear them at this time of year (though I have been trying, with tights, tall socks, boots, cardigans, etc. etc.), when I just happened to stumble upon this one on my way out of Fox Valley Thrift, I knew I had a winner (tip: always keep an eye open at all times while you are in a store. You never know what treasure you might find hanging off the end of a rack at the absolute last moment). While "jumpers" can easily veer into little girl territory, this one stood the test, with the slightly boxy, button-down top; black dot detail in the pattern; and of course pockets.
I most likely will pair this piece with some black tights and a black cardigan at some point during the next four months, but I anticipate that it will be making quite a few appearances once the snow melts and we once again are blessed with warm weather (here's to hoping).
Thursday, December 16, 2010
That all changed the other day, when I was clicking through the Urban Outfitters website, as one does for whatever reason every now and again. That was when I stumbled across this:
My exact shirt! Kind of! But not really! And not just another sad case of thrift store style co-opting (illustrated brilliantly here by Holly). This instance truly opens up a whole new can of worms.
What makes it more complicated is that UO's variation of my shirt is a part of their Urban Renewal series. For those of you who don't know about the concept of Urban Renewal, it is a line of clothing where UO takes a bunch of thrifted/dead stock/vintage clothes and alters them for you to make them "unique", i.e. the lazy man's thrifting. Essentially, you are paying for the service of them somehow managing to buy massive quantities of vintage clothes that are somehow almost identical, and then individually altering them for you, in a uniform way, to make each piece "one of a kind", in a mass production sort of way.*
Rather than appropriating the design of a thrifted/vintage garment and mass producing it, UO is directly applying the appropriated design to massive quantities of vintage garments. This is an attempt to capitalize on not only the design of a vintage garment, but also the mystique of the one of a kind-ness of a vintage/thrifted garment. For this they charge $48, whereas my shirt was $1.
A particularly nefarious case of thrift store style co-opting, if you ask me. But I hold fast that my shirt is far cooler anyway! Cutting all the way to the collar of the shirt, as is done in mine, is far more dramatic a sexy than weird little shoulder holes. And it has pearly buttons. So there.
*I defend the use of this run-on sentence as being totally necessary to proving my point
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Which brings me to my number 5 pick* for day 11 of our BLACK FRIDAY THRIFTING countdown: Patriot Shoes!
Now these little numbers harken back to my "classic pilgrim" shoes of early fall, but are even more patriotic because they are made of sturdy leather (having sacrificed their hides to the gods of footwear, cows are very patriotic) and have buckles (buckles and other metal work basically laid the foundation for this country, along with hemp production, which was squashed out by cotton production, even though it is known that hemp is more useful and easy to produce than cotton, as well as having excellent medicinal properties**).
I can't wait to wear these shoes to any number of patriotic events, such as beerfests and civil war reenactments, mostly so I can show just how patriotic I really am.
*Remember when I told you that numbers aren't our strong suit at Operation Sparkle? Well, starting at number 8 of my countdown, I have been miscounting. Seems that I jumped the gun in the excitement in posting on the Loon sweatshirt. Have no fear though, I really am on number five now.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Which brings me to my #6 top pick of Black Friday Thrifting, the warmest coat ever, this $8 shiney black faux fur shawl collar coat.
First of all, I was pretty amazed to find out just how warm fake fur actually is. This particular coat is impenetrable to the coldest winds, while looking a hell of a lot cooler than those awful puffy nylon coats everyone else wears.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Why so much hostility? Well, while Ms. Marman was tramping around New York City in her crop top, my region of the woods has been contending with over 17 inches of snow, negative degree temps (without the windchill), and the collapsed roof of the Metrodome (Boo hoo. Guess all our tax money is going to go to giving a pro-sports team another new arena. Just what we need). Though thrifting has undoubtedly provided me more cold weather fashion options than in the past (I did, for instance, utilize this amazing boxy blue angora sweater yesterday), survival, not cuteness, becomes a priority when it is so dangerously cold out. When this happens, outfits begin to err on the side of lumpy dump, not chic, but I am trying.
So while we have been digging out cars and moving them from one unplowed side of the street to the next, forging paths through three foot high snowdrifts (in the city) and slapping each others' thighs in feeble attempts to prevent frostbite, I have been longing for warm weather dressing. All which brings me to my #5 find: the strappy floral vintage dress.
Check out the bunching by the nape of the neck! LOVE IT!
While this piece has all the trappings of a perfect vintage dress (fits like a glove, boning still intact, cute pleating down the front, precious floral pattern, handmade (!)), it also has some downfalls, namely the slight uneven fade of the fabric and a strap that I discovered had been reattached with a safety pin.
Now, working at a resale shop has made me much more aware of rips, stains, holes and other imperfections that often plague thrifted clothing. Being the sort of person who doesn't have much skill, or patience, with sewing, I tend to overlook these flaws, insisting that, despite my mother's pronouncements that I look like a "homeless person," it's just PUNK.
Laurie, on the other hand, having first been self-taught, and then educated at NYC's finest, is handy and ambitious with her clothes fixing magic. My point is this—while thrifting, it is good to have a realistic picture of what you are either willing to put up with, or are willing (and able) to fix. As this standard of perfection varies greatly from person to person, it is helpful to have a baseline before you go into a shop. Doing so can prevent you from spending money on an atrocity that sits in your closet for months before you donate it back. It can also ensure that when positive attributes overcome the negative ones (in your personal opinion), you score totally rad purchases like this vintage dress was for me.
*At Operation Sparkle, we do not condone violence. We do condone recognizing negative emotions, talking about how they make you feel and sending out positive vibes. Pos. Tude.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Well, my persistence, as well as my seemingly pointless abstinence from robe wearing, have finally paid off. My silk kimono robe dream came true for a mere $3 at the Bethesda thrift in Appleton WI, making it my #7 top Black Friday find.
The effects of this robe have been truly life changing. I cannot express the utter loveliness of being wrapped in the massive yardage of silky softness possessed by this robe. The big, drapey sleeves, paired with the somewhat bizarrely bright pastel pallet of the floral print, make it the perfect combination of 30's movie star glamor, and secret-martini-drinking Miami trophy wife. It does however make it very impractical for dish washing. Still, I recommend one of these to absolutely everyone.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
There, is, however, a kinder, softer side to thrifting as well. Buying used items means that, unlike purchasing new clothes at the mall, a chain of ownership, sort of a collective sharing, has taken place when you thrift store shop.
As Laurie explored in her past post on cross-country thrifting via text messaging, one of the great joys of thrifting is passing items along when they don't work for you. Some people choose to hoard these items, which I admit, I have done at times. It is, however, much more rewarding to let those items go so they can be discovered and loved by someone who can appreciate them for their full potential.
Why all this sentiment? Well, it brings me to an item Laurie discarded which fit my needs perfectly, my number 6 find: the little polka dot Limited sundress.
I can already tell that this cross-back black and white number is going to be a major contender for Top Summer Dress of 2011. While it is a bit 90's, the cut is flattering (narrow in the trunk, flared bottom) and the small polka dot pattern, though slightly cutesy, is not nearly as girly and youthful (read: prepubescent and the original 90210) as many 90's prints are, which suits me just fine. Plus, the tiny dots remind me of the Milky Way, which reminds me of outer space (which is awesome) and candy bars (also awesome).
Friday, December 10, 2010
My point being, I was very upset when one such email a few days ago was all about the "leopard prints that we're 0bsessed with" (always with the royal "we", and always with the "obsessed"; it is maddening. If someone could forever disassociate the concepts "fashion" and the word "obsession" in all its various forms, I would die happy). I was very upset because I had already planned a two day imaginary-animal-print piece for the 18th and 16th days of the 25 Days of Black Friday Thrifting, and felt a little bit scooped, in the lamest possible way.
Except NOT, because this is IMAGINARY animal prints, much better than bourgeois leopards.
Here is part two, my #8 top Black Friday Thrifting Find; the imaginary-animal-print black and gold shawl collar silk blouse.
While I love yesterday's imaginary-animal-print because of how perfectly the pattern is distributed and repeated over the fabric and the garment, I love this one because of how ikat-like it is. In case you are not familiar with ikat, it is an Indonesian weaving technique where the warp or weft of the fabric is dyed prior to weaving, creating a pulled or drawn effect after weaving. A pretty ingenious technique to apply in order to create an animal print effect. Especially one belonging to an imaginary animal.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Here's the back view, because though it is the exact same view as the front, I wanted to drive home how amazingly awesome this sweatshirt is.
How amazingly awesome is it? Let me count the ways:
1. Loons. Loons, like Prince, are one of the few things that makes me feel the teensiest bit of pride to live in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 passive-aggressive comments, as someone (undoubtedly a Scandinavian) recognized loons as an excellent contender for state bird (vs. Wisconsin, which has the state bird of the robin, which is cool, but not as cool as the loon, and not nearly as cool as the wild turkey, which was what Benjamin Franklin wanted the United States' official bird to be).*
Things that are cool about loons: they have cool myths and stories attached to them (I am running out of room here, so if you are interested you can read up on loon tales here). Loons are kind of like your best friend, who is really attractive, but modest, and always willing to go grab a beer. They always make you feel chill and happy, and even though they are the smartest beings you know, they didn't finish college because college is for sissies, and instead they do all their self-educating at the local library. In short, everyone wants to be a loon.
2. The all over graphic-ness of the sweatshirt. Blows your mind while assaulting your eyeballs with awesome loons. 'Nuf said.
3. Perfect fit. I don't understand why anyone would get rid of this piece. Ever.
4. The innocence of magenta sweatshirts. I feel like I am in 4th grade when I wear this due to the color alone, but in a good way, not a creepy way, like the way I felt reading the Twilight series (creepy, not good).
5. Family values. You can just tell this loon family totally gets along and that they never have to listen to their uncles prattle on during Thanksgiving dinner about how rail systems prevent black people from becoming millionaires by working at McDonalds.**
*Not only am I upping my thrifted content, I also decided to include a history lesson with this post. Also, a truck bearing the words "Benjamin Franklin" just drove by my house, so it is meant to be.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Which makes my #9 Black Friday thrifting find this glorious animal print cropped tank top!
It might even be my favorite tank top that I now own, period. The terracotta color is fantastic, the imaginary-spotty-animal print is perfectly distributed, and I love me a jacked up hem line any day of the week. The tent shape gives it added drama. I will most definitely not be able to wait for summer, and will, like Holly achieved here, have to find a way to work it in to the winter months.
*thrifting blindness is when you have simply looked at so many clothes for so long that you are no longer able to discern between the good, the bad, and the good ugly/bad ugly.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
So with that little disclaimer, I present you with my #9 find—this totally gorgeous structured patterned silk skirt. I swore a lot when I was photographing this piece, as displaying it on a hanger does not do the shape (created by extreme pleats starting at the waist) justice. Rest assured, however, that somehow this number looks amazing paired with a tight, tucked-in top, despite the seemingly contradictory placement of pleats on hips.
Not only is the shape of this skirt amazing (and unprecedented in my wardrobe), but the silk fabric and gold floral/leaf pattern on black background earns this piece extra points.
Add to all those attributes the fact that this skirt was actually the bottom half of a two-piece set, the top half of which is this almost as equally amazing cropped coat and you can see why this piece received the top 9 spot in my countdown.
Now, you may be asking yourself why I didn't just post the whole suit as my number nine pick, but doing so would overshadow one of the major revelations I had during our BLACK FRIDAY THRIFTING excursion: that I have been grossly overlooking the women's suit section and all its glory. The beauty of the women's suit section is this—you get two pieces for the price of one! When you are shopping at a thrift shop like St. Vinnies, that equates to two amazing articles of clothing for $3! That is $1.50 each! Since I am not a biz casual dresser, each of these pieces is like a separate little treat for me to eat—the possibilities of which are practically endless!
Twice as much fun, for half the cost. Clearly a win-win!
Sunday, December 5, 2010
When I saw this pretty little top sitting by itself on the rack near the dressing rooms, clearly already discovered and discarded by someone else, I first noticed the zipper. What a crazy detail on such a frou frou blouse! But for the love of God it's pink. Not only is it pink but it is pink AND ruffled. The zipper might just cancel those two things out though....maybe.
So went my stream of consciousness. In the end, I figured I was obligated to at least try it on, as it fulfills two of my wishlist items: #4 "color", and #5 "dramatic blouses".
When I emerged from the fitting room to show it to Holly and get some feedback, her reaction was very positive. Still doubtful of such a cupcake-y color however, I whiningly asked her, "But do you think I will ever really wear it?" She gave me a very stern look, and replied, "Laurie, what did you say about color?!" I sulkily replied, "I know, I know", and added it to my cart.
Boy am I glad I did! As it turns out, colors go with black, even pink, so I am going to live. And, as we should ALWAYS keep in mind while thrifting, it is easy and rewarding to take risks when your risks cost under $3, as this baby did. Here is to broadening our personal style horizons, without breaking our budgets!
The red and black button-down crop top!
While I am still on the fence about taking the shoulder pads out (the most likely scenario), this top, like my #12 find, wins extra points for having just the right amount of flowy goodness to it. When you add the cropped length...well, just forget about it.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
That does not mean, however, that we don't get VERY excited when we stumble across a legitimately vintage piece that hasn't yet been snatched up, marked up, and resold by one of the million vintage hawks out there. Or even worse, marked up by the thrift store itself, which has finally caught on to it's place in the vintage fashion resale food chain.
Which brings me to my #11 top Black Friday find, this fantastic West German plastic bead necklace, $2.15.
When I first picked this thing up, it puzzled me to no end. It's clearly real deal vintage, probably late 50's early 60's, fantastically designed, but the beads are not very high quality when you really inspect them. But for $2.15, it was still more than worth it. When I got it home and looked at it a little more closely, I noticed that the clasp was engraved "W Germany". There is also nothing quite better than having a little provenance built in to the mystery object that you find.
A little bit of internet research later, I find that West German plastic costume jewelry is in fact a "thing". Post WWII, West Germany was looking for industry that utilized cheap, available materials to get their economy working again, hence an industry of plastic costume jewelry. It is even somewhat collectible! That is a lot of entertainment and education for $2.15!
From a purely style point of view; this thing looks like it's made of ice. Which is awesome. AND it fulfills item #8 from my Black Friday Wishlist! A "cool chunky necklace"!!!!
Friday, December 3, 2010
As Laurie explored in this past post, one of the best/most difficult things (that is, having to wait to wear the pieces) about thrifting is thrifting out of season. Unlike new retail shops, which only carry items that are "seasonal," (though their dubious conception of "seasons" does not quite line up with Minnesota weather patterns), thrift stores, which do some seasonal swap outs, tend to have a little bit of everything, making conditions ripe for unseasonal goldmines to explode all over the place!
Now, I have some even more stellar summertime pieces to be revealed later in this countdown, but for now, I want to sing the praises of this simple, sweet tank. The color is one of my favorites (I am a sucker for bluish-greenish tones) and I love the slightly boxy shape with the fabric dipping in the center of the back and front. The embroidered flowers near the neck may be a bit grandma-ish but I think that the cut and color make this shirt one you would only see on the coolest grandma. And I am totally, totally down with looking like a cool grandma!
Another side note on this tank—I have been experimenting with layering, which can be a challenge in this erratic climate. Lucky for me, my workplace is rather warm, so I have more options than wearing bulky sweaters at all times.
The other day I took this silk taupe top and wore it with a striped cardigan, jeans and a big blue scarf. I felt very chic, which is rare during this time of year, and I think the secret is layering with these flowy tanks—so maybe this teal one has a place in my wintertime wardrobe after all!
Thursday, December 2, 2010
What a relief! Despite my anxiety surrounding my Horoscope (and yes, two flat tires, on two seperate cars), Black Friday was a success, to be sure. I would like to celebrate with this lovely selection--which I like to think of as a playful little chuck under the chin from the planets--a Celestial Sequin Sparkle Sweater.
This one pretty much goes without saying. I mean, it's a sweater. With Neptune on it. In sequins.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Advent calendars are really awesome. So awesome, in fact, that they are the model for the next 25 days on Operation Sparkle.
In the spirit of sharing our finds from the day which marks the importance of consumption in connection to religious observance, Laurie and I would like to present you with THE 25 DAYS OF BLACK FRIDAY THRIFTING. Over the next 25 days, we will be sharing our top finds from our very successful third annual Black Friday thrifting endeavor. It was a big one, folks, especially considering the fact that it involved not one, but two, flat tires (we have not yet ruled out sabotage), as well as a brand new convert to Black Friday/Green Bay thrifting, my brother's girlfriend, Molly, who we are hoping will join us sometime with a guest post about her experience.
That said, I present you with my #12 top find, one which falls under #3 on my Wish List:
A merino wool sweater!
This small men's sweater fits like a gem and might not look like much, but the brownish maroon color is so deep and wonderful that I feel like a very intelligent professor/author hanging out at a North Woods cabin as soon as I slip it on. As Laurie explored in this post on menswear sweaters, this section can be a goldmine for women as well, though it is a rarity to find one that is on the smaller side (if you are looking for a large, over-sized sweater, however, those can be found in abundance). Perfect for biking and other winter outdoor activities! Success!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Now, this could be potentially devastating if it were true. Holly, however, has somewhat effectively reassured me that this is most certainly referring to conventional Black Friday shopping, and not thrifting. I should hope that the planetary forces that control my very existence can discern between the subversive art of thrifting and the barbaric practice of flash sales and mall shopping. If not? Well, then, we are all in trouble.
Now on to my list. I do have a strong belief in being able to will things in to existence when thrifting. This involves possessing such a vivid picture of the desired object in ones head, that you effectively will yourself into finding it. It has happened to me before, and it is in that spirit that I create this list.
1: Of the utmost importance; I am in serious, serious need of some super cross functional, wearable, NYC-street-walkable, black pumps. It is unbelievable that I have survived this long without such a thing. The lack of such footwear is in fact such a handicap to my wardrobe, I just might cave and buy them new if I fail to find them this coming Friday. I hope it doesn't have to come to that.
2: Also embarrassing to admit; I have not figured out what the hell to wear with this amazing long velvet skirt I found last month. Any way that I style it I either look way too formal, or like a "70's Saturday Night Live Cast Member", according to my boyfriend. Not that that's a bad thing, just not exactly what I'm after. I don't think. Anyway, I need to find the holy grail top that makes this skirt sing that way that it deserves to.
3: In the realm of the super specific, a pair of crushed velvet platform shoes. I saw a pair a few weeks ago that were so perfect, but they were too small of course. I know this is a long shot, but a girl can dream.
4: COLOR. I was once told by a professor in fashion school that I was "color phobic". I am aware that this is rather true. My color phobia gets especially bad at this time of year, when I inevitably conclude that the easiest way to wear so many clothes and have them all coordinate is to wear all black. But it is only the beginning of the cold winter months, and I'm already getting black-ed out. I definitely need some color to punctuate the darkness of my wardrobe.
5: Dramatic blouses
6: Metallic anything and everything
7: A new winter scarf/ some patterned woven scarves in motifs that I will actually wear. I have nine million scarves but they seem to all be too colorful or too cheesy or to pagmina-purchased-in-Chinatown and I never wear any of them. Or wear then with a little shame. I know I can do better than that.
8: A cool chunky necklace. I will leave that one that open. Such bracelets would be lovely too.
And here is the official itinerary:
1) 9:30-11:00 SVDP (St. Vincent de Paul. The largest in the country) Green Bay
2) 11:15-12:15 Kroll's East (for crucial cheese curd/ butter burger break)
3)12:30-1:30 Fox Valley Thrift Green Bay
transit time to Appleton 1:30-2:30 with douchbag shopper traffic
4) 2:30-4:00 Fox Valley thrift in Appleton
5) 4:30-6:00 (hopefully later) SVDP Appleton
BLACK FRIDAY does, however, hold a very, very special place in my heart. And I bet you can guess why that is. BECAUSE IT IS WHEN LAURIE AND I ARE BOTH IN GREEN BAY AND ABLE TO EMBARK ON THE BEST THRIFTING OF OUR LIVES!!!!!!!!!!!!
Seriously though, we have only been doing this for the past two years and every time, we have hit gold mine after gold mine. And there is something completely self-satisfying about knowing that while grown women are wrestling each other for 75% off copies of The Secret, we are finding our own awesome deals—deals that are far better, more exciting (and unknown) and a whole lot less stressful to get.
So...as we have been planning our third annual BLACK FRIDAY thrifting trip for months now, Laurie has, in addition to laying out a full itinerary for the day, suggested that we each share with you, our loyal readers, our hopes and dreams for the very special day—our Wish Lists.
As she may have mentioned in the past, Laurie has a very strong belief in the ability to dream up items and eventually find them thrifting. In order to find such items though, you need several things: one, a clear idea of the item you are looking for; two, the willingness to hold out for the perfect item to fill this void in your life; and three, the refusal to let the lack of finding such an item get you down and the perseverance to keep going.
I admit, however, that I am less skilled at this practice than Laurie. My personal preference, in fact, is to stumble upon treasures that I didn't even realize I wanted until I see them.
Still, it is always good to have goals in mind, even if you don't reach them. So for my BLACK FRIDAY 2010 Wish List, I am looking for:
1. A wedding dress. For real. I am totally into thrifting a wedding dress. I am also not the kind of girl that has been dreaming of her "perfect" wedding dress for years, so my only requirement is that it is vintage and sparkly. And preferably not white.
2. Cool, colorful (possibly vintage) hankies. It is winter now in MPLS, which means that my nose is always running. I like it to run in (eco-friendly) style.
3. Winter biking gear. Lots of wool, specifically with socks and long johns/base wear. A cool face cover thing that either has, or can be easily modified to have, breathing holes. Stuff that is water proof. Bright colors. I want to look like a crazy winter biking clown.
4. X-country skis and boots (not really clothes, I know, but I want them).
5. Black leather short shorts. I sacrificed the tan suede ones to Laurie. I am hoping I am repaid handsomely.
Look forward to seeing how we make out—we will definitely keep you "posted"!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
So, in a nod to my garishly dressed teenage fellow film buffs, I've decided to fashion my own outfit suitable for the viewing of HP VII, part I.
First, you gotta get some Luna Lovegood hair.* This chick has totally banging hair—her wild bunched mane made me resolve to start taking fish oil again and to keep growing mine out.
This crazy faux fur hooded coat was a find at the Dig'n'Save in Madison. The trim has gotten a bit matted from the years of wear, which kind of grosses me out, but as it happens, this coat is perfect for winter dog walks and biking, so it is totally worth the $1 or whatever I paid for it.
I recently found this great hooded sweater overcoat at my new favorite Salvo Army. I love the colors and the deer/moose pattern. Very hippie/fairy/pagan/wood-nymph-like!
This black longsleeved scoopneck Lux top from Value Village might not look like much, but I threw it in because going topless to the movie theater is apparently illegal.
Then we have these nifty accessories:
A light olive woven scarf like this one is perfect for keeping the draft out, as well as looking like you are one with the earth.
I admit I don't remember where this rabbit skin pullstring sack came from, other than some point in my childhood, but I simply couldn't offer up this outfit to the H.P. gods without it. And you'd probably need some place to stow your lip gloss and ticket stub (for scrapbooking).
I believe this necklace came from Unique and it is one of my favorites as I am huge fan of simple, geometric jewelry, especially in earth tones (pagan) like gold and brown.
For the fairy/fantastical element, this sparkly/lacy skirt will do the trick.
Again with the basics, but you know, it's cold so your mother probably won't let you out of the house without your black Cuddl Duds** leggings from the Halloween Bootique.
Of course, where would you be without your lace-up, suede, fringe Minnetonka booties (though one of the girls was actually wearing a pair like these, so I can't take total credit)?
Add some random knitwear, a wooden stick (i.e. wand) and a copious amount of patchouli and you are ready for some H.P. movie magic!
I only wish I could be/was this cool. For real.
*In doing a google image search for this photo, I found out that there is Harry Potter illustrated porn. I must be getting old because this shocked me. Here, I thought HP was a pure obsession of peoples'. I need to go scour my eyeballs now.
*Actual spelling. I know.