Monday, February 28, 2011

Urban Outfitters is TOO Hilarious in Spring 2011

As we explored in this past post about thrifted styles that Urban Outfitters copied for Holiday 2010, it's no secret that the company has been successful in marketing a sort of young, hip thrifted style for totally jacked up prices. Not suprising, then, that one of the major new "trends" that Urban is touting for this spring is one that I was thrifting like mad last year—the nautical, color blocked, preppy look. In particular, the "St. James Regatta" "trend" is one that, according to the Urban website, is defined by "colorblock detailing, nautical stripes and classic pieces, juxtaposed with quirky patterns." Puke—any trend that includes the use of the word "quirky" to describe it should be immediately flagged as one that should actually substitute the word "boring" in its place.

I mean, really, check out the "cover" of the Urban March 2011 catalog:

Doesn't it sort of remind you of this:

Color Blocked Tshirt

(note: I've since cropped this top so it is even more Urban Outfitters friendly)

Or this:

Striped Polo

Or this:

Geo Shortsleeved Sweater

How 'bout that? A short sleeved sweater (perfect for my spring look) that also follows the Urban rule book of nautical themes and bold color? (Note: there is a sweater very much like this in the "Early Spring 2011" catalog that annoyingly ceases to exist on their website. But trust me, they had one like it).

A bag that would look nice with this "quirky" look:

Large Black and White Canvas Tote

And if my Bath & Body Works color-blocked bag is too pedestrian, I can always bring out my vintage Dooney & Bourke bag:

Dooney and Bourke Purse

And of course these (because long sleeved striped tops=french=classy=rich=what rich people wear=Urban Outfitter's shoppers):

Striped Top
Vintage Long Sleeved Striped Shirt

These shorts (including my green ones I just blogged about) would also fit the bill:

Sheer Shorts

Yes, apparently pleated bottoms are still totally in.

Or how about these decidedly preppy shoes I was so into last year (and also the Keds I am continuing to rock this spring):

Sperry Boat Shoes
Brand new Keds
Penny Loafers

These dressier sandals of mine also seem to work for the ladies:

White Sandals
Biviel Wedge Sandals
White sandals

Comm'on Urban—give us something to work with here!

On the plus side, however, MPLS's own Annie Larson, who makes amazing knit pieces with crazy colors and patterns has gotten a shout out from the store as being a sweet up-and-coming designer. That in mind, it's nice to see that Urban is at least supporting independent designers. So congrats to Annie!

Thinking of Spring: Bare gams are where it's at! Shorts & Skirts!

Well, "bare" may be wishful thinking for spring, but tights or light socks are always an option for spring time dressing! As it is currently in the freezing temps, though, the idea of wearing even somewhat airy bottoms is a frightening thought. Still, it is Monday and there is a whiff of hope in the air (after all, we are in our LAST DAY of February, which, as it were, is also the LAST DAY OF OUR GIVEAWAY! 'Like' us on Facebook and win HUGE!), so I present you with my favorite leg-baring looks for spring!

Vintage Tweed A-lined Skirt

High Waisted Plaid Wool Vintage Skirt

As previously mentioned, I am going to be rocking some highwaisted vintage skirts, like these a-line tweed and plaid flowy ones. I am not sure what is going on with me, but maybe it is because I now have a job where I stand and therefore wearing highwaisted bottoms is an actual option (as when I sit with anything constricting my lower abdomen, I want to punch everything as though I am a crazy gorilla), or maybe it is due to the collective conscience being influenced by viewings of Mad Men (which I never seen), but I am digging highwaisted vintage skirts more than I ever have before. Of course, this could also just be a sign of maturity.

High Waisted Vintage Navy Shorts with Pockets and Back Zipper
High Waisted Tan & White Vintage Shorts
High Waisted Green Pleated Shorts

And I know that this is cheating, but I am so EXCITED about these vintage highwaisted shorts, I needed to include my work finds (the first two totally awesome pairs), as well as my favorite green thrifted ones, which I have had for years. These green puppies are perfect for both play and work—I found them at a thrift store in Orlando, FL after drinking bucketloads of mojitos, and yet they are still classy enough to have worn them to my interview with Everyday People (and, as it turns out, my future co-worker Lindsay was wearing a pair almost identical to them! What are the chances?). While you can often find a large selection of highwaisted shorts hanging from thrift store racks, finding a pair that is even somewhat flattering can be difficult. My suggestion? Look for ones that have a least some sort of pockets on the butt, go for color and make sure that they aren't too tight in the waist. Because a tight waistband makes no one happy. And who wants to be unhappy—especially when you are rocking totally bangin' highwaisted vintage shorts!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Special Trip: The U.P. Edition—Ironwood, MI Part II

Even though we have been extolling the joys of spring (and summer) dressing for the past few weeks, it is time to face facts. It is still very, very cold outside. There is still snow on the ground. Most of my thrifted fashions continue to be the winter ones. For all of these reasons, I present you with the final installment of the U.P. edition Special Trip!

As you may remember from my first post about this Special Trip, my family went skiing in Northern WI during the first week of January, which gave me the opportunity to hit up some of my favorite U.P. thrift shops in Ironwood, MI. The most exciting part of the whole deal is that we were finally able to check out the St. Vincent dePaul that had been evading me for a year. Since my mother, Molly and I spent so much time at the Gogebic Area Thrift shop the day before, we were thisclose to missing out on it for a second year. In major part because of Molly's insistence, however, instead of heading right back to MPLS, my brothers, my fiance, Molly and I decided to tool around Ironwood for the afternoon—which included some lite thrifting at the St. Vinnies.

And the wait was worth it—not only were there major deals (all sweaters and coats were 50% off, with winter hats and accessories Buy 1 Get 1 Free), but everyone had success in finding
unbelievable pieces.

St. Vincent DePaul Shop in Ironwood

My brother, Scott, right after arriving at the shop and jumping for joy.

Even though the place didn't look that large from the outside (as is often the case that thrift shops in small towns are rather tiny), it turned out to be huge. It consisted of three large rooms, one for clothing and shoes, one for furniture and housewares, and another designated, curiously, for "crafts," which included this creepy basket of doll heads.

Doll Heads at the St. Vinnies in Ironwood

(Question: is blue hair for homemade dolls 'in,' or am I just missing something?)

Chris' Cassette Tapes

Also creepy—a cassette tape entitled "Contraception—Why not?" (still unclear as to if the title is meant to be negative or affirmative). Chris walked away with a more desirable set of tapes, my personal favorite being MTV Party To Go Vol. 2.

As you may guess, the real finds of the day came from the 50% deals. Even though one would think that the winter clothing would be picked over by this time, we found some major treasures.

"Shit Happens" Sweatshirt
"Shit Happens" Sweatshirt (detail)

A perfect example of why one should always being on the look out until the last moment you are in the store, Chris grabbed this "Shit Happens" sweatshirt on his way out and tossed it on top of my pile as I was waiting in line to pay. I mean, really.

Navajo-ish Pattern Sweater
Navajo-ish Pattern Sweater (detail)

Yellow sweater, another find by Chris.

Vintage Ironwood Red Devils Sweater
Vintage Ironwood Red Devils Sweater (detail)

This vintage "Ironwood Red Devils" sweater is one piece that I was initially ho-hum about but later realized it was a great find. I purchased it for the fit and the vintage-ness, but it wasn't until I wore it to work the other day that I realized the true beauty of its super soft inside—even though the piece is clearly old, the inner fabric is so soft it feels like brand new fleece. How the fabric maintained its softness and did not pill after years of wear and washing, I have no idea, but I am pleased that it did!

Teal and Maroon Stocking Cap
Teal Stocking Cap
90's Ski Headband

Nothing like a bunch of teal stocking caps and strange 90's headbands to beat the winter blues.

Floral Patterned Dress
Floral Patterned Dress (detail)

I usually refuse to give in to the temptation to buy poly pieces, but this dress with its amazing floral pattern was unstoppable. Between the cut and the print, it may just be my new favorite dress. What is even better is that even though it is made of a thin fabric, the dark colors are such that it doesn't look weird layering it with other pieces, like a slip and leggings, so I don't even have to wait for warm weather to bust it out!

The best news? I am now all out of Special Trips to share on Operation Sparkle, so that means I get to go on some more! Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thrift Off #2: Holly's #2 Swimsuit

Man, oh man! Where has today gone? I have been so busy participating in democracy, supporting locally owned restaurants, working and taking public transport that I almost (almost!) ran out of time to squeeze in the tail end of our #2 Thrift Off! As I could never leave a Thrift Off hanging, however, I am here to present you with my second totally kick ass swimsuit: the little polka dot (not bikini) swimsuit!

Now, I have to admit that even I have a hankering that Laurie has me licked for this Off—so much so that I actually considered entering the most vulgar swimsuit you have ever laid your eyes on, thrifted from the same bag sale in which we left a 6 year-old waiting at a closed zoo that Laurie found her second swimsuit wonder at. After slightly considering going this route, I decided against it, mostly because even I take our Thrift Offs very seriously, and also because the thing fell apart the first time I attempted to wash it (I do, however, believe that its remnants are somewhere in my boxes of fabric that someday I intend to use to make a massive craft project/cape).

So with that, I have an actual, real swimsuit that does really knock my socks off. In fact, the only real reason why I even considered throwing out the vulgar swimsuit for this Off is that this swimsuit is so much like my first entry. I actually found the suits at the same time, which leads me to believe that they had the same owner—the same super cute, but still sexy, owner.

Polka Dot Swimsuit with Butt Ruffle (front)


Polka Dot Swimsuit with Butt Ruffle (back)


First, we have the heart-shaped top of this little number. Like the ruffles on my last suit, the shape serves to accentuate my "thunder," while looking really precious. Because who doesn't like precious ta-tas (am I right?)? It is also worth noting that this suit came with a removable black and white polka dot strap that connects to the top of the suit and wraps around the neck, which is pretty adorable. If you are trying to minimize the adorable thing (which, in all honesty, is a bit difficult with such an adorable suit), you can remove the strap (as I have here, which may or may not be because I couldn't find it in my bags of summer clothing), for a totally bare shoulders look. As an added bonus, the top actually stays up, with or without the strap, so either option works!

And speaking of adorable, what more can be said about the double tier butt ruffle action going on on this suit? It seems totally contradictory—that one would want ruffles on their butt, for fear (oh the fear!) that it might make their butt look big (Jesus Christ, who cares?), but somehow, with this suit, the placement is such that it merely looks fun, flirty and a little bit dangerous.

So now....PLEASE VOTE! We are placing a poll on the side of the blog for your voting pleasure. It's democratic. It's cool. And more than anything, it is fashion! The poll will be up for a week, so you have until March 5th to vote. Also, only two more days left to win the awesome static print crop top leotard (say what?!) by "liking" us on Facebook! If anyone is curious, we will pick the winner the old fashion way—writing everyone's names down on a piece of paper, putting them in a hat and picking. We are traditional like that, and it reminds me of Bingo, which is the best game ever.*


Win me!

*After Parachute, of course.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thrift Off #2: Laurie's #2 Swimsuit; No Fear of Floppage

If God has ever created a single piece of nonfunctional clothing, it would have to be a bandeau bikini top. If you are merely soaking your feet in a backyard kiddie pool, it is impossible to keep your top on. The very motion of lifting a can of light beer to your mouth will cause the bandeau top to cave in on itself, leaving you with not just one, but two boobs out for all the neighbors to see. Not that I'm speaking from experience. Forget about actually swimming in a pool, or a lake, nonetheless the ocean. Stray boob city.

Despite their structural defects, bandeau bikini tops are hot. Perhaps it is this very suggestion of spontaneous boob floppage that makes them so, or maybe it is the fact that there is nothing more than a tiny, stretchy band of spandex between you and the rest of the world, or because straps are for pussies. Most likely, it is the combination of all these things. Regardless, there is no more brazen way to sit motionless at any beach/pool/backyard summertime function, than in a bandeau bikini.

With that preface I give you my #2 Thrift Off Swimsuit, this multi colored ikat printed bandeau bikini!!!!!!

WOOOOHOOOOO! Never has your Girls Gone Wild moment been so effortless to achieve!!!

But SERIOUSLY. On top of it all (ha) there is this most awesome of all swimsuit prints I have ever seen; a multi colored ikat effect stripe combined with super hero blue. What great, unconventional swimsuit colors.

The other reason that I love this swimsuit, is that I procured it while thrifting an epic bag sale with Holly in Hayward, WI during the summer of 2009*, when she passed it on to me because it was too big for her. It was too big for me also, but I knew that for this level of awesome swimsuit, I could make it fit.

That's right people, I personally tailored this bikini. Tailored. A. Bikini. From a size 10 to a size 4. A lifetime of debt for fashion school was well, well worth it.

*Holly and I will both willingly admit that this was one of our darkest moments, when we left our friend Sarah and her then 6 year old daughter at a petting zoo after it had closed, because we couldn't stop shopping a bag sale where everything you could fit in the bag was $2. You can judge. But that also means that this swimsuit was essentially free.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thrift Off #2: Holly's #1 Swimsuit

I have to admit that trying to get excited about swimsuits when it is 20 degrees out is rather difficult, but despite all odds, I tried. As it turns out, nothing gets you more pumped for swimsuit season than digging up a couple of awesome, thrifted swimsuits.

This beaut of a piece was scored during the first Black Friday thrifting trip Laurie and I went on. The swimsuit section at St. Vinnie's was chock-full of amazing swimsuits, despite the fact it was the end of November. This is just one of the fabulous numbers I picked up from that trip, and it continues to be one of my favorites.

I have to admit that I was hesitant to purchase a one piece swimsuit at first, as they remind me of children and how I always felt gross wearing one as a lifeguard back in the day. I also am a big fan of tanning as much skin as possible in the summer months, so having a pale trunk is not something I actively pursue when dressing myself for the beach.

Crazy Striped Print Swimsuit with Ruffle (front)


Crazy Striped Print Swimsuit with Ruffle (back)


Crazy Striped Print Swimsuit with Ruffle (detail)
Crazy Striped Print Swimsuit with Ruffle (detail)


Despite these misgivings, this adorable one piece changed my mind. The cut is such that my bottom is covered, without it feeling like I am wearing a diaper. Even though the swimsuit is older, the colors continue to pop and the combination of the print with the little ruffle is, for lack of another word, FUN. The pattern and the colors make me think of tropical retirement communities, which makes me think of, among other things, the Golden Girls, happy hours and golf carts (all which = fun).

I am also a big fan of the ruffle placement as it helps to make the most of my girls, which need a bit of help in that department. It sort of acts like a reverse push-up bra. Even though I felt like a slippery sausage while wearing my red Speedo back when I was employed by the City of Green Bay, I actually feel comfortable when wearing this piece. Perhaps that comes from the rather "womanly" shape of the suit—I never thought it was even possible for a one piece to be sexy! As I found, wearing a secured one piece like this allows you to let loose a little bit more on the beach, instead of worrying about a wave or diving board mishap de-topping you. Not only that, but the straps have three different "settings" to adjust their length.

Union-made Tag for Crazy Swimsuit

AND the suit has a bit of current sociopolitical relevance as it is union-made in the U.S. of A. (though I have to admit that the sizing on this is rather dubious). See what kind of amazing fashions can spring from the hands of union workers? See, Scott Walker?!?! SEE?!?!

Now, you may have noticed, we resist putting pictures of ourselves wearing our thrifted finds on Operation Sparkle. As I have never been a textile student, however, I have not yet invested in a dressform (though I am in the market for one), so the only way I can show you how my fabulous suit fits is by providing you with these photos, taken by my fabulous fiancé Chris. I mean really, it's only fair.

Crazy Striped Pattern Swimsuit with Ruffles
Crazy Striped Pattern Ruffle Swimsuit
Crazy Striped Pattern Ruffle Swimsuit

In addition to showcasing how wonderful of a fit this swimsuit is, I hope you appreciate the styling, as those teal grandma sunglasses are one such pair that has since gone missing (a moment of silence, please).

Finally, a word on voting for our #2 Thrift Off:

Thanks to the lovely Momar/Mary, we have figured out how to post an actual poll on the blog that readers can use to vote. The poll will be available as soon as the last post of this Thrift Off is up (scheduled for February 26th). Once the poll is up, it will be open for a week, closing March 5th. Voting is simple (no butterfly ballots here!)—simply pick which one of us you think has the overall best swimsuits!* And, as always, if you have an awesome thrifted swimsuit, send it in to share!

*A: Me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More Springtime Delusion: Holly v. Laurie SWIMSUIT OFF

As that little tease known as Spring prances off in her mini skirt and flip flops while leaving a slushy, snowy mess in her wake, we will continue to kid ourselves with THRIFT OFF #2!!!!! SWIMSUIT OFF!!!!!

This OFF will be a little different, with two rounds, which means more sweet finds! You will vote once, after both rounds are concluded, in order to help us decide who has scored the sweetest thrift store swimsuits thus far. I will get this OFF rolling, with a recent find from December in Appleton, WI. It is a fantastic plunging V-neck one-piece halter suit with boyshorts and ombre confetti print:

There are so many features about this suit that make it a complete dream come true. First of all, it is a one-piece with boyshorts. For me, this is the holy grail of swimsuit thrifting. There are so many cute vintage suits out there with ridiculous leg hole shapes that leave me feeling either like a 3rd grader, or Cindy Crawford in an 80's SI swimsuit edition. Use your imagination. The boyshort cut provides the perfect age appropriate balance of coverage and sexiness, being very flattering on the bum. This is major.

Secondly, there is the plunging neckline. It goes without saying that this is a plus. The usual minus, however, that comes with a plunging neckline, is that you run the risk of the girls flopping out at inopportune times. But the design genius who conceived of this suit had those (2) bases covered; the very precise cut, a little bit of foundation built in, and the high halter back, make sure that everything is secured and going nowhere. Also, there is the adorable knot and keyhole. All these details! Get outta town!

Thirdly, the print; a kind of ombred confetti effect, that is incredibly flattering. I love it because it is not the kind of thing that you really ever see in a printed swimwear motif.

And lastly, the back. Usually it is a trade off; either a sexy front or a sexy back, but rarely both. This suit manages both without looking the least bit trashy, and sport an open, low scooped back. It is also not see-through. If I had a nickel for every thrift store swimsuit that I bought, got all excited about, wore to the beach, got wet, and realized my suit was entirely transparent, I would be a millionaire.

Thirdly, the print; a kind of ombred confetti effect, that is incredibly flattering. I love it because it is not the kind of thing that you really ever see in a printed swimwear motif.

And lastly, the back. Usually it is a trade off; either a sexy front or a sexy back, but rarely both. This suit manages both without looking the least bit trashy, and sport an open, low scooped back. It is also not see-through. If I had a nickel for every thrift store swimsuit that I bought, got all excited about, wore to the beach, got wet, and realized was entirely transparent, I would be a millionaire.

I beg you, what more could you want in a thrift store suit?!

BRING IT, Holly!