Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Special Trip: Washburn, Wi Part II


Which makes this rather difficult to write (lots of backspacing) but hey, I realized that I haven't shared the REST of my trip to Washburn, and the rest of it is totally the best part of the whole thing. So, it is time for that. And as Chris says, "is this whole movie going to be Jack Johnson songs?" (to which I responded "This is not Jack Johnson" (though he just insisted that he "hates Jack Johnson" to which I responded "THIS IS NOT JACK JOHNSON")).

But! Wait! You are here for the DEALS! And deals I will share!

The most amazing, magical thing happened as Mary and I were leaving the ABC Thrift shop that weekend back in Washburn. We were traveling out of town, intent on hitting up the thrifting in Ashland, WI (which has always been a miss for me, and even more appropriate, was a total miss that day—by the time we got to the town at 2:30 the one thrift shop that doesn't totally suck was closed and the consignment-ish shop that Mary has had some luck at was closed for a "family emergency"), I saw this and pulled the car over as fast as I could maneuver.


What we had here was a building, right before the "We are sick of Walker's lies!" sign (complete with a vomiting (not so) smiley face), that a woman had rented out to sell the remains of her mother's estate. I am assuming that some other would-be profiters were in the mix, however, as I can't imagine that this woman's now-deceased mother would have all these goods at her disposal.

And by "all these goods," I am referring to the bountiful supply of pharmacitual-type products like the Listerine fresh strips I got for 75¢ (FOR THREE!) and a travel tube of Tom's toothpaste. (I am sure you want to see the photographic evidence of this, but unfortunately, I did not take the time to do so).

The most amazing things about this strange pop-up shop thrift store/rummage sale? The wicked awesome jewelry and FIFTY CENT purses!

As we have explored in the past, finding good thrifted jewelry is difficult. "Good" can refer to many things, but for me, it concerns quality and uniqueness. While the jewels I picked up were definitely the most expensive items I purchased at this sale (ranging in price from $1.50-$3.50), I am absolutely thrilled with what I came out with:

Vintage Blue Necklace

I love colors in jewelry, but I usually find that costume pieces are cheesy/a dime a dozen. This blue and gold piece blew my mind. LOVE IT.

Vintage Green and White Necklace

Kudos to this more simplistic green, white and gold necklace. I love how it is in the same vein as the necklaces I usually spot thrifting, but is a bit unique.

Vintage Drop Necklace

Mary and I kept talking about how this necklace is like a pair of balls. There isn't really a better way to describe it. It may or may not be fitting that Mary still insisted that it was "one of her favorites."

Vintage Pearl Necklace

This faux pearl necklace is a keeper for any of my (many) fancy parties.

Vintage Beaded Stone Necklace

I am so completely bummed that this bone and stone beaded necklace (which Mary kept insisting was "her [actual] favorite") broke upon arrival to my sweet abode, but I think I can fix it.

Vintage Crazy Necklace

I can't believe I almost forgot about this piece, because it is probably my favorite. I absolutely love the arrangement of the beading (I want to say "smocking" but I know next to nothing about jewelry terminology) and the colors. Totally badass.

As previously mentioned, they were selling purses for 50¢. As the nice lady told me, her mother "loved purses." So do I, and I bought seven. Here are my favorites.

Dark Blue Eel Purse with Chain

Deep blue eel skin with a chain (forgettaboutit).

Quilted Purse with Chain

A faux Chanel-ish quilted black leather purse with chain. This purse has apparently seen a lot of love, and I realized the last time I used it that I need to find an appropriate key chain to take the place of the current key ring that is attached to the zipper. I am thinking something super flashy like a rabbit's foot or an explosion of sparkles.

Color Blocked Boxy Top
Boxy Striped Green and White Shirt

I also came away with a few totally shwide t-shirts that I had to get if only because they were priced at 25-50¢.


And how could I forget the amazing mugs I picked up for 10¢? (the woman selling her dead mother's things was really embarrassed by the "bitch, bitch, bitch," mug, which I thought was genius (I love snarky coffee mugs), and got really awkward, saying "that was just in a box somewhere," which then made me feel really awkward, so I blamed my purchasing of it on Chris).

Forest Green Canvas Slip-ons

And...for good measure, the forest green Basic Edition slip-ons I got on the way back from our fabulous trip for $2 (Laurie got me hooked on these cheap slip-ons about six years ago, because her grandma gave her a bunch. I get about a pair a year, usually from Kmart and they last me the summer. Last summer I splurged on a pair of Toms, feeling all good about myself, only to find them fall apart within months. No thanks. I will go with my thrifted Basic Editions, thank you very much. ).

I think I achieved a drunk post! YES!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring Has Sprung, All Over My Skirt!

What better day than Easter to bust out a bunch of brand new printed skirts!? AND it's beautiful outside today, to boot. 70 degrees in Brooklyn! Although I have spent most of the day inside, regretting a tequila shot and striking an inexplicable interest in the royal wedding. But I digress.

Not only have I stumbled upon a bevy of printed pants while thrifting in recent weeks, I have also accumulated some very cute printed skirts as well. Printed bottoms of all sorts have been so bountiful, I am beginning to think that my summer wardrobe will pretty much revolve around them, which is just fine with me. Here are the highlights.

First, in honor of the day, is this impossibly adorable vintage Laura Ashley tiered pastel printed skirt.

99% of the time, I find pastel anything to be the most utterly barfable things known to man. But there is an exception to every rule, and this is that particular exception. Somehow this print and palette manage to look sophisticated for what they are, rather than overly saccharine. It plays with the line but doesn't cross it. I know you know exactly what I mean.

And yes I am 29 and I am not afraid to wear Laura Ashley.

Back to my normal dark as night color scheme, I bring you this great royal blue and black tropical floral printed midi skirt.

Anytime I come home with a skirt like this, my boyfriend inevitably makes a comment about how it reminds him of Natalie Merchant. He then promptly starts singing a song of hers, (usually "Candy Everybody Wants" which I had no idea even existed until such an occasion)* that remains stuck in my head for hours. I can explain this state only as one which could drive even someone with nerves of steal to murderous ends.

My boyfriend was also very excited to utilize a new vocab term, "maxi skirt", regarding it, only to be crestfallen when I corrected him, explaining that this is actually a "midi skirt". He has to learn somehow.

I really love this print. It is incredibly detailed. I especially love all the paisley-like work inside of the palm leaves. Or fronds.

Next up is another floral printed confection.

It's just all around good. I love the color scheme and the fact that the print looks kind of stretched out.

And last but not least is a skirt that I thrifted right at the end of the warm weather season last year, and hardly got a chance to wear. I am very pumped to finally have a second shot at it.

The awesomeness of this print clearly goes without saying. It's urban and edgy, just like me.

*This might seem cruel and unusual, but I could not help myself.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sheesh I'm Tired, But THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

Because really...Jake and I are going to have the best booth in the whole world, and if we don't win the "best booth" prize, I am going to seriously start questioning humanity's values (as a whole). Anyway, my general absence from sharing my totally rad thrifting finds is, in major part, due to the amount of time it turns out it takes to prepare for a craft fair (with the best booth ever) and fully complete a preview issue for a zine celebrating creative ladies.


Even though I should be getting some shut eye to prepare for the big day, I have to share this picture with you. It is Jake with a selection of our goods. There will be even more. And there will be, as promised, rugs to stand on, a mirror* to look in, signs to read, the preview C.L.A.P. zine to purchase, special surprise mix CDs, and, of course, about a zillion haute looks you can purchase for low, low prices.

So, if you are in the grand city of Minneapolis (hell, if you are in the grand city of St. Paul!), come and visit us! We will be at the T.A.C.I.T. Handmade Heartfelt fair from 11-6 tomorrow (this Saturday) at the VFW** on Lyndale! It is gonna get wild (we were promised a bloody mary bar. Things are really going get wild, so hold on to your socks!)!!!!!!!

*Chris claims this mirror makes people look fat. I think it is a really cute mirror and it serves its purpose just fine.
**When I was telling my mother about this event, she didn't understand what a "VFW" was until she exclaimed "oh! I got married in one of those!"***
***She didn't, but she did have her reception in one, and apparently she had a bitchy cousin of a now ex-sister-in-law that made fun of their pork sandwiches. Also, her dad was "very proud" to have his daughter's reception at his VFW. Miss you Grandpa Whip!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

In Which Sage Dawson Keep Showing Us Up, and We Love Every Minute of It

Operation Sparkle's favorite contributing thrifter strikes again! As if once was not enough to make us all rage with violent envy, Sage Dawson has returned to add fuel to the fire, and we are proud to be her chosen venue by which to show off. Lucky for all of us, she accepts face punches as a form of admiration and respect "whole-heartedly". I like this lady.

Isn't showing off fun? You should do it too! We want to see ALLLL of your finds, and we will give them an equally glorious platform to do so. So email them to us at, STAT. It's very important.

With no further ado, Sage's new set of finds!!!

Sage Speaks

Cocktail Dress

When I saw this dress in a local flea market I knew, no matter the price, I HAD to try it on. If it even remotely fit I intended to buy it and hoard it for life. I saw it far off across the market, then scrambled down the aisle to snatched it. Honestly, just looking at it is enough of a reward. Fortunately it fit like a freaking glove. It was $18 & worth every penny.

Who doesn't want a wool sweater with imagery of a country landscape? Just look at that scenery.

Pattern Wrap Dress. Check out the neckline & pockets. GAH, this is why I keep thrifting, only $5

Blue Floral Feedsack Cloth Dress - This was ten bucks plus I had to alter it to fit, but I knew I had to buy it because the pattern was too amazing. Just look at that pocket & those buttons. It's charming with a red belt.


$3 Rockports

$1 Belt with floral pattern embossed into the leather.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Confessions of a Thriftaholic

I have a few confessions to make.

The first is that I've been seriously bumming about how much I've been putting Operation Sparkle on the back burner lately—things have been so crazy trying to simultaneously prepare for the fair (it takes a lot of time to make enough glitter letters for our signs) and putting together the preview issue of C.L.A.P. (so it will be available at the fair) that I've been straddling a very thin line between being the most productive I have ever been and having a nervous break down. Things have been so busy that I actually had to turn down an opportunity to go thrifting with Molly yesterday.

Which not only breaks my heart (and spirit), but it also brings me to my next confession.

I have too many clothes.

Yesterday, Tara stood in my bedroom doorway, unable to get past the mounds of clothing blocking her entrance to the room, and again kept insisting that I was a hoarder. While I refuse to believe that (while Tara argues there are different kinds of hoarders, I maintain that a hoarder is a person who makes a habit of buying ten of whatever useless plastic item they can find in the clearance bin at their local Walmart), I admit that I have a slight...issue on my hands.

It appears as though having a blog devoted to thrifting + a job a resale shop + strange emotional attachments to clothing (like the stained, faded, once-electric yellow, American Apparel tank top I can't bear to part with because it was my favorite shirt for years and is connected to particularly found memories of a wild weekend at Fire Island with some of my favorite people (like Laurie))=too many clothes to count.


Here's a look at my attempt to organize a portion of my clothing. So far, I've removed about eight large bags for resale and donation and one for winter storage and I still can't walk to my bed.

So...what does one do in this sort of situation? A thrifting hiatus? I'd rather be dead. The only solution seems to be a re-evaluating of my fashion priorities. In other words, a good face-to-face with my style self, revisiting of my wishlist (add a long, embroidered coat to that, please) and figuring out what I want my current look to be. But I'm still not getting rid of that tank top.

Amidst all of this, there is hope. Yesterday, I found myself so exhausted from a day of running errands (nothing like waiting until the last possible moment to finish your taxes) that I decided to "treat" myself to fuchsia lipstick and black nail polish* from Target. As it turns out, they were the perfect complement to my, once again, strange gothy-spring outfit** that I was forced to wear when I couldn't locate the shirt and jeans I actually wanted to wear in the clothing mess that is currently my bedroom:

Patterned Crop Button Down Top

Brown and black print button-down cropped blouse (from the Halloween bootique. I love this top).

Navy J Crew Cardigan

My new(ish) navy wool cardigan I got thrifting with Jake, which is fastly becoming my favorite sweater (at some point in the day, I took it off and shook it in Chris' face exclaiming that it was J. Crew and awesome)

High Waisted Black Jeans

My black crack-finger jeans

Black Lace-up Boots

and my lace-up black booties.

This outfit, plus my new make-up, meant that when I got home last night after a viewing of the Wicker Man*** in celebration of the full moon, I still looked (and felt) good. And this, my friends, is why it is all worth it!

*/**I really don't know what is happening to me. Not even alt-rock loving teenage Holly would have willingly purchased black nail polish.
***The original film, of course. Don't be foolish.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Has Sprung, All Over My Pants!

Now that my out-with-the-old process is complete, it is time to get going on the fun part, the in-with-the-new! The weather is actually becoming somewhat legitimately warm enough, for brief spasms of time, to take some of these brand new finds out in to the world on their maiden voyages. And while the weather has been a long time coming, Springy finds have been piling up for a few weeks now, as thrift stores are similarly feeling the itch to transition out of sweater-and-coat hell, and in to shorts-and-tank-top paradise.

This also means that there has been enough spring time thrifting going on for some patterns (dare I say, trends?) to start emerging. One major one that I have been seeing (and I am aware is also at play in the "real" world of fashion) is printed bottoms. It is also no big secret that I love, and am strongly drawn to prints, no matter which way the fashion winds blow. Here are some of the pant, and pant-like incarnations of my printed bottom finds, so far.

First off, are a pair of leggings that might spur a cat fight between myself and Down Town Julie Brown.

How cute are these? Nothing says Spring quite like a skin-tight scattering of yellow roses.

Although I have got to say, in the different phases of leggings trends throughout the past several decades, there have been some strange fits and proportions. While it seems a pretty straightforward design--that being, tight--there is a surprising amount of variation. This pair, for example, from the 90's, is cropped at mid calf, and the rise is a solid 11 inches long. No one on earth has a waist that high. The overall effect being, short legs, freakishly long torso. Sexy? Not so much. Luckily, these crazy proportions are easily disguised by any top that is more than 6 inches long.

Next are some pants that I am VERY jazzed about. They are top in the running for potential outfits for a wedding I am attending in Austin in a few weeks. Let me dissect the wonderful qualities of these pants for you.

Firstly, they are big, wide, sheer, slightly cropped pants that look like a skirt. Secondly, they have this great big Japanese geometric print all over them. Thirdly, the waist detail is completely amazing, and super flattering.

As far as potential wedding wear, these pose quite a few logistical problems. Most obviously, they are sheer. Black leggings look cute underneath, but this is Texas, and that seems like a good way to be hotter than hell all night. So shorts? bloomers? hot pants? I don't want to scare any grandmas. The other problem being the top that I would wear with it, a silk ivory camisole, would require pasties. I have never attempted pasties yet in my 29 years, and to make my first go at it in front of said strange grandmas also seems dicey. Perhaps they are just too racy.

And last but not least are these great little printed drawstring shorts.

These are definitely one of my favorite Spring finds so far this year. They are comfortable, easy to wear, and even work appropriate, and they feature a style of floral print that one hardly ever comes across....

which of course means it is now time for some super fun textile history! This style of print is called "Half-Mourning". They originated in the 19th century as a style of print worn by widows once they had cleared the all-black stage of dress, and were easing in less bleak apparel. That probably being why you don't generally see these prints these days. They are actually a bit morbid.

Which is not very Springy! So forget that and focus on how printed pants are fresh and fun!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Let's Be Honest: Size Does Matter*

One of the things that we espouse on Operation Sparkle is the utmost importance of editing. Key to editing—being honest with oneself about the items at hand. This honesty revolves around many considerations that must be taken into account when deciding to go with the possible treasure you currently hold in your hands, or to let it loose, back into the thrifting wild. A major consideration is size. If something doesn't fit right, unless you can make miracles happen on a sewing machine or somehow magically change your shoe size from an 8 and a half to a six (I maintain that if I had one magical power, this would be it), it is usually best to let it go.

Difficulties arise, however, when a piece is so great and so close to fitting. These are often the pieces that I have the hardest time letting go of, and as a result, my closet it teeming with items that, due to their ill fits, never meet the light of day (or moonlight of night). Occasionally, I will break out of my comfort zone and force myself to suffer through an evening wearing a skirt that was way too tight to ever come home with, only to vow to rid my closet of it the next day. Despite such insistence, these items somehow cling on, until it is time for some serious soul searching and resulting closet cleaning. Thus, we have my next springtime purge piece—the pieces that, no matter what, will never, ever fit and thus must be passed on.

Now, there are some aspects of sizing that may fluctuate, though they often do in small increments. There are others that, no matter what, will never, ever change. The length of your torso is one of these measurements. I am coming to terms with this now, as I need to face the fact that this studded zip-up jumpsuit will never be able to achieve that classy, trashy comfort I long for as it rides so far up my nether regions that I may as well be sitting in a thong swing when I wear it.

Gold Studded Zip-up Jumpsuit (detail)

I have a confession. Even as I am writing this, I am thinking about my current longing for more studs in my wardrobe and that giving up this number, despite its crotch crawling tendencies would be a major mistake. Maybe I could just cut off the bottom and have a really bitching zip-up studded sweatshirt/jacket thing! Maybe, I'll have to experiment tomorrow and will keep you posted. But see—this is how these pieces stay on! They will never die as long as there is some truly winning detail about it that convinced me to buy it in the first place.

Update: I just tried this piece on. My torso has not shrunk but I still can't totally come to terms with the fact that I'd rather have this riding up my butt all day than give it up. It is coming with me to Jake's apartment to prepare for the fair. There the final decision will be made, deciding the fate once and for all, of this studded zip-up jumpsuit.

As I previously mentioned, the fact that we cannot change the size of our feet** is proof that man has serious limitations. As I spend a lot of time on my feet, and rely on them for actual transport (the fact that this seems to be the exception to the rule in our society is more than a bit disheartening), I need comfortable, sensible (and cute) footwear. Key to achieving shoe perfection is a good fit, so you would think that by this time in my thrifting career, I would be able to accurately judge when a shoe fits.

It turns out, this is not the case. As chick lit and romantic comedies from 2000 to 2004 used this subject for whole plot lines and the basis of most jokes, perhaps it is true that a woman can't say no to cute shoes! While my opinion of what qualifies as "cute shoes" most likely varies greatly from Kate Hudson's character in any number of her award winning films, I can say that I have, on more than one occasion, convinced myself that a pair of shoes fits when it clearly does not. Such is the case with these amazing studded back moccassin-style boots. I have never seen anything like them! I had to get them! It didn't matter if they pinched everywhere on my feet! I was wearing thick socks! They won't be that tight with thin socks (or no socks)! They're leather! They'll stretch out!

Leather Moccasin Boots
Leather Moccasin Boots (detail)

These are the sorts of lies I tell myself when confronted with footwear that doesn't fit. And again, as I write this, I am making a mental note to try these on tomorrow and make sure that, yes, indeed, there is no possible way I will ever be able to sport these puppies for more than a minute.

Update: As it turns out, my memory was tricking me, just a bit. The boots themselves fit in terms of length, but there is some weird pressure going on on top of the toes. Therefore, I am going to try wearing these a few times (short trips only, never try out a new pair of shoes for the first time during a long work shift or on a day that requires a lot of walking where you won't get a chance to change footwear) and see how things turn out. I'll keep you posted.

And now for a piece that truly breaks my heart. It seems as though rust-colored denim is not in the cards for Operation Sparkle. As Laurie lamented when a volunteer refused to sell her a pair of rust-colored jeans a few weeks ago, I purchased this totally awesome pair of shorts with the understanding that I would "have to lose ten pounds" to fit into them.

Rust Jean Shorts

A few days ago it was in the 70's, which naturally meant that it was time to start trying on all the shorts I have been itching to break out for the past six months. You can imagine my joy when I put on these rust-colored beauts and they actually fit! My heart was jumping little jumps of joy that for a 50-year-old may have indicated a heart attack.

Then I turned around.

Let's just say these gave the phrase "cheek chillers" a run for its money. While I have a rather high threshold for clothing decency (years ago, it was shockingly high), I have to admit that there is no place other than my bedroom that I would feel comfortable wearing this shorts. It just wouldn't feel right subjecting the occasional child or creepy old man to my cheek hangage. So...they must go (insert sad face here).

Similar to the jumpsuit debacle, I need to part with these most amazing denim high-waisted shorts. It makes me so angry that I want to punch someone, but for the second time, I tried them on and realized that not only is the crotch ride-age so uncomfortable that I would look like I was riding a horse if I wore them out on public, but that the resulting look from such a fit resembles a diaper. In short, even though the braiding on these puppies is to die for, I must come to terms with the fact that these are both ill-fitting in look and spirit so they must be passed on.


Not all is lost, however! I had in my mind that I was going to be forced to part with these hats, as I am unable to shrink my head (as far as I know). I just tried them on and they actually, legitimately fit (well, the gray one is a bit snug, but it will do)!!!!! Life is good again! Happy day!

Hat and fannypack
Vintage Grey Hat with Bow

*WARNING: This was one of, if not the most difficult blog posts I have had to write for Operation Sparkle. As Laurie just explored here, it is really difficult to come to terms with the fact that you need to give up an amazing piece just because you can't remove ribs or cut off your bosom (at least not easily). Please keep that in mind as you read through what pains me to write (and admit).
**Foot binding aside. I am all for fashion, but, as this post indicates, I am all anti-pain. I'm also anti-forms of female oppression.