Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Surprising NYC Trends: The Pink Pant

It's hard to believe that our NYC thrifting trip was almost two months ago! Since so much time has passed, I'm now beginning to reap the benefits of thrifting out of season—that is, my unseasonal finds at the time are now becoming seasonal.

Witness, if you will, the second of my surprising NYC thrifting trends: the pink pant.

When I stumbled upon these gems, it was so hot out that the idea of wearing anything more than an semi-attractive triangle halter top,* the kind Sookie Stackhouse would drool over,** was completely unfathomable. Now, by this last day of August, the nights are cooler and the past few days, being overcast and rainy, require long sleeves on either tops or bottoms. Thus, I am finally able to sport finds from my new pink pant collection!

Now, I've tended to shy away from the color since my obsession with it as a child. There was a time when I, unknowing of how gender norms are associated with colors, loved the color pink so much that when I was on road trips with the fam, I would ask to stop at pink houses so I could get their autographs.***

As it were, however, pink has come back into my life in a big way—with not one, but two pairs of pink pants!

First, the no brainer: bright pink Levis.

A bit baggy in the thighs, I first considered cutting them into cutoffs. Then I rolled up the cuffs. Forgettaboutit! The damage was done and the pants are staying pants.

Then for the real wild card—mauve/dusty rose polyester grandma pants!
I know! But I put them on, and wa-la! they transformed into hot grandma pants! Seriously, I have never felt more bitchin' wearing poly south of my waist. In fact, Mad Men or Kardashian***** trash style be damned, the real style trend for fall is hot grandma. Just you wait!

*Ha! Yeah, right.
**Detachable sleeves, anyone? Anyone?
***Uh yeah. I am fully aware that as a five-year-old, not only did I have zero concept of issues in gender studies, but I also apparently failed to grasp the fact that inanimate objects can't do things like sign autographs.****
****I assure you that despite this severe breach in understanding reality, I turned out to be a reasonably intelligent and capable adult.
*****I just want to tell you how pleased I am with myself that I had to google that for the correct spelling.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

If These Walls Could Talk, They Would Tell You How Boring this Hurricane Is

Hurricane Irene, having yet to make landfall in NYC, has already succeeded in doing one thing for certain. That being, boring the living shit out of me. OH MY GOD WE ARE GOING TO BE STUCK INSIDE FOR DAYS. Or at least 24-36 hours. And I am already going stir crazy, and am fighting what is surely a losing battle with myself to not start drinking.

Instead, for now at least, I am going to channel my frustrated boredom into something positive, like blogging. And making cream cheese-based dips. But first, blogging.

Since I am going to be doing a lot of staring at my walls over the next two days, I thought that I would share with you exactly what I will be staring at. And that is a lot of thrifted wall art. Operation Sparkle rarely deviates from the fashion side of thrifting, but there are oh so many other categories of material objects that can be exploited at thrift stores. Good wall art is one of my other passionate pursuits, and is one of the holy grails of thrifting, to be sure. It tends to be very hard to come by; especially anything that is actually art, made by an actual person, with any actual artistic talent. My boyfriend J (who particularly enjoys this category of thrifting, and is particularly gifted at it) and I have had some very good luck lately. We will start off with a bang.

J recently found this painting on a thrifting trip in Brooklyn with our friend Elizabeth. The story goes that they were both torn by whether or not to purchase this beauty, with a rather steep price tag of $100. They both passed on it, only to both be tormented by the thought of it over the following days. J cracked, and decided to pull the trigger. Only when he brought it home the next day, did I become aware of the fact that this painting is roughly 4'x5'. And by ' I mean feet. This thing is f-ing humongous.

But very special, to be sure. There are so many ways that the imagery could be interpreted. I like to think it is about pursuing freedom, and leaving your demons behind.

Next up, is what J and I briefly thought was going to be our Antiques Roadshow moment:

For a solid half an hour we thought that this was a real painting by a relatively known watercolor painter, somebody Margulies. It is actually a very high quality print of a watercolor painting by somebody Margulies. But for $10 at the Chelsea Flea Market, it is still a crazy ass deal.

We did still manage to purchase a real painting on that same trip to the Chelsea Flea Market, this hand-painted gouache promotional poster for a Kurt Weill Broadway Medley performance:

The poster advertises that songs from the Weimar opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny are to be performed. The opera tells the tale of the fictional city of Mahagonny, in which everything is legal, as long as you can afford to pay for it. It becomes a nonstop orgy of all fun and bad things. A typhoon approaches the city and threatens to destroy it, and everyone freaks out, until they realize that the citizens of the city are scarier than the typhoon. Think about it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

NYC Thriftin': Boxy Tops edition

As promised, here is the first of the "trends" that popped up during our unprecedented fabulous New York Thrifting trip (for Laurie's finds (minus the bitchin' sweatsuit she now lives in) and my "Wild Card" numbers, click here and here)—boxy tops!

Now, boxy tops are rather trendy right now, but it is a trend that I willingly, and happily, partake in. I mean, after all, just check out these jems!

First, the two Laurie passed to me:

A simple blue and white checkered pattern tank. So simple I had to get it. Why not?

The most "unboxy" of the boxy tops. We all agreed this vintage ruffled shirt with woven rectangle detail was something straight out of Girly*'s closet. Laurie deemed it too girly, but I was so smitten with my new misguided serial-killing fashion idol that I went there.

Then we have the tops I grabbed on my own.

Cotton? Check.
Boxy shape? Check.
Plaid print with pretty colors? Check.
Ambiguously long/short sleeves? Check.
Woven detail on the shoulder? CHECK!!!!!!!!

Finally, a "Come to Jesus" woven tunic style top. I love the details and the colors. Yum.

* Girly (1973), originally titled Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly, was a film we watched in NYC. I don't want to ruin it for you, so suffice it to say that it involves a psychosexual entrapment serial killing proper British family from the 1970's. Nuf said.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Gentrification Thrifting: Get This Old Shit Outta Here So I Can Make a Million Dollars

I live in what is probably one of the most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in the entire country. None other than, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (I abate my own snickering). The rapid upgrade to new and shiny-ness is a constant topic amongst the people who live here. What new businesses have moved in? Which old ones have shut down? There are more obnoxious condos going up across the street from the projects? You have got to be f-ing kidding me.

The pace is staggering, and recessions have done little to stop it. And as a lover of all things old, anachronistic, and outdated, it is rather painful to watch.

With that in mind, I consider these following finds to be relics of the Williamsburg of old, procured with blood on my hands, so to speak, of the old moving out so that the new can move in and make a someone shit ton of money.

Last week my boyfriend and I were walking to our favorite neighborhood bar when a man yelled from a doorway "name your own price night! antiques!" Amazingly, I was set to ignore him and move on to drink-land (possibly the only force on earth stronger than deals), but my boyfriend stopped me, and we headed inside. Through the door was a disheveled storefront space that had clearly, for a long time, served as someone's home. I realized that I had probably never even really noticed it before, even having walked past it hundreds of times. It was peppered with picked-over household contents, some genuine antiques, some the standard hoarding of an potentially reusable object typical of depression era people. The yelling man was presumably the previous occupant's son, and was practically foaming at the mouth to empty the space of it's contents in order to turn into some easy-money making scenario.

Mostly it seemed like only garbage was left, but I spotted a corner of musty textiles that it seemed like no one had had the guts to sift through, and I knew I was in my element. I started digging. This was my first find:

Some bright, abstract printed yardage. Not quite sure what I will do with it, but I loved the pattern, and surely someday I will find the perfect use for it. I always do.

Then come the clothes. The most exciting find of the night was definitely the vintage Diane Von Furstenberg tee:

Fantastic bright Matisse-y graphic zebra print. You may notice the dinginess of the white. All of this stuff was all pretty musty and dirty, but through the miracle of oxy clean, this t-shirt is now bright white.

This next piece is for novelty factor. I don't think I'd ever wear it, but it is awesome none the less. And afterall, I was naming my own price.

Very wild, very 60's floral print:

This piece I will definitely wear; a bright red terry cloth boxy tank, and it's vintage Original Penguin!

And all of this I got for $5, and the satisfaction of my personal sense of responsibility from saving these things from oblivion.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's Been Too Long (but that doesn't mean NYC's unexpected deals have passed!)

There is something inherently contradictory in how busy summer is. After suffering through six months of winter (seriously), the idea of summer is ripe with images of lazy days at the beach and backyard BBQs—a virtual paradise of chilling to the max. Suffice it to say that soaking up the summer sun is not what has been keeping me from sharing my awesome thrifted finds (just some of my "fun" summer dealings: cat peeing all over our bed while I was in NYC (she is such a bitch) and destroying my first "adult" bed I have ever purchased. A mold infestation in the basement. A heap of issues with the MPLS police department involving motorized vehicles, the least of which is a drunk driver totaling my car while it was parked on the street in front of my house. Can summer begin yet, please?!).

With everything going on (and yet nothing actually getting done, which I am told I can blame on the three eclipses that took place last month, followed by Mercury going into retrograde), thrifting has, sadly, been regulated to special occasions, which in some ways is a serious bummer. On the other hand, it makes thrifting trips all that more special! Not only do I feel less guilty about coming away with piles of awesome finds, but the whole experience in itself is all that more enjoyable—kind of like how x-mas morning wouldn't be nearly as exciting if happened every week.

When I was out in NYC last month, we decided to do some thrifting, my first excursion in the sport since Laurie and I hit up GBC on Memorial Day weekend*. This means I hadn't thrifted for an unprecedented one and a half months. Needless to say, the stakes were high and Laurie was sweating.** Thankfully, the thrifting goddesses were on our side the day we hit up one of Laurie's secret spots. Granted the prices were a bit steeper than in the Midwest, I still found so many gems that I had to find a bag three times the size of my original suitcase to get them home.

As it often happens, I noticed some trends that popped up after combing back through my deals. Lucky for you, my finds were so awesome and so thematically bonded that you are going to get not one, not two, but FOUR posts about the awesomeness that I found thrifting in NYC.

First, the outliers.

Not quite a piece of clothing, but a useful guide to both my thrifting and my actual job (please forgive the generic online photographic evidence, I brought the book to work to share with everyone and left it there, thinking I had already documented it.). Thanks to Lars for grabbing this for me. I've since been reading the book and am convinced that Terry McCormick was the 1987 predecessor for Operation Sparkle. Though her focus is entirely on vintage, she describes what we have termed "thrifting freak out" perfectly: "sky rocking blood pressure, increased pulse, and inability to touch the ground with my feet." She goes on to insist that "if the powers that be ever found out how much fun we are having, they will either make it illegal, tax it, or decide it's carcinogenic" (p. 4). So true.

A vintage lace print dress. Simply beautiful.

A classy, expensive silk shrug. While Laurie apparently went through a major "shrug phase" with our friend Cortney*** back in college, I have always operated on the pretense that shirts that go over other shirts and aren't crop tops are ass. I was willing to open my mind for this one, however, mostly because of the color, but also because of the ridiculous tag. Rich people are so enlightened.
Then we have what may be my most questionable piece—a short sleeved, Chanel-inspired, vintage, white and yellow boxy jacket. Originally part of a set (I, in an attempt to save room, donated the skirt back because it was nothing worth posting about), this jacket might be impractical (oh the conundrum of short sleeved cold weather clothing!), the fabric is kind of starchy and the whole deal too grandma-y, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say it is classy art chic. For the eccentric Upper East side grandmother in you.

*See? You know something is off balance when moi hasn't been able to thrift for a couple of months. Clearly, not all is right in the world.
**Though as it turns out, she found the perfect sweatsuit outfit during this trip, which I think all of you should harass her about until she posts something about it. Because it is that awesome. It has toggles on it. Just saying.
***A big Op Sparkle shout out goes to Cortney and Andy, who just got married this past weekend! It was fabulous and even more thrifting came from it, so look forward to that!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Big Thriftin': Holly Does NYC

It would be an understatement to say that I was nervous about hosting Holly Hilgenberg--my dear friend and the undisputed Goddess and Champion of Northern Midwestern thrifting--on a thrifting adventure in New York City. I make no secret of the challenges I face as a deal-seeker in what may very well be the most deal-starved metropolis in this country. I was sure that Holly, coming from the Land of Plenty, could only be disappointed, let down, and possibly disgusted by my fancy pants city's meager offerings. Could I deliver? Would the thrifting gods smile on us, or scoff at the futility of our designs? Would Holly tell me to F off and get on the next plane back to Minneapolis? All of these thoughts, and more, raced through my head. It seemed as though the very survival of our entire friendship teetered precariously on fickle fortune, and the one, and only, card a had in my hand: my secret thrift store in Queens.

Feeling like the shady drug dealer who had promised a junkie drugs with the possibility of their being no drugs to give, I took Holly to my, as of late, unreliable, but still favorite Queens thrift store, which will continue now and forever to remain anonymous. I could continue to build the suspense--did we or didn't we-- forever, which is very fun for me to do, but instead, I will show you this picture:

Have you ever seen someone overwhelmed with such joy, at the sight of a pink polo sweatsuit? I challenge you to find me that woman.

Holly will say more, in coming posts, about her experiences that magical day, but until then, a few of my favorite finds from our trip will have to suffice.

First up, earning the top spot on my list for the day, is this floral printed Marimekko-esque maxi skirt:

It is a fantastic-ing skirt, the print is completely incredible. So much so that I broke my unbreakable no-polyester rule for this skirt. Sometimes, gigantic abstract floral prints trump gross synthetic fibers.

Looking forward to fall, is this awesomely weird over-sized white blouse with open lace-work insets:

I marvel at the fact that not a one of these giant bits of openwork was snagged, a feat of the previous owner's, because those are some seriously big holes.

These printed denim elastic waist pants may not look like much in this picture, but they earned me a highly coveted "you BITCH" response from Holly, upon my showing them to her.

There is a lot of potential here, especially due to this great yellow ditsy geometric print:

I haven't quite decided yet if I want to keep them as pants, or cut them off in to shorts. We will see.

Then there is this fab golden-beige-y-tan-ish silk drape front skirt:

I could not figure out for the life of me how this was supposed to be worn, given a strange slit in the waistband. But after recovering from an epic blood sugar crash that afflicted me during the editing process, I realized that you can loop the tail of the drape through the slit and over the waistband. I enjoy both looks very much.

And last but not least, to wind up the first installment of my and Holly's New York Thrifting adventure recap, is this lovely little black and white plaid printed tank top, with scalloped neckline:

It is very cute in and of itself, but, textile nerd time, check out how this plaid is printed to mimic various woven fabric effects:

It is very meta.