Monday, November 14, 2011

The Boundary-Pushing Velvet Frock

Now, as many of you know, the aim of Operation Sparkle is to spread the joys of thrifting, not to be some sort of snarky, cultural commentary blog. That said, it may seem off-putting to read what I am about to write, because it, so closely on the heels of my recent post "Gandalf, This One's for You," seems to imply the opposite. 

But hear me out. As I spend less and less time consuming mainstream media, the more shocked I become at what passes as "entertainment," otherwise know as "stuff apparently worthwhile enough to grace the pages of a national publication." The bar for what is considered "content" is ever lowered, especially when you factor in the tendency to boost about 99% of the material by attaching some sort of celebrity to it. 

As my co-worker said the other day, I am sick of hearing about celebrities. They don't raise their own children, their marriages always fall apart, they don't dress themselves and most of them are incredibly boring and talentless. As this is the case, the bar for what makes a "unique" celebrity is also very low. Case in point: Zooey Deschanel. 

Now, as I stated previously, it may appear as though I was taking the piss out of Zooey Deschanel earlier this month with my Gandalf post, but I wasn't. There I was taking the piss out of Hollywood's depiction of "dorky girls." HERE is where I take the piss out of Zooey Deschanel.*

And why would I waste my time doing so? Well, because just recently, as was brought to my attention by my great friend (and fellow thrifter) Jackie, she was interviewed for the food magazine Bon Appetit  (????why???) and made an incredibly insulting comment about one of the fabrics that I hold closest to my heart, an Operation Sparkle favorite: velvet. 

The excerpt: 

Bon Appetit: What's a girl's can't-go-wrong holiday party outfit?

ZD: A velvet frock. But then, I push the envelope a little more than most girls.


Oh no you DIDN'T ZD! You did NOT just imply that you are so quirky, and edgy, and special that you are actually being some sort of "boundary-pusher" by wearing one of the most classic and loved fabrics of the winter time to a holiday party! 

Now, it is, I admit, unclear as to where this "envelope-pushing" actually stems from—is it the fabric or her ambiguous reference to a "frock?" Now, if she meant "frock" as in "a robe worn by monks, friars, and other clerics; a habit," then yes, I would agree with ZD that she is indeed pushing some boundaries by wearing velvet religious garb to a holiday party (Baby Jesus would love that!). My guess, however, is that she meant "a woman's dress," which is, like, wait, do you consider Urban Outfitters circa Fall 2010 to be edgy? Because here I have my little black velvet mini which was duplicated and sold at UO last year:

Now don't get me wrong, I love my LBVM, but I wouldn't say it is necessarily "boundary-pushing" by any means. If one were to really think outside the box with their velvet frocks, maybe they should go for a shapeless, two-toned, floor-length, jewel-colored, All that Jazz number, like this one.**

If you were SUPER edgy, you would wear something like this crushed velvet, silver mini dress. Unfortunately, ZD will never be able to be as boundary-pushing as the dress' current owner, because it is a man.***

Maybe this is more along the lines of what Zooey considers to be really appropriately wild, because it has flowers on it, and flowers are, like, really cute and feminine. Too bad I got it to emulate the grunge look from the Portlandia "Dream of the 90's" sketch (? also very edgy?).

Two of the wildest velvet items I have thrifted I've since let loose for greener pastures, which possibly indicates that I, as it turns out, am actually not that much of a velvet-wearing boundary-pusher. What would be great is if someone would wear this blue velvet crop top with these black velvet overalls to a holiday party. Now that is what I call a holiday party staple! 

Still, I always have my prince/Prince-inspired purple, crushed velvet vest. Holiday outfit, here I come! 

*NOTE: This post isn't meant to be an attack merely on Zooey Deschanel saying something stupid (we all say stupid things) and the magazine printing it. It is meant, instead, to draw attention to how LAME our society has gotten—to the point where it becomes acceptable to equate "envelope-pushing" in fashion to wearing a velvet dress to a holiday party. 

**FULL DISCLOSURE: I actually forgot I had this dress as it has been sitting in some bag in my basement awaiting a modification session, along with about 25 other items I have purchased over the years with the intent to "do something" with them. If anything though, I am all that more motivated to wear it as it actually is if only to push some envelopes. 

***I'd love to see ZD and Jake Thompson, who I traded this dress to for a series of boxy, over sized black tshirts featuring wolves and soaring eagles, go head-to-head in an edgy dress off. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

UPDATE: A Rock and a Hard Place

I just wanted you all to know that after much contemplation and reflection, I have decided to replace my rock. Luckily, we have this rock shop in MPLS called ZRS Fossils that was able to supply me with a replacement rock.

I also got this nifty little info card that explains the properties of labradorite, which include "enhances magical experience via telepathy, prophecy, spirit connections, serendipitous experiences, etc. Assists in finding truths in challenging transitions and life changes. Greatly protects and strengthens your personal energies." Now that is what I call a magical rock!

I also wanted to add that the little town which Fat n Happy's (and the resting place of my first rock) is located in is called "Castle Danger."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Rock and a Hard Place: Thriftin' the North Shore

A few weeks ago, my life partner, Chris, and I took a trip up the "coast" (of Lake Superior) to the North Shore of Minnesota. This was a pretty major get-away as it was the first time in the six and a half years that we have been dating where we took a trip just the two of us. Needless to say, expectations were high.

Initial expectations included some thrifting on the way up north, which was thwarted by a later than expected departure time. I know, it seems pretty incomprehensible that moi would pass up any chance to thrift, but sometimes, when you just want to get to the wilderness, you just want to get to the wilderness. Happily, we discovered walking around the tiny town of Grand Marais on Sunday that there was a thrift store a mere three blocks from our hotel*. Unfortunately, like most thrift shops, this one was closed on Sundays, so I had to wait a WHOLE DAY to see what delights awaited!

Given the small size of both the shop and the community, I came away more than content with my finds. First, we have this unseasonable (that just means I have something to look forward to when spring comes again) pair of vintage highwaisted striped shorts. SCORE!

Then, the short sleeved button down sporting one of the most impressively insane patterns I have witnessed on such a piece.

The crème de la crème of thrifting in Grand Marais didn't come in fashion form, but instead in the form of old school pair of snowshoes I picked up for a cool benjamin**. This find was truly serendipitous as they had just dropped the price from $150 to a $100 and I had just been stating that some day I wanted to have a pair of my very own snowshoes.

With these finds in hand, I was feeling lucky. We took off soon after for an evening in Duluth, and, on the way, stopped at a rock shop (I am sucker for huge signs that exclaim "AGATES!"). There I found a precious little rock of labradorite, a mineral I have been coveting ever since Molly told me it had magical powers two years ago. Even though it was $7.50, it was beautiful, and I was on vacation, so I decided to treat myself.

Things were looking up. I had snow shoes, sweet 90's clothes, and a mesmerizing rock. The remainder of the trip I kept the rock close by, alternatively clutching it and cradling it in my lap, should I absorb some of its magical properties.

Then disaster, cloaked in treasure, hit. We stopped to get coffee at a little cafe/restaurant and low and behold, the second thrift store of the day!

Fat n Happy's.

Yes. I KNOW. Can you believe this shit? It is truly too good to be true!

And, unfortunately, it was.

As it turns out, Fat n Happy's was closed (no word on if it will reopen, but judging from the huge "FOR SALE! Be your own boss!" sign on the outside of it, things are not looking up for Fat n Happy's). The larger disappointment?

I was so excited about Fat n Happy's, so unable to contain my excitement, that I leapt out of the car and ran towards it, forgetting about MY ROCK. After figuring out that Fat n Happy's was closed and spending $12 on speciality chocolates, I was so distraught that it wasn't until we were about ten minutes away that I noticed that my rock...was missing. Ten more minutes passed until I, becoming increasingly panicky, was freaking out so much that Chris pulled to a wayside to search for my rock.

It was GONE.

My rock, which must have been on my lap, had been sprung into the parking lot of Fat n Happy's without me even noticing! Chris offered to go back for it, but tacking an additional 40 minutes onto a trip for a rock that may or may not still be in the Fat n Happy's parking lot was just too much. That didn't stop me from mourning my rock for the next day or so (it continues to weigh heavily on my heart***). The only thing that made me feel better was thinking that it was such a powerful rock, it couldn't be held down! And indeed, between all that clutching and cradling, I must have transferred part of myself to the rock, so it was only natural that it would do whatever it could to stay at Fat n Happy's thrift store, thereby permanently leaving part of my soul, a la a horcrux, at a thrift shop on the North Shore.

Not all was lost, however, as we did stop at a thrift shop in Pine City the next day and I found this totally amazing Woolrich patterned thick wool jacket, the only one I have seen to almost (almost) rival the BEST COAT EVER.

 Lesson to be learned: in the sport of thrifting, you win some and you lose some. But no matter what, be sure to keep track of your rocks!

* This wasn't that much of a shocker as everything in Grand Marais is three blocks from each other.

** "A BENJAMIN!? That isn't a DEAL!," You may be exclaiming to yourself. "I was promised deals!" Well, in the world of winter outdoor sports (something I have embraced the past few years to get through the season), a benjamin for old school snow shoes with bindings is, my friends, a deal. 

*** So...if anyone happens to find an oval shaped labradorite rock hanging out in the parking lot by Fat n Happy's, return information can be obtained by contacting me at (serious inquiries only, please).