Archives For April 2012

If thrifting were my homework, this denim shirt would get me an A+. For months, I’d seethe with jealously as friends paraded around in sweet new denim digs from Joe Fresh, Mark’s, H&M, etc. I started to think finding a classic denim shirt at a thrift store just couldn’t be done. I was so tempted to make some teeny-tiny exception from my No-Mall rule, but I stayed strong. And wouldn’t you know it – I finally found one.

Speaking of homework, I feel a bit like an art teacher in this outfit. The shirt is old and oversized, and would make a fantastic smock. Additionally, the shoes are the closest thing to a craft project I’ve done – I painted them red with some leftover screen printing ink last night. So, when I paired these funky items with my formal vintage red skirt, I suddenly had the urge to start telling juvenile delinquents about Andy Warhol and Sister Wendy. I never wanted to teach, but if I did, I’d wear this. The students would admire my DIYed shoes and my trendy denim, yet respect my professional skirt and stern teacher-glasses. Everyday, we’d bond over art and literature, laugh, cry, then stand on chairs and get all Dead-Poets-Society (without the sad ending).

Silly day dreams aside, I never really wanted any of the teaching life. In fact, it was quite the opposite. But for many years, everyone assumed I’d end up at the chalkboard. Reflecting those years reminded me of a very simple lesson – don’t do something just because every thinks you should. You know how I learned that? I’ll tell you. Come on over to my side of the fence, Cory Matthews. I’m about to go Mr. Feeny all over this blog.

From a young age, I would sit at my kitchen table, cutting and pasting, drawing and scribbling. I always knew I wanted an artistic career, but I figured out early on that didn’t include teaching for me. My parents were always supportive of my alternative-creative-career-callings, but that can’t be said for everyone else I encountered. The closer I got to university, the more predictable the reactions became: “Oh, you’re arty? So…you’ll be teaching then?”. It only got worse when I chose a small Christian university, and paired my Art major with an English major. The resounding chorus became “Wait…you’re not teaching? What the heck else do you expect to do with that?”

Well, to all the naysayers from the days of my youth – I’m not teaching. In fact, I’ve carved out a rewarding career for myself that exists entirely outside a classroom. And you know what else? When I look at my fellow art classmates, they did too – one is a phenomenal wedding photographer, another is a photo journalist in NYC. Heck, one of my good friends went on to start her own Snow Cone business! The rest of the class is rounded out with account managers, designers, and art therapists. That’s pretty darn diverse.

In addition to all of that, a handful of my fellow alum became teachers – amazing teachers, actually. You know why? They wanted it. They didn’t land on it because they had no other choice, they didn’t default to it because everyone told them they should. They’re teaching because that’s what they were dreaming of at the kitchen table. I’ll tell you right now: If I had fallen victim to the assumptions of those around me, I would have ended up stinkin’ lousy teacher. I’d be aiming for Miss Honey and end up Ms. Krabappel. Teaching is best left to those who actually have the the passion (and the patience) for the classroom. Like these guys!

What’s the point in all this? Don’t choose a career because it’s what’s expected. You want to teach? Teach your heart out! You don’t? Don’t! Instead, choose a career that reflects your passions, not someones’ assumptions. We can’t all be Mr. Holland.

Sure, it might be a tough few years, and you might have to combat your fair share of stereotypes, but at the end of the day, the teachers will teach, and you’ll end up in something that feels comfortable. Hopefully as comfortable as my new denim shirt.

Party Like It’s 1999

April 20, 2012 — 41 Comments

Let’s talk about this dress. It’s pretty nice, huh? It was $12, it’s a French label, and it’s comfy. Putting all of that aside, you know the first thing I thought when I saw this peaking out from a rack at Talize?

“HEY! BUTTERFLIES! AWESOME!”

Not five seconds after I uttered those words, I had to stop myself:

“…Did I just think that? Butterflies? Really? Is it 1999? Is She’s All That still in theatres?”

After I regained my composure and paid the cashier, my mind went back to the butterflies. I spent the last ten years fairly confident I’d never get excited about butterflies again. That scene was played right out in 1999, and I made the most of it. I had butterfly shoes, butterfly shorts, and way too many butterfly hair clips. Butterflies were IT (I still know all the words to Crazy Town’s Butterfly. My dad can recite whole Coleridge poems and I can recite Hey sugar momma, come and dance with me / The smartest thing you ever did was take a chance with me. Terrible song.)

Anyhoo, the butterfly comeback got me thinking: what else from 1999 is on it’s way back? What’s already here? What never left?  While I welcome the return of the butterfly from its millennial cocoon, there a few trends that should probably stay buried with my Soul Decision CDs. If you are uninterested in platforms and sticky lip gloss, hop off this bus right now, because it’s headed straight down Memory Lane, accompanied by a wicked soundtrack of All Saints and Robbie Williams.

First up:

Body Glitter. Or face glitter. Or hair glitter. Or glitter of any kind actually. I vividly remember slathering my eye lids with gooey, sparkly gunk. Every time I blinked the dried goop would pull on my taught skin. Not a pleasant feeling. Plus I’d have to spend extra time removing sparkle crusties from my eye lashes at bedtime, followed by the intense burn of my Oxy Acne Wash.

Is it coming back? I don’t think so. I really hope not. Kesha’s doing her darndest to make it happen. But I think we’ve become immune to her powers. Although I just thrifted earring on account of their overall…sparkliness! Uh-oh. Curse you Kesha! You wily sphinx!

Inflatable furniture: I remember thinking getting an inflatable chair would be the BEST THING EVER. The problem was they were intensely uncomfortable, and a real pain to keep inflated. I had to force myself to sit in it, as I read Ella Enchanted and blasted my sister’s Sixpence None the Richer CD (most late-90s memory ever).

Is it coming back? I’m going to say no. I think that one has run its course. Unless you have a pool.

Centre parted bangs. Okay, this one is a little more subtle. Let me paint the scene: You’re just about ready go over to your friends house, where you will do nothing but read embarrassing moment stories in Seventeen magazine. You put your hair in a quick pony tail. You throw on your Sketchers. You’re almost ready to go. But wait! Your hair! It’s not quite done. You need to make sure you loosen your centre-parted bangs, and let them hang down the sides of your face, separate from your pony. NOW you look awesome. Let’s go to Bootlegger. Still not visualizing it? Who better to illustrate the dominance of this style than my two favourite ladies from 10 Things I Hate About You?

Is it coming back? Meh, I’m not too worried either way. 1999 hairdos weren’t nearly as offensive as stuff from the 80s, so we’ll see where it goes.

Celebrities with three word names: Jennifer Love Hewitt. Freddie Prinze Jr. Joseph Gordon Levitt. Rachael Leigh Cook. Sarah Michelle Gellar. You weren’t anybody unless your name was at least five syllables and had two spaces in between.

Is it coming back? Three words: Carly Rae Jepsen.

There are just a few more things worth mentioning before we close the book on 1999 again. And I’m talking about dudes. Turns out we were pretty on the money when it came to the hunks. I don’t need to ask if they are coming back, because they never left! Someone over at Buzzfeed scanned in some amazing pics from 1999 teen magazines. To all my fellow ’99 teenagers, high-five for good taste! Our crushes have aged like fine wine! Also, they call Joseph Gordon Levitt “Joey”. Cute.

Oh…with a few exceptions:

Yuck.

Still though, even Fred Durst’s stupid hat and Kid Rock’s unwashed hair can’t sully the legacy of 1999. It was a simpler time, when everything tasted like vanilla icing and Claire’s was a plastic paradise; a time without bald Britney or American Idol. And you know what? If butterflies mean a little more of ’99 sneaking back in style, I’ll welcome it with open arms, covered in temporary tattoos and WWJD bracelets.

If you’re still hankering for more ’99 trends, some blessed soul uploaded an entire 1999 Delia’s catalog. It’s bursting with camouflage, cargo pants, jelly sandals, Hawaiian shorts and so much more. Recommended musical accompaniment: This song. Unlike Crazytown, I still think it’s amazing. You’re welcome.

Spring Fling

April 16, 2012 — 22 Comments

Can we all just take a minute and reflect on the wonder that is spring time? The mornings are crisp and cool, the afternoons are warm and breezy, and beautiful buds all over the place are emerging from their winter sleep. It’s also the one season that allows me to wear this outfit without discomfort or peculiar glances. You see, this outfit is from two worlds. The top is a summery, sheer blouse. The bottom is a heavy, wintery wool. These two star-crossed lovers only get to hang out in the short, sweet months of spring. What a romance!

If I had worn this blouse two months ago, I’d get corny jokes about not checking the weather report. If I wear this skirt two months from now, well, frankly it wouldn’t be very comfortable. This is an outfit that can exist solely in these perfect months between winter and summer, like daffodils, or May sweeps TV!

So, it’s warm enough for a Hawaiian luau on the top, but cool enough for a Joan Holloway Christmas party on the bottom. Here are a few other springtime benefits:

  • It’s warm enough to enjoy the blooming magnolias, but cool enough that I don’t have address the garbage left over from a feisty raccoon attack, currently covered up by a whack of soggy leaves.
  • It’s warm enough that I don’t have to wear nylons, but cool enough that I don’t have to shave higher than my knee (oh, who am I kidding, do I ever?).
  • It’s warm enough that I might actually go for a run, but cool enough to avoid looking like a sweaty dog 10 minutes in. However, this could also be perceived as a negative , as my “poor weather – can’t exercise” line may no longer work. Although I swear my “bad ankle” is acting up these days – I blame it on the rain.

Oh. It’s been a while since I got really braggy about my cheaper-than-cheap finds, so I need to tell you the most expensive thing I’m wearing is the $6 shoes. Everything else was $3.50 or less. That’s how we do. This outfit may come and go, but I’ll be going hot n’ heavy with those prices for life.

Note: This post was originally commissioned for Vanagan Champion (www.AmyMorby.com), and published on April, 2012:

Hello my friends! My name is Julie, and I run a little thrift fashion blog called We So Thrifty. In short, thrifting is one of the constants in my life, and so I write about it. For years, my closet has slowly, surely, been drifting away from brand-new mall items to pre-loved, pre-worn thrifted pieces. Well, whether you call it a whim or a resolution, on a January night not so long ago I made a pledge to break up with the mall completely for one whole year. I look an oath, I made some rules, and I even made a button. I was unofficially hovering around this decision for so long it was time to end the relationship completely. My motivations were simple: all my favourite, best-quality pieces came from thrift stores, and all the cheap impulse buys I regretted immediately came from the mall. It was time to cut out bad stuff entirely.

I’m just past the 4-month anniversary of my break-up, and these past few months have not only reaffirmed my decision to try out a year-long mall-fast, it’s made me believe I may never need the mall again. Here are a few of the reasons I have no regrets.

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Discovering a personal style: I’ve always appreciated clothing. I’ve always enjoyed getting dressed. But only since taking this pledge have I really developed a personal style. I can identify one major reason for this: when I thrift shop, it’s 100% up to me to decide what I like and what I don’t. When I went to the mall, so much of what I could choose from was already decided for me. If Aritzia decided stripes were in season, they would cover the store with them. If they didn’t? Too bad. No stripes for you. When I’m thrift shopping, only I decide what’s in style . It’s not about what fashion executives deem on trend, it’s about how I want to look, and what I want to wear. It’s such a freedom! Sure, I have to spend more time contemplating what works and what doesn’t, and I read way more blogs now to glean inspiration, but it’s forced me to be creative, take risks, and have way more fun.

History: In a thrift store, the history of fashion reveals itself one worn-out label at a time. Not only are my choices in dress no longer limited by what’s in this season, I don’t even have to worry about what’s in this decade. I’m given the chance to rock shift dresses from the 60s, shoulder pads from the 80s, and everything else in between. In fact, my shopping adventure isn’t really over until I’ve Googled the label on my latest find. I love discovering my dress came from a pantsuit designer the 70s, or that my Christian Dior jacket is from a defunct line of office attire for the working 80s woman. I’ve learned more about fashion through thrifting than any magazine could tell me. So many stories to discover!

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I don’t know what size I am: I really don’t. When I was mall-crawling, I’d fret over moving from a large to extra large, or a 10 to a 12. When I’m thrifting, I start at the front of the store, and move to the back.  I make my selections by eyeballing the item and determining how it will work on my body. The peachy blouse above is from the plus-size label Lane Bryant. I also own a handful of petite items. So, I’m somewhere between a size 4 and a size 14. When you throw vintage sizes in the mix, things get even crazier. Jen at My Edit has a great post on this: It’s liberating to throw all those numbers right out the window, and just focus on what works for you. I’ve even thrifted maternity clothing before. Baby or no baby: if I like it, it’s coming home.

Stayin’ classy: It really bugs me when people assume thrifters are cheap. That’s honestly not my main motivation. Sure, I like stretching out my pennies. Sure, I brag about my steals. But I also thrift because it offers me quality. Instead of overpriced H&M and Forever 21, I get underpriced Betsey Johnson (like that wicked black dress) and Ralph Lauren. I really don’t think that requires any more explanation. It’s math, people.

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You still have your “Safety Brands”: If you took offense at my digs at F21 and H&M, I meant no harm! I’ve thrifted plenty of those department store brands. That white blouse above is a prime example: Zara, tags attached, $89.99, silk. I just got it for just $7. So, I still wear H&M, Zara and F21, but I get them at clearance rack prices every single time. Zara is so well represented at thrift stores, I now have six Zara items in my closet, pre-breakup I had one. Those six items together cost me less than the one item I bought retail. More math.

At the risk of sounding overly grandiose, this journey has been a life-changer. It’s renewed my passion for fashion (I am aware that sounds like Barbie commercial…), and brought back the joy of getting dressed every morning. If you feel inspired to join me, DO IT. If you’re intimidated by the timeline, start small! Try it for a month and go from there. Or, don’t make any sweeping declarations at all – just get yourself to a thrift store and start exploring. Whatever you do, make sure to tell me about it. That way, if I ever hear the mall callin’ me with her siren song, your successes will keep me motivated to make it through the year, and maybe all the years after that, too. Happy thrifting!

Zack Attack

April 14, 2012 — 14 Comments

WordPress informed me that I’ve now published 30 posts. It used an exclamation mark to tell me this, so I’m assuming it’s a pretty big deal. Now that I’m 30 posts into this little endeavour, a style is starting to take shape. As you can tell, I don’t post everything I wear. This is partly because I don’t have that many clothes, and partly because I only write about an outfit if triggers a post-worthy idea. Sometimes what I wear prompts a reflection on a childhood memory, other times it recalls a favourite artist of mine, and still other times the clothing itself tells an interesting enough story.

However, there are other times when I find something I love, and want to write about it, but have nothing of real value to say. That’s what’s happened here today. See, I found this lovely Talbots dress at a beautiful consignment shop in Belleville, Ontario. It was half-price, so at $25 it was my splurge for the month. I also bought this neon scarf for $3 at the same store. I wore this dress on a particularly sunny day last week, so it was accompanied by these sunglasses.

I wore it, I loved it, and I waited for the story to arrive so I could put it on the blog. Well,   other than the fact that I think this is a fabulous dress and makes me feel like the editor of a women’s magazine, nothing was coming up to the surface. So, I started thinking on the accessories with this outfit: There’s the neon scarf, and the sunglasses. The first time I wore these sunglasses, Matt called them Risky Business glasses, then called me Tom Cruise for the rest of the day. So, let’s review: I have a nice dress, some neon, and Risky Business. Thinking…thinking…

And  all the sudden, like a vision in orange and blue, I knew the answer. This is what you get when you mix neon and Risky Business:

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Unfortunately, this video had little to do with my outfit. And yet upon viewing I completely abandoned by blog and got sucked into the rabbit hole that is classic Saved by the Bell moments. And so I present to you the results of my research:

Remember when Kelly dumped Zack for Jeff? Man, that was sooo low. She looks so pretty in her Juliet dress though. You know, after watching this with fresh eyes, Zack doesn’t really seem all the bummed. He’s like “no bigs, wanna dance?”

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Or how about when the gang took off to Malibu for several episodes? It was always such a treat when TV shows went on vacation (like when the Full House gang went to Disney Land and DJ thought Steve was Indiana Jones, classic!). Anyways, back to Saved by the Bell: look at the chemistry between Zack and Stacy. They were formative in my understanding of TV relationships: If you argue enough, you’ll probably end up makin’ out.  It’s a fact. I call it the Pacey n’ Joey paradox, or the Seth n’ Summer phenomenon. For those of you born after 1990, you’ll recognize it as the Dan n’ Blair complex.

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Last, but most certainly not least, one cannot walk down Bayside memory lane without this treasure:

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That was enough to scare me off caffeine pills FOR LIFE. And gray sweatshirts too. Seriously though, that Zack Morris knows how to hug a girl. There there, Jessie. I’m sure a promising career awaits you. Who knows, maybe you’ll even do a movie!

Ordinarily, at this time in the post, I neatly tie back my tangent to my outfit, and post a few more pictures. I could remark on how even when dressed like a magazine editor, all I want to do is YouTube stuff, and maybe try to BS that into something profound about our generation. But I’ve strayed so far already, all I really want to do is talk more about Saved by the Bell.

Did you enjoy the Zack and Kelly Wedding Special, or did it leave you wanting? Did you also avoid wearing leather jackets for years because you were worried it would make you look like Tori? Should I do an entire clothing series where I pay homage to different Saved by the Bell characters?

…Don’t answer that. I’ve already made up my mind. Class dismissed!

We’re quickly approaching Easter. The Easters of my youth bring back memories of Lenten feasting, warm Sundays, faithful celebration, and loads of sugary confection. It’s a beautiful, joyful holiday. As a kid, the icing on the chocolate bunny was that it, like every major holiday, corresponded with colouring-contest season.

What a time that was. Every holiday, the local paper, grocery store, or realtor’s office would release themed scenes for children ages 12 and under to colour. During my illustrious colouring contest career, I racked up awesome prizes like gift baskets, a piggy bank shaped like Mufasa’s head, and an 18-SPEED MOUNTAIN BIKE! (still my best score). From time to time, I still relive these moments of victory, recalling the sweet feeling of Laurentian pencil crayons in my fingers. However, when I think back to my rise to fame, there remains a dark cloud over the origins of my success…

…I was a copy-cat.

Is there any worse accusation to hear or make as a kid? That’s a pretty slanderous term to throw around, reserved for only the meanest bullies and least creative children. And yet, my first colouring-contest victory made me guilty of this most-heinous crime.

The story: I was just a little runt at the time, all of 7 years old. There I sat at the dining room table, working feverishly on the Easter scene at hand. My older sister Robyn was working on the same contest. Robyn was 11, and a much more skillful colourer. I marvelled at the artistic direction she took with her Easter bunny. She slowly, carefully, patterned the whole bunny in thin rainbow lines. It was beautiful! Like any obnoxious kid sister, I stole that idea faster than you could say Cadbury Creme Egg.

To be fair, I didn’t consciously steal – I just thought hers looked so awesome that I  threw a whole crap load of rainbow on my bunny too. The problem was my messy, sloppy attempt at a rainbow rabbit was more endearing to the judges, so I took away the prize, while my sister’s careful colouring was left unrewarded. So, now’s as good of time as any to admit it – Robyn: I’m sorry I stole your rainbow. If I could take it back…Well, I probably wouldn’t, but I’m still sorry you didn’t win, too. Plus, we all know it wasn’t long before little sister Laura entered the colouring contest scene, starting stealing all the good prizes right from under me, and brought my career to an end – painful justice!

Why on earth have I rambled on about something that happened way too long ago? Well, I fear I’ve committed this same crime yet again, and instead of letting the wound fester for the next 20 years, I’m coming clean straight away.

This other story starts with some cargo pants. Recently, I thrifted cargos (not skinny trendy ones, these are outdated J.Lo ones). Af first, I fretted: how could I style these without looking like I just walked off military base or TLC video? Luckily, I had a light bulb moment: I’d wear these pants with my thrifted sheer polka-dotted blouse! Why, that would the perfect contrast of casual and formal – what a delightfully unexpected pairing! What a stylish juxtaposition! Go me! But before I could even put on the outfit, I remembered I didn’t really come up with this combo at all. That wizard of style, Kendi, wore it weeks ago, and I think I even pinned it. That’s how the combo landed in my brain.

So, Kendi, I’m straight-up copying you today. I don’t think I’ll win any sweet Lion King piggy banks for this one, but if I do, I promise I’ll share the loot. Luckily, in the age of style blogging, we’re all granted the opportunity to play copy-cat when our own inspiration well runs dry. Kendi reveals she first saw this pairing on Pinterest. A quick Pinterest search proves I’m neither the first nor the last person to pair these two textures together. It’s the circle of life, people! That’s probably what Elton John was singing about all this time. Oh, Elton, wise beyond your years.

clockwise: source | source | source | source

So what should we all take away from this? I don’t really know – something about acknowledging your sources? The need for adult colouring contests? Or this scarring image of Elton John as a Easter egg? While you all chew on that, I’m going to call it a day and chew on the plentiful amount of chocolate easter eggs these cargo pockets can hold. Happy Easter!

P.S.: Observe my nude peep toes. Liz Claiborne. $5.99. Salvation Army. I’m so happy I’m part of this club now.

P.P.S. (or P.S.S?): My mom is currently trying to dig up the photo of me receiving my 18-speed bike in a Tim Hortons looking like I’m about to cry. I’m probably wearing a turtle neck. It’s fantastic.