Archives For October 2012

Thrift or Treat

October 31, 2012 — 9 Comments

Ugh. That was a bad pun, wasn’t it? But sometimes I just can’t help myself. I can’t resist a bad pun, and I can’t resist the opportunity to dress like a maniac and eat tiny chocolate bars. And in this post, you’re going to get a big dose of all those things.

(Note: In this picture I am both eating mini chocolate bars and I look like a maniac)

One of the first posts on this blog featured my 100% thrifted Halloween costumes from 2011. In Halloween season, people who ordinarily resist thrift stores flock to them in droves, like a hoard of decaying zombies to an unsuspecting group around a campfire (sorry, I can’t resist The Walking Dead, either).

I’ll admit, it’s nice to see my thrift stores so full of hustle and bustle, but I also get a little possessive. That said, I fear neither zombie nor man, so I faced down the hoards with a willing determination to thrift a costume worthy of another post. It took a little more time than my average thrift trip, and the end result is a combination of elements from Talize, Valu Village, and the Salvation Army. Since we all know zombies are best taken on with some back up, my sisters Adele and Laura accompanied me in this task. And we all ended up with some pre-tty fantastic Halloween finds.

Last year I went as Cruella de Vil, and had way too much fun making crazy faces and threatening to turn people’s pets into coats. This year, I stayed on theme and selected Medusa, so I could continue to make crazy faces, and threaten to turn people’s pets into stone.

My costume started with this sparkly, cheap little tube dress from Valu Village. I thought the pattern was reminiscent of a snake, plus: SPARKLES. I then found a lovely little snake in the toy section of Talize to use as a necklace, except he was bright orange so I painted him with some more menacing colours. The last addition was this fun vintage bolero from the Salvation Army. It has these great “evil queen” shoulders, and tassels that make noise when I shimmy (and I tend to shimmy a lot on Halloween). I pulled it all together with some green make-up on my face, Dollar Store snakes in my hair, and more bobby pins than I can count, and behold: the wrath of the great and terrible Medusa!

(Also, sorry for the blurry pictures – my Medusa stare must have damaged the lens)

Anyways, onto a different fantastical character. My sister Adele went all Babara Eden and put together a pretty grand genie costume for herself. It started with this hat from Valu Village, which she then ingeniously cut a hole in, so her I Dream of Jeannie ponytail could come straight out the top. She also found herself a cute little lamp from the VV housewares section. I was hoping Robin Williams might pop out and crash our party with song and dance, but alas, he did not. I have to take some credit for this costume too, as I did find her genie pants (which are awesome and billowy and sheer and amazing) and sparkly top!

Haha! She does the Medusa stare better than I do, actually.

Next up, Laura looked adorable as a retro stewardess. She thrifted this cap, painted it blue, attached a wee-little airplane to it, then thrifted the gloves and scarf, and borrowed my navy blazer to pull it all together. I sort of hate her because she looks pretty and I look ridiculous. But I made my choice.

A shout-out to my friend Amie, as well, for her incredible Corpse Bride costume. Tim Burton would be proud! She found this wedding dress at the Salvation Army for $25, and hand-dyed the whole thing her self. Best dressed!

I’m also throwing in a few other instagrams into this post, because A) I used thrifted vases for much of my decor; B) I made lots of food for this party and that almost never happens, so I want proof of this rare occurrence; and C) My pumpkin!

Oh! And I can hardly do a thrifty Halloween post without one more snap shot of my lady friend and thrifter extraordinaire Jentine. Is she not the chicest viking you ever did see?

And that’s all she (or I) wrote for Halloween 2012! I suppose it’s time to start thinking about evil lady costumes for next year: Maleficent? Bellatrix LeStange? Ann Coulter? Shudder. Now that would be scary.

The Joys of Thrifting

October 25, 2012 — 27 Comments

Hey err’body!

… I thought maybe I could get away with typing “err’body” since I definitely can’t get away with saying it. Turns out I was wrong and can pull off neither. “Err’body” will instead be relegated to the pile of things I can’t pull off, like crop tops and lycra. But I make up for my failure in pulling things off by putting things on. And today, I put on yet another groovy find from the Salvation Army line of sweet tunic treats for under $11. I think I’m pulling it off?

While I could devote a couple hundred words to my pretty new tunic (and my handy new purse that was secured in the same haul with built-in card space), I thought I would instead share a little about the process in which these two new pieces came to be mine. I’ve given many’a post to the perks of thrift finds, so it’s high time to give some love to the thrift search.  There are all sorts of little things about my thrift trips that make it consistently pleasant experience, even when I strike out. So, thrift store, why else do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

The employees | Question: Is there anything, anything, worse than some poor soul creeping outside your change room, desperately trying to make her commission by telling you “Naw girl, the buttons are supposed to look like they’re about to snap!”? Answer: Yes, there are a few things worse, like charley horses and getting water up your nose, but pushy sales people are pretty bad too. But at the thrift store, none of the sales peeps are on commission. In fact, at places like Bibles for Missions and Salvation Army, they are often volunteers. This means they are quite willing to let you go about your business. Plus, when they go out of their way to tell you something looks great, you know they’re not just saying it to make a sale.

The music | I remember shopping with my mom when I was a teenager, and since I was taller than, well, everyone, I had no choice but to buy designer jeans with a 36″ inseam from Jean Machine. Jean Machine is one of the most sensory-oppressive environments in the world. They cramp as much product into a teeny tiny space as possible, and try to confuse you into purchasing overpriced denim by blaring only the loudest, most obnoxious music ever. Even as a teenager, I felt too old for that store. Not so in the thrift store, pals. In the thrift store, they stick to a solid roster of oldies and easy rock. I don’t listen to a lot easy rock out of choice, but for some reason, its ideal shopping background music – way less oppressive, and occasionally awesome. I actually don’t think I can thrift properly unless I have Billy Joel or Hall & Oates as musical accompaniment. Or how about some sweet Eagle Eye Cherry and that song from the finale of Dawson’s Creek Season 1? And every so often, they surprise me and play something really fantastic, like Peter Gabriel, that ends up here.

Your fellow shoppers | Tweens, bless their hearts, would much rather pay $27 for a crappy cotton tee from Hollister than tough it out at the thrift store (I should know, I was a tween once, and have the Backstreet memorabilia to prove it). This means that instead of loud throngs of 13 year olds singing Selena Gomez, I’m shopping along side sweet ol’ ladies excited about a finely tailored pant suit. Sure, sometimes I’m shopping alongside a man with rather revealing holes in his track pants and a stench that can only be described as the beer that’s leaked into the bottom of a recycling bin and has since dried to a sticky substance. But, call me crazy, I like the diversity! And that guy couldn’t tell you the difference between a Directioner and  a Belieber, so he’s OK in my books.

Other stuff! | While I thrift mostly for clothing, it’s always nice to take a gander at all the other random goodies they have in store. If I strike out in clothing department, I can comfort myself with a new lamp. Maybe I need a vintage serving platter, maybe I need a cat phone, maybe I need a broken keyboard or a knee board. Point is, you just never know what you’re coming home with, and that’s a great philosophy to adopt (at the thrift store—not the bar).

So there you have it: a few more stray observations on the joys of thrifting. I understand that many of you may read this list quite differently. Perhaps you’re scared by Billy Joel and holey track pants, and maybe you don’t love lamp. But if that’s the case, I’ll bring you back to the start: Sweet tunic treats are worth a little stale beer smell, wouldn’t you say?

Walking the Walk

October 11, 2012 — 27 Comments

A few months back, I wore some kitten heals on the blog and made a big ol’ deal about it. Granted, for a girl who has never worn so much as a heavy tread for fear of adding to her stature, it was a big deal. But sometimes—and all bloggers will attest to this—there can be a split between blog life and real life. For example, I’ll fully admit I look ten times more put together on my blog than I do off the blog. Frankly, most of the time I look like this:

But I DO always make a point of wearing everything I blog. The heels thing, however, has been a bit of a gray area. I certainly have more heels than I used to since that initial triumphant post, but I don’t really wear them as often as some of you may have been led to believe. That post wasn’t some magic switch that suddenly blasted away all my many years of feeling just a teensy bit too tall. Sure, I’ve worn them to a dinner with Matt when I know I’ll be sitting down quickly. I’ve worn them if I’m walking some very short distance to get a post-outfit shoot snack. I’ve worn them in my house when “I’m all up in the kitchen in my heels” like Beyoncé (haha, just kidding: I don’t cook and am therefore never in the kitchen).

But had I busted them out for a long night on the town in hoards of other small people? Nope.

However, that all changed a few weekends ago (not the cooking, the heel-wearing). My friend Sandra (who is also tall and oft mistaken for a Swedish volleyball player) organized a girls trip to Niagara Falls to celebrate her birthday. I had already thrifted an outfit for the event: A gray mini from the Salvation Army (that’s vintage but looks so modern it’s crazay) and some other golden accessories, but I was still without a decent pair of shoes. The theme of the night was “high roller,” and seeing as I would be surrounded by leopard print and sequins, I was relying on the right shoe to up the ante.

Well, guys, I quickly discovered it’s very hard to thrift statement flats. On the flipside, it’s very easy to thrift statement heels. For example, I found these edgy $4.99 wedges in record time at Talize on my lunch break. They’re pretty fierce, right? Except they are about 3 inches outside my comfort zone. But as I sat in that Talize, stroking these lovely wedges like a creepy cat lady, I thought “Dang Julie. If you won’t even wear heels surrounded by a gaggle of your tall friends, you never will”. (Yes, all my internal monologues are in the third person).

So that was that. It was time to walk the walk I promised all those months ago: I was going wearing heals, for longer than three-quarters on a hour.

Friday arrived. We took over three hotel rooms with the sweet smell of hairspray and cupcakes, and I laced up. I felt absolutely gargantuan, but pretty awesome. I was, without question, the tallest chick in Niagara. 6’4 and hella-proud. The other thing I noticed is that once you get above the 6’1 mark, people stop commenting! I guess at 6’1 people still think there’s a chance you may not know you’re tall, but at 6’4 their like “Daaaang, that girl knows“. That, or I’m just a little scary – like a yeti or a dauntingly-large sub.

In an effort to make sure I practice what I preach, I’ve since remixed those wedges and that dress a few more times, this time with a newly-thrifted Jacob vest and my trusty faux-leather leggings.

So, what’s the next step in this relationship? While I do feel like a certain personal goal has been fulfilled, I don’t see myself forming a long-term relationship with high heels. See, about four hours into the evening, my feet were weeping silent tears of pain. And while I’m all for feeling secure and confident and all that Oprah-love-yourself-BS, I’m not for willingly inflicting pain on oneself for a sweet pair o’ shoes. Because, let’s be real here, the heels might look nice, but they don’t give me a warm fleecy hug like my Snuggie, nor do they catch the crumbs from the pile of chips on my lap. And when you compare sore toes to warm hugs, warm hugs win out every time.

That said, my friends might hope I reconsider: Turns out 6’4 is the perfect height for giving a pretty great hug. I’m like a walking Snuggie. Just feed me chips and I’ll dispense free hugs all night.