Archives For January 2013

Rainbow Remix

January 29, 2013 — 10 Comments

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I’m going to level with you folks here for a minute: if I had it my way, I’d be at the thrift store at least three times a week. I’d hit up Salvation Army on a weeknight, Talize on a weekend, and Bibles For Missions sometime in between. The thrift store is my happy place, my hobby, and if I don’t watch it, it could become my home because Matt will kick me and all my pretty vintage dresses to the curb for blowing our mortgage payment on the Toonie sale at the Sally Anne.

That hasn’t happened yet, though, because for all my frequent stops, I always have a monthly dollar limit in the back of my mind.  For the most part, that number keeps me in check. But for reasons I can’t quite explain, January was a different story. I blew right through that limit before January even entered its second week. Thrift shopping is an economic way to build up a closet, but not if you do it too much. And I realized early on this month: I did it too much.

So, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve tried* to avoid thrifting more clothing, until mid February. I didn’t, however, swear off the thrift store in general, because that would be insane, and I recently procured a $0.99 rainbow necklace that is sure to tide me over until then.

At first, I was worried I’d have to abandon blog until then as well, since so many entries begin with my latest thrifted find. I couldn’t think of an entry’s worth of material around my necklace, and while I’m sure I could have squeezed out a Rainbow Brite tribute, who wants to read that? (actually, that sounds awesome, I’ll do that next time). Instead, I worked this necklace into an outfit that’s the result of a different kind of shopping: the kind you do in your own closet. The outfit is unique in that every item of clothing I have on is one you’ve already seen before on the blog:

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(Original looks here, here, and here).

I find this kind of shopping to be much more of a challenge. Scooping up $2 sweaters and $7 sundresses is easy, but making those finds work beyond the blog post is the real trick. I’m really quite pleased with how this all came together, although it wasn’t easy. Remixing isn’t something that come naturally to me, but it reaffirms what I’ve learned from thrift shopping as well: Things work out better when they take time. Call it my way of participating in the “slow fashion” movement.

I’ll admit, I always feel a bit out of my league when I enter into “advice mode” on the blog, because I’m fumbling my way through textures and colours like everybody else. Yet that’s really the best advice there is when it comes to shopping your own closet: fumble around until you find something that works. That moment right before you’re ready to throw all your clothing in the trash and denounce carby foods for all eternity is usually the moment it all comes together. And even if it doesn’t, February isn’t that far away 😉

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*There was a Toonie sale last week and I got two sweaters. I am weak.

Pajama Day

January 24, 2013 — 14 Comments

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There are two ways I can describe this outfit. The first is as follows:

A cozy winter combo, made up of a thrifted poncho ($7.99), a thrifted vintage shirt-dress ($5.99), a thrifted Ralph Lauren Belt ($0.99), and finished with a thrifted Tony Poretti purse($9.99).

The second, more true-to-reality description goes something like this:

The absolute closest thing to wearing pajamas in the daytime, while still allowing for a modicum of dignity.

Straight-up, you guys. I have solved one of life’s great challenges: Getting dressed like you didn’t actually get dressed. I’d like to say I solved this quest by way of happy accident, but that would be a lie. When I dress for laziness, I do it with intent.

For starters, this dress: I thrifted it in December, and everything I thrifted that month HAD TO be Christmas-y. What’s Christmasy about a striped shirt dress? I thought it looked just like Scrooge’s night shirt (hey, sometimes I thrift for quality, and sometimes I thrift for things that look like the pajamas of beloved fictional characters). You guys are lucky I wasn’t pressed for content in December, because otherwise I would have blogged this dress much earlier, under the title “A  Dickens of a Christmas!”. The poncho was thrifted only a few weeks ago, and as soon as I saw it, I thought “why the heck don’t I have one of these? It’s a snuggy for grown-ups!” (…and we all know I already have an actual snuggy).

When it came time to pair my big red blanket with something (because, let’s be honest, that’s all ponchos really are), putting it with the item that is essentially a men’s night shirt made perfect sense. And here it is, in all it’s pajama-like glory.

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I’ve since worn this combination a few times over, even wearing it to work (with black tights instead of nylons – Scrooge likes his nightshirts a bit on the short side). And I can tell you, it’s quite freeing. The only other time I’ve experienced something similar would be the actual Pajama Day in grade school. Although, upon reflection, those days were always a little bizarre. While the “pajamas at school” thing sounded awesome, seeing everyone else in their Ninja Turtle onesies was actually very uncomfortable. Suddenly, the whole class was put on this strangely-vulnerable level with one another. Just weird, really. No one needed to see my Bullwinkle pajamas but me. So, perhaps faux-pajamas really are the best solution.

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I do have to hand it to my grade school for throwing a good variety of school theme days, though. In edition to Pajama Day, we also had a Hawaiian Day, a Play Day, a Winter Crafts Day,  a Mexican Fiesta Day, multiple Pizza and Hot Dog Days, and, in Grade Six, a Medieval Times Day. Half the class got to dress as Royalty (myself included), and the other half as servants. This was hilarious because the teacher actually made the servants do all the dishes. So, we didn’t so much as learn much about the Middle Ages, but rather that classism was an alright deal if you were on the winning side. I have a feeling that wasn’t what Ms. J. intended.

The other thing I remember from that day is that I busted out a giant hot-pink 80s prom dress, from the Salvation Army, and felt positively regal. I may have moved from Bullwinkle to blue stripes, but some things never change.

Resolved

January 15, 2013 — 29 Comments

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Tomorrow is January 16, 2013.

That is an important day, friends, and not just for Kate Moss because it’s her birthday. See, tomorrow is the day I shall give myself a hearty pat on the back. Why? because it marks the end of my “No New Clothes” pledge that I made a short year ago. If you were a reader way back then, you’ll recall I made a bold promise to “Break Up with the Mall” for a whole year. Translation? I would buy only second-hand clothing for a solid 365 days. And wouldn’t you know it: since putting my closet on a thrift-only diet, it’s never been healthier.

That pledge was quick decision, born out of frustration with recent Mall purchases, and elation with new thrift scores. While it was a pledge made in haste, it has had a transformative, lasting effect on this blog, how I shop, and the way I dress. Four months into my Mall-free year, I wrote a progress report as a guest blogger. While I considered penning a similar summary today, I would be a near-rewrite of what I wrote back then (and you can read it here). The benefits I listed there—freedom to shop any trend, choose from any decade, wear any brand, and look in any size—have been (I hope) been illustrated by many of the posts I’ve written since.

When I made this promise 365 days ago, I thought that I’d be starved for some clearance rack goodies by the time January 16, 2013 rolled around. But my appetite to revisit the mall has never been weaker. Meanwhile, I have never had more fun getting dressed, and less guilt about where I spend my money that I do right now. And I really mean that. When I look over what’s in my wardrobe, nearly every piece feels like a score. And while not every piece tells a story, some of them tell great ones. And that’s why this breakup is permanent.

So what’s next? Another pledge that lasts indefinitely? An updated button? I don’t think so. Mall shopping is not something I’m “banned” from anymore: it’s just not something I plan to do. Not because I can’t, but because I don’t want do. Really, this is what New Year’s resolutions are supposed to do. You make a resolution, and at some point, it stops being a resolution, and becomes just another thing about who you are. And that’s what happened this year: I am Juliane Claire Van Huizen, and I shop at thrift stores.

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Will I ever buy clothing from The Mall again? I’m sure I will. I mean, I still need to go there for my skivvies, socks, and bathing suits. And there are other exceptions, too: I may still go there for a fine pair of leather boots, and if my friends want to plan a weekend trip to scope out some outlet malls, I’ll shop right alongside them because I love those girls. But mostly, I’ll carry on exactly as I have for the past year: Thrifting things like this pleated silver skirt from Talize, this cozy black turtleneck is from Salvation Army, and this vintage pink (suede!) coat from Granny’s Attic Treasures on Ottawa Street, that cost me a mere $10.

As I list those items, they highlight exactly why I’ve signed up for a lifetime of second-hand style. I never would have sought out a pink suede coat (or pink suede anything, really), and even if I had, I’d be hard-pressed to find one at at the Mall for $10. I’ll take this coat over clearance racks at H&M any day, any year.

In closing, I have to thank all those who’ve shown enthusiasm as I blogged my way through this year. I’d like to think I would have come to this conclusion without a blog, but I don’t think that’s true. Blogging has not only provided heeps of encouragement for my efforts, but a certain level of accountability as well. And for that, I am truly grateful.

…All the sudden I’m realizing that I haven’t made a pop-cultural reference or used an exclamation point in a couple hundred words, and this post is starting to sound like some kind of sad farewell, which is crazy because I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to thrift and blog my way to infinity and beyond! (Whew, back on track). But it is nice to take sometime to reflect once and while, huh?

So as I put the Mall in my review mirror for good, please join me in raising a glass to a brand new year of old stuff (not really though because I don’t want you to spill on your keyboards). And while we are metaphorically toasting, please also toast me for not titling this entry “We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together,” because while thrifting is easy, that was hard.

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What’s My Age Again?

January 9, 2013 — 21 Comments

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Malls. Home to more stores than one person can take in on a single visit. And you’re not even supposed visit them all, really. The tweens find their tight tees and tighter jeans in Hollister and Forever 21. More mature shoppers stick to places like Cleo and Mexx, and everybody else hovers around Zara and H&M. Malls specialize in catering to these specific demographics. But those strategically-designed storefronts and prohibitive pricing structures can prove quite confining to those of us with a broader approach to style. And to those people I say: come thrift with me. The thrift store doesn’t care how old you are. They don’t care if you’re a Joe Fresh or J. Crew kind of girl. They don’t care if you want fine leather or cheap pleather. They simply want you to enjoy their offerings. The Gucci is next to the Guess. The Dynamite next to Dior. And you can mix and mingle amongst these labels as you please.

Today’s all-black ensemble is the end result of this multi-generational mingling. The three main players (jacket, dress, shoes) in this outfit make a pretty stellar team, but only in the thrift store can they transcend their ageist restraints. Allow me to explain:

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I’ll begin by contrasting my pleather jacket with my leather booties. The jacket originally came from Sirens. Sirens specializes in terribly cheap club wear for teenagers and college girls. Their clothing is essentially disposable, and rarely survives more than two or three washes. I outgrew that store around the same time I outgrew Bacardi Breezers and the Black Eyed Peas. BUT when I saw this pleather jacket in nearly-new condition at the thrift store for a meager $12, it came home with me. I’ll certainly get $12 worth of wear out of it, and my $12 isn’t going to the sweatshop that manufactured it for pennies in the first place. On the very same Talize visit, and for a very similar price, I found these black ankle boots. Contrarily, these boots are real leather, and manufactured by a company called Rieker. Rieker uses words like “sensible”, “long-lasting” and “orthopedic” to describe their product. Their target market? The parents (and grandparents) of the girls shopping at Sirens.

Smack dab in the middle of this leather-pleather sampler is my Zara dress, thrifted for $7 from the Salvation Army a few years ago. If Sirens is the teenager, and Rieker the middle-aged parent, then Zara is the late-twenty something with more discerning tastes and a slightly larger disposable income. Basically, it’s me. So, if we break this look down by age, I’m 19 on the top, 45 on the bottom, and 26 in the middle. But when I put all these items all together, they just look like me. I’m not a teenager anymore, nor am I ready for mom jeans and minivans, but the thrift store allows me to pull from both of these worlds as I choose.

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If I limited myself to shopping at the stores that are aimed at my age group as opposed to the thrift store, I still might have found this dress on clearance, but I certainly wouldn’t have found this jacket or these shoes. And what’s a basic black turtleneck without a bomber and booties? I’ll tell you: very, very boring.

A Sweet Story

January 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

I’m about to write about one of my favourites projects of ALL time. Ever. This project had everything a designer looks for in a project: The idea was totally fresh, the clients were amazing, and the whole process was delightful from start to finish. Here’s how it all began:

In what seems like years ago, Meg Makins, a friend from university, send me a brief and exciting email. It went something like this: “I’m going to start a mobile snow cone business with my friend. Wanna do the branding!?”. I said “Yes!” (and added a few squeals and exclamation points) and a few months later, I sat down with Meg and Lindsay at Mulberry Coffee in Hamilton to talk about their vision.

I came away from that meeting totally inspired. This wasn’t your average snow-cone business. For one, Meg and Lindsay (while adorable) aren’t just cute for the sake of being cute. Behind their sparkly dispositions, these guys are serious: Serious about quality, about sourcing all their ingredients locally, about making all their syrups from scratch, about representing their city in all its glory.

As visions of snow cones danced in my head, I set to work. My first attempts were still a touch too cute and a little too twee: I chose fonts that were curly and quaint, and it didn’t really match the picture Meg and Lindsay had painted. I eventually landed on a font combination that hit the right balance between sweet and serious, and finalized the palette. Another serious break-through in the design process was to apply a faux-screen printing look to the logo. I used a craft paper texture for this effect. This completely gelled with their “do it by hand” mantra, and as a bonus, it looked hella cool. Here’s a breakdown:

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

And here’s how those elements came together in the final logo:

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

While I was working on the logo, Meg and Lindsay commissioned their friend and illustrator Andrea Manica to create some original artwork to incorporate into the brand. Andrea is AMAZING and she sketched out portraits, ingredients, and host of other beautiful doodles (you have permission to leave this post for a minute and check out some of her work). Andrea provided oodles of sketches to me, and from there I colourized them, made them vectors, and them and worked them into the Sweet Ice story.

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With all these elements in place, designing collateral for Sweet Ice has been a joy. Below is just a taste of some of the work done for them so far: business cards, posters, desktop wallpapers, and fundraiser postcards:

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

I really hope this post have given you a taste (pardon the pun) for what the Sweet Ice girls are all about. If want to find out even more, watch the happiest video of all time, which is also called their commercial. I didn’t make this, but I did watch it 20 times, so that sort of counts, right? 🙂

Thanks again to Meaghan and Lindsay for allowing me to play a small part in bringing these sweet treats to the peeps of Hamilton!

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

City Love

January 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

Vintage city wedding invitations // JVH

I remember my first meeting with Catherine and Aaron very clearly. We met in the art studio of the university we all  attended, and sat by a bright window on a cold day. I didn’t know Aaron and Catherine all that well, but I knew they were creative and kind, so I said “yes” immediately to designing their wedding invitations. As we began the discussion of their vision for their wedding, one thing became very apparent Catherine and Aaron love a lot of things. They love art, they love theatre, they love music, they love their city, and all these loves would play a role in their big day. As we talked through these loves, the adjectives tumbled out from each of them in unison. It was inspiring! Not soon after we said our goodbyes, I looked over my notes from the meeting, and they looked something like this:

“They want to to be classic! Vaudevillian! Threadbare and ornate! Lace and canvas! Blue and gold! Sigur Ros! AMPERSANDS!”

Whoa. That’s a lot of wants.

And therein lies the challenge when designing for such creative people – It’s the designers job to channel all that creativity, and refine it. As I stared at the words before me, I came up with three very distinct proofs. They all played on some aspect of Aaron and Cath’s vision, but neither was quite right. The real catalyst for the final design came when Catherine showed me her (AMAZING) Save the Dates. Catherine collected nearly 20 vintage postcards, and hand-stitched each one with their Save the Date information. Suddenly, the palette and tone of the wedding became crystal clear. I went back to work.

Hand-stitched Save the Dates // JVH

Vintage city wedding invitations // JVH

I approached the invitations armed with the rich burgundy, blue, and tan hues from the Save the Dates, and tried to mimic some of the “well-worn” beauty using a variety of textures. I also selected a beautiful calligraphic font called “Burgues” for the names and monograms, and a stable, classic serif to pair with it.

The final piece in the puzzle came when Catherine and Aaron wondered if we could add some illusion to the Hamilton skyline. Cath and Aaron are cheerleaders for their city, and I appreciated their desire to express that. So, I took to the Googlematron, and looked for “Hamilton Vintage Postcard”. In one of the more fortuitous moments in my design career, I came upon a  vintage postcard that featured the VERY CHURCH Catherine and Aaron were to be married in! I tried to contain my capslock, and emailed Catherine RIGHT AWAY. She immediately bought the card of Amazon, and the invitation all but designed itself from there!

Vintage Hamilton postcard // JVH

1960s Vintage Postcard | James Street, Looking South, Hamilton Ontario, Canada

Vintage city wedding invitations // JVH

As I looked through the album from their nuptials, I’ll admit I may have said “Nailed it!” to myself. Wedding stationary should always be an extension of everything else from the day, and these invitations and programs fit the bill. I can’t end this entry without posting a few shots from the wedding. These images were taken by Asher Images, and they’re freeeeakin’ gorgeous! They also show just how well the invites fit into Aaron and Cath’s grander wedding narrative:

handmade wedding // JVH // photos by Asher Images

Thank you again to Catherine and Aaron for allowing me to contribute in this small way to your perfect day!

Vintage city wedding invitations // JVH

When Jen Met Trev

January 3, 2013 — 1 Comment

"Story of" wedding invites // JVH

Do you want to know a secret? All designers are copy cats. Yes, I said it. As are all musicians, painters, and really any kind of creative professional. Hear me out: We humans have been around a long time, and during that time, we’ve produced a bajillion creative projects, and defined a bajillion trends and styles. Our job as designers is to to re-use, re-mix, and re-invent these trends. We can call upon styles and ideas from centuries past, and aim to interpret them in a fresh and interesting way. It’s not always easy, but sometimes, it works.

The invitation I’m showing you below are a remix of an idea that isn’t my own. This idea came from the brilliant mind of graphic designer Matt Dorfman. A few years ago, Matt designed an invitation for his own wedding. He created this beautiful, witty, typographic story of the journey he and his wife had taken so far. One might call the “How I Met Your Mother” approach. Since then, that invitation has been pinned on Pinterest thousands of times, prompting couples all around the world to try to fit their own story onto one tiny card.

When Jen and Trav commissioned me for their wedding invitations, they cited Matt’s original invite as their primary inspiration. I was thrilled to try my hand at this approach, but I didn’t want to simply recreate the original. While my take certainly relies on the original, I wanted to bring in my own perspective. I selected different typefaces, I added new shapes and flourished, I used more curves and worked with more texture, and I created something original for an original couple.

"Story of" wedding invites // JVH

While I played copy cat at the start the project, I ended up with something fresh that was exactly what Jen and Trav wanted. Jen and Trav, I wish you a life full of many more stories!

*Cue Bob Saget Voiceover

"Story of" wedding invites // JVH

Old Church, New Logo

January 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

A few months ago, I launched a project very near and dear to my heart (and soul?). I designed a brand-new visual identity for my church: First Hamilton Christian Reformed Church. I wanted to take on this project almost immediately after becoming a member 3 years ago. The logo and materials the Church relied on weren’t bad, but they didn’t reflect the energy and liveliness of the congregation using them.

Eventually, I  started bugging everyone I knew on Church council. “…Can I do the logo? Please? Pretty Please? With a psalter hymnal on top?”. My request didn’t fall on deaf ears, but it did fall on ears that already had many other requests to listen to. See, around the same time I started pleading, my church was already undergoing a very significant makeover:  a major renovation to the church building. So, I waited. Eventually, the pieces of reno project lined up, and the church formed a Communications Committee. With this committee established, and renovation progressing steadily, we were finally ready to talk seriously about what this rebrand would look like. First things first, I met with Pastor Chris and Brian, the chair of the Communications Committee, in late August. I shared with them my vision for a new look and my concerns about the old one, and they did the very same. We all wanted the very same thing – visuals that reflected the heart of this church. So, I went to work, and crafted a proposal to be reviewed by the Communications Committee in the fall.

Church branding // Julie Van Huizen

Admittedly, I had been playing around with ideas for sometime, so I was more than ready to meet their deadline. The initial proposal went amazingly well! We were all on the same page, and possessed a very similar vision for our church. After a few founds of edits, we made the final proposal to the Council, and it was enthusiastically approved. Here are a few insights into my design process on the logo. The logo is comprised of two parts (icon + wordmark) and I’ve organized my thoughts around those two terms. If you scroll right down to the bottom, you’ll see a few examples of the brand at work.

Church branding // Julie Van Huizen

ICON: The church icon is the primary feature of the First Hamilton logo. It serves as the central element, establishing the style and colours that could define the First Hamilton visual identity. I chose to feature a silhouette of our church building for several reasons. Firstly, it nods to the old logo design, and establishes a level of continuity. Secondly, First Hamilton is a church that is what it is because of where it is: our location is central to our mission and vision as a church. Thirdly, there is a sense of familiarity, comfort, pride, and community associated with the building that has housed so many of our congregation’s defining moments. It has been our place of laughter and lament; meeting and grieving.

While the silhouette bears some resemblance to the old logo, I’ve updated it with quite a few changes. For one, the church doors in this silhouette are much more obviously open. Our church is intended to be a welcoming environment, with doors wide open to the city around us. The open doors also allude to our the integral “missional” aspect of our church: we welcome those around us, but we also “send out” our members to spread the Word.

I’ve also used a stained glass motif to draw out the icon. This motif not only adds visual interest, it serves as a perfect metaphor for what a church body should be: Many different parts, coming together to create something beautiful. It’s rendered in many colours to reflect our intention to be a diverse community of believers. It’s framed by a warm yellow sun, representative of God’s light over all we do together.

WORD MARK: The word mark as shown in the logo is the suggested way our name should appear both with the logo, and on it’s own when there may not be room for the full logo. The proportions of the logo are as such because our colloquial name is often “First Hamilton”.

The word mark is set in a typeface called “Neutraface”. Neutraface is a typeface inspired by the architect Richard Neutra. Neutra, while mostly celebrated for his residential buildings, was also a commercial architect. He would craft large industrial buildings with functionality and beauty. This typeface provides a subtle wink to our city, Hamilton, by recognizing Hamilton’s industrial history, along with it’s ever-emerging beauty. It also uses much of the same clean geometry found in the icon design, and pairs with it nicely. Note that while I could have set the word mark in one of the icon colours – green, teal, yellow, or purple – I intentionally set it in gray. This gives the idea that the church icon is sitting on a stone foundation. We come from a rich tradition and history, and it’s on that foundation we build our church.

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The next step in the roll-out of this look is working with the Communications Committee to draft all the additional supporting materials. With so many vivid line and colours, the letterhead, business cards, banners, and signage will all look refreshed, inviting, and joyful!

Church branding // Julie Van Huizen

NYE style

Remember when you watched TV on a TV instead of the Internet, and actually used the TV guide? And you’d check the description for your favourite show, and it would have a tiny little “N”(for new) instead of instead of “R” (for repeat), and you’d be all like “YUS A NEW EPISODE!”. And then, you’d tune in all excited, and it would actually be a CLIP SHOW? And you’d be like “UGH THAT HARDLY COUNTS. THE ONLY NEW PART IS THE BEGINNING” (note this was me as a preteen, so I am using all caps to denote preteen-ness). Well, all in a huff, you’d reluctantly tune in because you are 14 and didn’t have anything better to do, and then you’d find yourself actually delighted to relive some of your favourite moments, because there was no YouTube or Tumblr, and you actually hadn’t see a lot of these episodes in a long, long while.

Well guys, this post might have a tiny “N” beside it, but it’s really more of a clip show. I couldn’t bit adieu to 2012 without remembering some of my favourite posts, so I went through the archives, and picked out my favourite posts from each month. Just click on any of the images for the full post. If I had to pick a favourite post overall, that might go to August, but that’s sort of cheating since that entry was a bit of a clip show already. 2012 was a year of florals, denim, belts, and pleats. And while that could be said of every other style blogger on that planet, I really enjoyed the opportunity to put my spin on all of it.

And, since I still have a soft spot for that huffy fourteen year old who just wants a new episode of Friends, there IS something you haven’t seen before at the bottom.

january february
march april
may june
july august
september October
November December

That final look is the last thing I wore in 2012, for some NYE celebrations with friends. It’s fun, frilly, and (of course) thrifted for $10. That makes it the perfect way to say goodbye to 2012 and hello to a brave new year. Happy 2013, dear readers!

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