New Jackets, Old Blogs

Earlier this summer, I lost my favourite denim jacket. That was a painful loss, man. I cannot stress the importance of a sweet denim jacket in one’s closet. And this particular jacket was a real winner: Parasuco, scored at Goodwill in the USA for a measly 5$, worn to work, school, and sleep (okay, not sleep, but I did wear it here and here). I was half-tempted to spend my summer in mourning, untagging all my Facebook pictures with it because it’s too painful, then eating a small container of ice cream because that’s what TV has taught me to do.

Anyways, upon the realization that my ol’ buddy was never coming back in an epic Homeward-Bound-esque montage, I eventually found the strength to move on with a new love: this thrifted H&M jacket, worn today with a new thrifted dress (in purple! hooray!). Since this is the first time I’m wearing my new jacket on the blog, I intended to publish a posthumous tribute to it’s predecessor. Y’know, talking about all the things I miss about my old jacket, and all the things I like about my new one. Thrifting circle of life, yadda yadda yadda. Well, I started to work on the tribute, and even pulled a few photos together, when I was suddenly struck with a wicked case of deja-vu:

…I’ve done this before.

Not about my jean jacket, per say. But I had written a very similar ode to a jacket, long before I started up this blog.

You see, in the days prior to WordPress’ and Blogger’s dominion over the blogging universe, I had a LiveJournal, and when all my friends on MSN went to sleep, I wrote in it. I had a hazy recollection of writing about a jacket years ago. So, I returned to that ol’ LiveJournal that I had since totally forgotten about, and did some digging for that post. That’s where things get fun. I found the entry alright, only to realize I’m EXACTLY THE SAME AS I WAS SIX YEARS AGO. Except I don’t shop at Old Navy anymore. How funny is that?! It seems as though I was destined to be a blogger, forever fated to personify my favourite items of clothing with proper pronouns. I still have that jacket too!

I seriously debated sharing that actual link with you. Because if you’re as creepy as I am (which I know you are) you’ll spend some time clicking around that old LiveJournal to confirm your suspicions that I am big loser. In fact, I actually tried to log into that old Livejournal account to delete the embarrassing stuff, but guess what? I can’t. I don’t remember my password or the email I used to create it, and after trying a million times, I just gave up. (Today’s lesson: The Internet is forever.)

Needless to say, I found my old blog endlessly more entertaining that a few pictures of my old jean jacket. I spent so much time trying to prove that “I’m soooo snarky and have suuuuch good taste” – it’s hilarious! So, instead of a tribute to my jacket, how about a tribute to my old blog? I’ll even do you a courtesy by sparring you the effort it would take to scroll through pages of drivel, and just point out some of the goodies:

First off, I love that this LiveJournal is like a time capsule of technological developments for 2005 and 2006. Look how excited I am to get a Dell laptop! And here’s where I discover bit torrents! (In case the Government is reading: I don’t download music illegally any more). Oh, this one is a gem, because I call MySpace a successful blockbuster movie. Ah, to live in a B.Z. world again (B.Z. = Before Zuckerberg).

It’s also a time capsule of my pop cultural tastes (and distastes) in the late 2000s. Here’s where I cryptically predict the demise of The OC and Mischa Barton’s career. You’ll notice on that same day, I posted a link to a fanvid about Jim and Pam and their budding romance on the Office (NBC has since blocked that video for copyright violations, so in case the Government is reading: I don’t make fanvids anymore). My greatest discovery, though, is that Kanye West is STEALING LYRICS FROM ME: Read the second last line of this post.

Honestly, you’re more than welcome to click through that journal if you want to. Of course now it all seems a little silly, and a lot dated, but that’s okay. I’ve got nothing to hide. It represents a small little slice of who I was and – as that jacket entry has proven – who I am. Heck, I know all my musings on this blog will some day seem archaic.

While our preferences and references will age and expire, I can take comfort in one thing: The knowledge that a good jean jacket will age a lot better than any blog, provided you don’t lose it.

Andy Warhol, Silver Screen

Last winter, I featured an outfit that reminded me very much of one of my favourite pop artists, Roy Lichtenstein. In that entry, I hinted that wouldn’t be the last time I pay homage to an artist in dress. Today is the fulfillment of that promise. Although, I didn’t stray too far in my point of reference – I just moved from one pop artist to another. This shirt  came home from the thrift store because it reminded me of the oft-imitated Andy Warhol. In particular, it brought to mind his Flowers series – especially the 1964 original:

Andy Warhol | Flowers, 1964

My university art prof wouldn’t be surprised to see Andy make an appearance on the blog, my relationship with Andy is a long one. I somehow managed to write (or paint) him into nearly every major modern art project I’ve done over the past decade. It started with a grade 10 painting of a repeated shrieking baby in garish greens. It ended with a tragic tribute to a bald Britney Spears in the midst of her 2008 breakdown for my senior Modern Art final:

I’m honest enough with myself to realize that an obsession with Andy Warhol is an art student cliche these days. Now more than ever, edgy millennials pin, share, post and hang Warhol without a second thought. He’s become dangerously familiar. His work has ascended to the same level of pop-cultural awareness as, say, a Campbell’s soup can in the 60s (that just got really meta…). However, that doesn’t take away the potency of his legacy, nor does it diminish the genuine influence he’s had on my own aesthetic and worldview. In many ways, it just affirms he was a prophet as much as an artist.

Andy Warhol | Flowers, 1970

So what is it about Andy’s work that will forever continue to hold sway over arty college students? My own experience with primary art education will likely ring true for many for you, and maybe shed some light on the Warhol phenomena. It went a little like this: You meet the Mona Lisa in grade 3, Michelangelo in grade 5, and if you’re lucky, Monet in Grade 6. Then you repeat that for a few more years. Don’t get me wrong – there is much to be gained from the pages of art history, but after years of art education that seemed to begin and end with the Renaissance, the discovery of Warhol was a welcomed shock to my apathetic teenaged brain. Instead of frescoes, oils, and chiaroscuro, Andy gives us silk-screened canvases set ablaze with hot pinks, neon yellows, and primary reds. Rather than Venus and St. Paul, he gives us Elvis and Marilyn. The day I encountered Andy, I found myself staring down a host of new possibilities, because he made me realize that art is anything.

As someone who still watches too much TV and may indulge in a celebrity blog now and again, Warhol gave me validation that pop culture is worth exploring – it’s a subject every bit as valid for artistic exploration as a landscape or still life. There is so much to be learned from it.

I think, too, part of Warhol’s draw is his deceptive simplicity: deceptive in that he didn’t set out to create art for trendy 20-somethings. He set out creating dark and murky mirrors for an overly-consumerized society. College kids might share a Warhol quote because it says something snappy and it’s set in Helvetica, but Andy’s always been toying will all of us: There is so much more behind the canvas. Take the Flowers my shirt is referencing:

“What is incredible about the best of the flower paintings (especially the large ones) is that they present a distillation of much of the strength of Warhol’s art–the flash of beauty that suddenly becomes tragic under the viewer’s gaze. The garish and brilliantly colored flowers always gravitate toward the surrounding blackness and finally end up in a sea of morbidity. No matter how much one wishes these flowers to remain beautiful they perish under one’s gaze, as if haunted by death.” (J. Coplans, “Andy Warhol: The Art”, Andy Warhol, exh. cat., Pasadena Art Museum, 1970, p.52).

Whoa. That got a little heavy, didn’t it? But that right there sums up my attraction to Warhol’s work – it subverts the superficial with, well, the superficial. We could all  spend a lifetime striving to do something as poignant, and never quite get there.

You’re not going to find any attempts at poignancy here today – just a funky t-shirt and a few words on a artist I love. I’m thankful for Andy Warhol. I’m thankful for his Flowers. I’m thankful for this thrifted shirt that prompted one more Warholian reflection. And, finally, I’m thankful for these stretchy gray pants that mark the official end to my dry spell in thrifting pants. OK, that’s not entirely related, but it needed to be said. Poignancy aside, I know Andy would appreciate a good pair of trousers.

Contest Winner!

Well that was fun! First off, I have to express my gratitude to all of you who entered my custom portrait contest. Your creativity and enthusiasm has ensured that this contest won’t be the last of its kind. The variety of personalities, styles, and stories that came through were a delight to read. In fact, I’m going to publish all the entries and photos I recieved over the next few weeks, because all of you deserve generous accolades for your own first-hand tales of second-hand style.

And so, without further adieu, I present to you the winner of the Thrifty Custom Portrait Contest. Drum roll please!

Congratulations, Tara! I selected Tara for several reasons. Firstly, how adorable is that dress? She looks demure, yet sophisticated; classic yet quirky. A winning combination all around. The real highlight of Tara’s entry is the accompanying explantion she sent with her photo:

 Hi Julie,

Good morning from Vietnam. This is my submission to the custom portrait contest. My name is Truc Nguyen, but you can call me Tara. I have just started my blog since…yesterday, although I have thrifted for many years. This dress is one of my favorite finds during my thrifting adventures. In Vietnam, we don’t have nice thrift stores, with shelves and mirrors and fitting rooms. You have to go to the wet markets and literally dig into the mountain of clothes on the ground to find your luck. Imagine doing that in the heat of 30 Celsius degrees plus. And fitting them onto what you’re wearing, and using your best imagination to decide if it looks good on you. Anyway, I bought this dress from one of those markets. I like it because everything about it is cute. It has two cute pockets, a cute collar, and came at a cute price, only 50,000 VND (2.5 USD). The hem was originally longer, I shortened it a bit and it looked just fine.

I love this story. Who’d have thought I’d have a reader all the way in Vietnam? Tara cemented the universality of thrifting. It’s a world-wide lifestyle, and she wears it so well! I also commend her for sifting through mountains of clothes in sweaty temperatures and busy crowds. She’s patient, resourceful, and imaginative! Tara proves that persistence pays off – not only does she have a lovely dress, she’ll soon have custom portrait too.

To Tara: Thank your for your inspiring entry. Laura is working on your portrait as we speak!

To my fellow readers: Make sure you follow Tara’s adventures in the wet markets of Vietnam and beyond on her blog. Thanks again for entering!

Foolish Games

I almost left this dress behind. Sure, I love the length and the print, but it’s very reminiscent of the Betsey Johnson dress I recently blogged, and the price sat just a little higher than most of the dresses I thrift. I was about to return the dress to the second-hand universe when I looked at the label. I’ll admit a high-end or vintage label can usually be the deciding stay-or-go factor if I’m on the fence. This label, however, wasn’t high-end at all. Oh, it’s vintage – probably late 80s. And I did recognize label, just not from anything in VOGUE. I recognized the label from my childhood. Observe:

What the heck right?! They just made Battleship into a movie, and this label would have me believe that at some point in the mid-eighties, they made UNO, everyone’s favourite card game, into a clothing line. Huh? It’s not like the label was just named UNO, either. The logo, the colour, the shape, it’s pure 80s UNO! This bizarre little dress came home with me, simply because I wanted to Google it (the purse and the necklace I’m wearing came home with me too because…I didn’t want the dress to be lonely).

Many times, the Googlematron tells me everything I need to know about vintage labels. This was not one of those times. It told me about UNO the bike wear company, UNO the California boutique, and UNO the Spanish for the word “one” (okay I knew that already), but did it tell me about an obscure 1980s clothing line that stole it’s brand identity from a card game invented in 1972 Ohio? Nope.

However, as is typical with all my WST endevours, I’m turning this dead-end into a post. In my search for answers, I spent a great deal of time collecting useless info on UNO, and it led me deep, deep into the web of 80s and 90s nostalgia blogs, retro board game dealers, and over-priced Etsy merchandise made from up-cycled UNO cards. I started looking for a label, I ended with a strong desire to compile a list of my favourite 80s and 90s kids games. And so, while I can tell you no more about this dress, I’m going to tell you about Guess Who and Trouble.

First, with the game that started this mess, UNO: I don’t have a lot to say about UNO, other than I never really liked it because we never had our own copy. I’d play it only at friends’ houses, knowing full well I was on their turf. Although I’d eventually seek revenge by inviting them over to my house for a round of Rummikub. Creepy face tile FTW!

UNO, as fun as it was, just didn’t hold my attention. I was more entranced by games that were made out of a lot of rainbox plastic crap. Point in case: Hungry Hippos! This game was so easy, and required little to no skill. Although its simplicity eventually became a problem. One summer evening, we grew tired of the game, so my sister dared her friend to pee in it. So she did. What? Don’t judge! Kids are weird! They pee on command!

Let’s also talk about the great amounts of stress these retro games induce. So many timers! So many buzzers! Nobody actually liked Operation. It was flippin’ scary. I remember playing this in the waiting room of the doctors office. Creeped me right out. Dumb move on the doctor’s part too, as I imagine he had to field many more unnecessary questions about how to avoid wrenches in your ankle and butterflies in your stomach.

In another category, we have the games that unintentionally taught kids about blighted hopes and dreams. Let’s single out Mouse Trap. What kid didn’t spend years pining for this plastic circus? Only to realize it takes 52 minutes to set up, and the pay-off isn’t worth it, even a little? Thanks, Mouse Trap, for peeing all over my child-like expectations. Looks like “pee” is this week’s theme. Who’d have thought? Let’s put in another nice picture of me to remind you guys I’m actually pretty classy.

Alright. On with the games. Perhaps no game was more psychologically damaging for my young mind than Girl Talk. That game was awful. I had to eat ketchup sandwiches, lie about the boys I liked, and when I messed up, I had to stick a ZIT ON MY FACE! That’s messed up guys. I probably spent years thinking my actual teenage acne was the result of my failures in life. Way to go, Girl Talk. I hope you get peed on.

I must confess this list is a little deceiving. While I played my fair share of board games, I actually spent most of my childhood on the computer, mastering pixely adventure games and Pizza Worm. I could easily add them to this list, but Commander Keen and Jezz Ball deserve an entry all their own. Maybe next time I’ll thrift a dress with an “MS DOS” label, because after “UNO”, you just never know.

As for my present day gaming habits, I’ve moved on from the computer now, too. Draw Something, anyone?

PS: Do my photos look extra special today? That’s because they were taken by Jentine. She rocks my socks and sandals right off.

Contest Update – Win A Portrait!

Happy Monday you kings and vagabonds! I’m posting a friendly reminder about my on-going contest to win a custom portrait for your blog, (or anywhere else, really). As a further further kick in the pants to get your entry in, here are a few quick sample portraits from Laura:

My husband makes his first appearance on the blog! Granted, it’s in storybook-sketch form, but it still counts. Remember that outfit I’m wearing?

I’d say we all look pretty darn cute as watercoloured characters. If you’d like to win your own portrait, the rules are simple:

1) Tell me about your best thrifted find in 200 words or less. Where did you find it? Why do you love it? What did it cost you?

2) Attach a picture of yourself in that find.

3) Email all of it to

4) I’ll choose my favourite entry, and you’ll win a custom sketch by Laura based on your photo! You’ll get the high-resolution file to use as you please.

5) Submit your entry before June 11, 2012!

I’ve already received some great entries, but I want more! MORE! Spam my inbox with so much thrifty goodness I have to get a forklift to sift through it. That’s a mixed metaphor but I’m OK with it.

Here are a few more favourites from Laura to close out the entry.

Can’t wait to see more from you all of you!

I Don’t Wanna Wait

…Yep. I drew the title of this entry from here. I apologize if I got your hopes up for a Dawson’s Creek tribute entry. There is much to say about those angsty teens with unrealistically-advanced vocabularies and libidos, but Capeside will (ironically) have to wait. I pulled out that title because this entry is a result of me throwing plans out the window and doing what I want instead. You having that song in your head all day is just an added bonus. You’re welcome.

The first thing I stopped waiting on is a reason to wear this dress. This Betsey Johnson dress was thrifted way back in February. I sang it’s praises here, wore it once on vacation here, and have left it dormant in my closet ever since. I love this dress. I would even say it’s my favourite thrift ever. The cut, the pattern, the fit, the fabric and the price make it the ultimate thrift trifecta (wait, a trifecta has three wins, this is a…polyfecta?). Either way, my blinding affection for this dress has gotten in the way of me actually wearing it. You see, I’ve been waiting for the perfect occasion to strut my stuff in it again. A wedding? An art show? A fabulous beach party in the Hamptons with the cast of Gossip Girl? Well, Penn Badgley isn’t returning my calls, and this dress deserves some love. On Saturday night, I met up with some friends for a drink, and I wore my Betsey. I concluded a simple Sangria Saturday is as good occasion as any to wear something I love. I dressed it down with flip flops and denim, and I felt fabulous (I don’t use the word “fabulous” often, because I bet Carrie Bradshaw had it trademarked, and I don’t like paperwork).

I stopped waiting for a special occasion to present itself, because wearing this dress makes any occasion feel special. Seizing the dress (Carpe Ornatus!) has inspired me to move forward with a few more plans that I’ve been delaying until the “right time” arrived. You see, I’ve got big plans for this blog. Firstly, I want to drop the “” from my domain name, I want to move to a self-hosted account, and I want to redesign the whole dang thing. Then I want to have a big contest to celebrate it. But until the days magically get longer, all of that stuff isn’t going to happen for at least another few months. So, instead of waiting for those ducks to get in a row, I’m celebrating Carpe Ornatus RIGHT NOW. You get what I’m saying yet? I’m saying….




Once of the main features of my blog overhaul is a new banner design, featuring a sketch commissioned by my sister Laura Konyndyk. Laura is a phenomenal illustrator, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my sister. In a few short hours, she crafted this sketch for my new layout. Even though I won’t launch that new look for some time, I want to give you a peak:

SO CUTE RIGHT?! She based it off this outfit.

This contest is a chance for one lucky reader to win their own custom sketch from Laura. Here’s what you need to do:

1) Tell me about your best thrifted find in 200 words or less. What’s your “Betsey”? Where did you find it? Why do you love it? What did it cost you?

2) Attach a picture of yourself in that find.

3) Email all of it to

4) I’ll choose my favourite entry, and you’ll win a custom sketch by Laura based on your photo! You’ll get the high-resolution file to use as you please. Use it on your blog, your facebook, your screensaver, where ever! Or print off a giant copy and have it framed above your fireplace. Definitely the best idea.

5) Submit your entry before June 11, 2012!

Hop to it, readers! Stop waiting, get writing, and start winning!

…Oops, Charlie Sheen probably trademarked “winning” sometime last year. Start…to succeed by striving or effort! That works. Off you go!

My piece of the pie

EEE! Where did that last week go? I try my darndest to be a bi-weekly blogger, but that hasn’t been the case, has it? My family will tell you I’m a masterful excuse-maker, so I do have one lined up for my longer-than-expected absence.

As mentioned previously, I only write about an outfit if I have something moderately interesting to say. Lately, I haven’t felt all that inspired by anything in my closet, nor have I rushed out to fix that. You see, a few months ago, I arbitrarily assigned myself a monthly thrift-budget. I can’t say I’ve always stayed below my limit, but I have tried to hover close to it. This month, though, I blew it away in one foul swoop with a vintage dress purchase. Since then, when I drive by my favourite thrift shops, I close my eyes, plug my ears, and shout “lalalala!” as I pass, endangering the lives of fellow drivers everywhere (don’t worry, that was sarcastic, please don’t call the po-po). But seriously, even with the summer merchandise continually refreshing thrift store shelves, I’ve resisted. And while that’s meant less blogging, it’s probably good for my marriage.

I married a fella who makes financial spreadsheets for fun. He gets very excited about, and gets very sad when I don’t make the appropriate reaction to his latest plan for a tax-free savings account. I appreciate the pretty charts generates every month, and it’s fun when he tells me how much money we’re saving, but I like using money much more than counting it. So, I relish in the opportunity to play a part in the overall budgetary success of our marriage. Thrifting gives me that. I may not have known what “RRSP” stood for until very recently, and I take way too long to pay my credit card bill, but I also know that the little piece of the budget chart that shows our spending on clothing and house decor would be much bigger if I weren’t a thrifter.

Take this outfit: This blouse was still tagged at $89.99 when I bought it for $6.99. These Theory shorts were a last-minute, no-change-room buy at Talize for $7.99. Similar shorts retail online for $130.00. That’s cray-cray! I spent $15 on this outfit. Normal people (okay, rich people who use five dollar bills to line their pets’ beds) would have spent $205 dollars.

I can’t always tell you my five-year financial goals, and I have to pause before I explain the advantages of a variable mortgage over a fixed-rate one, but if I keep close to my monthly thrift budget, and save 92% on all my clothing purchases, I’ll feel pretty good about my financial health. That may mean less blogging, but it would get me high fives from Suze Orman and Gail Vaz-Oxlade.

Now if only I could be as similarly disciplined when it came to our food rule. We started aiming for two meals out a month, which was just laughable. I blame Hamilton for that one though, there’s just too much good stuff to eat. Speaking of, sushi calls. Sayonara!

A Pantone Palette

Okay friends. I really try my best to hide the design geek and keep things snappy and fresh around these parts, but every so often I can’t resist the urge to give a little history lesson. This might seem a little dry to you, but at least this lesson comes with pictures.

As usual, this lesson starts with a thrift. I thrifted a Lane Bryant blouse on Friday. It’s nearly-new, and full of hot pinks, bright oranges, and warm yellows. Basically, I’m decreeing it my official summer 2012 palette, as long as it’s accompanied by my most favourite sea-foam nail polish. After I braced some seriously insane winds to snap a few pics in my blouse, I reviewed them, and defined my 2012 palette.

Nice, huh? Well, not long after I pulled all four colours, I noticed something oddly familiar about this collection of hues. But before I reveal what that is, I need to tell you about Pantones. What is a Pantone? To put it in almost-offensively over-simplified terms, a Pantone is a swatch of colour from the world’s largest swatch collection. The Pantone colour matching system is the definitive voice on colour when it comes to product and graphic design.  Every brand you encounter on a daily basis has a specific Pantone colour that ensures that colour looks exactly the way it should no matter where it appears. McDonald’s red is PANTONE 485C. Barbie’s pink is PANTONE 219C (and holy geek alert, you can buy a Pantone Barbie!) These colours are always a carefully selected, meticulously calculated choice. (are you asleep yet? I’m almost done, promise!)

How does this pertain to my colour-explosion outfit? I’m getting there! You see, every year, Pantone declares one colour as the “Colour of the Year”. They choose a colour that captures the essence of what people are loving, wearing, or using. Sometimes they are prophetic – predicting what’s next, and sometime’s they’re observant – expanding on what they already see.

Well, in a honest-to-goodness unplanned coincidence, I just so happened to be rocking every “Pantone Colour of Year” from the last four years. In 2009, they chose Mimosa (PANTONE 14-0848). In 2010, they chose Turquoise (PANTONE 15-5519). In 2011, they chose Honey Suckle (PANTONE 18-2120). And not two months ago, they chose Tangerine Tango (PANTONE 18-2120) for 2012.

I realize this may not be of any interest to anyone but me, but I totally dorked out over the coincidence. I suppose it pleased me so because it just reaffirmed what I already know – that all of my passions overlap in all sorts of unexpected ways. Graphic design trends spill into fashion trends, fashion trends leak into interior design trends, interior design trends influence graphic design trends, and so goes the cycle. To bring it back to the weekend winds we experienced, life is one creative, colourful tornado, and designers like me just stand in the middle of it. Hats off to Pantone for four years of solid colour choices, and hats off to me because, well, it’s still really windy.

Making Amends: Music Wars

In the spirit of St. Valentine’s Day, I’ve prepared a bit of a longer entry today. One thing to get us started: I hate modern country music. And yet, last week, one of my thrifted outfits made me feel a bit like a cowgirl. Why is this important? Because it’s provided me an occasion to make amends with all my Garth-Brooks loving friends. You’re out there, and I love you. What prompted this public display of affection for dusty boots, desert skirts and denim jackets? Memories from my youth of music wars, subcultures, cliques and geeks. Here goes:

I went to a funny high school. We were a funny high school because while we had all the typical Glee/Mean Girls clique dynamics, it took on a bit of a different face. Instead of jocks & band geeks, we had hippies & punks. The male population of our little school was fiercely divided into these two very distinct groups.

The hippies were the popular kids. And the hippies adhered to a very distinct dress code comprised of plaid hunter jackets, dirty jeans, long shaggy hair, work boots, and a pack of cigarettes (think Hyde from That 70s Show meets Paul Bunyan). In addition to their uniformed attire, they all listened to one radio station – Classic Rock Q 107. Bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, The Doors and AC/DC made up the CD collection as approved by the hippies. The only other bands that made the cut without being actual classic rock where The Tragically Hip. Oh, and they all had animal nicknames for each other.

In stark contract to the hippies on the right were the punks of the left. This scrappy young group of rebels were the underdogs in the social scene (as punks usually are). They, too, had a very uniformed style: A DC/Volcom/Etnies t-shrit, Dickies shorts so low they almost broke the dress code, and Vans shoes. They wore a lot of studded belts, they skateboarded, and they listened to Punk, Ska and Pop-punk. Acceptable bands included Blink 182, Goldfinger, Rancid, and for a brief window, Simple Plan (shudder).

Now, while my particular social group leaned towards the hippie aesthetic, I had friends in both camps. For the most part, these groups stayed out of each other’s way. The hippies would play hockey and the punks would go snowboarding. But because teenagers are so full of angst, it wasn’t long before these two groups entered into an official feud. Here’s how it started:

Every Friday morning, our school would meet in the Commons for an hour or so, and students were encouraged to preform songs, skits, and magic tricks, etc. On this Friday, a rambunctious bunch of punks took to the stage for a few numbers. While I don’t remember the set list, I distinctly remember how they ended the show: In one high note, the singer sang into the mic: “Classic rock suuuuuucks”.

A flurry of grumbles and threats erupted from the hippie crowd. Teachers did their best to quell the tension, and I rolled my eyes at the hilarity of it all. The following assembly, a plaid-clad hippie and his friend played Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and ended with a hurried speech on all the reasons Blink 182 was the “worst band ever”.

A few days later, one of the punks dressed up in a plaid jacket, dirty jeans, and carried around a pack of cigarettes all day. He called himself Spade– a direct take on one of the hippie’s nicknames – Ace (I can’t make this stuff up!). The hippies, of course, took direct offense to this, and made murmurs of retaliation. Luckily though, our school wasn’t Degrassi and so nothing tragic ever came from the feud, and by graduation we were all best buds. Okay not quite, but we did all go to the same prom party. Great times!

What did I take from all of this? Music + fashion are inseparable, and the way we dress is absolutely a reflection of the subculture to which we choose to identify, especially when we’re 16. In hands of adolescent males, this is a recipe for silly hatefulness and testosterone wars. I can still see this exact scenario playing out in high schools across the world. Maybe Emo kids are are feuding with Hipsters. But today, on St. Valentine’s day, let’s set an example for another way, kids!

Listen here, new country music lovers – I don’t like your music. You might even say I think it sucks. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be pals. I may not like your Faith Hill or your Blake Shelton, your sparkly cowboy hats or your “sexy” tractors. But I love your boots and I love your jean jackets, I love your fine leather and I love your handsome cowboys. I even have the occasional soft spot for your Taylor Swift. So let’s not feud, and let’s not fight. Let’s celebrate our shared interests, like Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton! And most of all, let’s do it in love. Because, as Dolly would say, if we’ve got real love, “we’ve got everything we need”.

Happy Valentine’s Day guys!

Outfit breakdown: Ralph Lauren Skirt, Parasuco Jean Jacket, vintage top – all, as always, thrifted.

It’s not me, it’s you.

Last week Thursday, my sisters and I descended upon The Salvation Army for the 5/$15 sale. This rare occurance means that all my finds are not $5.99 as usual, but $3! We approached the racks with a careful determination –  piling up pieces and strategically laying out our changerooms. I quickly found 5 new items, and was quite pleased with my varying selection – 1 dress, 1 cardigan, 1 skirt, and 2 new shirts.

I went home with 5 more items than my closet currently has hangers, so it was time for a mini-binge to make room for my new steals. I did a quick scan of the territory, and pulled out the items I never wear, don’t like, and quite simply forgot about.

I removed some frump-tastic items from the back corners of my closet – a khaki skirt that looked like garbage after one wash, a gray cardigan that was the Eeyore of my sweater collection, some pinstriped pants from my bland “young professional” phase, etc. This pile was a testament to the unremarkable. As I bundled up these leftovers, I noticed one common thread between these sorry pieces of polyester and cotton – they all came from The Mall. All of these cast-offs came into my possession in exactly the same way: they were purchased in a panicked haste – last-minute impulse buys to make me feel better about wasting three hours of my Saturday doing my best Zombie walk from store to store.

Giddy from the success of my 5/$15, and motivated by the lumpy pile at my feet, I’ve decided to make something official. It’s something I’ve been toying with for some time now, and I think Mondays are the perfect days to share sweeping declarations. So, here is my sweeping declaration for this here 16th day of January, 2012:

That’s right peeps. This relationship has officially gone sour. For 2012, I will only buy clothes that are thrifted, or come from an independent retailer I intentionally desire to support. This means no Winners, no Walmart, no H and no M, no Zara, no Cleo, no Ricki’s, and no Guess. Mall – we’re breaking up. And no, it’s not me – it’s you.

*However, I do require some small exceptions to my Year Without a Mall. I will only revisit my former flame for two reasons, as follows:

1) To buy undergarments and various hosiery. I don’t think this requires any explanation.

2) To buy pants – my “38 inseam unfortunately limits my ability to thrift pants. I’ve tried. I look silly. However, just the other day my Mom gave me some jeans that were too low-rise for her tastes, so perhaps I just need to find a way to trick my mom into buying more low-rise pants.

So there you have it! A resolution for 2012, only two weeks too late. I should feel daunted by my new pledge, but I’m actually feeling confident and excited. It means I’ll stay motivated to keep thrifting and adding new-old pieces to my closet. On Friday night, I put together two of my 5/$15 finds – this lovely, delicate lace top, and a basic-black skirt. $3 dollas each! And, in order to ensure there is a sufficient amount of dorkiness in this post, here I am, taking “the vow”.

And now, I’d like to extend the call to my thrift fashionistas all across the interwebs – any of you care to take the pledge and break up with the Mall? I’ll make you a button! And teach you the secret handshake. And invite you to my clubhouse. No boys allowed! Okay, okay. Some boys allowed. But only nice ones.

(I think I’m actually serious about the button. Stay tuned for that!)

Anyways, that’s it for today. Let’s all raise our cups, and give three cheers for new years, old clothes, and sweeping declarations. Happy Monday everyone!
Update: Join the movement! Grab a button. Allz you gotta do is grab a button using the code below, add it as a widget on your blog, and watch your closet grow! Magic!