Back to School

September. Weather cooler, pants longer, days shorter and TV better. There is a shift in the air, and perhaps no more pronounced than in the grand lecture halls and dingy dorm rooms on college campuses all across the globe. Earlier this month, millions of students returned to the college life, trading their crappy summer jobs for crappy 8:00am classes. Some ready to learn, some ready to party, and some ready for both. While everyone feels this shift, I’m observing it at close distance. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a graphic designer at a university, and so I can’t help but relive my own college memories at times like this. Sure, I’ve wandered into the realm of academic nostalgia before on the blog, but September also brings the pangs for the social joys of college life. You know: cheap Corona nights, dorm pranks, crushes that last for approximately one psychology class.

Since most of you don’t find yourselves surrounded by memories off ye ol’ college days, I thought I’d pillage Julie’s College of Pop-Cultural Knowledge once more and let TV do some reminiscing for us. And let’s be honest: TV life is always way more fun than real life.

Always one to dress for the occasion, I’ve prepared for this lecture with some recently thrifted college fashion: this studious vintage mini, a collared shirt, and a chunky belt. I’ve put them with my not-thrifted Oxfords and a bag big enough to hold all the books I read spark notes for. Even if you’re years and miles away from your college days, these shows are bound to make you long for the college experiences you actually had, and the ones you wish you had. Some of them are shows, some just episodes, all fantastically fun portrayals of life within the the post-secondary universe.

Community
Oh gosh, I’ve professed my love for this show on more than one occasion. But any self-respecting list maker (that’s a thing, right?) couldn’t start a college list without it. While this show has veered into broader territory in its later seasons, season 1 is the most delightful look at community college cliches ever. The joys of running the school newspaper, core classes that make your brain cry, electives that no school actually offers, but should. It’s all gold. Plus, I think we can all agree that paintball wars should indeed be mandatory at every university.

Felicity
This show could quite actually be called the opposite of Community. It takes college so seriously. But still, it’s full of glorious young-intellectual angst. It could also be credited with cementing a classic TV rule: that all dorms are SO MUCH NICER than any actual dorm in real life. Extra credit: they taught me how to say “hey“.

The Simpsons: Homer Goes to College
If I need to explain why this episode is classic, I don’t think you should be reading my blog. But in case I do, here you go: Here and here.

Undeclared
Undeclared is to college what Freaks and Geeks is to high school: An awesome, Judd Aptow creation that was tragically cancelled before it’s time. My brief affair with this show began out of the same motivation that got dudes watching 24 – “It’s that kid from Popular Mechanics for Kids!“.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This isn’t a show about college, of course, but two fantastic college episodes are enough to get it on the list. Buffy and the gang would eventually do what most teen shows do: stop going to college after a few months because it’s just too hard to keep it interesting. But two episodes in Buffy Season 4 are some of my favourite bits of college-themed TV. Firstly, episode 4.1 has Buffy completely intimated and lost in her new university surroundings. She even does the classic walk into the wrong classroom and don’t realize it until it’s too late. This wins because I TOTALLY DID THAT. The second must-watch episode is the one with Buffy’s roommate. She labels her food, listens to Cher on repeat, and irons her jeans. Therefore, she’s an evil demon. We’ve all been there in some fashion, right?

I could expand this list to movie territory, but then I’d have to reveal to all of you I haven’t seen Animal House, and I just haven’t worked up a decent enough excuse for that yet. I have seen Old School though, so that’s got to count for something.

If I do ever get around to a Top 5 College Movies list, I have an anecdote ready to go for The Social Network. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the movie, but I did have the privilege of being in college when Facebook launched as a a new, exclusive college thing. At one point, I made the mistake of inviting everyone in my “network” to our Halloween party, and all four of my housemates did the same. The next thing you know, our house is so packed I thought it might explode, our lawn is torn up with tire tracks, a ninja turtle is puking in the hallway, and my housemate and I are outside dealing with a spontaneous visit from the landlord. We did our best to convince him of our upstanding citizenship, while dressed as a vampire and a cheerleader, respectively. Nothing says “responsible” like pom poms and a cape.

And as hard as I’m trying for a college look today, that one will always take the cake. A TV moment if ever I’ve lived one. Give me an “A!”

Just Don’t Call Me Mrs. V.

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.

Pinstripes Vs. Polkadots

I remember my very first day of work at a “real” job. I was taking the big, scary train, and I was so nervous I could have peed my pants. I was also on very little sleep, mostly because I spent the evening prior agonizing about what to wear, changing my outfit a bajillion times, only to conclude I would probably get fired upon arrival for looking like such a loser. I was headed into the office world, and I had no idea how to dress for it. I mean, what experience did I have? My life up to this point had included two looks. It was either Student at School, or Student at Night:

Student at school: Ah, the classic Co-Ed look. It was an easy recipe really: Ugg boots, a scarf, some kind of tightly-fitting tee, and bam – ready to learn!  This look almost always included jeans that meant you could not, under any circumstances, tie your shoe (catch my drift ladies?). It was pretty basic stuff. I just wanted to come off as a naturally put-together college student with naturally pin-straight hair.  It’s not like I was waking up two hours early every morning to fry the shizz out of it to get it to look that way (*cough-sarcasm-cough).

Student at a night: This was basically the Student at School outfit, just updated for an evening of dancing by substituting said tight-fitting tee for a sparkly tank-top of some kind. Curiously, I often decided the UGGs should stay. I always had very sweaty feet by the end of the night. Oh, to be young again.

So, when I finally landed my first job as a junior designer at a small firm, I assumed I had to tap into that foreign, strange “Business Casual” style of dress. I went to the nearest Tall Girl, got myself three pairs of pinstriped pants and a few sweater vests. I left for work that morning attempting to look like a “young professional”, but ended up looking more like Pam Beesly in the Roy days. It was sad.

I don’t know when I my style drifted away from pinstripes and pale button-ups, but I’m so very glad it did. You know what I wear to work every day now? Anything I want! You know what you can wear to work every day? Anything you want! You can still look respectable in bursts of colour and pattern, and you can still feel pretty whilst looking professional. I wore something to work yesterday that, to me, perfectly personified the balance I seek out when dressing for work.

I thrifted this brightly coloured, pleated dress at Talize a few weeks back. It’s red, floral, a little funky, and it has three buttons on one sleeve for reasons I’m not sure exist. It’s a brand name I’ve never heard of, and I have a hunch it came from 91’. But it’s light and flowy, and when I pair it with this little Guess jacket, I feel like a creative professional – whatever that is.

Since I’ve stopped aiming for “business casual” and started dressing like myself, I actually enjoy shopping for office attire, simply because the items I buy for work are items I can wear again on the weekend, and when I get home.

Over the past year, on the rare occasion that the trifecta comes together (clean hair, some makeup, and an outfit I actually like), I’ll snap a pic on my desktop webcam, just so I can look at those times when I sleep past the fifth snooze and revert back to Beesly. I compiled a little collage of those rare moments. As you’ll see, there is no one right way to to dress for the office. So have some fun with it! All looks, as always, thrifted!

Green cardigan + belt – Talize | Black lace top – Consignment shop | Striped tunic – Talize | Parasuco Jean jacket – Goodwill | Maggy London Polkadot dress – Salvation Army | Cassis Printed peasant dress – Clothing Swap | Red dress – Talize | Le Chateau Purple tunic – Talize | Chicos Polkadot blouse – Salvation Army

How do you dress for work? Pinstripes & cardies or pleats & polkadots?

Frame-worthy Photos

Over the summer, I discovered a most-magical website. It’s called Pinterest. Basically, it’s an online cataloguing website for all things creative – art, design, photography, fashion, home decor, and beyond. Lately, I’ve been using it to compile inspiration for my recent foray into wedding and engagement photography. One trend I immediately wanted to try was the use of old frames as props in photoshoots. They add a lovely and quirky touch to any pic, whether you’re shooting, babies, couples, or the recently-wed.

So cute, right? Images from here, here, and here.

That said, My love affair with old mirrors and frames is nothing new. I digitally referenced them in the design of my table seating chart for my 2009 wedding, and my thrifty Momma also used them masterfully to decorate a wall of her bedroom just last year.

I wanted a frame to keep in my “props” pile to pull out for future photo sessions. Rather than run around looking for such a frame, I just added it to the list of sought-after-items in my head, and kept my eyes open. Then, a few weeks ago, our church held a fundraising garage sale and I picked up a sweet old mirror for 2 bucks. I unscrewed the back, popped out the mirror, and voila! An adorable e-session prop is born!

I took this pretty little prop to an egagement session last month, and I’m pleased as punch with the results. Thanks to Jay and Maria for being such willing subjects!

Oh, the happy couple also came with their own thrifty collection of props. They brought along a sweet picnic set from good ol’ Valu Village. Here they are, gettin’ all cozy on the blanket.

So there you have it. Thrifting not only enhances my wallet and my closet, but it’s enhancing my work, too.

PS – Head on over to jubileecreative for more of my photography and design (maybe I should reference this as a SP rather than a PS, as it is a Shameless Plug).

We be thriftin’

Greetings, blogopshere! You’re here a) because you responded to my shameless promotion on twitter and facebook, or b) by accident. Either way, I welcome you to what may be my third blogging venture, and very much hope you come back.

Now, what’s this all about? Well, the title, as dorky as it is, should give you a pretty big tip-off as to what you can expect to find here: I’m one thrifty lady, and I’d like to regale you with tales of my thrify style.

Second, why bother? I’m a full-time-and-then-some graphic designer/photographer, so why on earth would I start up yet another project to take away my precious time? Well, that’s actually the reason in itself – Because I’m so busy with work, I want an an outlet that’s just for fun, and just for me – no clients, no expectations, no deadlines. I’ll post what I want when I feel like it. The freedom that comes with this sort of outlet is what I’ve been cravin’ for some time now.

Third, why thrifting? Well, mainly because it’s not my job. I’ve tried blogging about typography & design before, but it never stuck. To put it plainly, my life is consumed with analyzing fonts and photo filters, so I hardly feel compelled to write about it on my “down time”. Additionally, I’m a girl with many interests, and thrifting happens to be the one thing that ties them all together. I’m no fashionista, but I love clothing. It’s one thing to leave the house feeling like you’ve pulled a neat little outfit together, it’s another to leave the house in a neat little outfit that’s made up entirely of second-hand items and el-cheapo finds. I apply the same philosophy when dressing my house: I’m not an interior designer, but hunting for second-hand housewares gives me a buzz. No box-store sectionals in my living room, no sir!

There’s something so satisfying about digging for diamonds at local thrift stores, it’s actually given me an allergy to malls. They are gross, expensive and souless; while thrift stores are cheap, exciting, and full of other people’s stories.

On a surface level, this is style blog. But I hope, occasionally, I’ll get to explore some of the treasures I find on a deeper level, and perhaps awaken passion for second-hand styling in my readers. It’s eco-friendly, social-concious, and so.much.fun.

Oh, and one more thing: I promise I’m not only of those bloggers who gets all holier-than-thou about thrift shopping, but actually buys from super-fancy consignment shops and vintage “boutiques”. I’m a Sally-Anne girl through-and-through. I like my shirts under $10 and my dresses under $20!

Won’t you thrift along with me?