This past Monday, i.e. Valentine’s Day, the window display at my thriftique was a shitshow of pink. I figured I’d temper the girly vibe/commiserate with uncoupled shoppers by donning an all-black ensemble. It wasn’t until a customer commented on my outfit that I realized the true source of its inspiration.
- You know that movie The Craft?
- Know it? I was OBSESSED with it for most of middle school!
- Me too, and your outfit kinda has that early-nineties witch vibe going on. Love the nod to goth!
If ever you find yourself chanting Earth-Air-Fire-Water in your head and feel the need to express your inner witch, a nod to goth can be achieved via the following:
A little black dress. Mine’s from H&M: I resisted scissoring it into a minidress for four solid years, leaving it knee-length for classy occasions, synagogue and/or funerals, but I’m happy I finally gave in. The lining started shredding as soon as I’d cut it, so I want with the raw thang and hemmed it with a loop stitch to keep the hem in tact.
Note: Loop stitch is not a technical term – it’s what happens when you poke a needle and thread through the inside of the garment close to the interior edge, then loop it around the exterior edge in lieu of poking it through the outside of the garment. If that makes any sense.
A black blazer (a vintage Goodwill Outlet Center find, in this case). In its original form, the four-button blazer had two visible copper buttons and two hidden heinous plastic buttons. It looked fine buttoned up; unbuttoned, it was a decidedly not-hot mess.
A blazer that cannot be worn both open and closed is a blazer undeserving of a place in my wardrobe – clearly, the situation had to be remedied. Luckily, the blazer had two matching copper buttons on its sleeves. I snipped them off, and trimmed the fabric shielding the heinous plastic buttons. Then I snipped those buttons from the garment, and sewed the copper ones onto the vacant button space. If it looks unfinished, GOOD. It’s SUPPOSED to. We have a raw, badass witchy theme going on here!
The shoes are a no-brainer, as black, lace-up, combat-inspired boots epitomize the nod-to-goth look. These are Miz Moos, and Mommy got them for me at Marshalls because she is awesome.
Chokers are a staple nineties accessory, so I threw a vintage Jewish star charm onto a long silver chain and wrapped it around my neck three times. I also added a killer vintage wrist cuff, and topped the whole thang off with ripped black tights.
“We are the weirdos, mister.” Bah!
A few mornings ago, me and my greasy hair took an L train back from my boyfriend’s apartment, and I realized I had a crucial decision to make: Wash and blow dry my hair, or get to work on time. I could have done both at ludicrous speed, but I was low on energy that morning; the thirty-minute time suck that is the wash/blow dry cycle was more than I could reasonably handle. Was it possible to omit the exercise and still have a good hair day? Maybe. A half-ass blow dry (i.e. what happens when you dampen your dry, unwashed hair, dab on some straightening serum and dry it in sections) never lasts more than a few hours. An up-do was an option, but I effing hate wearing my hair up. Ditto for au natural – my strands are too thin for that shiznat. I was about to resign myself to a wash/blow dry cycle at ludicrous speed, when it dawned on me: Dry Shampoo! I hopped off the train and hauled ass to CVS in pursuit.
Many beauty magazines will tell you dry shampoo is available in your local drugstore. They are lying. After scanning the appropriate aisles and coming up dry-shampoo-less, I remembered my mother’s penchant for baby powder.
Mom is a baby powder fanatic. She uses it in place of deodorant, she sprinkles it in shoes, her make-up area’s covered with the stuff. I’ve even seen it on her shoulders a few times… does that mean she uses it in her hair??? I hightailed it to the diapers aisle, found the baby powder, and got my answer.
What’s in dry shampoo that makes it suck up the oil and grease so effectively? Cornstarch. Also a key ingredient in any good baby powder. Booyah!
I sped home to my apartment, giddy with anticipation. The baby powder did exactly what I’d hoped, and then some: I went from greasy flat mess to Brazilian blowout in approximately ten seconds. Hello AWESOME.
Baby powder isn’t just my newfound alternative to the wash/blow dry cycle; since that morning, it’s become one of my favorite styling products EVER. A good dry shampoo will run you anywhere from $15.00 – $35.00. What’d I pay for my Johnson & Johnson? $3.49. Loves it!
Hot diggity DAMN – it’s been awhile. AuH2O is taking over my life AND I LOVE IT. Shopping for the store has brought a whole new sense of purpose to my Cheap JAPtastic life, for reals. I’ve honed some of my amateur DIY skills, and learned some new tricks as well. Among said new tricks? WINDOW DISPLAY.
I mean, come on, you know what it’s like to put outfits together: You lay it out on the bed; you think it’ll look amazing; you try on the combo; it looks like hell; you repeat the exercise until you’re out of steam; you resort to one of your standbys; you vow to never play dress up when you’re trying to get out the door again. Maybe that’s just me and I’m a total nutter. Whatevs.
Most apparel looks radically different on the hanger than it does on the body, but outfitting a mannequin gave me a whole new outlook on playing dress up. When you’re the model, the arduous task of dressing and undressing coupled with the self-criticism that tends to go along with trying on clothes results in one thing: Fear. Nothing kills creativity and boldness like being afraid of how it’s going to look. And while dressing a mannequin didn’t obliterate the insecurities exacerbated by trying new things, it changed my perspective on the whole getting dressed thang. When something doesn’t look good on us, our first instinct is to kick our own asses: We’re always too short, too fat, too pale, too old, too whatever. When something doesn’t look good on a dummy, you realize it’s not the body that’s the problem – it’s the garment. Maybe it’s ill-fitting, maybe it’s a weird pairing, maybe it’s made by a designer who’s ignorance of the female form is unparalleled (see Marc Jacobs). Granted, our dummy’s a size 4, which is still a far cry from the average American woman (size 14). But it has boobs, and it’s a lot more realistic than the less-than-zero mannequins gracing most retail stores today.
I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a dummy to avoid all the crap that arises whilst trying to get dressed. I just think reminding ourselves of the obvious when we do so – that more often than not, it’s not us, it’s the clothes – is a solid idea.
Where the eff was I? Oh riiiight – this outfit! Pairing tweeds and animal prints AND studs is kind of wild, and certainly not something I would have thought up sans the freedom afforded by the glorious headless dummy.
Apparently, it worked: A customer came in a few days after the outfit had been on display and asked to try on the skirt. I took it off the mannequin for her (unlike Goodwill, Housing Works and Angel Street Thrift Shop, we DO sell things from our window display on the spot :P): She loved it, bought it and left giddy over her material buzz. The naked-bottomed dummy gave me another chance to play dress up – an activity that, thanks to AuH2O, isn’t quite as scary as it once seemed.
Outfit deets: Vintage Tweed Peacoat, $14.00; Moschino Cheap ‘n’ Chic Cardigan, $28.00; Luella for Target Miniskirt (hand-studded by yours truly), $28.00.
Where office attire’s concerned, slut style seems to be all the rage this season. Risque Business, if you will.
Rocking a look like the above in a professional environment takes some serious balls. The Britney Spears-inspired thigh-high socks and mini-skirt pairing doesn’t say “promotion” so much as “afternoon quickie.” Even in a workplace with a flexible dress code, it’s pushing it.
Risque Business might be daywear in the fashion world; in the real world, it works better as evening garb. I took a cue from shopbop, and came up with this potential going-out outfit inspired by the risque business trend.
Mixing black and navy is a nod to any menswear look. The “socks” are cut from an old pair of navy tights; the navy belt was three bucks at a New Jersey thrift store.
The black mini slip is a hand-me-down from Mom; I wasn’t a fan of shapewear until I realized its high versatility quotient. Much like a good bra, a decent shaper slip dress is a worthy investment. It slims the frame when worn under dresses, and also answers some of life’s most difficult questions, i.e.
What the eff do I wear under this transparent vintage slip schmata?
I snagged the aforementioned slip at Zachary’s Smile’s Attic Sale a few months back; were it not for the awesomeness of shapewear, I’d still have absolutely no idea how to wear it.
Where the risque business trend’s concerned: Keep it dark. Keep it simple. And keep it short without exposing your hoo-ha.
Every time there’s a season change, I’m overwhelmed by the variety and volume of new merch all over again. I yearn for an omniscient sartorial guide to steer me toward what I want and away from what I don’t: My brain is too saturated with glossy features, luxe ads, sponsored posts, editorial endorsements and product launches to know the difference.
Enter Shopbop Lookbooks: No Fall Trend Report is more drool-worthy or relevant to my personal taste. Shopbop doesn’t just have a knack for highlighting the best of Fall’s apparel, accessories, handbags and shoes; it manages to style the goods in ways as creative as they are wearable. I’m not saying go out and buy the site’s latest and greatest – the prices attached to its goods exemplify material obscenity. Browsing Shopbop Lookbooks is a look-don’t-touch exercise only. We look; we note; we hit a thrift, resale, vintage or consignment store; we review our notes; we find a version of a coveted thing for a fraction of its shopbop price!
Here’s a breakdown of one of the site’s coveted looks, and some tips on how to shop ‘it second hand.
Contemporary sweaters and leggings can easily be found at resale shops or buy-sell-trades. Stick with stores that stock seasonal, on-trend apparel: Buffalo Exchange, Beacon’s Closet, Second Time Around and Crossroads Trading Co. are all stellar bets. (Crossroads, kindly stop depriving us east-coasters of your awesomeness, and open an NYC location).
The odds of that kickass Elizabeth & James blazer popping up at a resale shop anytime soon are probs non-existent, but fret not, chickadees: You can get the same look by sewing metallic trim onto the shoulders of one you already own!
Order online from M&J Trimming, or hit your local fabric/craft store for the necessary materials. Hip hip hooray for DIY.
Stay tuned for more trends and ways to shop them second hand.