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Retro Plus Retail Equals An Oxymoron

Surprise! Miss me? Good. Ditto. Discussion on the absurdity of Spring’s Retro Trend shall heretofore commence. Clarifying the meaning of “retro” as it relates to style is probs a good place to start. Let’s jack some knowledge from Wikipedia:

Retro is a culturally outdated or aged style, trend, mode, or fashion, from the overall postmodern past, that has since that time become functionally or superficially the norm once again. The use of “retro” style iconography and imagery interjected into post-modern art, advertising, mass media, etc. It generally implies a vintage of at least 15 or 20 years.

You hear that, chickadees? Old shiznat is In. So In that Topshop sent two chicks from its design team over to AuH2O yesterday to spy on us, which was half-flattering and half-absurd. (What’s wrong, Topshop? Is the shitstorm of sparkles and feathers and other overpriced barely-wearables not going as well as you’d hoped?)

Retro basically means stolen from the past. This makes it the easiest trend in the history of trends to thrift, should you choose to incorporate elements of it into your wardrobe. Tie-front blouses, long skirts, printed button down shirts – there’s about nine kajillion of all the above in every shape, size and color in every Salvation Army Family Store and every Goodwill Outlet Center on the planet. For serious.

The tops below were snagged on a stock run earlier this week… before I’d even browsed Shopbop’s latest trend schmend lookbooks. The extent of the Retro sham eventually became clear.

Swearsies, my vintage striped blouse is 100% silk too. Nothing’s wrong with it, aside from the fact that it’s been duplicated, coined the “Clean Sheer Striped Shirt” and perverted by

Am I on glue here, or does the earth-toned, Safari-inspired trend thing happen EVERY SINGLE SPRING and just rotate what it calls itself? I guess this year it’s masquerading as Retro; next year it’ll be Natural or something equally vague. Whatever.

A few small differences between my thrift find and its retail copy, err, inspiration (also by Madewell – someone on that design team def digs Goodwill.) One: Mine is linen – a fabric of equal caliber to silk, IMHO. Two: Mine is olive, as opposed to poop brown. Onto the prints!

Okay, okay, I’m aware that the Tommy Bahama number at left isn’t objectively attractive. It could possibly be deemed ugly as sin. Guess what? I don’t give a RAT’S ASS. I think it’s AMAZING. I think it’s my favorite top I own right now, and I think I’m going to wear it all spring and summer, possibly to family events, where it will undoubtedly embarrass my mother.

My feeling is, if you’re gonna go tie-front, go big or go home, and if you’re gonna go print, go loud while you’re at it. I wore it to work yesterday, assuming it’d be slow because it was a weekday and the weather was absolute shite. We ended up getting slammed for the bulk of the afternoon, which obvs means that in addition to being awesome, the Tommy Bahama is also lucky.

For today’s version of the aforementioned lucky top, see the Adhan Sleeveless Blouse by Equipment. It’s a little less loud and little more modern… I might even call it cute. Oh, except it’s effing two hundred and forty two dollars.

I’m sorry, but a top costing more than two Benjamins better take ten pounds off, make my boobs look perkier, go with every thing I own, and have a lifespan of approximately 75 years. If it doesn’t do any of the above, it’s not a top at all. It’s a FELONY.

Peacey outtie and a big fat MWAH.

Spring Stock Preview!

Thrifting a Goodwill Outlet Center isn’t just challenging: It is a trying test of spirit and will. I’ve been at it for two years now, and it knocks me on my ass EVERY SINGLE TIME.

High volume thrift is a dangerous journey. Here’s how the clothes-by-the-pound game is played:

  1. Approach massive bin of donated crap.
  2. Plunge arms into bottom of bin; grab as much clothing as wingspan/bicep strength allows; yank in upward direction.
  3. Sift through first pull; put promising items into cart.
  4. Repeat 4-5 times for current bin.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for every subsequent bin.

How large is a massive bin of donated crap? Five feet wide, nine feet long, four feet deep – and that’s a conservative guess.

How many massive bins of donated crap exist at Goodwill Outlet Center? Forty or so – enough to scare the shit out of me.

Why do I continue to frequent a place that leaves me battered and brain-fried? Because it’s the biggest payoff in the history of thrift. (Also, because I need stock for my

More laters. Mwah!

P.S. Dig the polaroid frames?! Picnik, I LOVE YOU. :P

The Full Spiel: SBH Thrift 50% Off Sale

Sephardic Bikkur Holim Thrift Shop (say it five times fast – GO!) has some designer donation connections, but the place is struggling on the organizational front. Blazers and blouses and tops mingle on nine different racks; jeans, kiddie clothes, fabric and bedding are randomly strewn across tables; no one seems to know that “sweatshirt” isn’t a synonym for “sweater.” If some logic exists in the layout, it was lost on me. Most things aren’t tagged, which is uber irritating. There’s a few random signs scattered about – Women’s Dresses, $10 – $25, etc. – but the actual cost of each item seems entirely arbitrary: The number they charge is the number you’re expected to pay. Yes, it’s thrift, but can I get a little fucking effort please? Even Goodwill organizes by color and type. GET IT TOGETHER.

There are gems to be had at the

Tweed and Animal Print an Oddly Awesome Pairing

Hot diggity DAMN – it’s been awhile.

Dressing myself is fun. Dressing a mannequin is FUNNER.

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.