Friday, July 22, 2011

IFB Links à la Mode Weekly Roundup

This week, I was honored to have my FFB post on the ethics of thrift shopping be selected for inclusion in IFB's Links à la Mode post. This was my first time being picked for this roundup, so I'm quite excited about it! Check out the other links...some interesting posts, here.

From this week's editor,Nubia of NubiasNonsense:
Style is what you make it. We are all different and beautiful in our own ways. Many of us have different techniques to display how we want to present ourselves. Some people are very "structured" "prim and proper" and live by a color scheme while others go wild with mixing patterns and have the "unpolished" and "don't care" look. It's all about where you get your inspiration from and your personality in general.

Here are some classic quotes on style:

  • "Fashion fades, style is eternal." -YSL

  • "Fashion is not something that exist only in dresses. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." -Coco Chanel

  • "'Style' is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma. Fashion is something that comes after style." -John Fairchild

Links à la Mode: July 21st

Bikini Sale at Shopbop: Parker bikinis, Tori Praver, Salt Swimwear, OndadeMar, Naelie, Zimmerman, Juicy Couture, Rosa Cha, Vix, Tyler Rose, & Brette Sandler

If you would like to submit your link for next week’s Links à la Mode, please register first, then post your links HERE.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Like Lemonade on a Hot Day

It's been hot here in Boston for the last couple of weeks, necessitating pulling out the summer dresses! This outfit started out with the shoes...I'd done something yesterday that strained a muscle in my foot a bit, so flat shoes were the order of the day. Then I realized they matched the lemon-print dress I've been meaning to wear, I found a top to go under it to cover up a bit more for my cold office (yes, I generally end up wearing a sweater all day anyway), and here's the result:

As I'd mentioned last week, I got this dress off Ebay after seeing the fabulous Annebeth wearing it. (Interestingly, this was the first time I've seen something in another blog and really wanted that specific piece, rather than just taking inspiration from the overall style/certain details of the outfit.) During my closet organization, I realized how much my taste in summer dresses has really swung towards big, bold prints, and this piece fit in very well with that. Overall, I'm thrilled with the piece! Just the thing for another hot day.

I had to guess on my size, and the one I ordered ended up being just a little too big, since it's got a stretch panel in the back(but was cheaper and easier to find than the size down). Currently, I've got a couple of safety pins taking in 3/4 inch or so on the top of each side...if that seems to fit well by the end of the day, I'll sew new side seams there.

Things stay's picking up at the Lab, had a busy weekend of cleaning and having friends over for a big waffle brunch, still trying to get things organized around the house (this week's goal is the fabric shelf!), and I'm getting ready for a vacation soon...looking forward to a bit of a breather!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

FFB: Fashion, Social Class, and the Ethics of Thrifting

For this month's Feminist Fashion Bloggers post, the theme is the intersection of fashion, feminism, and social class. If you're interested, check out the roundup of other posts on this topic. Today, I wanted to bring up a couple of related ethical issues about thrift shopping. You all know my love of thrift stores...the vast majority of my wardrobe is now thrifted (mostly at the dollar-a-pound store). Thrift stores allow me to experiment with my clothing and style choices, let me have a wardrobe I would not have bought new on a grad student budget, make me feel good about being frugal, and satisfy my treasure-hunter mentality. In general, it seems that thrift shopping (at thrift stores, charity shops, garage sales, etc.) is no longer stigmatized...thrift stores are not just frequented by people who can't afford higher-priced clothing and goods, but also by the hipster college students, the environmentalists, the Ebay resellers, and the bargain hunters. However, as the upper/middle classes descend on thrift stores in search of that $3 designer dress, are they (am I) taking away things from those who truly can't afford to shop elsewhere?

Image credit get directly down

This questioning was sparked by a couple of comments I'd read while idly scanning the Yelp reviews for my local Goodwill store. Along a number of comments praising things people had found at the store, or complaining about the raised prices ("$4.99 for a shirt?"), there were a couple of comments that stopped me in my tracks. One reviewer said, "This concludes my last attempt at a Goodwill Store. I love thrift shopping, but this just isn't for me. I can't shop alongside people who really are scraping by and need Goodwill to help them out. I feel so guilty." Another agreed: "[I've] found nice Armani X, Sigrid Olsen, Ann Taylor, Forth & Towne...Prepare to feel like a tool when you take these gems away from folks that deserve a break." In my place of privilege as a grad student (but one given a research assistant stipend) raised in an upper-middle-class household, my fashion consumption at thrift stores extends my fashion options, but isn't a complete necessity. Am I depriving someone who really couldn't afford a pretty dress for work otherwise? I generally don't think I'm doing something wrong in buying something for very cheap, or at least hope my money helps support those less fortunate than I am...but there are still some interesting class-related aspects to thrift-store shopping.

Certainly, more people are needing or choosing to shop at thrift stores these days. A New York Times article from 2008 discussed some of the ways the social classes of thrift store shoppers has been changing due to the recession:

"The Salvation Army said its average thrift-store shopper had traditionally been upper or middle class. Many came to hunt for designer clothing at rock-bottom prices...But thrift store operators say the demographics are changing. People who once shopped daily or multiple times a week for vintage treasures are making fewer trips. For some, thrift-store shopping is no longer a hobby but a necessity."

Additionally, there appears to be a difference in what people in different economic classes buy at thrift stores. A study from BYU looked at thrifting in relationship to class and economic situations...they found that people in the lower and middle classes tended to thrift for things like clothing and electronics, while the upper classes were more likely to thrift for antiques and trinkets. One of the authors of that study (quoted here) said that "...middle class shoppers have begun to see thrift stores as a place to pick up items they need at a reduced price…[during] hard economic times and still maintain their current social standing."

Photo of the dollar-a-pound store I shop at from vanberto

It's also interesting to look at thrift store shopping, especially for clothing, in relationship to feminism. There are a number of good aspects: often more sustainable/environmentally friendly to buy secondhand goods, not directly supporting sweatshop practices, frequently supporting charities, etc. However, thrift stores and their low prices also give me the opportunity to buy into fashion trends, to have an overflowing closet, to be able to wear a variety of "new-to-me" clothing on a fairly regular basis. In this way, am I participating in the gendered expectations that women "need to be" constantly consuming fashion? Even if most items in my closet cost me less than a dollar or two - even if I may not be consuming clothing in the marketed stores, or for the prices that I'm being told I need to spend, I'm still participating in the cycle of "more is better" when it comes to clothing. This is also something where I'm class-privileged -- at thrift stores, I'm able to afford to buy more than just the few pieces of clothing I really need. Am I thus raising the standards and helping make it seem "necessary" for women of all social classes to own a lot of clothing if they want to engage in fashion/style practices?

On another note, something I came across while reading articles for this post -- it appears the stigma of thrift store shopping = poor has still stuck around for longer than I'd thought. Did you know that a government investigation in 2009 found that credit card companies were tracking whether you used your credit card at a thrift store or other bargain store? Or that some companies were using that information to raise your interest rates or even lower your credit score if they saw you shopping at thrift stores? How's that for stereotyping rather than rewarding people for being frugal? (More from an NBC report) (EDIT: there was a law put in place in 2009 that makes these kinds of actions by credit card companies illegal, so hopefully that's limited some of this...)

Anyway. A lot of thoughts... these aspects won't keep me out of my thrift stores, but I've been starting to evaluate my thrifted purchases much more strictly to make sure I really need/want particular pieces, and not let the low prices convince me into buying things that won't have a valued place in my closet or home. Additionally, as I've been doing more home-cleaning, I've been attempting to donate things I'm not using enough in the hope that they'll find a home with someone who will really use them (or at least make some money for charities). What do you all think? Do you have other insights/ideas about class, feminism, and thrift-store fashion?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sunny yellow days

Today is this month's Everybody Everywear day! This time around, the unifying feature is the color yellow..

This outfit therefore got carefully constructed to highlight my closet's favorite yellow pieces. By which I mean, I have one piece of clothing that is actually yellow. This is it. And it's not the easiest shirt for me to style thanks to its low neckline, high waist-thingie, long drape, and fabric that basically shows the lines of anything underneath it. I've recently been a fan of white and yellow, so that color combination prevailed.

Okay, it's not exactly true that I don't have any other yellow clothing...a lemon-print dress arrived a couple of days ago from Ebay, a piece from the UK that I'd been stalking since I saw it here on Annebeth. This was really the only time I've ever seen a piece on another blogger and liked it so much that I wanted that particular item... funny! But I'd had to guess quite a bit on the size (UK sizing plus apparently running small), so I need to alter it a tiny bit before I can take it out for a wearing.

(This one's not a great photo, but it's in front of a yellow wall, so I had to put it in! Everything...everywhere... is yellow?)

Hope everyone is having a good week so far! Things are still fairly quiet at the lab this summer... I'm just reading a bunch of research papers, figuring out what directions I want to take my work next. Potentially in the next couple of days I may have a meeting with my adviser to talk about next steps, which will hopefully help with those directions. But all else is fairly quiet! Trying to stay cool in the ridiculous heat we've been having recently. Cleaning up and organizing things a lot at home, cooking a lot of vegetables thanks to the farm share, and watching tv shows with the boyfriend (anyone else a fan of Star Trek: Enterprise? I know, I know, I'm a nerd...but we'd already finished the original series and got hooked on this one!) Summer going well for you folks out in internet-land?

Friday, July 1, 2011


Today, for Fashion Beauty Friend Friday, we're talking about our "outfit formula," that personal set of pieces we put together frequently/easily. Basically, what do we wear as our personal uniforms. See what the other participants have to say over at Modly Chic's roundup.

1. What’s your go-to outfit formula? What I wore today unintentionally epitomizes my current summer outfit formula: a bold dress (sometimes with a wide belt at the waist, sometimes not), a cardigan for the Lab where it's still ridiculously cold, and a pair of wedges. Usually this pair of wedges, actually. And a pair of earrings, perhaps a necklace. In winter, I'd say my formula involves a top and skirt, a belt, two pairs of heavy tights, and boots. Something like this:

2. How did you come about this formula?
For me, a dress has become a really easy choice. It's one tricky matching tops and bottoms. In summer, I like to take the opportunity to wear bold prints and colors. And I've got a couple of pairs of comfortable wear-with-anything sandals that only get more popular as I wear them more without hurting my feet.

3. Do you have different formulas for different occasions in your

You know, I don't know that I have enough different occasions that recur often enough to develop formulas. I have a set of regular dresses that swing a bit more "dressy," like the one I wore today (went out to dinner with the boyfriend after work tonight). I suppose weekends are a bit of a different occasion; I'll often end up in jeans (or capris) and a fitted knit shirt on the weekends.

4. Has it morphed over the years?
My outfit formulas have definitely changed over the last few years. In college, my winter go-to outfit consisted of a long velvet skirt, a tank top, and some sort of open-front shirt. In summer, it was generally a tank top and jean shorts or a skirt. When I started at the Lab and moved to the city, I stopped wearing tank tops so much (seemed to be drawing too much creepy attention on the street), and basically retreated into a uniform of jeans, sneakers, and tops that were well-not-quite-t-shirts-but-still-fitted-knit-shirts. When I made the active decision to start paying much more attention to my personal style, I shifted toward dresses, heels, and hourglass silhouettes.

5. Which other blogger’s outfit formula would you like to swipe?
Keiko Lynn always wears such lovely outfits...delicate dresses, terrific accessories, and some bold color combinations like this one.

So glad it's finally Friday...really looking forward to this long weekend and the Boston fireworks spectacular on Monday night! (Also: since when is it July already?!?) Hope everyone has nice weekend plans...
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