Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"I don't rely on mirrors, so I always take polaroids."

Buying stuff for a buck can be difficult sometimes. You can't try things on at the swap meet. You can't return them. You can't exchange them if they don't fall in nicely with the rest of your wardrobe. Sometimes, you just have to eat a loss - and that's fine, as a couple of dollars is an acceptable loss. Still, no one likes to lose money, so it sets my mind a little more at ease about things if I make a true, concerted effort to incorporate an item before I say goodbye.

Take, for example, this vintage, faux Missoni top (Yes, folks have been knocking off Missoni since before I was born!), which I'd bought months ago but couldn't figure out how to style. I thought I'd give it a shot last night, and this is the first outfit I came up with:

Ann Taylor Jacket, $1 - Mock Missoni Top, $1 - Patent Belt, $1 - J. Crew Cords, $40? at J. Crew Outlet - Pumps, $40 at Ross - Makowsky Bag, even exchange after reselling my previous green bag.

Ok, aside from my horribly flat, lifeless hairdo here, as soon as I saw this picture, I knew I wasn't thrilled. That's the jacket I usually wear with dresses, so it's too cropped for these pants. I also don't feel good with the top buttoned up all the way. And there's just too much black going on. If I had worn this out to work, I would have caught site of myself in the mirror at lunch, cringed, and dumped my poor Mock Missoni into the donate pile as soon as I arrived home.

Cher was right; cameras are much more reliable tools than mirrors. The camera helped me edit and re-edit this outfit until I was happy to keep my top.

Same outfit as above, but with a $3 necklace in an attempt to lower neckline.

Same outfit as original, but with shirt collar unbuttoned.

Swapped in: Tweedy Jacket, $1 - Carlos Santana Pumps, $40 at Ross - Cettu Bag, $10 at Swap Meet - Boys Over Flowers Star Necklace (replica of the necklace from one of my favorite Korean Dramas!), $4 off Ebay

Same outfit as above, but with hair down - much better!

These are the two outfits I was finally happy with - I would wear the un-tucked version on Fridays, and I plan to wear the tucked-and-belted version today:

Same outfit as above, but with original bag.

Same outfit as above, but with shirt tucked in and $2 belt added.
See, it wasn't poor Mock Missoni's fault the outfit wasn't working - it was mine! I had it buttoned totally wrong, and I had it paired with too many dark colors.

Thank you for saving this fun top, Mr. Camera. You can never die, okay? Okay. It's a deal. No take-backs.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Outfit Spam!

F21 Blazer, $1 - Joseph Skirt, $1 - BR top, $1 - Target pumps, $2.50 - Abro Bag, $30 ($15 plus $24 for dye) - necklace, $1

BR Pindot Top, $1 - Sweater Vest, $1 - Loafers, free (trade + leftover dye) - J. Crew Cords, $30 via Ebay - L'Incontro Bag, $22 ($10 + $12 for dye)

Ann Taylor Top, $1 - McGuinn Skirt, $1 - sheer tights, $1 - Necklace, $3 - Pumps, $40 - Blazer, $12 (half of $24 suit)

Ann Taylor Jacket, $1 - BR Harrison Pants, $1 - Loafers, swap party - Coach purse, swap party - Farinaz Top, $1 - necklace, swap party

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thrifting the Trends: Fall 2011

Although the weather forecast in LA is still pretty toasty, there is no time like the present to keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming Fall/Winter looks! It may take a while to dig the right items out of your local secondhand stores, but the good news is that it is possible. :)

Badass Plaid says plaid is back! However, when I first asked my YLF forum buddies if I should keep this skirt, some felt that it looked like a holiday item - Christmas Party use only. Still, others liked the fit and length, so I decided to keep it around and play with it. To combat the holiday vibe, I tried to keep the rest of the pieces un-festive. It was too hot when I took this picture, but I'd also add tights and boots.
Red Plaid Pencil Skirt, $1

 Ladylike Polka Dots

Can't get away from polka dots this season - but why try? This teal polka dot dress is a little boxy in the bust area, but a tailored blazer fixes that nicely and makes it winter appropriate. Again, tights will be making an appearance come Summer's end. Photo collage from Runway Daily.
Dotty Dress, $1 - with Black Tweed Blazer, $1
 Digital Prints

Ok, this one might get filed under "wishful thinking," but digital prints juuuust might trickle down to us mortals... eventually. I don't see the look on any official trend lists, but I have seen a good amount popping up on, a couple Christopher-Kane-esque animal prints at F21 and H&M, a couple abstract prints at ASOS, and tons of various prints at AllSaints. If digitals are set to hit mainstream soon, you can be fashion forward by wearing them now. ;)

Digital Print Floral Top, $1

Digital Print Dress - $1

I really like this dress and love digital prints in general. Shown with a $2 crossbody bag.

Leather Skirts

This is one trend I'd typically pass over based on expense. Hemlines have fallen, so all the 80s leather mini skirts floating about will not do - but lo and behold, a ladylike leather midi crossed my path at the swap meet, and I snapped it up before I knew what was happening. I will never doubt the powers of resale again...
Leather Midi, $1

Shown with Python Print Pumps, $2.50 - Python is also big this season.
 Trends are pretty much always recycled so, if you keep your eyes peeled, you can find almost anything secondhand. The key is to keep in mind color and silhouette as well as the general trend (e.g. "edgy" plaids instead of preppy ones or leather "midis" instead of minis). Now let's all go out and refresh our wardrobes with old clothing! ;)

Friday, September 9, 2011

DIY Review: Tarrago Leather Dye Bright Red 102

I already wrote about my experiences with Tarrago Leather Dye here, but I felt another review was needed, since things went slightly differently this time around.

I bought this cute little Abro handbag for $15 (near $500 retail) at a swap meet in Saugus. I had no idea at the time, but Abro is a German company which makes really fabulous and current-looking bags, shoes, belts, and wallets. The one I spotted was a bit worse for wear, with the color faded and uneven - but in the end, the bag lover in me couldn't let the buttery-soft leather remain discolored and un-restored.

 My super-helpful internet friends at You Look Fab helped me decide on a bright tomato red for this bag, so I ended up ordering Tarrago's Bright Red dye. Recommendations had previously suggested way too much dye (3 bottles for boots when I only used 1/2 a bottle - and 2 bottles for a handbag when I only used 1), so this time I only bought a single bottle.

Check out the bag after a single coat of dye - my spidey sense was already telling me that I would run out of dye before the project was complete.

True to my fears, after 2.5 coats of dye, I still had not achieved bottle color. I suspect that the very high contrast between the pale blue and red colors - plus the fact that this bag sports more straps, flaps, and pockets - accounts for the disparity.

In the end, I was happy with the color after about 1.5 bottles of dye.

Seeing as how that left me with 1/2 bottle extra, I attacked a pair of black leather loafers that, while still cute, looked a little worse for wear and brought me up to an unnecessary amount of black footwear.

I don't know if it's because the shoe leather had been treated to be more durable than the bags or what, but the dye didn't cover as well as it had on my other projects. Even after about 6 coats, the shoes were not a perfectly solid red. If I could do it again, I might try stripping the leather with acetone or bleach before applying the dye. Maybe next time!

Still, the texture is kind of cool, and it's hardly noticeable at all when you look down at them from eye level. Plus, I scored a few compliments on these babies at work!