{Almost daily outfit of the day} What I wore to my book signing 4.30.12

Thrifted vintage silk dress; thrifted vintage purse; thrifted Bruno Magli heels; Forever 21 & Neiman Marcus bracelets; thrifted Michael Kors watch

There is an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie Bradshaw travels across the country to appear at a signing of her book. She is terrified that the event will not be well-attended, and that she'll be greeted with an empty room instead of an audience of fans eager to meet her. Of course, this doesn't happen. A packed crowd of women sits hangs on her every word as she reads a chapter, and lines up in droves for her to sign their copies.

My own book signing wasn't nearly the raving success Carrie's was. Instead of a packed house, I met with a mere handful of people - some who bought my book, but most of whom wandered around aimlessly before leaving. But you know what? I really didn't care. I got to live out a dream, where I was featured at my favorite store in Dallas with a book I actually wrote. I got to sit at a table with copies of my book prominently displayed. I got to meet with people who came out purposely to meet me, including a reader who traveled 30 minutes just to purchase a copy (wave to Jamie!) And I got to wear a gorgeous 1940's silk dress that I thrifted for $8.

Life doesn't get any better than that.

{Almost daily outfit of the day} My colors are blush and bashful. 4.27.12

Thrifted James Perse top; thrifted H&M shirt; Miz Mooz wedges; thrifted vintage clutch; Forever 21 bracelets; thrifted rose gold Michael Kors watch

I know, I know. This is a lot of pink. If this outfit were a scene from a movie, it would be the wedding scene in Steel Magnolias. Don't pretend you haven't seen it. In it, Shelby (played by Julia Roberts, who wears so much make-up she looks embalmed) walks down the aisle towards Dylan McDermott (as a preppy Southern good ole' boy named Jackson) in a church that looks like it was hosed down with Pepto Bismol. Pink, we learn, is Shelby's signature color. Pink is also my signature color, though I wouldn't go so far as to drown a church in it.

Despite the trials and tribulations I'm going through, pink makes me feel happy and hopeful. Unfortunately, Shelby meets a sad fate, falling into a diabetic coma while her poor sweet little innocent towheaded toddler son wails helplessly in the background and a bubbling pot of spaghetti sauce overflows on the stove and then, AND THEN, Jackson finds her crumpled on the porch clutching the phone which we KNOW she was using to try and call him for help but it was TOO LATE and she dies and there are pink flowers at her funeral and OH MY GOD IT IS THE SADDEST SCENE IN A MOVIE EVER.


The lesson learned from all this? Pink makes for both an excellent signature color and effective plot device in a sappy movie. And it makes you feel pretty. Shelby would agree.

Join me on Saturday at Vintage Martini!

I'm thrilled to invite all of you to the celebration and signing of my book, Thrifting 101: A Beginner's Guide to Thrifting and Vintage, this Saturday at Vintage Martini in Carrollton, TX! Vintage Martini has been voted the number one vintage store in the Dallas/Fort Worth area multiple years in a row, and features some of the most amazing pieces to be found in the country - things like Chanel jewelry, Prada pumps, 1920's flapper dresses and extravagant 1950's ball gowns. It's my favorite place in all of the city, and I'm so flattered to host my book signing there.

Vintage Martini is located at 1106 West Main Street in Carrollton, 75006. The signing is from eleven to two pm. Can't make it? You can still support me by purchasing a copy of my book - just click on the image above!

{Almost daily outfit of the day} A hair don't 4.23.12

Thrifted Zara blouse; Gap trousers; Old Navy belt; Steve Madden pumps; thrifted vintage Coach bag; Forever 21 bracelets

I am at that uncomfortable almost-need-a-haircut phase that happens approximately four weeks after getting a haircut. This never fails to coincide with an perplexing increase in compliments regarding my hair, leading to put off the haircut much longer than I should. I spend an embarrassing amount of time debating whether I really do need a haircut, or whether I can stand feeling like a hippie for a bit longer. I suspect all us short hair girls go through this. Do we chop it off, or grow it out? Do we experiment with headbands and fanciful hair clips or go in for regular trims? WHAT IN GOD'S GREAT NAME DOES OUR HAIR WANT FROM US ANYWAY AAAAARRGGGGHHHHH???

I have an appointment for a trim on Friday. Which I will probably regret. But it's better than feeling like a hippie.

How often do you go between haircuts?

On Sundays I Smile - Week in review 4.22.12

On Sundays I Smile.

I share these moments with you.


On Wednesday I attended an event with the Social Media of Dallas Club featuring Sean Jackson of Copyblogger. I have never seen such a large gathering of nerds in. my. life. It was awesome. Many of the topics discussed were over my head, but it was interesting to mingle with so many social media professionals, and I even learned a thing or two.

 Of course, a pre-event beer with my friend Julie didn't hurt.

Spotted at the thrift store this week: Brand new $400+ Isabella Fiore pumps (with the Neiman Marcus tag still on) for $4.99. Not in my size. Clearly, the universe hates me.

I made a bold decision this week to trade in my much-loved, gas-guzzling, environment-destroying Navigator for a more economical and fuel-efficient Mazda. The Navigator has seen me through countless road trips and made me feel somewhat powerful and intimidating while commuting, but it was time to let it go. I'm not gonna lie. It sucked. Bu it was the right thing to do.

A book that encompasses my life. I was both delighted to find this tome at Half Priced Books and frustrated that I did not think to write it myself.

Things were extremely stressful and chaotic in my home this week. But a sleeping puppy on my lap somehow made up for it.

Now it's your turn. 

What were the best parts of your week? Leave a comment and share your smiles!

Some photos taken with Instagram: dresscourage

{Almost daily outfit of the day} On obsession. 4.20.12

Vintage thrifted silk blouse; thrifted OP ankle jeans; thrifted Banana Republic flats; thrifted vintage belt; thrifted vintage clutch; Forever 21 bracelets

Okay, guys. I realize I have an unhealthy obsession with this blouse. I might have worn it three days in a row, and 3928761 times since I thrifted it a few months ago. This is not my first brush with obsessive behavior. In the past 30 years, I have been obsessed with the following:
  • Sex and the City
  • Diet Coke
  • J Crew ballet flats
  • J Crew in general.
  • Tori Amos (hey, it was the nineties.)
  • The Dylan McKay/Brenda Walsh/Kelly Taylor love triangle on Beverly Hills 90210.
  • Peanut Butter M&M's
  • Vintage Levi's
  • Nars Orgasm blush
  • Trying to determine why the Kardashians are so popular. Seriously. This is eating me alive.
So you can see why my behavior with my pink silk blouse is not entirely uncharacteristic. While I recovered from my fierce Diet Coke addiction, my passionate love for this blouse is here to stay. I might need a support group.

Thrifting 101: Have you ever felt thrifting shame?

"I love those heels! Where'd you get them?"
"Your vintage dress is so pretty! How can I get one?"
I would kill for those jeans."
Loving your southwestern shirt."

Thrifting used to be a secret, covert activity executed primarily out of necessity. Once upon a time, back in the dark ages when I was a geeky and awkward high school student growing up on Long Island, there was a certain amount of shame and embarrassment about thrifting. It wasn't popular. It wasn't trendy. It wasn't something people wrote blogs about or bragged about or boasted over. No, you thrifted out of necessity, because you were broke or cheap or just wanted to avoid wearing mall clothes like your peers did.

Things are quite different today. The negative qualities associated with thrifting have largely disappeared, and it's more common for thrifters to gloat about their scores than feel shameful about them. Thrifting has become so popular that Goodwill Industries International Inc., opened more than 180 new or relocated stores in 2010. In addition, total retail store sales increased 10 percent compared to 2009.

But I wonder if the discomfort and shame about having to thrift still exists. In certain parts of my own city, the idea of digging through bins at the Goodwill is distasteful to some. And there might be thrifters who purposely avoid revealing to friends and family that the clothes they wear are largely thrifted.

So I ask you: Do you tell people that you thrift? When complimented on an item you're wearing, are you likely to share that it was thrifted? Have you ever felt shame about thrifting?

{Almost daily outfit of the day} What goes around comes around 4.18.12

Thrifted tee shirt; Urban Outfitters polka dot jeans; thrifted Banana Republic flats; Forever 21 belt; Forever 21 and vintage bracelets; thrifted Michael Kors rose gold watch

The last time I wore something so adamantly neon I was in the seventh grade, had a perm, and spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to decide whether Whitney Houston, Debbie Gibson, or Madonna was the better singer. Madonna wore a lot of neon. I too wore a lot of neon, though I preferred to limit myself to socks and belts and tee shirts, avoiding the day-glo underwear Madonna flaunted.

Truthfully, I never thought I'd see neon clothes trending again, but then again I couldn't conceive that Madonna would someday be a mom and take on an affected English accent and drop her lingerie-as-outwear uniform. That was just too weird.

The purpose of the purse: personality or practicality?

The Shiniest Pink Purse That Ever Was

If I had to describe my most traumatic experience from middle school, it had to be when I was outed as being the first in my grade to get her period. In the young adult novels I smuggled into world history class, teen girls feverishly prayed to get their periods. In these novels, getting your period equaled entry into the coveted and secret world of womanhood, where you would be Grown Up and have a boyfriend who drives a Trans Am and wear expensive perfume from department stores.

In my school, being the first to careen into puberty earned me a spot in science lab, where I ate my lunch alone every day to avoid being teased. There was no dramatic Judy Blume moment for me, no envious whispers from my classmates. No, it seemed I was supposed to stay a girl forever.

My unveiling as a woman happened in sixth grade. I was ensconced in the back of class, huddled with three popular girls. I was not a popular girl. For one thing, I played the flute in band. This was the kiss of death. I also wore Sassoon jeans instead of Guess, and sneakers from Sears instead of Reeboks, and had a mom who worked. The popular girls had moms in the PTA and ate tuna fish salad sandwiches made on fluffy white bread with the crusts cut off. I had the school hot lunch, frozen pizza delivered on a cardboard tray.

One of the girls lunged across my desk and snatched my purse. It was a nylon pastel striped number with a snap-front outside pocket. She called it cute.

This was my moment. Despite my shortcomings, I was certain I'd now be indoctrinated into the Popular Girls clique. I practically swooned.

"Eeeeww...what's this???" she screeched suddenly, pulling a tampon out from the front pocket. My stomach lurched. "You're, like, bleeding right now?" Then she declared, in a voice so cold it dripped icicles. "So...gross."

I felt violated.

I remember my first purse, which I received as a gift for my eighth birthday. It was pink and had silver sparkles woven through it. I carried that purse everywhere. It went with me when I got a haircut. It carried my Barbie dolls to playmates. It bulged with coins I had rescued from our couch cushions and bottle caps and movie tickets and Bonnie Bell lip gloss and notes from my best friend. I left it behind at a flea market once and nearly lost my mind with terror. My purse was an extension of me. It held all my secrets. At eight, my only brush with privacy came when I locked myself in the bathroom while my parents fought in our tiny apartment. My purse was the same.

The other day I came across an article describing an project by German artist Hans-Peter Feldmann. He has displayed the contents of six real women’s bags as part of his solo art show at London’s Serpentine Gallery. You see everything, from piles of loose spare change to dirty flats to business cards, all laid out perfectly.

Although he didn’t approach total strangers -- as the artist told The Guardian, “I didn’t go up to women randomly, they would have called the police” -- he only asked slight acquaintances, and they had to give up their bag that instant if they wanted to be included in the show. For their troubles, and for putting up with their bag and all the contents inside (except for passports and credit cards, which they got to keep) going missing for a few week, he paid them each about $650.

While some people might question whether or not this could really be considered art, what I found interesting was the concept itself. It’s hard not to feel protective of your handbag, as if it’s some sort of extension of yourself. It’s that sort of secrecy that inspired Feldmann in the first place: “I remember my mother and her handbag and it was a taboo to look at what was in it, a really strict taboo,” he said.

Be honest: How would you feel about people rummaging through your handbag? What sort of things would they find? Do you think of your purse as an extension of yourself, or merely as a functional object? And would you take $650 if it meant the public would see the contents of your handbag?

{Almost daily outfit of the day} Catechism 4.16.12

Forever 21 denim jacket; Vintage thrifted Neiman Marcus silk blouse; vintage thrifted skirt; vintage thrifted python clutch; Jessica Simpson kitten heels; Forever 21 bracelets

This is my I Don't Know What To Wear To Church So I Wore Black outfit. Dressing for church is complicated. Not as complicated as trying to understand Middle Eastern politics or why ABC canceled My So-Called Life after one season but complicated nonetheless. When Sunday comes, I struggle between making appropriate, if somewhat bland, sartorial choices, or sticking to my more fashionable, often tattoo-revealing uniform. It's not easy.

I felt like this outfit was a decent compromise. I was covered up and respectful, but still felt like me.

Do you struggle between dressing "appropriately," and dressing like yourself?

On Sundays I Smile - Week in review 4.15.12

On Sundays I smile.

I share these moments with you.


When things get stressful, I have an overwhelming urge to escape my house and spend time outside. I recently discovered a lovely park with biking trails not too far from home. There are ducks and winding paths and acres of trees and streams. I love it there.

Of course, there's also another little thing called retail therapy. Specifically, that involving shoes. These are just perfect for spring.

And let's not forget cupcake therapy.

Last weekend my family and I went to an outdoor car show. I have a thing for classic cars. Well, truthfully, it's more than a thing and closer to a mad passionate love affair. I was particularly smitten with this fifties pickup and sixties VW minivan.

Yesterday I went out to get a new car. Instead I got a dog. Dogs are much cuddlier than cars, you know. Max is a thirteen month-old chiuahua whom I adopted at the shelter. He has the sweetest disposition, is already house-trained, and fits into our family just perfectly. My kids are thrilled.

Now it's your turn. 

What were the best parts of your week? Leave a comment and share your smiles!

Some photos taken with Instagram: dresscourage

{Almost daily outfit of the day} In the pink 4.13.12

Thrifted vintage silk blouse; Joe's Jeans capris; Stuart Weitzman wedges; thrifted vintage clutch; 
Gap belt

Pink is the blush of love on a date. It's the soft bloom of a baby's cheek. It's the gentle sway of a peony and the sharp tartness of lemonade. Pink was the shade of my very first lip gloss, a sticky concoction named something like 'Razzleberry' or 'Flirt' which made me feel very grown up. Pink is the mouth-puckering sweetness of candy, the kind that stains your tongue and gets lodged in between your teeth. Pink is joy, and giggles, and peonies, and Barbie's corvette. It's a color that always makes me smile. In pink, I feel pretty, and lighthearted, and feminine and cheerful.

What does pink do for you? What are your favorite colors to wear?

Thrifting 101: Shop talk with Amy of Haberdash and The Swapaholics

A few weeks ago, I talked about starting a sub-series within my Thrifting 101 Thursday posts focusing on vintage stores, online shops and businesses that specialize in selling vintage apparel, leather goods, and pieces created from secondhand or recycled materials. The response was so positive that I've decided to flush out the sub-series fully and continue interviewing shop owners.

Today I bring you an interview with Amy (a.k.a Punky), owner of the mobile vintage shop Haberdash and creator of The Swapaholics. Amy is a powerhouse - a smart, savvy businesswoman with a strong commitment to secondhand style and community. In addition, she's one of the most lovely and genuine women I have ever met. Read through and get to know Amy and Haberdash better!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your background?

Hmm…Let’s see, I’m a style blogger, dog mom, and a super nerd. I grew up outside of Boston, went to school for Interior Design and then Psychology. I got bored with both and decided to open my own business or businesses rather: Haberdash and The Swapaholics.

How did you first get introduced to thrifting?

I come from a long line of antique collectors, so my childhood was spend at yard sales, estate sales and Antique shops. But the first time I remember thrifting was in high school around prom time, I was so paranoid that someone was going to show up wearing the same dress as me. I had a huge issue with blending in.

When did you really become passionate about buying and wearing vintage clothing and accessories?

I think it was around that same time in high school. I remember finding this vintage lace slip dress that I wore religiously through high school and college, it was so different from all the American Eagle that was plastering the halls. I was hooked.

What inspired you to start Haberdash?

I started Haberdash Mobile Vintage Shop in February 2009. I had been selling vintage clothing online since 2005 and the stock was overflowing out of my house. At the time I was looking for a brick and mortar space, but I wasn’t falling in love with any place. I grew up around classic cars and trailers, so once I had the idea, I knew exactly which trailer I wanted (some extremely rare model, of course!)

You have a very active social media presence (including amazing Pinterest boards!) How has social media helped you grow your business and reach other vintage enthusiasts?

Aww, thank you! I love to inspire everyone to embrace their own personal style. So I post a lot of photos of things I find unique or one-of-a-kind and it has connected me to so many like-minded people. (Find Amy on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/Punkystyle/)

Any current projects you’re working on?

I am again on the hunt for a brick and mortar shop or second truck to house all the mobile shop overstock. But, The Mobile Shop is sticking around.

Do you have any helpful hints for those new to buying vintage?

I think the best thing to do when you are new to vintage is visit the upscale vintage shops first and get a feel for the decades and fabrics. The people that run these shops are a wealth of knowledge and they love to dress people. Sure, you can find vintage cheaper at a thrift shop, but if you don’t know what to look for it can be discouraging.

Follow Amy on Twitter at @PunkyStyle, the Haberdash at @TheHaberdash, and the Swapaholics at @TheSwapaholics. 

{Almost daily outfit of the day} Stress relief 4.11.12

Thrifted Splendid tee; Gap Outlet skirt; thrifted Fossil belt; Steve Madden pumps; thrifted  Michael Kors rose gold watch; Forever 21 bracelets

I'm going through a pretty stressful time at home. People react to stress in a variety of different ways. Some turn to healthy, mindful activities, like yoga or running or swimming. Others channel their energy into things like knitting and journaling. A few find their way to therapy and psychotropic medication. Then there are the not-so-healthy coping mechanisms - drinking, and smoking, and maybe even drugs.

My coping mechanism? Thrifting. When I'm sad and anxious and depressed and overwhelmed, I thrift. But then again, come to think of it...when I'm happy, I thrift. When I'm bored, I thrift. When I'm joyful or serene or inspired or broke (always broke), I thrift. I suppose I'm lucky to have stumbled on such a therapeutic hobby. Especially when it gifts me with things like new-with-tags Fossil belts for $2.

Thrifting 101: How to identify counterfeit handbags at the thrift store

On Monday I went thrifting, and I came across this:

Discovering a high-end designer bag is a thrift score even the most adverse to thrifting would celebrate. For seventeen bucks, this huge vintage Gucci tote seemed almost too good to be true. I gave it my usual once-over in the store, checking for frayed stitching, tears, funky odors and stains. It was clean - and even came with its original control tag. All my years of thrifting had paid off. I had located my thrifting holy grail.

Or so I thought. On the way home, I was nagged by the thought that the bag might be fake. After all, who in their right mind would donate a near-perfect vintage Gucci tote? Had I just wasted seventeen dollars that could have gone to better use? Though I carried it on my arm the very next day, I couldn't shake the feeling that I might have been swindled.

According to the International Chamber of Commerce, counterfeiting makes up five to seven percent of global trade, or $450 to $500 billion. Buying counterfeit merchandise helps keep sweatshops and child labor in third world countries in business. While any name brand is at risk for counterfeiting, the most commonly ripped-off labels include Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Christian Dior, Prada, Gucci and Burberry.

So, how can you tell the difference? Experts say it’s the small details that are often overlooked by manufacturers of designer knockoffs. All you need to do is take the time to pick apart the fakes to reveal their many flaws. Here are some tips for identifying and avoiding counterfeit bags at the thrift store.

Understand the difference between an illegal fake bag, a designer-inspired bag, and the genuine article:
  • Illegal fake bags make every attempt to copy a genuine designer bag, right down to the very last logo, tag, and hardware. Fakes copy everything about the designer bag, and pass themselves off as the original brand, with no attempt to distinguish themselves as look-alikes. It's illegal to make fake merchandise, and while buying it is not illegal in most countries, doing so supports illegal activity.
  • A legal knock-off/imitation is "designer-inspired" but is not a direct copy. Such a bag does not claim to be the original designer's bag and does not attempt to use the trademarked symbols, logos, or features, and as such can legally imitate the style and colors of a bag while avoiding breaching copyright. Without close inspection, it can be easy to mistake a legal knock-off for the real thing.
  • A genuine designer bag is made by the original well-known designer and the bag's logo, hardware, attachments, etc., are all congruent with the original design - down to the exact positioning and number of such features. Tags, signatures, or marks stating the designer's name form an integral part of the bag's overall design and authenticity.

Know the signs of a fake knock-off bag:

There are numerous signs that can point to a bag's lack of authenticity:

  • Stitching: Look closely at the stitching of the bag. Sloppy, slanted, and uneven stitching is a sign of a poorly made, and therefore, fake bag. Some knockoffs do take the time to stitch the lining into place; in these, look for threading that is pulling in spots. A real designer bag would have near-perfect threading. Designer bags will always have quality stitching because it is part of the designer's reputation to produce a quality item.
  • Tags or labels: Check the inside tags – are they stamped into leather or hand-stitched? An obvious fake will have no name on the inside tag. Check outside tags as well because many designers include authenticity labels on the outside of the bag.
  • Material: If it's leather, it should smell like leather. If it's supposed to be durable canvas, it should be strong and well stitched. The material can communicate a lot about the bag's quality. If the real bag normally has a pattern inside, fake bags typically will not. Often, the lining inside a fake bag feels cheap and thin.
  • Logo: Logos are often a slip-up area for copies. The designer name might be spelled slightly differently, such as Carter instead of Cartier. A logo embedded into a pattern, such as Louis Vuitton's alternating "LV" design, should be continued throughout the bag without interruption. 
  • Hardware:  It’s difficult for counterfeits to exactly duplicate the hardware design of authentic items. For example, authentic Gucci Horsebit bags will have complete closed connecting rings while counterfeits will have a break in the rings.
  • Serial number: Some high-end designer bags have serial numbers on a tag or stamp inside the bag. An authentic Gucci bag, for example, has a brass plaque inside the purse that says Gucci Made in Italy on a leather tag with the serial number embossed underneath.
  • Handles: Genuine Louis Vuitton handles are made of an entire strip of natural leather. When first purchased, the handle is light tan in color; over the course of a few weeks, it should oxidize and turn into a darker, cognac color. Fake bags don’t change color like this because the handles are usually painted.
  • Do your research: If a Coach bag has a leather strip down the middle, the strip should say "Leatherwear." If it doesn't, it's a knock-off. Louis Vuitton purse snaps are monogrammed, as are those from Gucci. Knowing where a bag is made helps as well. Coach bags are made in China, not the United States.
Wondering about my own thrifted Gucci bag? After some research I made the discovery that my bag is real! How do I know?

Gucci bag

My Gucci bag is made from heavyweight vinyl-coated canvas that feels substantial. The stitching is even and straight. Solid brass logo hardware is present, as well as a rounded interior tag (knockoff Gucci bags have a rectangular or square tag with sharp corners.) An authentic vintage Gucci also has a brass plaque inside the purse that says Gucci Made in Italy - it will be on a leather tag with the serial number embossed underneath, just as mine has. Furthermore, the serial numbers on my bag correspond to those present on a vintage Gucci bag. Serial numbers on vintage Gucci bags almost always start with a 0, 1 or 2. Ninety-nine percent of NEWER authentic Gucci bags do not start with these numbers. If you see a Gucci bag in a style from a recent collection with serial numbers that start with 0, 1 or 2, the bag is fake.

Have you ever bought a designer bag at a thrift store?

{Almost daily outfit of the day} A short story 4.4.12

Fossil jacket; Gap plaid shirt; Gap Outlet cutoffs;  Miz Mooz wedges; Old Navy belt; thrifted Gucci tote ($17 from the Salvation Army); Forever 21 and Neiman Marcus bracelets; thrifted Michael Kors watch

You might have heard about the tornadoes that tore through south and west Dallas yesterday. I was at home, hot gluing gold braiding on a thrifted navy suit for a Robert E Lee costume for one of my twins. Then I saw this pic come across my twitter feed:

There are two things that happen when you learn about tornadoes located a short distance from your house. First, you FREAK THE HELL OUT. Then you hyperventilate, hysterically text your husband (who isn't helping by being out of town. Thanks a lot, husband), obsessively watch the news, and madly clean out your coat closet which will serve as a makeshift tornado shelter and is crammed full of random things like baseball bats and tennis balls and wool coats and hangers and scarves and OH MY GOD WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE SAVE YOURSELF AAAARRRRRGGHHHHH.

Today, having faced my imminent death and survived to tell about it, I wore shorts. I hate wearing shorts. But when you've sailed through a terrifying crisis like a tornado outbreak, shorts don't seem that bad.