{Daily outfit} This post sponsored by anxiety. 8.31.12

Silk Calvin Klein blouse? Thifted. Vintage khaki circle skirt? Thrifted. Vintage Coach satchel? Thrifted. Sandals? Nine West. Michael Kors watch? Thrifted.

Today, in lieu of a paragraph about my fabulous life as a nobody, I need to communicate how dumbfounded I am that summer is o-v-e-r and my kids are back in school. "How did September get here so fast???" I want to blubber, fists thrust ineffectively at the sky. This time of year always freaks me out. A lot needs to get done. Like collecting school supplies and scribbling my signature on parent permission forms and signing up for the PTA (which I hate. There I said it, I hate the PTA) and coordinating my work schedule with the kids pick-up time and locating my son's missing lunch bag which NATURALLY he's misplaced on the third day of school.

So it's no shock that when school starts, I get a bit overcome by a manic rush typically experienced only by a crack fiend in search of their next fix. Thank sweet baby Jesus I still have thrifting. Thrifting keeps me centered. And rewards me with sweet scores, like this $2 khaki circle skirt someone's mother made in their basement in the 1960's.

It's gonna be a great year.

{I Smile} On vacation. 8.30.12

What an amazing vacation I had last week down in Horseshoe Bay! My kids and I don't take many trips, and this one was really special. Horseshoe Bay is a resort in Marble Falls, a little Texas hill country town nestled next to Lake LBJ. It's just an hour from Austin and four hours from Dallas, making it the perfect getaway for a few days.

I really loved spending time alone with my guys. They are growing up so fast, and I want so badly to hold onto every moment we spend together. It was a vacation I'll never forget. Now it's back to school and waking up early and homework. But I'm so thankful - and grateful - for the memories we made this summer.

Guess what? I'm featured on Daily Candy today!

Today I'm thrilled to be featured on Daily Candy, giving some basic tips on thrifting and vintage. Head on over to the site and check it out!

What makes us who we are?

I'm a mom, vintage store employee, and style blogger now, but when I was younger I thought I'd be a musician. I practiced every day. And when I wasn't practicing, I was looking for new sheet music, and joining student orchestras, and making trips to the music store to try out astronomically expensive flutes. I never bought one of those flutes. But I longed for them in a way most ordinary teenage girls pine for new shoes.

Sometimes, when I was practicing something dull like scales, I imagined what it would be like to be a celebrated classical musician, and play in Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center. I would wear a sweeping red gown. I'd play a complex French piece in a minor key. People would bring me roses.

When I was fourteen I auditioned for the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan. I didn't expect to get in. My mother didn't want me to try out at all, fearing that if I did get in I'd fall victim to the rapists and muggers and pedophiles she was certain lurked on every subway car, waiting to abduct me during my hour-long commute from Long Island.

"You'll be so far away," she warned. "Bad things happen to teenage girls traveling in the city. I just read about that in the paper."

"So?" I countered. As far as I was concerned, being far away was kind of the point.

I don't think of myself as an adventurous person. I've never gone skydiving. Or white water rafting. Or mountain biking. I hate roller coasters. I always follow recipes when I cook. I am not the type to throw my things haphazardly into a suitcase and head out onto the open road without a map. I plan my outfits days before I intend to wear them.

And yet somehow, after I got into Performing Arts, I became adventurous. I took the subway. I strode through Harlem and Hell's Kitchen alone, without a second thought. I spent my allowance in charity thrift stores I leaned about from a homeless person I befriended my freshman year. I cut class to attend a gallery show I saw with my artist boyfriend who was substantially older than me. I fell head over heels in love with being a musician. I practiced and practiced and practiced, in public hallways and tiny practice rooms and the soaring performance hall of conservatory and once in the stairwell of Carnegie Hall, where I performed my junior year.

I haven't picked up my flute in nearly twenty years. I used to practice for three hours a day, seven days a week, fingers slapping the keys in a satisfyingly purposeful way. Now my flute lays neglected in its case somewhere within my recess of  my closet. So many years have passed since I've performed that it's almost as if I was never a musician in the first place. Sometimes, suddenly, I get the urge to play. I miss the adventure of mastering a new etude, of exploring the cavernous tomb of the music library, and of commuting into a city that mystified and inspired me.

Last week I took my kids on a short vacation without my husband. We spent four hours driving deep into Texas hill country, through winding single lane roads and dusty abandoned towns. It was nerve-wracking, and the most adventurous thing I've done in years. We ate at food trucks and went swimming in lake LBJ and took a boat ride under the Congress Street bridge in Austin to watch bats fly out at sunset. At the hotel pool, my daughter befriended a little redheaded two year-old girl. They spent an hour swimming together, splashing and floating on their backs while I chased my twins out of the deep end.

I chatted with the toddler's mom after my daughter left to go paddle boarding on the lake. She asked if I'd had the chance to try paddle boarding myself.

I had, I told her. It was amazing. And scary. And totally fun.

"Your daughter said you weren't adventurous. And that you hate getting your hair wet." She looked me over approvingly. "But you went paddle boarding!"

Somehow, between graduating and getting married and having kids and jobs and bills to pay, I'd adopted the idea that I'd failed at the one thing I was good at. I never became a professional musician. I went to Mannes College of Music and a big public university, where I learned about sociology and art and creative writing and American history. My interests changed on a daily basis. One month I was volunteering at a Head Start school, then working on a sculpture of a pregnant woman, then writing sanctimonious editorials on underage drinking for the school newspaper.

I got a job. And a different job. And a boyfriend, whom I eventually married. I stopped taking flute lessons. I stopped practicing. I just stopped.

My family was very concerned. They asked me why I'd stopped playing. They scolded me for "wasting my talent." What happened to the flute? they asked. What was so bad about performing?

I shrugged. I couldn't answer. I felt somehow ungrateful, like a petulant child shunning her old toys for something newer, shinier.

There are many things that I do which the old me, the musician me, wouldn't consider legitimate. They don't involve trekking through Manhattan or befriending the homeless or performing in Carnegie Hall. They don't set me apart as exceptional, or extraordinary. These things wouldn't put me on a professional path or earn awards or call for roses. Paddle boarding and writing a blog and raising three kids aren't exactly resume builders. I wonder if that's why they seem less legitimate than being a musician does, as if they don't count.

There are so many things that identify with as "who I am" that it's hard to narrow it down. I'm a reader, a thinker, a thrifter, a runner, a bad joke-teller and a whiskey drinker. And a former musician.

Who we are isn't necessarily what we do. And who we were isn't necessarily the person we are meant to be.

{Daily outfit} A message from Dallas. 8.27.12

J Crew chambray shirt? Thrifted. Skirt? Old Navy. Sandals? Target. Vintage belt? Thrifted. Python clutch? Bon Ton Vintage.

Dallas last week:

"Guess what. y'all? Summer's over! Sure, it's 87 degrees out. But that's much, much cooler than the scorching heat you've pit-stained through since June, amirite? And it's rained. Rained. Actual water fell from the sky, just like you've read about in them books, which is either a sign of the apocalypse or concrete proof of the change in seasons. So start throwing down g's on those cozy cardigans J Crew has been tormenting y'all with. Get yer mouth parts ready for pumpkin lattes, and pumpkin muffins, and other tasty vittles with pumpkin in 'em. Light up the fire pit, make some chili, and dig them boots outta yer closet 'cause fall is here, bitches!

Dallas this week:


I am wearing long sleeves and a long skirt and dying of heat exhaustion. But I love this outfit nonetheless.

{Daily outfit} Treat yo self. 8.21.12

J Crew chambray shirt? Thrifted. Pants? Anthropologie. Bruno Magli wedges? Thrifted. Coach satchel? Thrifted.

I bought these pants from Anthropologie back in the spring, as a treat for speaking at the Texas Style Council Conference. It'd been awhile since I'd shopped anywhere other than a thrift store, and I'd forgotten how intoxicating a trip to that store can be. I didn't intend to buy anything. But when I saw these pants in that secret sale room all Anthropologie stores hide in the back, I couldn't resist. They fit beautifully and I didn't have to deal with thrift store smell or questionable stains or price tags stapled into the crotch.

I have a big meeting today and figured these pants might give me a bit of a confidence boost. And some good luck!

{Daily outfit} Something wild. 8.20.12

Vintage denim vest? Thrifted. Vintage shorts? Thrifted. Clutch? Estate sale. Flats? DSW. Michael Kors rose gold watch? Thrifted.

When I go thrifting, I'm invariably attracted to the weird and unusual. These are things most people pass by, like sequined sweaters and suede shorts and gold taffeta evening gowns and acid wash denim jackets and jumpsuits with rhinestones on the collar. I suppose this is because, deep down, I feel weird and misunderstood myself. Ordinary people would not understand these clothes, with their loud colors and complicated pleats and questionable taste. But I do. I find them intriguing. I want to take them home with me and make them feel appreciated and loved.

These shorts are a perfect example. I was smitten by their silver leather trim and exaggerated pleats. I thought they'd be an interesting styling challenge. And they were. But I really like how this outfit turned out. 

Road trip: A peek inside Vintage Martini

A few months ago I got the opportunity of a lifetime to work at Vintage Martini in downtown Carrollton, Texas. I've been a consignor and enthusiastic customer for two years ago, after a random Google search for vintage shops led me inside. When Ken and Greg, the owners, offered me a position this past June I was so excited I could hardly breathe. And I haven't come up for air since.

Vintage Martini is different than your traditional vintage, thrift, or charity shop in that everything in the store is absolutely meticulous. You'll find no stains, damage, or thrift store smell here. Furthermore, most of the inventory is designer, from labels such as Chanel, Valentino, Fendi, Jimmy Choo, Missoni, Pucci, Gucci, and the like. Pieces from the Victorian era mingle with those that were shown on the runway last season. It's not unusual for me to see an Edwardian beaver fur top hat, Chanel patent leather tote, and 1970's printed halter maxi dress during a shift. It's no surprise that the store has been recognized as by D Magazine as Dallas' best vintage and consignment store two years in a row.

Let's take a journey through the store, and marvel at what we can find.

Vintage Martini is located at 1106 West Main Street in Carrollton, TX 75006. There's also a website if you're out of state. I work almost every Monday and Tuesday, and most weekends. If you're in the area, drop by and say hello! I'd love to help you find the perfect vintage piece!

{Daily outfit} All mixed up. 8.16.12

Baseball Lynard Skynard tee? Thrifted. Vintage Avon skirt? Thrifted. Vintage belt? Vintage Martini. Sandals? Gap. Vintage clutch? Thrifted. Rhinestone collar necklace? Forever 21.

This outfit is what happens after you listen to endless hours of classic rock, watch the movie Almost Famous, read too many blogs, and decide that you absolutely MUST WEAR that silver double eagle vintage belt you just bought. I love that nothing in this outfit really goes together, and how that didn't bother me one bit. I love that this skirt is by Avon, a company I thought only created cosmetics, churned out some pretty garish skirts in the eighties. I love that I thrifted that clutch for fifty cents in a dank little Goodwll out in the middle of nowhere.

And I love that, essentially, this outfit is all about the belt. Which is totally bad-ass.

I Smile. 8.15.12

I smile.

I share these moments with you.


I spied this sassy little oxblood clutch in the dollar bin at the Salvation Army. In case you haven't noticed, I sort of have a thing for clutches. They make me happy. This clutch made me very happy because not only was it only a dollar, but it's signed by it's designer, Ruth Saltz, whose pieces are highly collectable. The moral of this story? Do not ignore the dollar bins at the thrift. The end.

This happened in my supermarket last weekend. I believe there was some connection to the hatch green chili festival they were hosting. Hatch green chilis are a BIG DEAL here in Texas. I do not know why this is. But I was into it.

Among the recesses of my brain exists a list of foods I swore I would never lean to like. This includes olives, capers, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and blue cheese. Somehow, in the past few months, I've learned to like all of them. I'm sort of obsessed by blue cheese now, actually. It's a problem.

Also thrifted this week: These two vintage cheerleader megaphones for $3. I couldn't help myself.

So this is Oma's Jiffy Burger, a little hole-in-the-wall burger joint down in Waxahachie. It was in this little burger joint that I ate one of THE BEST burgers in my life. Truthfully, I could have eaten a dozen of them, but I restrained myself because I am a lady.

On Saturday night I found myself without plans and decided to put in a run at the gym. I never thought I'd be the type to hit the gym on a Saturday night. It was surprisingly peaceful, and I don't think I've ever had such a fulfilling run before. So it looks like the gym and I will have a hot date every Saturday night from now on. I think we'll be very happy together.

What are some things that make you smile this week?

Share your smiles in the comments!

(All photos found on Instagram: @dresscourage)

{Daily outfit} M-I-C-K-E-Y. 8.14.12

Vintage tee? Thrifted. Jeans? Citizens of Humanity. Belt? Forever 21. Rhinestone collar necklace? Forever 21. Shoes? Thrift. vintage clutch? Thrifted.

Kayne, Imma let you finish, but this might be my favorite outfit OF ALL TIME. I'm wearing a Mickey Mouse tee, which I thrifted for a dollar. MICKEY MOUSE. The coolest mouse ever, despite his commitment issues with Minnie and red shorts that kinda look like a diaper.

I wore this outfit to take my daughter out for our monthly Mommy-Daughter Day Out, in which we ate tuna salad sandwiches in an adorable little cafe and browsed antique stores and bought cherry popcorn, which was so sweet it made my teethe ache and tasted like instant diabetes. The weather was scorching but we were so busy talking that we hardly noticed. Sometimes the simplest moments - and tee shirts - are the best.

{Daily outfit} Belts and self-control. 8.10.12

Vintage skirt? Thrifted. Tee? Gap Outlet. Vintage Ralph Lauren leather belt? Vintage Martini. Vintage python clutch? Bon Ton Vintage. Sandals? Target. 
Leather cuff? Thrifted.

The other day, a customer brought nearly 75 pieces of vintage Ralph Lauren into the store. There were things like cropped mock-neck sweaters and red plaid wool pants and braided leather belts and oversize linen blazers and paisley vests, truly gorgeous things that made me dry-heave with desire. I wanted everything. Even those red plaid pants, because plaid pants are truly something to see.

I tried to control myself. I tried really, really hard, because if I purchased everything in the store that gave me grabby hands I'd be broke. But after two weeks of desperate longing I couldn't take it any longer. I fell victim to the sweet siren song of the belt's thick braided leather and brass buckle, and  brought it home with me.

This outfit might not be the most interesting, but it was comfortable and breezy on a stifling hot day. I will continue to lust for those plaid pants, though. I can't help myself.

Thrifting 101: A road trip to Bon Ton Vintage

During my two years living in the north Dallas suburbs, I've managed to visit every thrift and vintage store in the area. I've been to the big ones - the Salvation Army's and the Goodwill's - and the smaller, independent stores, with their volunteer staff and odd hours. I've seen high-end designer pieces that made me swoon, and shabby, threadbare, smelly things that required a lot of care and attention. My little thrift jaunts around the city are often the highlight of my week.

This past weekend I decided to venture beyond Dallas and visit a vintage store out in the middle of nowhere - Forreston, Texas, to be exact. Forreston is the sort of dusty little place that barely qualifies as a town. Lacking a stop light, gas station or any definable main street, it's the sort of place you drive through to get to where you really want to go. And yet, it was exactly where I was meant to be.

Bon Ton Vintage is housed in an imposing brick building which stands alone alongside a desolate stretch of road. It's the last place you'd expect to see. And truly wondrous to explore.

If you ever find yourself in Texas, you MUST take a drive out to Forreston and visit Bon Ton. Barbara Kaufman, the owner, is as lovely and personable as her shop is, and I enjoyed talking with her as much as I did wandering through Bon Ton. Prices were also extremely affordable - I bought an immaculate 1950's cream lace suit, python clutch, and sleeveless blouse for less than $100.

Bon Ton is an easy stop between Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin or Waxahachie, just off Highway 35E.