Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to Throw a Clothes Swap

Clothes-Swap 2010 was a huge success!  We had a very nice turn-out.  I even got to meet one of my followers (hi, Jane!).  There was a wider variety of sizes and styles this year than in years past.  Even the little ones got involved!

The Stuff.

Matching Mother-Daughter Maxi Dresses! 

Audrey wanted to try on big girl clothes too!

Clothes-swaps can be SO much fun, but require some thought, preparation, and time.

1.  Community. 

Unless you have 10 girlfriends, all the same size, it's difficult to do this event in small form.  The more, the better, I say.  Go big, and invite your neighborhood, work, church, school, or all of the above.  Send invites in plenty advance so folks have time to go through their closets.  Print fliers, make announcements, mail postcards, send e-vites, or create a Facebook event.  Get the word out by whatever means necessary.

2.  Space.

Your big backyard, church fellowship hall, school gymnasium, or large park pavilion will work just fine.  Make sure you can rent or borrow enough tables to accommodate the event.  If you can get your hands on some racks or turnstiles and hangers, all the better.

3.  Organization. 

This year, the tables on one side of the room were for shirts divided by XS-S, M, L, XL+.  The other side had pants organized by sizes 0-5, 6-10, 11+.  Skirts and shorts each had their own table.  We were able to hang jackets, dresses and accessories.  The shoes were lined up on shelves and the floor by size.  We also had children's, maternity, and sleepwear in a separate area.  Don't get your undies in a bundle when your neat piles get messed up in a hurry.  Just let your guests dig.  It's part of the fun.

4.  Extras. 
  •      Bags - the paper grocery bags with handles work well and are free.  Free is good.
  •      Mirrors - cheap mirrors can be bought for $5 or less at your local discount department store. Make sure there is a place for trying stuff on - a bathroom or makeshift dressing rooms.
  •      Food and Beverages - this was the first year we've provided food that it actually worked.  It helped that the food was in a separate room from the clothing and in close proximity to the washroom.  No one wants to shop with grimy fingers.  Have drinks available.  At the very least, pack a large cooler with bottled water, a couple varieties of soda, and ice.
  •      Money - The cost involved here is fairly minimal, especially when it's divided among team members.  Provide a basket for monetary donations anyway.  Either reimburse the event host(s) or give it to charity.  Consider providing receipts for those who donate (both money & clothing).  The charity organization should be able to help you with this.
  •      Spice it up.   Lead willing participants in a runway fashion show displaying their finds.  Or better yet, have them come up with the most absurd ensembles with the 'leftovers'.  If you have a budget for your swap, do a raffle or drawing to win product or gift cards. 
5.  Fundraising.

This particular swap wasn't a fundraiser, but I have attended a few that were for that purpose.  Participants either paid $3 per item or unlimited for a flat $25.  The flat fee is always the better deal for all parties involved, so if it were me, I might not bother with the $3/item choice.  It is a fundraiser, after all.  Consider seeking sponsorship for your fundraiser swap too.  Get local businesses involved!

I know I'm missing stuff here.  Other tips/ideas?  Comment please.

At the end of the evening, I went home with a bag full of great stuff - for FREE!  I can't wait to show you in upcoming posts!

Here's the count:

Shirt - 1
Shorts - 1
Trousers - 1
Dress - 1
Hat - 1
Bag - 1
Jeans - 2
Cardigans - 3
Skirts - 3

Monday, August 30, 2010

Make Haste

I overslept this morning.  Wanted to give myself plenty of time to prepare for an early start.  Steve had to be at work at 7, so I'm at work at 7.  I don't mind.  I set the alarm, but forgot to make it for M-F instead of Sa-Su.  Whoops.  Thankfully, I woke myself up 15 minutes before we had to leave.

Why am I telling you this?  Because in my haste, I neglected to grab my USB thingy to upload photos from the clothes swap.  Not that I took many photos...something I neglect doing every year.  I guess you just have to go to one to get the full effect.  In any case, I'll have a clothes-swap how-to for you tomorrow, pictures or no pictures.

I didn't think I'd have a chance to photograph this particular outfit, but when I found myself at our lovely, local library, it seemed like a good opportunity.  I used to buy any book I was interested in at half.com, but now I check them out at the library first to make sure it's really what I want.  This day, I was returning books about Pugs and puppy training.  Go figure.

Sweater:  Target
Necklace:  WalMart, reconstructed by me
Watch:  Gifted
Pants:  Old Navy
Shoes:  Target
Bag:  Boutique at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hairy Day

Yesterday turned out to be one of the longest days in a long time.  I felt like I was on a mild episode of 24...without Jack Bauer, which is no good whatsoever.  Not that it was a bad day, not for me anyway.  It just started early and ended late and took a few unexpected turns, that's all.

What matters is that in the end, my hair got done thanks to my new pal Jake.  You'll still see the old 'do in a few upcoming posts, though I'm tempted to just re-wear those outfits to display the new 'do.

Shorter.  Blonder.  Happier.  Really, really tired.

Clothes swap TOMORROW!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Second Thoughts

Yet another black wardrobe item in the unworns pile.  Purchased at The Limited on one of those rare shopping trips with the husband...probably in our first year of marriage.  It was this little black jersey number and a red one in a slightly different style.  I wore the red one until it pilled and faded.  Yet this one still had the tags on it as of last week.

For as many things that are easy and right about this little dress, other elements just didn't work for me - the neckline too low, the hem too short, the color too black, ect.  And I just couldn't seem to get the layering right.  Knowing I either had to wear it or lose it, I came up with what you see here.  Bright leggings to bring in some happy color. A layered tank to bring up the neckline.  The waist tied in front to make the empire waist less maternity-like.  Strategically placed accessories for added visual interest.

In the end, lot of effort went into making this little black dress wearable for me. Until writing this post, I was sure it was a keeper...now I'm having second thoughts.  Dang it.

Headband:  Etsy - Two Young Hearts
Necklace:  Forever 21
Dress:  The Limited
Leggings:  Target
Shoes:  DSW

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Skinny Blue

There is a new H&M store opening tomorrow in my (extended) neighborhood!  Whoohoo!!!  I SO wish I could be one of their first 200 customers this Thursday for a chance to win a Fashion Pass worth store money!   Unfortunately, I can't quite justify leaving work for that.  And after work doesn't look super promising either...we'll see.  Fellow Twin Citians, are YOU going?

These blue skinnies were the last purchase I made at H&M.  Clearance, $5.

A little tip about H&M (for the newbies):  sizes are European.  So take your American size and the next 3 sizes up into the dressing room.  If you think you're a 6, you might just be a 10.  Don't freak out.  It's not you, it's the clothes.  Repeat mantra. 

Sweater:  TJMaxx
Pants:  H&M
Shoes:  Kenneth Cole
Purse:  Nine West via TJMaxx

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I cannot believe I've had my bike since the beginning of the summer and this is my first time posting about it.  Shame on me.  I had been looking for a reasonably-priced vintage-style bike for the past few summers, but a purchase never worked out.  This year, I was determined to get my bike.  Fell head over heels for this one when I spotted it at Target.  

Honestly, it's only been out for a few short rides.  Every time I get on it, I feel all sorts of happiness and freedom.  Followed by muscle strain and a racing heart beat.  I didn't buy the bike to get in shape, only for fun.  Something active I could enjoy doing all by myself...or with others if the opportunity ever arose.

Steve and Miles have been enjoying Saturday mornings at the park lately.  Since I slept in a bit later than they did, I met up with them later on my bike.  It was a very nice ride...but a little humid.  Maybe I'll get a little more riding in come fall....maybe. 

Oh, the little things in life that bring me so much joy....

Miles wasn't a fan of the basket.  But wouldn't that have been SO cute?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Minnie Style

I consider Minnie Mouse a style icon.  If she had a style blog, I would follow it.  She is always properly dressed for whatever occasion is drawn out for her. Her pairing of bright colors and bold prints is so cute and smart.  We've met several times in person and her wardrobe is a definite representation of her darling personality. 

This red/white polka dot dress was an e-bay purchase quite a few months ago.  It hung in my closet, unworn, waiting for the purchase of those great, yellow pumps.  The outfit overall doesn't scream MINNIE MOUSE to me...I didn't want it to look like I was wearing a costume...but more like a little coincidence.

Now that this dress has been styled the way I originally intended, I feel like I can branch out to other colors and accessories.  This dress has amazing re-mixing potential.

Dress:  ebay.com
Shoes:  UrbanOutfitters.com
Belt:  H&M
Watch:  gifted
Purse:  Target
Laptop Case:  TJMaxx

Friday, August 20, 2010


Speaking of matchy-matchy...good grief, people, look at me!  This picture was just hangin' out in my 'Drafts', and having chosen the cuddles of an adorable sleeping pug over blogging on my new MacBook last night (because I haven't mastered both at once yet), I don't have a recent photo for you today.  So, here's an oldie!

I love hats.  No, seriously.  I wish I could wear a hat every day.  Nearly every Saturday in the cooler months, you'll find me donning a hat.  Around age 19 or so, I developed a mild, yet horribly irritating and seemingly incurable case of scalp eczema.  Maybe more than you cared to know, but that's the fact.  It's not the first time I've mentioned it, probably won't be the last.  Some days, a hat is the only thing that will get me through.  Ok, moving on to a less-embarrassing topic...

As I've mentioned a few times before, I am not too musical (though I have sang in a gospel choir for 15 years, have a musically inclined husband, and know almost every Michael Jackson song pre-1995),  I love good music and am acquainted with some fabulously musical people - mostly thanks to Girly Muse and her family.  Chris Lawrence is one of those people. I considered seeking out a Matchaholics Anonymous group this night, but decided to go see Chris play a local gig instead.  It was the right choice.  Keep your eyes peeled, y'all, he's going to be BIG someday...

My BFF wasn't able to join me as she usually does for stuff like this, so Steve stepped in and we made a date of it.  Some deliciously greasy pizza, great music, and a very cool thunderstorm later, I was sat-is-fied.

Hat:  H&M
Dress:  WalMart
Purse:  Old Navy
Shoes:  Kohl's

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Do YOU Groupon?

Today's deal is $50 worth of merchandise from Gap for $25 (in store only).  I don't know 'bout you, but $50 on the Gap clearance rack can potentially go a long way.  OR, I could invest in a pair of their highly-coveted new perfect pants.  Either way.

Softer Side

Army Green.  It's the roughest, toughest pseudo neutral of them all.  For some reason, I always think to pair it with black...but that can be rather harsh and drab, especially for summer.  When I want to balance out the toughness of army green with some girly-girliness, I often pair it with pink...I like green and pink together.  But when I decided to go all green with both dress and jacket, I knew extra soft was the way to go...so I tried white accessories, having remembered this recommendation some time ago on You Look Fab.

What else goes with army green?  Gun metal, of course!  
The toe straps on these crazy-high heels are also lined with chain.

I sometimes wonder if I consider color combinations more than the average person.  It may be a symptom of my chronic matchy-matchiness, which I am trying desperately to overcome.  It's that perfect balance somewhere in between matching and clashing that I am only barely able to grasp...some days more than others.

Jacket:  Forever 21
Dress:  thrifted via ARC's Value Village
Necklace:  Forever 21
Shoes: Steve Madden via DSW
Belt:  ???
Watch:  Gifted (Thanks, KT!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Black & Ebay

My pal Anna of A Banana Medley has given herself 30 days to wear her unworns.  What doesn't get worn, gets donated.  It's a great challenge.  One that I also started last week, only I have given myself until the clothes swap on the 28th...it's almost a month.  Thankfully and surprisingly, I don't have a crazy amount unworns like I used to.  Though I did include a few garments that I've only worn once.  Will I wear it again?  If not, it goes buy-buy.

I went through my clothes last Sunday to find that the few unworns that I have come with two common variables:  black OR Ebay.  Whad up wid dat?  (Anybody else watch Saturday Night Live?  You can thank me later.)

The conclusions are these:
1.  Black is my least favorite color.  It does nothing for me.  I buy it because supposedly you can't go wrong, it's slimming, and it's the ultimate neutral.  Well, it is wrong for me, don't care if it's slimming, and prefer softer neutrals.  So there.  That doesn't mean I'm giving up on black entirely...it does have purpose in my wardrobe.  But I need to be more careful about buying it, lest items go unworn for years and years, taking up much needed closet space.

2.  Ebay is bad for me.  But sometimes I just get in a bidding, bargaining, buying mood and I can't stop myself (ok, I guess I could stop myself).  I only have a ballpark estimate of my measurements (shame on me) and often get stuck with an e-bay purchase that doesn't fit well, or at all.  And even more often, I overestimate the quality of the item.  I think that I'm getting a good deal on a dress costing just a few bucks, but when I get it, it's really only worth a few bucks.  That's a disappointing deal.  I had already decided after my last couple e-bay purchases, that I needed to cut back on the bidding.  So lately I've only been looking, not clicking.

Here is an example of a little black dress that I do not recall wearing before this day:

I bought it because it seemed like the most practical dress in the world.  I do like it, and I will keep it (for now), but will have to explore different ways to style it that won't feel so...blah

This is a really helpful exercise - identifying the things in my closet that I don't love wearing, and either finding ways to make them more 'me', or sending them to the donation pile.

In addition to the unworn dress, this is my first time wearing these shoes.  They're comfortable enough for work and all the sitting I do, but that's about it.

Side note:  This is where Steve proposed.  I was sitting in that exact spot on that bench.  It was February, so there was snow on the ground.  There were cedar chips with a sprinkling of rose pedals and candles everywhere.  This is written on the stone.  It's all overgrown now, which is actually quite romantic.

Dress:  Express, thrifted via Turnstyle
Shoes:  Payless brand, thrifted via ARC's Value Village
Computer Case:  Betsy Johnson via TJMaxx

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summer Simple

The choir sang at Logan Park in Minneapolis on Saturday.  It was a fun event and a great outreach.  The dress code was denim with a bright, solid color top.  It was a very warm day for an outside event with very little shade, so I went as minimally layered as possible.

In other news, I went to H&M Saturday morning and tried on a pair of denim harem pants that were on the clearance rack for $5.  On the hanger, they looked like they had potential.  On my short body, they looked like my worst nightmare.  I guess the long crotch trend just isn't for me.  But at least I can say that I tried.

Shirt:  Target
Skirt:  Old Navy
Shoes:  Madden Girl, gifted (thanks, E!)
Belt:  H&M
Purse:  thrifted via ARC's Value Village
Shades:  F21

Monday, August 16, 2010

Little Red Carpet

Steve and I attended the highly anticipated premier of Wildflower last night at this funky little theater in Uptown (Minneapolis).  Being in a room with that many crazy-talented people (the likes of Chris Lawrence, Ashleigh Still, Sara Renner and many more) was really something special.

The movie is a mockumentary written and directed by my friends Lori Sabin and Jonathan Thulin.  Here's the good-lookin' crew on the little red carpet:

left to right:  Indigo, Greyley, Lori, Nate, and Jonathan

And of course Steve and I walked the little red carpet too.  I've never walked a red carpet before (big or small), and there was no way I was going to miss an opportunity to wear my tutu...love that thing...and felt like I pulled it off better than the first time I wore it.  While we're at it, why not a close up of one of the coolest accessories I own:

The blurry picture does my skateboard clutch no justice.  You read right...it's made out of an old skateboard.  Don't approach me in a dark alley when I have this baby on hand...it doubles as a weapon.  Made by skate pro Steve Thomas.  Man, I have awesome friends...

Smile Back

Hi!  Until I can find time to write a regular post, I thought I'd share a little Miles humor.  He was out on the boat/beach with the fam on Saturday while Steve and I were at a choir concert.  Looks like he had a good time, huh?

Thanks, MiMaw!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tales from the West, Part 4

I have a habit of not finishing what I start.  It's mostly little things like sandwiches, sentences, thoughts and laundry, but it's a rotten habit nonetheless.  It's been over a month since Steve and I braved the West, but I'm determined to complete the tale.  Here are parts 1, 2, and 3.

After some much needed recuperation at the hotel in Moab, we made our way back to Colorado for some white water rafting on the Arkansas River.  Aside from a little canoeing on Biology trip in 10th grade, I haven't spent much time on this small of watercraft.  Steve booked the highest level difficulty possible, but I wasn't too concerned knowing we'd be with a group and have an experienced guide.  The safety precautions they laid out for us before hand had me on high alert.  I really didn't want to fall out of the raft at any point.

We ended up with a very nice, laid-back group.  A dating couple, a pair of best friends, plus one mom, Steve and me, and our guide made up the crew.  Down the river we went.  Ten miles.  It started out that we had one more person than normal and I was left in the middle without a paddle.  I made it my duty to ask the guide dumb questions, keep the conversion going, and cheer on my paddling pals.  At one point, navigating some class 4 rapids, we hit a rock and I kept one of the girls from going overboard.  It was a proud moment for me.

About 1/2 way through, I switched spots and paddled.  Thankfully, we were through the greater rapids when it began pouring rain.  The rain was so cold and hit so hard, I thought for sure it was hail.  Everyone kept their spirits up and I considered it just another element of the adventure.  Back on land, dry clothes had never felt so good.

Late afternoon, we were back on the road to camp out by the Sand Dunes.  This was enjoyable camping.  The weather was perfect.  The sunset breathtaking.  For dinner, we had brats on the grill and beans right from the can.

We went to bed and for the second time that day, it poured rain.  Thankfully, our tent held firm and kept us snug and dry.

Tucked against the mountains, from far away the Sand Dunes don't look all that large.  But once we got there, I was blown away by their massiveness.  Literally, mountains of sand.  Folks had sleds and were sliding down as if they were ski hills.  I was amazed.

We made it up past the first big dune and the heat started to set in.  I would have loved to tell you we made it to the top, but because of my lack of endurance and sheer size of the sandy mountain, we hardly got close. 

Ever notice that sand will make one work up a serious appetite?  Steve and I headed back to Denver with food on our minds.   We had reservations at Flying W Ranch where we explored old fashion shops, watched native dances, and partook in a delicious, authentic, cowboy buffet - tin dishes n' all.  An old western band serenaded us with tunes from the trail.

Flew home the next morning, just in time to make it to our friends' lovely wedding.  We had only been gone 8 days, but it felt like much longer...in a good way.  This is a trip I would take over and over again, it was so much fun.  (Stevie, you're the best trip-planner ever and the funnest person in the world. XO)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hair & Jersey

Middle-aged, male co-worker walks by my desk...
Co-worker:  Hey, you've been wearing your hair pulled back lately.  Why?
Me:  Because I need a haircut.
Co-worker:  Oh.  You should do that.
Me:  Uh...yeah, sometime this month. 
Me thinking: ok, I know my hair isn't exactly awesome right now, but it can't be that bad! (followed by an internal giggle - surely he didn't mean to be insulting!)

The thing is, I miss being blond and having a hairstyle, but they're so short-lived on this mop of mine that I almost don't feel like it's worth it to attempt them (blondness and/or hairstyle).  But I have (once again) become so desperate that a deadline had to be set.  Hair cut and color by the 28th.  It must be done.

I did not need this dress.  But it was on clearance at TJMaxx and fit me really well, so I said, "Ok, I'll take you home with me."  How could I go wrong with a gray, jersey dress, right?  Exactly.

The purse too.  On clearance at TJMaxx.  I've been on the hunt for the perfect straw bag.  Pretty sure I found it and passed it up on my last cruise...darn it.  I like this brown one - it's the perfect size, has a zipper closure, and is cute n' all, but it isn't the one.  It's a good stand in until I find the one though.  Gosh, I love TJMaxx.  And dresses...one piece and ta-dah!  Dressed in a jiffy.

Dress:  TJMaxx
Purse:  TJMaxx
Shoes:  Kohl's