Tuesday, May 29, 2012

blogger interviews: ron

1) How did you first start thrifting?
When I first started reading style blogs I noticed that some of the best outfits had thrifted or secondhand clothes but I was too terrified to go into secondhand shops on my own. It wasn't until I started university and me and my friends wanted to find some cheap costumes for Halloween that we ventured into all the nearby thrift stores that we could find. In one I found the perfect pirate coat and went as Captain Hook. Ever since then I've been returning regularly.

2) What items do you advise to always thrift (as opposed to buy new)?
The most obvious is statement pieces. Big trends come and go very quickly and there's no knowing how long they'll last. If you thrift the trend (or DIY it) then you're less likely to feel guilty about having spent a lot of money on a statement piece that was only fashionable for a season.

Another item, and this is going to sound odd, is tights. The thrift stores I go to sort though all their items to remove anything old, torn or soiled (even if it smells a little they don't sell it) so their hosiery and underwear are all new or in perfect condition. Often it's brands of a higher quality than I would buy new. For example, I recently bought some children's tights, brand new in their original packaging, with an original price of £26 for only £1. A word of warning though, not all thrift stores are this picky and always examine, test and smell pieces before buying to avoid disappointment.

3) You work at a thrift store--how does it work? Any insider tips?
Thrift stores get a LOT of donations (seriously, mountains of the stuff) but not all of it is fit for sale, so we sort through it all to make sure the stuff on sale doesn't smell, isn't stained or torn and is actually wearable. The stuff that doesn't make it to the shop floor is recycled, it can end up in other shops or end up overseas but only the worst of the worst end up in textile recycling.

The best tip is to make friends with someone that works at your favourite thrift store, or volunteer there yourself! Make a friend who knows your style and they'll be able to hold items for you in the back room so that you get to look over them before they go on sale.

4) What is your favorite "DIY" project you've tried?
My favourite project in terms of the result is the simple adjusting of a dress. It's amazing how quickly a frumpy 80's dress can become cute and chic just by taking off or adjusting the sleeves and bringing up the hem. Other small adjustments such as adding lace or studs adds an air of intrigue to an otherwise boring item.

The most enjoyable project to do is to cover things in glitter. The results can be a little fragile but getting glitter everywhere is priceless.

5) What is something a first-time thrifter should avoid?
Going in to a thrift store with a defined agenda. Keep your mind open, you might not find that sequined maxi dress but you might find something else amazing. Also, if you don't find what it is you want, don't give up! Keep going back regularly and you're more likely to find everything (and more than) you need.


Happy Memorial Day, folks. :) Had a very low-key day. Woke up early to go thrifting with my bestest pal Elissa (50% off sale at Thrift Town in the Mission, aww yeah) and then worked begrudgingly for the rest of the day on my final portfolio. Ick. I managed to get away from the apartment later⎯to go pick up my prescription from CVS. My life is a thrill a minute!

Hope you all enjoyed barbecues and beaches and other things I think people that are cooler than me do on this particular weekend! :) Maybe next year, I'll have a more eventful three day weekend.

blouse: Urban Outfitters ~ shorts: thrifted vintage ~ loafers: thrifted vintage ~ bow: American Apparel

Monday, May 28, 2012

american girl

This Memorial Day Weekend, I'm trapped inside with a lot of work; my final portfolio for my credential is due June 2nd (aka the day after my birthday, so lord knows I need to do it now). I did manage to escape for a few hours today to go grocery shopping. I decided to wear some patriotic gear to show some spirit, so I found my striped shorts and blue blouse and called it good.

blouse: thrifted vintage ~ shorts: Urban Outfitters ~ boots: Urban Outfitters

To be honest, I was a little nervous to wear these shorts today. I bought them a few months ago and have been avoiding wearing them. I gained a bit of weight this year (as most first year teachers do) and went through a period of being fairly self-conscious about it. But⎯to hell with that. No sense in being down on myself. My body will fluctuate and change as my lifestyle fluctuates and changes. I've got what I've got, and I might as well enjoy it! Bring on the short shorts, I'm not scared.

Enjoyed a great meal with Henrik; we tried to make it as "American" as possible, which sort of worked? Instead of burgers, I had a salmon patty and Henrik had a veggie burger. (I'd say that's close enough). We had corn, too, and Henrik has an apple pie in the oven. I have a good life, I really do. Hope you all are enjoying the long weekend! Shout-out to my barely-older-than-me cousin, Johnny, who just got back from Afghanistan. Love the bejesus out of him.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

chic for cheap: day 1

Last week was what our school calls "Week Without Walls." To raise morale of both teachers and students, our school has a week where teachers can teach whatever they want and students sign up to join. Staying true to myself as always, I organized a thrift/DIY/blogging WWW⎯"Chic for Cheap."

I was assigned a small group of girls, and given a few days before the week to prep them, get permission slips, etc. Monday was our first real day, and it was a big one⎯the day of the actual thrifting!

After some planning, we walked the 10 minutes to the bus stop down the road. It was an ugly morning, very gray with the threat of rain looming overhead, but the girls were excited to go shopping and so kept negativity at bay.

We arrived at the bus stop and discovered that we would have to wait 20 minutes for the next bus. The kids decided the best way to pass the time would be to stuff their faces with hot cheetos bought from the gas station next door.

After another 20 minutes, we had arrived at Eco Thrift! Eco Thrift is definitely my favorite thrift spot in the Bay (keep a look out for an Eco Thrift info post in the future).

The students were given an hour and a half to thrift. These were the rules:
  1. Purchase at least 4 items.
  2. No swim suits, shoes, or bags.
  3. No "trendy" labels (Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, H&M, Free People, etc.).
  4. The total cannot exceed 17 dollars.
Simple enough! With that, the kids were off on their first thrift adventure.

As I'm sure you can imagine, paying for this all was quite the adventure! I have to give some serious props to the staff here for being so accommodating of our very complicated purchase. After 2 solid hours of sorting through clothes, slipping in and out of dressing rooms, and waiting in line while calculating the sales, the students finally had their first thrifted items. The next day's task? To buy supplies to alter them.

I'll post more soon, but now I need to run and get groceries because the only things in my fridge are three gargantuan jars of pickles (not joking). Hope you enjoyed this peek into our first day, the rest is coming asap!

blogger interviews: kathleen

Hey guys! :) See, what'd I tell you⎯feeling much better. :)

This past week, I was working with my students to create some kickass thrifted DIY fashion. Some fantastic bloggers you may (and should!) know were kind enough to do interviews so that the students may learn a thing or two from the experts. As I start posting stuff from our Week Without Walls, I want to also post the interviews because they were awesome and because these ladies rock. With that said, here's Kathleen!


1) How did you first start thrifting?
I was actually introduced to thrifting and vintage shopping by my Mom.  She has a collection of beautiful thrifted pieces, in particular my favorite are her wool coats/blazers.  Long time ago, she brought me along to first thrift store ever, Goodwill.  It was so fun searching for unique and fun treasured pieces for an amazing price.

2) What items do you advise to always thrift (as opposed to buy new)?

I always love finding cool blouses because they're kind of like a basic for my wardrobe and something I don't want to buy new necessarily.  Also, cool items I love thrifting are structured bags.

3) What is your favorite "DIY" project you've tried?  
I loveloove my recent leather jacket I studded on the collar.  It makes the jacket look more fun and oddly enough, more expensive with silver studs from my perspective.  DIY projects are such great ways to add your own flare to items and make them into something you'd feel more comfortable wearing out.

4) What is something a first-time thrifter should avoid?  
First time thrifters usually are overwhelmed by the amount of clothing available at hand.  I'd say take it in with small steps and go to a particular area you are more interested in finding a nice piece to add to your wardrobe.  Also, avoid just picking out items with your regular size -- thrifted items can either be belted or if they're too long for jeans can be cut off to shorts.

5) Favorite place in the Bay to thrift?
I am obsessed with Wasteland -- every time I go there I always score a great pair of Levi's shorts.  One time I got these cool slashed Levi's denim shorts that were tie-dyed red previously.

6) Current trend you're really digging?
Gotta love the ombre colored tops or dresses, they add this cool effect and make a boring clothing item more interesting to the eye.

7) Do you have any advice for fashion bloggers who are just starting?
Blog about what you love -- whether it's fashion design, trends, personal style, or all of the above.  Passion and genuineness are great factors to a blog.  Most importantly, have fun with your blog journey!

melancholy: sad songs for sad folks

Hey all. Had a really full week, and I have lots and lots of things to show and tell you guys, but I've been feeling really off today so.. yeah. I've been having a lot of good days, nearly a year of them really, or maybe even two. This is one of the first bad "down" days I've had in a while, and I'm not sure what triggered it. I'm just feeling really sad. I'm sure I'll snap out of it, but for the moment, I definitely am glum. I hate knowing these moods still live within me somewhere. Come on, brain; get it together.

What do you folks do when you're feeling blue? Henrik convinced me to get up and get some ice cream, and I'm very glad he did. Sometime soon I'll do a post about the ice cream place I discovered this week and now adore, in case you end up in Oakland and are looking for a sweet treat.

Aside from ice cream, I like to listen to sad music. I'm one of those folks who likes an extra dose of something; if it's cold, I crave ice cream, and if I'm sad, I play sad songs. It's as if I want to amplify the feelings so as to rid myself of them. Anyways, most people who know me know that my iPod is filled with:

  1. sad folk music
  2. slightly cheerful folk music
  3. Tori Amos
  4. every 90's song that ever existed
  5. booty-bumpin' jams
  6. anything else potentially tear-evoking
so, I have quite a lot of melancholy tunes to choose from. If you guys are interested, here's what I've been listening to today: a playlist for a gray, gloomy Saturday. Next time I post, I'm sure I'll be in much higher spirits, but for now I'm just gonna eat my lemon sorbet and listen to sad songs.

"I Wish I Knew" - Sharon Van Etten
"So It Goes" - Chris Pureka
"Carry Me Ohio" - Sun Kil Moon
"Fish" - Wye Oak
"Especially Me" - Low
"It's Okay" - Land of Talk
"Simple" - Martha Tilston and the Woods
"The Way" - Mia Doi Todd
"Different Stars" - Trespassers William
"Candyfloss Branches" - Kat Flint 
"Doughnut Song" - Tori Amos
"Holocene" - Bon Iver
"Heartbeats" - José González

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

what to wear: interview & nine to five


A friend of mine recently asked me to do a post about what to wear to an interview. I think this is a great question, and because I went through a couple "grown up" interviews before my friends (having graduated a year early), I have gained some extra insight. 

Interviews are tricky business. You want to put your best foot forward. You also want to stand out from the rest of the job-hungry pool of desperate applicants, but you don't want to come off as odd. On my interviews this past spring, I wanted to be both professional and comfortable. It's my belief that you can't make a good first impression if you aren't feeling confident and yourself. I know myself well enough to know that even if the suit is $400 and tailored to fit my bod perfectly, I won't feel confident if it isn't me enough. So how do you incorporate personal style into interview wear?


I'd say, sneak in pieces that are more you. Have some jewelery that you love? Wear it with a classic skirt and blazer. If you're wearing mostly neutrals, allow yourself one pop of color (so long as it isn't neon, probably). Pick cuts/shapes you like⎯peplum skirts, Mary-Jane shoes, Peter Pan collars⎯and keep them neutral colored to be safe. When I interview for TFA and, later, my job, I wore some high-waisted pants à la Annie Hall. Why? Because I love high-waisted pants. Because high-waisted pants fit me best. Because they matched lots of my blouses. Because, well, why not? (I did get both into TFA and hired by the school, so hey!). Also, keep in mind that you can find some bomb interview clothes at thrift stores, which is where I bought every last piece of my professional wardrobe. I have found ah-may-zingggg blazers for a couple bucks. Blouses? There are tons. You don't need to spend a million bucks to look like you are! ;)

What to wear once you land the job? That's easy! (Or, easier.) Though I hate to say it, I'd say lean more towards conservative when in doubt; I definitely have tucked away some items I thought might be a little too much for the kiddies, for example. ;P Some work places have strict dress codes that explicitly state what you can and cannot wear. Other jobs don't. My school has a pretty loose dress code that lets us use our best judgement, and advises we stick away from blue and red (because of gangs). Here are some looks I would feel great about adding to my work repertoire.

young spring work

Happy job hunting!

And psst! I had a great start to my Week Without Walls but only just got back from a CPR class I had tonight for 4 hours! I promise updates will come soon!

Monday, May 21, 2012

so bright, I gotta wear shades

Hey, all! What a busy week/weekend! Henrik's mom came into town for a few days, so I've been kept away doing family sorts of things. When not hanging out with Henrik and his mother, I was doing errands. For example, guess who is now wearing contacts? This girl.

Yesterday, I went to the TFA people of color reception. I'm not usually into social events, particularly ones that involve me shmoozing with TFA folks, but this one offered free drinks and I was curious about what exactly was going to happen at this POC gathering. I went with David, fellow TFA teacher and best-friend-4-lyfe~ (if you're wondering our "colors", he's Latino and I'm Arab). It ended up being pretty good, if not only a bit bizarre, and Dave and I stood awkwardly near each other and attempted to socialize with people that looked familiar. Mostly, we cracked jokes and lounged on the couch. On a serious note, I do commend TFA for arranging a reception specifically for POC and their concession that the organization is not exactly super minority-friendly. It is critical that TFA becomes more inclusive so that more teachers going into these communities reflect the populations they serve. While being of the same racial or ethnic background won't solve everything, it is a step in the right direction; certainly, we cannot have an organization that serves mostly minority children run almost entirely by white, upper-middle class individuals (see: white savior complex). Don't get me wrong, I definitely love my white pals in the corps (and Henrik is a fine Nordic gentleman!), but the numbers should not be so skewed that there are only a handful of minorities compared to an overwhelming white majority. /end seriousness for today

 what a good looking team! ;D

And, totally unrelated, but today there was an eclipse, so Henrik and I stood outside and watched it!

Now, I'm heading to bed. Tomorrow's the big day! Week Without Walls! THRIFT/DIY FASHION WEEK. I'm sure I will be posting lots and lots, so keep an eye out. :) Super excited!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"cheap cheap," say the birds

Spring is here in the Bay! So, maybe it's not particularly springy today with the sheet of fog that has rolled in to smother us cruelly in cold, gray ugliness, but in general, spring is alive and well in Northern California. Hooray!

This past weekend was not incredibly eventful, which was good. Henrik has a new job for a plant nursery, so I found myself on my own Saturday and Sunday until the evening! On Saturday, I attended an all-day class about autism. It was interesting for two reasons; professionally because I teach special education, and personally because I have a number of family members on the autism spectrum. While I'm not a fan of all-day classes on Saturdays, the subject matter made me less cranky. I did spend a fair deal of it sitting awkwardly by myself in the back because I tend to be anti-social around TFA folks. Go figure.

I dressed a little school-girl-esque because I was going to be in class all day in the opposite role than normally, and also because who doesn't love tie up blouses and skirts? Walking home, I was offered a ride from a couple gentlemen, whom I turned down. One said he'd give me a ride home⎯on his bike. Woman walking home = always an adventure.

blouse: thrifted ~ skirt: Forever 21 ~ belt: thrifted ~ shoes: Forever 21 ~ socks: Forever 21

Sunday, after Henrik got back from work, we went to look at shops and then got some dinner (which I'll likely post about later!). I love just hanging out and having lazy Sundays with him. My outfit was a merging of my lazy-Sunday-feeling and the eagerness I have for spring. Comfortable.... with floral print!

dress: thrifted ~ boots: thrifted ~ socks: Forever 21 ~ purse: H&M

So get this⎯everything in this post except for my socks was purchased second-hand! Aww yeah. :) The green blouse? $1.50. The dress? $4.00. #thriftforever

(Pssst! Don't forget, if you want to be interviewed for my thrifting class, shoot me an e-mail! :) If you don't know what I'm talking about, check this post.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

calling all bloggers!

Hey guys! I have an UNBELIEVABLY exciting thing to share with you all. As you know, I'm a high school teacher. Our school is unique in a lot of ways, but one of my favorite quirks about it is this thing called "Week Without Walls." It's a week where teachers get to teach whatever they want. Whatever. They. Want. Here's where I (and you!) come in.

My Week Without Walls is about thrifting! And fashion blogging! The students will be altering thrifted finds and blogging about it here at Chic For Cheap.

Feel free to follow if you'd like, but I'll be posting some pictures/updates here as well because, hey, teaching's a big part of my life! :)

My call, then, is for all you thrifty, fashionable folks to give the kids some advice! If any of you are interested in being interviewed, please e-mail me! If you have any tips, awesome DIY projects, anything⎯send them my way! If you're in the Bay and feel like coming to visit our class as we sew and cut and blog our hearts out, come on over (seriously!). I'm pretty awesome, but the kids would love to hear input from other bloggers too. ;)

So yeah, that's my week! Can't wait for it to be Monday so that the adventures will begin!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Mother's Day is here, and I am 2,332 miles away from the woman who gave birth to me nearly 22 years ago. June of last year was the first real, or perhaps first serious, separation between my mother and I⎯newly 21 years old, I did what no one expected (at least not quite so soon) and moved across the country. Separation is hard. I am the first child, so I am the first to take that step out of home, out of the home-town, and into the vast and wonderfully unpredictable world. I am the one who is testing how far a mother's love can reach, how many miles it can stretch across and still hold on.

My mother is an unbelievably strong woman. Her resilience in the face of adversity has been an inspiration to me throughout my life. She has overcome obstacles no one should ever have to face, and she has done it with unfaltering poise, courage, and humor. I am honored to be her daughter, to share both her smile and her fiery temper, to have been raised to fight for those I love and never let anyone or anything stop me from being all I can be. Thank you, Mom, for everything you are.


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