Thursday, August 18, 2011

An Ethical Price Tag

I tend to still have a hard time explaining to people that I run a personal style blog for the same reason that I get embarrassed about showing people my fashion sketches. It all comes down to fear - the fear of being judged as superficial. I worry that when someone outside of the "fashion bubble" discovers this side of me they'll automatically see me as an unintelligent, superficial bimbo with a massive shoe collection.

Since starting this blog I have become more confident that in reality this is not the case. The blogging community has really opened my eyes to the really sweet, creative, and intelligent women and men who share a love for fashion. So I'm reaching out to all of you sweet, creative, and intelligent people. I'd like to tackle a subject that boggles my mind and makes me want to distance myself from the fashion world as much as possible:

Why is it when I'm flipping through a magazine I'm not only seeing basic clothing items being sold for ridiculously expensive prices - but it's actually encouraged!? I can't help but cringe when this happens!

I see this happen all of the time (and always run off to show my husband - "JON! YOU WON'T BELIEVE THIS!!!") however the most recent offense was in the September issue of Lucky magazine. I saw a muscle tee (Alexander Wang) for $78.00, a plain white tee (Eileen Fisher) for $128, and a sweatshirt (Jason Wu) for $1,195.00!!! Am I crazy to think this is criminal? Am I alone here? Have any of you ever paid that much for a basic?

Alexander Wang Muscle Tee, $78.00

Eileen Fisher White Tee, $128.00

Jason Wu Lace Sweatshirt, $1,195.00

Let me be clear that I'm not ragging on Lucky magazine. They are only the most recent example I've come across. I'm actually a devoted Lucky reader.

Also, I'm not debating the price tags that come with haute couture designer fashion. I cannot exactly agree with spending well over $1,000 for a couture hand-sewn evening gown or a perfectly tailored jacket but I can respect it as a form of art and I understand the amount of work that goes into it. I once made a maxi skirt out of nothing but paperclips and it took forever! So in no way am I denying high fashion as an art form that deserves the same price tag as a masterful oil painting.

It's when I see the latest trend in the form of a $128 designer plain white t-shirt that I have a WTF moment. I mean really? A plain white tee? You realize Hanes sells those for $3 each, right? Okay, yes a good quality plain tee can be quite versatile and everyone covets the the softest, comfiest ones. However, even a tee that's made from the softest organic cotton by the most up and coming designer should be no more than $50. (I wouldn't pay more than $30, but I'm willing to give you $50 here.)

If anyone out there supports paying over $50 for a plain t-shirt, muscle shirt, or sweatshirt I would really love to hear from you. I mean that sincerely. I want to know from the other point of view how this can be deemed as okay?

In my opinion these designers are just laughing their way right to the bank. Part of the reason they get away with it is because customers are willing to pay. People are dying of cancer, children are starving, our earth is being destroyed, but of course you should spend your money on a $1,000'll really make a statement that way.

I can't decide if I'm more disgusted, saddened, or awestruck. As bloggers why aren't we speaking out more? The fashion industry has accepted that we have a voice when it comes to picking out fall's greatest trends, so why aren't we using that voice more to speak out against these problems?

I'd love to know what everyone thinks about this. Do you think it's ridiculous, acceptable, or inevitable? What's the most you would pay for a basic item? if money wasn't an issue would you pay more? Are the designers to blame for charging so much? Or is it the consumer's fault for paying so much? Are cheap, mass-produced clothing stores just as ethically bad?

As an artist I don't sell my illustrations for nearly as much as my paintings. Why? Because not as much work goes into them! I find it hard to believe that $128 went into the creation of Eileen Fisher's plain white t-shirt.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vintage Wednesday #40 - Gunne Sax

Today for Vintage Wednesday I'm sharing my lovely new Gunne Sax skirt that was a birthday gift from my step-mom! I picked out a few different items and let her choose which one she was going to buy for me and she picked this one because she said she used to have skirts very similar to this one that her children wore in the 70s, flower buttons and all. The skirt is cotton with lace trim.

Gunne Sax was founded in the 1960s and has been owned by Jessica McClintock since 1969. The brand is best known for its 1970s "prairie revival" designs which reflect elements of late 19th/early 20th century fashion. The burlap trim that was used in earlier pieces was called, "gunny sack" and is how the brand's name came about. The company still makes dresses, however the 70s style that they are so well known for has long been retired. Instead contemporary design features more of a typical cocktail/prom dress aesthetic.

The color and print definitely evoke more of a fall/winter feel, but I had to try this beauty out now! I did my best to try and lighten the feel of the skirt a little bit with some neutrals to fit in with more of a late summer look. I think it turned out well as a late summer to fall transition piece.

There was a lady today who told me she liked my outfit but didn't understand my blue socks. She didn't just say it politely either, she was very adamant about asking me why I chose to wear blue socks. She just kept asking, "WHY THE BLUE?!" At first I had no idea what she was talking about, then when she mentioned the socks I tried to tell her that I just like a pop of color. I don't think she was convinced. Haha.

*Anyway...I'd like to ask a favor from you guys...consider it a late birthday present!!! If you like reading Midwest Mayhem and enjoy Vintage Wednesday please, please, please vote for me for Banana Republic's Mad Men walk on roll contest!!! I will love you forever! I started watching Mad Men during season 2 and have been hooked ever since! Imagine how amazing a walk on role would be! I know everyone wants a scene that involves Jon Hamm, but I want a scene with a sexed up Christina Hendricks! Actually just let me walk through the wardrobe and set design departments and I'll be happy!

You can vote for me here!

**And now for something completely different...

This has nothing to do with Vintage Wednesday, but yesterday I saw The Room for the first time. (I'm a little behind the times here, I know...) I laughed pretty much straight through the entire film and nearly choked to death on a tic tac in the process. I've heard so much about this movie and even though I was excited I was a little worried that it was going to turn out to have been over-hyped. This was definitely not the case. It's just as bad as they say it is and even funnier.

Here's a scene from my favorite part:

The Breakdown:


Cream Blouse: Old Navy, Sale
Skirt: Vintage, Gift
Teal Socks: Betsey Johnson
Black Oxford Heels: Target, Gift

Sunglasses: Meijer
Belt: H&M
Necklace: Thrifted
Purse: Melie Bianco, Thrifted


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Yay! My Birthday!

Well, it happened - yesterday I turned the big 2-8! Geez, I'm getting old! It's so weird because it seems like time just flies by so fast now but at the same time when I stop and look back on it, it seems like being 18 ten years ago was soooo long ago! Oh and yes I know that in the grand scheme of life I'm still really young, but in terms of my 'youth' - aka carefree days of enjoying life without worrying about buying a house and having kids and career...I'm at the tail end. Don't get me wrong though - I'm so excited for the next chapter! I'm excited to really pin down a great career, start having kids, and decide on a city to settle down in and buy a house of our own - it's just kind of bittersweet though, you know?

I had a really great birthday! My step-mom took Jon and I out to lunch in downtown Royal Oak. Afterwards she let me pick out an item at Lost & Found Vintage (which I'll share tomorrow) and then we got ice cream! Jon and I went to the theatre later on and watched Terri and The Devil's Double. We both liked them, but I thought Terri was slightly better than The Devil's Double and Jon had the exact opposite opinion! Haha!

We had fun though. Before the movies we played along the rail road tracks taking these pictures. I love this dress because it looks like a birthday cake! How much more appropriate can you get on your birthday? The tiered layers add a flirty edge and the little polka dots are so cute! I paired it with my thrifted lace top from old navy which has become my instant go-to layering piece this summer! It goes with almost anything and it adds a pretty, romantic flare! I also wore my t-strap wedges again (I wore them for my mods and rockers party Friday, which is posted below this post). I think I'm going to have to say good bye to these shoes soon and it breaks my heart! I've had them since the beginning of college (2002) and they have been a great addition to my wardrobe ever since. However, the years have started to take their toll on them and the bottom of the shoes are starting to come apart, it's so sad! They have had a great almost 10 year run though. If my memory serves me right I originally bought them for a flapper costume for my school's halloween ball. Haha.

After we played on the train tracks we walked around downtown RO a bit before our movies started. We had a really great time together - a perfect birthday!

*Photos of me by Jon Knitter

The Breakdown:


Tiered Dress: BCBG Max Azria, Gift, Thrifted
Lace Top: Old Navy, Thrifted
T-Strap Wedges: Payless

Pearl Bracelet: Thrifted
Necklace: Forever 21
Purse: Thrifted

I was just thinking about how this entire outfit (accessories included) probably cost me about $25!!! How great is that?


Monday, August 15, 2011

Turning 28 Years Old - A Mods and Rockers Party!

On Friday night I celebrated my birthday with some friends. I planned a mods and rockers themed party, but since everyone came over after work Jon and I were the only ones dressed up! Oh well, we had fun anyway! Jon looked so adorable! The suit he's wearing is no ordinary purchase but a gift from fate, a mystery suit with an unknown history yet clearly meant for his closet. Jon found it not at a store but in his apartment the day he moved in. As he searched his new place, in the closet he noticed a panel coming off the wall. Peeling it open, there he discovered this glorious powder-blue plaid suit and a freakin' bowling ball waiting for him, as though placed there after some Saturday night fever 30 years ago and awaiting his arrival - and proving his predestined ownership of this heaven-sent pants, vest, and jacket ensemble it fit him perfectly (quite unusual since he's 6'6". It was fate)! His suit is more late 70s/early 80s but it was the best outfit I could whip up for him out of the clothes that he already had. I wish he dressed like that every day, hehe!

So yes, as I was saying... Jon and I were both dressed up, I had all of my best 60s records playing on my vintage 60s record player, and I had 60s french new wave films playing on mute for the night! I really wanted to do some awesome decorations, but I lost a lot of time that day due to my lost telephone (it was a very stressful 3 hours of trying to get a prepaid phone to work so I could contact people about the party)! I also set up Jon's strobe light with the hopes of getting a chance to dance, but it actually turned out to be more of a board game night as Jon bought me SOUR Apples to Apples for my birthday! I'm a huge Apples to Apples fan, so we had to play this new version right away! It's the same rules for the most part but the new addition is that you have a little sour apple toy that gets passed around and makes the game more difficult for those unfortunate enough to get said sour apple.

Jon was demonstrating how a monkey opens a banana from the bottom:

After the game we sort of ditched the 60s and moved up to the 80s with watching Sleepaway Camp. If you've never watched this movie - go do so right now! It's seriously the best worst movie ever! It's so bad that it becomes genius. I love it! It was the perfect ending to a great night with friends celebrating my 28th year of life! :)

Haha, I feel like I was probably making this really stupid face most of the night:

Today (my real birthday) Jon and I are going to Point Pelee in Canada with my step-mom and then later on Jon and I are going to catch the latest indie flicks at my theatre!

Along with my awesome vintage dress, here's my other birthday present to myself:

Love them!

The Breakdown:


Paisley Dress: Vintage
Wedges: Payless

Yellow Scarf: Vintage, Thrifted
Bunny Necklace: Forever 21
Chunky Bracelet: Gift
Earrings: Express