<![CDATA[AVANT GIRL - Home]]>Thu, 10 Mar 2016 14:03:17 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[February Thrift Haul - Part 2]]>Wed, 26 Feb 2014 18:41:22 GMThttp://avantgirlchicago.weebly.com/home/february-thrift-haul-part-2Picture
So, I'm a day late... But last night, I rang in my birthday with some amazing people!  I think this pic captures the mood of the evening perfectly... Aside from my utterly ridiculous facial expression, I had an absolute blast.

Contrary to how it may appear, it actually was a pretty low-key night, in the best way possible.  Good food, good drinks, good conversation, and great friends!  I'm a little groggy this morning, but my 32nd year of life got off to an amazing start.

Anyhow... As promised, the remainder of my enormous February thrift haul...

I found a DSquared2 shirt ... and new with tags, no less, for just $4.99!  Those black dots on the shoulder are beaded ants.  The pieces from this line - with the embellished ants - retail for $495!  Another 1% mega-score! I'm loving how whimsical, fun and completely random this piece is, and I'm dying for warmer temps so I can rock this with some jeans and a big-buckled, Lara Spencer-esque belt.  
Some Nine West leather knee boots that I couldn't refuse.  I know Nine West isn't "designer," but I've always found their shoes comfortable, durable and super-stylish.  These were just $4.99 and I'm a complete boot junkie this time of year, so of course, they had to come home with me.
Believe it or not, I didn't have any Oscar De La Renta in my wardrobe until now.  I found this gorgeous, vintage 1980s, olive green, silk tunic for $6.99.  In my favorite color and fabric... and it's Oscar!  This is such a beautiful, versatile piece, and it'll be perfect for Spring transition weather.
Sadly, I don't sew.  My mother, however, is an amazing seamstress, and she's the one who actually found these Vogue patterns.  They're both from 1986 (wow, I just was 4 years old...) and they're both in surprisingly good condition.  I especially love the Chloe dress pattern, and Mom said she'd like to give it a try.  I just have to find some cool fabric.  The patterns were $0.49 a piece at Goodwill, and I'm going to frame them and turn them into art (once Mom is finished with them).
This piece is St. John, a label I normally feel "meh" about, and it looks pretty "meh" on the hanger.  But it was only $3.99 and in perfect condition (still had dry cleaning tags attached), so I decided to try it on.  And it looks gorgeous on me!  The blush pink silk at the hem makes it tunic length, and it hits me perfectly at the shoulders (a problem I have, particularly with vintage clothing, being a more petite build).  I'm going to modernize this piece with leggings, tall boots, and long, layered necklaces.
A few more fun finds ... These sheepskin-lined Puma "El Roo" booties are so cute, albeit not typically "me."  That said, thrifting is a perfect, guilt-free way to "try out" trends.  I did a little Googling, and these boots are from Puma's collaboration with Hussein Chalayan, and normally retail for over $200.  I paid just $4.99 at Goodwill.

The Steve Madden spectator-style flats - while not designer - are definitely "me" and will be getting tons of wear with my khakis this Spring.  I was immediately drawn to this pretty, vintage-y, feminine floral wallet ... of course, because it's from Moulinette Soeurs by Anthropologie.  The shoes were $3.99 and the wallet was $1.99.  
I'm not working today, and outside, it's -15 degrees again.  I'm dying to wear my new Spring clothes, get outside, and just do something.  But today, I'm staying in, eating leftover birthday cake and watching HBO GO on my Kindle.  Happy birthday to me... and thank god it's almost March!
<![CDATA[February Thrift Haul - Part One]]>Mon, 24 Feb 2014 22:07:25 GMThttp://avantgirlchicago.weebly.com/home/february-thrift-haul-part-oneOkay, wow... It's almost the end of February, and once again, I've slacked on my blogging.  I can't say I'll be too sad to see this month go.  My birthday is coming up - tomorrow, actually - but despite that, I usually loathe the month of February.  It's cold, it's gray, and it's generally miserable... and its only redeeming quality is that March - and Spring - is almost here!

I haven't ventured out much this month, between the rainstorms, snowstorms, and "thunder snow," except to go to the gym and go thrifting.  As always, I've scored some amazing items... so many, that I need to split my "February Haul" post into two parts.  (Hey,  it means I'll have more than just two blog posts for the entire month!)
I've been super lucky to score several Diane Von Furstenberg pieces secondhand.  My latest is this dress - the "Ventana" - which I found a couple weeks ago at Goodwill for $4.99.  Retail on this dress is $220.  It fits like a dream, and looks terrific with leggings and a sweater, for days when I need something casual and cute with a pop of color.
Robert Clergerie snakeskin creepers?  Yes, please!  These are so comfy, and look awesome with bootcut jeans or black trousers.  Clergerie shoes are typically between $400-$600, so for $4.99 at Goodwill, I literally paid 1% of retail cost!
Ever since Hedi Slimane changed YSL's name to "Saint Laurent Paris," vintage Yves Saint Laurent has become a rare and collectible find.  I scored this 1980s YSL Rive Gauche silk satin blouse at Goodwill for $3.99.  It had some staining, but I took a chance because... hey, it's vintage YSL!  My mom worked her laundry magic, and now it's absolutely spotless... it just needs to be pressed.  I can't wait to wear this in March and April with some dark denim skinnies and ankle boots for Spring transition-wear.
Speaking of vintage... I scored two back-to-back vintage Kenzo pieces at Goodwill - for $4.99 each - this past weekend.  The mesh nylon top is vintage 1990s Kenzo Jungle, and reminds me of clothes I wore to go dancing back during my "goth" phase as a teenager.

The pants are Album by Kenzo, a diffusion line originally sold at The Limited in the late 1970s - mid 1980s.  Some thought selling a lower priced line would kill the Kenzo label - much like Halston III at J.C. Penney or the Loehmann's Balenciaga licensed handbags - but Kenzo survived, and it's still as fabulously avant garde as ever.  In fact, the label was quite ahead of its time, considering that nowadays everyone from Missoni to Marchesa is offering diffusion lines through mass-market retailers.  

Personally, I find these pants a bit... ridiculous, honestly.  As in "Holy Eighties, Batman!" ridiculous.  They're too high-waisted and harem-style to flatter my curvy figure... Not to mention, the label reads size 10, but they fit like a size 4.  But I bought them because they're a piece of fashion history.  I may never wear them - even if I dropped an extra 15-20 pounds - but they're too interesting and rare to end up in a thrift shop.
I added two more luxe handbags to my growing collection!  The snakeskin-embossed Brahmin is the "Tyler" satchel, and sells for close to $300.  I paid $4.99 at Goodwill.  The interior had a couple of pen-marks, but that didn't matter much to me, since I'm always spilling food/makeup/whatever in my purse, anyhow.  It's my new favorite, and I've been carrying it nonstop for the last 3 weeks.

The brown Furla cost $6.99 at the downtown Chicago Goodwill.  It was a little more than I'll usually pay, but it's my first Furla bag, and unbelievably, I didn't own a dark brown handbag.  Furla bags usually sell for $300-$400, so it was still a total steal!
This gorgeous, gauzy, silk chiffon piece is by Hale Bob Cabana, and normally retails at $200.  I scored this little number for just $3.99 at Goodwill.  It's been languishing in my closet ever since, waiting for the first warm day when I can bust it out with some flared jeans and flip-flops.  I love the beaded neckline - no jewelry required!
My leather riding boots have officially been relegated to the "repair bin" in the back of my closet, because their soles are practically nonexistent due to constant wear this season.  I needed a replacement pair to get me through the rest of Winter and beginning of Spring, so I nabbed these gorgeous Elizabeth & James "Wallis" boots for $15 on consignment.  Again, it's a bit more than I'm usually willing to pay for secondhand merch, but these were never worn, and normally retail for $395 on ShopBop.
So, I've been hunting for a new pair of dark denim skinny jeans, and while I haven't had much luck thus far, I pulled this pair of wide-leg denim trousers at Goodwill for $4.99 last week.  The brand... 3.1 Phillip Lim!  And not his Target collab - not that I'm knocking it - but the real-deal runway Phillip Lim.  Score!  They're a teensy bit snug right now, but I've been working out like a maniac, so by summer, these'll fit perfectly... And they'll be great for "Casual Fridays." 
So far, I'm planning to keep all my thrift finds for now.  However, I just listed a bunch of new pieces in my online closets, so please take a look at my "Shop" section and let me know if you want to make a deal!  These days, I'm selling on Poshmark, Threadflip, Tradesy, and Snobswap, and my post-holiday sales have been surprisingly awesome.  I also picked up a part-time job, working as a legal secretary for a local tax attorney, and I have to admit, I've kind of missed the "corporate" life (especially dressing up, and wearing high heels!)

Tomorrow, I'm planning a little "birthday party" at a local bar & grill with a few of my neighborhood friends.  Nothing too outrageous, but I still need to do something to celebrate being... wow... 32 years old.  And of course, I'll be back tomorrow with part 2 of my epic February thrift haul!
<![CDATA[A Healthy New Year: What's In My Gym Bag?]]>Mon, 10 Feb 2014 01:06:33 GMThttp://avantgirlchicago.weebly.com/home/a-healthy-new-year-whats-in-my-gym-bagI'm back... after a 3 week absence, ugh!  I had some personal issues to deal with, that temporarily took my focus away from blogging, as well as a bit of writer's block.  But I love my blog, and I'm committed to keeping it going... and my little idea notebook is now overflowing with potential content!

Speaking of commitments, I joined my community's YMCA in December, in an effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and of course, to lose a few pounds.  I've stuck to that commitment thus far, and have been going almost every morning.  I've already dropped 5 pounds, and I'm fitting back into my favorite clothes.  Moreover, I've discovered that not only do I genuinely like working out, I really do need it for my mental and emotional well-being, as much as physical.

I typically work out early in the morning, which gets my day off to a positive start, gives me sustained energy, and helps me sleep better at night.  Since the local Y is only a couple blocks from my apartment, I'll head over already dressed to work out, then come home and start my day.  Of course, I can't enjoy a full workout without bringing a few things with me - and since I love "What's in your bag?" posts so much - I thought I'd share the contents of my own gym bag.
I carry a smallish nylon tote that I got at The Gap, which has extra pockets to store toiletries, flip-flops, and my iPod.  It's tough to see everything I carry with me, but here's what's inside...
  • My workout clothes - cropped leggings from The Gap, a reversible tank with built-in bra by Adidas, and my ultra-light New Balance 411 running shoes.
  • A towel and swimsuit from H&M, since I like to use the whirlpool and sauna after lifting weights.  (When I'm having a tough time getting through a workout, I like to think of the whirlpool as a reward for afterwards.) 
  • My iPod - these days, I'm mixing up Combichrist, Tupac Shakur and OneRepublic during cardio sessions.  
  • A water bottle and raspberry lemonade Mio flavoring,  because I know it's important to stay hydrated, but I'm not really good about drinking plain water.
  • Havaianas flip-flops, for a post-workout shower, which is mandatory before using the whirlpool.  I have several pairs of Havaianas, and no desire to catch a case of toe-rot from public showers.
  • A few toiletries, for clean-up:  cleansing towelettes, Kiehl's antiperspirant, Espa Botanical Rescue Balm (which is awesome to slather on feet after a run), packets of Lulah Vanilla Orchid lotion (one packet covers my entire body, and the fragrance lasts all day), Origins tinted moisturizer, hand sanitizer gel, a hairbrush, and Reva de Tahiti gardenia-scented perfume, so I leave the gym smelling even better than when I came in.

Right now, with snow, chills, and dark days seemingly never-ending, going to the gym everyday is my only chance to get out of my apartment and do something positive for myself.  I have to admit, I'm struggling with a bit of wintertime depression, and working out helps me stay sane!  I truly despise this time of year, and have to keep reminding myself that Spring is only another month away, and I'll feel like myself again once I get some sunshine, green grass, and 50-degree days.  

Anyone else have the Winter Blues?  How are you staying healthy and active this time of year?  I'll welcome any advice!
<![CDATA[Daniel Troppy: Thrifter Extraordinaire...]]>Tue, 21 Jan 2014 03:05:21 GMThttp://avantgirlchicago.weebly.com/home/daniel-troppy-thrifter-extraordinairePicture
I'm incredibly excited about today's blog post, because I scored an interview with one of my favorite bloggers and "thrift mentors!"  I first came across Daniel Troppy and his blog The Thrifters a couple years ago, when I was searching for information on vintage couture.  Daniel's upbeat and funny writing style, combined with his wealth of knowledge on designer labels, got me instantly hooked on his blog.  We quickly became friends via Facebook and email, and now he's my go-to person when I need info or advice on fashion, or just want to share my latest and greatest thrift score!

I recently contacted Daniel when I came upon a gorgeous, vintage Pauline Trigere gown at work, and I was thrilled when he asked me if he could interview me about it for his blog!  Daniel's got such a great, positive attitude about fashion, sustainability, and being who you are ... and, as a successful vintage shop owner, he has my dream job!

Read my interview on The Thrifters!  
Q&A With Chicago's Professional Thrifter Vanessa Kaicher
This past weekend, I asked Daniel a few questions of my own about his experience as a thrift and vintage guru, and resale shop owner ...

1.  When did you start thrifting, and why?  What was your first "thrift score?"
I started thrifting when I was 18 and in college.  Like every college student I didn't have enough money and needed things for my day to day life.  My first major find was actually at an estate sale.  I found this gorgeous gold leaf mirror that was made by the woman who was having the sale, she was an older lady going into retirement housing and she told me when she was a little girl she did the gold leaf on the mirror.  That lady at the time was 92.  I still own that mirror and it's gorgeous, it cost me a whooping $25.  It's very French and I love mixing French with mid-century.

2.  What has been your best thrifted find to date?  Where did you find it and (if you don't mind) what did you pay for it?
I've been thrifting since 1982 so I've been a thrifter for 32 years so I've found just about everything you can imagine but I would have to say that my 'best' find to date would be a green Halston wrap dress from the early 70s, found it a a Goodwill for $5.95.  I'm a huge fan of Halston so this was huge for me.  I've been lucky I've found Chanel, Hermes, Gucci, LV, Donald Brooks, Pauline Trigere, YSL, Dior,Oscar de la Renta, Burberry, Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, Carolyne Roehm, Givenchy, Lanvin, Pucci… oh lord I could go on all night. 

3.  What's your "Holy Grail" item that you look for (but haven't found yet) when thrifting? 
I would have to say that the one thing I'm actually dying to find at the moment would be a Stephen Burrows 70's dress but I would also that anything from Patrick Kelly.  

4.  Who is one designer that every woman (and/or man) should own, and why?  What do you consider "wardrobe essentials?"
Every woman needs to own something by Schiaparelli and every man should own something by Brioni because these 2 labels are the best of the best.  Every woman in my humble opinion should also own a cropped jacket and a jumpsuit, vintage of course!

5.  What are the biggest challenges and rewards of owning a resale shop?  Any advice for aspiring boutique owners (like me)?
I own DOUBLETAKE RECYCLED LUXURY in Atlanta and my biggest challenge is not having enough time to be in 3 different locations at once.  The best thing that I absolutely find the most rewarding about what I do is the fact that I'm a caretaker for other people's treasures.  I feel it's my responsibility to find the items, I find as well as my consigned items, a fabulous loving new home.  I really feel it's my duty to safeguard these items after all they are vintage and collectible, they need to be tenderly cared for.  Wearing vintage is the ultimate act of showing the world you are an individual.  Everyone can go to the malls and buy something that 3 million other people own but only a few can own something that's luxury vintage.

(I should add that I was born in 1982 ... and yes, I own something by Schiaparelli ... True, it's just a little scarf, but I found it at a thrift shop!)  

When I thanked Daniel for taking the time to answer my questions, he sent me the kindest reply:  
"I think what we do is important and I'm so grateful that  you have this passion… It's so easy for people to go to the malls today and point and buy but it's harder to do what we do and that is hunt for pieces!"

So, thank you again, Daniel!  I couldn't have said it better myself!
<![CDATA[Layered Effect...]]>Sun, 19 Jan 2014 04:16:20 GMThttp://avantgirlchicago.weebly.com/home/layered-effectIt's been happening to me more and more often lately ... I open my closet to get dressed for work, or to go out with friends, and I stare blankly at the wall of clothing before me ... wondering how it is that I can possibly own so many clothes, and yet have absolutely nothing to wear ...?   Picture
I blame it on Winter.  It's damn near impossible to look decent when it's cold outside.  Cute dresses are out of the question, because your legs will freeze ... high heels are a no-go, because the streets and wet and icy ... and hey, it's not like anyone is actually going to notice your outfit, hidden beneath a gigantic parka, right?

Last Friday, I had plans to meet up with my friend Jamie for dinner and drinks at Union Sushi & Barbecue.  It was a mild, balmy 45 degrees in the city (considering that just 4 days before, I'd been trapped indoors in -40 degree weather) and drizzling outside.  I needed something stylish to wear for a night out, but semi-casual, and somewhat warm.

So, I opted for one of my favorite, easy wintertime looks - layering.  I paired leggings and a tunic with an oversized sweater, a long scarf, and my semi-stylish but still functional Hunter rainboots.  The result, while not one of my favorite going-out outfits, was still passably chic for downtown Chicago in mid-January.  (My hair, however, was a complete disaster by the end of the evening. Suffice to say, when you've got naturally curly hair, and wear glasses, rain isn't particularly kind to you.)

LEFT:  Wool sweater from the Gap.  Skull scarf from H&M.  Black cotton tunic by C&C California.  Leggings from H&M.  Hunter brand rainboots.

Despite the craptastic weather, dinner was delicious, and Instagram-worthy.  While Chicago's got a sushi joint on every corner, Union Sushi & Barbecue is noteworthy for its upscale, lounge-y vibe, hibachi grill, killer cocktails and fresh ground wasabi.  (If you've never tried it, definitely do.  It'll detox you and puts the jarred paste to shame.)

My friend and I tried grilled alligator, sea urchin sashimi, soft-shell crab and yellowfin tuna sushi.  We wanted dessert, but opted to drink our extra calories instead, and indulged in a few cocktails and some great laughs.
I apologize that my blog post have been rather sparse lately.  I've made a point to sit down every weekend and write, but it seems like time - and creativity - escape me.  I still have tons of great ideas and topics in mind, and I promise to keep the fresh content coming every week!

On that note ... who's ready for Spring?  I know there's still at least two months of misery ahead of us here in the Midwest, but I'm already daydreaming about green grass and sunshine and sandals and tanktops.  How do you stay stylish - and sane - in the middle of Winter?