Swap ’til you drop

I’m a few days late on this, but Thursday night I went to my second Swap meet and wanted to update you all on it! I wrote this story for Her Campus last semester about the Swap concept, which I am now totally obsessed with. Basically these two girls, who call themselves the Swapaholics, got together and decided to create clothing swap meets, where you show up, donate any old clothing you arent using or wearing anymore, and then get to shop around a huge room full of others donated items. For just the ticket price (somewhere between $10 and $15) and the clothes you donate, you simply walk out of the room with a bag full of new items for your closet!

As a total shopaholic who is also on a very tight college budget, this concept is perfect for me. I’ve got tons of stuff laying around that I never wear, and it was a perfect excuse to purge my wardrobe and acquire some new items without emptying my wallet.

A view of the swap room after the event

This swap was much much bigger than the Swap I attended last time. It was held at the Armory for the Arts out in Somerville, and was a 15 minute walk from the Davis T stop on the redline.


All my bags piled into the back of my zipcar!

I had 12 bags (yes 12, you read that right!) of clothing to donate, (but in all fairness most of it was my roommates that she was purging before she moved back home to California after graduating in December) so I rented a zipcar for a few hours and drove me and my friend Kate out to the ‘burbs.

We dropped off the bags, parked the car and then got inside and waited in line. As soon as the doors opened at 8, women of all body types, ages and races rushed into a massive room, set up with dozens of wardrobers and tables covered with everything from designer jeans to dresses to shoes & jewelry. This swap was much larger, so there were even tables with books, childrens clothing, DVDs and games.

Kate and I scoured the room and settled into a corner to collect ourselves and try on the items we’d snagged. After a few rounds of rejects and some more try-ons, I scored the following:

A violet Express button down, a red cashmere sweater, a black dress, purple Soffe shorts, a striped dress (this item I’m unsure about & may re-swap next month, but we’ll see), a black Rugby cardigan, a sparkle dress from Forever 21 & a Jane Green novel. Score!

And just because I’m feeling cheesy…

I ❤ to Swap!


January 24, 2011. Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Zits fashion advice

And I’m officially back in Boston! Leaving 60 degree weather to land in a city where it’s 23 degrees & “feels like 13” is quite the change. As much as I already miss home (and especially my puppy!) I’m really excited to be back and start my senior semester.

Speaking of 23 degrees, I was overeager today and wore my new Ann Taylor loft skirt with boots and a pair of panty hose. Since I work in admissions in the afternoons, I need to wear business casual, and I like to wear skirts and dresses as opposed to pants. I was fine walking to campus and even during the day when I led a tour, but my walk home after the sun went down was pretty painful. I can honestly say that after 12 minutes of walking, I couldn’t feel my knees. I’m going to have to brainstorm a solution to this one, as I don’t think I’m willing to give up wearing dresses and tights just yet. Maybe wearing yoga pants and then changing into my skirt once I’m on campus? I could wear my uggs which would keep me a bit warmer, but my knees are still exposed.

Does anybody have any good alternatives or suggestions?

I’ve got to head to bed and prep for my second day of classes, but I’ll leave you with this, a great Zits cartoon my mom emailed me the other day.

January 11, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Goodwill treasures

I absolutely love vintage stores. I’m not one of those girls who squirms at the thought of someone else’s worn clothing. In fact, just the opposite. I love the idea that the clothing I’m sorting through was owned and loved and worn by somebody else. I love spending hours combing through the racks of all items ugly, fabulous and somewhere in between, hoping that something hidden will pop out and be my next favorite piece of clothing. Call me crazy, but I even love that musty, worn smell of vintage and consignment stores. My favorite vintage stores in LA were always Crossroads, Buffalo Exchange and Jet Rag, and I’d beg friends (most of whom only had about half the patience I had) to spends hours shopping with me on Saturday afternoons.

Needless to say, a trip to Goodwill is always on the agenda when I’m home in LA. In September, I discovered a brand new Goodwill just a few blocks from my house which is incredibly neat, very well organized and brimming with awesome finds. That trip led me to my favorite pair of Chinese Laundry heels, strappy sandals in silver & gold with a killer 4 inch heel that cost me just $10, and a cashmere J Crew cardigan (which I’m totally obsessed with) for just $6.

So yesterday, I went back. Two hours and 3 trips to the dressing room later, I’d found an H&M cardigan ($5), Ann Taylor blazer ($6), a pair of Steve Madden flats ($10), Nine West heels ($8) & a pair of Steve Madden sandals ($6). My total? A whopping $35.45. Score! Scroll through the slideshow to see pictures of all my finds!

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Vintage shopping is not for the weak. The same way my friends roll their eyes at me for spending hours combing through the racks at H&M or Forever 21, shopping at places like Goodwill takes stamina, time and patience. I’ve found that there are a few tricks for shopping vintage that really help:

  • Go on your own. Shopping with a girlfriend or group of friends can be great, but often times having the time to yourself can be really satisfying, and you can shop at your own pace without feeling rushed or pressured. Need advice on something? Send a picture message!
  • Don’t have a specific item in mind. You can’t show up at Goodwill and think “Okay, I need a long black cardigan, a pair of designer jeans and a killer pair of pumps.” It just doesn’t work like that. Go shopping with an open mind and you’re likely to come across something you didn’t even know you were looking for but is absolutely perfect anyways.
  • Try things on. Most stores will have fitting rooms, but regardless, I always wear a tank top and leggings or tights that are easily layer-able. That way, when you throw on pants or tops they aren’t necessarily rubbing on your bare skin. Often times, sizing will be off. Items may have shrunk, pieces marked small will have stretched. If you find a piece you absolutely love, try it on regardless of what the tag says. Keep in mind that if a pair of jeans that you love but don’t fit perfectly are only $5, they’re usually worth getting hemmed and/or taken in.
  • Check carefully for holes and stains. While the majority of things on the rack have been checked for too much damage, many people give things away because they’re over worn or ruined in some way. When trying things on, do a full check for any stains, holes or rips. You don’t want to get home and discover your new purchases aren’t actually wearable.
  • Most importantly: have patience!! This one is key. Like I mentioned above, I spent more than 2 hours at Goodwill yesterday. I find it’s easier to tackle the store in sections – first I hit the long sleeve tops, slowly making my way through all the colored racks. Next I went to the blazers and jackets, then dresses, then finally shoes & bags. I also hit the dressing room in shifts, so that I don’t have an overwhelming number of things to try on at the end. Plus, the majority of the things I try on I don’t get, so it empties my hands a few times throughout my time in the store. Let yourself pour over the racks – the best items are often hidden and worth digging for.

Happy vintaging!

January 6, 2011. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Rachel’s back! (& a bag re-fashioning)

Hello fashionistas! I know, it’s been months. I’m terrible, and I apologize. But I am proud to announce that now that it’s 2011 I’ve got 5 new resolutions I’m determined to keep, and number one on that list is blogging more. So here I am, to do just that!

My first very exciting announcement is that I’m now writing regularly for Her Campus, an amazing online magazine dedicated exclusively to young women in college, and I absolutely love it. In addition to being a writer for the national site, I’m helping to run the Northeastern campus branch on campus. I try to write lots of fashion centered pieces, so I’ll be sure to keep you posted on all my stories!

My latest (and first story for the national site!) was about 10 easy style resolutions from the HC staff. Check it out!

In other news, I performed a little surgery on a recent purse purchase that I thought I’d share with all of you.

I’m home in LA for the week, and one of my go-to places when I’m home with my own car and endless time is to hit up the local Target. All my friends know I can spend hours upon hours in this store, from the accessories section to the home decor and womens clothing sections, I really am obsessed. Tons of my favorite items are from Target, and I’m always finding new gems. Anyways, on my recent trip I stumbled upon this Converse brand purse in the clearance section. (Sorry ladies – it’s currently sold out online!)

I’ve been looking for a new black bag, as the one I have and have used for years was slowly falling apart and finally ripped a few weeks ago.

I liked the style, the size was perfect, it had great pockets inside and out, and the price was right at just $20, marked down from $30. However, the one thing I wasn’t sure about was the slightly strange ball chain detailing on three of the straps:

I decided to buy it anyways – knowing that Target is great with returns I figured I could always bring it back if I decided I didn’t really love it. A day later I took the tag off and threw my stuff in it, making the executive decision to take it for a test run. I’d saved the tag just in case, but by then I was pretty convinced I’d keep it.

While in the car that same day (don’t worry, I wasn’t driving!) I realized that the ball chain detailing I wasn’t so fond of wasn’t very well attached to the bag. In fact, it was only sewn on in a few places, and I could easily cut the thread and pull the individual straps off. So that’s exactly what I did! All I needed was a little patience and a pair of sharp scissors and voilla – all fixed!

I am now happy to say I’m totally obsessed with this bag and can’t wait to start using it in Boston. It’s a perfect size for all my stuff and I love the brass hardware but it’s not overwhelmingly heavy or shiny the way some buckles and loops are on bags these days. Score!

January 2, 2011. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Summer interview attire

I’m baaack! I hope you guys all got a chance to check out my travel blog while I was on my road trip – I had an incredible two weeks, and I’m so glad I had such an amazing opportunity to explore the United States.

Being back in Boston is wonderful – it’s finally summer in beantown, I missed my roommate and all my friends, and it’s wonderful to not be living out of a suitcase and wearing wrinkled clothes! Of course being home also means being thrown back into reality – I’m once again interviewing and applying for jobs and internships, which can definitely be a nerve-wracking process. And now that it’s summer all of us job-seeking young women are faced with one important question: what do you wear to a job interview when it’s 90 degrees and humid outside?

Remaining professional is incredibly important, but not sweating to death through your suit before you even get to the interview is also important. After successfully (at least I hope!) dressing the part to both of my interviews, I decided to write about what I learned.

On Tuesday it was 92 degrees and incredibly humid – the type of heat that just standing outside in makes you sweaty and uncomfortable.  I contemplated a number of outfits, including pairing a blazer with a short sleeve Forever 21 dress and wearing grey suit pants with a short sleeve button down. Instead, I ended up choosing one of my favorite Banana Republic dresses – a classic, sleeveless beige shell that is knee length and form fitting but not too tight. I paired the dress with a skinny black patent belt, my white pearl necklace and earrings and pulled my hair up in a tight, neat bun. I wore flip flops on my commute but once I got off the train I slipped on my black pumps and a three quarter sleeve black cardigan. Even though I was a bit sweaty by the time I got there, I think the outfit worked well. I was worried about not being in classic “suit” attire with slacks or a skirt and a blazer, but I figured in the sweltering heat my interviewer would understand, especially since I still felt incredibly professional and put together in my outfit.

It was much cooler today and I had rented a zipcar to drive to my interview, so I wore a white tank top underneath a black blazer and my favorite skirt from Express, a high wasted pencil skirt with a small black and white checkered pattern. I pulled my hair back and wore my other pearl strand which alternates white pearls with small sections of silver chain, and my pearl stud earrings. I kept the blazer off and hanging in the back seat until just before I entered the building, and was able to stay cool by blasting the air conditioning during my drive.

While I was trying to figure out what to wear, I tweeted about my dilemma. A few of my friends made some great suggestions, many of which I hadn’t thought of myself. Danielle suggested a wrap dress, which would have been excellent had I owned a good one – I need to remember to invest in some of those! Marrisa reminded me to wear dark colors so that if I did end up sweating it wouldn’t show through too much, and Catherine emphasized the importance of layers.

Dresses and skirts can be great in the heat as long as they are paired well and don’t show too much skin or cleavage. Bringing a jacket or cardigan that you can carry and then slip on right before the interview is a good idea, and if you have a big enough purse, bringing a mirror, some cover up and deodorant to reapply right before you get into the building can be a great way to touch up and feel fresh before you meet with your potential employer. Do you guys have any other good suggestions?

May 27, 2010. Fashion. 5 comments.

Road trip hiatus!

A rough map of where I'll be road tripping this month!

So the semester is officially over, and I’m out of Boston and back in Los Angeles. I wanted to let my readers know that I’ll be taking a bit of a hiatus for the rest of the month. I mentioned this earlier in the year, but starting this Sunday, my friend Alex & I will be spending the next few weeks driving across the country. I’ve started another, separate blog to document our travels, where I’ll be writing about our day to day experience and posting pictures, so be sure to check that out! In the mean time, enjoy the month & I promise I’ll be back in June with lots of fashion posts!

May 5, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Boston fashionistas in the blogosphere

In today’s incredibly competitive fashion industry, young hopefuls desperately trying to break into the scene have an easy way to start: blogging.

Sarah McManus fits that mold perfectly. A 2005 Northeastern graduate, Sarah is a fashion stylist and blogger who started her own site, ShopSarahMac.com, last summer. Although she had been working privately as a fashion consultant she found that moving to the Internet really helped her business. Within a week of creating her own website, she already had a new client.  

“People have really been responsive,” said Sarah of her site. “It just picked up sort of a fan base. I didn’t even think I was a good writer or anything, but people really started to like it.”

Writing wasn’t even something Sarah had thought about until after ShopSarahMac had been up and running. Once she had the platform, she found that it wasn’t hard to write her own posts. “With my job I’m always looking for stuff, clothes and shoes and makeup,” explained Sarah, who uses her shoping finds as inspiration for her writing.

Currently, Sarah writes a weekly “Boston Trends” column for the Examiner, a hyperlocal news site that allows writers to share their thoughts on a specific subject. She is also a contributing writer for AnyWearGirl and ShopItToMe. Sarah began writing for ShopItToMe from a connection she made through her Twitter. Although she never saw herself as a “twitter-er” she has discovered it is an amazing tool.

“I just found a lot of fashion people putting up links to their posts. I found that when you do those things people really go to the page and really look at it,” explained Sarah of Twitter. “You meet the same people in your circle. I’ve met so many people in Boston that I didn’t know before.”

A few weeks ago, Sarah went on what she describes as a “first date” with a Boston Herald writer that she met on Twitter. After interacting on Twitter, the two decided they had a lot in common and went to grab lunch away from the computer screen and out in the real world. Although Sarah says their initial meeting was a bit awkward at first, she believes it’s those connections that make utilizing social networking sites completely worthwhile.

“It really does make a difference. You can see who works where and get in with them that way. You just meet the same sort of people and then, once you start talking, it’s ‘Hey want to do a shoot?’ or ‘Do you want to be part of this style Boston thing?’ Staying in touch with those people is definitely a good idea, and that’s how you can – by using Facebook and Twitter. It just seems easier now than anything else.”

Kara Weymouth is another Boston fashion blogger who utilizes social media. She has been blogging and tweeting under the name Bostonista since she graduated from Emmanuel College in 2007.

“Twitter and Facebook are definitely amazing tools if used in the right ways. It’s really unbelievable what you can do with them. I definitely have made contacts that way, in terms of editors and writing and it definitely is a great tool,” she explained.

Kara is currently working full time as a kindergarten teacher. Although she hopes to one day break into the fashion industry, she isn’t quite ready to give up a steady paycheck to make the jump. In the meantime, she has found that blogging is a great way to get her feet wet.

“It’s not exactly a great market right now,” noted Kara of the fashion industry. “I think blogging is a really great way just to get into it and to get yourself out there.”

The beautiful Martini Severin, BeyondBostonChic.com blogger. Click the image for more pictures of Sarah, Martini & Boston fashion. Photo credits to http://fashioni.st

For Martini Severin, blogger at beyondbostonchic.com, simply writing about fashion is what she loves. Martini started blogging when she noticed a lack of Boston fashion writers in the blogosphere.

“I was always interested in the arts, in photography and design and anything having to do with making things look pretty. Clothes and fashion seemed to be kind of an extension of that,” explained Martini, who works full time at a non-profit working on child development policy.

“As a byproduct of that I started looking at a lot of the street style blogs, and just at blogs in general,” she said.  “I noticed that there weren’t that many in Boston. I thought, well you know Boston isn’t know for fashion however there are people who are quite stylish and doing quite wonderful things here. I wanted to be able to tap into that and capture the essence of the city.”

While Martini doesn’t utilize social media, she believes that being a blogger isn’t about hits or advertisements, but about having a conversation with other people on the Internet.

“What you really want is to communicate with people and open a dialogue,” said Martini. I think I’m slowly building my community and really figuring out who my readers and what they’re about.”

She feels her voice as a blogger is unique, and although it’s only her unpaid side job, she finds simple joy in thinking and writing about fashion.

“It sounds really flippant, but it’s an interesting thing to think about what really shapes our society and to actively take time to notice how people are expressing themselves,” said Martini. “I think normally I would just keep those things to myself, but because I’m a blogger, when something strikes me I can actually talk about it, I can open a discussion about it and see what people are thinking and feeling.”

April 27, 2010. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Making ourselves marketable

Today, Dan Gregory, faculty advisor at Northeastern’s School of Technological Entrepreneurship, came to speak with us about entrepreneurship. In 2001, Gregory’s company fell apart, and he began a consulting business to help clients launch new start up companies.

He spoke with us about gaining marketable skills and his work with students in helping them create ideas and begin start up companies. As he was addressing a room full of journalism students, he had us mention skills we have gained that may make us good employees in the future. As journalists, we write well, gather information, write and produce on deadline, communicate clearly, have a range of social and multimedia skills and as a whole, have the ability to know what kinds of questions to ask, and when.

Making yourself marketable isn’t something that’s easy. Here at Northeastern, we’re the step above, as we have the co-op program and strong resumes to back up our skills once we graduate. As we speak, I am in the middle of my co-op search, and am learning how to represent myself. I am surrounded by people, both at Northeastern and across the country, struggling with the same question – how do we market ourselves?

As a soon to be senior, I’m definitely starting to worry about where the future will take me. I know that I have great skills, but how can I apply those skills to something I really love? This fashion blog has been a wonderful outlet for that – being able to write about something I love (and am probably too opinionated about) has been great. The problem in my mind is that everyone has a fashion blog, and everyone can be opinionated, and now, absolutely everyone can create a blog. So how do I set myself apart, especially in an incredibly competitive industry, like fashion writing?

I guess that’s something I’m still grappling with. If you have any ideas, feel free to send them my way. In the mean time, I’m still crossing my fingers for my dream job working for the Regionals at the Boston Globe. Ah, the waiting game.

April 14, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The debate surrounding anonymous comments

Today, I was pointed to a New York Times article about how news sites are rethinking anonymous comments. To be honest, I don’t exactly find this a compelling debate. As a journalist and a blogger, I both encourage comments (both positive and negative) on my stories and posts, and expect that anything said on the internet, even if it is posted under the veil of anonymity, can be traced back to an IP address. I fully support news sites requiring users to register with their full name and email address – this is a completely valid requirement and one that most sites should eventually adhere to. That being said, there’s no chance that every single user, especially on sites like the New York Times and Boston.com, will actually follow those rules.

In cases like the one involving Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold, in which more than 80 comments linked to the Judge’s personal email address were posted to The Plain Dealer’s website, I believe the editor had every right to expose the true identity of the commenter. This woman is a public figure, and the postings on the articles had to do specifically with the rulings made on cases she had faced in her court room. Just because she posted using a generic username “lawmiss” does not mean she is not responsible for the comments. As mentioned before, posting anonymously on the internet has consequences, and if you are willing to say (or type) things, you should be willing to own up to them – it’s as simple as that.

As journalists, we write knowing that we’ve got the first amendment behind us – the freedom of speech, the freedom to express ourselves and, more importantly, report the truth. That is what merits the exposure of Judge Saffold, and that is what merits all investigative journalism. Just because we as journalists have graduated from j-school and been hired by a publication doesn’t mean we are all knowing, and sometimes we need negative comments and the public eye to keep us in check. If we can write what we want, why shouldn’t commenters be able to do the same?

There will always be morons in this world, whether they’re yelling at us on the streets, at work or in the privacy of their own homes via the internet. If somebody has something particularly nasty to say, it’s their right to say it. Delete the comment or ignore it and move on. I hope you’ve got bigger and better things to worry about.

April 12, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Also Know As: Love

Lovetta Conto is no ordinary girl. Born in Liberia, Africa on the brink of war, Lovetta was forced to leave her mother & move with her father to a refugee camp in Ghana. Although the camp housed over 47,000 displaced Africans, Lovetta managed to stand out in her community. She helped build a school for children with no families at the camp, and helped advocate for special education for disabled children because of her blind friend.

At the camp, Strongheart Fellowship founder Cori Stern spotted Lovetta. She met with other members of the team, and based on her “inner resilience and exceptional leadership aptitude,” she was chosen to be the first “Strongheart Fellow”.

Lovetta was brought to America and has since grown immensely as an individual. She is now seventeen, and has learned to read and write. She has also created her own jewelry line, Akawelle, a name that comes from the term “aka – also known as” and “wel’le” which means love in Lovetta’s native language.

The beautiful Akawelle necklace my mom sent me

The necklace Lovetta designed is made from bullets that came from Libera. Although the conflict in Liberia ended in 2003, thousands of shell casings from bullets are found scattered across the land. The bottom of the bullet shell is included on the necklace, as well as a handcrafted leaf pendant made from melted bullet shells.

“I chose the word “life” to be inscribed into the leaf to remind myself that new life can begin after hardship. It is even possible for new life to arise from something as terrible as war. Men and women can both wear the bullet and leaf. It’s strong – I hope they remind each person who wears them that no matter what they’ve been through, they can rise.”

A friend of my mom’s gave her one of the necklaces that Lovetta makes. My mom, inspired by the story and knowing that she would probably never actually wear the piece, mailed it to me. I got it in the mail today, and I already plan to wear the necklace all the time. I love the message of her cause, and how much incredible work she is doing with her life. Necklaces are available for sale on the website. They are a bit pricy – the one my mom sent me is priced at $75 – but the proceeds benefit an amazing cause, and if you have the cash to splurge, are totally worth it.

April 9, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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