Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The sisterhood of the traveling shirt

Jean Marie Designz
Once there was a shirt. Not just an ordinary shirt. This shirt, the Traveling Shirt, went on to do great things and witness some crazy debauchery.

This is the story of that shirt, and four friends who stole this shirt from each other, clawing and scraping and willing to take each other out for the chance to wear the Traveling Shirt.

Until the Traveling Shirt had babies.

But wait. We're getting ahead of ourselves. First, meet Kirstin Landers. Kirstin, 26, was getting ready to go to a barbecue, and she wanted to wear something unique. She loved punk clothes. And rockabilly. And '50s pin-up. She called it punkabilly.

Although she had never studied fashion, the Denver woman had always dreamed of being a designer. So on this day, she designed. She measured and snipped and sewed. She created a low-scooping halter out of a fabric of black and white skulls and red roses. Then, below the empire waist, she affixed a sheer black and white polka-dot scarf, in a "v" shape. A tie around the neck and a tie around the waist made it nearly backless. She had her unique top.

The Traveling Shirt was born.

She wore the Shirt to the barbecue, and even the hot dogs on the burning coals seems to turn and stare as she walked by. Kirstin paired the Shirt with black short-shorts and fishnet stockings. She totally rocked, er rockabillied, the picnic.

was getting ready for the Mike Ness concert at the Gothic Theatre in Denver. Lisa, 22, of Boulder, arrived at her friend's house first wearing a shredded T-shirt and skinny jeans. It was Kirstin's birthday, and the concert was her gift.

Then, Lisa saw it: Draped over a chair in Kirstin's bedroom was an edgy skull-print Shirt, perfect for the show. She asked if she could borrow it.
Jean Marie Designz

All night at the concert, people asked Lisa about her edgy Shirt. There were so many inquiries, in fact, that Kirstin decided right there, amid the hootenanny, that she was going to become a fashion designer. Jean Marie Designz, she would call her line. Yes, with a "z."

As for Lisa, she wore the Shirt home, and coincidentally "didn't have the chance" to meet up with Kirstin again. Ever.

Or so it seemed.

I hadn't worn
regular clothes for weeks, not since I decided to get a full-back tattoo. My shirts all stuck to the tattoo goo, which had stained my a corset and a vintage blouse. I had nearly sworn off shirts altogether when I decided to venture to the Westminster Mall, known for its plethora of stripper-esque clothes. Surely somewhere here would have a backless shirt.

I was right. Except all of the shirts I found were pretty much frontless, too. Why couldn't I find something backless -- and classy?

A few days later, I was wincing again under the needle at the tattoo shop when my friend Lisa dropped by. I nearly screamed; a combo of the needle hitting my kidney region and Lisa's outfit. Her Shirt was what I had been looking for. It was backless, but instead of being covered in Playboy symbols and sequins, it had polka-dots and roses. Totally adorable. I all but tore the Shirt off Lisa so I could wear it home.

I wore it the next day, too. And the next. I paired it with a red pencil skirt. And jeans. And a black skirt. And a few more times (read: 40 times) after the tattoo healed.

I couldn't help it. I had been possessed by the Traveling Shirt.

Tara arrived
to our girls' night with a bottle of wine and red and white knee-length skirt. But before we could crack the cork, we were invited to go dancing and our low-key night turned on high.

Tara needed a new outfit. I held up a black skirt, a red dress, a purple shirt. But her eyes kept diverting to a certain Shirt that I had tried to hide in the corner of my closet.

"That," she said, with a definitive point. "It's sexy. It's perfect."

Tara wore the Shirt to Round Midnight on Pearl Street, and was flooded with so many free drinks and phone numbers that she felt overwhelmed. One guy offered to buy her pancakes. Another wrote a song for her and gave her a ring -- literally. He asked her if she was a witch, because there was no other explanation for the lovey-dovey pile of drool he had become.

But Tara and I exchanged nods, knowing it was the Shirt.

Likewise, I knew I would never see it again.
Me and Lisa, in standard facial attire.

Until Monday.
I was having Shirt withdrawal, so I asked Lisa where it came from. She gave me Kirstin's number -- and Web sites: www.jeanmariedesignz.etsy.com and www.myspace.com/jeanmariedesignz.
There it was: a replica of the Traveling Shirt. Kirstin had missed it so much herself -- and had such a wild demand for more of its caliber -- that she was now selling it for $40.

I plan on placing two orders. The first, for Lisa, a sort of karmic rebalancing act for my original act of thievery. And the second for Tara. Hey, I want the original back.

"The Tie Top," it's called on Etsy.com.

But it should be called the Magical Traveling Top, unique, edgy, classy and sexy. Whatever you need it to be. And, most importantly, soon to be once again mine.

The only picture I can find of this wonderful shirt, on none other than Kristin.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Goldyn Girl


Only a few rare people can do this. And I am making it my life's mission to befriend all of them.

Saturday afternoon, fully caffeinated and therefore irrationally euphoric, my friend Devon and I found ourselves in downtown Longmont with nothing to do.

It was the first Saturday afternoon in 15 years that I hadn't overbooked with some sort of chaos. We literally had nothing to do. And being in Longmont and all, we really had nothing to do.

So we did just that: nothing. We spent hours walking through every store in downtown Longmont with no goal, no timeline and (get this) no purchases.

It was challenging. There were about 3,000 items at Rose Buds (418 Main St.) I would have liked to buy, from vintage hats with that sexy half-face fishnet for $8; old aprons with funky patterns for less than $20; and a rack of '50s A-line skirts.

Even a lace-and-ribbon shirt from the 1800s for only $20-ish. I think the Puritan woman who originally sewed that top wore it under a pinafore, apron, bonnet, jacket and some sort of conservative suspenders contraption. But simply paired with a pair of jeans or a black pencil skirt, the neo-1800s looked smokin' hot. Still, I didn't pull out the credit card; that would have transformed our afternoon of nothing into something.

After floating through a half a dozen other thrift stores -- Longmont has more per square block than anywhere else on Earth, I swear -- we stopped to refuel on coffee. (Our hyperactive seizuring had waned to a dull twitching.)

That is where nothing was destroyed by the Impossible to Ignore.

I pulled my laptop out of my car and "accidentally" visited Shopgoldyn.com, a Web site run by Boulder High School grad Vanessa Barcus. The site features about 60 hip, hard-to-find designers -- the kind of stuff you'd have to travel to Brooklyn or West Hollywood to find.
Devon and I being ridiculous.
Photo by Hollywood Calling.

Devon and I -- and our wallets -- became suddenly very, uh, active.

Barcus lived in Los Angeles for a while after graduating Boulder High in 2001. She got her MBA and worked at a contemporary label. Then she returned to Colorado, the land of the Crocs with socks, too-short khakis and ill-fitting T-shirts. My words, not hers.

But, in her words: "My whole goal was to bring those cutting-edge brands to places like Colorado."

She launched her fashion biz one year ago, which includes trunk shows and the Web site, which includes her own fashion finds, Goldyn Vintage. Prices range from a pair of orange Lucite clip-on earrings for $24.50 (gotta love clip-on earrings, well, until they cut off circulation to your lobes) to a vintage pocket-watch necklace, originally $450, marked down to $360.

Overall, products range from $30 for T-shirts to $900 for a leather coat.

Obviously, Shopgoldyn.com is more pricey than the Ares Thrift store, which was literally giving away handbags. (At one point, I thought they were going to pay me to take one.) But Barcus lauds her site's unique designers, the high quality and her personal touch. Every purchase comes with a hand-written thank-you. That was enough to push Devon and me over the edge (of debt).

Sorry, downtown Longmont. But that fishnet hat is going to have to wait until next payday.

Unless you're doing a hat give-away, that is.

Big-town trends

Shopgoldyn.com features cutting-edge designers from the coasts. Here's what to look out for:

The minimalist look
is big, focusing more on the quality of the fabrics and construction, rather than tons of embellishment. This is a great trend for the current economy, because you can wear the clothes longer.

Bold accessories
spice up basic outfits. Try crazy platform shoes, colorful boots and art-inspired jewelry.

Rebecca Mincoff handbags.
These bags are sleek, with beautiful detail -- sturdy, gold-tone hardware and lined with a fun fabric. They're perfect for Boulder: downtown chic, but not over-the-top. The bags don't scream with logos; they are luxurious in their own right.

Jewelry from The Woods, a Denver-based company founded by sisters Shawn Hecox and Samantha Hitchcock, who both also attended Boulder High. Their pieces are inspired out of a love for contrasts: mod and vintage, edgy and girly, sophisticated and innocent. The material combos are interesting, such as wood and bone with rough-cut diamonds and yellow gold. In Hecox's words, "We love seeing diamonds, the epitome of luxury, in an organic, unfussy setting."

Read more at http://www.dailycamera.com/ci_13124488.