ACL 2013

It’s not a party until high schoolers yell at you, you lose your keys, sweat out all your body fluid, spend $8 for a tamale, get a blister, and there’s a massive flood and everybody gets a refund. Austin City Limits was a party.

First entry in our survival log: Heat stroke setting in.

First entry in our survival log: Heat stroke setting in.

I'm wearing a vintage sundress and my boyfriend is wearing my Albertus Swanepoel hat.

I’m wearing a vintage sundress and my boyfriend is wearing my Albertus Swanepoel hat. Thanks for the multicultural background, Rosetta Stone marketers.

Beauty note: I only managed to avoid looking wartorn by using Maybelline shine free foundation and NYC lip stain.

The dress above was much better festival wear than my Day 1 outfit. A chiffon maxi skirt with a destroyed sweater, wooden flatforms, and piles of gypsy jewelry looked chic, but it really weighed me down. I could hardly blame the majority of girls there wearing a few square inches of shorts and crop tops. I was just throwing shade because there was none.

Accessory energy level: Day 1.

Accessory energy level: Day 1. 

Accessory energy level: Day 2.

Accessory energy level: Day 2.

The cancellation of Sunday’s shows was a widespread bummer (No Divine Fits, Tame Impala, Neko Case, or The National!), but there were still a lot of great acts.

Here’s a playlist of some crowd pleasers, no poncho required:


SXSW Trends

South by Southwest was lame for me this year, especially compared to last year. This time, over 30,600 paying attendees and about one billion random people who felt like basting themselves in free booze convened to turn the city into a loud, gridlocked, wonderful and terrible week-long party. One truth holds each year: SXSW is a great place for style watching. Here are a few trends I spotted on cool girls waiting in lines and looking lost:

1. Cutouts


Nasty Gal Candy Cut dress, $58

Cutouts have long been the sexy detail of choice for dresses and tops, but they’re especially perfect for the premature swelter of spring in Texas.

2. Twee Minidresses


Pop Boutique shift dress, $42

1960s styles are enjoying a thorough replay lately, and I love it. Peter Pan collars, straight cuts and short hemlines are going strong.

3. Prints

minkpink shorts

MINKPINK shorts, $69

Usually I roll my eyes when prints are called a trend. (You know what else is in style? Clothes! And colors are having a moment!) But prints were the focal point if not the whole point of outfits. Festival goers wore them on tops, bottoms or both.

4. Open-back tops


Asos knot tank, $37

I spotted this breezy style on several girls. Give your stomach a break from crop tops and try showing a little lower back instead.

5. Embellished shorts


Rag & Bone Highclare shorts, $255

Spikes, patterns, patches, colors and fraying jazzed up the music festival staple.

Basically: Minimalism is nowhere to be found. Pile it on, mix it up, and maybe even power clash.

Oh Yeah, Fall


Wow. I haven’t posted since I returned from France. (Can you blame me for finding home a  little less photogenic?) The past couple months call for a recap via photoessay. Find more fashion photos on my Instagram, which you can follow @aesthetic_etiquette.

McKinney Falls: Its natural beauty is not even diminished by people sitting on rocks with their pool noodles.

I captured and was captivated by snails. Did you know that when two snails mate, both snails get pregnant and become each other’s baby snail daddy?

I moved to a new apartment with my more conventional pets.

I attended the Austin Film Festival for the first time, and my only record of it is this photo of me juxtaposed with a stranger’s artfully decorated truck. The fest was a lot of fun. But, like SXSW, I’d only recommend shelling out for passes if you’re luxurious and have the whole week off work.


Moonrise Kingdom, 60s movie extra, Beetlejuice. I had additional silly costumes. This is how much I did Halloween.


New cosmetic dependencies: Organix Moroccan Argan Oil haircare and Clinique lipstick in Red-y to Wear.

Trends move in cycles. Every four years, it becomes really popular to participate in government.

As an avid thrifter, I was almost angry that I didn’t know about Austin Antique Mall until this month. The place is enormous and crammed full of amazing furniture and home decor. I refrained from buying anything but a pair of elbow-length brown leather gloves, but I’m destined to return for one of the reasonably priced fur stoles. Raise your pinkie to that!

I’m trying out a subscription with Greenling, a local produce delivery service. They drop off a mystery box of veggies at your door weekly or biweekly. I like the element of surprise, and I like knowing where I stand on specialty radishes.

Rennes and St. Malo

Rennes, arrival 

There should be a word for that feeling when one sees a familiar face after a day of being shuffled around with massive amounts of complete strangers. Relief comes close. Hugo picked me up at the Rennes airport after my 18 hours of travel. It had been an awkward ballet of failed sleeping positions with no intermission.

He took me to the apartment where I’d be staying, which used to be a suite in a very old hotel right next to the city center. I spent the afternoon fighting off jet lag, reading and touring Rennes on foot.

For a day, I felt sick to my stomach and could barely eat anything. I slowly replaced my bloodstream with Coca-Cola Light (suspicious of the tap water by this point) and some God-given medicine called “Spasmocalm.”

Sounds dumb, but really: It hits like a drug, the realization of how far away I was from anything I knew.


St. Malo, beach

There is so much mica that the beach looks like two parts sand to one part glitter. Rows of algae coated tree trunks stand ready to break breaking waves that could wash over the street. The ocean is freezing, but it’s a welcome jolt after the long walk from the only quasi-legal parking spot left thanks to hoards of French folks ready to bask in the high temperatures.

Vintage sunglasses and earrings, A wear sweater, American Apparel shorts, Bisou Bisou bikini


Seagulls swoop, I read a few chapters of Into the Wild, get covered in sand and freckles, etc.

I wish I could claim responsibility for this sand fortress.

In the time it takes to walk into the city, peruse shops, eat two crepes (one crispy, with finely chopped vegetables wrapped in a black flour pancake, one sweet with a caramel unique to the Brittany region), and saunter along stone walkways, the shoreline has receded 50 meters, accommodating more sun bathers.

If the sea can come so close to lapping at the city streets, only to take it all back, I’ll be a little fickle, too.

Fort St. Pere, music festival

La Route Du Rock has a pretty great set-up. The music runs from about 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. Who shows up to these things at noon, anyway? It helps that noise ordinances mustn’t have been too strict at the makeshift venue, which was accessible by long dirt roads through wheat fields. The camping area had rental huts with locks available to patrons with interests such as sex and not being stolen from. The first few hours were shadeless and therefor kind of miserable. I heard it would be cold here. The first band is some bad electro group that America back-washed. In fact, all the music (except for an excessive set by Dominique A) is in English. Alt-J puts on the best show.

Here’s some good footage from Rennes TV, though I can always do without musicians denying they have a genre and analyzing the “internet age.”


Between sets, I affectionately watch the interactions of a group of drunk teenagers. The most outgoing girl kisses everyone, but saves the public make-out session for the boy she (presumably) likes most. They grope in a sunny, open area right by the stage. I’m smiling to myself, but the next time I look over, a visibly wasted girl has taken their place and is trying to vomit with the disturbingly involved encouragement of two friends. Maybe 18 is a bit young for the legal drinking age, after all.

As soon as the sun sets, it gets very cold and I can’t ignore how exhausted I feel. A photographer comes by. I smile broadly because I like the idea of looking ecstatic in a French magazine I’ll never see.

South By Southwest

I didn’t hit SXSW too hard this year, and I think that’s what made it so pleasant. I spent more time at friends’ houses than at venues this week. I had one hour-plus driving experience within a three mile radius, with suicidal pedestrians outnumbering parking spots 5,000 to one. I stuck to out-of-the-way venues with free shows that I knew I wanted to see. As a result, I made it through with more money than I started with, minimal hangovers, and some semblance of rejuvenation to start this week.

I got photographed for the Urban Outfitters blog. I wasted this little moment of style exposure on nearly the same outfit as my other, uh, press. At least I can say I follow my own advice.

This was taken right before I fell in love with Eleanor Friedberger again. I’d seen her play with the Fiery Furnaces before, all scowls and miss-matched clothes, flying through the awkward lyrics as if auctioning off absurdity. Seeing her alone with her accoustic guitar doing some songs off Last Summer cemented my opinion that she can tell touching, authentic stories that are just as interesting without the bells and whistles of Fiery Furnace songs.

Some other bands:

Best Coast

My friend used a little deception and a few connections to sneak us past a huge line of grouchy teenagers to see this show. We caught the last few songs. It was exactly what I expected, except I expected the free beer to not have run out.

The Strange Boys

So good. Everyone seemed happy to be crammed together under the disco ball for this experience.

Light Asylum

I was resistant to this harsh Brooklyn duo. It seemed designed for eardrum assault, and it was not a good match for a sunny afternoon under a tent. Between songs, Shannon Funchess quit singing like an opera understudy of doom to plug their new album too much and make vague quasi-political statements. But if I said I didn’t do a bit of dancing it would be a lie.


Okay, fine, Pitchfork. I’m becoming the stereotypical girl who’s entranced by Grimes. Visions is a refreshing album, and she performs that music like a damn MAGICIAN. She was sick during the show I saw, but hit her signature high notes as best as she could. She’s like a riot grrl for 2012, although she has a totally different sound, audience, etc. It’s in the way that she shrieks instead of crooning, performs like Lykke Li but runs her own show (instead of just banging the occasional drum), and dresses like a 10-year-old without parents. She’s that geeky girl you really should have sat next to in the middle school cafeteria.

Psychic Ills/ Crocodiles

Man, I don’t know. The beer was free.

For Those About to Rock

Photo by Thomas Allison

Albertus Swanepoel for Target hat – Urban Outfitters top – Forever 21 bustier – vintage necklace – Target belt – vintage shorts

Jessica Lee (of Sparkle and Stripes)  kindly featured me in an article about South by Southwest style for The Daily Texan, our university’s newspaper.

I’ll be working a lot during SXSW, but at least I’ll be just a block away from the free, back lot shows at UO. Can’t wait to see the lovely Eleanor Friedberger and Grimes on Saturday. So many choices, so little time. 

The Nitty Gritty on Treasure City

One man’s trash is not just another man’s Treasure City Thrift store find. It’s also a means of improving the economy and the environment, both in Austin and abroad.  Cory Skuldt gave a presentation Sunday about how this overflowing second-hand store in East Austin is doing its part to clothe the community, not the landfills.
Skuldt talked about the importance of buying second-hand clothing as part of a new discussion series spotlighting active groups in Austin. The meeting was hosted by MonkeyWrench Books among stacks of homemade zines. A modest audience occupied the metal folding chairs. Skuldt’s infant son crawled about and played with the store’s only toy: a wooden block with the word “RIOT!” written on it.
“We’re more than just a retail store,” said Skuldt, who can often be found working the register at Treasure City, “We exist to support other nonprofits in a variety of ways.”
These efforts include donating items to charitable organizations in need and providing a meeting space for groups without their own buildings. Another goal is to keep the east-side community, which has been challenged by crime and drugs, connected through events such as fashion shows and movie screenings.
A clip was shown from “China Blue,” a documentary about blue jean manufacturing sweat shops where girls earn 12 cents per hour sewing the wardrobe staple. A separate report from CNN said that China produces 200 million pairs of jeans yearly, but that at least twice that amount is sold each year in the U.S. alone. It’s incentive to buy a lotta vintage or American Apparel, a horizontally-produced brand that pays immigrant workers fairly, yet gets deportation-raided by our government all the same.  Growl.
Anyway, Skuldt explained that the easiest way for individuals to help is to buy used merchandise. Treasure City Thrift is an even better option than some other resale shops because 100 percent of the money spent there will stay in the local economy. Treasure City also abstains from the common practice of shipping its unsold merchandise overseas, where it can stunt the growth of foreign economies that become dependent on what Skuldt calls an “influx of cheap.”
“U.S. controlled manufacturers pay people really poor wages to make the clothes in the first place, and then U.S. resellers sell them back at a mark-up,” she explained.
Instead, Treasure City gives away leftover items to Austinites on the last Sunday of each month at the Really, Really Free Market. This is an opportunity for all people who have something to give, share, or trade to meet at Chestnut Community Park and help each other out. There are no price tags allowed. So it’s kind of like Burning Man, with only slightly fewer hippies…
“We try to get everything back in the hands of someone local,” Skuldt said.
This re-donating is a major part of the example the store is setting by striving for a zero waste policy. They have a single, household trashcan and don’t throw away anything that can possibly be reused, regardless of whether there is a profit to be made.
Another unique feature of Treasure City is that it’s run by volunteers and has no hierarchy of management. They welcome anyone interested in their cause to stop by the store at 2943 E. 12th St. to help sort incoming donations. Off-site help such as increasing the organization’s web presence and putting up fliers is also appreciated.
“It sounds like a different kind of volunteer work,” said Erica Ochoa, a 19-year-old St. Edward’s student who attended the lecture. She said that she would like to support and volunteer at Treasure City since it is hyper local, whereas places like Goodwill can seem impersonal.
It’s a painless way to help our neighbors who are struggling to afford clothing and household items, especially for those who love vintage finds as much as Paul Baker, who works at the store regularly.
“There’s just too much production in general,” he said. “So, it’s kind of a celebration of the stuff that we have already.”
Now, the stuff I have already includes a Vena Cava shirt (buy one, get one top with kimono-cut sleeves free!). It only set me back $2 that’s sure to go forth and be virtuous. There’s no reason not to shop for throw-back trends new instead of at thrift stores. Skuldt recommends boxy vintage blazers layered onto newer looks for fall as the “80s phenomenon” still exerts its influence on fashion. I recommend taking it into the future territory of the past with some 90s grunge looks and rich fabrics like velvet and leather, too.   

Come for the Clothes Swap, Stay for the Circus

A new outfit can induce happiness and confidence in most people. But what will old, unwanted clothes get you? At the Hoopin’ Happy Hour and Clothing Swap, they’ll afford you an evening of fun and arts, new-to-you threads, and a likely case of the warm fuzzies.

Every Thursday and Friday from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m., the Vortex (2307 Manor Rd.) hosts a casual gathering where Austinites can trade clothes. It’s like free shopping! Participants are also encouraged to bring nonperishable foods to be donated along with any unclaimed clothes. Donations will be delivered to SafePlace, an Austin organization that assists victims of sexual and domestic violence.

The Vortex

It’s an opportunity to give back to the community and perhaps do some hula hooping concurrently. You can also get the scoop on all the awesome activities that you’d be hardpressed to find anywhere else ( tarot cards, shadow puppets and aerial silk classes, anyone?).

“It exposes people to arts they may not find at a general theater or couldn’t afford,” said Jessica Ryan, managing director at the east Austin venue.

“Swaps are fun to do,” she added, “It’s a creative time, and you can grab a beer.”

Drink specials include Lone Star, Shiner, and Cycle’s Gladiator wine

Ryan said the happy hour is a useful time for planning and promoting events at the Vortex. The next big initiative is called CircX, with performances set for July 25.

Jessica Ryan

She is also planning to start holding the clothing swap once per month instead of twice per week. The change is expected to bring more visitors together on a single night, resulting in more variety for clothing exchanges. I’ll update with the new schedule as soon as it’s made available.

Role Models: Unfashion Show Promotes Personal Style

Fashion is superficial.

What you wear doesn’t mean anything.

Negative assumptions about fashion were challenged Sunday by an inclusive group of ladies, one stroll down the purple runway at a time.

The first ever Unfashion Show was hosted by BookWoman in north Austin. It wasn’t a showcase of unfashionable things, as the name might suggest, but rather a celebration of wearing whatever the hell you want. It was the fashion equivalent of an open mic, encouraging anyone who wanted to share her style to simply walk the runway and then explain to the audience why she chose her outfit or what it says about her. The event was created by the New Moon Girls national magazine and online community. The magazine is all about promoting creativity and self-esteem (no relation to the arguable threat to strong young women that is the “Twilight” series).

“There’s too much pressure to wear the ‘right’ clothes,” said Helen Cordes, the editor of New Moon Girls. She modeled her favorite outfit: flip-flops and a comfortable  dress made from olive-printed fabric she got in Madrid.

“Sometimes what we wear ends up not expressing who we really are,” Cordes lamented.

The gathering of women squeezed into a room amongst gay pride nick-knacks and feminist literature proved why that wasn’t the case for them.

The ensembles were as diverse as the crowd. Participants varied in age, race, and taste. Elementary school girls nervously shuffled in rhinestones and faux snakeskin pants. Mothers strolled between the rows of metal folding chairs and praised the convenience of pockets and slip-on shoes.  An elderly woman was pushed along the catwalk in a wheelchair by her daughter, who publicly thanked her for arguing at a 1960s PTA meeting that girls should be allowed to wear their tight jeans and miniskirts to school.

The show eventually turned into a discussion. Young girls talked about their required school uniforms. Older women shared stories from when they weren’t allowed to wear pants and were later discouraged from wearing them in the business world if they wanted to get ahead. A girl who recently returned from a Peace Corps assignment in Guatemala told us  about the long skirts necessary there.

“My fashion statement is more of a political  statement,” the owner of BookWoman said. Susan took to the runway in a baseball uniform to remind us of what Title IX did for girls’ athletics this month in 1972.

The Unfashion Show was not about looking trendy, but I snapped a few photos of girls whose self-expression happened to be pretty hip.

Abby Adamo’s whole outfit looked cool and easygoing.

Zoe Cordes Selbin wore a shirt signed by her favorite musician and a very seasonable floral skirt. She recommended the blog Austin is Burning to me.

Jesse Cordes Selbin modeled a dress that reminds her of when she wore it in Paris. Love her glasses and asymmetrical necklace!

The clothes make the man, they say.

I don’t know if that’s true, but I know these women make the statements.