Friday, June 29, 2007

Shopping for a Good Cause

Yes, shopping can benefit others beside yourself—if Fair Indigo has anything to say about it. In July the store is rolling out their “Summer of Love” charity event. In June, shoppers sent in their nominations for their favorite charities. Fair Indigo staff then randomly selected ten charities from the list of nominations, which will each be assigned a “benefit day” in July. That means that twenty-five (!) percent of the sales generated that day will go to the specified charity.
Fair Indigo’s mission is to pay their garment factory workers fair and meaningful wages, so it makes sense that this socially conscious retailer would adopt this idea. Frankly, it’s a novel concept, and something more retailers should look into.
Fair Indigo, Hilldale Mall, in the outdoor shops on Price Place. 661-7662.

Dolls at the Derby

Madison’s roller derby gals are a tough bunch. I checked out the Dairyland Dolls match against Austin’s Hotrod Honeys last Saturday at Fast Forward Skate Center (the Dolls won). This blast from the past activity was so much fun to watch—and suspenseful! The match consisted of three twenty-minute periods of frenetic skating, shoving, falling and grace under pressure. Luckily, all of the skaters wore protective gear pretty much everywhere, but I can still imagine they’re pretty banged up at the end of the night.
What I enjoyed was checking out the scene and taking it all in. A lot of fans wore black, ripped jeans and heavy-duty cuffs and necklaces. There were lots of piercings and funky hair colors. Spiked hair was big, too.
There were lots of interesting, um, characters like the gorilla mascot that jumped around during the “jams,” or “Kool-Aid,” a guy who strutted around in a long black satin bathrobe with the Kool-Aid guy on the back. Apparently he’s a fan from Austin. So there was no shortage of people to look at.
I must say I was impressed with the Dolls’ uniforms. They wore adorable white apron-dresses with blue straps and blue trim on the hemline. Each Doll injected her own personality by wearing fishnets or fun tights underneath. But with names like Lizzie Borden and Tammy Faye Undertakker, I think the Dolls were nice to admire from well, a distance in their outfits.
Just kidding, ladies—and congrats on the win!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Joe's Got the Goods

By now you’ve most likely been to Trader Joe’s. But have you checked out TJ's cool, reusable and inexpensive shopping bags? Not only can you be eco-friendly by bringing your own tote to grocery shop, this bag is really fashionable with its eclectic and eye-catching design (forgive my photography skills!). All of this style can be had for a steal at $1.99. Trader Joe’s also has its standard hibiscus red-and-white reusable totes available for ninety-nine cents.
“First Mate” Sarah Zillges says the store has temporarily run out of the funky $1.99 polypropylene bags, but they’ll get more very soon and for now they have the ninety-nine cent bags available. Check back soon if you want the other tote!
Also of note: Best of Madison winners who attended the party this past weekend received their very own Trader Joe’s bags as part of the fabulous Best of Madison gift bag. Also included: Victor Allen’s coffee, Chalmers Jewelers jewelry cleaner, coupons from Captain Bill’s, Capitol ChopHouse, Michael’s and more. Personally I know I’ll be using the Aesthetica Skin Health Center’s eye makeup remover swabs and Kinerase skin cleanser (Courteney Cox is their spokesperson and no one can argue with her skin).
Trader Joe’s, 1864 Monroe St. 257-1916. traderjoescom

Southern Comfort

I like big cities. They offer an exciting combo of museums, dining, shopping and my favorite, people watching. This past weekend I visited Atlanta and discovered the city style is a wonderful mishmash of hip-hop cool, preppy pairings, professional, polished looks and easy breezy sundresses and skirts.
I could tell the rapper Lil Jon (who is originally from Atlanta) had a heavy influence in much of the hip-hop style. Guys donned oversize tees and polos with long, baggy shorts and big sneakers. The rapper authenticity even carried through in gold teeth (!), flashy medallions and shoulder-length braided hair. Despite the casual-cool of these outfits, I could tell that these ensembles weren’t cheap.
On the dressier end of the spectrum, some of the businesswomen I saw wore classy suits with different pant lengths (long or Capris), accented with sky-high stilettos and medium-sized handbags. Daytime ensembles also included a lot of dresses and skirts and various short lengths on women to keep cool. It is hot down there, people.
Nighttime wear was impressive. While men’s getups were relatively tame (dress pants and crisp button-up shirts and lots and lots of Polo shirts) women definitely rocked the trends. Younger women favored short, trapeze-style dresses (seen on celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie), low-cut sundresses, and tanks and halters with short skirts and shorts. The majority of outfits were paired with three-inch or higher pumps or strappy heels.
It was interesting to compare the difference in clothing from our conservative Midwest city to this Southern hotbed of style. I can tell Atlanta’s weather, sheer population and accessibility to trends are influencing factors in what clothing trends “Hotlantans” gravitate toward.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Domestic Diva

I visited the quaint village of Kohler this past weekend and while there checked out the Kohler Design Center. I admit, I’m not in the market to design any kitchens or bathrooms in the near future, but this museum/design center was worth a look. Its three levels (36,000 square feet!) are chock-full of, well, Kohler products and history. The main level is the product pavilion, showcasing sinks, faucets, toilets, bathtubs, whirlpool tubs, showers and more. Kohler offers the most innovative products for the fashionable home; in fact, they’ve got great print ads if you’ve ever seen them.
One sink I liked was the “Ipanema.” It’s got a psychedelic sixties-ish floral design of bright orange, yellow, pink and brown—you have to see it to believe it. I have a feeling that if one bought this sink it would be akin to donning a pair of fabulous leopard or fuchsia stilettos: you wouldn’t overdo the rest of the look by loading on more colors or patterns; that pattern would stand on its own!
Probably one of the more amazing attractions in the center was the entire back wall—it was hung from floor to ceiling with more sinks, toilets and tubs I’ve ever seen in the one place.
The third level is everything and the kitchen sink—literally. The Designer Gallery is a beautiful collection of over twenty-five rooms designed by nationally acclaimed designers. View a Zen-inspired bathroom, a neo-classical kitchen with all the amenities, or perhaps a “Gentleman’s Retreat,” complete with cherry millwork and an up-North look. I’ll tell you my favorite dream kitchen and bathrooms: A Couture Kitchen (stainless steel tile, mirrored walls and cabinets complete with a Diane von Furstenberg dress on display!); A Private Retreat (blush-painted walls, a sparkling chandelier and brocade shower curtain); A Shell Collector’s Bathroom (sparkly black countertops, iridescent pink tile and shell accents). I know, I know, they’re a bit over-the-top, but a girl can dream, can’t she?
Kohler Design Center, 101 Upper Rd., Kohler. 920-457-3699.

Not Your Grandma's Crafts

It’s Craftacular time again this Saturday, June 16th at the High Noon Saloon. The event boasts work by twenty local artists and includes clothing, housewares, jewelry, paper goods and more. Much of the work is considered recycled or vintage art, meaning artists reincarnate photo negatives, vintage fabric, buttons, whatever—into new and usable pieces of art. I’ve seen cards constructed out of old children’s books, vintage buttons made into pins and pieces of broken china incorporated into cool wall mosaics. What’s even cooler about this hipster event is that you can sip a refreshing beverage at the High Noon while browsing the wares, and the first fifty shoppers will get a goody bag filled with samples and coupons! The Craftacular is held three times per year and admission is free.
High Noon Craftacular, June 16, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. High Noon Saloon, 701 E. Washington Ave.
Artist websites from the Craftacular:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nifty and Thrifty

I attended the HospiceCare Thrift Store Fashion Show a week ago. I was delighted to see the great outfits the staff at the store (headed by retail manager Judy Purcell) came up with. Chief among my favorite combos were a bright red-and-white flowered, cropped jacket paired with white pants and white leather cutout slides; a tres chic green, three-quarter sleeved flowered jacket with a bronze-trimmed lapel; a St. John knit skirt suit in vibrant lemon-yellow with white trim. The show ended in true “high-fashion,” um, fashion: a model sashayed through the room in a flowy wedding dress with a princess neckline and small tiara. Models were Thrift Store and HospiceCare employees and showcased three to four looks each. After the show, attendees could purchase outfits and accessories. Judging by the packed house, the show looked as if it accomplished its goal: raising awareness of the HospiceCare Thrift Store.