It all started with a purple velvet crop top.
The sunrise peaked through the blinds of my bedroom window on that ordinary Monday morning, and from the moment those bright rays graced my sleepy eyes, it occurred to me that this usually dreadful day was actually destined for its own little bit of greatness.
The day started with a trip to Good Coffee for mochas and an iced tea, followed by lunch in a charming french cafe with rainbow colored macaroons and elegant white mugs filled to the brim with fresh-brew. To conclude the afternoon, we explored the ins and outs of a sweet record store carrying all the vinyl a girl could possibly imagine, and because our adventurous spirits had not yet been completely satisfied, we wandered in to The Red Light, a thrift store on Hawthorne. That quaint vintage shop is where this story begins.
The Red Light is debatably one of the best kept secrets of Portland, Oregon. There’s a magical energy parading through the shop that unites the mismatched corners of the store. Determined to defy the boundaries of my all black wardrobe, I searched high and low for unique pieces in an attempt to redefine my mono-colored look. From an astronomical t-shirt dress to a sequined kimono, a cropped nirvana shirt and a coral pair of 70s inspired shoes, I was drowning in a sea of pure ambition.
I got so caught up in all the little treasured tokens I had acquired while roaming up and down the aisles that I forgot about the purple velvet crop top. I noticed it in the dressing room in the midst of my mess and was overcome with the same inclination to try it on as I was when I experienced the urge to pick it up off the rolling rack.
While considering my reflection, something came over me. I don’t wear colors, especially bright ones, and velvet? Really? Yet, even despite the unlikeliness of this particular piece, it was oddly empowering — I gained a sense of confidence from a $7.00 top dating back to the 90s that induced a sense of thinking that gave a big “F you” to my all black wardrobe and all the traditional pieces I’ve acquired that are so in tune with the current day and age.
There’s something glamorous and enticing about vintage clothing. I realize that sounds bold and like a bit of an exaggeration, but there’s something to be said about a piece that continues to have relevance and presence despite its age. I gush while matching my most recent purchase with high-waisted shorts and a pair of my dad’s old sunglasses because strangely enough, it reminds me of a particular photograph of my mom from her early college days. And who could have expected that thirty-some years later a thrift store purchase such as this could give me a sense of identity, in relation to my mother and to myself?
It fascinates me that fashion has this kind of influence on who we are as people. It connects us, it defines us, it empowers us. And along the way, I have learned to love the judgmental stares of strangers who wonder why I’m wearing obnoxiously bright colored velvet and old ray bans because that’s who I am.
It’s this sense of confidence that struck me with this realization, and that realization translated as fuel to start this project that is built upon the most pure intention to encourage the act of breaking borders in everyday fashion; to combine unlikely combinations that best represent who we are at our core. For me, an unexpected find at a local thrift store matched with my dad’s sweet collection of vintage records defines my sense of self expression and the image of myself that I desire to put out in to the world. So kudos to that purple velvet crop top that inspired Velvet + Vinyl – here’s to celebrating the result of a single purchase that exceeded far beyond a minor upgrade to the quality of my wardrobe.