by Kim on Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sweaterpants: So In Right Now
Lovers of sweaters, crazy prints, and cozy layers should check out Elizabeth Spiridakis' Style Guide for H&M. I was really digging the whole feature, but one look was throwing me off. It nagged at me: where have I encountered this concept before? It's so familiar.

Oh. Right.

"'For heaven's sake. Why are you wearing your sweater on your legs?' I asked. Karen had put each of her feet through a sleeve of her sweater and was now struggling to hold the bottom of the sweater around her waist.

'It's a new style,' Karen replied. 'Sweater-pants.' She hobbled over to my desk. 'Can you button me up the back, please?'

'I have a feeling,' I said as I fastened the buttons, 'that this isn't what Nannie had in mind when she knitted this sweater for you.'"

Super Special #7, Snowbound

Karen Brewer, fashion visionary. Who knew.

by Kim on Thursday, October 07, 2010

Mystery #25: Kristy and the Middle School Vandal

Love the mystery (it stars eighth grade badass Cary Retlin, who refers to the babysitters as the "BSCPD"*), am scared and confused about the cover.
Things that are wrong with this cover:
1. Kristy! What happened to your adorable face? Who are you?
2. Cary Retlin's giant teal t-shirt.
3. Pink. sleeveless. mock. turtleneck.
4. Jessi's proportions. Also her face.
5. Purple lockers?
6. Mary Anne's orthopedic sandals.
7. No tagline. Apparently middle school vandalism is such a serious subject that the editors couldn't bear to take away from the power of the illustration.

I'm sure there's more here, but if I stare at this thing any longer my brain might melt. It's like looking at the sun, or a bad trip, or staring at the sun during a bad trip. Powerful stuff, man.

"On Claudia, with the long black hair, dark eyes, and creamy skin, every look is a great one. [Preach it, girl.] Today she was wearing pink jellies, white ankle socks with pink hearts around the edges, and majorly baggy white overalls, cut off just below the knee, over a tie-dyed pink, green, and yellow T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up. She had a ring on every finger and one on each thumb, including a heart-shaped mood ring, a ring with a little bell on it, a ring that looked like a cat winding around her finger [see also: silver leopard], a baby ring with her birthstone in it, and a ring she'd made herself out of clay and beads. Her hair was pulled back into three braids, which were tied together at the bottom with a pink and green ribbon. She had on her peace symbol earrings, too, and a button that said 'Jerry Garcia Lives' in black script against a tie-dyed background that matched her T-shirt. She'd made the button herself in art class."

This look reads very Christeric (okay, maybe not the ankle socks or the braids) and I love it. I had to dig in her archives until I found this outfit, which I at one point had bookmarked as "CLAUDIA WOULD". I mean, right?

"One of Stacey's best colors is black - a New York City thing, I guess - and today she was wearing black leggings, side-zippered flat black ankle boots with pointed toes, a silver-threaded T-shirt dress that stopped at mid-thigh, and heart earrings. Her fluffy blonde hair was pulled back with a twisted black and silver headband."

Well, I guess I can't complain too much about this.
So I'll move on.

"Cary was wearing my watch when I saw him at school the next morning - my watch and his watch, both on the same arm. It was a look Claudia might sport, I thought wryly."

Kristy underestimates herself, I think. She's got an eye for this sort of thing!

What Not To Wear, Stacey and Claudia Edition:
"Stacey wrinkled her nose. 'I don't know. But someone should tell him grunge is old news. Look at those jeans.'

'I like the jeans,' said Claudia. 'But the shirt has got to go - or at least, go with something else.'"


* Way funnier than any joke Abby's ever made. Sorry girl.

by Kim on Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Mystery #14: Stacey and the Mystery at the Mall
There's so much going on in this picture - all of it bad. Stacey's bangs have that distinctly crispy look to them (anyone who can remember the late 80s and early 90s knows a thing or two about crispy bangs), Claudia's flares are too short (sure, so were mine when I was a teenager, but I wasn't a baby fashionista who should really know better), and Zingy's is selling pink floral jumpers paired with long-sleeved white blouses. Isn't Zingy's supposed to be the Forever 21 of the Washington Mall? Not even Mallory would consider these duds trendy.

"She believes clothes should do more than cover our bodies and keep us warm. Instead, she sees dressing as one more creative outlet, and it shows. She always looks fabulous, and she never looks just like everyone else. She'll pair a long white shirt with a colorful vest, accessorize with handmade jewelry, pull her hair up into an outrageous ponytail, and look like a million dollars."

Girl slow down. What the heck is an outrageous ponytail? Is she wearing a Jem & the Holograms scrunchie? And where are her pants?

"'One of these days we're going to have to stay a little late and do some serious shopping,' said Claud, eyeing a white lace baby-doll dress. 'I'll ask my dad if he can pick us up one day next week.'"

Dude, can you even believe this book has the nerve to promise shopping and not deliver? You'd think you'd get at least one actual shopping trip in a Mystery at a Mall. But no. We get one lousy sentence about Stacey gazing "at a pair of black lace-up boots and wonder[ing] how they would look with this old-fashioned floral-print dress my mother had given me."

Not great. Now get shopping.

"The next day, Sunday, my friends and I headed over to the mall for the painting party. Charlie drove us in Watson's van. 'You guys sure look different from the last time I saw you,' he said as he dropped us off. It was true. That afternoon, we had been dressed in our best clothes. This time we were wearing stuff we'd found in the rag-bag. Claudia, for example, had wrapped a neon-pink bandana around her head, and she was wearing a humongous pair of overalls over an ancient striped T-shirt."

I don't know, Stace. That sounds like a pretty typical Claudia outfit to me.

by Kim on Saturday, October 02, 2010

Another chance to win a $100 Shopbop giftcard (thanks to DSQUARED2)
It's time for another Shopbop $100 giftcard giveway! This one is brought to you by* DSQUARED2, Lela Rose, and Rachel Roy. To enter, leave a comment with your e-mail address and favorite Super Special. I'll pick a random winner in two weeks.

You can also follow Shopbop (for fashion news, lookbook links, and Fashion Week updates) on twitter. And if you need some wishlist inspiration, I'm dying over just about every piece in their Sophisticated 70s trend report.

* Typing 'brought to you by' makes me feel like a PBS announcer.

by Kim on Thursday, September 30, 2010

Incredulous Kristy Remains Incredulous; Internet is a Delightful Place

You guys are so great. I love all your Incredulous Kristys. My deepest fear was that you'd be like "huh" and not even bother, but instead you made a bunch of masterpieces, possibly while under the influence. And I would never judge you for that. You work hard! Take the edge off, have another beer. I've been so overjoyed with the incredulous nature of it all that I put up a bunch of them on tumblr. I can't promise that little side project will last (RIP What Chuck Wore), but there was too much gold not to redistribute it somehow.

Of the Kristys submitted in the last post, my favorite had to be lemonpants's Indignant Kristy, who can't even believe these bitches would be grabbin' slices without asking permission.

Ahh, the pizza toast; a great BSC tradition. Lemonpants, if you would like a not-so-gently used copy of Claudia's Book as a reward for this brilliance, please e-mail me.

Other things that are great:
  • Phi adding Chloe Doc Martens to her interpretation of Claudia's outfit in Abby the Bad Sport.
  • Season five of Bad Girls Club. Don't look at me like that. These are the girls Cokie Mason (AND PROBABLY STACEY MCGILL, JUST PUTTING IT OUT THERE) grew up to be. It's the greatest trash ever. Make some popcorn.
  • Drew Grant churning out more Bret Easton Ellis/BSC crossovers: Mary Anne's Man, Stacey and Dawn's Big Adventure Parts 1 and 2
  • Getting psyched for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Seriously, I can't even talk about how excited I am. There are no words, just squealing noises and jazz hands. Somewhere in Stoneybrook, Mallory is painstakingly sewing some sweet-ass wizard robes for a midnight showing at the Washington Mall. You know she is.

by Kim on Saturday, September 25, 2010

Incredulous Kristy Does Not Have Time For Your Gum Chewing Shenanigans
Guys, look at this fucking book cover. It is practically a meme in itself. First of all, Claudia's room appears to be a barren, orange-carpeted wasteland. Isn't club headquarters supposed to be crowded and messy and full of art supplies and old Halloween candy? (Illustrator: "Look, I put a painting of Hershey's Kisses on the wall, what more do you want.") Secondly, Jessi (wearing some weird shiny leggings that look suspiciously Dov Charney approved) is clearly thinking "oh shit, I am so screwed right now." Wendy (the Bad Baby-sitter of the title) is like "what? This ain't your castle, I can chew some damn gum. Jeez."

Kristy . . . is wearing the bitchiest bitchface of all the bitchfaces. I can't stop staring. It's amazing. Let's take a closer look.


Since you guys make me laugh regularly, I'm pretty sure you can come up with a better caption for her than I can. So I made a memegenerator template for her. I call her Incredulous Kristy, but you can call her whatever you want. If you come up with something funny, please make an image and leave me a comment with a link to your creation. Funniest image wins the dubious prize of a beat up copy of Claudia's Book, where you can learn all about the formative events that made Kishi the artist and bad speller she is today.

by Kim on Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Claudia Kishi Can't Help Being Inspirational, She Just Is

Phi sent me the gorgeous image you see above. She's taken on the task of interpreting ghostwriter fashion speak and illustrating Claudia's outfits. This rendition of Claud's look in book #60 (Mary Anne's Makeover) is her first installment. I'm particularly loving the paint-splattered leggings.

You can follow Phi's adventures in illustration at entropificus. I'm looking forward to her versions of Claudia's most iconic outfits, like her Mexican train engineer garb or her clock-tights & lobster earrings look.

by Kim on Monday, September 20, 2010

#68: Jessi and the Bad Baby-sitter

This book should be called Jessi and the Bad Baby-sitter and Also the Hilarious Baby-sitter. The Hilarious Baby-sitter is Kristy. But first, a Claudia outfit.

"For example, today she was wearing an oversized white shirt under a black vest covered with a design of shiny beads. (She sewed the beads on it herself.) She wore neon green leggings and black ballet slippers (on which she'd sewn a matching bead design). From one of her pierced ears hung a dangling earring made from the same beads and on the other ear she wore a small green hoop earring. It was an original look that only Claudia could make work."

I've realized that my tendency to overuse parentheses is a direct result of reading too many BSC books as a child. My college professors couldn't even beat it out of me; that's how ingrained in my psyche these damn books are. I may need professional help.

So that's about it for fashion. On a positive note, the folks at Scholastic must've been having a grand ol' time (read: they'd been drinking) when they put this book together, because it is full of hilarity. Except for the b plot about Margo Pike shoplifting troll dolls, but in hindsight that's unintentionally hilarious, too. Come on, Margo. A ring with a troll doll on it? Dream bigger.

Kristy Has A Flair For The Dramatic:
"Kristy was right beside me so I handed her the phone.

That might have been a mistake.

'Dawn, you have to come home, like, right away,' she said urgently into the phone. 'No, I'm not kidding. We're in a mess here and we need you back.'

'You're going to make her feel bad,' said Mary Anne, reaching out to take the phone from Kristy.

Kristy turned away from Mary Anne, still talking into the phone. 'Yes, that was Mary Anne. . . . No, you can't talk to her until you swear you'll come back right away.'

Mary Anne reached around and scooped the phone out of Kristy's hand. 'Don't pay attention to her,' she told Dawn. 'We're doing all right.'

'No, we're not!' Kristy shouted into the mouthpiece."

No wonder she got the role of Peter Pan. BSC President, master thespian . . . is there anything she can't do? (Besides walk in heels, that is.)

Kristy Might As Well Take Over Writing This Blog:
"'Dawn!' she screamed excitedly. We could hear her all the way down in the living room. Instantly we thundered up the stairs to join in on the phone call.

'We just finished watching your video,' Claudia was telling her as we ran into the room. 'It was great!' Claudia cupped her hand around the phone and turned to us. 'It's Dawn.'

'Duh,' said Kristy."

I should be taking notes from this bitch. Snark doesn't have to be wordy. Sometimes a simple yet eloquent "duh" will suffice. Point taken, Thomas. Point taken.

by Kim on Sunday, September 19, 2010

Claudia'd Be Into It: The Uniform Project

I'm sure many of you are already familiar with the Uniform Project (those of you who aren't can read about the site's mission and history here). It was started in 2009 by a woman named Sheena Matheiken who pledged to wear the same dress for a year to raise money for the Akanksha Foundation.

The Uniform Project's Pilot series features a new woman - and dress - each month. Lesley Arfin is taking on the challenge for September, wearing a Judi Rosen design (and plenty of quirky socks!) to raise funds for Phoenix House.

The concept of the Uniform Project is a fascinating one, and I think Claudia would really dig the challenge. Dude, can you even imagine the crazy dress she'd come up with? It'd be of her own design, of course. Probably tie-dyed, maybe with a dramatic cowlneck. She'd add a little something to it each day; by the end of the month it would be covered in sequins, feathers, fringe, perler beads, and puffy paint. She'd mix things up by pairing it with her sneaker collection, snake bracelet, sandals that wrap up her calves, skeleton earrings, bungee cord belt, etc. Flawless bitch!

Below are some images of India Salvor Menuez, who kicked off the Pilot series in August. Her profile describes her as "effortless, artsy, slightly subversive, and ultra mellow" . . . kind of like a certain babysitter we all know and love. Shades of Kishi abound in India's outfit choices, amiright?
Mismatched socks & mismatched shoes (sometimes together), crazy colorful crochet pieces, leggings galore . . . love it. India even cut one version of the dress in half (see the top left and bottom right pictures) and wore it as a skirt & crop top. Girl, you know Claudia would.

by Kim on Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BSC at Fashion Week: What Is This I Can't Even

I feel like my entire Google Reader has been taken hostage by New York Fashion Week. Which is pretty great; I get to enjoy NYFW in small, clickable doses (while eating Honey Mustard and Onion pretzels, which would probably be frowned upon at most shows), and Mark All As Read once I'm tired of staring at the beautiful people.

One of my favorite reads has been White Lightning -- Elizabeth Spiridakis is the kind of blogger who inspires me to use cliched phrases like "keeping it real". Plus she gets really excited about ridiculous shoes and throws outfits together in a way Claudia Kishi would totally approve of.

Anyway, I was catching up on her Fashion Week coverage when I came across her entry on Rachel Antonoff's slumber party themed presentation and . . . I died a little inside.
Jessi Ramsey has made it to Fashion Week! Slouch socks are so in right now! Leotards for everyone!

(More information about the presentation can be found on Daily Candy and Stylecaster. If all Fashion Week presentations involved bubbles and s'mores, I'd be trying to elbow my way inside a few right now. 'Cause, come on. Free s'mores.)

by Kim on Saturday, September 11, 2010

Change of Season

Autumn is exciting for many reasons: fall foliage, delicious pumpkin ales, an excuse to eat a lot of candy, my birthday, etc. After a summer of sweating through tank tops, getting back to layering/boots weather is maybe the most exciting reason of all. A lot of fall trend reports (like this one at Refinery29) are pointing to camel as the shade of the season, and I never say no to a good neutral. Below, some items from my fall lust list. Off to rob a bank or two, see ya later.
Clockwise from top left: 1. Frye Darci studded clog 2. UO Risky reader 3. Anthropologie Million Elephants bag 4. Frye Miranda t-strap 5. Swedish Hasbeens Jodhpur bootie 6. Madewell cascade colordrop necklace 7. Madewell biker bomber jacket

by Kim on Friday, September 10, 2010

#110: Abby the Bad Sport

This book has no redeeming value. There's a lot of talk about soccer and being a team player, and not a single trip to the Washington Mall. I hated it and I would like to have those forty-five minutes of my life back, or reparations* in the form of Madewell gift cards.

At least there was an outfit to go with the standard-issue character introductions.

"Claudia often wears her art on her sleeve - almost literally. On this, my first Monday back at the BSC, for example, she was in a little crop-top muscle shirt that she had batikked green and blue. She'd sewed a bunch of buttons up the front as if it were a vest. She also had on skinny black shorts, one blue sock and one green sock, and black Doc Martens with one blue shoelace (on the foot with the green sock) and one green shoelace (on the foot with the blue sock). Her long black hair had been gathered into a single braid. A blue ribbon with more buttons attached to it was woven into the braid. Her earrings? Buttons, naturally."

Love the sock/shoelace switch-up. Very Clarissa Explains it All. Oh, and let's pretend the socks were thigh-highs, even though we all know Mama Kishi would not be feelin' that. Oh! And let's make the shorts leather. So 2010!

We also have some team spirit from the BSCers, who come to all of Abby's games. They're good friends. I would have told Abby that her sport was boring and I'd support her by meeting her later for a Seinfeld marathon, after she'd gotten all of that running and kicking out of her system.

"Claudia has decorated an oversized T-shirt for the occasion with purple-and-white soccer balls and had made earrings to match. Kristy was wearing a purple baseball hat covered with buttons. Stacey wore a purple silk T-shirt, and Mary Anne was wearing a purple striped shirt. Jessi had on a purple leotard [of course she did], while Mallory was wearing purple-and-white-striped socks and a white hat with a booster button on it."

Dude, the Unicorn Club is going to be so mad when they hear that the babysitters are wearing their signature color.

* Yes. Reparations from Ann M. Martin and her army of ghostwriters. You'd want them too if you'd read this crap.

by Kim on Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Fashion Mystery Solved: Claudia's Ballet Slipper Fixation

Remember how often Claudia's outfits involved ballet slippers? Sometimes customized? Stacey talked about Claud's sneaker collection, but inquiring minds really wanted to know about the ballet slippers. I took ballet classes as a child* (didn't we all?) and I could not wrap my head around the concept of anyone wearing those things in public. I mean, they're very cute and comfortable once they've been broken in, but they're super thin leather with a suede sole. They can barely handle a year on the wooden floor of a dance studio. How was she commuting to Stoneybrook Middle School in those things?

My theory was that she either only wore them inside her bedroom or it was a semantic issue -- Ann M. Martin was actually trying to describe ballet flats, and her limited fashion vocabulary caused her to use dance shoe terminology.

Then I saw this entry on No Fashion Victims and nearly did a pas de bourrée of joy. I'd recognize that peach-y nude shade anywhere!
The perfect hybrid of dance shoe and real world flat. They exist. Topshop makes them. And they look super cute with boyfriend jeans. Go make your Kishi fashion dreams come true.
* I was no Jessi, unless Jessi was small and pointy and often had underwear bunching issues with her leotard. Also once in a while I got sent out of the room for fooling around too much. What a shocker.

by Kim

Mystery #11: Claudia and the Mystery at the Museum

This isn't a recap blog, but I often talk a little bit about plot in my book entries. Don't expect much of that for the mysteries. I really dislike them, and I've talked about why in past entries.

That said, I'm glad I got my hands on this one. Not because of the plot (it's stupid). The cover, however, more than makes up for the detective-y hijinks. And we get FOUR Claudia outfits. They're all amazing.

1. "I love to put outrageous outfits together, and I hate looking like everyone else. I mean, I do wear trendy clothes, like leggings and big slouchy socks and Doc Marten boots, but I always add my own touches so that I stand out from the crowd. For instance, earrings I've made myself, or a big belt that I found in a thrift store. I also like to play around with my hair. One day I'll wear it in a French braid, and the next day it'll be in a ponytail on the top of my head.

That Sunday, my hair was in a long braid hanging down one side of my head [hey! Me too! Right now!], with red ribbons threaded into it [oh. Damn. Bested again.]. I was wearing a red-and-white striped shirt that hung down almost to my knees, red leggings, and black high-top sneakers. Even though I wasn't planning on going anywhere that afternoon, I had put some thought into my outfit. That's just the way I am."

2. "I had dressed up a little, in pink lace leggings and a long black sweater. My hair was tied back with a pink ribbon, and I was wearing pink ballet-type flats."

As seen on the cover!
Related: wise words from Blair Waldorf. Yeah. Honestly, Kishi. And while we're on the topic of Gossip Girl, I watched a season 4 promo and got all excited (smut! babies! fashion! petty bitchiness! Chuck Bass!), even though I totally know better. I refuse to fall for the CW's shenanigans this time. Your fancy trailers and excellent font choices can't fool me, Schwartz.

3. "'Forget about the mystery! [Seriously, word.] This will be my first formal party, I'm going to meet a famous artist - and I have no idea what to wear!'

'You look nice in what you have on now,' said Kristy. 'Why don't you just wear that?'

I looked down at myself. I was wearing a pair of bright red leggings topped by a white man-tailored shirt and a vest that used to belong to my father. Only Kristy would think my outfit qualified as 'formal'."

3½. (closet search) "Stacey pulled out a black velvet dress. 'How about this?' she asked.

I shook my head. 'Boring,' I said.

She nodded and threw it on the bed. 'What about these silk pants?'

'Are pants okay at a formal party?' asked Mary Anne doubtfully. 'You don't want to look like a kid who doesn't know how to dress.'

'Ditch the pants,' I said immediately.

Stacey pulled outfit after outfit out of my closet. I have a lot of clothes, but nothing seemed right. Most of them are fine for school, or even for special events like dances or parties. But nothing looked right for a party like this one. A grown-up party.

'You look terrific in this,' Stacey said, holding up a bright blue sweater-dress.

'Thanks,' I said. 'But it's not right, either.'

'Do you think I could borrow it?' she asked."

Focus, Stacey.

4. "'What's this?' Stacey asked, reaching into the back of the closet and coming out with a long, silky pale green robe embroidered in gorgeous colors. . .

. . . I took off my vest and shirt, and slipped on the kimono. The silk felt soft and light against my skin. It seemed to float around me. I tied the sash (which Mimi called an 'obi') around my waist and stood up straight.

'Wow,' said Mary Anne softly.

'Awesome,' said Stacey. 'You look totally awesome.'

I walked to the mirror to see for myself. The green and blue colors of the kimono set off my black hair, and the long, fluttering sleeves looked romantic. For half a second, I saw Mimi's face instead of mine in the mirror, and I felt tears come to my eyes."

Spoiler alert: the janitor did it. There you go. That's the kind of crook who would steal art, apparently.

by Kim on Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Devil's In Your Details

1. Digby and Iona stump ring 2. Gap flares, Jeffrey Campbell Charli clogs 3. Banana Republic venus lure necklace

by Kim on Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I've Got Theories: Claudia's Future Career Path

We all know Claudia wants to be an artist when she grows up. But that's so vague. Like, I went around telling people I was going to be a writer when I was a kiddo. And I could say that I've been employed as a writer . . . if writing technical documentation counts. (I still can't believe Scholastic turned down the manuscript I sent them. Sure, I was eight. It was still an amazing piece of work.) So it's theory time: what would Claudia be doing today?

We're living in rough times, employment wise; we've gotta take a worst case scenario into account. I'm gonna say that the worst case scenario finds Our Fashionable Heroine wearing an apron and working at Michael's or A.C. Moore. She'll take solace in discounted art supplies and probably five finger discount herself the most complete set of oil paints you've ever seen (slouch socks are a handy shoplifting tool).

Best case scenario? I've joked in the past that she'd probably be a member of the Haus of Gaga, so I'm going to roll a bit further with the design team theory. I was checking out Marina and the Diamonds' music videos and (oh my lord) they are so Claudia.

The bright pastel candy colors and pop art stylings of Oh No! (below) are totally something Claudia would come up with after eating a ton of candy buttons. Could it be that our girl has found employment as a quirky music video concept artist*?

Second piece of evidence: Claudia loves glitter and makeup, right? Think about it.

*Probably not, because she is fictional.

by Kim on Friday, August 27, 2010

#1: Kristy's Great Idea

Back in 2007, I excerpted a passage from the book that started it all. Makes sense, right? The very first book of the series, my very first entry. Today, we revisit. No fashion left behind, that's my promise to you.

Kristy (who is so awesome in this book, especially during the incident that leads to a 100 word essay on decorum in the classroom) tells us that "Claudia has never been a close friend, and this year, the gap between us seems to have widened just since school started. Even though we're all seventh-graders, Claudia suddenly seemed . . . older. She talks about boys, and spends most of her time adding to her wardrobe and talking on the phone. In the short time since school started, she's become a different person." Aw.

The outfit from this scene "short, very baggy lavender plaid overalls, a white lacy blouse, a black fedora, and red high-top sneakers without socks. Her long black hair was carefully arranged in four braids."

Poor Kristy is baffled by Claudia's experiments with makeup:
"'Are you going to wear that' - I pointed to her face - 'to school tomorrow?'

'If I can get away with it.'

I nodded. Claudia's parents are very conservative. They don't understand her taste in clothes at all. They're pretty nice about the fedoras and stuff, although they won't buy any of those things for her. (That's why she has to baby-sit - to earn money for all that stuff.) But I didn't know how the Kishis would react to Claudia's day-glo face. I didn't know how our teachers would react, either."

I dig this bit of characterization, too -- that babysitting for Claudia is a means to an end. And that end is glittery slouch socks and spandex bike shorts. Love this bitch.

"Claudia answered it again, this time wearing a baggy yellow-and-black checked shirt, black pants, red jazz shoes, and a bracelet that looked like it was made from a telephone cord. Her earrings were dangling jointed skeletons that jumped around when she moved. I noticed she wasn't wearing any makeup.

'Mom and Dad wouldn't let me,' she said.

'Well, you got away with the skeletons.'

Claudia grinned. 'I didn't put those on until I got to school,' she whispered. 'Mimi's the only grown-up home now and she doesn't mind if I wear skeletons.'

'Oh, very sneaky!' Claudia knows every trick."

Damn straight she does.

When Stacey McGill is introduced to us, she's wearing "a pink sweat shirt with sequins and a large purple parrot on the front; short, tight-fitting jeans with zippers up the outsides of the legs; and pink plastic shoes. She was very pretty, tall and quite thin with huge blue eyes framed by dark lashes, and fluffy blonde hair that looked as if it had been permed recently. I glanced at Mary Anne. She and I were still in our school clothes - skirts and blouses*. I was wearing white knee socks and loafers. Mary Anne was wearing short white socks and saddle shoes. Mary Anne's hair was, of course, in braids, and I was wearing a blue hair band.

We looked like second-graders. Stacey and Claudia looked like models."

I like this Stacey much better than the Stacey of later books -- the 'classy' Stacey who insists on wearing turquoise trousers and shopping in sections called 'Young Sophisticate'. Come on, Stacey. More jellies and skinny jeans, please.

When Stacey meets Sam Thomas, she's "wearing a matching top and skirt made of gray sweat shirt material with big yellow number tens all over it. Her hair was pinned back with clips shaped like rainbows. Little silver whistles were dangling from her ears. It was all very cool, but it seemed kind of young-looking."

But Sophisticated Stacey is already starting to emerge . . . or at least, her wool pants obsession is: "'I went shopping at Bloomingdale's and bought this." She indicated the plaid wool pants she was wearing, which were held up with bright red suspenders. 'I got a matching hat, too.'"

First fight . . . and it devolves into fashion theory!:
"'Well, how do you think I feel, being lied to?' I shouted. 'Talk about tact. It made me feel like a little kid.'

'You are a little kid,' said Claudia. 'Look at how you're dressed.'

I looked. 'What's wrong with the way I'm dressed?'

'Really, Kristy, a sweater with snowflakes and snowmen on it? You look like a four-year-old.'

'Well, you've got sheep barrettes in your hair,' I yelled. 'You think they're adult?'

'Sheep,' Claudia informed me witheringly, 'are in.'

'Who cares? Everything's in sometime. First it was frogs, then pigs, now it's sheep. Maybe next week it'll be snowmen. And how do you expect me to keep up with that stuff, anyway? I don't have time for it.'

'That's because you and Mary Anne are too busy playing dolls.'

'Doll!' I yelled. (Mary Anne looked as if she'd been slapped in the face. I knew she was going to start crying soon, and it only made me angrier.) 'We do not play with dolls!' The thing is, though, that we just gave them up over the summer."

Seriously, Kristy is so great in this book! I can't believe she only got 42 votes. You guys have been blinded by your desire to hide candy all over your bedroom and not get caught.

Later in the series (book #89: Kristy and the Dirty Diapers was the first release with the new design, and hell yes I remember that from being a kid) they re-released the books with new covers. The original image can be seen in What Claudia Wore's header, but I kind of love the new artwork as well. Let's take a look.

Kristy is wearing the outfit we expect her to wear (turtleneck, sweater, jeans, visor) with a modern twist: Chuck Taylors! So fetch.

Mary Anne is very O.G. Mary Anne: blouse, skirt, loafers, braids.

Claudia is amazingly Claudia. Why couldn't the illustrators be this accurate on all the covers? We've got a side ponytail, three sets of beads (red, white, and purple), a black choker with a heart charm, two bangle bracelets, a yellow flowered tank dress, and sheer black tights. And let's not forget the candy bar. Frickin' magnificent.

Stacey is the worst of the bunch. Sure, she's sporting some Swedish Hasbeens, but she's also wearing some weird floral pants more suited to Mary Anne's Little House on the Prarie stylings. Whatever. Please note that her soda is clearly labeled DIET. This illustrator was not skimping on the details.

* So weird to think of Kristy in anything other than those damn turtlenecks, but I do think she looks very cute (and very young) on the original cover. That's definitely the kind of look I was rocking when I was her age. I remember I had an overall dress and pink mock turtleneck that I thought were so grown up.

by Kim

Shopbop Giveaway: We Have a Winner!

378 comments later, we have a winner. I used a random number generator to pick the winning comment, because I'm fair like that. You know I'm fair, because my girl Helen won, and her favorite babysitter is Stacey. I don't even like Stacey.

So congratulations Helen! Thanks to all of you for entering and to Shopbop and Juicy Couture for sponsoring the giveaway. I tallied up your responses, and though I can't promise I didn't miss a few or count someone's answer twice (many of you had multiple favorites, or a different favorite now than you did during your youth), here's the unofficial "favorite babysitter" results.

Claudia was the runaway winner, with 163 votes.
Stacey was your second favorite - she got 74 votes, followed by:
Mary Anne: 62 votes
Dawn: 46 votes
Kristy: 42 votes
Mallory: 13 votes
Jessi: 7 votes
Abby: 6 votes

Apparently What Claudia Wore readers don't care for asthmatics from Long Island who show up in book #89 to spice up the club with bad puns and twin switches. Maybe you'd stopped reading by then. Judging by the quality of the book I'm reviewing now (#107: Mind Your Own Business, Kristy!*), that was probably a wise move on your part.

* Yep, that's the actual title.

by Kim on Thursday, August 19, 2010

#5: Dawn and the Impossible Three

So little fashion, but this book makes up for it by being one of the best in the series. I have a huge soft spot for the first seven books of the series -- I think they're really sweet and well-written and more nuanced than everything that follows. The characters haven't turned into caricatures of themselves yet (unfortunately, it doesn't take long) and they're more believably adolescent.

Ann M. Martin hasn't gotten to the point of recapping everyone's entire family history in each book - we just get a brief paragraph about each of the main characters. Dawn tells us that Claudia "hates school, but loves art and mystery stories. She's a little bit hard to get to know." I'm a little disappointed that the writing team dropped this aspect of Claudia's personality -- kind of aloof, a little bit of a loner. It's talked about a lot more in the early books.

Historic moments in BSC fashion: Mary Anne wears jeans for the first time in this book.

". . . Since he no longer buys her clothes, you should see what Mary Anne gets with her money. She doesn't look like Claudia or Stacey, who wear these really wild outfits such a tight black pants and Day-Glo shirts, but, well, for instance, at that very moment as we walked across the Kishis' lawn, Mary Anne had on her first sweat shirt and her first pair of jeans ever. She looked terrific!"

Finally, some fashion. And some very normal, pre-teen insecurity from our California Girl.

"Stacey trotted over to me, looking as fabulous as always. She was wearing a simple pink T-shirt under a baggy jumpsuit with big pink and red flowers all over it. Her permed hair bounced over her shoulders. I was wearing blue jean shorts and a white T-shirt that said GENIUS INSIDE. I looked ordinary next to Stacey."

Luckily for Dawn's ego, her style is so in right now - check out Madewell's current looks for more California Casual styling.
I really do like that shirt. First clogs, now denim on denim ensembles . . . dammit Dawn, you win again!

by Kim on Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Odds & Ends & Side Ponytails

1. "My mom was crying in the front seat and if you knew my dad you’d know he never goes above the speed-limit, it’s just like one of those “never happens” scenarios, which I would probably ascribe to the fact that his daily dose of Valium that he thought he was hiding so well from the rest of the family had been dumped down the drain earlier in the week and replaced with Blue M&M’s. My mom’s Prozac prescription? Tiny crushed up pieces of Certs, inserted carefully back into gel-cap casings after I dumped out all her Happy Pills and let the Newton’s dog lick it up off the floor. Without their carefully regulated diet of feelings, my family was on the verge of a major meltdown."

Drew Grant is back with another perverse look at the BSC, Bret Easton Ellis style. Check out Chapter 2 (Claudia's Candy War) over at crushable. If you got here from there (thanks for the link, Drew!) welcome to a place where fashion and nostalgia collide. And by fashion I mostly mean shoe porn and ghostwriter descriptions of earrings made from dollhouse chairs and soda tabs.

2. Claudia would: check out these ridiculous Docs from the Sanrio collection. My thirteen year old self would have been so excited to know these existed. Shit, my twenty six year old self is still kinda into it.
3. Kristin Clifford exposes the truth about the passage of time in Stoneybrook: the girls are actually ageless, Children of the Corn-y cannibals. At least, that's what I took from Fan Fiction: Forever 13. And you know what? It's a valid theory.

4. A great entry about minimalism on my friend Whitney's blog inspired yet more purging (I guess I don't really need to save the tag from my first pair of skinny jeans, or that 2009 issue of SPIN with Lily Allen on the cover). During my sorting, I found a picture from 1991 that I needed to share.
I'm on the right, feeling fly as hell with my Claudia-inspired side ponytail.

5. I'll be randomly picking a winner at the end of the week, but there's still time to enter the What Claudia Wore Shopbop giftcard giveaway. I've loved reading all of the entries so far. Oh, and while I expected a lot of Stacey and Claudia, I had no idea Mary Anne was such a fan favorite. Maybe I should go easier on her?


6. As always, you can get smaller doses of my very deep thoughts (lately they include irrational anger at the idiots in the Big Brother house and complaints about my menstrual cycle. Seriously, I'm like the new Shakespeare.) on twitter and keep up with What Claudia Wore via bloglovin. I'm expecting some new BSC books any day now, including some Abby-narrated tomes and classic mysteries (Claudia and the Mystery at the Museum, anyone?). It's about to get mad fashionable (and punny, thanks to Abby's sparkling sense of humor) in here.

by Kim on Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kristy Thomas, American Psycho Babysitter

". . .There is nothing more depressing than coming home after last bell at StoneyBrook High, trying to get my room in order for the Baby-Sitters’ Club meeting, and then realizing that you really don’t even give a shit anymore. Like, sorry that you have diabetes Stacey, but do we have to spend half the afternoon discussing it? And yeah, it really bums me out to watch Claudia just snort up half those Pixie Stixs when she is so blatantly trying to get attention to her sugar problem, but every time we try to talk to her about it she says she needs it to focus on her art and that her super-strict Asian parents are coming down on her ass again so what’s the point, really? This whole club is really getting to be a drag but whatever, I started the project . . ."
Best thing you've read all week (that is, if you haven't seen it already): Crushable's Drew Grant re-imagines the Babysitters Club in the style of Bret Easton Ellis. Thanks to @annarosekerr and Courtney Summers for sending me the link.

by Kim on Tuesday, August 10, 2010

#88: Farewell, Dawn

Note that the cover has to clarify: this isn't one of their usual fake-out departures.

This time it's for good. Unlike that time we had Stacey move back to New York. Or that time Mallory had to leave the club because she got mono. Or that other time Dawn went back to California. Or that time Stacey quit the club and then realized she wasn't quite sophisticated enough for shoplifting or underage drinking. This one's for real. Seriously. We promise. We're giving her a spinoff series and everything. There'll be underage drinking for you sophisticated types!

Journeys deep into the minds of the geniuses at Scholastic: one of my specialties.

Ann's Army of Ghostwriters wastes no time on exposition -- Dawn realizes she wants to move back to California (she is inspired by an avocado*) by the end of the first chapter. The rest of the book is a painfully boring fight between her and Mary Anne, who feels jilted by the fact that Dawn told some of the other BSC members first. Mary Anne ends up hearing the news through the proverbial grapevine** and she is pissed, in a really passive-aggressive way.

Obviously they make up right before Dawn leaves. Before you even have time to start missing her, Abby shows up in book #90. Because if there aren't seven babysitters present in Claudia's bedroom at 5:30 p.m. every Monday***, the world will spin off its axis. It's like punching in the numbers every 108 minutes. Except with babysitters.

Expository fashion: "[Mary Anne] smoothed her hair in my mirror. She was already dressed in blue and white plaid shorts and a blue T-shirt.

I pulled on a pair of white shorts and a short-sleeved flowered blouse, slipped into straw sandals, bent forward, then quickly brushed my long blonde hair. 'Ready!' I announced, tossing my hair back over my shoulders."

Oh Dawn. So casual. So California. This isn't the last time 'straw sandals' are mentioned in this book. Judging by the cover, I'm guessing Ghostwriter meant espadrilles.

Character introduction fashion: "Today [Claudia] was wearing a baggy, white, cotton jumpsuit that was cut wide and open at the sides and neckline [?]. Under it she wore two sleeveless T-shirts, one purple, one pink. She'd tied the jumpsuit with a belt she'd made from safety pins and beads, and she'd used fabric paint to create a jungle scene on the left leg of the jumpsuit. From her ears dangled two colorful wooden parrot earrings onto which she'd glued beads that matched the beads on her belt."

So zany! I give this outfit the What Claudia Wore Seal of Approval, which is stamped in neon green ink and accented with magenta glitter.

Nobody bothers telling Mallory or Jessi: "'Hi Dawn. I'm really, really sorry about telling Claudia,' [Kristy] said.

Claudia sat on her bed with her arms folded and looked at me guiltily.

'She was supposed to keep quiet about it,' added Kristy, scowling at Claudia.

'I thought Stacey would keep quiet. How was I supposed to know she'd go tell Robert?' Claudia mumbled with a sidelong glance at Stacey, who was sitting on the other end of the bed.

'I'll kill Robert,' said Stacey to me. 'Honest, I didn't expect him to shoot his mouth off to Logan.' . . .

. . . 'Mary Anne, the only reason I didn't tell you right away was because I was trying to think of the perfect words to explain why I was going,' I said, trying to explain.

At that moment, Mallory came into the room with Jessi behind her. 'Who's going? Where?' she asked.

'Dawn has decided to move to California for good,' Claudia told her.

'Really?' cried Jessi."

It's tough to be eleven. You can't babysit at night and you never get to hear the good gossip. It's like having a subscription to People magazine while your friends are all reading Oh No They Didn't.

Christmas in July fashion: "Naturally, Claudia put together the perfect outfit for the occasion - red shorts, a green vest over a white T-shirt, and sandals she'd laced up to her knees [!!] with criss-crossing red and green ribbon. Homemade papier-mâché Santa earrings completed the look."

Sad shopping with Sharon "Stoney" Spier fashion: "'I won't be around to treat you to these things until I see you again at Christmastime,' she said as she pulled a gauzy blue sundress in my size off a sales rack, which were the only racks where you could still find summer things. . . . The dress looked great. It had small pearly buttons down the front and it flared at the bottom, which was just about two inches above my knees. Mom bought it for me, along with a pair of new straw sandals and some carved wooden beads I liked."

Mending fences fashion: "Mary Anne opened the tissue and looked down at the necklace made of beads, colored glass, and polished stones. 'But Dawn, you love this necklace,' she objected. 'I do,' I agreed. 'But I want you to have it so you'll think of me when you wear it.'

Mary Anne opened her mouth as though she were about to argue with me about taking it, but she seemed to change her mind."

Or maybe she was going to say "but I don't LIKE this hippie shit, Dawn. Why couldn't you give me a nice gift certificate to J. Crew to remember you by?"

Bye Dawn. Don't forget to write. Or do. Whatever.

* I can't mock this. I am also inspired by avocados. Mostly to eat them, but sometimes to move across the country.
** California Raisins references: Dawn Read Schafer approved.
*** Dues day. Don't forget your dollar.

by Kim on Sunday, August 08, 2010

Win a $100 Shopbop giftcard courtesy of Shopbop & Juicy Couture

The folks over at Shopbop, in collaboration with Juicy Couture (check out their velour collection - Stacey McGill AND Kristy Thomas approved), want to give away a $100 Shopbop giftcard to one lucky What Claudia Wore reader. Shopbop has an awesome collection of designers (helpful link for the underemployed: shop the sale section by designer) and I doubt you'll have any trouble finding something dibbly fresh.

As a starting point, here's a Claudia-approved statement necklace I found in Juicy Couture's on sale offerings. I bet it would look slammin' with a pair of silver lamé bicycle shorts, one of Mr. Kishi's button-downs, and those Jeffrey Campbell clog booties I love so much.

How to enter:
1. Leave a comment with your e-mail address and favorite BSC member.
2. Cross your fingers and wait patiently. Maybe pass the time by throwing a slumber party for six of your closest friends, complete with pizza, pigtails, and pillow fights.

by Kim on Thursday, July 29, 2010

You Too Can Wear Mary Anne Spier Approved Florals

from left to right: Rococo leggings ($40), Rose skinnies ($90), Floral skinnies ($90), Tapestry leggings ($40), Premium digital hareems ($110).

by Kim

#60: Mary Anne's Makeover
I was so close to drawing little horns on the three sulking babysitters. At the very least, they could use a timeout, because they are acting like toddlers. It made this book a really annoying read. Also, Claudia is wearing a horrible outfit. I used to have to wear black skirts and loafers like that to chorus recitals. Where are the harem pants, the acid-washed jeans, the cowboy boots?

Pre-makeover Mary Anne wears "teal-colored stirrup pants and a bulky ski sweater with a colorful snowflake print, over a pink turtleneck."

Claudia "can put together the oddest collection of clothes - a slouch hat, a sequined vest, an oversized button-down shirt, stirrup pants, and lace-ip boots - and she looks stunning." And gets super hyped on lookbook!

Mary Anne wonders "how Claudia does it. Is she just beautiful, or can a person learn to look sensational?"

Post-haircut Mary Anne shops at Steven E, which is "one of the mall's fanciest clothing boutiques." And she "couldn't take [her] eyes off this outfit. It was a fiery red, off-the-shoulder crepe dress, with shirred sleeves, a fitted bodice, and skirt that flared to mid-calf. It was the kind of dress the old [Mary Anne] would never have dreamed of wearing." That's probably a good thing. I have to remind myself that this is the 90s, 'cause that dress sounds hideous.

New Mary Anne's Steven E haul: "the dress; some stockings and a pair of shoes to go with it; an oversized, indigo cable-knit sweater; and a pair of floral paisley print Lycra leggings with a French terry top."

The rest of the book is about the BSC throwing snitfits about Mary Anne deciding to cut her hair and wear makeup. In the end, it turns out they were mostly just mad she kept it a secret. Because god forbid anyone make a decision on their own. What a scary little hivemind they've developed in a single (constantly repeating) school year*!

And then they all go to the dance together.

Dawn wears a dress "made of black velvet, with a sheer bodice trimmed with beading and lace, and a flared, above-knee skirt. With black stockings and shoes, and her hair pulled up in a French braid, Dawn looked absolutely breathtaking."

A sheer bodice? That's some permissive California parenting right there. Or Sharon was too stoned to notice.

"There were other spectacular sights, too. Like Kristy Thomas trying to walk with heels in a long dress (she kicked them off about two minutes after she got to the gym). And Claudia Kishi, wearing a lamé outfit that was all sharp angles and flashy colors. [So Gaga!] And Stacey McGill, looking as if she had stepped out of a Hollywood movie in a slinky silk gown that belonged to her mother. [Permissive NYC parenting.] Her date was Sam Thomas, Kristy's older brother, who kept grossing people out with a rubber tarantula until Stacey asked him to stop."

I so wanted to date Sam Thomas when I was nine. He was totally dreamy.

* They were way cooler in the seventh grade.