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.

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.
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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.