After the underwhelming finale of Game of Thrones, I didn’t have any new shows lined up for watching. I had already blasted through the seasons of Schitt’s Creek available on Netflix – which had been my only other must-watch show – and didn’t feel inspired to look for new options. I couldn’t even motivate myself to watch the new John Wick movie … and I love John Wick. So I’m not sure how or why I ended up binge-watching 5 episodes of Chernobyl in 2 nights. Maybe it was curiosity to see how Soviet-era life (which I experienced first-hand) would be portrayed. Whatever the reason, my decision to watch more than paid off. It’s weird to say this about a show that pulls no punches in portraying a terrible event, but I … well, I loved every minute of it.
Don’t get me wrong, it was hard as hell to watch. It kicked my anxiety into over-drive – the sustained tension is on par with any good horror movie – and yet I couldn’t tear myself away from it. After I finished watching it, I began devouring all the information about Chernobyl I could get my hands on. What fascinates me the most is the human psychology of disaster events, both before and after; how people react, and how those reactions drive the chain of events. I know that the show has been criticized for factual inaccuracies and for Hollywoodizing the real story, but I think it nailed the atmosphere and the spirit of what happened. It’s not so much a cautionary tale about nuclear power; it’s a cautionary tale about the deadly consequences of lies, misinformation and carelessness … and that has not ceased to be relevant in the decades since Chernobyl.
The acting, writing, cinematography, set design, music are all fantastic. I was tempted to reference the insta-classic meme “not great, not terrible” from the show itself, but decided it wouldn’t be fair (or accurate). But that does bring me to something else I wanted to touch on. In the wake of the show, there has been a whole internet cottage industry of Chernobyl (show) related memes. You wouldn’t think so, perhaps, but this show has proven to be just as meme-able as Game of Thrones. My husband, who hasn’t seen the show, thinks that’s weird and disrespectful. I get where he’s coming from, but I must admit that I have chuckled at some of them nonetheless. It’s dark humour, for sure. I think it’s human instinct to use humour when reality is brutal and wholly outside one’s control; I experienced some of that first-hand when I was growing up in the Soviet Block. That being said, I would guess that most of the people who are making/sharing/enjoying these Chernobyl memes (myself included) were not directly involved in the events portrayed by the show. Does it make it better or worse that the memes are inspired by a TV show rather than (direct) reality? It is, after all, a show based on real life events and people. I don’t have any definitive take on this, by the way, but it’s something that’s been on my mind lately and I would love to hear your thoughts.
After I finished watching the show, I ordered and quickly tore through Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe by Serhii Plokhy. I cannot recommend this book enough. It wasn’t originally my first pick for Chernobyl-related source material, but it was the only book that was available through Amazon Prime; I’m impatient, what can I say. I’m so glad I got this, however, because it is very well written, informative, and captivating. Along with the details of the disaster and its aftermath, it provides insight into the socio-political climate of the time, along with the history of the Chernobyl nuclear plant and the town of Pripyat. Reading it provided a ton of relevant and fascinating context to the show, and allowed me to consider it with a more critical eye. For example, the book was far more sympathetic to the men who ran the nuclear plant than the show – yes, even Diatlov (the “villain” of the series) – without being wholly exculpatory, which I found interesting. Ditto for its commentary on Legasov. I still maintain my earlier comments on the show – yes, the story/facts were Hollywoodized for narrative impact, but the overall spirit was bang on. Anyway, if you enjoyed the show and want to learn more, this book is a good place to start.
Have you watched Chernobyl and if so, what did you think?
I am going to start this post with a disclaimer that may negate the very premise of the post: I don’t do a lot of online thrifting. I am spoiled by my local thrift scene, so I don’t feel like investing the time to look for deals online that might be better; they almost never are.
But then, Adina (you might say), why write this post at all?
Well, one, because some of you asked and I am an obliging sort; and, two, because I do have a few tips. They might not be “hold the phone” (or is it “break the internet” now?) type of tips, but hopefully they’ll be of use to anyone interested in shopping secondhand online.
Get to Know the Platform
There is an ever-increasing number of ways to shop secondhand online. Craiglist, Facebook selling/trading groups, online consignment stores, Instagram shops, Etsy, eBay, Poshmark, Tradesy, Depop, and the list goes on. Each one represents its own market. Get to know what the sellers are offering in terms of merchandise and pricing. That way, when you’re looking for something specific (or even a category of things), you can select the best 2 or 3 platforms where you’re most likely to score a deal.
I don’t have extensive experience with all of the available platforms but here are my impressions to date:
Poshmark skews towards a younger customer than eBay, so popular brands are mall brands and contemporary mid-level designers. Prices, as a whole, are cheaper than eBay. (This applies to the US only; Poshmark only recently became available in Canada).
eBay has the broadest reach, especially if you extend your searches to include overseas sellers. You can sometimes score better deals from those sellers if you are looking for brands from their home countries. For example, there are tons of listings for Boden in the UK and the prices can be better even after accounting for the exchange rate and shipping costs. When I was shopping for designer bags, I always included Japanese eBay storefronts because they would often have good deals on pre-loved items that were in great shape, and offered free shipping. To my knowledge, reputable Japanese consignment stores are very strict about authenticating designer pieces. Always check the seller feedback, of course (especially any neutral or negative comments).
Some Instagram thrifting accounts also sell clothes on the side. Sometimes, they offer first dibs to their followers, and you can score better prices than on Poshmark, etc.
Etsy is primarily geared to vintage and handmade clothing. It can be a good source for ethical/independent designer items (new not preloved).
Facebook selling/trading groups often offer the best deals, especially neighbourhood moms’ groups and the like. I don’t use Facebook anymore, and this is not something I ever really investigated but I have friends who have scored amazing bargains on everything from Lululemon to designer bags.
Knowing the retail price is often a bad gauge of the reasonableness of the resale price. So how can you tell if something is a good deal? Shop around, just as you would in retail. Look for listings for the same or similar items on resale sites. How do the prices compare? Are there many listings, or very few (indicating a potentially rare item)? On eBay, you can look up the actual price at which items have sold in the past – sometimes, the list price is not representative of actual market value.
Don’t Give Up
In at least one regard, online thrifting is similar to real life thrifting: it takes patience and time. Particularly when you are searching for a specific item, it can take not insignificant effort to find a great deal. Don’t be discouraged. On some platforms, like eBay, you can set up alerts that will notify you when an item fitting your search description is posted. I like to keep an iPhone note with a running list of items that I am hunting, and occasionally I will run searches to see if there are any new listings. Obviously, the more consistent you are about checking new listings, the better your odds of finding your item.
In my case, there are certain designers in which I have a general interest: Dries van Noten, Marni, Rick Owens, and a few others. For those, I simply search their names on (say) eBay and sort the results by “lowest price first”. That way, I can quickly spot any bargains, and I can also choose to nope out once the price escalates past my comfort zone.
Take Only Calculated Risks
What do I mean by risks? The biggest downside of online shopping is, of course, fit. A lot of resale platforms don’t allow returns unless an item is not as described; if the sizing is listed correctly, but the fit is not as expected, technically that may not meet the requirements for a return. How do you minimize the risk? Here are a few ideas.
Experienced sellers will often include measurements (not just sizes) in their listings. Know yours, and compare. One brand’s size 2 might be another brand’s size 6, but measurements don’t lie. If a listing doesn’t include measurements, you can always ask for them. Shoulders, bust, waist, hips, and length are usually the key numbers to consider, but this will vary depending on the type of item and style.
Online reviews can help as well. For newer items, try to track down the original retailer listing and see what the reviews say about whether the garment fits small, large, or TTS (true to size). Less exact but still helpful, look online for the consensus on the brand as a whole. Some are known to be prone to vanity sizing (e.g. Loft) and some are the reverse (e.g. H&M). Some brands are all over the place, which means that you should definitely ask for measurements for your particular item.
European sizing is another ballgame. There is UK sizing, which is typically about 2 sizes smaller than its US equivalent; so, a UK 10 is a US6. There is the single-digit sizing, wherein size 1 corresponds to a XS/S or sizes 0-4, size 2 corresponds to a S/M or sizes 6-8, size 3 correspondents to a L or size 10-12, and size 4 to an XL or sizes 12-14 (these are my general observations, actual brands will vary). Then there is the European designer sizing which runs from about 32 to 44, or roughly size 0 through 12/14. Some people will tell you that 34 is roughly equivalent to a size 4, but I find European designers to be cut on the small side. I tend to err on the conservative side when estimating European sizes.
Do Your Research
I recommend this for both in person and online thrifting. Go to a high-end department store or designer boutique whenever the opportunity arises, and have a good look around. Touch the clothes, try them on. Some brands have good PR and clothes that look pretty in stock photos, but they might not be that special up close, or may not fit your body type, personal aesthetic, etc. Learn what works for you in terms of brand, aesthetic, quality, and so on, and then hunt for those things online.
And with that, I am going to turn this over to you, my trusty commentariat: what are YOUR best tips for online thrifting?
You guys know how much I love Dries Van Noten, so you will understand how freaking excited I was when my friend A generously offered this DVN skirt to me as a gift. I was SO excited! Because it’s as fabulous a skirt as you would expect from the master of prints. I’m still figuring out how to showcase its coolness, so my first attempt was pretty safe … or classic, depending on how you look at it. I did add some blue suede shoes for a little extra kick. Even though this is a simple/plain outfit, the skirt makes it special – and made me feel special too.
Notes: Dries Van Noten skirt (gifted); no name blouse (thrifted,$*); Rag & Bone blazer (thrifted, $**); J. Crew shoes (thrifted, $10).
This Ted Baker coat-cape converts to a scarf, which is quite handy for the commute. The mornings have been cool again, so I’ve gone back to my leather jackets; this cape would be hard to fit under one, but no need. Scarf on the way to work, cape at the office. Win, win. It also billows quite dramatically as I walk, which I quite enjoy. It lends a little bit of (good) drama to my day. Here, I paired the cape with 2 of my other new fave things: this linen maxi dress (it works with everything!) and these lace-up flats (ditto).
Low effort or no effort? Either way, this outfit was easy, breezy and perfect for a very low key Saturday. I’m not 100% sold on the style of this dress, but I love the print. I think I’d be happier if it were a maxi. Oh well, thrifters can’t be choosers. Are the red sandals too matchy? Maybe, but they’re also very cute, and they pop against the muted teal of the bag. Something about this poppy shade has been attracting me lately – I seem to keep finding and buying things of this colour. It’s cheerful, that’s for sure, and I guess I could use more of that.
It’s time for another monthly recap and, by dog, where is this year going? But, onwards! Without getting into the details, May was a challenging time for me, and I am not especially sad to see the end of it. (The month, not the challenges, sigh.) I hope you guys had a more fun spring, and exciting plans for the summer coming up. And if not – hey, I feel ya.
But what about the clothes?
I wore some. And the outfits look nice in the line-up. It wasn’t intentional at first, but I somehow ended up doing red as an accent/feature colour in May, and it looks very striking with my usual neutrals.
But here’s the thing.
I’ve been feeling kinda blah about my outfits lately and even as I write this, I’m struck by how obvious the reason why is. May was tough. “Blah” has been my best case scenario lately. I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve been feeling uninspired by my closet – which is the best it’s ever been, let’s be honest – when the answer was right in front of me, and it had nothing to do with my closet at all. Blogging as self-discovery, who knew.
Anyway, the truth is that my closet is not the only thing that’s been feeling uninspiring lately; blogging, too, feels like more of a chore more than a hobby. I need to figure out a way to change that because writing (like my other hobbies) is important in keeping me feeling happy and healthy. But if my posts seem a little less engaging, or peter out suddenly, you’ll know why. Bear with me, and I’m sure we’ll be back to regular programming sooner or later.
As always, I love to hear from you here and on IG (it helps to make all this feel a little less like shouting into the void), so feel free to drop me a line anytime if you have a question, want to chat about clothes (or books! or TV shows! or fun & cheap new products!) or even if you just want to commiserate.
As I get older, I’m trying not to be one of those “things were better back in the day” people. I really am! I’ve spent a good chunk of my life prey to (often unwarranted) nostalgia, and it’s one of the things of which I am being more mindful. That being said, this is totally gonna be a “things were better back in the day” kind of post. What can I say; sometimes it’s true.
Trips to Calgary used to be SO exciting from a shopping perspective. Back when I was still shopping retail, their malls were better than Edmonton’s, with stores we didn’t have here. Later, I was impressed by the quality of their consignment stores, which were full of designer brands I never saw back home. Later still, the thrifting proved impressive as well. I still remember the visit to the McLeod Trail Value Village where I found a like-new pair of Louboutin Bianca pumps for $70. And the trip to the Silver Springs Vallue Village where I picked up a gorgeous Marni tunic for under $20.
Those were the days … and those days are gone.
On my most recent trip to Calgary, the fanciest thing I spotted (after visiting 6 thrift stores in 3 days) was a new-with-tags Theory dress … for $150. Thanks, I’ll pass. Some of that may have been just luck of the draw; unless you’re going to the same places consistently, or luck into dropping in at just the right time, it’s entirely possible (and perhaps even probable) to strike out. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t put much stock in vacation thrifting these days. Even so, Calgary thrifting on past trips was better. And further, my friend A, who lives in Calgary, assured me that my impression was correct – selection has been declining recently, even as prices are rising.
But not all is bad news.
First, some important context. My friend and I are both designer label hunters. From a broader perspective, Calgary thrifting is not terrible. I saw plenty of contemporary mall brands, like Anthropologie, J. Crew, Loft, Aritzia and similar. Prices were all over the place, even within the same chain of stores, but there were some decent deals to be had. However, I did not see a lot of designer stuff, and what I did spot was either dated or over-priced (or both).
Which leads me to my second bit of good news: the consignment scene is hot! I’m tempted to posit some relationship between the economic downturn that has been affecting Calgary for the last few years, and the rise in good consignment merch (versus thrifting) but I would probably be talking out of my a**. So instead of theories, let’s talk facts.
The last time I visited Vespucci’s, I decided I wouldn’t go back again. The selection was decent, and they had a large designer section, but the prices were high (in my opinion). I haven’t been back for a few years, but decided to stop in on this visit because of my aforementioned disappointment with thrifting. And I’m glad I did. I walked in on a 50% off sale, which was pure luck. But even accounting for that, the prices struck me as being far more reasonable than before – at least at the high-end designer end of the spectrum. Most designer pieces I saw were priced in the $100-250 range which, while high in the absolute, would be decent deals for those particular things relative to eBay and other resale platforms. Add in the 50% discount, and suddenly a lot of things looked very enticing.
I exercised a LOT of restraint and only grabbed 3 things: an AllSaints real leather skirt ($78 plus 50% off, regular retail approx. $500); a Ted Baker silk scarf coat ($98 plus 50% off, regular retail approx. $250); and a pair of vintage earrings ($78 plus 50% off).
My version has a different print but same idea
I just missed out on a bunch of Dries pieces; they had recently been sent to Vespucci’s sister store VSP Consignment in Toronto because, according to the sales associate, “they sell better there”. Say whaaaa? But in this way I found out (a) about the Toronto store, and (b) that you can ask them to send stuff to any of their other stores (Edmonton or Calgary) for pick-up. You can be sure I’ll be checking out the VSP website from now on.
On recommendation from my friend A, I also checked out Expressions Consignment, and its sister stores A Man of Distinction (men’s consignment) and Molly Marie’s (accessories). By way of background, A is the person who taught me everything I know about bargain hunting, and is one of the most stylish people I’ve ever met. So I jumped on her recommendation without hesitation – and good thing I did! Expressions reminded me a lot of my favourite consignment store in Edmonton (My Favourite Aunt’s) both in terms of selection and layout, as well as pricing. It wasn’t thrift-store cheap, but it was verrrry reasonable. I ended up grabbing a Marni dress for $42 (retail approx. $600) and a Clover Canyon top NWT ($24, retail approx. $200). I would have bought more stuff, but all the shoes (and Aritzia leather leggings! Finally!) I coveted were not my size, sadly.
Even my husband got in on the action, buying 2 pairs of shoes (one Prada, the other Boss) for under $70 in total. I tried to talk him into buying a stunning Brunello Cocinelli blazer, but the $300 price tag gave him a bit of sticker shock (even though I explained that it was a fantastic deal considering similar blazers retail for $3,000-$5,000) and he wouldn’t budge. His loss!
Only photo of the Marni dress I could find online but …
… my version is red.
Clover Canyon top
Last but not least, I did manage to scrounge up a couple of thrift scores as well: one, a pair of brand new AGL pumps ($18, retail $400) and a vintage signed Sherman brooch/convertible pendant ($8).
My version is black not brown
So, in summary, here are my thoughts: if you’re in Calgary, check out the consignment stores … and then come down to Edmonton for the thrifting. See you out there, bargain hunters!
This vintage Ungaro wrap dress is so good, but it’s hard to convey its awesomeness in photos because it’s all about the fabric. It’s a double-ply (is that a thing?) linen with the weight and drape of a heavier fabric, but with the usual breathability. And there is no worrying about it being see-through, even with the cream colour. I’m not crazy about the collar, but I love everything else about this dress. I paired it with a thin black turtleneck because it was a windy day, and added some 90s-inspired accessories to match the vibe. Loved this so much, and it was so comfortable.
Notes: Ungaro dress (thrifted, $8.50); Oak & Fort turtleneck (retail, $40); Napoleoni shoes (thrifted, $7); Marc by Marc Jacobs backpack (consignment, $170).
It’s always nice to pull out this dress – it makes me feel instantly put together. I dressed it up with a velvet blazer and an old jeweled (but not too jeweled, if you know what I mean) belt. This makes me want to go back to hunting Dries on eBay … sigh.
Notes: Dries Van Noten dress (eBay, $300); Zara blazer (thrifted, $9.50); BCBG belt (thrifted with dress, $7); shoes (Winners, $40).
My husband and I took a little weekend trip to Calgary (sans kiddos) this past week. That is usually the cue for me to line up some interesting outfits, except this time I prioritize comfort above all else. Luckily, this linen maxi dress delivers both comfort and some serious style. Nun-on-Vacation style, that is. I can’t tell you how much I love it. I’ll be wearing this non-stop this summer. The lace-up flats add a little bit of extra polish, without having to sacrifice any comfort. Win win.
Notes: vintage dress (thrifted, $14); Anthropologie necklace (retail, gift); Tommy Hilfiger jacket (DIY embroidery, original retail, $80); Napoleoni shoes (thrifted, $7).
I am going to write an in-depth post about my Calgary shopping adventures next week, but — spoiler alert — it was a bit of a mixed bag. I ended up having some of the best luck at Winners (where we went mostly because my husband was looking for jeans), although my purchases were skincare related, not clothes. I’d forgotten how much random fun Winners can be!
Thayers Witch Hazel Toner (with Lavender)
I currently use the Rose version of this every other morning as a toner, and I love it. It’s super gentle and freshens up my skin post-sleep nicely. I usually buy it on Amazon for about $17, so at $10.99 this was a good deal. The lavender scent is lovely too.
Hempz Body Cream
I had my nails done the week before and once again commented on the hand cream that my nail tech uses at the end – it’s Hempz. It smells so good, and it’s a nice cream. Not, like, Sol De Janeiro nice, but pretty damn good. So when I spotted this, I decided to grab some to have at home. It was $16.99, and the bottle will probably last quite a while. This is a different scent (coconut watermelon) which I don’t love as much as the one my nail tech has (something with peppermint, I think) but it seems to be a hit with my husband – bonus, because it means more foot rubs in my future.
Manna Kadar Body Scrub
You may remember that I got a similar scrub in my last FabFitFun box. Well, it turns out, I really enjoyed it. I’m almost done with my original jar, and have been wanting to replace it. I’m not willing to spend $20+ on this luxury, but $5.99? Heck yeah. I bought 2 tubs because I go through them pretty quickly. This Sea Minerals version is smoother, less crunchy than the Champagne Charcoal one I got in my FFF box, but it feels and smells lovely. I have to say, since I’ve started using these scrubs, my skin is noticeably softer and with fewer dry patches.
Alba Botanica Mango Conditioner
My current conditioner (Joico) is running out and I decided to give this a go. My SIL uses Alba products, and I remember trying some once when I was staying over. They smell so good! Because they’re sulfate free, they don’t lather a lot, which bothers me with shampoos (I know, I know) but not with conditioners. This was $6.99, and that kind of pricing is why I always buy my hair products at Winners (shampoo, conditioner, hairspray); I’m not loyal at any particular brand, and I just want good quality for drugstore prices.
Do I need another moisturizer? Not really. But I’ve heard a lot about this brand and I know it’s typically quite pricey, so I couldn’t resist checking this out for $10.
And you know what? I am okay with it. I am ready to let go.
Going into the last episode of the series, I expected to be disappointed. Already, season 8 provided plenty of disappointment with its insistence on abandoning good story-telling in favour of breakneck speed and empty spectacle. I had read the spoilers/leaks, which confirmed that the show would not be ending in any one of the ways I had imagined, and that its ending was very much in line with the rest of the season; it required a lot more build-up to feel authentic than the show was willing to invest.
As a result, I watched episode 6 with a lot of detachment. The only times I felt emotionally engaged were watching Drogon mourn his mom (RIP, Dany) and Ghost reuniting with his dad (and finally getting his much-deserved petting). But, funny thing. The more I think about the ending, and try to imagine how GRRM himself might have arrived at it, the less I hate it. Don’t get me wrong; the show did a sh*t job of selling it and the writers deserve all the outraged reactions they’re getting. But I am starting to see how it maybe makes sense in the context of the world that GRRM built. Written properly, this might actually have been the beautiful, bittersweet story we were all promised.
But that is not the story we currently have, so for now let’s talk about what we did get … and how little sense it all made.
I covered my distaste for the Dany-goes-mad plot line last week. The finale did nothing to bolster this story, so it still feels like the show did a complete character assassination in 3 episodes. Yes, there was always foreshadowing that this might be Dany’s ultimate path; but until about 3 episodes ago, she was presented to us as a heroine, as someone for whom to root. Can you blame those fans who did, and continue to root for her? It doesn’t make them toxic fans; to me, it means that the writers failed to make their writing emotionally connect. It’s legitimate to say: look, just because Dany is a woman doesn’t mean that she can’t be a tyrant. But you have to show us that; you have to make us believe it, in our hearts. The fact that you have to rely, at the eleventh hour, on a bunch of (male) characters explaining to us how mad she is … well, it means that you haven’t done your job properly.
Jon acted completely out of character. Again, the only context we had for his decision was a short conversation with Tyrion and an even briefer one with Arya. And, bam, he’s ready to kill the supposed love of his life. Just like that. Show me 2 seasons of Dany slowly succumbing to blood lust, and Jon agonizing over his divided loyalties. Make me believe he’s in love with her AND afraid of her. Make me believe he’s feeling something, anything.
The aftermath of Dany’s murder makes no sense. Dany was a queen by lineage (arguably) but mostly by conquest. Jon has a better claim to the throne by lineage; having killed the conqueror, he should automatically have been king. No?! Am I taking crazy pills? The Unsullied have no authority in Westeros except whatever authority Dany gave them. I suppose Grey Worm could have killed Jon as a matter of personal revenge, but to arrest him?! WTF? I can understand getting to the eventual council-to-decide-the-next-king plot line via Jon refusing to accept the throne but this was just dumb. Also dumb was the exile-to-the-Night-Watch business. First, this was unnecessary. If the issue was appeasing the Unsullied long enough to get them out of Westeros, then the order could have been rescinded immediately upon their departure; it’s not like they’re coming back, right? Second, the Night Watch has no purpose anymore, so if it still exists let’s just call it what it is: a gulag for undesirables. I’m actually not mad that Jon ended up going North; it’s where he can be happiest, I think, and that’s fine. The last scene made it look like he’s going north of the Wall with the wildlings – abandoning his post?!? – which is even better. Maybe he’ll run into another feisty redhead while he’s there.
Bran as king is … sure, whatever. In principle, the idea that the kings of Westeros are now going to be selected by committee (of nobles, of course) is kind of interesting. It’s like a cross between an oligarchy and a very embryonic form of representative government. Baby steps. But has the show established just how long Bran-not-Bran is going to live? The last Three Eyed Raven was centuries old, no? Is Bran going to be king forever?
The independent North is cool and all but I can’t believe that no one objected. Both Dorne and the Iron Islands have a history of not wanting to bend the knee, but they didn’t say a peep when Sansa was all “love you brother, but I’m outies”. I also have to wonder whether Sansa will go all Elizabeth I (as the visuals of her coronation would suggest) or whether she will take steps to continue the Stark dynasty of the north. Speaking of which, little Robin Arryn was all *surprise!* grown up and glowed-up, no?
Don’t get me started on Bronn as Lord of Highgarden/Master of Coin. No, seriously, please don’t.
On the other hand, Brienne as head of the Kingsguard and Davos as Master of Ships warmed my heart. And Pod is Ser Podrick now! All of this is fan servicey as hell, but I’ll take it.
Overall, the theme of the show – if there is one – seems to have been: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The game of thrones goes on.
The weather has been all over the place lately; sometimes it feels like summer, sometimes it … doesn’t. I’m not complaining, for once, because this year I realized that as much as I am a summer person in spirit, I prefer spring/fall when it comes to sartorial matters. Layers, you guys. I love me some layers.
But when the weather can’t make up its mind about which season it is, you have to get creative with the hybrid combinations. In this case: sweater on top, summer skirt & sandals on the bottom. This rainbow stripe sweater always makes me happy, and the skirt is a compliment magnet. I’m not mad about it.
Notes: Gap sweater (thrifted, $5); Floreat skirt (thrifted, $12), Madewell shoes (thrifted, $8.50); Rebecca Minkoff bag (thrifted, $10)
Camel, Take Two
Still loving this cashmere camel coat; it feels like the right amount of luxe to dress up what are, essentially, fancy leggings. I’ve been dealing with IBS-related symptoms for the last month or so, which has made me prioritize comfort; jeans can be a challenge some days, and on weekends it’s nice to have another option. With a polished but still relaxed/loose-fitting top half of the outfit, this looks quite nice even with minimal effort.
Notes: Jil Sander coat (thrifted, $10); Equipment shirt (thrifted and gifted); Line sweater (thrifted, $8.50); Iris Setlakwe leggings (thrifted, $9.50); Coach bag (thrifted, $30); AGL shoes (thrifted, $10).
This Ted Baker-esque print caught my eye immediately; turns out the dress is Pink Tartan, which is a Canadian mid-level designer brand. Based on the quality, I think this might be some kind of diffusion line; the quality is not as great as the items I’ve tried at Holt Renfrew before. Because the fabric is a rather odd, plasticky-feeling polyester (like raincoat material), I layered this over a silk slip-like dress for extra comfort. It worked out well, and reminded me that I should look into buying a proper slip one of these days.
That being said, the aesthetic is very nice. It’s the kind of dress that never fails to get compliments. Still, I don’t think this is my style. The cut is classic and flattering, but it feels wrong for my avatars. I enjoyed taking this particular risk on a pretty dress, but it’s not going be a keeper for me, so I’m gonna try to find it another home.
I wore this outfit on one of our warmest days this year, and I’m not gonna lie: it was fun. There’s nothing like some good Sleeve Drama, and this kimono-inspired topper has lots of it. Please admire my restraint in not posting a dozen photos of my twirling/tilting-at-windmills attempts. It might seem weird to wear pants on a warm day, but (a) I can’t do shorts anymore, and (b) these are the softest linen and comfy as heck. They also have a cool, shimmering texture which is hard to capture; the fabric looks a bit like a moth wing, especially in sunlight.
I watched Episode 5 knowing every beat that was coming and hoping against hope for a surprise (un-leaked) twist that never came. Visually, it was a stunning and well-acted episode. As a book reader, it felt like a gut punch.
The fact that the show writers are calling the ending “bittersweet” feels like a slap in the face. But we can talk about that next week, I guess.
Look, I know that “book fans” are a vocal and perhaps hard-to-please subset of the GoT audience. And I know that plenty of people (book fans or not) had their own pet theories about their favourite characters’ storylines, myself included. On one hand, it’s human nature to be salty if your theories don’t pan out, but on the other hand, that doesn’t create any obligations on the writer’s part, nor does it invalidate the writer’s own choices.
For me, what invalidates Episode 5 (and, if I’m being honest, all of Season 8) is the dumpster-fire-level sh*tty writing.
Up to a certain point (cough, until the show ran out of book material, cough), the characters as written made sense. I didn’t always like them, I didn’t always agree with their choices, but they were coherent and plausible. I am not here to say that there is no way that we could go from Point A (the characters, as originally written in the books and early seasons) to Point B (Episode 5). But watching Season 8 unfold, I can’t help but feel that the show writers had (a) no idea how to get from Point A to Point B, (b) no real interest in making it a plausible journey; and (c) no actual story-telling talent.
Let me give them their due: Episode 5 was a satisfying spectacle in the way that, say, a Michael Bay movie can be considered satisfying. There were bells (hah!) and whistles, and all kinds of cool-looking explosions.
It was also absolute garbage storytelling.
The easiest way to tell? Consider all the time that’s been spent telling the audience about critical developments, as opposed to showing us those things.
We have been told that Jon and Dany have some great love story. We have been told that Tyrion is the cleverest man in Westeros. We have been told that Jaime is a man wanting to change, until he wasn’t. We have been told that Dany is forever on the precipice of madness. And some of those things may have been true, or may have been potentially true had there been some actual effort made to ground them in the storytelling. Last week, I read that GRRM had said that he thought the show would have to be 12 seasons long in order to accommodate his story. You may joke about GRRM’s propensity to drag things out, but this makes so much sense to me. You want to end the story with Dany’s descent into Targaryen madness? Fine. SHOW ME! PUT IN THE TIME TO GET US THERE!
The funny thing is, I don’t think I would be nearly as disappointed if the books had already been written at this point. Then the show would simply be a crappy adaptation. But because this is the first time that we get to experience the ending, it feels like a much worse betrayal. The negative feelings engendered by the show’s terrible handling of the story will probably always be entwined with the story itself. And for that, I feel bad for GRRM.
Other random thoughts:
Ok, some things I liked about the episode. I wasn’t invested in Clegane Bowl like some, but that was an appropriate send-off for those two characters. It also provided one of my fave moments of the night – Cersei side-stepping the Cleganes like “uh, don’t mind me, carry on”. Poor Qyburn, though – he was a creep, but he was loyal to his queen.
Speaking of whom, I also thought Cersei had a good ending. A karmic one, even: destroyed under the weight of her terrible choices, foremost of which was hanging on to ill-gotten power (symbolized by the Red Keep) by any means possible. And it was in character, so to speak. Deep down, Cersei wasn’t mad so much as utterly selfish and cruel; when she realized she’d lost, her only thought was for herself and the fear of her own demise. She was never going to go out guns blazing just for the hell of it. Heck, I could even accept this ending as part of her prophecy – it was Jaime, her younger brother, who led her down to the crypts (or whatever) thereby, not intentionally, sealing their fate. It’s a stretch, but I will take it.
One of my fave social media responses to the episode was something to the effect of “Jaime throwing Bran out of the window in episode 1 was foreshadowing for how the writers would throw Jaime’s character arc out of the window in season 8.” It’s true. But even assuming that the goal all along was to show that some people just can’t change, or will always revert to their true nature or whatever, tell me this: what was the point of the Jaime-Brienne hook-up? Their relationship as portrayed in episode 2 (when he knighted her) represented the best that Jaime has ever been or could aspire to be; that was the height from which he had to fall again, and it would have been poignant enough. The romantic stuff with Brienne now feels especially gratuitous in a way that just doesn’t sit right with me.
Gosh, what a waste of screen time Euron proved to be, right until the end.
They have turned Tyrion into a complete idiot. I guess they are once again pushing the narrative of “I never bet against my family” even though it just makes no sense anymore. I always took Tyrion’s perspective to be “I don’t bet against my family because they’re evil and will always get the upper hand”, which would not seem like motivation to act as he did in Episode 8 when he knows that Cersei is going to lose. I can maybe – MAYBE – see him put his neck on the line for Jaime by intervening on his behalf with Dany … but going behind her back after Varys had already been executed just so that Jaime could go off and save Cersei? No way.
Jon and Dany have zero chemistry. They are a black hole of chemistry. I don’t buy that Jon is conflicted between his love for Dany and his growing realization that she might be the bad guy. Or even between his love for Dany and his knowledge that she’s his aunt. I get no “conflict” from Jon, only “cringe” and “stoic face”. I will put this down to Kit Harrington’s mediocre acting not being able to make up for the sh*tty writing.
I can see now why the writers had Arya kill the Night King. Had she not done that, she would have been entirely superfluous this season. I’m not sure why we needed an “audience stand-in” during the massacre-by-dragon; it felt sickening regardless. And now I don’t know what is left for Arya. If this experience turns her away from the death business for good, what else does she have left?
This is a minor point, but I cannot believe that Grey Worm would violate the rules of combat and strike a soldier who had just surrendered. Or that Dany’s entire army would turn to raping and pillaging in a split second.
And, finally, Dany. Listen, I was never a Dany stan. I am perfectly willing to believe that she had the capacity to end up the Mad Queen, like her father. But foreshadowing is not character development. If she’s done terrible things in the past, those things made sense in the context – sense not in terms of morality, but in terms of character development. Burning King’s Landing after the surrender makes no sense for a character who was willing to die to save humanity TWO FREAKING EPISODES AGO. As others have said, this was one heel turn that the writers didn’t earn. Not even close. But congrats, because it worked. As a show viewer, I am done with Dany. As a book reader, I mourn the lost opportunity for a beautiful, heart-breaking character arc.