Buy Curious: Party Pics, Fashion Secrets & The Sale You Can't Miss


Three simple steps for the ultimate weekend: Jot down a few notes, stash some cash in your purse, and head out the door. That's it! Start off by joining the First Friday art crowd in Oakland, then sail seamlessly into a weekend of retail indulgence, replete with some of the best sample sales of the year. And in between excursions, why not pick up a new hobby or two? From the East Bay to San Francisco to the virtual dressing room, we've got it all covered.

When it came to photographing the fashionable this week, we had it easy: Where better to hunt for photogenic prey than at our very own Best of the East Bay fete held Thursday night at Swarm Studios in Jack London Square? We challenged attendees to divulge a shocking secret about their outfits. Let's just say that we're still recovering ... Just Wish We Had a Cutest Couple Award to Give out! couple1.jpg

Redhead Sarah Dunbar, 30, owns the vintage clothing shop Pretty Penny, which won the Readers' Choice award for Best Women's Clothes in this year's competition. Her dirty little secret? "I bought this top from Banana Republic," she shuddered. "I would never have done that, but we were waiting for a table at P.F. Chang's and I ducked in. I found two things that I wear all the time. When I got a hole in this shirt, I was totally stoked!" Sarah's boyfriend Nicholas St. Mary, 27, had a confession to make, too: "Everything I'm wearing, I got for free!" Turns out he takes things that don't sell at PP to a thrift shop, then uses the credit to buy clothes for himself. Not a bad deal! We Were So Wrong It Hurts! yellowsweater.jpg

We adored the yellow sweater Elizabeth was wearing - from a distance, it looked pure girl-next-door vintage. But she let us know we'd been had - she recently bought it for $118 at Anthropologie, where it's aptly named the "Wisteria" cardigan. We thought it looked like something Desperate Housewives' Bree Van de Camp would wear! Yet Another Pair of Friends We Think Should Elope couple2.jpg

Seems we're always drawn toward shooting pairs of pals who insist that's all they are. Yawn! The adorable sleeveless cotton button-down top Lucy, 25, chose for the party looked like something we'd drop $100 on at Nordstrom's and then spill coffee on the next day. "It's from Forever 21," she told us. "And these earrings?" She fingered her gold leaf-shaped danglers. "I took them out of my 17-year-old sister's drawer this morning." Her 27-year-old pal, Ryan (a graphic designer at our sister paper, SF Weekly), let us in on the mystery of his belt buckle, which to the outsider simply states: "Idaho." "I wear it every day," he informed us. "On the inside, it says "Where life is worth living." Right on! Wanna Know His Secret? Hint: It's Not "I'm a Rapper." g%20unit.jpg

We couldn't resist striking up a conversation with the alluring - if not a wee bit intimidating looking - Jonathan, 25, known in the local rap scene as "Dionyses." The SF State student's label-studded ensemble may look pricey, but he admitted to snagging most of it online for a deep discount. And his perfectly slouchy jeans? On sale at Gap for about $20. "Rap" and "Gap" - two words we never thought would go together. These dudes wouldn't offer up style secrets, but we dug them anyway. Check 'em out! Amiiroo kenyadude.jpg Justin & Bayete justinbayate.jpg Tsunwei fighter.jpg SHOP TALK

Oakland Unwrapped Kicks Off Tonight Online shopping portal Oakland Unwrapped launches today! As Buy Curious previously reported, the site will facilitate shopping locally, with guides to shopping districts and cool boutiques, events, and - most exciting -- an online store. Catch a sneak peak here. To celebrate, the site is hosting an Indie Award show, awarding unique businesses and artists made by Oakland residents.
When: Friday, May 4, 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m.
Where: Rotunda Building, Telegraph Ave. at 16th St., Oakland (**not at 2232 MLK as previously reported)
How much it'll set you back: $20, or two for $35.
P.S. If you take BART (get off at 12th Street), you'll receive 25 percent off the Oakland guidebook from GrassRoutes Travel.

Indy Shopping + Bar + Music + Art = Perfect Night Out Feria Urbana, one of our favorite Bay Area Indy craft fairs, takes up residence tonight at the Oakland Museum. With entertainment from the Rolando Morales Quintet (a blend of Latin jazz, flamenco-samba, and Afro-Cuban rhythm), a full cash bar, a café, gardens, galleries, and the chance to buy clothing, jewelry, accessories, and art, could there possibly be a better option for starting the weekend? When: Fri., May 4, 5 - 9 p.m. Where: Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak St. It'll set you back: $8 for adults; $5 for students with ID; children under age 6 free.

Stock Up on Cocktail Party Conversation Topics for the Next Month Too cheap to shell out for museum admission? Yeah, yeah, we get it. Instead, head to Oakland's Art Murmur tonight to eavesdrop on what the hippest of East Bay hipsters are getting worked up about these days. And, of course, to see a great mix of art - not only on the walls of participating galleries, but on the bodies of aforementioned trendies. Because who knows - tonight could be the night where it becomes shockingly clear that skinny jeans have gone the way of the mullet. Unless, of course, the mullet has been revived. ... Well, there's only one way to find out.

An Oh-So-Enticing Shopfest spring_shop.jpg Every time we turn our heads, seems like another independent boutique, fashion designer, or shopping-related blog pops up in Oakland. This time, it's Entice Boutique, run by Ly Nguyen. Not surprisingly, Entice is all about local designers and vintage finds (the East Bay's bread-and-butter, after all), but it also promises to propagate a philosophy of "connecting women with fashion and each other." We're envisioning lots of mixers. Let's hope Nguyen focuses on quality, locally made goods, instead of just any string and yarn thrown together for the sake of being local. Seems like shoppers will have their first opportunity tomorrow at "Shop Soiree," a sale featuring clothes, accessories, and - strangely enough -- henna tattooing from Devika's Palacio. Here's the info from the organizers: "Hip vintage housewares, beaded and shell jewelry from the islands, and funky clothes from Entice. The collection is available only at this event. Come early as each item is an exclusive and will not last. Cash and Paypal only." Hmm ... "exclusive" and "funky?" Better be good!
When: Saturday, May 5, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: 723 46th St., Oakland

Sample Sale Mania A couple weeks ago the SF Chronicle ran a great article chock-full of upcoming sample sales, a bunch of which are happening this weekend. Here, the cream of the crop: *San Francisco Mart hosts its biannual sale where, for $6 ($5 if you print out a coupon on its Web site), everyday Janes can shop sixty showrooms usually reserved for pros - and score 40 to 50 percent off. This is one of the most popular SF sales of the year -- you got it, the one you absolutely can't miss. After all, isn't it about time you get rid of that futon? (Sat.) *The Bel Marin Keys Warehouse and Studio Sale in Novato, for which eighteen retailers invite the public to scoop up everything from garden goodies to high-end linens to gourmet food at a pittance. (Sat. & Sun.) *Lunares, a SF wholesaler whose cool, modern tabletop and household goods you'll find - for way more cash - at Fred Segal and the New York MOMA gift shop. Think: fabulous wedding gifts! (Sat.)

Another Stellar Sale Azalea Boutique is having its first call clearance sale, with up to 75 percent off designer brands like Chloe and Sonia Rykiel. Sale starts tomorrow! (Wanna shop online only? We suggest the store's Bargain Bin!) Where: Azalea Boutique, 411 Hayes St., San Francisco When: Begins Saturday, May 5 FASHIONALYSIS: Style News & Views

Crafty New Book by ReadyMade Editor 51sZCd11enL._SS500_.jpg Summer will soon be upon us, meaning that you'll soon have loads of spare time on your hands, right? Time to dive into your favorite hobby! Don't have one, you say? Then pick up a copy of ReadyMade editor Tina Barseghian's new book, aptly titled Get a Hobby! This alphabetical guide (which reads more like an idea book) features 101 "diversions for any lifestyle," such as calligraphy, dog show training, and furniture restoration. Though the cover is rather kitschy, we were a bit surprised to see how serious and straightforward the step-by-step directions are. And c'mon - are we really supposed to take a hobby of "entering contests" seriously? ("Winning sweepstakes takes persistence," Barseghian advises. "Remember, the more difficult the entry process, the better your chances of winning.) But isn't the point of having a hobby to uh, brag about it at dinner parties? Another thing we found a bit odd: the near absence of photos or illustrations. (Supersmall, dull photos and drawings don't count)! Doesn't a hobby guidebook just demand vivid pix to inspire us on our way? While we're happy to tout crafting (we like a little beading ourselves and adore the potholders we wove on a plastic loom a few years back), for the sequel we'd suggest something that actually makes hobbies look fun!

Blog Alert Who's Dino-Ray Ramos? And why is he jocking Buy Curious? (Just kidding.) Of course it's totally coincidental that he launched his fashion/style/shopping blog, "Dressed," on MediaNews' InsideBayArea last November, just a month after Buy Curious arrived in blogland. The self described "storytelling writer" and "pop culture junkie" blogs about everything from the recent Academy of Art University fashion shows (including an obsessive frame-by-frame homage to It-Boy Zac Posen), comments on celebrity style, and special shopping events in the Bay. Every Friday, Buy Curious dishes on the hottest fashion trends, news, and sales in the East Bay and beyond. If you've got tips, suggestions, comments, or a burning style question you'd like us to answer in our column, Buy Clueless, send them our way! Write Kathleen and Lauren at BuyCurious[at]EastBayExpress[dot]com