Archive for the ‘Nostalgia’ Category

Summer Getaway – Camp Wandawega

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

From Prohibition-era brothel to 1950s lake resort to 1970s summer camp for the children of Latvian Catholics, Camp Wandawega’s been working its woodsy magic on all kinds of folk for almost ninety years now.

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In its current incarnation, Wandawega’s the semi-private playground of two Chicago-area advertising execs who open up their Moonrise-y Kingdom for wedding parties, clothing catalog shoots, and corporate retreats. Lower-key kids like me just looking for some outdoorsy fun in a Pinterest-worthy paradise can book left-over nights/cabins/beds through AirBnB.

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Hurly and I and our niece/honorary daughter Kaya booked a Wednesday through Friday stay in the three bedroom “Raccoon” cabin.

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But we were the only guests at the camp the first night, so our host Joe took us on a lengthy historical tour of every cabin, every guest room, every tree house, every pup tent and every tepee on the site and said we were welcome to sleep wherever we wanted.

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We ended up sleeping in our assigned cabin both nights, but we napped indulgently one afternoon in the American Indian tepee, and Kaya helped herself to what we goofily called a “hooker’s bath” in the women’s restroom at the old brothel, and we wandered all around Wandawega freely, wowed by the wall-to-wall antiques which were just begging to become the backdrops for photoshoot after faux-catalog-style photoshoot.

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Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

We enjoyed plenty of un-posed fun too, scout’s honor. From shuffleboard to board games, hatchet throwing to canoe rides, we did everything the spirits in Lake Wandawega could’ve wanted us to.

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Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Everyone’s favorite activity was swooping over the lake on the two rope swings. One had a wooden plank on which you could sit and sorta relax. The other was Tarzan-style, set-up for shooting yourself out and into the sorta scarily shallow waters.

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From the fonts on the front gate, to the travel-sized soaps set atop your beach towels, every aspect of Camp Wandawega resurrects the retro charm and hospitality honed during the golden age of American road-tripping and long since lost.

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There’s even an old-school souvenir vending machine from which I picked out a Wandawega motor-lodgey keychain and Hurly and Kaya selected an Indian arrowhead necklace.

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By artfully assembling in one place all the Kodachrome-y, memory-building traditions that family vacations should be made of, as Camp counselor/curators David and Tereasa have, my little troop’s settled on making summer trips to Wandawega a tradition of our own.

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Next time I hopefully won’t travel three hours back toward Minneapolis before realizing I’ve left my military duffel bag full of Teva’s and T’s from Hickorees back on the bunk beds at our Wisconsin summer home-away-from-home. (D’oh!)

Topo Designs Fleece Jacket

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

About April or so, though I can’t explain exactly why, I decided I should own a sorta norm-core-ish fleece piece. I wanted it tan or teddy-bear colored and tried (and tried and tried) to find an end-of-season Patagonia zip-up that I quite liked. But that just never panned out so I set my eyes on Topo Designs.

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Based out of Colorado, Topo’s Made in America mountain-wear treks through the natural-high vibe of 1970s camping gear but with surfy splashes of late 80s and early 90s shades.

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Their Coyote-colored fleece pullover was out of stock for most of the spring, and too thick to slip into during the peak of summer. But you can already feel fall in the air round where I live, so this weekend I was finally able to layer up in my Topo. The way it feels in the cool morning wind when the sun shines right on it is sublime – like getting snuggled by cinnamon toast or something.

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I don’t think I’ve wanted to wear fleece since 1997, but right now it’s feeling really, really right.

Cinematic – The Terrace Theater

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Places speak to us, I can hear them saying things.

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In older spaces, like the Terrace Movie Theater right outside of Minneapolis, when I look at photos of its heyday I hear an excited voice saying, “This will be a great space, designed with care, making the people inside it feel important and the time they spend inside it feel important. This attention to design, this feeling, will bring people here and bring people back which will make the space a success and the business behind it profitable.”

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Most commercial spaces (or schools or churches) built after 1979 or so have less inspiring things to say. Something more like, “America is fading and making a profit in it is so hard today. This bland, builder’s-grade structure will do well enough. It’ll keep investment costs and overhead low, and through this approach the space will have an easier time being a success and it won’t be so hard for the business behind it to become profitable.”

Both these stories that spaces can tell you make sense, logical sense. But one story makes life better, and America better, and industry and craftsmanship and so much more so so much better.

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The Terrace theater is like seven minutes from where I live, and one minute from the hospital my sister was born in. I don’t recall having ever been there before it closed in the late 1990s. But it still stands there today, tired and tattered within a parking lot growing so much wild, weedy greenery it looks like those “Earth After Mankind” Discovery Channel specials.

Sigh.

Apparently at The Terrace there was a TV Lounge for macho husbands to sit and watch sports games and such while their wives watched the latest chick-flick weepies in the theater proper on the big screen.

What a place. What a time…

Northwest Passage – The Road to Twin Peaks

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Northwest Passage, if you didn’t know, was the working title for what would eventually become the very best anything ever: Twin Peaks.

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I was an impressionable and not fully-formed fourteen year-old when the series washed onto the shores of television, wrapping a dead girl in plastic and possessing my mind and spirit ever since like a supernatural demon. My bucket list isn’t terribly long, but touring the series’ shooting locations near Seattle has definitely sat toward the top of it for at least a decade now. Thanks to a Washington state wedding Hurly and I were invited to, my bucket list is now one entry shorter.

Come see what I saw.

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The night before the wedding we stayed at the Salish Lodge and Spa in Snoqualmie, used as the exterior of the hotel where Special Agent Dale Cooper stays while investigating Laura Palmer’s murder.

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The interior scenes in the pilot were shot elsewhere, which made it all the more difficult for the lodge owner’s daughter Audrey to walk in on my breakfast and ask if my palms ever itched. But right below me and my (not) damn fine cup of coffee (cause I can’t really stand coffee) was perhaps Peaks’ most iconic location…

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…The falls outside the Great Northern! Just steps from the spa, the Snoqualmie Falls looked exactly how they do in the series’ opening credits, though perhaps less sepia-tinged. The stunning spray splashed up to my face as the show’s theme song flowed over my ever-humming lips. In this moment Twin Peaks wasn’t just a show, it was real a place after all, and I was in it, at last.

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On the far side of Snoqualmie’s historical district sat the high school where Laura’s classmates learn of her death. I couldn’t get inside since it was summer and shut up tight.

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But I could, and of course did, faithfully re-enact the scene of the un-named Twin Peaks Senior High School teacher running from this door, shrieking with her hands on her face right before the Principal tells the student body to go home and grieve with their families.

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Not five minutes further down the road was the location of the Welcome To Twin Peaks road sign. Right behind Hurly, right where our ruby red rental car parked, that’s where the sign once stood. The summer foliage and mid-morning mist shroud the twinned mountain peaks in the distance compared to the image used in the first shot of the opening credits and on the show’s soundtrack album cover. I might’ve missed the spot altogether, honestly, if it wasn’t for the assistance of the otherwise useless Siri.

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Most of what was used as The Packard Saw Mill closed and collapsed years before, aside from this one building.

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The office for the actual mill was used as the Sheriff’s Office. In the pilot, if you look past Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman you can see the mill right outside the interrogation room windows. The Sheriff’s Department structure, thankfully, hasn’t been torn down yet, although now it houses some sort of outdoor adventure company.

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Next stop was Twede’s Cafe AKA The Double R Diner. The cafe’s interior is now decorated tragically with Tweedy Bird stuffed animals so I refused to sit and order a slice of cherry pie purely on principal.

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Instead I alternated cell phone selfies with D-SLR shots snapped courtesy of Hurly and recited my favorite Double R line of Donna Hayward dialogue. “Why don’t you sit here and hold hands and try and figure it out.”

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Bar-brawly juke joint The Roadhouse was actually filmed using two locations. The interior was a Seattle performing arts center only my iPhone’s eye was able to enjoy.

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The exterior was located outside Snoqualmie and no matter how hard I listened I couldn’t hear Julee Cruise crooning from inside.

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Way out in Washington, far from anyone who might hear Cousin Maddy scream, was the Palmer Family home. Completely blocked from the street by towering bushes and thick brush it was eerie, sneaking through all that green to get a good glimpse, and thinking about all that had gone on inside that house. On the television show they never shot it from an angle that demonstrates  just how hidden the house really is from view, but seeing the truth of it, there was a sinister, symbolic sense to it.

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As our tour wound down, a dreariness came over me. I’d made it as far into a make believe place as is possible and there was an emptiness to that. I couldn’t ever get any deeper into Twin Peaks, or any closer to Cooper, or ever actually ask Audrey if she needed extra help with her amateur investigation into One Eyed Jack’s.

The complete un-realness of something that has always been and felt so real to me was brought to light. And yet, even if the ugly emptiness of the modern world insists on tearing down every last saw mill structure or slapping Tweedy Birds all over its restaurant walls to remind me TV shows are just shows and they live for a while and then they die – Twin Peaks has always felt real to me and amazingly, it still essentially does.

 

Cherry On Top

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

To you she’s maybe just the chick that sang “Buffalo Stance”.

But I had the time and the mind to pay better attention when the 80s were turning into the 90s, and so “Kisses On The Wind” might’ve been a less buzz-worthy follow-up to her name-making smash, but not an unworthy one. And then came the dark “Heart” video which freed Neneh from her green-screen cell and placed her in the brilliant spotlight of David Fincher. And then came the rap clip about AIDS, insidiously infecting the old, cold format of the PSA with the youthful sizzle of MTV so that worrying about HIV became less a matter of Life Or Death but of Hot Or Not.

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Neneh always had too much to worry about, too much to school us all on, to waste her time getting us to majorly like her by cuddling mer-boys or tapping with animated skat cats like her pop diva contemporaries did. She’s been lying pretty low for the past twenty years, but she’ll be rising back up in February with her album Blank Project and she sounds like she’s still got pages of personal and social woes to alert us on.

She might’ve stomped into our world via the dance floor but she’s too urgent and acid-jazzy to bop around in such feelin’-good grooves these days.

However she needs to sound now, whatever she wants to say, I’m listening. Old friends will tell you things no one else can.

The Magic Kingdom

Monday, April 1st, 2013

During our trip to L.A., Hurly understandably needed a break from all the non-stop shopping, so we made an impromptu visit to Disneyland one morning.

The best part about The Magic Kingdom to me is that much of it never changes. Although It’s A Small World was closed for renovations in order to make it less racist/retro/worth it. It seemed the maintenance crews were in the midst of repainting/priming the ride’s facade and I thought the wintery colorlessness made everything all the more striking.

The last time I’d been to Disneyworld I don’t think Captain EO had even come out. There was a 25 year anniversary re-release screening and it was everything that was perfect and absurd about the 80s in under 25 minutes. And also, the audience was way over 80 percent Asian.

My favorite ride was as a kid was The Matterhorn. It maybe still is, although now half the reason is probably cause I’m all about Alps-ish type fonts.

And finally, I finally earned my first ever pair of MousketEars!

Everyone called me by my middle name, Scott, when I was a kid, so that’s what I had the grey-haired lady stitch into the back of my cap.

When she took it off the embroidery machine and showed it to me she exclaimed, “Oh, that looks real nice!” Maybe she says that to all the boys, but something in her voice made me believe it completely.

L.A. Story pt. 2

Friday, March 1st, 2013

My body-clock remained on Minneapolis time our entire stay in Los Angeles, which meant I’d wake up at 5:30 each morning, with empty hours to fill before any worthwhile shop would bother opening. So crazily early on Saturday morning we drove to the Chateau Marmont for an old-Hollywood style breakfast.

Two summers ago I’d slowly read a book all about the legendary hotel, so it was interesting to see it in person. It was more Gothic-y and Grandma-ish than I’d thought, but it was a dreamy reminder of the beauty that comes from keeping something the same, for years and years and years.

After I ordered my almond-crusted french toast, I tested the service bell on the wall behind me in the restaurant/bar and wondered how many times Dean and DeNiro and Dunaway might have done the same thing.

Once regular business hours resumed we hit Heath Ceramics hard.

Then swung by the other Lawson Fenning location where I flirted with at least five different chairs, especially this mesh ‘n leather one.

Since chairs don’t ever seem to stash that well into carry-on bags though, I opted instead for this vintage, volcanic-rock pot.

As far as our visit to Charlie’s Angels Headquarters, here’s a close-up of the bolt-holes where the Townsend Detective Agency sign had once hung to!

But the iconic building that was once the pretend home to the sexy sleuthing of Tiffany Wells, Kelly Garrett and the Munroe sisters is now a G-Damned vacuum store.

What a fucking karate-kick in the gut.

During our visit Hurly said, “I guess it’s true. You can’t go home again.” No, I can’t. And neither can Sabrina or Julie or Bosley! Obviously I miss everything about 1980 all the time, but never moreso than the day I stood, slump-shouldered, under that moronic Miele logo.

Ouch.

L.A. Story pt. 1

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

A lifetime ago I lived in Los Angeles for half a year. I’m nothing if not a nostalgist, so it finally seemed time to book a flight to LAX so I could stroll down Memory Lane/Ventura Boulevard.

The dozen or so retail spots that made up the bulk of the itinerary, however, weren’t a part of my past, but the path to future treasures, I hoped.

Straight from the airport, Hurly chauffeur-ed me to Silver Lake, where the first shop we stopped at was The Mohawk General Store. They had a Gitman Vintage shirt I almost bought, and bundles of sage to burn, and liquid soaps so super-natural there were actually chunks o’ stuff floating within.

Next up was the first of two Lawson Fenning furnishings stores we visited. The Silver Lake store was more affordable and antique-filled. They stocked incredible lamps, and hempy pillows, and tarnished wind chimes. So so So-Cal, I so totally loved it!

The store I was most excited to check out was RTH Shop, with its New Mexican brand of crafty chic. I was scolded by two separate staff members for taking photos, but I’m a rebellious little rascal when I want to be.

I thought I might buy all sorts of smocks and suede totes from RTH, but in the end I just picked up this over-sized greige pin I’ll probably fix to a duffle bag or display in a dish or something.

Sometimes a site is worth it just for its signage alone. Fred Segal’s font and ivy-covered storefront are throwback-y classics, and shap-shooting musts.

Our second day in L.A. brought us to the Santa Monica pier, where further font-fueled photo shoots were mounted.

And then!!! Not until we arrived in L.A. did the lightbulb go off in my head that we totally needed to visit the location they used as the exterior of The Townsend Agency in Charlie’s Angels, and shoot me in front of it for fourteen or fifteen hours.

Before we got around to that though, we drove past The Sportsmen’s Lodge near where I used to live in Studio City, and I was almost certain it’s where they filmed the episode of Angels where Jill goes undercover as a hotel maid, Sabrina poses as a near-sighted waitress, and Kelly makes a joke about Pat Nixon and a pot of chili.

So I had Hurly pull a sharp right into the parking lot, and we stormed inside. I don’t know for certain yet if The Lodge was indeed where they’d shot that episode, but the place was so gloriously stuck in 1977 still that the clues certainly seemed to add up, don’t they, Bosley?

Tune in tomorrow-ish to see what happens when I finally arrive outside the Angels’ office. It’s quite the shocker!

Forget Tomorrow: Fuji’s XF1

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

It’s been a great while since I’ve pined for or posted about a camera. I’m not even positive that now is an appropriate time.

It’s possibly super inappropriate because…I already have two Canon digital cameras circa 2010, and Hurly has a digital SLR, and I shoot on 35mm film when I can handle the hassle, and everyone ‘n I just shoots everything on their phone these days anyways, and most of all: What does it matter what one shoots an image with today when the image can, and certainly will, be Instagrammed into faux importance anyways?

But here’s why it might be a completely appropriate time for me to pine for another camera. This Fuji XF1 exists.

And it looks exactly what everything should look like: Today making out with Yesterday, on a train, in a tunnel.

And, I don’t like my two newer Canon cameras and sorta never have. Neither of them takes photos as reliable or well as the older, more archaic Canon PowerShot A530 I had back in 2005 (oh, how its images glowed!) or the Nikon Coolpix 3100 I had in 2003. The flash on my newer Canons are always out of control, yet the images too dark. The colors always Kermit-y and sickly.

So…Is now an appropriate time to pick up a new camera? Maybe not.

But in a post-invention-of-the-iPhone world, it might not ever again be an appropriate time to pick up a new/actual camera. That’s what Today making out with Tomorrow would look like, and it’s icky and it’s ugly.

And Yesterday and I can’t sit back and let life look like that.

Stocking Unstuffing

Friday, December 28th, 2012

The thing with me is: No one, not even the great and powerful Hurly, can ever be sure which gifts will really wow me, and possibly earn their way into the hallowed archives of The Treasury. Here’s what tickled my 2012 fancy and made the final, blog-worthy cut!

I don’t know if any of these Asian candies will even enter my mouth. But their packaging is totally eastern on the front, and then Helvetica-banal western on the sides. I told Hurly they belonged in a movie I could’ve once made about a sour but sweet-toothed U.N. representative circa 1973.

Hurly played no part in the gifting of this vintage Madonna pin. My sister did. Since, after all, it was she who I’d taught the dance in the “Vogue” video to after I’d carefully learned it myself back when we were kids.

This Welsh Corgi figure was the present that brought the biggest smile to my face for the longest spell. It looks just like our goofy guard dog, Aesop, and I knew instantly it was a gift I’d have laying on the various dressers and bookshelves of every home I’ll ever live in until the day I die.

I also got some carrot-y scented hair gunk from the brand that has the same name as my dog. I didn’t smile as big or long about it. It sometimes takes a lot to melt my freezing little heart.

A few Christmases ago I received a Mexican Bingo game that I love playing with my niece and nephew because it teaches me Spanish. I can now say Watermelon, Canoe, and Black Man in Spanish – La Sandia, La Chalupa, El Negrito. This set of rhyming dominoes might be less educational for me, but my nephew turned six on Christmas so he and I should get a few years worth of joy out of them.

One night after one of my niece’s school plays we went out for pizza and some of her sporty schoolmates were wearing these pom pom hats with the name of their school on it. I liked the retro, suburban, athletic look of them, said so, and now I have one for myself; allowing me to accessorize just like the jock-y, hockey-loving boy that I totally never was back in my own school days.

This tooth brush’s jet black bristles are made partly of charcoal, which is a natural purifier. Color me intrigued!

I don’t know what I love more. Gymnastics, or playing Wii, or watching Shawn Johnson “Aw, shucks” her way through the Norman Rockwell poster that is her life. Now I can combine all those loves, plus the thrill of “designing” my own video game gymnast with this possibly life-affirming Wii game.

And then lastly, a happy pack of HawCakes. Whatever those are. The first ingredient is something called haw, if that at all helps.

I hope that your holidays were wondrous and filled with pins of pop stars you learned the dances of when you were 14, and candies you’d make movies of, if you ever made movies. I am pretty positive 2013 is gonna be better than 2012 was. It’s gotta be.

Santa Tracker 2011

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

St. Nick must’ve sent a team of his elves to Mumbai this past year to set-up a satellite workshop in order to stuff my 2011 stocking. Cause he ended up leaving me a stash of beautiful Indian treasures this Christmas, like this nano-sized pill box and citrus-scented soap.

And this sparkling vintage cricket ball!

My household Santa rejected this box of Elephant brand noodles as an “official” Christmas present, so I was handed it, unwrapped/unceremoniously, early on the 24th as a reject gift. But its packaging was so cheery and charming, it’s earned “official” status in my heart.

I don’t drink soda pops all that much anymore, but I still have a super strong sweet tooth for unique, extinct, or international soft drink (bottles). We’ll see what this CocaCola branded, coconut water-colored Limca goes down like.

After departing India, Santa’s sleigh must’ve stopped in England somewhere along his journey to my house to pick up this vintage postcard book featuring the small town in England in which I was born. Although it was a gift for me, it was my Mom and Dad who most enjoyed flipping through the photographic reminders of the first place they called home as husband and wife.

Santa didn’t forget to Buy American this year though, and these Thurmoc Slippers from Hickorees are not only puppy belly-soft, inside and out, but they’re packaged in the greatest, grandfather-ish box.

Kris, Kelly, and Sabrina showed up on Christmas too…

With a 34-year old piece of gum and a sticker of Kris on one of her earliest cases.

Petrified, deadstock chewing gum is quickly becoming the hipster sweet of the year, if no other blog’s told you so just yet.

Season’s Screenings: Downhill Racer

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Any day now it’s gonna be snow sport season across half the globe, so speed-screening the 1969 flick Downhill Racer is just the trick to slicken any stud’s winter style up quick – on the slopes and off.

In Racer, Robert Redford does his usual stoic-dick brand of schtick as Dave Chappelet, the newest member of America’s then-uncelebrated ski team.

From his dead-end hometown in Colorado to various mountaintop hamlets throughout the Alps, Chappelet’s wardrobe centers simply around sporty, proto-70s basics.

The powder blue chambrays and sherpa-lined overcoats of Chappelet’s farmboy past pair up effortlessly with the showier swank of his jet-setting future, through high-necked sweaters and mirror-lensed shades.

Essentially, as long as you stick to Chappelet and his teammate’s main palette of navy, red, and white, you’ll whip your winter look up to top speed in record time.

True champs will dare to go that extra mile and get their frostbitten hands on some old-school aftershaves, a perwinkle period van, and a Swedish snowbunny or two to slide around the slopes with.

Get ready ‘n set all like that and Coach guarantees your style’ll earn imaginary medals all winter long!