Nerd Press owner and artist Kelly Parsell (kellyparsell.com) was hanging out with her friends in Logan Square.
Could you tell me about your dress and where you got it?
The dress is from a Goodwill store near my mom’s house in the western suburbs. My mom and I were shopping together when I found it, and she disliked the dress until I tried it on. It was $7.99, which I thought was a splurge for thrifting. I debated a bit before buying it because of the price.
What thoughts and feelings does this dress evoke in you? What was the most fun place you wore it in?
Fun, whimsical, carefree, creative, colorful, happy, nostalgic, 1980s. The most fun place that I wore it would probably be in Detroit. I love that city!
Could you also tell me a bit about your accessories?
I bought my leather bag at a market in Oaxaca, Mexico nine years ago. It is my favorite. The strap is just now starting to tear, though, so I will need to get it repaired soon. My necklace is from one of the best places in Detroit called MBAD’s African Bead Museum. It is amazing! Google it and go there! I was actually wearing the same dress when I bought the necklace, and I thought they worked well together. My John Wayne and Lil Wayne earrings are part of artist Serene Bacigalupi’s collection called “Leroy’s Place.” She works out of New Orleans, which is where I purchased them, along with many more of her clever, laugh-inducing pieces. And I just purchased my Sam Edelman Circus sneakers from T.J.Maxx with a gift card I got a while back for my birthday. I love the velcro.
Do you usually thrift your clothes? Why? What’s your thrifting process like?
I would say that I typically thrift about ninety percent of my clothing and accessories. I think the main reasons are because I’m cheap and I also really love the search. Sometimes I’ll spend a whole afternoon getting lost in the racks. I usually end up buying items that fit me well—I always try on before purchasing—and that have an unusual pattern, texture, color or quirky detail. In addition to clothes, I do really well thrifting accessories, especially necklaces. I love pieces that transport me to another place or time and that I can combine to build unexpected pairings over and over again.
How do your clothes relate to your art?
I think my clothes are very much related to my art. Both are playful, vibrant and, at times, humorous. You can see much of this in the colors and text of my Nerd Press [etsy.com/shop/nerdpress] greeting cards, silkscreened baby bodysuits and custom pet portraits. I tend to use a lot of bright watercolors, patterns and puns. In my personal art work, I’m interested in toeing the line between childhood and adulthood, which I can also see reflected in my style. If a shirt has a unicorn on it or something that reminds me of growing up, I will most likely buy it and work it into my wardrobe. Most importantly, though, with my art and fashion, I try to just be me and to not take myself too seriously.
—Interview and photograph by Isa Giallorenzo.
Journalist Isa Giallorenzo was born in São Paulo, Brazil and has elected Chicago as her beloved home since 2009. She runs the street-style blog Chicago Looks and wants to see this town become one of the fashion capitals of the world.