Friday, June 10, 2016

Brand Spotlight: Patagonia Sundresses

For me summer is synonymous with sundresses! Every year I look forward to adding a Patagonia dress or two to my collection.

During the dog days of summer, I am happiest in a cute dress for several reasons:
  • They are comfortable.
  • They let me be active.
  • I look pulled together without trying, because all I actually did was pull a dress over my head.

With so many outdoor festivals in Ann Arbor dresses are a great go-to piece. I often ride my bike to Top of the Park in a sundress with shorts underneath. It kind of makes me feel like an 8-year-old — in a good way!

One of my favorite styles this year is the Patagonia West Ashley. It is a soft cotton knit with a fun print in either green or blue tones. Don’t let the way it looks on the hanger fool you, the cinching elastic at the waist gives it a flattering drape and the cutout in the back gives it that touch of extra interest.

Another dress I am digging this season is the Kamala Maxi Skirt. This is extra versatile because you can wear it as a strapless dress or as a skirt. It is roomy and has a festival vibe to it.

Finally there is Margot. The Margot has been a mainstay of the Patagonia collection for several seasons. The faux wrap bodice and to-the-knee hem flatters a variety of body types. In the past I have worn it on a lazy farmer's market morning with flip flops, or dressed it up and wore it to dinner with strappy sandals, and even to a garden wedding with wedges.

This list is just a sampling of all of the dresses that Bivouac carries in the Women’s Tech department. We also have a large selection from other top quality outdoor brands such as prAna, Lolë, Toad and Co., The North Face, and Kuhl. Drop in soon while we still have a full selection of colors and styles!

~ Krysia Hepatica, Women’s Tech Buyer and Marketing Manager

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fashion Meets Function

Finding a man who genuinely enjoys wearing business clothing everyday is like finding the sun in Michigan; it happens, but not often enough. All across the world have men suit up (literally) daily in stiff, unbreathable fabrics regardless of the weather or their body type. On an 85 degree day I can’t imagine that they feel anything but discomfort.

Fortunately, newer brands like Mizzen & Main and State & Liberty have recognized this problem, and decided to do something about it.

“We are tradition evolved.”

This motto decorates the top of their “about” page, exemplifying their mission to take the classic business style and fit and push it to the next level to fit the needs of today’s men with today’s apparel technology. There are four major benefits to their dress shirts:

  1. Their shirts are made perfect for an athletic build to help avoid any awkward fits that some other over-tailored shirts might have. There are few things worse than putting on a shirt and having it fit in the torso but not the shoulders or vice versa, so avoiding that problem altogether with a superior athletic fit is great.
  2. The four way stretch material directly supports the athletic fit by helping the shirt to move the same way that an athlete would. The result is an ability to move and stay comfortable all day long without your clothing holding you back.
  3. The moisture wicking technology in the fabric eliminates one of summer’s biggest problems: sweat stains. On a hot summer day, sweat stains tend to shoot your confidence in the foot only a few hours into the day, and they can be almost impossible to do anything about. Luckily Mizzen+Main dress shirts are made specifically to serve you no matter the weather.
  4. These shirts are machine washable. I repeat, they’re machine washable. Dry cleaning is inconvenient and expensive, but not washing your dress clothes often is unavoidable. The material in these shirts solves this problem, and deletes another thing from your to-do list.

*this photo is the property of Mizzen and Main

While their dress shirts are their first and most popular line, Mizzen+Main also offer a nice variety of polos, pants, outerwear, and t-shirts, so that you can complete your wardrobe for weekend days too. They’re fast becoming a favorite of tons of professional athletes...and pretty much anyone who tries their clothing on.

*this photo is the property of Mizzen and Main

When the company is created by two Michigan grads you know it’s gotta be good. After becoming frustrated with dress shirt after dress shirt that didn’t fit quite right, the two creators of State and Liberty decided to design the best shirt for people who are athletically built. Their shirts have a great tailored fit, but leave a little extra room in the shoulders, chest, and arms, so you don’t have to stop lifting to fit into them.

*the creators of State & Liberty (this photo is the property of State & Liberty)

There is no shortage to the advantages that these shirts provide, so I’ve come up with a list of 10 reasons you should wear State and Liberty.

  1. They are temperature regulating, which means no more hot summer days at work.
  2. They are odor resistant, so you’ll never have to apologize to the person sitting a little too close for comfort on the subway.
  3. They’re a local brand, so you could stand on the corner of state and liberty while wearing State and Liberty.
  4. They’re wrinkle free, so you’ll look professional no matter what your day has in store.
  5. They have four way stretch to make them comfortable all day long.
  6. Did I mention that these guys went to the University of Michigan???
  7. They are moisture wicking to prevent those pesky sweat stains that happen to the best of us.
  8. Pro athletes are loving these shirts, and that means we should love them too.
  9. They are handcrafted, making them more unique than most of the dress shirts out there.
  10. We sell them! If that’s not enough of a reason I don’t know what is.

*this photo is the property of State & Liberty

These two brands have acknowledged one of the biggest problems in all of fashion: uncomfortable clothing. And then, they decided to do something about it. By combining fashionable and well-tailored designs with functional fit and material, they have created a new style of clothing that is not only professional, but also smart. It’s so smart it’s almost frustrating that it hasn’t existed before this.

~Natalie White

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Michigan IceFest

Climbing... in Michigan? No way, you might say--it’s all flat and/or snowy. That is not entirely the case, however: at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, there is world-class ice climbing to be found.

It is true that most of the state is geologically unsuitable for climbing. The entire Lower Peninsula (and parts of the eastern Upper Peninsula) is dominated by a large limestone basin centered on the ‘palm’ of the Mitten. This is topped by a heterogenous mixture of gravel, boulders, sand, and dirt washed out from the glacial advances and retreats which created the Great Lakes-- it’s great for farming, but certainly not climbing. The Upper Peninsula is very different. It is geologically more similar to the Canadian Shield, a formation of mostly igneous and metamorphic rock which includes the oldest rocks found in North America. These rocks and their minerals are what make the UP such good mining country; some of the most spectacular copper deposits in the world are found up there. Parts of the central UP include sandstone beds which date to around 500 million years old, known as the Munising Formation, named for the town on South Bay (“Munising” itself is derived from an Ojibway word, “Munisii”, meaning “near the island”): these are the aforementioned Pictured Rocks. In the summer, these cliffs grace Lake Superior with breathtaking beauty, delighting hikers and boaters alike, and in the winter, they provide some of the best ice climbing in the United States.

I asked Black Diamond athlete Dawn Glanc why the ice climbing up here was so good: she told me that “the shittier a rock is to climb regularly, the better it is for ice climbing”. Regular rock climbers would not want to climb sandstone, or any sedimentary rock for that matter: these tend to crumble apart due to the fact that they are cemented together by one or several minerals. Igneous and metamorphic rocks like granite or basalt make for much safer rock climbing, because they were forged together by heat and pressure rather than low-temperature chemical reactions. These don’t make for good ice climbing, though, because there is no space for water to go, much less to freeze into ice. Sedimentary rocks, especially sandstones, make for excellent ice climbing: the spaces in between the grains of sand hold water, and these spaces are filled up all year by rain and snowmelt. When the temperature drops (as it particularly does in the UP right on the shore of the largest body of fresh water in the world), this water freezes, and as you might remember from intro chem, water expands when it freezes; it has nowhere to go but to seep out of the cliffs. This means that climbers can experience spectacular routes without damaging the rock, of which the National Park Service highly approves.

Photo from Michigan IceFest’s Facebook page.

IceFest was started around 25 years ago as a pretty small and low-key affair. In contrast, this year’s festival had over 200 people registered. The festival was originally been held in a local restaurant, Sydney’s, but this year American Legion Post 131 was generous enough to tolerate an incursion of a bunch of people nuts enough to climb frozen waterfalls.

The festival was February 10-14, but the Biv Crew didn’t make an appearance until very early Friday morning. Being an outdoor gear shop we, of course, intended to camp. Thursday evening after work, Beniece, Hunter, and myself (Helen) headed north. In the face of the windy, snowy weather, we made fairly good time… however, we still arrived in Munising at about 2:45 in the morning. We found a spot on the side of Sand Point Road and set up camp: Hunter in his Hilleberg Nammatj (and a bivy sack), and Beniece and I in the borrowed North Face VE-25 Summit Series mountaineering tent. She and I were also very comfortable (surface-wise) on some borrowed ExPed MegaMat, however, still cold. She had borrowed a -20* The North Face sleeping bag from our manager Kate, and I was double-bagging it in two 15* North Face Cat’s Meows. We both wore many layers AND gloves to bed.

Friday morning we were greeted by a snowplow driver with a very thick Yooper accent, who admonished us to “get movin, eh, afore the rangers show up”. It turned out that we were behind the Ranger Station… whoops. Protip: you need a backcountry camping permit for Pictured Rocks, since the regular sites are closed during the winter, and parking lots are not legal campsites. We therefore hightailed it into town.

Thankfully, there was coffee and bagels waiting for us at the American Legion. We registered, though Beniece and I were disappointed to learn that the Ice Climbing Teaser (geared towards people who had never before ice climbed) had filled up. Hunter and Beniece got their climbing demo gear provided by Downwind Sports (of Houghton and Marquette), and I looked into finding a real campsite. Because our class had filled up, we had the morning free: we went to go check out the campground which an IceFest volunteer had recommended to me. Walking back to the car, we came upon two guys around our age next to our car, with their stove out and cooking pancakes in the windbreak created by the cars. “You guys have the right idea, “ I remarked. We all introduced ourselves, and pancakes were exchanged for homemade granola bars. Brian and Eric, it turned out, worked at Downwind Sports in Houghton, where they went to Michigan Tech. They were also planning on camping, though in their car (Sasha the Ford Focus station wagon). They planned to go climbing at the Three Sisters that afternoon, so we exchanged numbers and figured we’d meet up after lunch.

We thus headed out into the worsening weather to look into the Furnace Bay Campground. That turned out to be Very Closed: it looked like it hadn’t been plowed yet this winter. Hunter got out to see how deep it was; he was itching to drive his Jeep Rubicon into some exciting terrain, but the snow was a bit too deep. We then headed to the Park Headquarters in town to ask more specific directions. It turned out that the Park Service ranger was stuck in the whiteout conditions on the road, the Forest Service ranger couldn’t issue the right permit, and looked pretty skeptical when we said we wanted to camp. It was barely ten o’clock, so we figured we’d just go outside and play and figure out lodging later. Hunter decided to take a nap, and Beniece and I decided to check out the hall with the various vendors and representatives where we  saw our regular Patagonia representative Erin! While refilling on coffee, we ran into Brian and Eric again. They were about to take the shuttle out to Sand Point Road where the climbing was going on, so we decided to join them. Beniece grabbed her climbing demo gear and I grabbed the snowshoes I was demoing from MSR, and we headed out.

setting up to climb

Unfortunately throughout the day, the weather continued to worsen. Beniece had been hoping to meet up with Chelsea, a former Biv staffer who lives in Marquette, but the state police were about the close M-28 between Marquette and Munising. Another Bivouac staff member, Emily, had been celebrating Valentine’s Day with her boyfriend Steve, and they were trapped in Christmas (a tiny town between Marquette and Munising). The wind was picking up and the temperature dropping. And even after lunch in the nice warm restaurant, Beniece was still freezing. Hunter, being certified in Wilderness First Aid, brought up that he thought Beniece was exhibiting signs of hypothermia. She was upset, because she wanted to climb some more, and I was alarmed, because how on earth would we safely camp this evening? As we sat drinking cocoa and looking out at the view of whiteout conditions, we called it. We would give up camping and try to find somewhere to stay in a hotel that night.

Beniece and I posted up in the Legion while Hunter went climbing, and I called every hotel in town. We managed to find the only accommodation available: a cabin on the bay with room for our whole party (if the weather allowed them all to get here). We secured the place, and now that the main worry of alcohol-induced hypothermia had been alleviated, had some delicious Ore Dock Brewing beer. That evening Beniece and I attended a boot-fitting clinic run by none other than Henry Barber, a pioneer in the world of free-solo climbing. He is now in his 60’s and works as a representative for Asolo. We asked a couple of questions about fitting boots on other people, and told him that we worked at Bivouac. “Oh, I know Ed and Randy,” he chuckled. He also declared at our feet were “perfect”, that is, both of them are the same size.

Beniece and Henry Barber, getting fitted for some Asolo alpine boots

After the clinic, we continued to be amazed by Henry Barber in his presentation about two of his more famous solo first ascents. He talked about his still-unrepeated climb of the Vettisfossen, a 900-foot frozen waterfall in Norway, and his dangerous ascent of Korea Peak in what was then the USSR. We were also blown away by Dawn Glanc’s presentation chronicling her many first ascents in Iceland. She had decided to look into that country because her grandfather, “Grandpa Kono”, had been stationed in Keflavik during WWII with the Nav and had an interesting perception of Icelandic geography.

After some delicious free beer from Ore Dock Brewing, we decamped to the cabin, and it was glorious. There was a gas fireplace, a big kitchen, and it was generally the sort of thing you might see in a Pure Michigan ad.

Hunter demonstrated rappelling techniques off the rafters, Beniece finally declared that she was warm, and I poured myself a drink and relaxed. We did contact our new friends, though, as they had declared that they were car-camping and the temperature had dropped (before the wind chill!) to -14. They eventually joined us, and we spent a convivial evening pretending to camp by sleeping on the floor in our sleeping bags in front of the nice cozy fire.

Hunter demonstrates rappelling techniques

After a much clearer drive than they expected, some of our other friends arrived around 9 in the morning. Beniece went climbing with our new friends. They snowshoed about 6 miles to their climb and had a good afternoon of climbing. After a nap, Matt and Hunter headed out as well. I, being into staying on the ground, decided to snowshoe around Miner’s Falls. I got a little bit stuck on the side of the road and got pulled out by some nice gentlemen with a very interesting vehicle.

An interesting vehicle indeed. They had been ferrying climbers out to the falls. Apparently they made this contraption themselves!

Hunter and Matt get the prize for the most exciting afternoon: they rescued someone! They were at a real waterfall, not just a seep, so some liquid water was still flowing down a sort of ice pipe. The belayer of the other climbing pair had somehow managed to throw the rope down the hole without either of them noticing, so the guy rappelling down had a wet and frozen rope in his belay device, and wet, frozen gloves. They threw some gloves up to him while they and Armaan, a former Biv staffer, got ready to climb up. They ended up having to cut the frozen rope and replace his with their extra. All in all, we made some friends and used some cool new gear. Bivouac highly recommends IceFest!

The Base Camp tent from MSR.

  • Helen DeMarsh (salesperson)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Places We Want to Visit


Thailand! Inspired by a friends recent decision to go to Thailand, we decided to add it to our bucket list too, and we found some tips and tricks to help make the trip a little bit smoother. 

*Check our Instagram for "Places We Want to Visit" every Sunday night!


Monday, April 11, 2016

Cool (Trends) for the Summer (by Demi Lovato)

Cropped Flares

Every summer trends list I’ve seen, from Harper’s to WhoWhatWear to InStyle, has one item at the top: cropped flare jeans, your newest go-to jean. Stars, like always rock-chic Alexa Chung, the eternally cool Zoe Kravitz, and even America’s Sweetheart Reese Witherspoon have been spotted sporting them, and for good reason. This funky amalgamation of two classic trends is notable in its simplicity. It’s the new retro: Audrey Hepburn with a ’70s twist that comes off as distinctly current.

The beauty of the cropped flare is that it can be worn in many ways; premium denim brands have highlighted styles with fringed bottoms, heavy distressing, ones with edgy pockets, and others with an exaggerated flare. They work in all washes, which means that there isn’t just one standard way to wear these flares. They can look chic with a heel that pops or casual with a fashion-forward sneaker, like the platform Superga.  

While this style is versatile, there are certain rules for rocking it. The crops should hit right above the ankle, distinguishing them from a traditional flare. Luckily, the popularity of this style means that, depending on the brand, you can find the length that’s right for you, whether you are 5’1” or 6 feet tall.

This trend is already on its way to becoming a staple in everyday wear, because it offers a little bit of everything.


The stripe has gone through countless iterations throughout fashion history. In medieval times the pattern was seen as evil, and reserved for prisoners and clowns. Centuries later the sailor suit came into fashion, and every beachgoer looked their best in jaunty striped bathing costumes. Then again in the ‘30s, Coco Chanel co-opted the sailor’s stripes for her own line, loving the minimalism of the style, and stripes became a staple of every fashion-forward wardrobe.

No more are stripes reserved for the country club or the yacht; this season stripes are making a resurgence, as fashionistas are putting away their fall flannels and searching for the perfect tops to pair with their new cropped flares. Horizontal stripes are making their way into rompers and basic tees as the new neutral, worn with anything from ‘70s-inspired white flares to bright florals. While this trend can be an opportunity to resurface your classic Gap boatneck stripes, brands are developing updated versions of this tried-and-true staple. Designers like Armani and Prada featured the trends in their spring shows, showcasing wild striped trench coats and sequined striped draped dresses. But the resurrection of this classic style isn’t just coming from fashion’s elite. Brands like Free People and Philanthropy are coming out with striped tanks that tie, open in the back, or feature delicate keyhole cutouts in the front. Clearly, these aren’t your grandma’s stripes.

The beauty of this trend is its simplicity; there are endless options for finding the stripe that fits your style, and there is no wrong way to rock them.  

Denim Dresses

All-denim looks are no longer just for the farm or Canadian prom — this season  denim dresses are the perfect throw-on piece.  This style is usually worn casual; a light-wash or chambray shift dress paired with sandals or peep toe wedges is both breezy and fashion-forward. Although denim began as the working class pant of the ‘40s and ‘50s, as the style has evolved, so has the way we wear denim. The denim dress is a classic iteration of this life cycle, and this season there are many ways to wear this trend.

For a Nashville vibe, pair a brown belt and suede booties with Rag and Bone’s Barcelona chambray shift. For a more retro ’90s look, throw on Mink Pink’s wraparound dress with platforms and round Rayban’s. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can follow Alexa Chung’s lead and rock a dark-wash shift with pastel heels. Really, there isn’t a wrong way to wear this style...let your imagination soar!

*Check out all of these great summer trends in products that we have in store!

The cropped flare by 7 For All Mankind

A striped tank by Philanthropy


A denim dress by Blank NYC 

  • Natalie Gadbois (salesperson)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Brand Spotlight: New Kiehl's Products

Between paper writing, daily sun salutations, and campus jobs, it seems almost impossible to find time for a healthy skincare routine. However, that is exactly why self-care is necessary—just because you’re running on coffee and two hours of sleep doesn’t mean your skin has to show it, right?

The not so secret solution at Bivouac is Kiehl’s, and we are loving their brand new products. The most recent launch is the Nightly-Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate. This is perfect for you if you want a quick and efficient defoliant. Use this concentrate nightly to speed up the cell turnover process to have restored radiance by morning. Over time, your skin texture and tone will be refined and your fine lines will disappear.

This product is perfect for even the most sensitive of skin. All you do is apply one drop of the concentrate  onto cleansed and toned skin before you moisturize.

The key ingredient is Quinoa Husk Extract sourced sustainably by Kiehl’s from 13 communities in Bolivia to prevent over-farming and depleting the soil of its nutrients. This is product is not only amazing for your skin but also great for the environment.

Tip: Use along with the Midnight Recovery Concentrate for maximum radiance.
If you have more time and are looking for more of a spa-like experience to exfoliate your skin, and are looking for an extra boost of energy, the new Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque is perfect for you. This mask brightens and energizes the look of dull and tired skin to restore a healthy and rosy appearance.

This product contains the natural ingredients of turmeric and cranberry seed extract, which team up to provide the skin with necessary antioxidants, improve the brightness of skin, and provide natural exfoliation.

I love using this mask on Monday mornings to start the week off right or any day I need an extra boost of radiance. This mask is best used on cleansed and toned skin. You apply a visible layer to the skin and allow to dry for five or ten minutes. I always apply the mask and brush and floss my teeth to be time efficient in the mornings. Then, my favorite part, you rinse with warm water and gently massage the skin to allow the cranberry seeds to exfoliate the skin. Recommended for use up to three times per week.

To maximize brightness, pair this product with the Daily Reviving Concentrate!
This last mask I would recommend to anyone that lives in a busy city like Ann Arbor. The Cilantro and Orange Extract Pollutant Defending Masque defends and replenishes to reduce the visible effects of pollution such as dullness and not only leaves the skin protected, but radiant and renewed as well.

The natural ingredients of Cilantro and Orange extract help replenish the skin’s barrier and add the necessary antioxidants to protect the skin by blocking the damage caused by pollutants.

This mask is a night-time mask to be used up to three times a week (feel free to use with the Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radience Masque, just not both in the same day!). It should be used as the final, leave-on step of your nighttime routine. You apply a visible layer to skin and let the skin absorb the mask for five minutes. Then, tissue off, pat in excess, and leave a thin protective layer on skin. This will work into your skin overnight.

Make sure you make time to pamper yourself with Kiehl’s, your skin will thank you!
  • Bailey Jenkins (Assistant Manager, Women’s Fashion)