Halloween-eve-in' It

Yay! It is now officially socially acceptable for me to dress the way I do!

Unfortunately, the odd looks will resume on Thursday. 'Til then, I am trying to make the most of it by going to two Halloween events. Tonight I am planning to go to the Students' Union...and tomorrow I am intending to do the same!

My wings are coming along alright, they're better than I expected them to be knowing my clumsy craft skills, but not as good as I imagined they should be. I've basically chopped up a purple feather boa and added a few more feathers in red and black and pink so that it's not all purple. But it is mostly purple.

If you haven't already got a party to go to tomorrow, I have a few suggestions for you!

1. If you're in London, go to Swap-a-rama Razzmatazz's Halloween Swap Or Die (discovered via Daily Candy). It's a clothes-swap party themed to the occasion and I imagine some quite monstrous outfits will result from the proceedings!

2. If you are not in London you just might be in a country where you can actually buy Pocky locally, in which case you can make ordinarily-delicious desserts spooky a la Not Martha at design*sponge. I think it's a much more sensible idea than buying themed cakes and biscuits from the supermarket, which are invariably rank.

3. Now that the Buffy Sing-Along tour has been cancelled (Woe! I was so hoping for it to arrive on these shores soon!), the only option left for Buffy fans is to invite all our friends over, turn up the volume, and annoy the neighbours. I think October 31st is the perfect time to hold such an event, and if I was not otherwise occupied, I would run out, buy the DVD and do it! My parents are getting a new TV tomorrow (for free! Yay for winning raffles!) as well, so the temptation is definitely there! The team behind the event have produced a DIY kit to help your mini sing-along go with a bang (literaly - there are party poppers in the kit), but most of the items can be bought from any party shop, if you fear postage from the US!

4. Buy yourself a Halloween present, or make yourself a costume, just to wear around the house! I've been wearing costumes just to amuse myself for years. Once I wore wings everyday for what was probably at least a week, and my shoulders felt really strange when I'd taken them off, like they were still there in spirit!

Now I'm off to glue on some more feathers, and don my tiara. <3


Halloween Treats, Gifts, and Other Delights

Some people celebrate Christmas in their hearts all year round. I do my best to avoid them, since I celebrate Halloween in my heart, all year round. Despite my often aforementioned fear of looking like the holiday personified, I do really enjoy it, most of the time.

There have been some disappointing times recently, and I am determined to make up for them this year. I am currently suffering the dilemma of costume. Shall I be a witch, a black cat, or a dark faerie? These are the only three costumes I have ever worn. I live in the UK. Our costumes have to fit the theme - it's not just a general fancy-dress night like it seems to be in the USA. But I love witches, black cats and dark faeries, so it's okay.

Yesterday I was in a local charity shop where I saw an absolutely amazing dress. It looked like a ice skater's dress, and it was all black, with a glittery bodice and a puffy skirt with black lace netting underneath. I went to try it on and got really excited. It looked amazing, and I thought I had found the basis for this year's dark faerie costume. Then I turned around and saw that the zip wasn't done up all the way, and no matter how much I tried it would not be persuaded to close fully - my rib cage was just too big!

I had been mislead by the letter on the hanger ('M') into thinking it could fit. Since falling prey to this cruel trick I have been trying to console myself by looking at the many treats that online stores have served up to tempt us at this time of year.

I am most excited by Sock Dreams' collection of Halloween socks and accessories. I am considering buying my sister some socks for her upcoming birthday and if I do I will add these kitty cat socks to the order for myself, and possibly the spider sock garters - the purple-legged variety of course! Most of their Halloween items are cute and spooky but small, so that they can be worn on an ordinary occasions without the dreaded consquence of personifying Halloween! The Sock Journal blog itself says of the Halloween socks that they: "usually try to avoid novelty socks but these were too cute to pass up this time…" and I am so glad that was the case!

Etsy is celebrating too with a Halloween showcase, updated daily, and a costume contest, which will hopefully see the site flooded with many wonderful costumes! I told you they had a definite dark side! Today I spotted the bride of dr caligari, a black chain and cameo necklace and A Tangled Web We Do Sometimes Weave, a elegantly beautiful spider necklace. I recieved one of Girlontherocks' Stache-o-lantern badges in the October Sampler and they are cute and bound to attract many a puzzled and curious look! Make sure you check out all the seller's shops for other wonderfully spooky delights.

If you're low on cash, Gothic Martha Stewart can help you decorate and the real one can help you dress up, as can e_Diva at Mookychick as she presents Mooky Tips for a DIY Halloween.

I think I have recovered now from the disappointment of failing to fit the dress. I'm off to find my copy of Making Stuff and my purple and gold feather boa so that I can make myself some wings...how does a "dark angel" costume sound?


What Is Wrong With Darning One's Socks?

I have a confession to make.

I darn my socks.

I do not, as is more socially acceptable, throw them out when I get a new pair.

My mum doesn't understand why I bother. Neither does Camilla Morton. I can't remember exactly which book of hers I was flicking through in the bookshop a couple of weeks ago but it was either A Girl for All Seasons (please read the lone review on Amazon.co.uk and tell me whether it is a joke or serious, I am unable to tell) or How to Walk in High Heels. I turned to a section about repairing clothes. She explained how to replace a button, but under the heading for darning socks, wrote dismissively that no one darns socks any more.

At that point I closed the book and put it back on the shelf, rolling my eyes.

I darn my socks.

The fact that I can get five pairs of new socks for £3 at Marks and Spencer means nothing to me.

I like my socks. From the short socks in a multitude of shades of purple, to the knee high and beyond in various versions of stripes. I have a modest collection (I mostly wear tights) but one of which I am proud. I don't want to throw away my pale blue, cream, and silver metallic striped socks just because they get one tiny, pathetic, hole. No! I want to make that hole history with some thread in the right colour, and carry on wearing them.

I also like the planet. I don't want to waste resources just so I never have to dent my thumb on the eye of a needle. I haven't thrown away a sock for years. Some have gone through multiple darnings in different colours (in emergencies, any thread will do), and have joined the retirement collection of socks for emergencies when all others are in the wash. Will I ever throw them away?They can always be used for cleaning, like any scrap fabric, or I can send them off to be made into Stupid Creatures. Eventually I hope to knit my own socks, and those will never be entering a bin!

Why has it become such a social crime to darn one's socks? Surely in this age when it's oh-so-fashionable to be, or at least to pretend to be, environmentally conscious, the real faux-pas is failing to do so?

And who could ever throw socks as lovely as these away? Holes or no holes!


The Dark Side of Street Fashion

Unfortunately, Shoutfit has been missing for a couple of months. No one seems to know why, but it is a great shame. I had only just discovered it before it went down and as I wrote in friends, trends, and (thank the gods) some goths!, it looked like it would be heaps of fun and really inspiring for those of us who dress on the dark side. Fortunately, I am going to share with you the delights that I have found whilst trawling around other, less alternatively-inclined online street fashion communities in search of...

The Dark Side of Street Fashion!

This time I would like you to imagine a scene including pouring rain and the exterior of a almost-ruined castle. The giant oak door swings open and you see Dracula, except the vampire has abandoned his clich
éd capes and red velvet shirts and is now looking totally stylin' because he's spent all his time recently reading wardrobe_remix and StyleMob. In fact, it's a good thing that Shoutfit went MIA, because now he has some time left to go get himself something to drink. He was getting to be a bit too skinny, and would have been on a slippery slope to being really dead as opposed to undead.

I don't have a picture relevant to that scene to supplement your imagination so I will instead suggest you admire the one above. It is by
jek in the box, and I think it is amazing. I previously associated bright green and black striped tights with really badly dressed Mansonites but now I am seeing them differently. The cream coat and the green flower provide balance and elegance and I am now inspired to try wearing the similar purple and black striped tights that I have in my drawer. They were given to me by my sister who used to wear them when she was thirteen-fourteen years old (now being sixteen and "scene") and they languished in the drawer until I volunteered to take them off her hands. I didn't know what to do with them, but now I do: I will devise the most classy, elegant outfit ever, and then incorporate the tights! If I can make it look half as awesome as this, I will be extremely excited.

Also stunningly sophisticated is piksi_, a woman who I am quickly developing a style crush on. She was one of Painfully Hip's Thrift Stars of the Week, and has been featured in other blogs as well. Check out 'When it still was warm' and 'October 2nd' - I want that high waisted skirt so much I'm sure I think about it several times a week - and feel the jealousy. She even does purple and black, putting me to shame with her ridiculous amount of stylishness.

I am also jealous of ms. stephanie brown for looking like sex, mod_complex for the striped trousers, boots and waistcoat combination pictured on the right, cryptdang for owning this dress as well as for going to many burlesque shows (check out her photos, seriously), and Jaana-Mari for owning these boots and wearing them so well - I have wanted those in that colour since a link to the manufacturer's was posted on the Emilie Autumn fan forum ages ago. It still pains me that they seem to be no longer available to buy.

Other honourable mentions include: moon monster's pretty monochrome outfit, StrawberryKitten for personifying cool, and persephassa's black velvet dress.

Over on StyleMob, where they have yet to come up with a widget that lets you actually show the images for looks (apparently it is in the works, though) on your blog, I managed to fight through the Indie Army images and discover such hidden gems of darkness as electric thomas' victorian mad scientist look. I think it is fantastic. The ruffles on the blouse, the brooches, the hair...She says that "I never not want to wear this", and I think if I was capable of creating such an extraordinarily awesome effect with clothing and hair I would probably work that look pretty much everyday.

Hannah Karina's
cat has a gorgeous tail and the girl herself looks seriously cute. I have recently started to wear a pair of diamond-patterned tights (dark purple) with dresses (usually purple, although I did wear them with black and beige once) myself and it's good to see someone else rocking the look.

Usually gothic lolita style doesn't make much of an impact on me. I was a big fan for a short period of time but I quickly got bored observing it. There are a lot of rules to the subculture and in a lot of online communities any attempt at experimenting with the look is squashed. But Youran is wearing the most fantastic pink tartan skirt ever. Ever. See, this is how you do it, Avril Lavigne. It even has a crown on it!

Finally, the prize for Most Best Look on StyleMob has to go to toire. Even the cat seems to be part of the overall look. I wish I could get a closer look at those sleeves, and the brooch, and the vest. The shorts are also in this picture - where you can see that in fact they are striped bloomers! Perfect.

Now I could go on for longer, but there is a limit to how much envy one woman can stand to build up in an evening's blogging, and I think one more photo of something gorgeous might send me over the edge! That shouldn't stop you, however, from sharing any examples of street fashion from the dark side in the comment box.

All photos used have this Creative Commons license, and make sure you check out the galleries of the people whose images I have shared for more delights.


How To Avoid Getting Bored With The Way You Dress

In Guilt Is So Not A Good Look I described my shopping habits and described my three-point plan for ethical shopping. The last point was the most important: Buy as little as possible. I am an advocate of slow fashion. I believe that we should strive towards a sense of personal style rather than attempting to keep up with trends. Unless you are rich, it is impossible to keep up with the fast-moving fashion world. Most people cannot afford to buy something from every current trend - even in our era of low-priced fashion on the high street. For example, leather dresses are extremely fashionable right now, but I have yet to see many of them in any normal, low-priced stores. Some trends are so extravagant that anyone with an average salary or lower is completely excluded from wearing them, and there are so many different ideas within the themes of a season that even the hardcore fashionistas only choose a few to adopt.

Trying to maintain an individual style can be difficult and at times rather dull. Sometimes it is tempting to take the easy way out and pop to Primark and H&M for quick-fix new looks, but I think that greater enjoyment and satisfaction comes from taking the time to think about what you wear, what you own but don't wear, and what new looks you can create from existing clothes.

I have several tips to share, all ideas that I use to keep myself dressing in interesting ways without having to go shopping every week.

Seek out classic icons who dress close to the way you do or aspire to, and look for normal people who dress in a similar style to you.

The chances are that if you admire them, you may already own some items that remind you of their style, or which can be adapted to new purposes. When looking at people who dress similarly to you, watch out for the little differences, their innovations within the style. It's good to have aspirations which are closer to home and which fit in with what you are naturally drawn to already. You shouldn't have to start from scratch in order to build your perfect wardrobe - basics may have already been accumulated without you paying much attention to the process.

Try to develop your own personal touches, your trademarks.

Small things are the best for this, I think. My grandmother loves earrings and has a massive, wonderfully eccentric collection. She has everything from crocodiles to strawberries, and from traffic lights to classic pearls. You could also have an burgeoning obsession with one particular image or group of images, for example, fruit.

Watch and re- fashion, and make your wardrobe follow you.

Don't follow fashion and change your clothes every season. Watch the trends with a critical eye, gather inspiration, and remember that a lot of clothes can be altered, or worked into and through changing trends. Things actually come around a lot faster than you think. Every couple of years, bright colours are in again, then the next season, black will be back. This is true for this year - it was all about the brights this summer, but apparently black is fashionable again for the winter. Sometimes you can alter clothes to reflect the current cuts, and conversely, if you have clothes that fit a trend that has passed, you can try altering them to make them more classic. When the big skinny jeans revival began, there were almost none actually available in shops, so the people who started it all turned straight leg jeans inside out and sewed on the inside of the leg seams to make them tighter. Some people have been doing this for years - they adore skinnies and have made them part of their personal style.

Go quirky, classic, or pretty.

Most people don't have much of a clue about fashion specifics, but will notice things that are quirky, classic, or really pretty. I have a pair of black formal sandals that always attract positive attention, which is hilarious because I got them to wear for my grandparents' millennium party. Yes. Millennium. The year 2000. I was twelve, they were from Clarks and there is nothing weird about them, or attention-grabbing - but they are simple, classic and comfortable.

Don't fall into habits.

Wearing one particular bag with one particular pair of shoes all the times, for example. It's a slipperly slope from there down to wearing the same outfits over and over and never imagining anything different. It is good to have a backup outfit or two for when you're hurried, uninspired or going incognito, but try not to rely on selections you've worn together before. Think outside the confines of the colour wheel - wear colours to highlight each other, not just to match. Vary the jewellery you wear everyday, I try to avoid putting on the same colour rings, bracelet and necklace but this is difficult, especially when it all gets tangled together. I advocate storing jewellery on a mug tree!

Do you have any related advice to share? Has any of the above worked for you? This is pretty much my personal style development plan, and I'd love to hear what yours is.


What I Wore Today 2/10/2007

Look! I have been experimenting with more colour combinations. I love the effect of putting green with other dark colours - it seems natural and dramatic. I wanted to dress like some kind of forest-dwelling princess today, with cats-eye makeup. Gala Darling posted today about Dressing With The Essence Of Fairytales, which is one of my favourite styles. I love crimped and wavy hair, floaty clothing, and you probably already know about my tiara obsession. The problem was that she had already posted yesterday about her latest Fashion Darling column for Cosmopolitan, in which the second secret of awesome eyeliner has finally been revealed (I've already written about the first secret).

I had to combine the two. I went for gold eyeshadow and black liquid eyeliner, but then pressed emerald green eyeshadow (Bourjois' Noir Emeralde) on top of the eyeliner whilst it was still wet. I think I did a pretty good job! You can't see it very well here, hopefully there will be better pictures for tomorrow! Of course I've got to try it again!

So this isn't a completely narcisstic post, here are my links of the day:

Katie Bair's Petting Zoo Wig Design: The most wonderful wigs I have ever seen. Some of them are in jawdroppingly amazing styles. I wonder how comfortable the most elaborate are to actually wear.

The Most "Me" Item of Real Jewellery Ever: Silver! Amethyst! A key! Want! Need! Love!


this obsession with bloomers

Photo by RandyThomas

That's right. Grammar takes priority over post naming convention, and I have finally decided to write about bloomers.

I have the quirk of being more attracted to historial undergarments than overgarments. All those long, heavy dresses? Forget it. But petticoats, bloomers and corsets? Yay! They make modern clothing so much more exciting, and now we're not ashamed of our ankles and men have learned not to faint away at the sight of them, we can wear them as clothing in their own right, rather than as foundation garments.

I have petticoats, and I can't afford a corset - well, technically I have a plastic boned one from Marks and Spencer, but it doesn't do anything because it's my size rather than the one below. Bloomers are my next project. I don't want to buy a pair, because they are extremely difficult to find in shops of the bricks and mortar variety, and they seem pretty simple to make.

So, I have a dilemma.

Do I knit my bloomers, or sew them?

Knitted bloomers would be based on the Unmentionables pattern from Knitty Summer 2007. I would have to both shorten and tighten the pattern, but I find knitting more enjoyable than sewing. I think this has something to do with yarn.

Sewing would be faster, and allow me to use patterned fabric. Trying to knit a coloured pattern into my bloomers would probably drive me insane. Also, there are both tutorials for making bloomers from scratch - such as this one from Lara the Lacemaker and this pattern from Gifted Writer - and for recyling already existing clothing. There is a lot of bloomer-related discussion on the official Emilie Autumn fan forum (Autumn is a fan of bloomers herself), and this has yielded some useful advice. Miss Nemo made bloomers from a pair of old trousers (scroll down for tutorial), and The Lady of The Manners of Gothic Charm School has contributed her advice for doing the same (last post on page).

Whichever method of construction I choose, I have further decisions to make. What colour should they be? And how much lace should I use? I think I need to spend some time doing some research before I commit to making my first pair. Bloomers are not the easiest of garments to find online, but I have discovered some lovely pairs.

There are some cute bloomers in these Gothic & Lolita Bible scans: black and frilly, and um...black and frilly. In The Starlight have two varieties of bloomer availiable, in white, black, pink, blue, red and lilac, although they can also do custom work with your own fabric. There are several different and beautiful designs available in Vecona's store. I especially like the long brown striped pair. For shorter pairs I like reconstructionist's work, and to branch away from the dark side, Urban Prairie Girl has lovely bloomers in a bright green star pattern.

I am now wanting to design and create a pair in hot pink with black lace, strands of fake pearls and maybe a black cat applique! If you're looking to have some custom bloomers but lack the leet sewing skillz, Reveriebydesign on eBay makes custom pairs of bloomers for varying prices, and ifautumnends on Etsy does as well, for US $20.00. I am almost tempted by the latter - custom bloomers for about £10!
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