I have been learning:
How to make padded envelopes using reclaimed materials. I have loads of padded envelopes that my relatives give me for book swapping, but they get too battered eventually to re-use and I have to repair them. I think I could adapt this tutorial to re-use bubble wrap out of the envelopes when the paper's gotten too many holes in to just cover up with tape.
I've also read a couple of times How To: Wear a Headband and Not Look Dumb but I wore some seriously bad headbands in my younger youth and none of the headbands I own are as cool as the ones featured in this article.
I wish I had an extra pair of Dr Martens so that I could follow this tutorial to make a pair lace patterned. I have two pairs but one are purple and were my 17th birthday present and the other are plain black and need to stay that way to go with everything.
I have been attempting:
To feel like royalty whilst living in poverty with these tips from the Princess Portal (warning: lots of pink). See also these credit crunch fashion tips. I've finished my MA and am now trying to find a source of income and avoid spending any money if I can help it.
I have been longing to get my hands on:
The Gothic Charm School book!
I was an aspiring goth and avid reader of the Gothic Charm School website for most of my teenage years, though I never went further than dressing on the dark side. Mostly because I didn't know much about the music, and everyone I knew who was more goth than me really liked skulls. For a long time I hated skulls and thought they were really tacky. Then I moved on. A while ago I decided that they can be cute. In moderation. On other people. Sometimes I catch myself looking at a skull-adorned item and thinking it is lovely, but I haven't been able to convince myself that it could look okay actually on me yet. Anyway, I used to love reading the posts about club etiquette when I was far too young to go to a club and imagine what it would be like, and I learned a lot from The Lady of the Manners' advice to other teenagers struggling with parents and friends used to mainstream fashions. I cannot wait until I can get a copy for the book and devour it like the snarkling bookworm I am.
Whatever your subcultural alignment, if you are the merest bit non-mainstream, if you've ever had people ask you if you're wearing a costume when you're simply dressed the way you like to be, or have had teenagers shout abuse at you or confused relatives wonder when you're going to grow out of this "phase", Gothic Charm School has a lot to offer you. Here are a few of my favourite posts from the site:
Home for the Holidays -Or- Surviving Family Togetherness
Too Old To Be Goth - Revisited
Labels Really Aren’t Just For Clothes
and most recently, Of Goths Of Color
The Lady of the Manners has also made three YouTube videos so far if you prefer to take your learning in a moving picture form, here is the first one, What Is Goth?
See also under babygoth/dark-dressing essentials: the alt.gothic.fashion faq, only available through the Wayback Machine at the moment, it's gone down off the actual website for some reason.
I have been loving:
My jeggings. As well as skulls, I was also scared of prints up until recently. I thought they were invariably hideous. I also used to hate stripes and I resisted skinny jeans for ages and hated leggings for a long time as well. I used to wear the ones with stirrups as a kid (though I thought they were great fun at the time), can you blame me? But I am pleased to state that I am wearing a printed top right now with jeggings. Jeggings are jeans crossed with leggings via Topshop and they are a glorious invention. Imagine if skinny jeans were comfortable, soft and stretchy, and you'll be imagining jeggings. This is pretty much the first time I have ever admitted that something Topshop is good (on me). I still couldn't actually seriously look around that shop and try things on, I sent my mum and sister in to buy these for me after my sister got some and I thought they looked great then tried them on and loved them, because, like I say, they are like skinny jeans but comfortable.
I still can't stand footless tights though. What is the point? They're like a less warm version of tights and it frustrates me no end when I see what would have been lovely tights mutilated into those footless monsters. Bleh!
I have been planning:
To attend The Alternative Bring and Buy Sale (in London), the next is on the 6th of December and I am really hoping I have a source of income by then!
I am also going to the Zandra Rhodes talk at the V&A and to the Knitting and Stitching Show and to the Jump weekend from Spread the Word! I know, how am I paying for all this considering what I said about avoiding spending money above? I'm going with relatives to the first two and the last was such a bargain (£35 advance concessions for an evening plus full day of writing related stuff!) I spent most of my last bit of pay on it. I'm sure it will be worth the fact I now have to walk practically everywhere. Oyster card will be used in emergencies only (I topped it up the time before last I got paid).
Nora the Piano Cat, in tribute to my keyboard, which I put on and played today for the first time in months. I didn't play her for a long time as she got moved into a different room from her adapter and any ready plug sockets, and then I was in MA completing panic and had too little time to keep practising. The first thing I did was make her play the wedding march whilst I hugged her! NEVER AGAIN SHALL WE BE PARTED, my fingers have gotten so weak. I need to clear out my bedroom so that she can fit here with me.
Unsatisfied by these offerings? Check out:
How to have a burlesque party, Synthetic Dreads Tutorial, how to make a goth sunglasses case, the Make Lounge's latest workshop dates, the Feminism in London '09 event programme, and/or Chore Wars, the nerdiest (and therefore possibly the best) time-management system ever!
I be very excited about this, though I be not dressin' like a pirate, or partyin' like a pirate. I be not drinkin' rum because I be slightly ill - it be suddenly very cold in these oceans known as ye British Isles. I be instead drinkin' ye 'grog' that be known to the landlubbers as Earl Grey. It be delicious.
I be practicing me pirate for ye last couple o'weeks, an' I be picking up ye plastic wall hook we be donated in ye shop yesterday and pretendin' it be a hook. Arrr. That be mildly amusin'.
Today, I be pretendin' that I be plannin' some burnin' and pillagin', arr? ARR! An' I be recievin' in me inbox ye Etsy Finds newsletter, an' I be findin' inspiration to be collectin' some pirate booty of me own. ARRR!
Firstly I be wantin' ye Grace O'Malley pirate hat, because it be purple an' I be ye most purple pirate that be known in ye seven seas. If ye be readin' this scroll regular, ye be knowing this. If ye be a former landlubber recently recruited to ye voyage, I be recommendin' ye be checkin' out ye archives. Yarrr? YARRRR! If ye be not a purple pirate, ye fancy black and gold tricorn be for ye.
Second, I be thinkin' that 'Marie Antoinette goes pirate' be a bonny look, so I be considerin' these hair combs. But when I be wantin' t'be a more subtle pirate, I be thinkin' ye piratical badge be most appropriate, arr. These be especially worth ye pieces of eight.
Pirates with style be readin' ye Pirate Clothing webpage and be dressin' accordingly, and be makin' sure ye be wearin' earrings. Ye be showin' off how good they be at huntin' treasure/fightin' rich landlubbers/pillagin' if ye be wearing ye pirate hair jewels. If ye pirate be also a steampunk, ye be likin' ye pendant. If ye be in a battle where ye be best pretending to be a privateer or a lawful sailor, ye be best keepin' ye love for ye sea subtle with ye dusk sailing czech glass ring.
If ye be a pirate that be good in the galley, be pesterin' ye captain to be plunderin' ye a pirate cupcake t-shirt. Ye be available in various designs an' be on stickers an' bags an' ye aprons. If ye be havin' a party on board ye ship, be not spendin' all ye gold on rum (though it be a good investment if ye be not wantin' t'voyage with angry pirates) , an' be obtainin' ye skull an' crossbones flags for ye cupcakes, an' be makin' sure no landlubbers or privateers be joinin' ye voyage with ye pirate invitations.
If ye be havin' ye small pirates, ye jolly roger hat be keepin' them warm on ye seven seas and ye knittin' needles be useful in case ye pistol be not loaded when ye be boarded by ye Royal Navy.
Arrrrrrrrr. What be ye doin' for ye International Talk Like a Pirate Day? Be ye not hearin' of it before? I should be makin' ye walk the plank...but I be too busy enjoying me 'grog'.
There is a lot of work for volunteers to do in charity shops – we have to sort donations, work at the till, put items out on display, price items, clean, organise, steam clothing, alphabetise books, and bag unsaleable items to be sold to recycling companies.
Sorting donations is always our top priority because we don’t have space to keep unsorted donations in bags, and we want to get the best things on the shop floor immediately, but unfortunately it is the most time consuming task. One afternoon I spent almost my whole four-hour shift sorting a couple of bags, whereas last week I spent the same amount of time steaming nearly two racks worth of clothes. As anyone who has ever volunteered or worked in a charity shop, or watched the first episode of Mary Queen of Charity Shops will know, we get some really crappy donations. Stuff that is useless, broken, unsellable. We also get some amazing, good quality donations, but they are often mixed in with the rubbish.
Obviously we appreciate all donations, pretty much everything we get will be sold, if not on the shop floor then to recycling companies, but if you want to help us maximise the profit made for our charities, there are a few, simple, not very time consuming things that you can do to reduce the time we have to spend sorting and otherwise dealing with items that cannot be sold.
1. Do the research
Make sure that the shop you are donating to actually accepts the items that you want to donate. My manager had to turn away a large donation of bed linen because we are a very small shop and don’t have the space to display it. Another charity shop in the same street as the one I volunteer in doesn’t take clothing donations as it is an even small shop than ours, they only take books, cassettes, CDs, records and bric a brac.
Most charity shops do not take electrical items, because they have to be tested by a qualified PAT tester before they can go on sale. The shop I volunteer at does take electrical items, because we have someone to test them for us. All you have to do to find out whether the shop can take electrical items is ask! If you don’t regularly pass by the store and they are part of a large charity with its own website, you can look up the charity online and there should be a section for stores that lists addresses and phone numbers.
There are also other items charity shops cannot sell, for example, anything that can be used as a weapon, which includes metal knitting needles! Here is the British Heart Foundation’s list. You are better off finding a new home for things that are in good condition but can't be sold in shops by using a local e-mail list or putting an ad in your local paper.
Charity shops also won’t sell games and puzzles with pieces missing, we have to check through before putting them out to make sure all the parts are there, so make it worth our while!
Charity shops usually have deals with rag collectors, and at the shop I work at, the vast majority of the items we can’t sell on the shop floor can still be sold to recycling companies, we very rarely throw anything away. But our shop seems to be a bit of a special case, on Mary Queen of Charity Shops one of the shops that was featured had to spend a lot of money having unsaleable items collected by the council and taken to landfill. If you don’t have time to ask, it is best not to donate unsaleable items – except clothes – and to put them in your own bins.
2. Inspect clothing
If the clothes have stains or holes you are not willing to repair yourself, or otherwise look very worn, charity shops won’t be able to put them on the shop floor, but they can sell them to a rag collector and make a few pennies per kg. You can save volunteers time sorting by putting them into a separate bag and writing “rags” on it. They will still check through it but it will be a lower priority.
Please make sure the clothes are clean. If they have any marks on them, even marks that are obviously not stains and would come out in the wash, they will probably end up in a rag bag. Very few charity shops have washing machines on the premises.
However, clothing donations don’t need to be ironed! Charity shops usually have irons, at least, in the shop I volunteer at we have a steamer. After being folded in the bag they will need to be ironed or steamed anyway, so don’t worry about making sure they are pressed.
3. Don’t think too small
Most charity shops don’t have the space to take large items, like furniture, on a regular basis, but often they can take one or two, just ask. The shop I volunteer at had a chair, several mirrors and a bookcase when I last went in.
Large organisations that run charity shops often have specialist shops that do take furniture. Check out their websites to see if there is a store near you. Here is Oxfam’s list.
4. Don’t think too big
One of our biggest sellers is jewellery! We have lots of bangles and 'karma beads' -remember how every teenage girl in the UK had those back in the early noughties? They’re taking over a charity shop near you right now!
Make sure any earrings you donate have backs, and if something is real gold or silver, write a note so staff can make sure that they price it accordingly, or let someone know when you hand it over.
There are a couple of baskets by the till at the shop we work at, and we fill them with little things like yo-yos and packs of cards and marbles and keyrings (and a few karma beads of course). People often pick up these items whilst they’re waiting.
Make sure they get to use in good condition and wrap them in a couple of bags or tissue paper, or put them in a box.
5. Have a look round whilst you’re in the shop!
Obviously if you’re donating using one of those sacks that get put through your doors and not visiting the store this is irrelevant, but if you are coming in, take a look round! Charity shops have loads of great stuff, the cardigan or scarf or hat of your dreams could be awaiting you!
Coming soon: How To Shop At Charity Shops/Thift Stores (an insider’s guide in three parts)
As more and more factories opened in British cities, increasing numbers of working-class women chose not to enter domestic service, and work in factories instead, where the conditions were better. Middle-class women, whose families could not afford to pay their servants better, suddenly found themselves having to run households and do cleaning, cooking, and other domestic work themselves, things which they would have never been taught by their mothers. This is where women’s magazines took off – they were filled with advice and instructional articles aimed at these women to help them manage their new roles.
I found this exhibition fascinating. It isn’t arranged chronologically; instead it is laid out in several sections, so you can compare magazines through the ages and their attitudes towards the lives of women, how they dealt with the need to feature advertisements, and how developments in technology have changed the way they are produced and read. It’s clear that in recent times adult women’s magazines have become a lot less political, although magazines for teenage girls have definitely improved – the first were entirely devoted to idolising pop stars and silly romantic stories such as ‘Love in the Launderette’.
As well as the magazines on display, there are several interactive features of this exhibition. You can listen to interviews with various women involved in publishing magazines today, play a game to see if you can guess the magazine from its headlines (I only got one right!), answer a ‘How Liberated Are You?’ quiz from a 1978 edition of Cosmopolitan, and watch Talking Magazines, a film featuring a range women from Tower Hamlets (a borough of London) talk about the magazines they read and how they feel about them. There is also a reading area stocked with magazines from the past and present, including a few handmade zines and foreign titles. The Women’s Library has an enormous collection of magazines, so although most of the items in the exhibition are behind glass, there are many more available in the reading room upstairs (free to join and use) that you can actually touch and properly read.
I really enjoyed visiting Between the Covers, I totally geeked out and spent hours going around and looking at everything. I would recommend it to everyone who has ever loved or hated a women’s magazine, and most especially to bloggers – lots of the questions this exhibition raises are relevant to us.
Readers who live in London, or who will be visiting before 29th August 2009, should definitely pop in and check this exhibition out. Entry is free, and The Women’s Library is a really lovely building. 14-18 year old women can also join a short course in MagaZine Making from 10th – 14th August.
I liked the review of Between the Covers at Uplift Magazine, check it out if you would like to read more opinion on this exhibition.
3,124 people applied, 278 suggested their mothers-in-law (nice), and 23 church groups sent letters of protest. 300 people made it to the auditions, video footage from them can be seen here, and here. The job was finally given to former estate agent Carole Bohanan, who has reinvented herself as family-friendly glamorous witch Carla Calamity. Picture here, interview video here, handover-of-the-broom ceremony here! Doesn't she look fabulous? Stripy tights, corset, gorgeous scarf, and that hat! Puts all my half-hearted witch costumes at Halloween to shame. I think I'll go as her this year!
Looking at her picture in another commuter's copy of the Metro last week, I started to think of all the variations of witch costume that I could, and then today I spent some time writing descriptions and when I felt inspired, putting outfits together on Polyvore. Perfect way to spend a Sunday!
Just add a stripy scarf and wind some tulle around a plain pointy hat. According to her Twitter, her corset is from Flitterbat, but I think you could create a similar look with several belts.
This witch is the most powerful of all - she can magic herself up endless money and defend herself from would-be muggers. She doesn't wear a pointy hat - you can't get those in boutiques, but she does ride a broomstick - limousines are so last season, darling.
Charmed Knits has patterns for all the clothing you'd need to start the new term at Hogwarts. Sweaters, socks, scarves, hats, robes, even owls. I personally have no desire to have my own Hogwarts uniform, but I looked through it in the library and it seems like a really useful and fun book for those who do.
Black cardigan or jacket zipped up to your chin, hair in a bun/Croydon facelift, dark red lipstick, scowl.
The Designer Witch needs a well-dressed familiar, and I thought this post was rather lacking in purple up to this point.
*because of course, there's no such thing as a cat owner ;)
Can you think of any more variations on this theme? I thought about doing Polyvores for the witches from Hocus Pocus and Eglantine Price from Bedknobs and Broomsticks, but I don't own a copy of either film and I couldn't find any good pictures to work from.
I've been learning:
How to make a burlesque bustle skirt. Just in case the days get longer and my need for sleep decreases and someone gives me a load of the right kind of fabric. Well, it could happen. I won't rule it out.
I've been contemplating the purchase of:
Every mini hat and fascinator sold by Accessorize. Don't go running to their website, the selection available online is severely limited. In stores, however...I was in there the other day looking for a new pair of sunglasses (I broke two pairs within the space of a fortnight just before it got bright enough for them to become really essential, sad times) and after I'd looked and was disappointed, I still had to wait for my sister to look at flip flops so I wandered over to check out the headwear. I tried most of them on and developed some serious crushes. My favourite features a mini black top hat with feathers and veil. Unfortunately I do not have a spare £20 that I absolutely cannot spend on anything else, so I had to put them all down and walk away.
I have been giggling at:
This poem on the subject of feminist pick-up lines. 'Your paradigm or mine?'
I agree with:
Everything in the article, The truth about writers. I can't explain how true it is or it would spoil the article for you.
And finally, kittens:
...on an exercise wheel.
I am not convinced that I am going to fail at this forever, but in order to improve I definitely need professional coaching, or a brain upgrade. It may be just one of the Things I Cannot Do, like running, crochet, and strumming a guitar properly with the right hand.
I have only actually posted about two daily outfits on this blog before. I actually take photos of what I'm wearing fairly often. With the intention of making a post about them here. I'm in a good mood, I'm excited about what I'm wearing, and I take various photos in various poses from too-close distances without cleaning the lens or any mirrors involved, in bad light (today's example, see below). Every time I make a new mistake! I can have cleaned the mirror, only to have forgotten the lens. I can have started out trying to take photos on the stairs, as they have the best light in the house, only to have moved into my parents bedroom when I can't get a decent full-length picture, where the light is much worse.
I have several problems, none of which can be solved by the various "How To Take Outfit Photos" posts out there in the blogosphere:
- The camera I use is really old. The batteries run out really quickly, so whenever I use it I am on a race against time. I also have to reset the self-timer for every photo, which eats into this time considerably.
- This camera has no tripod, so I have to balance on it on various surfaces.
- The other cameras are invariably either out or the batteries are low and I don't know where the chargers are.
- There is basically nowhere in my house to balance the camera from far enough away.
- I don't want to take pictures in my bedroom as it's a mess, but I don't think other people appreciate my taking photos all the time in their rooms. I usually take photos on the stairs. This is only good for closeups, and everytime I get a good looking one it involves far too much thigh than I am comfortable uploading!
- I am really pale and absolutely cannot use flash. It makes me look scary.
- There is no-one who will take photos of me for me.
In short, my outfit photos are crap. They will continue to be crap for the forseeable future. However, I would still like to talk about them, and I need to update this blog more. So I am going to try to bring myself to post what I can bear to (i.e. the photos where I look alright but the photo itself is dire), and as well as writing about the outfit, I will write about why the photos are bad and how you can avoid my innumerable failures!
Maybe, just maybe, I might improve. Maybe. Gigantic, huge, maybe.
What I Wore Today
I went to university for a couple of workshops (voice and creative writing), ate lunch number one (cheese and tomato sandwich) then I came home, made myself some soup for lunch number two (half a can of Heinz Minestrone + sweetcorn, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and mixed herbs) and watched Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, as research for my writing! I love that reading books and watching films and programmes about teenagers or with teenage characters counts as research for my writing and therefore my MA. If you know any good ones, recommend recommend recommend, in the comments of course.
To the left, an alright photo, parent's bedroom, you get the idea of the outfit. This is the stripy dress also pictured here, with a black skirt on top. Above, the bangles I wore. You can see them on the left of the other photo on my wrist too. Below, an image in profile, in which you can see the scarf, my watch, and the big ring I wore on the middle finger of my left hand.
Dress - Monsoon
Skirt - H&M via my sister's hand-me-ups
Tights - M&S, Autograph range
Scarf - hand-me-up from my sister that I think was original a gift from our parents, I have one in lilac
Bangles - some from The Changing World, some rescued from my sister's bin ages ago
Pictured but not visible on my rubbish photos:
A necklace that was a gift from a friend
Not pictured because I forgot about them:
Black cardigan, pink handbag, black ballet pumps
Why these photos are bad
Where to start? I'm spoilt for choice, really. They all came out too dark, so I had to turn up the brightness and contrast. My head is cut off in one and in profile in another, which is not a position in which I look good. The closeups are blurred - the bangles picture is one of the better ones. I thought flash would make them look too different from the body pics.
Things Learned From Today's Misadventures
Make sure you have good light! Charge your camera BEFORE you want to take photos, so that you manage to take them before the Earth moves you out of reach of enough sunlight.
Find a good surface to balance your camera on!
Use flash for close-ups if you have a shaky hand.
I may have to add "photographic ability and willingness to use it taking photos of me in outfits I like" to my list of desirable qualities in a potential romantic partner.
Some Posts I May Have To Memorise...and then feel sad because 70% of the advice I cannot follow
Take Better Outfit Photos @ Modlife
How To Take Gorgeous Self Portraits @ Independent Fashion Bloggers
Thank you for enduring this! If you have any thoughts on how I might overcome my outfit photo issues, please leave a comment, it will be much appreciated!
2. Base coat under dark nail varnish is a must, otherwise your nails will suffer. If you have no base coat, use one of those bland pastel shades that was a gift from someone who doesn't know you very well. All the real base coats I've tried have gone gloopy by the time I've gone through half the bottle. Granted, all the real base coats I've tried were from Rimmel, a fairly cheap brand who don't deign to put ball bearings in their bottles to help the mixture properly mix when you shake the bottle. I am currently using a bright sub-Barbie pink as my base coat, it is from Del Sol, a brand who don't put two of the bad-for-you chemicals nail varnish often contains into their product (toluene and formaldehyde), so I figured that although I hate the shade it would make good base coat. It shows through slightly sometimes which makes quite a cool effect, I think.
3. I have recently discovered that olive oil makes a great make-up remover. Is there no end to the wonders of olive oil? From the OCM (oil cleansing method, get thyself to Google now) to salad dressing, it is great.
And the one that's never worked for me...
Lining the inner rim of your eyes with white eyeliner to make them look bigger/brighter. Firstly, it looks too obvious, and strange. Secondly, you can't really blend it to make it more subtle, the inner rim of your eye does not have that much space. Thirdly, it actually makes your eyes look kind of dirty by comparison. Fourthly, it's always gone weird and dribbled into my eye and aggravated my eyes so much I've had to take my contact lenses out, bathe my eye(s) and rinse the lenses. As long as I use a separate pencil for inner rim and don't use the same one I use on my eyelids (which you should do anyway), I've never had this problem with black eyeliner from the same brands. What does work is blue eyeliner on the inner rim. Again, I have to use that pencil only on the inner rim but it makes my eyes look brighter and whiter, plus it's a pretty unusual look.
I am learning:
Time Management for Creative People, mustering up the self-discipline to get all that I want to get done, for at least a few days each week. One day I will be 100% organised, look out world!
I am adding to my wishlists:
Books recommended by Rie of Leaving Shangri-L.A. - actually I've been doing this for the past several weeks, working my way through the archives in my spare moments, justifying it as "research for my MA". It's a fabulous combination of lifestyle and book review blog and I am going to check out most of the books suggested. I've even been reminded of some books I'd read as a child but had forgotten the names of.
I am contemplating buying: A tutu from my favourite and only local vintage/second-hand/random shop, which is closing down at the end of this month. I've already bought a new-to-me ballgown for £18, and I will probably end up blowing my "entertainment" money for the next month in there when I make further visits. It's a short, but nicely fluffy pink confection and a friend of mine already picked one up in red. I've been referring to The Cocoa Guide To Tutus and looking at lots of pictures and stores online to help me decide whether I should get it. I think I will have to try it on with some of the skirts I would wear over it to be absolutely sure.
If you are not convinced that tutus are awesome, check out the Flickr pool for The Adventures of the Travelling Tutu, it should change your mind.
I am "awww"ing over: this picture of a fawn and bobcat snuggling! I love pictures of unlikely animal friends. Like these, and most of all these!
How are you beating the start-of-the-week blues?
*Answer: one cannot surf a web, at some point you would get stuck in it - which actually makes it an appropriate metaphor - whilst "surfing" the world wide web, one will eventually find something that they are interested in and get stuck into. I am such a nerd.