“minimize all deviations”

Title mined from Cliff Pervocracy.

I was watching What Not to Wear this afternoon. The American version, with Stacy and Clinton. I rarely watch TV, but I really used to love WNtW, and the big screen at the gym happened to be turned to it.

Today’s episode featured a vaguely steampunk woman (I think her name was Leah) whose aesthetic revolved around kinky boots, romantic skirts, and some truly spectacular Victorian hats. She was the “before”, of course, held up as titular affirmation, but I would shamelessly don every damn thing in that woman’s wardrobe. Some of it could’ve used a good tailoring and perhaps a better sense of color coordination, but overall it was a style I could take a lot of cues from.

Enter Stacy and Clinton. Spoiler alert: five minutes in I was wondering why I used to love this show so much. “It’s so…costumey,” sniffed Stacy, at the sight of Leah’s vinyl-corset-and-fascinator ensemble. Yeah, your point is? “Women have the right to vote, you know. None of this stuff has any place in a modern woman’s wardrobe.”

They left the dressing room and proceeded to dissect the contents of Leah’s closet. I was drooling, but they were sneering. Clinton held up a drapey jacket patterned with peacock feathers. “Ooh, fortune teller.” He didn’t say it kindly. “Listen, I know these clothes make you feel comfortable. But have you considered how they might make others feel uncomfortable?”

(…what.)

“We’re not trying to take away your style!” Stacy interjected. “We’re just going to find a version of your style that isn’t so…costumey.”

I’m irritated, frankly, by the assumption that that’s even possible. Maybe “costumey” is the essence of Leah’s style. Maybe other permutations just don’t do it for her. I’m sick to death of the notion that all styles can be boiled down to a few variations on one hideously boring theme. I’ve seen enough WNtW to understand their codes. “Edgy” means a blouse in leopard instead of cream. “Flirty” means floral pumps instead of basic black. “Sexy” is a heel half an inch higher than average. No matter how she looked before, no matter how unique or variable her style, every woman walks off that set with a closetful of wrap dresses, figure-flattering pencil skirts, and dark-wash mid-rise jeans. I can practically hear the snores.

I am all for style guidelines. I am all for cohesion and coordination and general internal consistency to outfits. I’m the first one to nix an outfit when the colors and textures fail to blend properly. WNtW and its ilk are valuable in that they provide a baseline to the hapless. To women slobbing around in faded “mom jeans” for failure to realize what else is out there. I appreciate those kinds of transformations. What I don’t appreciate is obliteration of well-defined, internally consistent styles that Stacy and Clinton¬†personally find unattractive. Leah must be transformed not because her clothes are damaged or unprofessional or otherwise inappropriate, but because they fit an aesthetic that happens not to match the prevailing one. You hear it all in the way Stacey says “costumey”: with a kind of wink to the audience, as though it’s universally and instinctively understood that looking costumey is a bad thing. It is a bad thing if your taste challenges other people, or, gods forbid, “makes them uncomfortable.” Don’t insult these women by even pretending you want to preserve their personal styles. Some personal styles are inherently more challenging than others. You cannot squeeze them down to a happy medium and pretend nothing has been lost.

It’s not confined to WNtW. This is a trend I’ve been noticing with increasing frequency. Cliff Pervocracy, one of my favorite bloggers, puts it well:

Big breasts need to be strapped down, small ones need to be propped up. If your ass is round draw attention upward, if your ass is flat draw attention downward. Short women need to look taller and tall women need to look shorter. Dammit, ladies, you’ve got to be average!

I refuse to be average. I’m well aware that a pencil skirt would probably flatter my ass better than my draping, swirling, thoroughly witchified ones. I understand that a wrap dress is an easy go-to outfit that requires minimal ornamentation. So fucking what? There’s no drama in those things. Fashion is not just function for me. Fashion is my art of choice. I create my outfits, mine them from thrift stores and kink shops and friends’ dressers. And maybe I look like an acidhead/streetwalker/Voltaire groupie, maybe I’ve made some bluestockings (GODS FORBID) uncomfortable, but at the end of the day I have created something. Who gives an ever-loving fuck what makes me look taller or slimmer? Fact is, I’m not taller or slimmer. I’m me – thick hips, skull jewelry, overprocessed hair and all – and I might as well dress the person I actually am. I’ve designed my own freak flag, and it’s flying high.

I am wearing a t-shirt with a squid on it and I think I look awesome and I don’t give a fuck otherwise.

last laugh

I am dreadfully sick of summer. Dragging myself out of bed for class and seeing leaves in full bloom feels downright anachronistic. Mr. Frost, I thought we had a deal here.

I haven’t been wearing much worth posting. Everything is a variation on something I’ve posted before. The second it dips below 65, I’ll be overwhelming y’all with new stuff. Mark my words. This is my very last innovative summer outfit. After this, I’ll be on strike until autumn hits.

(Also, I moved! Behold the first round of pics ever taken in my new place.)

I’ve been perfecting my more streamlined mien. This is a slightly more bohemian version thereof.

New desk in new room!

LOOKIT MAH VIEW

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Lately I’ve been lusting after high-waisted retro bikinis. I was determined to find one fairly cheap before going to the beach over Labor Day weekend. And succeed I did, at Bella Boutique downtown. $30, end-of-season sale. Excellent.

I’m rather happy with how this complements my body type.

Blouse: Handed down from Mom Leggings: Urban Outfitters Head Scarf: Old Gold Skull Ring: 18th birthday Necklace: Battery Street Jeans Bikini: Bella Boutique

~

I tried retouching with a slightly different tint today. How does it compare? Do you prefer the old one?

~

You get a song! How I love old-fashioned murder ballads.

denimology

My noteworthy summer outfits have been more or less exhausted; I’ve been wearing mostly repeats for the past few weeks. I have, however, been availing myself of the nip in the air and testing out some fantastic autumn pieces (if only while bumming around the house: I overheat too easily to wear long sleeves in public before, oh, October). I’ve also been soaking up fashion-related literature: I discovered some provocative new blogs, and I spent this afternoon in bed with Vogue‘s glorious 900-page September issue. This fall I plan to debut some new styles that wouldn’t have been on my radar a few months ago.

I have never been a big denim connoisseuse, preferring dresses and tights to almost all else. Lately, though, I find that combination too safe. A template can be altered only so many times. So I am consciously embracing the tougher side of my familiar rockabilly mien. My mother handed down to me a thoroughly badass denim trench, and I can tell I’ll be wearing it on the regular. For today’s post, I pulled together a collection featuring the trench, my beloved spiderweb-print jacket, and a spectacular pair of jeans I found this morning in the bottom of a drawer.

This is a lot simpler than I’m used to. Integral to my current stylistic evolution, though, is a scaling back of accessories. Frilly dresses and lots of frippery just aren’t doing it for me right now. I’m into a bolder, cleaner, more mature look.

This is actually an autumn variation on a look I wrote about back in June. The pieces segue nicely, I think.

My favorite jacket of all time. It’s incentive to maintain my weight, because it fits me just right and hits my hipbones in the perfect place. It adds structure to the flimsiest pieces. Also, SPIDERWEBS. Need I even elaborate? ($5 at Battery Street Jeans. They have a surprisingly decent vintage goth collection. My skull necklace is from there, too.)

I mined this scarf from my mom’s closet.

I bought this dress for $5 a few months ago, wore it once, and promptly forgot about it. How could I have let myself forget? It looks fucking awesome on me, if I do say so myself. Reminds me of Kate‘s bombshell dress.

Behold the denim trench!

If you give me a pair of loafers, a big floppy hat, and a cocktail, a wormhole will open up and take you to the 1950s.

My best-fitting jeans, by far.

Claire’s has Halloween jewelry out! Incentive to obtain steady income, that’s for damn sure. (I have an interview on Monday.)

Comin’ for yo braaaaains….

My winter-clubbing-in-Montreal dress, repurposed as a sweater.

I’ve always been squeamish about denim on denim. Don’t they call it a “Texas tuxedo”? Lately, though, I’ve decided it’s forgivable if the pieces differ considerably in color and texture. This combination makes the cut.

“No jewelry? Who am I?”

…seriously, though, I like the simplicity thing much more than I thought I would.

nymphing about

I got the pics back from my second shoot! Behold the best of the best. All photos courtesy of Steven Hayes of Vermont Figurative Arts, who is a pleasure to work with. We shot at Honey Hollow Swimming Hole in Jonesville.

“What’s the story of this shot?” he asked me before he snapped. I thought a moment. “I’ve just learned how to see.”

I’m quite fond of this angle. This entire forest is so surreal.

I don’t wear makeup. Sometimes it’s obvious.

minimalist

Yesterday I had my first paid photo shoot. I pranced around in the woods for two hours, stalking the best possible light. I walked away with $[REDACTED] in cash, and I am a bloody PAID MODEL and I still can’t believe that two months ago I didn’t even know I would love this so much.

Because I (and by extension y’all) won’t be seeing the official photos for another two weeks, here’s a peek at what I wore.

I’ve become more sensitive to photo quality lately, and though I’m sadly aware of how grainy my selfies are, I love this shot. I feel like I’ve just stepped through the looking glass. (This particular mirror always slims me, too, which is a nice plus.)

This is just the best summer dress. Sheer but still work-appropriate (…sort of. Don’t look too closely.). I have slept in it more than once and been perfectly comfortable.

Exactly three items of clothing. Dress, belt, necklace. No rings or bracelets. Not even leggings. So much less going on than I’m usually comfortable with, but yesterday almost broke 100 degrees, so I made an exception.

COLORS

I slept on someone’s floor the night before these were taken, and somehow my hair looks exactly like I wish it always would. How we suffer for beauty.

wishful thinking

I have not worn anything new or exciting for the past several days. Today I got antsy, and decided to paw through my closet and just experiment. I designed a few looks I plan to put into rotation this fall. (My favorite season. Not just because I overheat like a motherfucker – Samhain is my favorite time of year.)

I shot in my bedroom today; I dared not venture anywhere else in 90-degree heat. I said a few posts ago that I’m currently between apartments: this is the bedroom I grew up in. It actually makes a decent backdrop; the lighting isn’t great (when is it ever?), but my bedroom is a damn good representation of what it’s like inside my head. Should be easy to see where I get my inspiration from.

Only in autumn do I fully realize my pagan aesthetic. I feel most like myself when I’m walking around dressed like a storybook witch.

I’m in love with what this particular scarf does for my hair. Pseudo-pigtails. It accentuates the polka dots, I think. (This happens to be my favorite shirt, by far.)

I love these boots. Vintage Harley. They’re ultra-supportive and just slouchy enough. My former protocol was to wear my Harleys with dresses, because they provide a slight heel and general calf definition, and Doc Martens with jeans. This fall, though, I want to mix that up. I feel really badass in distressed jeans and motorcycle boots. I’ll find a complementary head scarf, and I have a rather garish leather coat that would go perfectly.

I realize this is just another variation on my done-to-death blouse/skirt/belt/scarf deal, but I’ve never claimed not to be a creature of habit. I recently cut several older tops to accommodate my post-pubescent body, and I discovered the off-the-shoulder look. I think it goes great with my head scarves. I feel like a Gypsy (or, rather, like the Western cultural representation of a Gypsy).

I’ve never been sure exactly what this shirt depicts, which is part of why I love it.

I love these colors together.

My lettuce skirt. One of my favorites.

I’ve actually worn this outfit once before, after which I proceeded to forget that both these pieces existed. I’m really excited to resurrect them. I feel like an Austrian maiden.

Song.