…for my jewelry box, which I left sitting square on my bed fifty miles from where I currently write to you. Until this coming Saturday, I will be without any baubles save for the ones on my person when I arrived. After I’d mourned appropriately, though, I decided to take the sartorial challenge presented to me without losing any of my gaudy flair.
I work at a summer camp called the Talent Development Institute, which is not, despite its rather austere name, any kind of summer school or correctional center. It’s just a camp for kids who don’t, for whatever reason, get a lot out of school: TDI is a place to try all manner of interesting, educational pursuits without grades or cliques looming. I have been involved with this camp for eleven years, and it’s given me most of my best friends and a lot of creative direction my life might’ve lacked otherwise. Once upon a time, I was but a wee stage whore: now I’m in my third year as one of the camp’s three theater teachers. I am affectionately referred to as “crazy costume lady”. Children are hella observant.
Today’s challenge: going without jewelry while still managing to present as the crazy drama teacher you all knew and some of you loved.
TDI is held at Vermont’s Johnson State College, which is where I took outfit pictures during my break today.
This is almost a hobble skirt – or, at least, it gives the appearance of one – but it moves beautifully when I walk. I love sartorial surprises like that.
I’m not usually an earth-tone gal (gee whiz, couldn’t have guessed), but this skirt’s shape and texture were magnificent enough to override its shade.
TDI, objectively speaking, is a bit of a sausagefest. About two-thirds of both campers and counselors are male. Demographically, this makes sense – boys, due to their higher incidence of ADD and autistic-spectrum disorders, are more likely than girls to be bored by school. That said, I’ve noticed that even among young ages, there’s pressure in this environment to be “one of the guys” in a way that not all girls are comfortable being. Of course the sexes shouldn’t be absolutely segregated, but I do find there’s undue pressure on girls to adopt “boy” activities, and much less on boys to tap into their feminine sides. I’ve written many times on the power of femininity, and how clothes and dolls and indoor games are not “lesser” for their association with the fairer sex. While I’m at camp, I like to live that principle, model it for the young ladies in my care. Over the years, I have gone out of my way to brand myself as the “girly” counselor – the one who will paint your nails and share her fashion magazines while still displaying intelligence and being a kickass theater teacher. Embracing natural talent and intelligence, as kids are urged to do here, doesn’t mean giving up “frivolous” things like fashion.
And the little girls just eat me up. I’ve accumulated a passel of them following me around, squeeing over my accessories and asking me to take their pictures. I value all my campers, but watching the more femme girls of the bunch take in a grown-up version of themselves and realize that they can be vampy without being vapid is very gratiying.
You see why I love this skirt so much? I feel like a mermaid.
Top: Old Gold Skirt & Bow: Battery Street Jeans Belt & Hat: Goodwill
The costumes I brought for my younglings. They spent the day in textile heaven. This trunk contains about two-fifths of my total costume collection, and I was gnawing my nails to stumps as they pawed through it, but they turned out to be perfectly gentle.
Pictures of them in their finery to come soon!