the unbearable brightness of being

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I’ve been mired in a phase of dreamy, romantigothic lingerie-inspired fashion. Lately it seems that the ambiguity of pastel folds just has more to say than anything sharper and stricter-bodied. Like there’s a secret embedded in each lacy layer.

Also, I just really really enjoy being a flapper.

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I’m watching this blog inexorably become about more than just aesthetics, and that feels right. First and foremost, I like to think. I like to create. Fashion happens to be the point at which all my creations coalesce – because, I think, its relation to its audience is so immediate. It draws the eye with physical beauty, then seduces the brain into staying for the story. I love that clothing, the semiotics and theatrics of it, operates on multiple levels. On the one hand, it’s a statement on history and perspective and the thousands of tiny events informing the creation of a single garment. On the other, maybe that’s just some really really pretty lace.

I’m a writer, a haunter, a witch, a feminist, a lover of logic and debate, an amateur scholar of religion. Curating my collection of eye-catching clothes is the locus around which my other passions gather. I love clothing because I can make it say any damn thing I want. I can use it as a segue to say something about poetry, witchcraft, feminism, spirituality, or all or none of the above. I can connect my getups to anything or to nothing. Sometimes the sheer amount of things in the world really cows me. There’s so much to learn about and puzzle over and recoil at. Ultimately, fashion (and all art, really) is not exempt from the world: it’s just one corner of some grand exhilarating web. It’s so much more rewarding when we can make some sense of where it came from and what it’s trying to say.

(Or it might just be a really kickass dress, nothing more. That’s the other great part: sometimes a cigar really is just a cigar, and we as art-consuming masses get to decide when that is.)

Expect more poetry from me. Expect more stories and political commentary and spiritual affectation. I believe that all arts are connected deep in some expressive place. Fashion is much more than the clothes on our collective back: it’s how we live.

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This look, to me, says “pajamas for day(s)”. It’s just sturdy enough to pass public muster, but all the elements of sleepwear are there: the slip, the oversize blouse worn like a robe, the slippers. The fascinator pulls the look into daytime.

I love how bright and airy these photos turned out. Photographing white can be risky, and I’d like to get better at it, but I do like this slightly ethereal, slightly eye-searing effect.

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I usually don’t go for big, ostentatious bags (I carry enough tension in my shoulders already), but I couldn’t resist this one. I love the Moulin Rouge-esque pop it gives my flapper garb.

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Slip, Shoes, & Bag: Battery Street Jeans Tights & Blouse: Gifted Fascinator: Old Gold Necklace: Family heirloom

peasant in lace

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I love fairy tales. I always have. I love them for their darkness and their spite, their sickness and their slanted sort of health. I love hidden variations on their themes present, unexpectedly, in the oddest corners of literature. I love seeing them twisted and hinted at and expounded upon. My most evocative mindscape – well, one of them – is a rambling Bavarian cottage lousy with secrets and maybe-truths.

Today I’m Cinderella simultaneously before and after. Cinderella in her lacy altogether returning to the hearth she once called her whole world. The tricky part is figuring out which, the before or the after, is the tragedy.

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I wrote this poem when I was fifteen. I call it City Girls.

Stories are just that,
stories,
flights to pace and prowl,
the bones of poetry and secrets:
into these we build our lives.

Do you remember
the stories from your childhood
do you –
ever let those musty books
take purchase in your mind?

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Do you ever let those figures
reassemble,
the bones of creation,
the archetypes of nascence,
to be filled in by the
flesh and faces
of real time?

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That woman on the corner
could be Rapunzel,
skinny and cigaretted
her walk-up patio perched high
against a low-down world.
If I wanted to see her
I’d take the stairs
because her hair’s too short and smoke-stained
to ever really shine.

Or –
Snow White for the cyber age
Chinese chambermaid, quietly bred
emptying the wastebasket
every morning
on the corner of Seventh and Main.
Rapunzel smokes,
oblivious to the congress
of colliding tales
just below her window,
every morning.

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Snow White
stands under five feet
and she’s got
thin humble lips
and a home-stitched face
not anonymous enough for comfort,
and no one will exalt her
in a transparent coffin
when she pops off.

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Snow thinks the subway is
a luxury:
for all its jerks and belches
there she can rest her
bound and weary feet.
Sharing her low-slung plastic bench
is the girl in yesterday’s makeup
and last week’s clothes.
Frosted hair won’t come
back into fashion in greater Manhattan,
but her crowd appreciates it;

they’re the ones flicking cigarette ash
into drainpipes
and fending off the down-lows
in their potbellies
and leather jackets
who crave more tricks than
they can pay for.
Where is she going, dressed like that-
is there an appointment in the world
worth requiring such an abusive shade of red?

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I’d like them all to meet, someday
in that pub above the laundromat
Rapunzel with her bored lips,
Snow White with her deference,
Sleeping Beauty with her pierced-heart narcolepsy.
Each asleep in one way or another,
each missing a piece potent enough to
wake up her corner of the world.

lacy V

Blouse: Downtown Threads Skirt: Goodwill Boots: Battery Street Jeans Hat, Tights, & Bra: Gifted Necklace: Family heirloom

~

I cringe to disrupt the mood of this post, but I want to emphasize that this poem is absolutely not to be read as sex-work negative or prejudicial in any other way. Sex workers are laborers who deserve to see their work legitimized. Sleeping Beauty has a hard life and she is a prostitute, not necessarily because she is a prostitute. (The same can be said, in different ways, of my poem’s other two characters, though their lives aren’t quite as politicized.) Sex workers’ lives run the gamut of human experience, because they’re, you know, human. I apologize for the aside, but the safety, autonomy, and legitimacy of sex workers is one of my pet issues. If you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend the blog Tits and Sass.

i was never here

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On my best days I feel like a ghost. Silently transcendent, able to engage and disengage effortlessly with my world. Humanity moves through me but doesn’t linger; any dwelling is my choice and my choice alone. On my best days I’m the Buddhist I never quite got the hang of being.

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I love vintage first and foremost because of its history. While certain fashion eras do appeal to me on the merit of their designs, I find that my appreciation takes a distinctly modern point of view: I wear these precious metals and stiff, splitting fabrics because they’re so old. “Vintage-inspired” doesn’t cut it; I want the real thing, skeletons, spiderwebs and all. Some vintage ladies dream of jetting back to when the eras they love were shiny and new, but I like my musty leather and shirtwaist frocks with a few decades of history stitched into their fading weave. Wearing the past makes me feel storied, like I’m collecting my inheritance as a citizen of this planet. On my best days I have a foot in every world.

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These photos turned out a little pale and overbright. I could have fixed them, but instead I ran with the concept and utterly washed them out for a “between worlds” sort of effect.

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No matter how far afield I wander, I always make it back to fashion inspired by witches and ghosts. It’s what I am.

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Slip (worn as a dress) & Blue Bangles: Old Gold Boots & Silver Bracelet: Battery Street Jeans Hat, Tights, & Necklaces: Gifted

raising the comatose

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This could very well be the longest I’ve ever gone without blogging. To use a cliche, the time sneaked up on me. One day I’m on top of my carefully cultivated universe; the next, I’m lucky to break 30 pageviews. My Kingdom for a Hat, the gritty reboot: wherein my empire crumbles.

I kid. I’m not viewing it as a bad thing. I’d been feeling for a while before my impromptu break that my life was growing increasingly performative. Even though I dress and blog first and foremost for myself, even though I love sharing my sartorial passions with the internet, I am fundamentally an introvert, and sometimes it’s all just too big. I was putting out way too much. Endlessly commenting and collaborating and discussing. It was starting to feel shallow: like I was slowly chipping away at my own interior in the name of beautifying the world, until I was running on memory and there was nothing left.

So for a while I eased up on flamboyance. I wore less jewelry than usual. I wrote some poetry and took some long walks. I cooked a lot of interesting meals, of which I will not be posting pictures because I don’t really want to be that kind of blogger. Suffice it to say that apple slices work marvelously in onion omelets. Josh and I took a stage combat seminar, which kicked my ass in an “I’m gonna sleep so well” kind of way. Most significantly of all, I started writing my religion blog again. Other than costuming, spirituality is the other big passion in my life, and I feel a little off-kilter when I’m not properly indulging it.

For two weeks I concentrated more on the meat of my day-to-day life than the flashy skin I present to the world, and lo and behold, it’s left me more than ready to start effusing again.

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I go really hard, and then I simmer down. That’s the way I work. I’m pretty intense. Sometimes I need to force myself to balance things out.

I love fashion. I love costuming. I love the history and semiotics of clothing, but I am not just a fashion blogger, and I would often do well to remember that.

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The angles of the sun already feel autumnal to me. There’s a certain crispness unique to spring and fall, in contrast to the heavy blur of summer. I’m eagerly awaiting rich colors and baked squash and haunted houses. Mostly the haunted houses.

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My mom (who took these pictures, because I misplaced my tripod) said I looked like an Englishwoman on safari. I’m definitely feeling a more bohemian, prairie-chic vibe these days. I’m not without my pops of modernity, though. I really like the surprise of my tights and fingernails.

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I should take pictures at sunset more often. Loving the little hints of glare.

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Dress & Belt: Downtown Threads Hat & Boots: Battery Street Jeans Necklace &  Tights: Gifted

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I’m back.