savage secretary

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I’ve been unbearably prim of late. I can feel my wannabe-Suicide-Girl cred eroding, replaced with pleats and starch. I’ve returned to a phase I first wrote about last April: tightly controlled, highly stylized. More than that, though, I like being utterly badass while I’m doing it. I’ll always be a Suicide Girl on the inside. I can dress like a secretary and still crack a few metaphorical whips.

I envisioned some of these shots in a dementedly chipper kind of way. Like I’m patting my bottle-blonde hair and presenting Bob Barker with the very latest in offensive technology. This might be a fun character to come back to.

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My father teaches Kung Fu. He opened his studio when I was eighteen months old, and I grew up surrounded by deadly weapons. I revisited it last week for these photos. Who says precious isn’t powerful?

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Dress & Sweater: Classy Closet Hat & Necklace: Old Gold Belt: Downtown Threads Tights: Spirit Halloween Shoes: Gifted

~

Let me remind everyone that it’s not too late to enter the Eye Bleach Sweepstakes! Send a photo of your creepiest doll to eyebleachsweepstakes@gmail.com for a chance at fame and fortune (i.e. $25 to my Etsy shop).

the living artifact

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On Saturday night, during the season’s first real snow and attendant howling winds, Josh and I stayed in and played a ferocious game of Scrabble. On Sunday, as we drove home listening to Carmina Burana after hitting an antique store and wandering the Shelburne Museum, I came to the realization that my mental age is about seventy-five. Yes, I also go to goth clubs and aspire to ink every inch of my skin, but I really do revel in the antiquated. Old things have a magic embedded in them that the novel just can’t touch. Like Jung’s collective unconscious, manifest in cloth and grain. Do you ever look at a fin-de-siecle chair and think how many people have died in this?

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We are the result of a million generations’ blood, sweat, and tears. The least we can do is pay a little homage. So I took these photos in one of my most natural habitats: surrounded by cross-century absurdities.

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The Shelburne Museum evolved from the personal collection of Electra Havemeyer Webb, noted nominally-endowed eccentric. She had an eye for absurdity that I can only hope to emulate one day. This photo wall shows her in private life. I like the juxtaposition: me with my whimsical forebear.

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Teapots and hatboxes (dot tumblr dot com).

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Dress: Classy Closet Coat: Second Time Around Belt: Downtown Threads Tights: Gifted Boots: Handed down from Mom Socks & Scarf: Gifted

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eye bleach sweepstakes: creepy doll edition

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I’ve decided it’s high time to marry my loves of the quaint and the creepy. My audience consists mostly of fellow fashion bloggers and worshipers of the vintage dress. I love them all, but I’d also like to reach out to the gothier cohort. Where my moon-howling pagan sisters at?

Today marks the formal inauguration of an idea I’ve had for some time. Why should Halloween occupy only a few weeks? I know y’all have seen some terrifying things in the wild. Why not celebrate them? Starting today, I will be hosting a new feature here on My Kingdom for a Hat: the Eye Bleach Sweepstakes. Send me your creepy, your queer, your slimy masses! The next time you see something balls-to-the-wall absurd, snap a photo and send it to me. The rules go as follows:

  • The contest is open to anyone from anywhere. You can enter even if you’re a judge.
  • I’ll announce a new subject every few weeks. You have two weeks from the initial announcement to gather as many photos of said subject as you can. Send them all to eyebleachsweepstakes@gmail.com, accompanied by your name and a brief summary of why they deserve to be crowned Creepiest.
  • Subjects must be wild-caught. That is, they must be found, not made by you personally. I will, however, make exceptions for items you genuinely did not intend to be creepy – for instance, a homemade sweater accidentally gone horribly garish. There’s no way to prove that, though, so I’m holding y’all to the honor system.
  • This is not a googling contest. If I discover that you’ve just googled “creepy dolls” and stolen the first result, you will be disqualified.
  • Neither is it a photography contest. Don’t worry about photo quality. The horror depicted will shine through regardless.
  • Creepiness is subjective. That’s where your summary comes in handy. Make my spine tingle.
  • Prizes vary from contest to contest.
  • Submissions will be analyzed by my crack team of judges. Once the final three are narrowed down, I’ll open the voting to the public.
  • Remember to send submissions, as well as any questions/comments/hatemail, to eyebleachsweepstakes@gmail.com.

This round’s subject, as you may have gleaned, is creepy dolls. You all know what I’m talking about. Don’t tell me you’ve never looked into the eyes of some antique porcelain creature and realized you’d never feel clean again. Dolls are uniquely horrifying in that they’re so damn humanoid. The uncanny valley factor is high.

As per the rules, dolls cannot be altered in any way to deliberately enhance their creepiness. Free-range terrors only. I figure Thanksgiving is the perfect time for this particular subject: if you plan on visiting family, take a peek around the attic. Maybe your childhood Fancy Nancy is a whole lot more sinister than you remembered.

As I mentioned above, the prizes will vary. This month, however, you can win $25 to my Etsy shop, Dressed in the Dark VintageJust in time for the holidays, too. Plus, you know, the glory of being featured on my blog and its Facebook page.

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Looking forward to some nail-biters!

windy witch

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A storm was stirring around me as I took these photos. I decided to work with, not against, the wind. Being outside in gales and gusts always makes me feel even more a witch, like maybe my energy will turn indistinguishable from the maelstrom beyond. And maybe I’ll be really lucky and not get a house dropped on me. When the wind lifts my hair and hands, I like to pretend I’m summoning it myself.

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This outfit makes me feel like a vagabond. Like a delightful louche. Like a creaky soul who can’t wait to be old. Like the girl who sings along with her accordion on Church Street. Like someone with magic hidden in all her corners.

My kind of witchcraft is about communion. The alchemy of connection. Interaction with other people, with oneself, with philosophy, with the natural world. It’s the “je ne sais quoi” produced when beings collide. And that means it can be everywhere. I don’t need a church or a coven (as much as I love them). Just to listen. To find magic everywhere.

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Dress: The Classy Closet Coat: Handed down from Mom Vest & Boots: Battery Street Jeans Hat & Necklace: Old Gold Tights: Gifted

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baroness samedi’s in town

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Ever since I started reading Courtney Brooke‘s lightwitch, ideas for stark, spooky fall shoots have been rocketing around my sordid little brain. I finally got to act on one today.

These train tracks run directly behind Josh’s house. Armed with a bag of props we mined from Halloween stores on November first, I set up shop there and hammed for the camera until rain forced me inside.

This is my best attempt at an actual photo story. No words today. I’ll let these speak for themselves. I hope they have something worthwhile to say.

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the sacred in the profane

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Today my head is abuzz with religious symbols: I’m halfway through an essay on spirituality for the Prague Revue, and it’s got me thinking in loose, drunken hierophanies. There’s transcendence everywhere. More than that, there’s so much to say about it. Although my personal spiritual affiliations lean heavily pagan, I’ve always found a great deal of peace in religion in general. I am naturally drawn to houses of worship, and I’ll gladly sit through almost any service. The pursuit of transcendence and universal truth is a compelling one indeed. Though I didn’t go on to work in the field (let’s be real: who does?), I don’t regret a minute of my religious studies undergrad. It’s taught me to find symbols and sacredness everywhere. In the most mundane of acts. In something as aggressively modern and overtly narcissistic as taking selfies.

A few blocks from my apartment stands a lovely old church that I’ve been wanting to photograph for months. Today’s mindset, combined with four o’clock’s last blaze of light, made it the perfect place for today’s shoot.

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I felt vaguely blasphemous today, but that was the fun of this shoot. I was, after all, appropriating a holy site to produce my own graven images. Fashion photography is already considered one of the shallower crafts. But when it comes down to it, art is art, whether its medium is my body or the walls of the Vatican. Today’s shoot is the high and the low together. The sacred and the profane. The desperately superficial and the aggressively profound, united finally as just plain art.

I have the modern luxury of loving both fashion and religion. I can even frame my pursuit of beauty as glorification of the divine without getting burned at the stake. And if there’s anything in this world worth bowing down to, I think it’s creative force. I believe there’s room for every kind of art. For worship of everything that wants worshiping. Though it wasn’t this church’s stated aim, today I’m using it to aid my own supplication: to beauty, to art, to erudition, and to everything in between.

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Any art can be spiritual. Any act can be imbued with sacrality. This happens to be mine.

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Sweater, Skirt, & Belt: Replays Coat, Hat, & Tights: Old Gold Pearls: Battery Street Jeans Shoes: Savers

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steam-powered witch

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I wrote yesterday about my latest inspirations and the way I’ve been integrating them into my daily style. Today I’m illustrating what that actually looks like. This is a far primmer silhouette than I favored earlier this fall, when I was swishing about in cloaks and peasant skirts. The past few weeks, I’ve been all about crispness and crinolines.

I’ve also found myself influenced by Josh’s aesthetics. The man is unendurably steampunk. He wears top hats and white gloves on the regular. Sometimes I like to be his female counterpart in more ways than one. I appreciate our contrasts, but I also like it when we match. Today I attempted to combine our respective styles: I’m a witch, done fluorescent steampunk style. I went for steampunk silhouettes, but rendered in aggressively mod colors.

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Why choose between a broomstick and a parasol?

I’m not sure how I feel about the contrast between the wall and the grass. It doesn’t look stylized or deliberate enough. It’s too incidental, like I didn’t give enough of a shit to find a cleaner setting. Then again, this entire outfit is a study in contrasts. Why not one more?

Nevertheless, I’ve been thinking of investing in some studio space one or two days a week. I could haul a trunk of props and hammer out two or three different shoots in a place I could design to my specifications. Does anyone in the Burlington area know where I might find such a thing?

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Dress: Handed down from Mom Crinolines, Tights, & Gloves: Spirit Halloween Coat: Macy’s Hat & Necklace: Old Gold Boots: Battery Street Jeans

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rounding up

Every few months, I like to catalog my inspirations. Collating images I’m drawn to gives my work some direction. It’s funny how much of our own lives slips under the everyday radar. I often don’t notice trends and evolutions in my aesthetic tastes without blatant evidence. For the past several weeks, it seems I’ve been into…

  • crispness. Far more than usual. Suddenly I feel like a schoolgirl in structured wool and swingy coats. I’ve become almost secretarially prim. I haven’t photographed any such outfits, mostly because I haven’t a clue how to style such a shoot to make it stand out, but I’ve been loving the aesthetic.
  • crinolines. They add some buoyancy to my prim-‘n’-proper silhouettes.
  • witch gear. I’ve been wearing more black lately. I haven’t abandoned my beloved brights, but lately I’ve been relegating them more and more to accents. It’s unbearably cliche, but each black piece I drape feels like a new layer of magic.
  • lace, and its autumnal twin, brocade. A simple silhouette in a luxurious fabric is really doing it for me right now.
  • religious imagery. I’ve always been drawn to things that suggest the sacred. I was a religion major, after all. Lately I’m fascinated by the line between reverence and blasphemy. When does sartorial homage become outright mockery – and why, exactly, should I care? It’s such an interesting visual struggle.
  • Victoriana. Josh is, as his roommate lovingly puts it, balls-deep in steampunk. He matter-of-factly dons top hats and goggles in his daily life. I’ve become interested in interpreting his style in my own way, filtering it through my own lens. I’m indifferent to aviator caps and pith helmets, but corsets and lace-up boots suggest a certain gothiness that I’m more than happy to bring to my aesthetic.

Click on each photo for its source.

rusty zipper I

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There’s no way this would fit me, so I implore one of my readers to give it a good home! It’s for sale on Etsy by Moonchild Vintage.

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mourning cape

Antique Victorian mourning cape for sale on Etsy.

rusty cuts

Rusty Cuts makes bespoke items from vintage fabrics and patterns. I love the idea, especially as it dovetails so nicely with my slow fashion pledge.

This skirt is a perfect example of what I wrote above about religious imagery. Is it an homage or an abomination? Who the hell knows? The contrast, and its inherent shock value, makes it head-turning.

doll poupee

roberta

black swan

all black

suspenders

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70s knit dress