the vagabond

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To follow in yesterday’s obnoxious coupley footsteps, here are some shots I took starring Josh at my godparents’ cabin. We went for “Renaissance gentleman”, because, let’s be real, such a costume required literally no effort to put together. Everything he’s wearing is something he already owned and wore on a regular basis. All together, he’s the embodiment of some dashing Stevensonian art song. Something like this, maybe.

Except lots more demonic.

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That’s a Christmas card right there.

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best dressed collage

couple collage

So I did not win either category. Neither did Josh win best-dressed man or best facial hair. And I am kind of a sore loser – I’m an only child, what do you expect? But after I got done breaking stuff, I made myself remember that least I was a finalist – at least I still got my picture on the Seven Days website and a decent amount of exposure. And the people who won in both categories are kind of legit famous. Kat Wright is basically Burlington’s next Grace Potter. So there’s a certain fan base inherent in her campaign that I can’t really touch. It’s not an insult to my fashion prowess.

And I’m really happy about the representation in “best couple”. It’s nice to see Seven Days make plain that being publicly naked or getting buttloads of tattoos doesn’t preclude your ability to commit to a healthy relationship. Even the degenerates deserve love. It’s particularly nice because Josh and I are non-monogamous. You know this if you know us/have been hit on by one of us in real life, but I realized I have a lot of readers who don’t, and I often go back and forth on whether to “come out” to them. On the one hand, it’s fundamentally none of your damn business. On the other, while it really isn’t any of your damn business, it’s also the only way to gain representation. We think of poly relationships as doomed to fail because we hear, pretty much exclusively, about the ones that do. We think of non-monogamy as something that other people do. Practitioners couldn’t possibly be our neighbors or our co-workers or our vintage fashion bloggers. A couple of generations ago, we thought the same of queer and trans people, and look how much visibility has done. Not that I think the non-monogamous are oppressed, exactly. But being perpetually misunderstood (sometimes in really cruel ways: I’ve been told I’ll “die alone because no one can satisfy” me) is still a pain.

Josh is my primary partner, my life partner, and I love him to death. That doesn’t mean we own each other. It means we trust each other. And 10,000 Vermonters decided our relationship is a paragon of the genre. That’s pretty awesome.

…that got really soapbox-y really fast. Regularly scheduled outfit posts shall resume on the morrow.

 

higher wire

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Saturday: circus night at Green Mountain Cabaret! We didn’t win the costume contest, but I like to think the crowd loved us anyway. Well, inasmuch as you can call our outfits costumes: we pulled everything straight from our own closet, no new purchases necessary. People ask us why we hoard so much gaudy shit? This. This is why.

All the credit in the world to Zinfandel Photography and our sexy friends Sarah, Maria, and Gregg. I don’t remember how I spent my weekends before discovering cabarets. I love this blinding netherworld, where catcalls are currency and sequins are practically mundane. I’ve found my very own Moulin Rouge in bumfuck Burlington, and I’m never going back.

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dresses for literally everyone

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I was on my way downtown to photograph this outfit when a rather comely bearded man in a pretty dress flagged me down to give me this flower.  I think my transformation into a Wes Anderson heroine is just about complete. All I need now is a Pinterest account and an abstract bird tattoo to reach Moonrise Kingdom Overdrive. And I don’t even like Wes Anderson. Someone cover me in 20 ccs of spiders, stat.

But seriously, I love Burlington. I love Vermont. I love men, especially bearded men, in dresses. Hypermasculinity and -femininity in one really gets me going. I’m not saying Flower Guy was this gorgeous, but I’m not saying he wasn’t, either.

Sometimes people get on my back for not assuming that men in dresses want to be referred to as “she”. To which I always reply: isn’t it more sexist/cissexist to assume that wearing a dress nullifies masculinity? A man in a dress screams comfort in his manhood and the confidence to stride about in whatever he pleases. Which is basically the most attractive thing.

Dresses for literally everybody! Or if you’re not femme that’s okay too.

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This has to be one of the most perfect dresses I’ve ever owned. I bought it on Etsy from Year of the Cat Vintage. As a busty and vaguely chubby person, I’m always wary of buying vintage sight-unseen, but sometimes you gotta take a leap of faith. The cut and color and fabric all satisfy mental itches I didn’t know needed scratching. But it’s one of those dresses where, upon wearing it for the first time, I felt faintly surprised I hadn’t worn it before. Like, why didn’t I already have a green dress in this exact shape and shade?

I didn’t even feel it needed a belt, and I wear belts with literally everything.

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loonette’s heyday

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Josh tells me I often dress like a children’s TV host. I like the sound of that. Except I’d be the type who drops her chipper voice and demands a cigarette the moment the cameras roll away. I don’t even smoke, but if I had to be twee for a living, I just might have to start.

Did anyone else grow up watching Big Comfy Couch? Oh man, I had no idea how relevant to my adult life that show would end up. Basically living on the couch? But actually.

I bet Loonette grew up and started stripping to show off her dozen tattoos. You can’t be that bubbly for too long.

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dichotomies

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Here’s my quintessential “manic pixie dream blogger” outfit. It’s weird to realize I’m so head-turning in the real world and so pedestrian online. People unabashedly gawp at me on the street, but in the blogosphere, I’m just another “cupcakes & kittens” modcloth darling. Even though cupcakes and kittens are not really my thing. Give me shortbread and ferrets any day of the week.

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There’s a fine line between trying to stand out from the twee vintage girls and implying there’s something wrong with twee vintage girls. The last thing I want to be is the “Not Like Other Girls” girl – like, what’s wrong with other girls anyway? I don’t want to build up my identity by stomping on someone else’s, even though I certainly have my moments of “all these people are literally clones of one another”. But that’s quite rich of me to say while also promoting “being yourself”.  Who am I to simultaneously decry a large number of ways to be oneself? So someone has a lot in common with a certain subculture. Big deal. There are seven billion of us. None of us is as unique as we wish we were.

And that’s not even getting into how much of identity is culturally determined. It’s not like you can just strip away environment and find your “real self”. Your real self is part and parcel of your environment.

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I respect the modcloth girls. And hipsters and biddies and bros and fandom geeks and crunchy vegans. They might seem monolithic, but at least they know where they belong.

Even though I don’t necessarily want to be any one of them.

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back in the atelier

Bolstered by the success of my last post, I’ve decided to wax still more lyrical on dating vintage. The consignment shop where Danica works also just started accepting vintage clothing, so I’ve been helping her sort & analyze. And I figure the internet at large could probably benefit from my (self-taught, cobbled-together) expertise.

Today I’m tackling the no-man’s-land of retro silhouettes. Is it vintage? Is it a scam designed to prey on one’s inner magpie? No, it’s something far more lethal: 80s-does-40s.

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I’ve had this dress since my fifteenth birthday, when my mom thrifted it for the hefty sum of $1. (I’ve recently outgrown it, by the way, so I’m preparing to find it a bigger, better home. Comment for pricing and details.) For years, it was my go-to Formal Dress. I felt like the screen-sirenest screen siren who ever screen-sirened. It is not, however, authentically 40s. I’m about to explain why.

Analysis of 80s-does-40s and 80s-does-50s clothing is tricky: these pieces are, after all, technically vintage. But they’re not the kind of vintage that many clueless purveyors will claim. Even if two items are nigh indistinguishable, the older one will still fetch a higher price and more oohs and aahs. Let’s take a look at some of the trademark tells.

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Okay, let’s Google “bb collections”. The first results are all irrelevant. Narrowing it down to “bb collections 80s does 40s” turns up a brand called “barbara barbara”, which appears to have hit its heyday in the 70s and 80s. So right away we can rule out any possibility of this garment being authentically 40s. But suppose the brand label was missing. How else might we tell?

  • The tag, for one thing. Garment-care tags came into fashion in the 70s, but tags as we know them today – you know, the standardized rectangular variety – were mandated in 1983. A genuine 40s label might include the size and country of origin. That’s it.
  • The zipper. An authentic 40s zipper will, almost without exception, be metal. Plastic zippers came into vogue around 1968, so if your “40s dress” includes one, tread lightly.
  • The shoulder pads. Dear god, the shoulder pads. Though many 30s and 40s designs featured a slightly padded shoulder, the key word here is “slightly”. The purpose was to lightly round the shoulder and add a bit of structure. No authentic 40s piece would include anything this intense:

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I don’t mean to discourage anyone from 80s-does-40s (or 90s-does-50s, or any of the zillion permutations thereof). I said in my last post that I don’t care whether enthusiasts investigate the history or just like the clothes. I mean that. I wear quite a bit of 80s-does-40s and -50s myself. But I’d always rather be more informed than less. If you want to wear reproduction, make the conscious choice to do so.

And by god, stop clogging up the “vintage” tag.

 

eros & thanatos

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When Holly and I visit graveyards. she pacifies the loa with an offering of white rum. It tugs my heartstrings a little to see rum spilled on the ground, but I’d prefer that to angry loa. She is training to, eventually, become a mambo: Vodou priestess. I have some pretty cool friends.

My approach to horror and the occult is fundamentally sunny. I take almost childlike delight in the world, and I want to investigate highs and lows alike. Holly, like most of my friends, is darker. I have always been drawn to people who are unflinchingly morbid. The sort who wear black no matter the season and can only be happy when it rains. My life is full of nightmare fetishists and ghede worshipers, and I love it.

Eros and thanatos indeed.

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Where the gnomes go to lay their dead.

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in firelight

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So this blog miiiight just be a general art blog at this point. I still love doing outfit pictures, but it seems more and more that my blog’s success no long revolves around them. I’m just fine with that. I for one appreciate style blogs that really broaden the meaning of “style”. My favorite blogger these days is Rebecca of The Clothes Horse: she’s so genuinely interested in an artistic aesthetic and finding beauty in every corner.

Because fashion is boundless. It’s so much more than the clothes on our collective back. It’s how we live, how we portray ourselves, what we find aesthetic power in. It informs so much. It’s a marriage of utility and whimsy. And I could talk about it for hours.

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My beautiful friend Jake brought me back this robe from his studies abroad in Australia! He asked me what sort of souvenir I wanted; I told him to opshop me something. And opshop he did. I’ve basically been living in this robe for days now.

The day after I received this robe, a GIANT bug took up residence in my house. Josh insists it came from Australia to kill us all. Coincidence? More like LIZARD PEOPLE.