paschal princess

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Several weeks ago, I wrote with glee that I had found one of my holy grail vintage items: a nipped-waist New Look suit. I checked it off my “collector goals” list, and since then I’ve been hunting hardcore for the next item down: an authentic ’40s-’50s princess coat.

Guys. You have no idea how few and far between genuine princess coats are. Look up “princess coat large” on Etsy. That’s right – four pages of results, as compared to the usual hundreds. To add insult, most of them aren’t even princess coats. Here is what a princess coat is: a nipped-waist coat with a full skirt. Here is what a princess coat isn’t: a swing coat, a pea coat, an opera coat, a wrap coat, or a trench coat. And yet they make up, oh, 75% of the “princess coats” for sale online. Of the authentic ones, anything really beautiful will invariably be a) hundreds of dollars and b) tiny.

So I’ve been sitting here banging my face against the wall, because this should not be that difficult! It’s not a complicated design. I’m not after authentic Russian mink or hand-stitched couture. Just a coat that, perish the thought, fits over my dresses. I’ve put up with the dreaded petticoat squish for far too long. Not attractive. Not in the least.

And then Calendar Girl Vintage walked into my life…

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And at last it is mine. A 1940s princess coat in my exact size, complete with crisp shoulders, wasp waist, and the twirliest skirt you can imagine. For under $150. I still can’t believe it’s real! I am the WWII stewardess of my wildest dreams. This is the kind of coat you pass down to your grandchildren.

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I premiered my new coat on Easter Sunday, at my first-ever Latin Mass. Not being Catholic, I felt vaguely blasphemous, but girl’s gotta have Latin. And ecclesiastical Latin is delightful. So crisp and simple – a nice change from Ovid, whose favorite pastime is changing verb endings because “lol why not”.

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Coat: vintage, via Calendar Girl Vintage

Hat: vintage, via Gem’s Vintage Gems

Dress: vintage, via brick-and-mortar store

Gloves: vintage, thrifted

Shoes: from Kristina

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and underneath her wimple / she has curlers in her hair

 

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So ever since Kristina completed her transformation into a fairy princess, I’ve been craving curls of my own. To be more precise, I’ve been craving them for a long time. ’50s girls need curls; it’s just a fact. But my hair is pin-straight and I am incredibly lazy, so I’d long since resigned myself to simpler hairdos. It was Kristina’s revelation that turned ringlets from pipe dream to God help me, I must have this. 

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So I bought some foam curlers from Drugstore.com. I was seriously doubting they would work: previous experience had shown me that my hair doesn’t hold a curl, period. But there’s something about foam that does it! That, and using dry hair – that made a big difference. I won’t pretend sleeping on the rollers was comfortable, but I was also completely inexperienced at putting them in. Next time I’ll clip the curls higher on my head, so they aren’t smack in the middle of my temple and the pillow.

And lo – I actually think curls suit my face shape better than straight hair does. I haven’t been wearing my glasses lately, but something about the cat-eye looks amazing with chunky curls. I felt rockabilly to a fault. My dad even said I looked “very nice”, and he’s one of those people who wouldn’t notice if I grew an extra arm.

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Dress: Tatted Tina’s Designs

Hat & gloves: vintage, thrifted

Everything else: thrifted

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kitschy witchery

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Would you believe I’ve had this skirt for almost two years and never worn it? Not just “never worn for the blog”. Never. Worn. It’s a few inches too big in the waist, and it’s really hard to take in a circle skirt without ruining the silhouette. I could pin it, like I did for these photos, but going a whole day like that…nah. Still, I’ll never get rid of this beauty. You can’t call yourself a ’50s girl if you don’t own a poodle skirt. It’s a social rule, unspoken but very much enforced.

Just…not this one, please.

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Skirt: costume shop

Hat: vintage, thrifted

Everything else: thrifted

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young scrappy & hungry

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Like any good theater kid, I’m currently mainlining the soundtrack to Hamilton. I was late to the party, as usual: I never seem to jump into these cultural moments right when the wave is cresting. I prefer to wait until the mania has settled a little and I can enjoy *thing on my own terms. Feels less claustrophobic somehow. But now that I’m a bona fide Hamilton lover…hot damn.

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In case for some reason you don’t know, Hamilton is a hip-hop musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, founding father and first Secretary of the Treasury.  It’s RENT meets Les Miserables. It’s an unusual marriage of themes, to be sure, but its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is so irrepressibly enthusiastic about both that it just works. I mean, there’s a song about dueling that samples Biggie Smalls’s “Ten Crack Commandments”. Who else would think of that?

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That’s my favorite part, I think: the undeniable enthusiasm. I don’t do detachment. I don’t like ironic nods and half-sneering winks. I value sincerity, and everything about Hamilton is so genuinely sincere that it’s goddamn infectious.

Don’t just take my word for it: Hamilton’s official cast album was “the highest debuting cast recording on the Billboard Top 200 in over 50 years“. Fifty. Years. The show is sold out through July. And I can’t help but be thrilled that a nerdy artist’s love letter to historical minutiae is – not just reaching, but enthralling so many people. I love that there’s still room in the world for obvious passion. Just do your thing loudly enough, insistently enough – like the real Hamilton did! – and people will listen.

Also, Lin-Manuel Miranda is probably an actual genius. That helps too. With a Sondheimian gift for wordplay, I might add.

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Dress: vintage, via eBay

Everything else: thrifted

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And now, the part you’ve been waiting for – here are my top five tracks from the musical (subject to change, of course, at any moment). You really should listen to the whole thing in order, given that it’s a sung-through, but if for whatever reason you can’t:

  • Burn. Hooooly Moses. Even if you don’t know the context, I hope you can appreciate that this song is basically the “On My Own” of our time. Plus “you’ve married an Icarus / and he’s flown too close to the sun” is probably my favorite line in the show.
  • Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down). The string section from ~2:10 – 2:20 is my favorite bit of music in the entire show, hands-down.
  • Right Hand Man. The role of George Washington was described in the official casting dossier as “Mufasa meets John Legend” and…yep. I really have no qualms with that.
  • What’d I Miss? I may or may not be in love with Daveed Diggs. That voice…plus, I mean, this.
  • Wait For It. I honestly have no explanation for this one. It’s not at all the kind of song I’m usually drawn too – too smooth, too poppy, too top-40. But it has a downright maddening hook, and I can’t stop listening to it, so it must be a favorite by default.

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new in the shop

I’m selling off more of my own stash. I kind of hate the phrase “shop my closet”, but if you’ve ever wanted to do so, now’s your chance!

For those of other sizes – never fear; there’s plenty of goodies today, including a vintage wedding dress I found at Goodwill(!).

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50s Raspberry Skirt Suit Size L/XL / $60.00

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50s Pink Polyester Suit Size M/L / $70.00

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50s Fit-and-Flare Snap-Waist Dress Size L / $40.00

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50s Novelty Print Cotton/Rayon Dress / Size XL

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50s Orange Polyester Swing Skirt Size L / $40.00

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60s/70s Green Ruffled Swing Dress / $45.00

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50s Red Polyester Patio Dress Size S / $60.00

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80s Pink Polyester Dress Size M / $30.00

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50s Lace Fit-and-Flare Wedding Dress Size S / $260.00

 

 

 

 

vernal victory

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Yes, I’m wearing a St. Paddy’s pin, but it’s clear from my three-days-late post how much I actually care about the holiday. In theory, it’s neat, but in practice, living in a college town has deadened my enthusiasm for booze-centric events. On the actual Thursday, I stayed in and vomited by proxy at the idea of mixing beer and Bailey’s.

I must remind everyone, though, that it’s actually St. Paddy’s, and every time someone writes “Patty”, another snake slithers back into Ireland. Though any Always Sunny fan could tell you as much.

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And with that, happy vernal equinox! Or first day of spring, for the plebs. This greenie is hands-down my favorite summer dress. It’s simple and soft and fits me so damn well. I’ve probably blogged it more than I’ve blogged any other single item, and I still haven’t captured just how often I wear it.

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Dress: vintage, via Cat’s Eye Vintage (no longer extant)

Coat & head scarf: vintage, thrifted

Everything else: thrifted

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red on a grey day

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For the past month I’ve had an almost-sore throat that keeps threatening to bloom. At this point I’d just rather get sick and be done with it. Give me heaven or hell – just get me out of purgatory, ya know? I don’t have much to say today, so I’ll draw on today’s witchy skies and share some of my favorite stories from reddit’s original horror forum, NoSleep.

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My taste in horror runs more to the spine-tingling than the overtly grotesque. If you’re craving a scare that settles in your lungs and slithers into your lizard brain by night – well, you’ll enjoy these.

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And finally –

  • Real hunger can’t be fed. I know that now – this is my favorite short story of all time. Not “favorite on NoSleep”. Favorite. Ever. It’s the thing I reread when I want to remember why I write, and it never fails to reignite whatever’s flickered.

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beware the pides of march

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If the 15th is the Ides of March, it stands to reason that the 14th is the Pides, right? Et tu, Frute!

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I’ve been reading the Metamorphoses lately. In its original Latin, which I’m very pleased is an ability I haven’t lost. I’d been worried that my Latin had slipped, but I guess I’ve made like one of Hannibal’s elephants and locked that shit down tight. An hour or so of reviewing my verb endings and it all came back.

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I’ve been out of school for three years this May, and lingua latina remains my favorite subject in the world. Latin class was the reason I didn’t drop out of high school and graduated a sort-of-sane person. I’ve studied a few other languages, but it’s not the same. It’s not like this. Latin makes sense to me. When I decode a sentence bit by bit, when I puzzle out the difference between identical cases, when all the “t”s are crossed and the macrons positioned and each suffix properly attached, the whole world feels a little better.

Dead language my foot. If I do nothing else in this world, I’ll bring Latin a little more to life, and I’ll be happy.

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I’m not a Classics nerd, not really. I can take or leave ancient Rome as a historical period; I’m far more interested in other eras. But Latin grammar is one of the most beautiful things in my world. I don’t even need to read Ovid. I’d be happy doing verb drills for hours and charting every possible use of the ablative.

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Dress: Retrolicious, also worn here

Cardigan, petticoat, brooch, shoes, stole: thrifted

Hat: vintage, via Gem’s Vintage Gems, also worn here and here  blackgreenX

I wore this outfit on Saturday night to a friend’s bowling-alley birthday party. Josh dared me to bowl in a full petticoat, and I’m pleased to announce I hit a whopping 86. Which, for me, is excellent.

And my ladies and I looked all the hotter at the club afterward.

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fat friday

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I took these pictures Monday and just around to posting them today, in honor of a holiday that took place over a month ago. Congration to me, I done it. Not that the entire state of Vermont was much better. Our official Mardi Gras parade was just last weekend. Vermont, as a collective, is very, very high most of the time.

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On that note, earlier this week an illegal hash oil extraction lab was busted barely three blocks from my house. I was on my way home Tuesday night and saw more cop cars than I’d ever seen in one place; the story broke a few hours later. Now, I am very pro-drug, politically if not personally. I consider bodily autonomy an inalienable right: my body belongs to me and me alone, and what I put in it isn’t the business of the state. I’ll lecture anyone who will listen about the racism, classism, and ableism embedded in American drug policy. I have no problem with people smoking weed in their own homes, though I wouldn’t choose to be around it.

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But this? This pisses me right off. I support drug use because I think consent is the backbone of a free society. And I, as someone who lives in that neighborhood and frequents the club directly underneath said lab, do not consent to being blown up. It freaks me out to know I was thisclose to umpteen potential explosions. And it infuriates me that so many locals don’t see anything wrong with that.

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Because I’m an incorrigible masochist, I always read the comments. I expect them to be terrible, but these might be a new low. No, “the man” is not punishing drug users. (I mean, he is, but not in this case.) You aren’t being persecuted for smoking weed – you’re being prevented from sending the whole block up in smoke because you care less about strangers’ safety than about your right to a better high. That is really, really not okay with me.

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Dress, hat, & gloves: vintage, thrifted

Cape: medieval faire

Everything else: thrifted

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on artifice

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I read a quote on tumblr a while back about “making our bodies into corsets”, and while I can’t find or remember the exact wording, I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I’ll do my best to paraphrase.

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I’ve noticed a weird kind of pity toward women who use shapewear. Google “corseting” or “waist training”, and you’ll find all manner of condescending articles by authors who “can’t believe women are doing this in 2016”. Something about that always chafed me, and the quote I found helped me put my finger on why.

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Women of old cinched their waists slimmer, yes. They padded their bottoms and laced panniers to each hip. They poured their breasts into bullets. But at the end of the day, they took it all off. The artifice was acknowledged and set, consciously, aside. Many ’50s dresses are ridiculously, practically cartoonishly proportioned. An 18″ difference between bust and waist? That’s nigh impossible. But here’s the rub – no one expected a woman’s actual figure to look like that.

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Dress: 1940s vintage, via War’s End Shop

Everything else: vintage and/or thrifted

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And there’s something so equalizing in that. You don’t like what nature gave you? Lace up a girdle and move on with your life. Can’t quite squeeze into that dress? Lace said girdle a few notches tighter. Done! Nowadays? We’ve made our bodies the corsets. We shun cinchers and count calories instead, as though the latter were any less a deliberate effort.

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At least you can remove the former. At least you get a break. When we collectively acknowledge that hey, very few of us actually look like this, it lets everyone off the hook. We indulge a shared artifice, and at the end of the day we unhook and unzip and let our bodies breathe. I don’t think modern fashionistas have that luxury. If you want a wasp waist in a vintage one-piece, you cinch and suck. If you want a wasp waist in a string bikini, you have to work for it. There’s no room to hide. You’re living in a panopticon, and nothing is private.

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Most of my dresses require a body shape I simply do not have. My waist is squidgy; my breasts are widely set. So what? I wear a corset and a bullet bra and a pair of spanx over my tights. Boom, done. It’s far, far easier than spending hours at the gym, trying to make my actual flesh something it isn’t. If I eat too much Thai food or drink too many Manhattans, my clothes will still fit the next day, because I’ll make them fit.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we’re all wearing costumes. It’s just that some of us admit it.

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