me-made: stars & stars forever

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Straight on the heels of disavowing “cute”, I bought fabric from the children’s section of Goodwill. Containing multitudes and all that. The print reminded me of a vintage dress I’d lusted after years ago. For only $3? Yeah, I had to.

Hoping to temper the finished product’s whimsy, I added decidedly adult details – a fitted waist and plenty of darting – and to my delight, it worked! With heels and brown accessories, the outfit is more matron than ModCloth. Just the way I like it. A brown ’30s hat makes everything more sedate. This particular one, hardboiled substance with just a touch of style, always makes me feel reporterly, like I ought to be grilling dissidents in a mid-Atlantic accent.

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This is also my first me-made bolero! The aforementioned vintage star-print dress came with one, and I wanted as close an homage as possible. Lacking a pattern, I adapted one for a shawl-collar bodice. It’s a little shorter than I’d wanted, but I had barely enough fabric as it was. On the whole, I’m pleased with my ability to make do and mend. This set cost me no more than $3 and some ingenuity.

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Dress & jacket: made by me

Hat: ’30s vintage, via Vintage Inspired Lifestyle Marketplace

Belt & bag: vintage, thrifted

Shoes: gift from Kristina

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con artist

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I see conventions and other such “geek culture” repositories as a chance to be even more myself. Really turn the vintage up to 11 and wear the best of everything – fuller silhouettes, softer curls, more luxurious prints than I might otherwise choose. It’s like I’m cosplaying as me. The best part is being complimented on my “costume” – yeah, let’s pretend I put any effort into this at all!

conblueIV conblueIIconblueXIFunny how if you asked me to pick my favorite-in-the-abstract dress, I’d fumble and falter, but if you asked me to pick the one I wear the most, I’d beeline straight for this one. I got it from a brick-and-mortar shop two years ago. One replaced zipper and several reinforced seams later, it’s still kicking. It’s the perfect “just fancy enough” base. And it lends itself impeccably to pattern-mixing. In it, I feel like the gaudy old broad I’ve always wanted to be.

I got this hat a few weeks ago for $13 at an otherwise thoroughly average thrift store. Among the mall brands and ugly purses, I somehow found this baby. Everything’s coming up dried roses!

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Dress: ’50s vintage, thrifted

Hat: ’30s-’40s vintage, thrifted

Everything else: vintage, thrifted

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me-made: pintucks & perfectionism

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With the completion of this piece, I feel I’m really starting to understand the mechanics of clothing. Face it – full-skirt-nipped-waist dresses are entry level, voluble enough to forgive most mistakes. There’s only so many pleated skirts a girl can make before repetition bashes her skull.

But this dress – forties, fabulous, and fitted – summoned precision I didn’t know I was capable of. I spent hours perfecting tucks and gathers, 40s fashion’s calling card, and I’m so pleased with the result. The dress hugs me into perfect form. I’ve finally begun to understand fabric implicitly: how to caress and cajole, how to make it do what I want with the mere threat of a pin. At a high enough level, mastery is indistinguishable from alchemy. I’ve finally had a taste of it.

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I got up early to shoot this dress on the first chilly morning in months. I changed out of it as soon as I finished, but the seed is already planted: I can’t wait to wear long sleeves and loafers for real. I stockpiled a few truly stunning cold-weather dresses over the summer, and they’re calling my name. And I miss wearing my hair down!

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Dress: made by me from Simplicity 35c 3884

Hat: vintage, via Gem’s Vintage Gems

Gloves: vintage, via Mainly Vintage

Belt & brooch: thrifted

Shoes: vintage, thrifted

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normcore

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I don’t want to look “alternative” anymore, and I feel bizarrely guilty about that.

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I want to be a vintage lifestyler. To wear Dior & co. as they were supposed to be worn, to sew my own reproductions, to sleep on curlers every night. And I’m just…not feeling twee anymore. I don’t want to look – brace yourself – childish.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Anyone can wear whatever they please, age and body type be damned. I believe this intellectually, and I try to implement it practically in my support of others. But for myself? I’ll admit it: I have style rules. I don’t think “flattering” is a dirty word. Do I dislike showing a lot of skin? You betcha! I’m starting to think “leaving one’s comfort zone” is overrated, at least when it comes to style. Who wants to be uncomfortable? Not me, and especially not as a political statement. Anyone should be able to wear what they want, but that doesn’t mean I, personally, have to wear everything.

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I don’t want to have pink hair again. I loved it and I rocked it, but I’m done. I don’t want glitter or hairbows or fairy-princess fluff. I don’t want skulls all over everything, I don’t want colored tights, and I really don’t want the dreaded c-word. Cutesy? More like shoot me.

And yet my lizard brain persists in thinking that by rejecting these things, these hallmarks of former selves, I’m giving up my sense of adventure. That a subtler mien is a slippery slope to becoming the sort of cow who says “she’s too old/fat/dark to be wearing that”.  That I’ve become square. It’s that fear that’s kept me holding onto clothes I know I won’t wear again: if I don’t stand out in every possible way, I’ll cease to be interesting.

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When it comes down to it, though, I don’t think I want to stand out. I want to be your average 20something who just happens to live in 1949. Maybe I look weird by virtue of existing in 2016, but that doesn’t make weirdness my niche. I like to think I’d have fit right in sixty-something years ago.

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Dress: ’50s vintage, via eBay

Cardigan: Ruby’s Red Ribbon

Scarf: made by me

Sandals: Earth Origins

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photo story: hear ye, hear ye

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I attended the Stowe Renaissance Faire almost two months ago now, and I just managed to upload the photos, oh, yesterday. Look at me, all topical ‘n’ shit. This is why I could never blog for a living.

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Renn Faires are equal parts cheeseball fun and actual living history, and I love each just as well. For every buxom barmaid and cackling witch, every caricature looming large, there’s a knight in full period armor. For every giant bratwurst, there’s an actual medieval livestock display. So I love the Rennie life no matter my mood. There’s something for me whether I’m feeling corseted kitsch or nose-in-the-air authenticity. Stowe’s venture featured both full SCAdian reenactment and a troupe of singing pirates, and any Rennie knows a good Faire needs both. Plus, getting tipsy on samples of mead. Everyone needs that.

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capture the castle

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Back in Ogunquit with a full ’40s flashback. You’ve seen all these pieces before, but the romance of keystones and creaking hinges makes everything new again. Plus, I was having a killer hair day.

I wore this outfit to tour Maine’s historical buildings with my partner and parents. The tour guide interrupted herself multiple times to marvel at how Josh and I were, as she put it, “glowing with love”. This happens strangely often at living-history events. We are often both the youngest people in attendance and the most extravagantly dressed, and we ask far too many questions about historical minutiae. If we’re glowing with anything, it’s grateful acknowledgement that no one else would put up with either one of us.

People seem very charmed by a couple in their twenties so genuinely taken with reenactor life. We’ve been asked more than once if we’re on our honeymoon! I can’t say I mind the attention. It’s nice feeling like the teacher’s pet.

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Speaking of historical minutiae, my latest article for Bustle discusses just that! Click over for seven little-known 20th-century trends. Downton Abbey fans will get at least one.

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all for naut

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If there’s a truer, plainer pleasure than the sea, I have yet to greet it. I love the kitsch, the candied air, the boardwalk romance, but what I love the most is the promise between the foam and me. You slide beneath the wave, and for a moment you pray: the space between a sweet ride and a snapped neck is part of the magic. A random act of physics. Sure enough, you’re tossed back to the shore, but not without a burning throat and an eyeful of sand. But this is what you asked for.

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Swimsuit: Amazon.com

Headscarf: self-made

Photos: by my mother and me

Seashore: Ogunquit, Maine

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me-made: dot dot dot

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I can feel my sewing improve, and I’m delighted. My seams are crisper, my cuts defter, my buttonholing a slightly smaller dumpster fire. I’ve made twelve outfits in three months. If each one takes six hours on average, and it takes 10,000 hours to be really truly good at something, then I’m…almost one percent there. Yay me!

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This dress is both my second iteration of Simplicity 3878 and my second inauguration of new old stock fabric. This crisp ’50s cotton was still on its original roll when I purchased it from Golden Daffodils Vintage. So even though this dress didn’t exist until last night, it might as well be vintage. A paradox fit for Theseus.

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I’m heading to Maine tomorrow with a sunny forecast and a brand-new swimsuit, so watch out for pinup posts flouncing your way!

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