spooky selections

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This outfit is decidedly not scary, unless you’re the type to be squicked by my harlequin pin. Even in sheep’s clothing, though, I’m as wolfish as ever. Longtime readers have some inkling of how big a horror fan I am. If you’re new here, you probably also have some inkling. Seriously, I’m not subtle.

This is the first of many haunted posts to come. In preparation for your Halloweekend, have some of my favorite scary tales.

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Watch

  • The VVitch I reviewed this film back in February after seeing it in theaters, and I stand by everything I said. “Rural religious gothic” is my favorite genre of anything ever, and boy howdy does The VVitch deliver. I have a really, really high bar for “unsettling”. I’ve spent ten years of my life working Halloween events; I’ve peeked behind the curtain so many times the curtain ceases to be. But The VVitch actually has a few scenes that felt too alien to be looking at. Like you’ve walked in on something profoundly other and you can’t find the door.
  • Black Swan Another one I saw in theaters. I’m really not a cinema person. I go twice a year, if that. Black Swan was unequivocally worth it. It was my favorite horror film until The VVitch came along. Even though it’s been supplanted, it still creeps behind my eyes when I’m falling asleep.
  • The Silence of the Lambs This movie scared my mother senseless when it came out, so I was forbidden to go near it growing up. When I finally saw it at 17, I wondered what all the fuss was about. It’s not really scary in the visceral sense – at least, it doesn’t trip that particular wire for me. But it’s a masterpiece of atmosphere. Plus, Anthony Hopkins. He won Best Actor that year for sixteen minutes of screentime, yet his presence suffuses the entire film.
  • American Psycho Again, not particularly scary. Not really intended to be, in this case – it’s more of a black comedy. But it’s a really excellent pastiche of the slasher genre, and also probably the best book-to-film adaptation I’ve ever seen. The novel is one of my favorite books, so that’s high praise.
  • Changeling I first watched this movie with a fever of a hundred and three, and I can say with confidence that that is the best way to watch it. It will mess. you. up. And Angelina Jolie is fabulous in anything.

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Read

  • Revenants “The year is 1689. Situated on the northern boundary of the Massachusetts Bay colony, the town of Cold Marsh is a place of secrets, a village characterized by repression and guilt. … Two of the town’s young women have vanished under mysterious circumstances, and the country seethes with rumors of witchcraft and devilry. Even their God has abandoned them. When a third young woman disappears, the men of the village determine to leave the safety of the village and enter the other world of the woods in search of her.”
  • The Winter People “West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter. … Nineteen-year-old Ruthie is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom.”
  • Incubus “It begins with the theft of six candles from the church altar, a few herbs found strewn in the local graveyard. In the summer of 1974, the prosperous farming community of Dry Falls, Maine, is hit by a brutal heat wave. Crops fail. Drought blights once-verdant lawns. Men inexplicably lose all interest in sex, while women complain of erotic nocturnal visitations. Farm animals give birth to monstrosities. An unholy, unimaginable force is disrupting the natural order—and it seems to be specifically targeting Dry Falls.”
  • Eumenides in the Fourth Floor Lavatory
  • Her Name Was Emma
  • Real Hunger Can’t Be Fed

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Listen

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merrily we roar along

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For the second day of the Springfield Steampunk Festival (not that I’m sharing these shots a month late or anything), I decided to go ’20s. Still not steampunk, I know, but I feel the Jazz Age heeds the spirit if not the letter.  The same subversive spark animated both eras. The one happened to manifest in science, the other in speakeasies, but you get my point. The Roaring ’20s are at the very least a spiritual cousin to the age of steam.

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Nothing I’m wearing is authentic ’20s, of course. The dress, a gem of a $15 find, is probably ’30s or ’40s. The hat is ’60s, and everything else is thrifted. Still, there’s a bit of flapper in the air. Reminds me of late-stage Downton Abbey. Can’t you just see Mary strutting London in this?

One thing that’s always screamed Jazz Age to me is lack of coordination. Midcentury stuff has a real matchy-matchy vibe, what with the suits and perfect curls. To me there’s something bohemian about the teens and ’20s – throwing together whatever colors and patterns you please and somehow making it work. There’s a lot going on here. Textures, prints, embroidery – cook ’em in a stew and you’ve got something, dammit. Wearing four different patterns at once feels ’20s regardless of my clothes’ authenticity. 20svi 20sxiv 20sxiii 20svii 20sxii20sviii20siv

extravagance & wool

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We’re having an apocalyptic warm snap today (80 degrees?!), so I’m attempting balance with the newest, and possibly most spectacular, item checked off my vintage wishlist. I took these pictures over three weeks ago at the Springfield Steampunk Festival, so they’re both pre-haircut and pre-full autumn foliage. I’m sure you can handle it.

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My yearning for vintage princess coats is thoroughly documented. You could make a cut-rate reality show about it. Unfortunately, they’re among the rarest of the rares. Surviving ones are almost always tiny and almost always exorbitantly priced. And anything both large enough and cheap enough is, most often, not a princess coat. I wrote back in March:

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.

Yeah. Hashtag struggle. I found a gorgeous navy version earlier this year, and of course I adore it, but warm it is not. In a state where you’re bundled up six months of the year, you have to maintain the glamour somehow. So my hunt continued, narrowed further still.

And then faeriejess happened.

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There it was: grey wool, velvet accents, and my exact size. And also…a sum of money I am too ladylike to disclose. Welp. After three days of ruminating, I swallowed my pride and ponied up. I paid a quarter of the price upfront, with regular payments over the next few weeks. As of a month ago? She’s finally mine.

I was always sort of creeped out by vintage bloggers’ tendency to give their clothes animate pronouns. Now I think I understand it. Sometimes a piece is so lovely you can’t help personifying.

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I doubt I’ll ever pay so much for a piece of clothing again. I also doubt I’ll ever need to. This is the kind of coat you get buried in. It’s classic and sturdy and one of the warmest things I’ve ever owned. And it doesn’t hurt that at one of the haunted houses I visited this month, an actor broke character to tell me how much she loved it.

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me-made: bountiful butterick

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I didn’t realize until I’d finished my version of Butterick B5556 that it’s apparently quite common in the seamstress ‘sphere. I’m wearing a pattern pioneered by some of the biggest names in vintage sewing – I mean, the freaking Boyer Sisters! A Lass of Yesteryear! Not only is this apparently a capital-Th Thing, I get to be part of it. Does that mean I’m cool?

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I adore this pattern. No bones about it. I snapped it up at JoAnn Fabrics’ last major sale. Four vintage patterns for $20? Um, yes. I itched and seethed all summer long, eager to draft the perfect cold-weather dress, and this month my chance finally came. Thanks to a king-size bedsheet and a brown patterned pillow sham, I own the swingiest swing dress that ever swung.  It’s not Halloween without a skirt swirling at your heels like a minion. A 1955 pattern will sure as hell deliver.

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I raised the neckline and crisscrossed the Mandarin collar for a more matronly look. My face refuses to look its age. Sans makeup and glasses, I’ve been mistaken for as young as 16. If I want to look like a Real Live Adult with a Job and Everything, I have to balance things with a little grandma essence.

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Dress: made by me, Butterick B5556

Coat: ’60s vintage, via flea market

Hat: ’50s vintage, via Lily‘s flash sale

Gloves: vintage, via Mainly Vintage

Shoes: vintage, thrifted

Purse & brooch: vintage, thrifted

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me-made: meni, middy, mici

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I’d been planning, and subsequently putting off, an authentic ’50s middy haircut for some time. I may not have the wherewithal to make an appointment, but it turns out I’m more than capable of picking up scissors in a fit of impulse. I snipped off five inches on Saturday morning, and I haven’t regretted it yet. I’d still like to get it shaped into a proper middy, but right now I’m content just keeping a goddamn curl. My longer sets looked great first thing in the morning, only to fall like a sad souffle half an hour in. Hence spending the entire summer in buns.

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I’m loving this newfound bounce. Bonus: on the second day of my set, after the curls have lost some spring, they’re perfect for early ’40s elegance. October calls for kitsch and class in equal measure.

And this weekend was decidedly kitsch. I finished up this dress, thanks to a Goodwill bedsheet and my trusty Vogue 8789, and I knew it called for my most ridiculous petticoat. My red Malco Modes number suits only the fullest skirts. I gave this dress a full 120-inch sweep to show off the fabulous border print, and it just barely fit. The whole outfit screams “repro babe” – with the added thrill of knowing I haven’t paid a hundred bucks for a dress I could make myself.

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Dress: made by me with Vogue 8789

Hat: vintage, via Fancy Lucky Vintage

Petticoat: Malco Modes

Gloves: vintage, via Mainly Vintage

Shoes: vintage, thrifted

Cardigan & belt: thrifted

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all steamed up

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Most of my life happens between September and November. Though I’m taking a sabbatical from haunting, this year is no exception. Starting with the Springfield Steampunk Festival two weekends ago, I have been or will be traveling every single weekend. Cry you a river, I know. But I’ve also got an actual grown-up job, plus freelance deadlines, plus my personal writing. And I really like my bed.

I’m grateful, though. It’s not like I’ll look back on my life one day and wish I’d done fewer cool things.

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Anyway, two weekends ago Josh and I arrived at the Springfield Steampunk Festival for a splendidly anachronistic time. I took hundreds of pictures, which will occupy another post sometime before I die. For now, let’s appreciate what we wore.

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I dressed more midcentury than Victorian, as I am wont to do. If anyone asked, I said I was traveling back in time from the ’50s. Any steampunk who’d hold that against me isn’t worth his gears. And I really, really wanted to wear this new-to-me suit from Leonine Vintage.

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I saw the suit on Etsy back in March. I knew I had to have it like I’d never known anything before, but it cost…well, more than I’d ever spent on a piece of clothing. Thanks to the ever-patient Melissa at Leonine, I was able to pay it off little by little. The mid-August day it arrived was the day I decided I was done with summer. Time for brown blooms and fall suits. It fits me perfectly, and accommodates a petticoat to boot. I can’t wait to wear it with a truly extravagant hat.

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Josh, of course, went full steampunk alchemist. He’s been getting into leatherwork recently; these etched bracers, complete with attached scroll, are his current pride and joy. I’m glad he has a new hobby and all, but between his leather and my bins of fabric, we might need a bigger apartment.

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Finally, my vintage blogger survey will be open for another couple of days! Last chance.

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