victoriana

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This was supposed to be a steampunk outfit, but it ended up more “1940s train traveler”. Ah well. I love it anyway. And what better to pair it with than this short story? It’s sort of based on Chekhov’s “The Bet”, which I read when I was 10 and which proved very formative to my literary sensibilities.

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Let me first whet your palate with the mention of Dr. Lucius von Schroeder. It is with a bowed head and a mist in mine eye that I recount his fate. Not I, nor the beings ingrained within this volume, shall pass judgment should you choose to turn your dear faint head away.

Von Schroeder was only a boy. I shouldn’t have nursed his whims so. Then again, bravado had thrilled him since his first beard. It was writ epic in his nature. Who was I to stand in his God (or whomever)-given way?

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Von Schroeder craved beginnings and feared their ends terribly. He spoke of new dawns and advances yet unseen with besotted rapture. I don’t think his early days in the seminary had ever really quit him. He spurned the Church too vocally, too frequently, as though expunging whatever kernel of faith yet remained. He swore fidelity to science through and through, but I knew better. One night, when the walls seemed thin as ash and wind whipped our meager quarters, I heard the young man pray.

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How life itself ran riot through him! “Ashes to ashes,” he crowed. “Why, you and I are naught but stardust. Think of all we’d accomplish by truly realizing such infinite life. What is a man but his insistence on his own humanity? O, but what wonders we could channel if we’d stop clinging so.”

Lucius lusted faithfully after the ends of the earth. His need for transcendence, for taxonomy greater than his in creation’s kingdom, seemed to dog him with equal parts arousal and anxiety. Were I an insect, carrying discernment in the pads of my feet, I’d have seen the struggle writ subtle on his keen face. The epic of a man who’d abandoned God wrestling his own desire for holiness.

I watched him grow fevered and fevered further. I heard his prayers that weren’t prayers, whispered below breath as he worked. I didn’t recognize his deities. I did not understand his crosses to bear. In his private moments, he stood at a crux between two worlds I would never know.

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I was blind to what truly lay before me until the day my ward summoned me to his bedside. He was pale, but far from enervated; he was lit, incandescent, by the same godforsaken stardust that gripped him so. It hit me: he’d been a little less man each day. A little more spirit. Lucius was ash and wind and his own corner of Armageddon. He wasn’t meant for this world.

“My boy?”

“Professor Crowe, I’ve long known what I have to do. When you return to work, you’ll find your arsenic depleted. Once I have gone, please replace it with any money my earthly possessions will fetch you. It’s the least I can offer. But in the time I have left, there’s one thing I need.”

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He paused. Theatrics always did run deep in Lucius. “Collect my final breath, Professor. Let it ferment. Let whatever cursed thing called me home finally show its face. I will not live to see what multitudes I truly contain.

But you will.”

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I buried a man half my age with a heart twice as heavy. I drafted notes to his family only to remember he had none. The hastily corked bottle containing his final earthly statement dogged me all the while.

And then, my friend, my dear blameless boy, I let it go.

That little carafe exhaled your remains into a world never meant for them. I felt the air itself recoil. And I hung my head in shame.

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But what else would I have done? For all my dedication to this world’s more sordid wonders, I was cowed by something so ineffable. You see, I hunt the darkness in corners long forgotten. I was not prepared to find it in man.

~

Dress & jacket: vintage, via brick-and-mortar store

Boots: vintage, via eBay

Everything else: thrifted

magic hour & geeking out

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This is less an outfit post than me prancing around at magic hour in a dress I’d forgotten I had, with hair that’s finally, finally long enough to be messy. (Seriously, HOW could I have forgotten this dress? I thrifted it two years ago for $13; something similar on, say, PinupGirlClothing would run over $100. I need to count my damn blessings.)

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I also thought I’d share an interest of mine that I don’t often mention here: medieval and Renaissance music. I am an absolute fool for madrigals, for antiphons, for hymns, for requiems, for lutes and fifes and minstrels. This is not exactly something people expect from me. I often feel like nothing about my personality is really cohesive, to the point where I’m like “if I were a fictional character, I would call myself unrealistic”. There’s a constant undercurrent of awareness that people probably think I’m “trying too hard” or making myself a special snowflake. I try not to care, but I am also loath to seem like a poseur.

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Anyway, here is the medieval/Renaissance/Celtic music playlist you didn’t know you needed!

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maxi dress & evolution

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Somewhere in the past two years, I’ve stopped being Kooky-with-a-capital-Q. I don’t know when it happened, but one day recently I woke up and realized all my outfits have the same silhouette, the same pleats and gathers and darts. I still love my power clashing, my aggressive kitsch, my costume pieces repurposed for everyday life, but there’s something leaner about it now. I no longer wear trailing skirts or a million layered bangles or black tights in the summer. I still crave being seen, but the tools of my seduction are much more ’50s twee, primness slightly queered, than art-teacher absurdity.

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I have a uniform now, for better or for worse. A fit-and-flare dress – knee-length, cotton, cap-sleeved – a hat or scarf, colorful socks, men’s brogues. It’s where I’ve settled after a lifetime of throwing fabric at myself and hoping something stuck. I enjoy it, I feel like myself here in this groove, but I didn’t realize just how deeply carved it was until I almost passed up this dress.

It’s longer than I prefer, by a good foot. For a few minutes I agonized – I just don’t feel right in long dresses. I’m not a hippie; that’s Kristina’s department. And then I realized that when a dress like this is delivered, pristine and unstained and in your exact size, you don’t pick nits. You spend the ten goddamn dollars, because you will never find a piece like this again.

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I ended up wearing it to a circus-themed party the night after I took these photos. I sprawled on the floor and decided my dress would be the tent.

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daisies & eyeliner

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It’s my thirteenth summer at camp. I started as a camper way back in 2003, as a rising fourth-grader who had yet to get her first haircut. Since then, my whole life has boiled down to one microcosmic week each year. Every June, I enter my fishbowl. Every June, our family gets a little closer and a little stranger.

I’ve made most of my best friends here. We’ve swum upstream through the counselor-in-training program and become fully fledged authorities, lording over the tiny brats like we swore we’d never do. Such is the way of the world.

I managed to extricate myself for a few minutes yesterday to take photos down by the pond. If the facilities are mediocre (I’m convinced my bed will give me herpes), the landscape more than compensates.

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the witch & the sprite, part ii: polka dots & trilliums

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The second batch from my recent shoot with Holly.

I like having friends who are dark where I am light. I am more a fairy, swathed in silks and gleeful scandal, than a witch. I need more trenchant forces to balance me.

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vintage watercolors & winooski in bloom

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My camera is finally back! Just in time for nascent spring, too. The whole city looks scrubby and new when I sit atop the hill and observe. I love love love the bright tentative green of almost-leaves.

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It’s weird how anxious I got without my camera. I am someone, I’ve discovered, who gets extremely anxious when I cannot document beauty. I have a hard time just taking things in: I need to capture them. I need to make sure everyone knows how exquisite that flower was, how unique that cloud’s shape. In short: I’m the worst Buddhist ever.

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It feels strange to just…live life. I’m so used to trying to grasp as much of it as I can. I need to remember that an experience unshared is still an experience. I don’t need to haul out my mechanical eye for every private joy.

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In other news, it’s moonshine time again. I’ve been making dandelion wine for four years, and this year I have a big enough kitchen and a steady enough income to branch out. I’d like to do, at minimum, dandelion, lilac, peony, and rose.

I’ve been thinking of doing other seasonal varieties, too. I want to experiment with some savories come autumn. How does rosemary wine sound?

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three years: part II

It’s my anniversary. I get to be overtly narcissistic, okay?

I came to blogging for the style and stayed for the photography. My earliest photos were almost unconscionably shitty; I look at them now and can’t believe I put them on the internet under my real name. Learning my way around my camera and cultivating a genuine love for capturing light have been two really rewarding by-products of blogging.

Here are my best-ever photos.

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five | six | seven | eight

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three years today

This was my very first outfit picture:

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And this was my most recent.

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The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I started My Kingdom for a Hat three years ago today. It was called Color Me Brazen then. I’d been posting my daily outfits on Facebook for a few months, and on May 2nd, 2012, I decided to start a blog for them instead of studying for my finals. Three years later, here’s where I’m at:

  • Posts: 429
  • Comments: 719
  • Views: 94,444
  • Embarrassment at the the awfulness and pretension of my old work: priceless

Here are the sixteen best outfits I’ve ever worn. Not necessarily the ones that photographed the best, but the ones I felt absolutely bangin’ in.

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five six | seven | eight

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nineten | eleven | twelve

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thirteen fourteen fifteensixteen

this magic keeps him alive / but it’s making him crazy

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Putting the endless twee parade on hold for a moment. Just your average day in the screaming post-apocalyptic abyss – aka my backyard. It makes a pretty great abyss, though.

Josh’s Simon Petrikov cosplay is among the more uncanny likenesses I’ve seen. For those of you who don’t watch Adventure Time – well, first get off this blog and watch all six seasons of Adventure Time – Petrikov is an antiquarian who stumbles upon a madness-inducing crown. It grants him immortality at the cost of his mind, and slowly transforms him into the Ice King. Hilarity – and also really unsettling “this is so not for kids” imagery – ensues.

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granny florals, orange tights, & a leather coat

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Two Australian women are currently campaigning against the term (and attendant concept of) “plus-size”. Model Stefania Ferrario writes:

“I do NOT find this empowering. I’m NOT proud to be called ‘plus,’ but I AM proud to be called a ‘model,’ that is my profession!”

Ferrario & compatriot Ajay Rochester claim that “the label is both counterproductive and harmful to young girls’ self esteem”. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here smashing my face against the keyboard: am I the only one who thinks they’re going about this completely wrong?ojVIIIojIII

First of all, I wish more people understood that plus-size isn’t a judgment or a statement on one’s personhood. It’s a garment category. It’s not about the people wearing those garments; it’s a way of classifying cut and fit to easily signal its intended audience. Just as “tall” means “longer inseams”, “petite” means “shrunken proportions”, and “maternity” means “forgiving stomach”, “plus size” indicates that a garment isn’t merely a bigger version of its size-zero equivalent. It means the whole garment has been restructured for a different scale. 64% of women polled believe that “[plus size] should be banned as a defining term, as bodies are bodies, no matter what the size”, which is all well and good politically but ultimately meaningless. Should we also stop measuring ourselves because “bodies are bodies”? More power to you (even if it is a tautology), but good luck finding a bra that way.

The categories you fit into aren’t a measure of your worth as a person. I’d much rather challenge the idea that they do than abolish categories altogether.

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And on that note…I don’t think it’s harmful to young girls’ self-esteem to assess themselves honestly. Abandoning a certain term won’t make me any smaller. I’d rather come to terms with my proportions than rationalize them away. I want to own myself, and I don’t want to keep promoting the idea that being “plus-size”, or “curvy”, or whatever you want to call it is something to be ashamed of. Doing away with the label would broadcast shame loud and clear, and that’s what I find harmful to young girls.

Now I absolutely agree that “plus-size” models and garments are often marginalized, and I’m not in any way supporting that. I just don’t think that bigger models will magically become more accepted if we stop describing them a certain way. This kind of change runs deeper than that.

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