it was a bridesmaid’s dress

Free porn, you guys! The first prize for Green Mountain Cabaret‘s cult classics costume contest was the critically acclaimed Dickin’ Around, brought to us by the producers of Cumming of Age and A Barely Legal Christmas. Who, other than pun fetishists, actually gets off on this stuff?

This past Saturday, Josh was slaughtered on GMC’s stage. Our friend Sarah, one of their featured dancers (“sugar shakers”), enlisted his roguishness for a combat number. I’ve never seen him strut like he did that night – and we’re talking about a man whose ego has its own magnetic field. Sarah’s boyfriend Gregg and I showed up hours early for front-row seats, hoping for a wink from our lovers. “I wanteed to toss my vest out to you,” Josh told me later, “but stage management nixed it.”

Each number was a tribute to a different cult classic. In Josh and Sarah’s case, Heavy Metal. I also identified Repo: The Genetic Opera, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Doctor Who. Other than that? I was lost. I can identify vintage from any era, but damned if I don’t live under a pop-culture rock. Hell, burlesque shows are about the only getting-out I do.

I love burlesque. I love the whole mad eroticism of it. The skewed axis on which your world operates for one precious evening, where naked butts are normal and catcalls become a good thing. I love the melding of sex and art – and the absinthe doesn’t hurt, either. I’ve been taking classes for six months. Mark me – one of these days I’ll be a stage kitten.

Anyhow, Gregg and I got our own spotlight later that evening, when our respective Tyler Durden and Marla Singer were hauled onstage as the winners of the costume contest. Infinite credit to Zinfandel Photography!

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Helena Bonham Carter allegedly asked Fincher and co. to give her the most haphazard makeup they could, because she didn’t think Marla would care about such things. I don’t know how to feel about this, given that Marla’s makeup isn’t too different from my normal palate.

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Gregg and Josh could damn well be brothers. We joke (but it’s not really a joke) that he and Sarah are Josh’s and my bizarro-world equivalent.

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But actually.

Next month’s theme is nifty fifties! Knock on wood, but that costume contest will be MINE.

 

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The second installment from Saturday’s shoot with Brent. For these, I envisioned a medieval morality play mated somehow with Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared. Almost traditional – witchy imagery, fairy-tale elements – but just unsettling enough. Josh and I tried for a genderfucked Snow White aesthetic, what with the pomegranate, his pretty pretty princess mask, and my crone-tastic posture. I really like how even the background, with its draped sheets and oddly stark light, captures that candid theatrical feeling. Like the caravan of players in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead – coincidentally one of Josh’s favorite movies.

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merry clothmas

I’m pulling a leaf from Kaelah’s toothy little book and compling a “best of” post. 2013 wasn’t only my first full year of blogging. It’s the year my outfits and photography actually took on some semblance of a recognizable style. A far cry from 2012’s “throw some fabric at my body and hope it sticks”. I’m still a born-and-bred eccentric, but now I’ve got a bit more nuance.

This was also the year I started actually applying basic design principles to my shoots. The old stand ‘n’ pose can be fun, but I want to make art on lots of levels, not just the fashionable. I look now at my old webcam shots and want to burn every last one. I keep them on the blog because some of the outfits are passable, and also because it’s a nice reminder of improvement.

Here you’ll find my top 12 posts of 2013. Check back tomorrow or the next day for some 2014 inspiration porn. I’m also planning to list a few new Etsy items over the next couple of days.

boc I

waterhouse heroine & windy witch 

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little red & splatter (plus a link to the bloody-shoes tutorial I did for Floral Prints + Common Sense!)

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strange doll & noontime ghost

boc IV

prairie luxe & baroness samedi’s in town

boc V

grandma chic: dapper flapper edition & i was never here

boc VI

more mooring & keep matches away from me (plus links to Brent Gould Photography and Owlhurst Loft Vintage)

thinking too much as usual

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I’m becoming unbearably preppy. Suddenly red plaid is all I crave. Sometimes I worry that I’m losing my costumey edge, but then I remember that everything is a costume. Deliberate or not, if it affects social perception, if it carries any kind of connotations at all, then it’s a costume. Getting dressed is fun on an artistic level – colors and textures and cuts, oh boy! – but also on a sociological one. What does this piece say, why does it say that, and what other statements might you be able to wring from it? Red plaid, for instance, screams Christmas – but why? It’s kind of thrilling to be able to bypass people’s logical minds entirely and hit them right in the associations. They’ll identify my outfit as “Christmas-y”, but flounder to explain why exactly that is. I’m not claiming that I know, either, but I know what the connotations are and how to play with them. Tell me that’s not at least a little bit magical.

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I took these photos in my dad’s Kung Fu studio. I’ve always appreciated how the bay window looks out on a miniature panorama of seasonal variety. It’s especially interesting in the winter, when the valley below is icy and stark, but the plants inside stay green. I enjoyed playing with that contrast for this shoot.

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This outfit looks very much like something Marlen of Messages on a Napkin would wear.

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Oh, and I made my first Etsy sale yesterday! This vintage Lanz of Salzburg dress. Here’s hoping it starts a trend!

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Skirt (worn as strapless dress): Battery Street Jeans Top, Vest, Tights, Socks, Hat, Scarf, Shoes: Gifted Coat: Second Time Around

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no rest for the wicked

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We opened last night. And, of course, Murphy’s Law dictated that I left my camera battery charging away in my bedroom. As such, I have no evidence of the glory that was my costumes. I’ll do my best to snap some tonight, though. (But seriously, fuck Murphy.)

I took these photos last week, but I haven’t had a single spare moment to edit and post them until now. “After Halloween” has become my stock answer when invited to do anything. From now until the 31st, I operate on three settings: work, haunt, sleep. Last night Josh and I stumbled in at around 1 (his haunt opened last night too), glanced at the pile of clothes on the bedroom floor – let’s be real, they’re mostly mine – and agreed “we’ll clean it up after Halloween.”

I wanted to show you guys what a haunt in progress looks like, though. To most people, haunted houses are perfectly polished spook, but it’s funny how normal it becomes when it’s your bread and butter. The unusual nature of the work kind of gets lost when you’re clomping around all “where’s that goddamn coffin?!” I suppose the same is true for any unusual occupation: our work looks exotic, but we’re just people. And I appreciate anything that humanizes the absurd and the larger than life.

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The Forest consists of a series of self-contained scenes all united by a single theme. This year’s is Merry Olde England; particularly inspired past themes include Twisted Fairy Tales and Creepy Carnival. Groups of audience members are led by cloaked guides through a meandering trail, with scenes installed along the way. Actors do each scene 40 times on a light night.

The entire Forest is lit by pumpkins, carved by a crack team of volunteers. That’s mine second from the right.

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Our venue serves as a series of bike trails for most of the year. During Forest time, the lodge’s racks of helmets and rows of spare tires are swapped out for greasepaint, pumpkins, and capes by the dozen.

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Our super haunted headquarters, filled with super haunted things like…uh, couches, and snacks, and floorboards.

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I love that I work in a place where no one bats an eye at this label.

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My super spooky sweater. One day I will own tacky sweaters for every holiday, even the obscure sectarian ones.

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I’d really like a pet ghost.

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It’s just like any other volunteer event, except for the coffin sneaking into the frame. No biggie.

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The wax museum is one of our classic scenes, though with content modified to fit each year’s theme. As this year’s theme is Merry Olde England, the museum features the first three wives of Henry VIII. I filled in last night as Catherine of Aragon, and I got a few good scares by periodically disrupting my frozen stature to beckon to the audience.

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It’s still running! Get tickets here.

ravens land

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It’s not Halloween without a little Voltaire. You’re welcome.

Welcome to my second costume tutorial for Downtown Threads! My goal with this project is to design my own versions of a few classic costume ideas. Yesterday I wrote about my obnoxiously literal take on the French maid. Today I’m putting a conceptual spin on a Halloween staple: the raven.

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Too many animal costumes resort to big honking masks and bulky fur suits. I’ve never found much excitement in exact duplication. As you saw in yesterday’s post, I much prefer to costume the idea of something. I might not literally resemble a raven, but I resemble the common cultural shorthand of what ravens represent: mystery, cruelty, seduction.

Basically, I like designing costumes that look like outfits and outfits that look like costumes. There’s so much more overlap than many people realize.  It’s why I love designers like Westwood and Schiaparelli. This costume would work pretty well at a black-tie event. And most of my everyday outfits look at least a little like Halloween costumes. There’s history and semiotics in everything.

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To symbolize the cruelty and indifference commonly associated with ravens, I used this earpiece as a breastplate and layered the necklace over it. My raven proudly wears effects – a skull and a wing – from members of her own species. I might as well wear a bracelet of human teeth.

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My other goal with this look was a sexy costume for those who’d rather not show skin (or are just too damn cold to do so. Let’s be real; it’s OCTOBER). Not that there’s anything wrong with wearing a micromini, but it’s sure as hell not the only way to turn someone on. This costume is sexy in a menacing, I’m-gonna-eat-your-heart-for-breakfast kind of way. It’s always interesting to witness the marriage of sex and death, especially at this time of year.

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Remember that all these pieces will be for sale within the next few days! If you’re inspired by my costumes and want to steal them for your lovely self, check out Downtown Threads on Church Street.

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Dress, Shawl, Necklace, & Earpiece: for sale at Downtown Threads Fascinator: Battery Street Jeans Mask: Homeport Shoes: Dirt Chic Tights: Sox Market

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Caw.

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Earlier this month, I approached Downtown Threads about doing a series of costume tutorials. They loved the idea. I currently have a whole chairdrobe of loaner clothes languishing in my bedroom. Until Halloween, I get to borrow interesting/eccentric/eyesore-tastic clothes from their main store and have my costumey way with them. I get blog traffic, and Downtown Threads gets free promotion. A win-win if I’ve ever seen one.

With two weeks to spare ’til that day of days, the first post drops today. Behold my own painfully literal take on a classic costume: the French maid.

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This dress reminded me instantly of a French impressionist painting. It got me excited to design a concept rather than a character. I did some research into the artistic dress movement and discovered that this dress fits it not only symbolically but more literally as well: its structure and texture are very much in keeping with the loose, muted, medieval-inspired dresses of the pre-Raphaelites and their ilk. I love it when pieces work on multiple levels.

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For accessories, I turned to staples of the Impressionist period: summery hats, gold jewelry, and heeled shoes with narrow toes. The white tights have little historical precedent, but I think they still work. Most of the time, I’d rather capture the feeling of an era than go for strict accuracy.

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I’ve been meaning for years to get into the Society for Creative Anachronism. My friend Holly promises to drag Josh and me to an event sometime this winter. I need some motivation to refine my knowledge of historical dress. I can date pretty much anything from 1900 on, but I’m ashamed to say I’m utterly lost in older times.

My hair would probably scandalize the entire Society, though. Holly says they’re sticklers. I really enjoy having a few obviously-not-vintage things about me, though. My hair, my tattoos, the stud in my nose. It keeps my costumes fresh. No matter how timeless the rest of my look, there will always be something that breaks the flow. And I’m all about shocking people out of their collective comfort zone.

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Dress & Shawl: Currently for sale at Downtown Threads Bangles: Old Gold Hat: Gifted Shoes: Goodwill Tights: Sox Market

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two devils went a-haunting

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I’m almost sorry for the dearth of outfit pictures in this post. Almost. I think the absence is more than compensated for by the garish, ghoulish delights awaiting you after the jump.

If you’re not into Halloween, feel free to skip this one. But if you’re not into Halloween, why are you even here.

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I’m a haunter. Not only am I madly in love with a fellow haunter, but we both maintain fairly important positions at competing haunts. I’m the costume director for the Haunted Forest, an outdoor haunt held at a local bike trail; Josh is the art director for Nightmare Vermont, a bloodier event that specializes in stage combat. The Forest is the campier counterpart to Nightmare’s gore porn, and we both throw in the occasional mindfuck. Needless to say, ’tis our season for near-constant shop talk, copious notetaking, and lurking obscenely around every Halloween store in the county.

These photos are a visual record of the hours we’ve spent over the past few weeks soaking up every plastic skull and bloodstained corset this county has to offer.

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Yes, you can do this with makeup. We often do.

On the 28th of this month (which happens to be Josh’s 25th birthday), we’re dragging ourselves out of bed at seven to help with makeup for Vermont’s annual Zombie Run. Zombie Run is a 5k fun run in which the entrants are divided into zombies and victims. The whole run is framed as a chase, and we do some pretty damn intricate makeup.

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Spirit Halloween is practically a museum. I could spend hours there, and Josh and I often do, tinkering with the animatronics and exclaiming over the displays.

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I’m totally coming here on November 1st and buying every one they have left.

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When it comes to seasonal decor, I like glittery kitsch. Josh likes muted steampunk. We both like bloody and gothic.

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I was really pleased with the variety of costumes in the little girls’ section. There’s not a damn thing wrong with a girl (or a boy!) who’d rather go as a princess than a vampire, but it can be hard to find a truly creepy costume for the spook-conscious little witch. I wish I’d been able to get my hands on blood-spattered tights as a kid! Hell, I’m disappointed that Spirit doesn’t carry them in adult sizes. Josh promised to help me make some, though.

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Sometimes people just really like tiny coffins. No judging.

louche lady

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I’ve been sitting on this idea for a few weeks now. I had meant to take a backlog of photos before leaving for camp, but heat caught up with me: I melt so easily that posing in full-length dresses in 90-degree weather would’ve made a sullen, sweaty mess. All I can offer for now is the first round, but I’m pretty damn proud of it.

I’ve mentioned before that I am first and foremost a costume designer. My daily outfits are a natural extension of that theatrical sensibility, but there’s just nothing like rolling up my sleeves to costume a show and pinning feverishly until everything is just right. Teaching theater this week has reminded me of just how much I love it.

Lately I’ve been trying to market myself as a freelance costumer. Working in the underbelly of Vermont’s ragtag theater scene would be a childhood pipe dream realized. Outfitting the stage with my vision is almost as good as occupying the spotlight myself, I figure. In the name of turning this blog into not just a personal outlet but a CV of sorts, I’ve decided to start an ongoing series of costume-design posts. All my favorite fictional characters and historical figures are fair game. The Louche Ladies.

Today I start with my favorite mythical witch of them all: Morgaine le Fay herself.

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Although my favorite interpretation of Morgaine, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon version, treats her as rather plain and pious, I decided to go fully regal with this look. I admit I was constrained by what I had in my closet, but I also wanted to broadcast power in a more immediate way than I think plainer clothes could’ve accomplished. In this spangled dress and shawl, Morgaine colludes directly with the dark around her. She establishes her dominion via her finery while still, with the dark themes, acknowledging the partnership inherent in her craft. The spangles, in my mind, represent little sparks of ghostly light she’s pulled from her environment and fastened to her person.

I whitened my face and put on extra lipstick for a bloodthirsty kick. I can pull off the pale, doughy-limbed medieval-painting look pretty well.

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I didn’t get as many pictures of this look as I would’ve liked to. My camera shit out around the ninth shot or so, and dusk was over by the time I’d finished charging the battery. On second thought, though, I like the photoset as it is. This look doesn’t call for too many close-ups. The power is best appreciated as a whole.

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A shawl atop empty air. She’s in ghost form.

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I do wish I’d gotten a better shot of the Celtic-knot headband. It was the perfect touch.

Dress: Stella Mae Shawl & Headband: Gifted Bracelet: Battery Street Jeans

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny7NZPfl0l4

actually, i am that girl

This is the first of a new series of posts inspired by my favorite film and literature characters.

I’m beginning to dress more and more like an off-duty model. (Technically, that’s what I am. Took me a while to grow into the persona, I suppose.) Lately I’ve been more cosmopolitan than kooky, and considerably more androgynous than before. I’m more comfortable in slouchy clothes than I’ve ever been; I’m almost starting to prefer them to more tailored counterparts.

I’ve made it clear how much I love themes and costumes. And I love Wicked. (First person to catch the reference in this post’s title gets love and sexual favors cookies.) I have always taken after Elphaba (I am political [to say the least] and I admit I am rather crude and somewhat cutting), but I’d gladly audition for Glinda just to inhabit her wardrobe for a while. I’m already getting there in sheer flamboyance alone.

Today I’m trying to merge them. I’m embodying Elphaba’s grunge and appropriating Glinda’s glamour.

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I love just-messy-enough hair. I can achieve this look only when I’ve washed it the night before. (I don’t wash it very often, in order to preserve the dye.)

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Glasses, shapeless sweater, and old-man belt worn with red lips and silver jewelry. Were Glinda ever caught dead in Elphaba’s rags, you know she’d tart them up a little.

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Voltaire necklace!

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This hat makes me feel vaguely soldierly.

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Monochrome really frees me up to combine unusual shapes and textures. The sweater is as scratchy as the skirt is silky, but the color ties them together.

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My Glinda coat! I’ve had it since high school. It cost me 25 cents at a bag sale. I plan to feature it more extensively in an upcoming post (still haven’t finished that outerwear series).

The sticker says “be nice to me: I gave blood today”. That’s from at least a year ago.

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Hat: Old Gold Coat: Richmond Food Shelf & Thrift Store Sweater, Skirt, and Rings: Battery Street Jeans Necklace: Voltaire fan store Boots and Belt: Handed down from Mom