attend the tale of toni todd

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This past summer, I went to a local theater company’s costume sale and bought about 25 dresses for my Etsy shop, which I’ve only just gotten around to photographing (listings will be up sometime this week). I snatched up anything I thought might be remotely salable. The directors were thrilled to get rid of everything – they handed me a garbage bag and told me to go nuts. I promised Josh I was buying to sell, not to wear. Our apartment is only so big. But I’m keeping the hell out of this vintage Toni Todd dress I found in the pile.

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I’ve been waiting most of the summer to wear this dress. It’s really an autumn number. And it looks twee-in-the-best way with the saddle shoes I also picked up at the costume sale. It always delights me to find a piece with a label I recognize, a bit of history I already know. Toni Todd wasn’t a person but the name for the Misses division at R & M Kaufman. It was basically the fast fashion of its day, but you’d hardly guess that from its construction. I don’t want to be one of those “back in the day” curmudgeons, but…some things really just were better back then. Do you think a $20 J.C. Penney dress made today would ever last 50 years?

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Dress: vintage, via costume sale

Coat: vintage, via brick-and-mortar store

Everything else: thrifted

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mabon queen

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Late summer/early fall is my absolute least favorite time of year. There’s something so…I want to say “dysphoric” about it. The mind has already rocketed full-steam into Halloween!space, but the matter is slow to follow. All I want is a huge sweater and a cauldron full of squash. Is that so much to ask?

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Despite the punishing temperatures, though, my beloved Nightmare Vermont is holding auditions tonight, so I had to dress for the occasion. It’s so strange that the Halloween season is just beginning for the general public, while my cohorts and I have been working since, oh, April.

I’m not auditioning for an acting role, though. Not this year. I’m already doing costumes for both Nightmare and its new sister production, Spookyville, plus helping write the script for the latter. This year I’d like all my work to be done ahead of time, so on show night I can actually maybe relax a little. And not get the flu like last year.

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apples & (righteous?) rage

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Yesterday I was informed by someone on tumblr that creative anachronism (encompassing vintage fashion, historical reenactment, Gatsby parties, etc.) is “intrinsically bigoted, mainly racist. This seems pretty obvious to me. Like white people romanticizing the Jim Crow era? It’s disgusting.”

First of all, I know, I know: I brought it on myself by frequenting tumblr. (Shut up, there’s good fanfic there.) But seriously, I could not let this go un-debunked.

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I, as a lover of ‘20s and ‘50s aesthetics, am not romanticizing the Jim Crow era. I’m culling specific aspects of those decades to take pleasure in, and that is a very salient difference. I’m baffled by the argument that merely existing adjacent to oppression is enough to damn a particular art form. “These clothes/this food/this style of entertainment was popular in a time when people believed messed-up things about race and gender; therefore, appreciating them is tantamount to expressing those beliefs yourself.”

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No. It doesn’t work like that. First of all, that’s called the fallacy of association, and we all know how I feel about logical fallacies. But more importantly – by that logic, I can’t very well enjoy anything at all, can I? Every era, including this one, has had its despots, its bigotries, its injustices of every size. Everything is tainted by some hand or another. But every era, including this one, also has real beauty and wonder and pockets of progress.

Just as I refuse to take the bad with the good, I also refuse to throw away the good along with the bad. Think about how culturally barren we’d be if we tossed everything of less-than-pure origin. Henry Ford was a Nazi apologist, but I’m still gonna keep riding in cars.

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And if I’m being even more cynical, it just feels like another way of telling people, especially women, that our physical appearance is all you need to know about us. That you can effectively gauge my worldview, my values, my desires, my aptitude for social progress based on what I’m wearing. A miniskirt doesn’t mean I’m asking to be assaulted; a medieval dress and liripipe don’t mean I want to own serfs; a garish Victorian hat doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be allowed to vote. You’d know that if you bothered to listen to my words rather than letting fabric speak for me.

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autumnalia

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We’re having a 90-degree Labor Day, but I’ve already dyed my hair, so that officially makes it autumn. I don’t care that the actual weather stubbornly refuses to bear it out; seasonal change must run on my sartorial schedule. I am officially sick of summer outfits, so it’s autumn when I say it is, dammit.

Plus, the fair had a Haunted House ride, so of course I had to take pictures there. I did not go on it, however, because I am an adult-sized baby and I hate rides. I don’t see the point in feeling physically uncomfortable for fun.

This is the second reproduction dress I’ve bought recently. I’d mentioned a while ago that much of my beloved vintage is simply falling apart, and it’s time to invest in some repro. This dress, like the cherry one before it, is from Maggie Tang, and I’m quite impressed. Both dresses are soundly constructed for their cost, and the customer service is excellent.

Oh, and my friend Kristina had her baby!! I’ll be guest-posting for her on the 9th while she takes maternity leave, so keep an eye out for that.

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world of stone

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You guys. I have been going to Maine every summer for, like, eight years, and I have wanted to do a proper photoshoot in front of this library for just as long. One day I will sell enough short stories to buy this place and hoard mannequins & antique hats in every corner. I will wake up in the tower and shout at young women taking photos on my stoop, but I’ll secretly love it, those descendents of mine. This place isn’t the kind of secret you hold too tight.

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I have no idea where those white lines came from. I like to think an inchworm was crawling across my lens.

Post title taken from my favorite Blackmore’s Night song.

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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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cherry bomb

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You ever feel like certain outfits are just straight-up cursed? They look bangin’ in person, but EVERY. TIME. you try to photograph them, something goes horribly wrong?

Yeah, that would be this dress.

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Fed up with how so much of my vintage seems to be simply disintegrating, I’ve invested in a few high-quality reproduction dresses. This one’s from Maggie Tang, and the construction is excellent for its price – excellent period, even. Though several reviews said “perfect for a bridesmaid”, and I had to laugh – you know I’m wearing this sucker out day-to-day, because “absurdly, inappropriately formal” is the name of my game.

The dress arrived a week and a half ago, and I’ve worn it at least five times since then, but I could not for the life of me get a good photo of it. The je ne sais quoi just wasn’t there.

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So on Sunday I put my hair in pin curls, I did a full face of makeup, and I zipped myself into the dress. Yeah, bitch, today’s the day.

And then the following happened within 20 minutes:

  • I took out my pin curls to find they had not set even a little
  • the soles of my shoes came unglued, forcing me to perform a Ministry of Silly Walks goose-step all the way outside
  • my camera fell off its *%*(&*($&^* tripod and its metal shell split almost in half
  • I got so nervous and frustrated that I started sweating through my makeup

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So I grabbed the shots I could and went inside to sulk in front of Netflix like the good Lord intended.

Cursed, I tell you. That’s what I get for buying non-vintage.

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and now for something completely different

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The last of my camp photos, taken in that nebulous neverwhere between one responsibility and the next. At least I looked really adorable. I like to think my tiny self would’ve enjoyed having a counselor like me.

But I’ll soon be transitioning out of twee!cute and into creepy!cute, because…

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My haunt is expanding! As of 2015, Nightmare Vermont will officially launch Spookywood, a little sister production aimed at a younger audience, and I’ve been selected for the writing staff. I could not be more thrilled about that. Getting in on the ground floor of a brand-new haunt puts me that much closer to running my own one day. And I will officially be a ~credited writer~ on an ~official playbill~. While still doing costumes for NV, of course. Because you can’t ask me to make that kind of choice.

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summerween

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I always seem to take these blogging breaks in the summer. Every year I swear I won’t, that I’ll diligently update the salivating public on every aspect of my life, and then…I fail. I’m cutting myself some slack, though. I don’t do well in the heat. In the past couple of years, my seasonal affective disorder has transitioned from winter-triggered to summer-triggered, which is…odd. Instead of winter blahs, I’m oddly energized; instead of summer lovin’, I’m lying on my couch watching Always Sunny and trying not to waste away.

(I’m trying to walk that fine line between being #honest on my blog and pathologically #oversharing. I don’t know intuitively where that boundary is. I just sort of…know it when I see it, which I realize is a cop-out.)

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How awesome is this Soulrust Vintage dress, though? Lately I’ve been feeling that too many of my clothes have outworn their novelty. There’s no use in a dress you can only wear a handful of times a year. I’m trying to invest in some pieces that will work in all seasons, and this dress is definitely one of them. How Halloweeny will this look in October with some black tights and a jack-o-lantern pin??

(And I really did give blood. Josh and I and our friend Lisle raced one another re: who could fill the blood bag faster, because we are children. Children who saved up to nine lives, though. And who then got a lot of free snacks.)

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I’m going to Maine from August fifth through eighth, though! And I will get an ocean photoshoot done if it kills me.

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