a striped flapper dress on a rainy day

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I am, dare I say, privileged to be able to dress the way I do in public. I’m the office manager for my family’s business; my boss is my idiosyncratic father, who wears “Eat More Kale” shirts, running shoes, and a ponytail. Our clientele is mostly charmed by my appearance. A few of the older regulars even see their own youth in me, which I appreciate.

Maybe it’s a #firstworldproblem, but I don’t think I could work somewhere that didn’t allow me at least some sartorial freedom. Dressing up is a big part of self-care for me. I get very anxious when my physical presentation doesn’t match how I think of myself. I don’t wear red lipstick every day because I’m in a rut; I wear it because I literally feel wrong without it.

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I’m very fortunate not to have my credibility eroded by the way I choose to present myself. I’m surrounded by people who understand that there’s no inherent connection between physical affect and ability to do one’s job. I just wish more people could come to terms with that.

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As much as I dislike those tumblr-y “destroy that idea that ___” posts, I really do want to destroy the idea that personal life/personal aesthetic is a fair metric of judging one’s ability to do their job. If I’ve hired you to perform a service, then your performance of that service, and only your performance of that service, is relevant. This seems so simple to me.

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I think we as a culture generally have a hard time with the idea that those who serve us are human. You see it in small ways, like yelling at waiters and cashiers for things that aren’t their fault. Like allowing someone’s haircut or tattoos to occlude your impression of their work. And in big ways, like how we gasp collectively when teachers do “kid-unfriendly” things in their private lives and how politicians’ sex scandals end up overshadowing their actual policy. We pay these people to be better than us. Different from us. Fundamentally Other than us. We simply cannot fathom that they are allowed to be human too.

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there’s a flapper on your lawn

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Sometimes I find a really outstanding piece and never end up photographing it because I’m afraid of ruining everything. This hat, $3 at Battery Street Jeans, almost went that way. I have this weird little hang-up about shooting a new garment for the first time. Like the first photos I take of it will inform all future shoots, so they had better be outstanding. I tend to feel like once the seal is broken on an item my readers haven’t seen before, any future outfits featuring that item will lack quite the same luster. Which is probably not the case at all – I always like seeing pieces repurposed on others’ blogs.

This is why I don’t talk about more of my neuroses: I overthink literally every single thing to this degree. I am basically a raw vegan, a valedictorian on Adderall, and a Jewish mother rolled into one.

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by the light of the moon i’m coming home

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Maybe I can play the fae queen after all.

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Summer shifts my style from the starched primness of spring and into something looser and more ragged. I feel safe in the brightness of the days; I no longer have to supply my own via baubles. Summer is my time to play with the fae and the gothic. And I always feel so very roaring 20s in my fae garb. Like there’s something roaring into being under all those silks. Like I can create myself and the world anew every goddamn day if I please.

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for in this world i’m bound to ramble

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I have always pledged affinity with magical beings. I love the heights of angelwings and the depths of Beelzebub and co. Merrily suspending disbelief, I hunt for ghosts at twilight and fairies in the morning: who cares if they’re “real”? Even the (probably) nonexistent has its own kind of truth. If you’re into Campbell and Jung and Eliade, our whole worlds spin out from our psyches anyway. There is great power in designing my own.

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Usually I’m a witch, but today, yesterday, recently I’ve been fae. I am less a crone anchored to a tumultuous earth than a pixie on the wind. I am a neo-flapper wresting amusement from every corner of the world. I want to make a fool of this godforsaken planet and feel the oceans blush.

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exhilaration in a vintage slip

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Usually I heavily side-eye anyone who claims to have been “born in the wrong era”. I’m guessing you’d rather have marriage equality and women in the workplace than even the poufiest New Look dress. Historical revisionism grinds my gears. “Back in the day” – no, stahp, humans have always been incomprehensibly cruel to one another, and all June Cleaver aesthetics did was hide it a little better than we’re used to. I try to acknowledge that what I’m borrowing from the past isn’t the end-all of history. At the end of the day, I would rather be a 21st-century woman in a vintage dress than sit around barefoot and pregnant.

That said, I love love LOVE flapper culture. Not in the way that screams “I’ve gravely misinterpreted The Great Gatsby“. But as a woman in 2014, I enjoy a university education, an apartment in my own name, and a self-determined love life. I’m accustomed to such things, as well I should be. Imagine, though, being alive and in one’s prime when all those things were new. Imagine the exhilaration of being the first woman in town to do something as seemingly ordinary as cut her hair short. To dare admit she liked drinking, dancing, and sex. Try and feel that exhilaration of growing up Edwardian-prim and emerging as New Woman incarnate, flouting what generations of mothers had taught. I have the utmost respect for the women who manifested who they wanted to be long before today’s “love thyself” psychobabble. My inner flapper tells me to get up and do. To indulge in this twisted world before me.

My love for the aesthetic is just icing.

The character I’m playing in these shots is nursing the bubble of excitement in her gut before a night on the town. Where the gin is cold but the piano’s hot…

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In other news, I shot these with my Canon PowerShot’s Tungsten exposure, and I’m thrilled with the chilly, blue-dense look.

 

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flap flap

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Chopped off my hairs. I feel like Louise Brooks. I actually went full flapper for my NYE outfit – slip, sequined sweater, cupid’s-bow lips. (Sadly, the light was all wrong for photos.) At heart, I’m roaring right along with the infamous ’20s. I may indulge in other eras, but I am such a goddamn flapper. And I find it really interesting how fashion echoes itself. The fiercely mod 60s definitely channels flapper culture in its own way. There’s a certain hedonism. A lushness – or loucheness, depending who you ask. A picture of bright, swinging womanhood.

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For my first outfit post of the new year (and the first in my new apartment!), I married the 20s and the 60s into one electrified union.

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Blouse & Necklace: Old Gold Skirt: Savers Tights & Crinolines: Spirit Halloween Glasses: Zenni Optical

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I just moved into a new (and much nicer; let’s be real) apartment. I’ll be posting a room tour as soon as I can! Check back.

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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.

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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

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prairie luxe & baroness samedi’s in town

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grandma chic: dapper flapper edition & i was never here

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

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…except when we do, because we gotta keep y’all guessing somehow.

In yet another amateur-photographer cliche, I’ve tried my hand at the ubiquitous train-track pics. There’s a right way to do those, but I’m not entirely sure this batch of photos falls under that umbrella. They weren’t quite as evocative as I wanted, but I figured I’d post them for the outfit porn and get critique on my photography technique later.

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Sometimes in photos my hair falls into an A-line bob. I’m debating getting it cut like that once and for all.

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I can take or leave monochromatic (and I usually leave it), but I’ve got a lasting love affair with sharp, succinct duochrome. I’m always looking for clothes that seem likely to stand out on a stage, to broadcast their symbology loud and clear across a packed house, and concise duochrome, with maybe a pop of a third or fourth color here and there, is one of the best ways I know of doing that.

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My style is perpetually indecisive about whether it wants to pledge loyalty to flappers or to the New Look. I go back and forth every damn day – sometimes in the same outfit, as you can see. Tim Gunn writes in his Fashion Bible (one of my favorite fashion books ever, by the way) that dresses can be divided roughly into “Cleopatra” (fitted) and “Helen” (draped) styles. Most women apparently prefer one or the other. If that’s true, then I’m fucked right and proper. As personal styles go, mine isn’t terribly defined. I don’t consistently favor certain silhouettes or even fabrics. I like interesting clothes, plain and simple. I’m more invested in exploring the fashion world in all its schizophrenic glory than in hewing to one particular style.

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Dress, Belt, & Blazer: Goodwill Bracelet: Old Gold Necklace: Battery Street Jeans Hat, Shoes, & Tights: Gifted

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