get me out of here

So here’s the thing. After almost a year together, the fucktoy and I are finally taking the plunge and combining all our (other)worldly possessions. Come May, he’s moving into my apartment to share my bedroom, hog the covers, and clog the shower drain. I can’t wait. I’m thrilled to come home to my best friend every single day. That said, I’m gonna need somewhere to put him.

I currently have thirty-eight items listed in my Etsy shop. That’s also roughly how many dresses and skirts I own for my personal use. Thanks to storing Etsy crap on every godforsaken surface, my room is absolutely stuffed to the brim with clothes. It’s claustrophobic for just one person. I need to unload some of them in the name of making sure Josh and I don’t straight-up end each other (and not in a kinky way).

So! From now until April 1st, take 50% off any Dressed in the Dark purchase by entering the code GETMEOUTOFHERE at checkout. Yup, ANY purchase. Go forth and gorge yourselves! Here’s a preview of the new items I listed today, as well as some of the shop’s classics. 

new I new II new III

new IV new V new VI

new VII new VIII new IX new X

hats on hats

red VII

It’s been a while since I’ve truly lived up to my blog’s name. Today’s outfit is your fairly standard flapper wear, but I’m also showing off some of my vintage treasures. I plan to list all these hats on Etsy by the end of the day. Hold me to that, won’t you? Until then, I leave you with this tease of a preview.

red I

red IX

red V

This one is already listed.

red II red VIII

red III

red X

Dress & Tights: Goodwill Boots & Necklace: Battery Street Jeans Bow: Classy Closet

red IV

little red

red VI

In a time when I still counted years

I skipped from fen to forest

with a basket over my arm,

with offal tripe and fruitcake

tucked into a pouch of love

from mother to grandmother,

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and I, the intergenerational messenger,

I skipped from fern to fungi to roots

that stretched out,

angling to ensnare.

red IV

red IX

I counted brushes of my feet against the ferns

and stones against my heels

and whispers of wind

inflating the lining of my cape.

red XV

red XVI

And when a thin, keening voice

wailed my name between howls at the rising moon,

I didn’t stop to let its portent soak.

I was too steeped in my love of the

numerical,

the rhythmic,

the categorical.

red XIX

But the keening voice belonged to a rangy grey figure

who stepped into my path,

on two legs,

deigning to appear more man than beast,

but his snout planed out from his whiskery face

at an indecent angle,

a cockeyed, sinister gesture

(like a butcher, all swathed in blood

but clutching flowers in his hand).

red XVII

His face was athletic –

he’d chased before and he knew all the steps to the dance.

red V

He came forward, snapping

I hid my basket of offal tripe and fruitcake,

foolishly thinking that was what he wanted,

that no thick-muzzled wolf-man was going to snap up

the pouch of love and sweetbreads

sent by my mother, who trusted me

a little too much.

red XVIII

It wasn’t what he wanted.

Of the feast, I remember nothing.

Only that I am glad my cloak was red,

for it hid the steepness of my stains,

and the blood on the insides of my thighs.

“`

Skirt, Hat, Tights, & Pentacle: Gifted Blouse, Brooch, & Boots: Battery Street Jeans Sweater: The Classy Closet Cloak: iParty

Poem by me. Photos by Josh. Autumn by Mother Nature.

peasant in lace

lacy XI

I love fairy tales. I always have. I love them for their darkness and their spite, their sickness and their slanted sort of health. I love hidden variations on their themes present, unexpectedly, in the oddest corners of literature. I love seeing them twisted and hinted at and expounded upon. My most evocative mindscape – well, one of them – is a rambling Bavarian cottage lousy with secrets and maybe-truths.

Today I’m Cinderella simultaneously before and after. Cinderella in her lacy altogether returning to the hearth she once called her whole world. The tricky part is figuring out which, the before or the after, is the tragedy.

lacy IX

lacy XIV

I wrote this poem when I was fifteen. I call it City Girls.

Stories are just that,
stories,
flights to pace and prowl,
the bones of poetry and secrets:
into these we build our lives.

Do you remember
the stories from your childhood
do you –
ever let those musty books
take purchase in your mind?

lacy XV

Do you ever let those figures
reassemble,
the bones of creation,
the archetypes of nascence,
to be filled in by the
flesh and faces
of real time?

lacy VI

lacy XVI

That woman on the corner
could be Rapunzel,
skinny and cigaretted
her walk-up patio perched high
against a low-down world.
If I wanted to see her
I’d take the stairs
because her hair’s too short and smoke-stained
to ever really shine.

Or –
Snow White for the cyber age
Chinese chambermaid, quietly bred
emptying the wastebasket
every morning
on the corner of Seventh and Main.
Rapunzel smokes,
oblivious to the congress
of colliding tales
just below her window,
every morning.

lacy VII

Snow White
stands under five feet
and she’s got
thin humble lips
and a home-stitched face
not anonymous enough for comfort,
and no one will exalt her
in a transparent coffin
when she pops off.

lacy VIII

lacy XVII

Snow thinks the subway is
a luxury:
for all its jerks and belches
there she can rest her
bound and weary feet.
Sharing her low-slung plastic bench
is the girl in yesterday’s makeup
and last week’s clothes.
Frosted hair won’t come
back into fashion in greater Manhattan,
but her crowd appreciates it;

they’re the ones flicking cigarette ash
into drainpipes
and fending off the down-lows
in their potbellies
and leather jackets
who crave more tricks than
they can pay for.
Where is she going, dressed like that-
is there an appointment in the world
worth requiring such an abusive shade of red?

lacy III

lacy IV

lacy X

I’d like them all to meet, someday
in that pub above the laundromat
Rapunzel with her bored lips,
Snow White with her deference,
Sleeping Beauty with her pierced-heart narcolepsy.
Each asleep in one way or another,
each missing a piece potent enough to
wake up her corner of the world.

lacy V

Blouse: Downtown Threads Skirt: Goodwill Boots: Battery Street Jeans Hat, Tights, & Bra: Gifted Necklace: Family heirloom

~

I cringe to disrupt the mood of this post, but I want to emphasize that this poem is absolutely not to be read as sex-work negative or prejudicial in any other way. Sex workers are laborers who deserve to see their work legitimized. Sleeping Beauty has a hard life and she is a prostitute, not necessarily because she is a prostitute. (The same can be said, in different ways, of my poem’s other two characters, though their lives aren’t quite as politicized.) Sex workers’ lives run the gamut of human experience, because they’re, you know, human. I apologize for the aside, but the safety, autonomy, and legitimacy of sex workers is one of my pet issues. If you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend the blog Tits and Sass.

raising the comatose

dots VIII

This could very well be the longest I’ve ever gone without blogging. To use a cliche, the time sneaked up on me. One day I’m on top of my carefully cultivated universe; the next, I’m lucky to break 30 pageviews. My Kingdom for a Hat, the gritty reboot: wherein my empire crumbles.

I kid. I’m not viewing it as a bad thing. I’d been feeling for a while before my impromptu break that my life was growing increasingly performative. Even though I dress and blog first and foremost for myself, even though I love sharing my sartorial passions with the internet, I am fundamentally an introvert, and sometimes it’s all just too big. I was putting out way too much. Endlessly commenting and collaborating and discussing. It was starting to feel shallow: like I was slowly chipping away at my own interior in the name of beautifying the world, until I was running on memory and there was nothing left.

So for a while I eased up on flamboyance. I wore less jewelry than usual. I wrote some poetry and took some long walks. I cooked a lot of interesting meals, of which I will not be posting pictures because I don’t really want to be that kind of blogger. Suffice it to say that apple slices work marvelously in onion omelets. Josh and I took a stage combat seminar, which kicked my ass in an “I’m gonna sleep so well” kind of way. Most significantly of all, I started writing my religion blog again. Other than costuming, spirituality is the other big passion in my life, and I feel a little off-kilter when I’m not properly indulging it.

For two weeks I concentrated more on the meat of my day-to-day life than the flashy skin I present to the world, and lo and behold, it’s left me more than ready to start effusing again.

dots IV

I go really hard, and then I simmer down. That’s the way I work. I’m pretty intense. Sometimes I need to force myself to balance things out.

I love fashion. I love costuming. I love the history and semiotics of clothing, but I am not just a fashion blogger, and I would often do well to remember that.

dots II

The angles of the sun already feel autumnal to me. There’s a certain crispness unique to spring and fall, in contrast to the heavy blur of summer. I’m eagerly awaiting rich colors and baked squash and haunted houses. Mostly the haunted houses.

dots III

dots IX

dots V

My mom (who took these pictures, because I misplaced my tripod) said I looked like an Englishwoman on safari. I’m definitely feeling a more bohemian, prairie-chic vibe these days. I’m not without my pops of modernity, though. I really like the surprise of my tights and fingernails.

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dots VII

I should take pictures at sunset more often. Loving the little hints of glare.

dots I

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Dress & Belt: Downtown Threads Hat & Boots: Battery Street Jeans Necklace &  Tights: Gifted

dots VI

I’m back.

leisure suits and neocons

70s I

The 1970s has long been my least favorite fashion decade. I can’t really blame it: I know the transition from ’60s psychedelia to ’80s Wall Street mallrat was an awkward one, but my god, the polyester! The shag! The pukey green. Some bloggers, like Julie of Orchid Grey and Caitlin of Wore Out, pull off a fabulous neo-70s look, but I’ve always felt that the era in all its original glory should be best left to Saturday Night Fever.

But I’m nothing if not (half-assedly) adventurous, and even someone as generally crotchety as I am can give second chances. I do find some elements of the sickening seventies downright enchanting: maxi skirts, bright orange, wide-brimmed hats. And I’d be a hypocrite not to at least attempt to work with what’s already in my closet.

70s III

70s XII

Look, I even incorporated utilitarian grey architecture. Don’t say I’m not committed to my aesthetics.

I read a few years ago that asymmetry is commonly considered a pretty lesbionic trait. Apparently it’s something ladies use to assess the sexuality of other ladies: side-buckled belts, uneven haircuts, lip piercings. I read that article in passing, but it’s one of those things I’ve never been able to get out of my head. I think about it every. single. time. I buckle my belt slightly to the side: is this false advertising? Am I accidentally broadcasting a Sapphic sensibility?

Fact: most of my friends in high school were gay or at least bi. I was a theater dork and I dressed outrageously, so that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. We few heteros were facetiously deemed the “Pillars of Straightness”. My good friend Eliza even made me a pin saying so for my fifteenth birthday. Over the years, though, every. single. pillar. has come out of the closet herself – except for me. I’m the last woman standing. And Josh awaits with bated breath.

70s V

70s VII

I love that my hair always ends up queering whatever era I try to embody.

70s VIII

70s XI

70s X

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was sitting on a rather significant announcement. Well, it was finalized this past Tuesday, and I am thrilled to announce that I am now the official costume director for the haunted house I’ve worked at since I was thirteen. This is the first year that costumes will have their own category, rather than just falling under the general art director’s jurisdiction, so I have the pleasure of being the Haunted Forest’s very first costume director. I am beyond excited. I can’t imagine my Octobers without the Haunted Forest, and anything that marries my loves of fashion and Halloween is just about the best career I could ask for. I’ll post some sketches soon!

Skirt & Boots: Battery Street Jeans Blouse: Downtown Threads (from this past weekend’s $10-per-bag sale!) Necklace, Hat, Bracelet, & Tights: Gifted

70s VI

sally bowles junior

cabaret IX

I promised myself I was going to sell these pieces. I had them all measured and sorted to list on Etsy – really, I did. But then I took one look at myself and decided this outfit told too much of a story to sell right away. I had to preen just a little first.

cabaret II

Somewhere inside myself, not-so-deep under my skin, I am a cabaret star steaming up the sordid stages of Paris or Vegas or Berlin. My ankles resist any attempt at fancy footwork, and I have too many tics for proper grace. But damned if I don’t have the presence. Stationary art is still art, right?

But once in a while I costume myself right and proper and I get to be more than just some girl who’s seen Moulin Rouge way too many times. Sometimes a certain outfit, or necklace or location or even just an angle, will spawn a character whose story needs to be told immediately. And I slip into her guise and hop along for the ride.

cabaret IIIt

I love that this setting is simultaneously grand and humble. This character seems in the vein of the 1930s shoot I did with Brent back in March: frustrated by circumstance but too itchy for beauty not to make the best of what she has. You focus for a few seconds and see only the tile and how it plays off the black and white. And then you zoom out and see ashes.

cabaret V

cabaret VII

cabaret XII

This lapel layered over the lace is my new favorite thing.

cabaret VIII

cabaret X

cabaret XI

cabaret XIII

I look almost alien.

Romper & Jacket: Downtown Threads Boots & Necklace: Battery Street Jeans Belt: Goodwill Hat & Tights: Gifted

cabaret VI

noontime ghost

cottage I

This past weekend I visited my godparents’ retreat in Wolcott. This year marks my eighteenth summer camping there, and it’s long felt like home to me. It is ragged, pristine, spectacular isolation. It’s a place where you can’t help but hear yourself  think, and I, for all the noise I pack into my poor obsessive-compulsive mind, always benefit from that.

My godparents, Bill and Betsy (which may go down as the most “olde-Vermont” couple names ever), bought the land twenty-something years ago in hopes of starting a Christmas tree farm. I don’t know the exact turn of events that made them break ground for a cabin instead and let the evergreens grow twenty feet tall, but I am glad they occurred.

cottage II

cottage III

cottage IV

For this shoot, I wore an antique-store dress I bought to flip on Etsy but couldn’t resist a few photos in first. It has no tag; the stitching reveals it’s homemade. I’d place it in the 1930s, maaaaybe the ’40s for someone with a lot of rations saved up. It’s so soft (remarkably well preserved) and fits like it was made for me.

You know how I like my queering, though. My original concept was a basic ’30s-housewife shoot in the rustic, candlelit cabin, but it soon evolved into a mishmash of a few different themes. I decided to go for a pop of mod color and sharp angles with my hair and makeup to contrast the wistful ’30s. I like that it made the look more challenging and added another layer to my housewife character. I also really love images with obvious flaws or inconsistencies that are not addressed. It jars the eye, adds a dash of absurdity, and ultimately leaves viewers to fill in the gaps. I like my art a little hard on the brain.

Seeing the photos on my computer screen revealed another layer. The light in the ones I liked best had a distinctly antiquated, almost eerie, tinge to it. Inspired, I ‘shopped the pictures and upped the exposure to suggest a full-on ghost vibe. Nothing particularly unique about that, especially coming from me, but I’m enchanted by the idea that you can’t tell exactly when my ghost is from, what with her Depression dress and fluorescent mod hair. Ambiguity is one of my favorite themes. It’s its own kind of artifice.

cottage X

There’s something lovely about a ghost in broad daylight, unafraid of the sun.

cottage VI

cottage VII

This one reminds me of an old Dutch painting.

cottage XVI

cottage XVII

cottage XX

cottage XXIV

cottage XXIX

cottage XXIII

I edited some of the furniture shots just a little overbright, with just a little more oomph to sit up and pay attention to than the rest of the photos. I consider over-sharp light just as spine-tingling an aesthetic as under-sharp. It’s pregnant somehow.

cottage XXVI

cottage XXVII

cottage XXVIII

I find mirror shots so spooky.

True story: I’ve had this lifelong fear of my reflection winking at me. If I have to pee past midnight, I book it to the bathroom while trying to avoid a glimpse of myself in any unshaded windows.

Is it Halloween yet?

cottage XXXIV

I found this one so deliciously absurd. Anyone else see it?

cottage XIV

hats for days (shameless self-promotion)

red hat I

Saturday’s Savers run produced a delightful heap of Etsy fodder. I thought I’d take a break from your usually scheduled eccentricity and promote a few things I thought my viewers might like. Click to buy this hat here! It’s in fantastic condition for something as old as I estimate it is. Perfect for all your vintage-vixen needs.

But first things first (well, technically second)…

best dressed

I’m thrilled to report that I’ve made the top three of the Seven Days best-dressed competition! The second round of voting closes on July 10th at 5 pm, and I would greatly appreciate your vote. It takes just a few keystrokes. Click here to vote! Facebook might require you to “like” the page to see my entry, but this app is minimally invasive and you can unsubscribe from it immediately after voting, so I think it’s worth it. Thanks in advance!

designer black hat I

Vintage Oscar de la Renta by Bollman Hat Company. Click here to buy.

brown hat I

Vintage Janyth Roy New York. Excellent for steampunk cosplays. Click here to buy.

blue hat I

Vintage Monseigneur. This is probably the oldest one I’ve come across, and I think the price is well worth it to own a piece of history. (Slight fraying on ribbon.) Click here to buy.

black hat I

Vintage pillbox. Comes with two real live pins. Click here to buy.

blue lace I

Slinky siren cocktail dress. Leslie Fay Evening, size 6. Fits like a glove and hugs like a lover. Click here to buy.

boston maid II

Vintage Boston Maid dress, size 12. I felt like a grown-up Eloise just modeling it. Click here to buy.

feather dress I

Ferns ‘n’ feathers dress. Vintage M.L.S. Ltd New York, size 12. Doesn’t drape too flatteringly on me, but I’m sure one of my bloglings could give it a good home. Click here to buy.

turquoise I

Vintage Evan Picone dress, size 8. USA-made by Ladies Garment Workers Union, which I think is pretty damn cool. Click here to buy.

dress dress I

Fifty dresses in one! Guys, this is the one it hurts the most to part with. Alas, though, it does not zip over my rather significant bust (it’s a size 4). It deserves a good home. Click here to buy.

grandma chic: dapper flapper edition

dye 006

Rachel‘s note accompanying my Etsy order. When I spotted this pink polka-dotted suit for a mere $20 in her shop, The Floral Prince, I pounced. The Floral Prince, by the way, is chock full of quirky clothes and all sorts of handmade items, and I highly advise y’all to browse.

Grandma chic indeed. All I need are some finger curls (which my gurl Hailey has promised to teach me to make), and maybe a scandalous flask hidden in my bloomers.

pink suit XI

My mom took most of these. She was into photography long before I was, and I think she’s pretty damn good.

pink suit III

I just plain feel my best when I’m swaddled in other eras and personae. It’s not about insecurity or needing to hide in the past: it’s about the sheer number of styles the past two thousand years of human civilization have seen. Hewing to the style mores of just the past decade seems terribly confining and, honestly, just lazy. So many fashionistas seem to forget or just plain disregard where they came from. The semiotics of clothing fascinate me: I can broadcast a completely different mood, dissolve into a completely different era, with just a few tweaks. Why wouldn’t I take full advantage?

pink suit VI

Really digging the contrast of grandma suit and visible sparkly bra.

pink suit V

pink suit VIII

pink suit IV

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pink suit XV

pink suit XVII

pink suit XVI

Suit: The Floral Prince Boots & Tie: Goodwill Tights: Handed down from Marissa Hat: Gifted

pink suit XIII