Kristina wrote an excellent post yesterday about actual vintage vs. caricatures that have been historically enshrined as vintage. She writes:
Sure, sometimes they wore red lipstick. Sometimes they did victory rolls. Sometimes they had fluffy skirts held out by petticoats. But watching a movie or searching street style from that era, there was so much more. And very few cat-eye looks, I should point out. I feel as though more often, it was pink or orange or even neutral lipsticks, soft brown shadows (or, hello, blue shadow), liner that was pretty subtle (it was all about the lip shape back then), fantastic brows, and hair that was fluffed and curled to glamorous volume.
I think sometimes the collective-we forgets that the history we slaver over was inhabited by actual people. Narratives are messy and murky and non-linear. And humans have always been human. The way we categorize them after the fact often has nothing to do with how they really lived. For instance – if I had a dime for every rockabilly type who claimed that vintage bikinis were “so much classier” than today’s stringy counterparts! As though they weren’t considered downright scandalous in their own time. We idolize Marilyn Monroe in the 21st century and forget that in her own, she was basically Kim Kardashian meets Monica Lewinsky.
Ditto when the nostalgia-prone sigh for “real” courtship, for the days when “men were gentlemen and women were ladies”. Maybe that’s how we’ve chosen to remember those days, but it was never that simple. There were still drunken hookups. There was gossip and seduction and guys who didn’t call. Let’s not pretend we don’t know what drive-in movies were really about.
All the things we think are newfangled conventions? They’ve always existed. People were terrified to be open about them.
Here’s to a fuller remembrance of history. To taking the good parts and leaving the bad to rot, but fundamentally understanding all of it. To knowing that truth is stranger than fiction.
There is something unquenchably domestic in me. It’s my regressive not-so-secret, my Feminine Mundane: I love fresh linens and birdsong and every talisman of country summer. I love lemonade* on the front porch and bluegrass echoing from eave to eardrum. I’ve always aspired to city slicking, but I don’t think I could sacrifice my Americana.
We’re not there yet. The trees are still bound up; the wind still punishes. But I see rivulets collecting beneath snowbanks and in sidewalk cracks. It’s coming. And I might as well dress like it. If I can usher in the spring with gingham and bluegrass and brightness and glee, I will do my damnedest to.
We all wear costumes. At least some of us admit it.
*I actually do not like lemonade at all. But it’s the principle of the thing.
I’m not even an anime chick, but I totally felt the quirky!magical!girl! thing in this outfit. Which I liked so much I ended up wearing three days last week. Maybe my #magicalpower is perpetually fresh armpits. Either way, I will always love appliqued novelty sweaters. I want one for every holiday, and that includes the summer ones.
- I’m living for the song “Take Me to Church” by Hozier. I usually do my best not to link videos everyone has seen ad nauseam already, but this one is worth abandoning my principles for.
- I’ve also been listening to Gaelic Storm’s Chicken Boxer album on consistent repeat for the past eight days.
- I submitted to two literary contests today. One short story and one poem. This is my dream, the teleology of my entire life, and I don’t want to defer it any longer.
- I updated my ModelMayhem account. Someone on tumblr made a terrible joke about a girl named Gloria with a cool car (“sick transit, Gloria Mundi”), and now I want to do an old-fashioned rockabilly hot rod shoot just to invoke it.
- I tried horchata this weekend and now I never want to drink anything else ever again.
- I made a really bitchin’ fondue.
- Every time I make one of these lists, a disproportionate number of bullets end up being about food.
I don’t understand this emphasis on “vintage with a modern twist”. I don’t want a modern twist. I want to wear my circle skirts and corsets the way God (or Dior) intended. I want to look like a walking anachronism. A ghost in petticoats. (And then I want to open my mouth and shatter the daintiness, because fuck yeah contradictions.)
It disturbs me, this obsession with looking “modern”. Living in 2015, I have thousands of years of fashion to inform me. Why would I want to confine myself to what’s trendy right now? Why would I want to telegraph “my mind is so small that I only care about what’s right in front of me”?
I bristle when I hear “outdated” as an insult. God forbid I don’t reinvent myself every time something new comes down the runway. God forbid I know who I am and dress like it. Why is it a bad thing to know what you like? Why should I retire my attachments because someone else has decided it’s time to replace them?
If modern styles are your thing, then wear them to death. From an artistic standpoint, I have nothing against innovation. But I question any ethos that praises modernity just because. Growth for the sake of itself. Wearing new things to fit in with the hordes of other people also wearing new things, to signal…what, exactly? That you’ll wear that dress or those shoes for a season and then leave them to collect dust? That’s not really something to brag about.
Vintage girls, they say, live in the past. We yearn, secretly or not so, for a time when men opened doors and women didn’t leave the house. Maybe some of us do. I can’t speak for everyone. But I know I’d rather fetishize the past than forget it.
Sometimes you’re killing time at Old Gold before work and you decide, because you’re an incorrigible masochist, that trying on the fit-and-flare with the Peter Pan collar might be a good idea. It’s just for fun, you keep lecturing yourself, knowing full well that the purse strings are already loosening.
And then you pay up front and walk out wearing the dress, because sometimes good vintage is a matter of imprinting, really. Would you abandon a duckling that decided to make you its mama?
This dress is my Christmas present to myself. (If you follow my Facebook, you’ll notice that I also received a 40-legged stuffed caterpillar as long as I am tall and that it is the light of my life. I am a simple creature, driven by good vintage and weird garish novelties.)
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.
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.
This outfit looks very much like something Marlen of Messages on a Napkin would wear.
Oh, and I made my first Etsy sale yesterday! This vintage Lanz of Salzburg dress. Here’s hoping it starts a trend!
Skirt (worn as strapless dress): Battery Street Jeans Top, Vest, Tights, Socks, Hat, Scarf, Shoes: Gifted Coat: Second Time Around
For the past few winters, I’ve been grasping at the “effortlessly toasty” aesthetic, rife with peacoats and Christmas choirs and suspiciously absent the slightest hint of a runny nose. You know what I mean. Let’s pretend our hems never drag and our gloves never soak through, even in the tyranny of a Vermont winter. More importantly, let’s not pretend we don’t curate our lives. I’ve been hearing a lot about how presenting only the bits you choose to share is somehow disingenuous, how the needy public is somehow owed the admission of private pains and flaws. A lot of bloggers seem to wonder if they’re “faking” by only displaying their most polished selves, by not sharing unflattering outtakes and two-a.m. pajama-clad selfies. If that’s faking, then I’d rather not be real. Who decided that anyone gets to ask for more than what I’m willing to give you? Keeping part of my life for myself alone preserves my sanity.
You’ll get some pretty pictures today, of course, but that little screed has been on my mind for a good while now. Yes, what I share here is real, but it’s augmented. It has to be – what art is any good 100% raw? I’m honored to have such a platform for my work, I really am. But at the end of the day, I don’t think any creator can afford not to distinguish between spectators and friends.
I’m not as unfriendly as I sound, I swear. Really, it just comes down to one more reason why I love clothes so much. I get to display exactly what, and how much of it, I want. I get to speak clearly without opening a vein.
And today I’m speaking “inner child snowed awake”.
I’m really enjoying feeling like an overly starched storybook schoolgirl. Cliche can be a lot of fun to mine.
Coat: Josh’s Dress & Sweater: Classy Closet Belt: Downtown Threads Boots: Battery Street Jeans Hat: Old Gold Tights: Gifted
New items in the shop! As usual, click each image to visit its shop listing.
I mentioned this in the last post, but I’ve got a new page for y’all to subscribe to: my modeling persona, Gloria Mundi. I’m trying to reinvent myself as an explicitly pagan model. I’m still interested in other genres too, of course (who could ever turn down a pinup shoot?), but I’d like to start from a pagan place and occasionally branch out. Gone are my days of taking every job I was offered. I think I have enough experience now to be more selective. I’ve started actually curating my ModelMayhem page, rather than posting shots from every single shoot. I’ve always believe that modeling is an art, and a respectable one, and I ought to start presenting it that way.
I leave you with two Dressember ootds!
Say what you will about the dogma behind it – I really $&*$ love Christmas. No matter what you believe, having a huge-ass celebration during the darkest time of the year can’t not be good for you. The ancient pagans knew what’s up. Crit-failing at serotonin production? Make your own, via light-up trees and garish sweaters.
My ugliest sweater, worn with unironic pride.
Fortunately, I don’t have to rely overmuch on color lately. My life is knit with other joys. It’s been over six months since I left college, and I’m actually starting to make something of myself. I’ve settled into my “jill of all trades” status, and I’m seeing success on a few different fronts. My Prague Revue column is up and humming along. My poem “wherein we luminesce” is currently enjoying the front page of Cowbird. Later this month, my short story “How to Leave a Cult” will be published on elephantjournal.com. And I spent much of today revamping my Model Mayhem account and creating a Facebook page for my modeling persona, now known as Gloria Mundi. There’s so much in my head – so many dark, glitzy, gritty nascent explosions – and I need as many media as I can possibly find.
Also, I would like to start going to church. Any church – I’m not married to any dogma or other. I just enjoy being in the presence of people who believe in something with their whole selves. I guess I’m religious by proxy. I’m drawn to all faiths, regardless of my personal opinions on their doctrine. I’m not in school anymore, but I loved being a religion major, and I’d like to carry that into my post-college life.
And I’m doing it all while dressed like a goddamn sideshow act.
Dress: Old Gold Hat & Sweater: Gifted Coat: Savers Belt & Tights: Goodwill Shoes: Danform Pin: Battery Street Jeans
Remember when I posted OotDs almost on the daily? Over the year and a half I’ve run this blog, I’ve phased out of straight-up outfit posts. Those certainly have a place, but photography and scenic design have started to interest me nearly as much as fashion does. I want to use clothes to portray something, not just show them off for showing off’s sake. I’d rather do more creative shoots less frequently. Mirror shots are seriously overplayed.
But…they’re a godsend when it’s too cold and dark to take any real photos but you desperately want to stay relevant. I’ve been taking two-second snapshots in the mirror at work to document my Dressember process. I’ll run it through again: I’m wearing dresses every day for a month to promote the International Justice Mission’s campaign against human trafficking (and please consider donating if you can spare a few). And today I thought I’d commemorate what I wore this week.
Also, I figure it’s nice to give a look at what I actually wear day-to-day once in a while. I’m not always quite as ostentatious on a daily basis as I am in some of my shoots. I post when I have something special to show, and though I like all these outfits, I’m not sure that any of ’em would normally make the blog.
Tuesday, doing my ice-princess thing:
Sweater: Replays Dress & Hat: Old Gold Tights: Goodwill Belt: Battery Street Jeans Shoes & Scarf: Gifted
Wednesday, a premature Valentine:
Dress: Old Gold Sweater: Classy Closet Belt: Downtown Threads Tights: Goodwill Brooch: Battery Street Jeans Hat & Shoes: Gifted
Thursday, channeling warmer days:
Dress & Belt: Battery Street Jeans Coat: Handed down from Mom Hat: Old Gold Tights: Goodwill Shoes: Gifted
And Friday, hoping to scare up some snow by going full elf.
Dress: Classy Closet Peacoat: Second Time Around Tights: Spirit Halloween Belt: Savers Necklace: Old Gold Hat & Shoes: Gifted