houndstooth swing coat & muted vintage florals

sg I

Cosplaying Madeleine today, though I’m not sure I’d enjoy having twelve of me. I’ve read too much Calvin & Hobbes not to understand the dangers of duplication.

sg VIII

sg VI

For the past three weeks, my views have tanked. TANKED. I’m talking, like, ~20 per day. Sometimes up to 70 if I’m lucky.  My stats have climbed steadily upward for the past year, but I think I might – perish the thought – have peaked. January clocked in at 4,095 views. February sank to 2,419. March is young yet, but I’ve had only 254 views, which averages out to ~40 per day. I don’t know what’s happening, and I’m kinda freaked out.

My content hasn’t changed. I mean, it’s evolved over the past almost-three years I’ve blogged here, but there’s been no jumping of the shark. Nothing so radical as to shrink my hits counter by a good third. It’s gotten better, I think. I get better at photography with every shoot. I refine my knowledge of vintage every time I get dressed.

Maybe this kind of thing isn’t up to me. Maybe the internet tells you when your expiration date has arrived, and you roll with the masses or risk total irrelevance.

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I’m not grubbing for views, I swear. I’d sooner gag on a spoon than be so publicly maudlin. But I would like to know if I’m alone in this. Has anyone else ever experienced this kind of drop-off, precipitated by basically nothing? Talk to me. Others’ stories just might alleviate my finger-chewing neuroses.

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anachronism

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This past November, we had one 67-degree day. One beautiful, damnable, climate-change-can’t-be-all-bad 67-degree day. I took these pictures and saved them for the next time I would crave the sun on my tattoos. A day like today, almost 3/4 through what I think we can all agree is the worst month of the year.

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I

III

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VI

VIII

slut (plaid dress, plaid coat, & clashing shades of red)

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“You always dress so classy,” she said to me as we passed on the street. “I really like how you manage to look sexy without being, you know” – she lowered her voice – “slutty.”

If anything has ever made me want to unbutton my blouse and rip a few inches off my skirt, it was that.

V VI

That girl was just one person, sure. But I wish that attitude weren’t so endemic to the vintage community. I’ve unfollowed a couple of tumblr rockabilly blogs for continually posting stuff like “reblog if you wish women still acted like ladies”. It’s funny to me how people don’t see that ideals of modesty are constantly evolving. Many of the styles these vintage girls fetishize were downright scandalous by, say, Victorian standards. Exposed ankles? What a slut! Who’s to say today’s iterations won’t look positively dowdy in fifty years?

I hate that the way I dress comes with embedded implications of how I think or what values I hold. I, personally, prefer a more understated sex appeal in my daily life. (My burlesque life is a whole other beast.) I’m not comfortable in short skirts or tight dresses, but don’t think for a second that I’m okay with shaming people who are. My fifties dresses don’t come with fifties values. Perish the thought – you can value modesty for yourself without hurling epithets at those who aren’t just like you!

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I feel caught between worlds sometimes. I want to present Prim as Fuck and still be loyal to my poly folks and my burlesque dancers and my sex workers. I don’t want my personal style to negate my commitment to My People, and I definitely don’t want it to imply, ever, that I’m complicit in shaming others’ sexuality.

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on modernity (vintage florals, pink coat, red hat, & yellow tights)

I

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.)

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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”?

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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?

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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.

 

mori girl

I

I am lashed to a gypsy boy

by one colossal sky.

III

when this universe shrinks to a cage,

I’ll remember that his eyes were

black holes;

dripping, magnetic wounds;

and through them

we could probably tunnel our way free.

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I will miss you, gypsy brother,

in the not-so-far-off fore when

your pain is no longer a false alarm.

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If nothing else,

remember the morning

when the sun filled our eyelids

and, for a moment,

opened those sleek black

holes to light.

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X

If nothing else,

remember the morning.

favorites

I may be just as insufferable as I was last year, but dammit, I think I produced some pretty good art in 2014. If 2013 was the year I “actually took on some semblance of a recognizable style“, then 2014 was about figuring out how to work my goddamn camera.

These are my favorite posts of the year. This isn’t just a “hey give me a lots of clicks” attention grab; I have slightly more integrity than that. I just really enjoy seeing where I am artistically. And, y’know, getting lots of clicks. I’m only human.

pair I

bloody snowmy tacky manifesto

pair II

garden of earthly delights & something is terribly wrong with the princess

pair III

loonette’s heyday & girl on the burning tightrope

pair IV

my precious & by the sea (mr. t)

pair V

steam for a day & curvy girls with floral curls

pair VI

curious little beastie & decadent decades

pair VII

mad as a hattrix & rockabilly religion major

pair VIII

the traveling yellow skirt freak show & the other holy grail

 

 

 

dame in plaid

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It’s just a basic day dress, your average McCardell-esque cotton shirtwaist, but this dress always feels ineffably fancy to me. There’s something so elegant in the soft swingy folds. I feel like a working-class wife dolling up her children for Sunday service: practical but far from plain. Forget aprons and rolled-up sleeves. The order of the day is pearls, plaid, and lace-up boots. And a really excellent hat, because of course. I should really learn to do finger waves.

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my precious

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Whenever I take pictures I really, really like, I always sit on them for a while. The whims of my readers do not always match my goals for this blog, and posts I’m really proud of often end up being buried. On the same coin, posts I dashed off or care less about often end up doing really well. I don’t like to waste my good photos if they might not be appreciated, you know? And this right here might be my favorite outfit shoot I have ever done ever, so all that goes triple. I’m feeling the “wacky society dame” vibe good and proper in these shots. Or…not so good and not so proper.

So what I’m saying is don’t abandon me in my time of need.

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she lives!

Josh and I are well established in the new place. Photo tour to follow as soon as I can find my goddamn camera charger. We found a two-bedroom specifically so we could have a workshop for my vintage dealing and his steampunk art. As such, I’m buzzing to announce the grand re-opening of Dressed in the Dark Vintage! I closed up shop back in March for lack of storage space, but in the new apartment, I have an entire closet JUST for Etsy stuff.

And I’ve got a few tricks up my poofy sleeve. I want to renovate the shop a little, and one of my updates is better categorizations. You’ll notice the first new category: All Hallows’, where witchy wear will reside. Over time, I’d like to compile a few more stylistic categories: rockabilly, bohemian, etc. It’s more interesting than just “dresses, skirts, tops”.

I take a lot of joy in analyzing vintage. I lurk in brick-and-mortar shops far out of my price range just to park myself in rows of dresses and examine the seams and cuts. (“Why won’t she buy something?” the shopgirl moans, shedding a single tear.) I love getting my greasy hands all over relics of other people’s lives. More than that, I love conducting between the old and the new: dusting off something long faded and sending it off to its revival.

This is my ten-dollar-word way of saying BUY MY SHIT! Click on each photo to see its listing. This isn’t even half of my new stock (again with the camera charger), so check back soon.

hallows

white vest black vest hallows II

puff

in the atelier

In the name of breaking up this outfit-post monotony (jk I know you love me), I’ve been fomenting a new series. If I do say so myself, I own a hell of a lot of vintage. The 50s, the 90s, and everything in between. And I don’t deserve such a collection if I don’t properly cultivate it. I’ve decided to start, maybe once a week or so, posting analyses of some of my favorite garments: specifically, dating them. I’ve written previously on how to identify genuine vintage and place it in proper historical context, but there’s nothing like some actual in-the-field demonstration. I’ve seen many a blogger fooled by a well-made reproduction.

Above all: why own vintage if you’re not going to appreciate what makes it, well, vintage?

Some of these I haven’t worn for the blog yet. I currently have a pretty substantial backlog of outfits I’ve designed but have yet to photograph. So bear with me (i.e. suck it up) as I break the suspense a little.

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First up is this baby from the $2 rack at Battery Street Jeans. BSJ had tagged it as “vintage 60s dress”; let’s see how well their analysis measures up!

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A cursory googling of “Tori Richard Honolulu” turns up a brand that’s been around since 1956. Hmm, not much help. Other clues:

  • Its zipper is metal and runs down the center of the back – a material and placement generally associated with the 60s. The nylon plastic zippers most often used today did not come into the mainstream until 1968. Individually-toothed plastic zippers were in fashion from the 30s on, but as they lacked a metal zipper’s hardiness, they’re less likely to have survived. As for the placement, 60s styles favored center-back zippers, as opposed to the side zips of the 40s and 50s.
  • The tag displays the bare minimum. Generally speaking, the less information on the tag, the older the garment. Though country-of-origin labels were mandated in 1891, fabric content and care instructions weren’t required until 1961 and 1971 respectively. So this dress came after ’61 but before ’71.
  • The dress’s swingy silhouette. While this is not a hard-and-fast rule – eras have borrowed from each other since time immemorial – given that the rest of the clues point to its origin in the 60s, the swing silhouette only affirms that analysis.

Verdict: sometime between 1961 and 1968.

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Next…

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This one’s tricky. I’ve worn it on the blog before, and I readily admit to dating it incorrectly in the previous post. The label had faded and I misinterpreted its color, putting my analysis off by at least ten years. And in ILGWU labels, color is pretty freaking important.

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  • This dress is a great example of how design itself can be counterintuitive. We associate fit-and-flare with the 50s, no? Nope – this girl can’t be older than the 70s.
  • International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) tags are coded by decade and color. I initially interpreted this tag as blue and orange, which was associated with the 60s. It was only after comparing it to some others online that I realized it was a faded version of the red, white, and blue tag ILGWU used from 1974 to 1995. (I’ve never been very good at telling red from orange from pink. It’s all bright to me.)
  • Garment tags as we know them today were mandated in 1983. You know the ones – small and rectangular, crawling with fine print. This tag, while relaying the information required since 1971, is definitely non-standard: look at that little fortune-cookie slip in the right of the photo above. I’d have to do more research into the tagging system to know for sure, but I’m thinking this dress is almost definitely from before 1983.

Verdict: sometime between 1974 and 1983. So, roughly ’78/’79.

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Next installment coming soon!