deep thoughts at the shelburne museum

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  • It would be so easy to accidentally-on-purpose get locked in here and spend the night in a tiny Victorian bed. And hunt for ghosts. And see if the wine in the apothecary bottles is real.

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  • How does one get hired as a living statue? I could rock that. Give me a period dress and a huge hat and I’ll go around turning up my nose at everything and saying “indeed” super sneeringly.

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  • This is what we in the industry call “pastoral as fuck”.

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cherries & vintage green

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Easter makes it abundantly evident what a nOOb religion major I am. This morning I went to Mass with a Catholic friend who wrote his thesis on Vatican II. He was full of insights about scriptural quirks and the True Meaning of Resurrection, and I’m just like “…well, I’ve got a bitchin’ hat.”

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I have so much to learn, but depending on your religion of choice, I have any number of lifetimes in which to learn it. I am so fascinated by spiritual systems, by law and creed and myth, both by the holy books and by the ways they are lived.

I am not, myself, inclined toward belief. But I’m not immune to the joy knit through religious communities. Dozens of people united in pursuit of the same divinity is an amazing thing to witness.

But I am never more aware of the horns tattooed on the back of my neck than in a Catholic church.

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pigtails, plaid, & neck tattoos

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I realized upon titling this post that I actually have no idea why bloggers refer to their garments in the plural. After all, I have only one neck tattoo. I see it all over the fashion blogosphere: “yellow skirts”, “LBDs”, “vintage coats”. Maybe they’re sick of using articles for everything? Maybe they want to come across as more of an Everywoman: you too can ape my style! That’s some “army of clones” shit.

I think someone should do a sociolinguistic study of fashion blogging. Something like this Bitch magazine piece, but with a less judgmental slant. Let’s be real: there are some weird-ass conventions in this community, and I’m not entirely sure where they come from.

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A few others I don’t understand:

  •  Why the perpetual pigeon-toeing? I do it because I have messed-up ankles, but I’m guessing not everyone does.
  •  Why so many pictures of food? Not that I’m maligning pictures of food. Food literally keeps me alive. It’s just odd to me that photographing food has become a Thing among fashion bloggers specifically.
  •  Why do people sign their posts “love”? Not to get all grinchy, but I don’t love my readers. At least not vis-a-vis their status as readers. I appreciate them, sure. (But I am fundamentally nihilistic and kind of robotic, so you should probably not defer to me on this one.)
  •  Why do people do that weird crouching pose? GOMI calls it “street pooping”, and I’m reluctantly siding with GOMI on this one.
  • Why is every other post set in a coffee shop or an abandoned building? (Looking at myself on this one. Abandoned buildings are awesome. But they seem to show up disproportionately.)

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It’s not that I think tropes are evil. Even TVTropes says they aren’t. I’m not really a “stick it to the man” kind of person; I don’t think self-memeing subcultures are a bad thing. But I do encourage people to question where their affect comes from. Whether it’s something they’re deliberately cultivating, or something they’ve just sort of slid into. Sometimes I see bloggers who so perfectly hit every. single. mark that I just…wonder if they ever stop to think.

tl;dr self-awareness good

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granny florals, orange tights, & a leather coat

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Two Australian women are currently campaigning against the term (and attendant concept of) “plus-size”. Model Stefania Ferrario writes:

“I do NOT find this empowering. I’m NOT proud to be called ‘plus,’ but I AM proud to be called a ‘model,’ that is my profession!”

Ferrario & compatriot Ajay Rochester claim that “the label is both counterproductive and harmful to young girls’ self esteem”. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here smashing my face against the keyboard: am I the only one who thinks they’re going about this completely wrong?ojVIIIojIII

First of all, I wish more people understood that plus-size isn’t a judgment or a statement on one’s personhood. It’s a garment category. It’s not about the people wearing those garments; it’s a way of classifying cut and fit to easily signal its intended audience. Just as “tall” means “longer inseams”, “petite” means “shrunken proportions”, and “maternity” means “forgiving stomach”, “plus size” indicates that a garment isn’t merely a bigger version of its size-zero equivalent. It means the whole garment has been restructured for a different scale. 64% of women polled believe that “[plus size] should be banned as a defining term, as bodies are bodies, no matter what the size”, which is all well and good politically but ultimately meaningless. Should we also stop measuring ourselves because “bodies are bodies”? More power to you (even if it is a tautology), but good luck finding a bra that way.

The categories you fit into aren’t a measure of your worth as a person. I’d much rather challenge the idea that they do than abolish categories altogether.

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And on that note…I don’t think it’s harmful to young girls’ self-esteem to assess themselves honestly. Abandoning a certain term won’t make me any smaller. I’d rather come to terms with my proportions than rationalize them away. I want to own myself, and I don’t want to keep promoting the idea that being “plus-size”, or “curvy”, or whatever you want to call it is something to be ashamed of. Doing away with the label would broadcast shame loud and clear, and that’s what I find harmful to young girls.

Now I absolutely agree that “plus-size” models and garments are often marginalized, and I’m not in any way supporting that. I just don’t think that bigger models will magically become more accepted if we stop describing them a certain way. This kind of change runs deeper than that.

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red polka dots & orange stripes

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I love, love, love square-dancing dresses. I’m not sure exactly how this particular style came to be called so, but I love the immediate association with soft twangs and towering hair. Frills and poufs forever, especially on the first day of spring.

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A very eager girl approached me as I was shooting and asked to help. She didn’t seem likely to steal my camera, so I handed it over and she took the above shot. Pretty nice! Strangers’ reactions to my photo shoots have always been positive. I hear horror stories about deliberate sabotage and snickering behind backs, but that’s never been the case for me. Lots of staring, sure. But I’m kind of asking for that.

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vintage gingham, pink accents, & pure americana

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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.

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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.

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*I actually do not like lemonade at all. But it’s the principle of the thing.

 

houndstooth swing coat & muted vintage florals

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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.

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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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teal polka dots, black button hat, & pink everything else

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I am so very fond of finding the kind of dresses that ModLoaf marks up for dozens of dollars at thrift stores for cheap. (And in better, sturdier fabrics, I might add.) This dress, plucked from the Classy Closet for $14, is almost a parody of the ModCloth aesthetic.

Sometimes it seems like ModCloth and co. are caricaturing the “retro” look. Actual vintage dresses, to that crowd, might not be recognizable as vintage, because they don’t hit all the tropes in one. Most dresses do not have polka dots and Peter Pan collars and froofy skirts (though how wonderful it would be if they did!).

And then I find dresses like this and go “I guess the stereotype had to come from somewhere.”

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gray chevron dress, red coat, & a short story

The story I’m currently working on.

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She knew the pace of these streets. The bread truck at nine, the garbage at nine-oh-six, the hospital shuttle at quarter after. Ruth could set her watch by each morning’s cadence. If she wasn’t out the door in time to cross the garbage truck down at Seventh and Peck, a scathing Look awaited her. Any later than that and Ruth was looking at a write-up. Maybe a pay dock to keep her in her place. Never mind that she had thirty years on the manager.

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She wasn’t prepared the morning the hospital shuttle came too late. Her daily grooves were carved too deep; her vision was tunneled. She was still mid-crosswalk when the driver’s foot screeched, his mouth shrieked, and Ruth went still, struck dumb by the impending splat.

Suddenly her fleshy knees met concrete. There were hands on her shoulders, inarticulate soothing in her ear. The shuttle had careened to the side. Its driver was practically hopping: “oh Jesus, oh Christ, fuck, that was way too close –”

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“She’ll be fine,” said the woman who had saved Ruth’s life. “It’s okay, you’re already late. I’ll get her on her way.”

The shuttle lumbered away, and Ruth’s savior helped her to her feet.

“Thank you,” Ruth said when she could speak. “You saved my life. I don’t even know what happened there – deer in the headlights, I guess.”

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“No problem. You weren’t supposed to die today.”

“No, but really –” Ruth felt herself welling up; goodwill and menopause could do that to a person. “You came out of nowhere, just for me. It’s like you’re my angel.”

The second woman’s eyes gleamed and her mouth twitched upward. “Yes,” she said. “I am.”

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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.

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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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