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Just simple shots I grabbed after work, but I LOVED this outfit. This dress is the hardest-working garment in my closet. It’s shown up on the blog at least once a month since I got it in March. But seriously, it’s the best. Vintage, perfectly fitting, only $30 at one of my favorite brick-and-mortar shops.  And it goes with anything. Any season, any color. I’ve spent so long collecting loud, loud dresses that I’ve forgotten how nice it is to have staples.


Dress: vintage, via brick-and-mortar store

Shoes: vintage, via eBay

Everything else: thrifted

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attend the tale of toni todd


This past summer, I went to a local theater company’s costume sale and bought about 25 dresses for my Etsy shop, which I’ve only just gotten around to photographing (listings will be up sometime this week). I snatched up anything I thought might be remotely salable. The directors were thrilled to get rid of everything – they handed me a garbage bag and told me to go nuts. I promised Josh I was buying to sell, not to wear. Our apartment is only so big. But I’m keeping the hell out of this vintage Toni Todd dress I found in the pile.


I’ve been waiting most of the summer to wear this dress. It’s really an autumn number. And it looks twee-in-the-best way with the saddle shoes I also picked up at the costume sale. It always delights me to find a piece with a label I recognize, a bit of history I already know. Toni Todd wasn’t a person but the name for the Misses division at R & M Kaufman. It was basically the fast fashion of its day, but you’d hardly guess that from its construction. I don’t want to be one of those “back in the day” curmudgeons, but…some things really just were better back then. Do you think a $20 J.C. Penney dress made today would ever last 50 years?


Dress: vintage, via costume sale

Coat: vintage, via brick-and-mortar store

Everything else: thrifted

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the magic shoot


This is, hands-down, my favorite photo spot ever. Ever ever ever. I don’t use it very often, because variety and all, but every time I do, my shots come out looking baller and a half. Witness: here, here, and here. (Also witness: how long my hair has gotten! I stopped cutting it last year just before Halloween, and I can’t wait until it’s long enough for fancy Victorian updos.)

But seriously, this place. I live in an old mill town, and though most of the mills & attendant waterways have been refurbished, to serve as museums or shopping malls, a few have been left to crumble. This is one of them. It’s well enough preserved that I don’t feel like a bull in a china shop, but rundown enough to be interesting. There’s something ineffable here. The light is always perfect and the air is always crisp and I never get flustered or frustrated or drop my camera. Everything just…flows here.

My dress is vintage via Rusty Zipper. I’ve worn it on the blog before, but I’ve since modified it. I didn’t care for the original ’70s-tastic sleeves. My shoes are men’s loafers I dug out of a thrift-store dollar bin, and they are seriously the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. You ever find something so comfy that wearing it in public feels like cheating, like you’re just waiting for everyone to notice you’re actually wearing pajamas? Yeah, these shoes. They’re practically slippers.


Dress: vintage, via Rusty Zipper

Hat: old & beloved

Everything else: thrifted

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This was supposed to be a steampunk outfit, but it ended up more “1940s train traveler”. Ah well. I love it anyway. And what better to pair it with than this short story? It’s sort of based on Chekhov’s “The Bet”, which I read when I was 10 and which proved very formative to my literary sensibilities.


Let me first whet your palate with the mention of Dr. Lucius von Schroeder. It is with a bowed head and a mist in mine eye that I recount his fate. Not I, nor the beings ingrained within this volume, shall pass judgment should you choose to turn your dear faint head away.

Von Schroeder was only a boy. I shouldn’t have nursed his whims so. Then again, bravado had thrilled him since his first beard. It was writ epic in his nature. Who was I to stand in his God (or whomever)-given way?


Von Schroeder craved beginnings and feared their ends terribly. He spoke of new dawns and advances yet unseen with besotted rapture. I don’t think his early days in the seminary had ever really quit him. He spurned the Church too vocally, too frequently, as though expunging whatever kernel of faith yet remained. He swore fidelity to science through and through, but I knew better. One night, when the walls seemed thin as ash and wind whipped our meager quarters, I heard the young man pray.

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How life itself ran riot through him! “Ashes to ashes,” he crowed. “Why, you and I are naught but stardust. Think of all we’d accomplish by truly realizing such infinite life. What is a man but his insistence on his own humanity? O, but what wonders we could channel if we’d stop clinging so.”

Lucius lusted faithfully after the ends of the earth. His need for transcendence, for taxonomy greater than his in creation’s kingdom, seemed to dog him with equal parts arousal and anxiety. Were I an insect, carrying discernment in the pads of my feet, I’d have seen the struggle writ subtle on his keen face. The epic of a man who’d abandoned God wrestling his own desire for holiness.

I watched him grow fevered and fevered further. I heard his prayers that weren’t prayers, whispered below breath as he worked. I didn’t recognize his deities. I did not understand his crosses to bear. In his private moments, he stood at a crux between two worlds I would never know.

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I was blind to what truly lay before me until the day my ward summoned me to his bedside. He was pale, but far from enervated; he was lit, incandescent, by the same godforsaken stardust that gripped him so. It hit me: he’d been a little less man each day. A little more spirit. Lucius was ash and wind and his own corner of Armageddon. He wasn’t meant for this world.

“My boy?”

“Professor Crowe, I’ve long known what I have to do. When you return to work, you’ll find your arsenic depleted. Once I have gone, please replace it with any money my earthly possessions will fetch you. It’s the least I can offer. But in the time I have left, there’s one thing I need.”


He paused. Theatrics always did run deep in Lucius. “Collect my final breath, Professor. Let it ferment. Let whatever cursed thing called me home finally show its face. I will not live to see what multitudes I truly contain.

But you will.”


I buried a man half my age with a heart twice as heavy. I drafted notes to his family only to remember he had none. The hastily corked bottle containing his final earthly statement dogged me all the while.

And then, my friend, my dear blameless boy, I let it go.

That little carafe exhaled your remains into a world never meant for them. I felt the air itself recoil. And I hung my head in shame.

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But what else would I have done? For all my dedication to this world’s more sordid wonders, I was cowed by something so ineffable. You see, I hunt the darkness in corners long forgotten. I was not prepared to find it in man.


Dress & jacket: vintage, via brick-and-mortar store

Boots: vintage, via eBay

Everything else: thrifted

mabon queen


Late summer/early fall is my absolute least favorite time of year. There’s something so…I want to say “dysphoric” about it. The mind has already rocketed full-steam into Halloween!space, but the matter is slow to follow. All I want is a huge sweater and a cauldron full of squash. Is that so much to ask?


Despite the punishing temperatures, though, my beloved Nightmare Vermont is holding auditions tonight, so I had to dress for the occasion. It’s so strange that the Halloween season is just beginning for the general public, while my cohorts and I have been working since, oh, April.

I’m not auditioning for an acting role, though. Not this year. I’m already doing costumes for both Nightmare and its new sister production, Spookyville, plus helping write the script for the latter. This year I’d like all my work to be done ahead of time, so on show night I can actually maybe relax a little. And not get the flu like last year.

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apples & (righteous?) rage


Yesterday I was informed by someone on tumblr that creative anachronism (encompassing vintage fashion, historical reenactment, Gatsby parties, etc.) is “intrinsically bigoted, mainly racist. This seems pretty obvious to me. Like white people romanticizing the Jim Crow era? It’s disgusting.”

First of all, I know, I know: I brought it on myself by frequenting tumblr. (Shut up, there’s good fanfic there.) But seriously, I could not let this go un-debunked.


I, as a lover of ‘20s and ‘50s aesthetics, am not romanticizing the Jim Crow era. I’m culling specific aspects of those decades to take pleasure in, and that is a very salient difference. I’m baffled by the argument that merely existing adjacent to oppression is enough to damn a particular art form. “These clothes/this food/this style of entertainment was popular in a time when people believed messed-up things about race and gender; therefore, appreciating them is tantamount to expressing those beliefs yourself.”


No. It doesn’t work like that. First of all, that’s called the fallacy of association, and we all know how I feel about logical fallacies. But more importantly – by that logic, I can’t very well enjoy anything at all, can I? Every era, including this one, has had its despots, its bigotries, its injustices of every size. Everything is tainted by some hand or another. But every era, including this one, also has real beauty and wonder and pockets of progress.

Just as I refuse to take the bad with the good, I also refuse to throw away the good along with the bad. Think about how culturally barren we’d be if we tossed everything of less-than-pure origin. Henry Ford was a Nazi apologist, but I’m still gonna keep riding in cars.


And if I’m being even more cynical, it just feels like another way of telling people, especially women, that our physical appearance is all you need to know about us. That you can effectively gauge my worldview, my values, my desires, my aptitude for social progress based on what I’m wearing. A miniskirt doesn’t mean I’m asking to be assaulted; a medieval dress and liripipe don’t mean I want to own serfs; a garish Victorian hat doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be allowed to vote. You’d know that if you bothered to listen to my words rather than letting fabric speak for me.

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world of stone


You guys. I have been going to Maine every summer for, like, eight years, and I have wanted to do a proper photoshoot in front of this library for just as long. One day I will sell enough short stories to buy this place and hoard mannequins & antique hats in every corner. I will wake up in the tower and shout at young women taking photos on my stoop, but I’ll secretly love it, those descendents of mine. This place isn’t the kind of secret you hold too tight.

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I have no idea where those white lines came from. I like to think an inchworm was crawling across my lens.

Post title taken from my favorite Blackmore’s Night song.

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magic hour & geeking out


This is less an outfit post than me prancing around at magic hour in a dress I’d forgotten I had, with hair that’s finally, finally long enough to be messy. (Seriously, HOW could I have forgotten this dress? I thrifted it two years ago for $13; something similar on, say, PinupGirlClothing would run over $100. I need to count my damn blessings.)

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I also thought I’d share an interest of mine that I don’t often mention here: medieval and Renaissance music. I am an absolute fool for madrigals, for antiphons, for hymns, for requiems, for lutes and fifes and minstrels. This is not exactly something people expect from me. I often feel like nothing about my personality is really cohesive, to the point where I’m like “if I were a fictional character, I would call myself unrealistic”. There’s a constant undercurrent of awareness that people probably think I’m “trying too hard” or making myself a special snowflake. I try not to care, but I am also loath to seem like a poseur.


Anyway, here is the medieval/Renaissance/Celtic music playlist you didn’t know you needed!

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and now for something completely different

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The last of my camp photos, taken in that nebulous neverwhere between one responsibility and the next. At least I looked really adorable. I like to think my tiny self would’ve enjoyed having a counselor like me.

But I’ll soon be transitioning out of twee!cute and into creepy!cute, because…


My haunt is expanding! As of 2015, Nightmare Vermont will officially launch Spookywood, a little sister production aimed at a younger audience, and I’ve been selected for the writing staff. I could not be more thrilled about that. Getting in on the ground floor of a brand-new haunt puts me that much closer to running my own one day. And I will officially be a ~credited writer~ on an ~official playbill~. While still doing costumes for NV, of course. Because you can’t ask me to make that kind of choice.

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