Thursday, February 28, 2013

You'd Think I'd Have Had Enough Pink By Now: Even More Polyvore Coordinates

I have no idea where these things keep coming from, but I keep getting inspired to do these casual sweet lolita outfits. It's not my style at all, but... well, what can you do? Inspiration goes in all sorts of strange directions sometimes.

You'd Think I'd Have Had Enough Pink By Now I: Chocolate Hearts

Starting with my comfort zone: flowers and brown and very simple in terms of number of items. However, this one has a lot of detail and different prints that push it away from absolute simplicity. The polka dots on the blouse, the dots and diamonds on the tights, and the different textures on the flowers all add a lot of visual texture to what would have otherwise been a pretty sterile outfit.

Sweet Skirt, Classic Eye: Picnic Time

Still definitely my comfort zone. Just a simple little outfit that would be cute for a summer picnic. Not much else that I can say about it except that I think boater hats are adorable.

You'd Think I'd Have Had Enough Pink By Now III: Grape Soda

Holy color, batman! There is no purple to be found anywhere in the print itself, but the color goes quite nicely with the pink. The unifying color, though, is really the little touches of white in the socks, the skirt's details, and the shirt collar. Still fairly simple, fairly comfortable, but getting a little bit sweeter as we go.

You'd Think I'd Have Had Enough Pink By Now II: Hard Candy

And straight out of my comfort zone with this one. This one goes out to Fuck Yeah Subversive Kawaii. It's pastels with as much attitude as I could muster, all inspired by that little "Eat Me" clutch. I wanted to combine the girliness of the lolita skirt, the lace, and the pastel color palette with a few harder accents: studs, fishnet-esque designs on the tights, and spikes. This is a little ball of fluff you shouldn't mess with.

The top was chosen specifically to be worn under the seafoam biker jacket. It's reminiscent of a classic "beater" undershirt, but the lace keeps it on the femme side.

You'd Think I'd Have Had Enough Pink By Now V: Strawberries and Cream

This is so sweet I can't believe it came out of my brain, but it is what it is. Pretty standard sweet lolita color palette with the red and white. Polka dots and bows. Strawberry earrings. It all seems very natural except for the fact that it's so far from my style that it's surprising to me.

So, there you have it. Apparently I'm not sick of playing in the pastel pink waters of sweet yet, even if I don't intend to wear it myself. I think this is the last batch with this skirt, but I can't be sure. Sometimes, I just need to force myself straight out of my comfort zone, and playing around with sweet is a great way to do it. It keeps my brain alive, keeps me thinking more creatively about what I am doing and what I can do with clothing.

And honestly, readers of mine, that makes it all worth it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

On the Reactions of Others: Comparisons Make Me Giggle

When you dress strangely, people are going to comment. It's almost inevitable. I know we don't want to think of it that way, but it's true. People feel the need to comment on our clothing. Sometimes, it's an irritating or even frightening experience.

But sometimes, it's altogether positive.

I love it when people compare my clothing to something. They always give me the most darling lists of comparisons without realizing that I treasure each and every simile:

"You look like Mary Poppins."
"You look like Alice in Wonderland."
"You look like a cross between a 1950s housewife and Johnny Depp's girlfriend from Sweeney Todd."
"I love the... school teacher thing you've got going on."
"You look like a black widow."
"You look like a vampire, Moby Dick, Victorian mashup."
"You look like an American Girl doll."
"It's like what would happen if Disney did a movie about vikings."
"You look like a princess."
"You look like one of the adorable Hobbit girls."
"You look like you just stepped out of the 1940s and you're waiting for a train."

Each of these statements was meant as a compliment, and each one made me very, very happy.

Open Heart by Nathan Sawaya
That is, of course, just a selection of things I've heard. I've heard them from family members, from friends, from coworkers, from ladies working in shops, from the people at my parents' church, from strangers on the street while I waited for concerts.

I want to encourage anybody who wears strange things to treasure the silly comparisons and positive things you hear. Yes, sometimes you just want to be left alone to go through the Target clearance racks in peace, but the approval people give is a beautiful and sometimes rare thing. Each compliment is a small piece that, together with other small pieces of positivity, comes together to make a whole lot of love.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine for my Style Icons: Shout Outs for Some of My Favorite People

This is a bit of a fangirly post, but I don't care. It's Valentine's Day and I wanted to make a post giving a little bit of love to those who have influenced the way I dress and, more importantly, the way I think about my clothing. They're style and attitude icons for me, examples of what I aspire to be in different ways. They're also people I would love to meet in person because they seem like beautiful people inside and out.

I've listed some of them here with links to their tumblrs but with no ranking system whatsoever. Perhaps someday I will make more lists, because there are many more people who have influenced my style. These are just the ladies who most came to mind.

Megan Maude

Not only is she a fantastic seamstress, but look how freaking cute she is! Her style is really pretty and very wearable for the most part, which is something I aspire to. She also tends to wear her skirts a tidge longer, usually just below the knee to tea length, which is where I like my skirts to fall.*

Lovely Lor

She's not precisely a style icon for me so much as an attitude icon. Yes, she did do my favorite example to date of guro Lolita, but it's about attitude more than the clothing. This chick has FUN with her style, and that's what counts. I mean, hello, Lor is the girl who has made multiple side-splitting "Shit Lolitas Say" videos. How can I not want to hug her after that?

Princess Peachie

She's so freaking cute! Her videos on youtube always make me smile, especially her video on confidence, and she always seems like the sweetest girl. Again, not precisely a style icon as sweet lolita isn't really my thing. But definitely a lolita who inspires me. She marches to the beat of her own drum - it's probably made of candy - and I love that about her.

Jillian Venters

And nobody who reads my blog should be surprised by this one. Jillian Venters, aka the Lady of the Manners, runs the Gothic Charm School website and has a delightful goth style that falls somewhere in the Victoriana-in-Tim-Burton-y-stripes-and-cupcake-pink range. She's also an eldergoth and living proof that you can still wear what you love once you're older (and sometimes even wear it to work). What could be more awesome than that?

Fanny Rosie

I love her. She's gorgeous. Her style is the most like what I want my wardrobe to be like: elegant, vintage-y, and wearable in many different settings. She wears a lot of brand skirts and dresses, but she's also got a fair bit of offbrand and vintage that she throws in and the effect is lovely. It's like she stepped out of a painting.


I have one thing to ask Kairii: Kairii, how you be cute? Seriously, this girl is so adorable that sometimes she looks like she's not human; she looks a doll. She works several different styles into her wardrobe and is adorable in all of them.

Samantha Crossland

This lovely lady runs Blasphemina's Closet and lives in Minneapolis, so she's part of my local (by local read "state" because we're talking Minnesota here) lolita community. Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to meet her, but I certainly admire what I've seen of her style and thoroughly covet her designs.

Ivy Frozen

This girl is lovely, her style is just as beautiful, and she seems to be just as beautiful on the inside. One day, I hope to commission a dress from her. Her style tends toward the classic and she does beautiful work. I mean, seriously, look at that book dress. She even makes custom sailor dresses.

Like I said, these aren't all the lovely ladies I admire. These are just the girls I thought of off the top of my head. Most of them are lolitas or at least lolita-inspired, which probably tells you a lot about the way my style tends at the moment. And all of them seem like lovely people.

Happy Valentine's Day, ladies!
*It's an "I really don't like how my knees look so I'd rather cover them up if at all possible" thing for me. To each their own, right?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fear Not the Ugly: On Scrump and the Drive to Be Cute

"This is Scrump. I made her myself. But her head is too big, so I pretend that a bug laid eggs in her ear and she’s upset because she only has a few more days to live."
--Lilo, Lilo and Stitch

I love Lilo and Stitch, and I love Scrump. Lilo is essentially everything I was as a child and many of the things I still am. She's strange. She looks at the world differently and appreciates its strangeness as beauty. She isn't perfect, but she doesn't need to be. She's crazy and offbeat and, though she desperately wants to be accepted, does not change who she is to achieve acceptance.

And then there's Scrump. She’s not the most conventionally pretty thing in the world, but Lilo made her with her own two hands. She uses her imagination to explain why she looks like she does and loves her dearly despite her imperfections. Scrump is precious to her, and Lilo’s relationship with Scrump is beautiful. Scrump is, in a way, a representation of Lilo's best qualities.

But then, when I was searching online for Scrump plushies, I found this:


It's symmetrical. The bulbous head of the original has been transformed into a super-deformed trait of chibi cuteness. Everything that was off-kilter has been smoothed out. Every piece of uniqueness, save the mismatched eyes, is gone. Very little survives of the imperfect but thoroughly loved little doll except coloration and a few messy (but not too messy!) stitches across the mouth.

Apparently, it's sold only in Japan, and I'm both glad of that fact and thoroughly unsurprised. To me, this is essentially everything that I don't like about Kawaii culture rolled into a roly poly plushie with button eyes. It's something imperfect and all the more beautiful for it forced into an unnatural perfection.

Sometimes, I feel like that. We get pressured, so often, to be cute or attractive or generally pleasing to the eye. Especially if you're into Japanese fashion, like I am, the pressure to be cute is kind of insane. Even if you're not, we get hit from all sides with expectations for how we should look. Look attractive, but not too sexual. Look modest, but not prudish. Be cute. Be attractive. And do it in the way that society wants you to.

We really shouldn't have to do that.

The fact is, some days we won't be a polished image of perfection. For many of us, that'll be most days. Sometimes, we'll break out. We won't be as skinny as we would like, or as plump. Our hair will do hilariously strange things; mine grows something that looks like a tumbleweed out of the right side of my head. And that's okay.

I want to offer you a challenge: don't be afraid to be ugly. That's not to say "don't be cute." Be cute if you want to be cute, but don't be afraid to fail at that pursuit. Don't be afraid to make a mistake. Don't be afraid to be who you are, imperfections and all. Strive to be whatever you want to be, but don't be afraid to fail.

You are allowed to be less than an image of perfection. You are allowed to be unattractive. Nobody, and I mean nobody, should be allowed to judge you for that, because whether you are or are not attractive on any given day is none of their concern.

It's hard to do, I know. We get a lot of pressure from all sides to be one thing (or many things) and then you see one blog post from me. It's not going to stick right away. It's hard.

But fear not the ugly, dear readers. You can be charming. You can be loved. You can love yourself. You can be beautiful despite your imperfections. Some days, you'll look like a perfect porcelain doll, and that's wonderful. But other days, you might look in the mirror and see Scrump.

Don't be afraid. Scrump is wonderful, too.