Monday, May 31, 2010

Doing Something Good

In my culture, and many others around the world, making New Year's Resolutions has always been a common practice and, three months later, a common let-down when you break them. Maybe you started eating fried food again or stopped going to weekly worship of your chosen religion, or maybe you're just back to thinking rude comments of the people around you, but either way, I'm sure anyone who's ever made New Year's Resolutions has broken more than a few. Though I always make a pretense of half-assing myself some behavioral changes come January first, it's been years since I've actually been committed to one.

However, this year, I find myself in need of change. Due to various things, I've realized that my life has been drastically improving over the last, oh, seven or eight months or so, and what with finishing another semester of college, being in a happy relationship, and finding myself presented with new opportunities, it seems like I should be celebrating. But I'm not. Or, at least, I haven't been; the seduction of stress has gotten me again, and between health, work, family, and finals, I've allowed myself to become one huge tied-up knot of frustration &negativity when such a state has really been unnecessary. This toxicity, I'm realizing, is what has been holding me back this whole semester and is what has kept me from taking full advantage of the amazing opportunities I've been presented with.

No more! As I've just started me twenty-first year and have officially become an adult by American standards, I've decided that it's time for some New Year Resolutions as a way to start forming my life into a more fulfilling one that I really enjoy living. One of those resolutions is to spread positivity not only to myself but to the World At Large, and I'm happy to say I've done just that. From helping my friends with HTML or Japanese homework to baking cookies and making my family dinner, I've been trying my hardest to put some more effort into giving back to the people I love. That can't be all, though; now I'm trying to give some positivity to people I don't know, have never met, and don't owe anything to. One such example is Joey.

I came into contact with Joey from his being featured on F*** Yeah Lolita's series Lolitas Who Break the Mold. In it, he mentioned that the Metamorphose Swan Lake JSK in pink was his dream dress, and I felt that familiar pricking in my heart that said there was something I could do to help - kind of like a bat signal. I cast a sidelong glance at my closet and, not wanting to believe what I had to do, saw the exact dress he was pining for languishing next to my bathrobe. I tried to think back to the last time I'd worn it and was at a total loss. After a moment's hesitation, I typed up a comment that said I owned that dress and would be willing to sell it, if he were interested in buying. I received an e-mail address and an enthusiastic "Yes, please!" from Joey, and after a few weeks of discussion and saving up on his part, there was finally an exchange of promise on my end and money on his. He's such a sweetheart - he put up with a few more weeks of me floundering around through papers, debates with drycleaners, and frantic searching for lost detachable bows (normally I would never sell anything during finals, but the opportunity had arose and I felt like putting it off would be worse than the effort it took to get it done), all absolutely without complaint.

I received word that he received the dress yesterday, and his thanks were so heartfelt and moving that it reminded me the magic of a good deed. What with the state of our lolita internet community and the fact that we have ENTIRE WEBSITES devoted to bitching about people (which have their place and is another post entirely), I think it's really important that we remember the people sitting on the other sides of these computers and the hearts beating under these layers of frills and to give back to them in any way we can, whether that's helping a newbie on the egl community or providing someone with their dream dress. Everyone gets bogged down by the negativity of daily life, and it's important to find a way to let that negativity fly away into space and fill the void it leaves in us with happiness and love (okay, okay, sorry about the hippie bullshit).

Friday, May 28, 2010

F*** Yeah Bonnets! Custom Ophanim Bonnet Review

I've always had a love-hate relationship with bonnets. On the one hand, they can be infantalizing and childish. On the other, while lolita headwear certainly runs the gamut of whimsical creativity, there is nothing that is so iconic as the bonnet. All other types of hair accessory can, with creativity, be worn with normal clothing (though the traditional headdress would probably be a bit difficult), but the bonnet is so crazy, so extreme, so quintessentially lolita that there is no way they could be anything else. I have a policy that everything I buy for lolita accessories must be able to be, in some way, worn with regular clothes, so buying a bonnet, especially if I don't know how it would look on me, seemed utterly flippant.

I did dabble, though - I bought a pink BABY bonnet in the... fall or winter, I believe, but decided that it didn't suit me - the brim was wired strangely, the color didn't jive, the lace wasn't right. It was a bit too sweet for me - I decided that the bonnet that was truly for me was an ornate buckram one, Tripe Fortune-style, with chiffon and lace and bows and maybe even roses. So my quest for the perfect bonnet continued, to my own internal chagrin.

In February, at the Chocopologie meet-up I hosted, I chatted crafts with Caro-chan of F*** Yeah Lolita. She showed me a beautiful netted fascinator she made and mentioned that she would be opening up an Etsy shop soon. We talked inconsequentially about Etsy for a moment, and then she said that she was going to be adding real, handmade buckram-frame bonnets to the shop once she perfected the pattern. I DIED. I probably gave her whiplash from the torrent of babbling I let loose, about how long I'd been wanting one, how awesome Triple Fortune was, insisting she let me know when they went up, was she taking commissions... luckily for me she put up with my outburst of utter crazy, bless her heart.

Fast forward a few months, to about April. I got this absolutely beautiful dress commissioned from I Do Declare for my birthday and a photo shoot, and while I wanted to make a circlet for the photo shoot (what's a queen without her crown?) , I was at a loss as to what to wear for my birthday party - I couldn't wear the same thing twice, of course!! (Communal groan from the audience, I know, I know) I wracked my brain, and then thought back to that conversation. While nothing in her Etsy shop would have matched, I remembered that she said she was taking custom commissions, so I sent her a message. We hashed out a design over e-mail, Livejournal message, and text, and finally figured something out for color and style. She requested a month to make the bonnet, but because of delays from the post (she contacted Kelsey and asked her to send some fabric swatches and then scraps when she couldn't find a good match), she actually ended up making and getting the bonnet to me in a matter of days.

Construction: I cannot get over how beautiful this bonnet is. I've never seen anything like it in person - it's exquisitely crafted and the work is beautiful. When I think about how, due to time constraints, she only had about a day to make the entire bonnet, I am stunned. I don't think I could make anything that crazy-awesome no matter how long I took to do it. The quality of materials is also lovely. The fabric was the leftovers from my dress, so Kelsey and I originally selected that, but the accoutrements Carolyn selected (lace, ribbon, etc) are very high-quality as well. The stitches are all hidden and those you can see are tiny and neat. 5/5.
As I said above, Carolyn employed every means of getting in touch with me possible, including livejournal message, e-mail, and text message. She sent pictures over the phone in real time to get my opinion and help make decisions, and demonstrated an admirable knowledge of her subject in her recommendations, as I had no idea what would look better in most cases. She gave me detailed updates whenever possible and was always patient with my silly questions and long response times. 5/5.
No problems here, either! I was originally only getting regular shipping, but since it was so close to the party, as a birthday present Carolyn paid the difference for next-day shipping so I would have it in time. It arrived in perfect condition just before noon on the promised day and wasn't shaken up, crushed, or generally damaged at all. It was packed in a plastic bag in a box padded with paper. 5/5.
Overall: I normally have an intrinsic problem with giving anything a perfect score, simply because pop music and sitcoms have made me wary of anything deemed "perfect," but here I cannot give anything less than 15 out of 15. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the product I received, everything was perfect and to my exact specifications, and I would recommend Ophanim and Carolyn's work any time. Caro-chan, thank you so much for an amazing addition to my wardrobe!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lolita Beauty on a Budget: Even the Kitchen Sink!

A few years ago, I moved into my own apartment. It was less than a month after graduating high school, and I found myself in a rinky-dink studio apartment with absolutely no money after rent for anything more than Ramen noodles, Pop-Tarts and Wendy's. I couldn't have been happier. However, you can imagine what a diet like that did to my health, and without money for the fancy lotions and potions I was used to pampering my skin with, I had to learn how to make due with what I had. Luckily for me, what I had was a corner store, a few dollars, and the Internet. With these simple tools, you too can build your own beauty regime for pennies! (/commercial)

My absolute beauty stand-by is, to this day, baking soda. For about $0.89 USD, you can buy a few months' worth, depending on what you use it for, and it does almost anything. Anything I need done, I use baking soda first, and if it doesn't work, I proceed from there. Usually, it works. I exfoliate my face with a tablespoon of baking soda mixed with about a teaspoon of water; I gently rub the paste in circles over my face and neck, then rinse. I follow it up with diluted apple cider vinegar as a toner, and my skin has never been softer. My hair is another thing I turn to baking soda for: normal shampoos are not only expensive, but they can also be bad for your hair because they strip natural, healthy oils as well as grease from your hair. Baking Soda, on the other hand, simply dries the grease from the outside of the follicle without penetrating through it and removing the good stuff. I use a tablespoon of baking soda to about a cup of water as shampoo, and the same concentration of vinegar to water for conditioner - if you have very dry hair or get very greasy, you should look into the No Poo method, as it's called! It also helps preserve your dye job, if you roll like that. No time to shower before dashing out the door? I run some dry baking soda through my hair at the roots, and it dries up the grease and keeps it looking nice until I can shower when I get home. It's also a natural deodorizer, so you can use it in place of deodorant if you have sensitive skin.

A few more tips:
  • Have a zit? Cut a clove of garlic in half and rub the cut side on it. Garlic is a natural astringent, so it will drastically reduce redness of new pimples that haven't formed a head yet. If that garlic won't work (say you can't stand the smell, or the zit has already popped), hold an ice cube on it for as long as you can before you go to bed at night. This will soothe the inflammation and the blemish will be noticeably less red by the next morning.
  • If you have bags under your eyes, cucumbers are not an urban legend! However, if you want something stronger, put two spoons or used black teabags in the fridge the night before, and place them on your eyes for as long as you can manage. The chemicals in tea are naturally healing, but the cooling affect is really the star here, so metal spoons work too.
  • For another great homemade exfoliator, mix one part kosher salt or sugar with two parts olive oil, or use this great aspirin face rub.
  • Lemon juice can be used to strengthen nails and give them a natural shine. Dip a Q-tip in fresh lemon juice and rub it onto your nails for a few minutes. Leave it on for about ten minutes. This can also lighten the white parts of your nail.
  • After you're done brushing your teeth, gently brush your lips with the toothbrush. This exfoliates them which makes them smooth, can help with chapping, and makes lipstick stay on longer and brighter.
  • Some foods that can be used to make great face masks are honey, yogurt, avocado, and oatmeal.
  • Hot Oil treatments are great to add shine and softness to your hair. Take a few tablespoons of olive oil (the length of your hair will determine exactly how much you'll need), heat it in the microwave for a few seconds (it should be warm but not so hot that it burns you) and rub the hot oil through your hair. Cover with a plastic bag and leave on for as long as possible, preferably over night but at least thirty minutes. Then, the trick to washing it out is to rub shampoo into your hair before getting it wet. Oil and water are NOT friends, and so if you saturate the oil with shampoo before wetting your hair you'll have a much better time of it.
Darling readers, what are your favorite home beauty tips?

Also, yet another new layout! I know, I know, I made the last one like a month ago and there are blogs who don't change their layout for months or even years, but... they're just so much fun to make! I went with a sort of "room" theme for this one, with things that reminded me of a Victorian parlor (striped "wallpaper" with pictures in ornate frames and pretty chandeliers). Also, for the background, it was originally pink but I made it blue instead - if you made it and want credit for it anyway let me know! I lost my original source...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thoughts on "The Rules"

You know what? I'm just going to say it. I like the rules. I like following rules; they give structure and order and define us as a subculture. Now, I'm not saying that I don't occasionally wear a dress without a petticoat, or I never leave the house with bare legs or a bare head, but if I do, I'm much less likely to call my coordinate "lolita," because it just does not fit the rules of that fashion. It's like if a punk went out in a yellow polo shirt and jeans with his piercings and tattoos and dyed hair. Does it look bad? No, probably not. However, is it punk? Not by any stretch of the imagination.

And that's okay. There's nothing wrong with not fitting your little stereotyped mold perfectly, and I think that's something we should strive to do because it's our job to break stereotypes. However, if you do break stereotypes, know that it may not conform to that label anymore - and personally, I think that's awesome. Be a fashion pioneer! Wear whatever you feel like, but know that it might not be lolita. If you're breaking the rules, it probably isn't.

That's not to say that innovation is "against the rules." Take this outfit by Kelsey of I Do Declare:
It's beautiful. It's innovative. It's everything lolita should be this summer, in my opinion, and it still follows all the rules. See? The Rules shouldn't be viewed as something constricting or stifling of your sartorial creativity but rather as enhancing it, providing a framework that challenges your creativity to work within it. And again, there's nothing wrong with breaking the rules. Sometimes you can only make a coordinate work if you forgo socks, or if you wear a highly-styled wig instead of a hairpiece. However, it's important to know where that line is, when it can be crossed, and when it needs to stay a boundary.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Miss Universe Organization: Or, Why I'm Glad to be a Freak

On CNN, Donald Trump just told me the reason I'm angry about Miss America contestants being shot in an uncompromising photoshoot is that I'm jealous. Now, as a woman, I am obviously livid. However, as a lolita, I am even more angry; excuse you, Donald Trump? I'm jealous?! Yes, sir. That's why I'm pissed that these brilliant, self-possessed women who are engineers and have careers that they worked hard for are being told that actually, you can't have any power in my world unless you take off your clothes.

Now, I find that interesting. As a lolita, I never feel more empowered than when I'm completely dressed, completely done-up, and looking entirely unreal (I've heard gyarus say that they only feel comfortable when they're entirely artificial). I find it hard to believe that there are women who feel like showing off their bodies is what gives them power, when it's the exact opposite for me. Who is right? Is it better to remove all layers of artifice and show your true, uncovered self to gain power from anyone who sees you, or to shut that side of you off from the world and empower yourself only by your own standards? Is it better to be a whore or a freak?

Personally, I'd rather be a freak. I'd rather know that I look beautiful for me, by my standards, even if those aren't the rest of America's (or any other country, for that manner). I don't wish I looked like those women. I love my body, but it's mine. My body is mine for me to treasure and to share whomever I see fit. Maybe someday I'd be interested in showing it to other people, but even if I did, it wouldn't be like that.

I also don't find it wrong to pose for photos in various stages of undress. I don't even feel it's wrong for women to do it lounging on beds in stilettos giving either Marilyn Monroe-smiles or smoldering come-hither looks. That's fine. There's art to that, if it's done right. However, I find that promoting a pageant that already comes under scorn in the minds of feminists in this way is not the best thing for their company or, more importantly, their viewers. I heard a higher-up in the company saying that if you go to their website, you'll see that some of the women are engineers or some of them are x or y, but guess what, Miss Universe Organization? The six-year-old girl who's watching the pageant with her family isn't seeing that. The young men who see advertisements on the subway or in magazines or wherever they're going to promote using these images don't know that, either; all they're seeing is yet another woman being objectified in her panties on a bed. I think that Miss USA could be an empowering powwow of feminine energy if it tried to be- I think it could set an amazing example if, in commercials, they showed these women doing this photo shoot, then get up, get dressed, and say "I do this because my body empowers me. You know what else empowers me? My career as an engineer." Also, I keep using the example of the engineer because I'm on the website now and can't find any information about these women outside of the bedroom. You go their their page and it's just a huge picture like the one above, with a quick bio of their name, age, and state, and then a link to buy their photos. Good job, Miss Universe Organization. Not only are you objectifying these brilliant women, you're keeping their accomplishments secret and making money off of them as well. Five stars and a thumbs up for you!

Good gracious, I am so glad I have alternative beauty standards. Otherwise, if I say these photos and actually CARED that society expected me to be like that, I'd probably be in the bathroom vomiting my breakfast up right now. Thanks America! As always, you're a peach!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Daily Outfit 5/17/10

Here's what I wore for a double-date picnic on Monday with Kayla and our boys! My boyfriend bought me the hairbow when we went to a festival on Mother's Day so I wanted to design an outfit that would match it ♥ I adore my overdress from IDD, and I've been trying to think of some other ways to coordinate it, so when I realized that it matched the bow perfectly, I threw it on over the blouse and jumperskirt I was already wearing. I think I'm going to wear this for my birthday party, too. I love the Wonderland feel to these pictures - the shed from my backyard reminds me of the Rabbit's house if Alice had grown big outside of it instead of inside!
Unfortunately my curls ended up falling by the time I got to my boyfriend's house, so I just ended up doing a flip instead.
  • JSK: Bodyline
  • Blouse: H&M
  • Overdress: I Do Declare custom commission
  • Socks: Secret Shop
  • Shoes: Offbrand
We went to a lovely field surrounded by woodlands for the picnic and ate lunch in the shade of a long-deceased rich woman's summer cottage. She had donated the house and acres and acres of the surrounding property to the town, and now they do tours of it and have butterfly gardens and woodland trails through the rest of it.

Also, guess what? Today is my birthday! :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Get That Style: Martha

Not gonna lie, Martha is, like, my ultimate girlcrush. I had been familiar with her from the New York City lolita scene, but didn't really talk to her until Otakon of last year. Even then we didn't hang out until later that summer, when Victoria Suzanne and I met up with her and Kelsey in San Francisco. It was upon gallivanting through an unknown city with the pair that Victoria &I really got to know them, as well as getting an amazing first-hand look at both of their very inspirational personal styles. Since I've been (no-so-)secretly girlcrushing on her like mad, I figured she would make a perfect addition to my Get That Style series!

Name: Martha
Zodiac sign: Sagittarius
Location: New Jersey, USA
Style: Classic lolita influenced by historical fashion, mori-girl, and sweet lolita
Definitive trends: Like many lolitas, Martha's most recognizable fashion statement is definitely her hair. Her short bangs and full, huge ringlets make her look much more like an illustration than someone you'd expect to see walking down the streets of New York City. Another recurring look is the creative use of off- or indies-brand items. Like me she adores the work of our mutual friend Kelsey of I Do Declare, as well as Japanese indies brands like MILK and Pink House. This girl also works wonders at chain stores, coming away with gorgeous blouses and cardigans on a frequent basis. Martha's style is all about accentuating the natural and taking classic stand-bys and updating them.Stand-by pieces: Tights or bare legs are favored instead of knee-high socks, and shoes are understated with a vintage flair, especially calf-high boots. Martha is well-known for creative bags, especially favoring pochettes in natural neutrals like brown leather and black fur. She also prefers longer styles, with dresses and skirts falling somewhere between the top of the knee to the calf. Never without a fabulous hair accessory, she mostly favors floral corsages, especially with bows, and feathered hats. Tops are usually cutsews, blouses, or sweaters from chain stores - as I said above, Martha is iconic in my mind for crazy-awesome finds at Forever 21 or even K-mart.

To achieve: RATS! Make or buy a rat for your hair to give it extra volume, then curl it into sumptuous ringlets with either an iron or curlers. Hair accessories should be perched jauntily on one side of the head. Either invest in an amazing hat, or make yourself a few rose combs to fix just above your ear. Include accessories with a glamorously natural vibe, such as a leather purse, feathers in your hair, and pearl jewelry. Interesting necklaces, especially hand-made, are utterly necessary to get her look. For make-up, go with a natural look, coral lips and cream shadow with very little blush (the focus is on her even, porcelain skintone), and manicured brows are a must. Favor prints in bold neutrals, such as stark black-and-white or intricate patterns in cream and brown.

In summary: Natural, natural, natural. If I could describe Martha's style in one phrase, it would be "understated, old-world elegance with a modern flair." For more, check out her new blog, moss garden!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lolita Braiding Three Ways

Pink? Polka dots? Hearts? You know what that means - I've roped Victoria into another one of my hair-brained schemes for the benefit of my lovely readers. "Hair-brained" is certainly applicable this time, because here's a hair-spiration post featuring this season's hottest style: Braids! From mainstream to mori-girls, everyone has decided that the braid is back. I've always adored braids as a cute, simple way to jazz up any style, especially in summer when you don't want all that humidity melting your hairspray away. Since my hair is so dark, details don't photograph on it well, so I recruited Victoria to help me out (she sat complacently on her cellphone, figuring out how to link it to her e-mail). Here are some of my favorite braided looks for lolita:

The Crown Braid: An old favorite of mine, it's a touch tricky and takes some getting used to, but if you can master it, the affect is understated but very glamorous. Just take a small section of hair from just above the ear, and start braiding as close to the root as possible. If you can, hold the hair over your head while you're braiding, as this will cut out any lumps that may form when you lay it over the crown. Then... lay it over your crown. Here I secured Victoria's braid with a bobby pin that matched her hair under about three fingers worth of hair behind her ear. If you want, you can adorn the end of the braid with a bow or flower corsage, but here I didn't think it would be necessary, especially with how cute it is to have the pink braid over the blonde hair. A pearl headband behind the braid would be very classy as well.

Crown Corsage Braid: Ahh, so you've mastered the crown braid, eh? Well, here's the level-up. Instead of a regular braid that you pull over the top of the head, take a small section and french braid it across, behind your bangs if you have them. Once you get to the end, curl the tips of your hair around a finger, then keep rolling until you have a rose-like corsage. Secure with a few bobby pins. I can't claim credit for this look - I found it off Youtube tutorial. I can't find it now, but if anyone is interested I'm sure I could dig around for it!

Pigtails With Pizazz: And here is my favorite braided style- sick of normal braided pigtails? take a medium-sized section from the crown at the front of your part and braid it - when I do it on myself I can just do a regular braid, but for some reason Victoria's hair wasn't taking it, so I did a french braid itself. I think this looks much more streamlined than my usual style, but I definitely wouldn't have the patience to do that on my own hair! Maybe if I'm styling someone else's, though. Adorn the ends with anything you would use on normal pigtails, or for added cuteness channel mori-girl and stick some small wildflowers or feathers straight into the braid itself.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Breaking Lolita Internet Addiction

Ramble Rori's post on Internet addiction made me realize just what a huge problem it can be to our demographic, and even I'm a victim. I've been so holed up in my room these past few weeks, busy with not only blog-work but school-work that I almost didn't realize it was nearly summer! I stepped outside yesterday and saw people with perfect tans all over campus and I thought, already?! I had no idea the weather had been so nice, but it had, and I had been missing it because I was "too busy." Me, the queen of stopping to smell the roses, too busy to spend an afternoon in the sun?! So here are a few tips I came up with to get out and away from your computer:

If it's warm:
  • Go to a park! Take a walk around your local park or wildlife reserve. Bonus points if you pick flowers or leaves as mementos.
  • Have a picnic - a perennial favorite of mine!
  • If you absolutely can't get away from the computer ("ahhh finals ahhh essays fml!!" has kind of been a summary of my last two weeks), buy yourself a nice big bouquet of flowers to bring the outside inside. Or, better yet, convince a gorgeous suitor to buy them for you!
  • Go out to lunch with friends. My favorite is cupcakes and sandwiches at a local bakery.
  • Find a good book and a parasol and just veg on your favorite spot of grass. Mine is at my parents' house, in the shore of the lake - I bring an mp3 player, book, blanket and smoothie and soak up that vitamin D when I need a break.
If it's cold (I didn't forget about you, Southern hemisphere!):
  • Take in some local history. In my area, most of our towns have a Historical Society where they have pictures or fun facts about the area from when it was first founded to the present. If not, I'm sure you have some kind of museum or historic landmark nearby. Lessie of Intravenous Sugar did this here when she explored Europe without leaving her home city of Buenos Aires!
  • Taste-test every hot chocolate in your city. Make a day and go to every cafe you can find. Normally I'd suggest tea, but let's mix it up a bit, shall we?
  • Go ice skating! I'm lucky enough (?) to live in an area that gets ice-covered ponds and lakes in the winter, but if you're in a warmer climate, search out a rink instead.
  • Head into the closest city for a day of shopping with your girls. When I get this hankering it's Tokyo Rebel, here I come!
  • Even if it's too cold or blustery to go outside, you can still take time to yourself! Draw a picture, paint your bedroom, curl up on a nice carpet with a good book - bonus points if there's a fireplace involved!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day, mommies!! I got my mother a bottle of chardonnay, a box of gourmet truffles from a world-renowned chocolatier, and a huge cupcake from Crumbs in her favorite flavor, peanut butter. My sister-in-law hosted a beautiful Mother's Day brunch with some absolutely amazing food as always (my contribution was white chocolate coconut ganache truffles). Here's what I wore!Rundown:
  • Dress: Children's store
  • Blouse: Innocent World
  • Hat: Vintage
  • Socks: BABY
  • Pearls &shoes: offbrand
This is another one of the amazing vintage hats my aunt sends home for me sometimes. I have family in Pennsylvania, where there are a lot of amazing vintage shops. My aunt loves to trawl them but can't really wear much of it herself, so she has my parents bring it home to me whenever they visit. Admittedly, it can be kind of hit-or-miss, but the hats are always amazing!

Also props to my wonderful boyfriend who puts up with so much from me. He took these pictures, came to brunch with my fam (an ordeal even I don't usually endure!), and even wandered around a festival with me all day. Also he took me to see Iron Man 2 last night. Love ya!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Outing for cupcakes!

Today was struck by the most horrendous craving for cupcakes (I blame the picture in this post, Victoria!!). Normally this is no problem - when I'm home I can just go to Crumbs, which has a convenient location about fifteen minutes from my house, and all is well in the world. HOWEVER, today was different because I am still at school, in an area that has remained largely unexplored despite the fact that I've lived here for two semesters now. Not one to ignore any craving for long, I recruited my darling friend, the ever-sumptuous Kayla, and Google Maps to aid me in my search. Before long (though our journey became much longer than it should have about a mile before arriving due to rush-hour traffic) we found ourselves salivating over the displays at Truffles Bakery. Because this is she and I that we're talking about here, of course we had to get dolled up for the event - me obviously in lolita, and her in a casual rockabilly/pin-up style (Sorry doll, I don't know the terminology here!)
I wore:
  • Cutsew: Angelic Pretty
  • Skirt: Strawberry Cream by Mew
  • Hairbow (can't see it yet again! Same one too): Angelic Pretty
  • Socks: Secret Shop IW replicas
  • Shoes: Bodyline

Our selections even matched our outfits, at least in theory - a raspberry-chocolate cupcake with a lemonade-iced tea for me, and red velvet and cream soda for her.

Kayla models Stewart's Cream Soda. Isn't she gorgeous?! It was also through the course of this afternoon that I convinced her to start her own blog about rockabilly and pin-up fashion and lifestyle - well, confirmed a feeling that she already had herself is a more accurate statement. I'm helping her with the coding and she's still working on content, but once it's up and running look out for it in my sidebar!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Angelic... Classy?

Everyone knows that there are certain brands that support certain styles. Innocent World provides us with classic yet still innocent and sweet-inspired items, Moitie gives us gothic with a classical flair, and Victorian Maiden is over-the-top classic with major historical influences. Some brands, like BABY, like to stay more in the middle of the three main styles, and produce pieces that could compliment sweet, classic, or gothic ensembles. For most people, when they think "Angelic Pretty," they see prints like Sugary Carnival and Happy Garden, prints that could absolutely not be anything other than ultra, over-the-top uber-sweet, but personally, I've always seen much more to Maki and Asuka's designs. There's a hidden potential there that comes from their crossing over the boundaries not necessarily of lolita styles themselves but of J-fashion in general, catering as they do not only to us rufflebutts but also to the Gyaru community. While browsing their site, I realized that they really do have a number (granted, a small number) of pieces that could go either way - which, with Angelic Pretty, means either cavity-inducing or not. Don't believe me? See below:

(also, yes, I was a lazybutt and didn't name any of them.)

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For my first example, I chose the same skirt in two colorways and played it two very different ways. The left side is a sort of classic-gothic, with a dark color scheme and elements that lend themselves well to gothic like Victoriana. For the second, I wanted a lighter, sweeter look - child-like but still mature with a soft color palate of shades of blue accented with white.

On this coordinate, I wanted to go a little more classic-gothic. I loved the look of the dark tartan skirt with peeking bloomers because it's both mature and child-like at the same time, so I really wanted to play that up by going with a grown-up Victorian look. The super OTT bonnet by Triple Fortune has both bows and feathers, which class up the whole thing and make it a bit more elegant than if it were crusted in, say, rhinestones and roses (though there is a time and place for those, too!) The shoes are on the more grown-up side, too; while they're styled like a classic maryjane, the high heel give them a different feel than low-heeled maryjanes.
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Here's a look that's definitely still sweet, but has a mature air to it. There's no huge hair here or pastel prints; this springy coordinate is fresh and cute without being... well, obnoxious. I wanted to do a look that was mostly AP, instead of splicing in bits from other brands, to show what the designs really are multi-faceted and can be used in lots of different ways. This is sort of an old school country-sweet look - I imagine this girl is wearing braids and strolling off on her way to a picnic. The pearls, rocking horse shoes, and scaled-back colors all give it a more grown-up look, but the wristcuffs and berry-printed knee socks add a child-like sweetness.

So, you see? It's possible for the wild, over-the-top sweetness of Angelic Pretty to be tamed. One of my favorite classic dresses is an old AP design, all blue florals and cream bustle, so I've always known the brand's potential for classiness, but hopefully I've opened some eyes and maybe even converted some followers of other style to give the brand a shot. Close your eyes - this spoonful of sugar is definitely going to go down smoothly, no cavities involved!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Golden Summer Make-Up Look

Summer is on its way back to the Northern Hemisphere! I'm psyched, personally - this means picnics after work, parties before class (yes, I'm taking a summer class as well - Biology of Local Plants! Totally stoked), and basically a lot of running around and doing a million fun things one after the other. Because of that, I needed a make-up look that was easy and classy, but could still transfer between work, school, and family events, then straight into lolita if it had to. That's why I designed this make-up look, inspired by that golden time of day right before sunset when I always seem to be outside in warm weather.

Eyes: A good amount of mascara (my technique: dust lashes with translucent powder, apply a tiny bit of mascara, curl, apply a bit more to seal the curl), and a thin line of liquid black liner to act as a base to the color, with a little wing at the outer corner to enhance the lashes. Cream shadow on the inner third of the lid and down into the inner corner of the eye to make the eye look wider and more awake, as well as a bit under the outer half of the browbone to enhance the eyebrows. I applied shimmery amber shadow on the outer corner, starting along the lashline and blended upwards, a bit heavier in the crease (but not much! Heavier dark make-up in the crease will look too mature for lolita, though it's lovely for daily wear). To finish, I lined my waterline with the same shimmery cream as above and dabbed a bit of translucent gold shimmer to just the inner corner.

Face: Start with SPF-added moisturizer to protect the complexion from the harsh summer sun. I then used a very lightweight foundation with a light dusting of mineral powder to cut shine &absorb oil. I didn't have any coral blush, which is what I really recommend for summer, so I only used a very light application of pink cream blush because it blends better. It also helps the bronzer stay on, which is really the secret star of this look and summer make-up in general. I played it up a bit more for the photograph than I would for daily wear so you could see where I applied it - just along the cheekbone. That's it! In the deep summer when I'm a bit tanner I'll apply it to the bridge of my nose and jawline too, but no more than that. Bronzer is meant only to enhance and add a healthy glow to the places on your face where the sun would kiss your skin, not to change your skin's entire color. Very common misconception! I've had so many people cringe when I say bronzer is one of my favorite types of make-up, because they think of something like spray-on tan. It's not so! In my opinion, no other type of make-up will make you look as healthy, refreshed, and awake as a good, tastefully-applied bronzer.

Lips: Since the eyes and complexion are the focus, I went light on the lips. I applied a light covering of Blistex with sun protection, and a light coral gloss over that. The lip balm not only locks in moisture and protects your lips, it will act as a primer and make your lip-gloss last longer. Remember with make-up that you should only have one major area of interest - a bright blush, intense eye make-up, or a killer shade on the lips. Combining too many of these will be totally overwhelming, even for dramatic wear.

The directions may look long, but mostly I'm just waxing poetic about bronzer- the whole look probably only took me about 5 to 10 minutes to apply, so it's perfect for throwing on before heading out in the morning and requires minimal touch-up during the day. I'm excited - it's going to be just as perfect for days on the beach as days at the office. Sigh... is it summer yet?!


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