Do not fear gentle readers, this is your regular fashion blog! It’s just a little different week, due to some very exciting news! I have been nominated in the Audio Verse Awards for best Writer (woo) and best Production!
For those of you who don’t know, I write a science fiction comedy adventure, playing with the tropes of sci-fi from the classic shirt ripping heroes to the idea that time travel makes any sense!
Set in the year 2005 (as all the best sci-fi classics are), newly divorced, Raymond Gunn finds himself lying flat on his back in some seedy bar, on some seedy asteroid, in some seedy corner of the galaxy, when suddenly Starburst, a teenage girl and her AI, S.U.I.T (Survival Utility Intelligence Technology) burst into his life, with adventure, heroism and maybe a bit of blackmail on their minds. Cue the beginning of the rest of his life. Will he manage to become a hero? Will Starburst break away from her shady past? Will the narrator actually be allowed to finish a story without irritating protagonists interrupting?
Well if you want to know the answers, you can download all TWELVE answers on our website (click here), as well as on iTunes (or click here), for FREE! Could it get any more exciting? Oh, since you asked, yes it can! We’ve been nominated in this year’s Audio Verse awards and we need all the help we can get as you, the wonderful general public, are in charge of who wins and who falls into a pit of teeth and tentacles in true scifi style by voting for your favourites.
So, please download the show (for FREE) and then vote for us here on the Audio Verse website.
Normal service will resume next week, as I have to go and pen some new shorts to go along with the awards!
And if you are following my patreon then I will be releasing next week’s article early to you AND posting a sneak peak of an interview I’ve done for Modern Magazine.
Please consider downloading the show and giving your support to all the amazing people who have worked so hard on it over the last two and half years.
If you want more please check out my last articles:
Fighting guys on motorbikes is pretty hard, so you need to look your best while doing it. Because clearly that’s something that I do on a regular basis, or at least in my mind I do. Imagination leads me to some ridiculous outfit ideas, mostly inspired by stories I want to write or characters I’m working out the kinks in for projects. It’s strange, but inhabiting a person’s clothes can really help you lock down who their are as a person and, as a writer, that’s incredibly helpful, as well as being good fun.
I think there is a strength in make believe that is overlooked or seen as childish, but why should it be? Why should we stop telling ourselves stories or dressing up just because we’ve passed an arbitrary age marker in our lives? There is so much in the world that is utter rubbish, that to deny ourselves fun because “you’re an adult now” is pointless, and, in my very humble opinion, unnecessary.
Using stories as a place of inspiration in all aspects of my life has helped me the understand motivations and ideas in them a lot more, and that has informed my own writing. I don’t just use my clothes, I also use music, basing playlists round characters (my own and those that I love by other people) to compliment my life, as well as to make me think deeper about either what I’m reading or writing.
Sorry this has been a bit of a ramble. Shall we move back onto the clothes? Yes? OK.
This outfit is inspired by the Japanese girl gangs, with a touch of 1950s vintage thrown in for good measure. I love mashing up old and new, pulling ideas from different places to see what comes out. With this, it stemmed from a conversation with a friend about a dystopian comic idea I was having and how cool it would be to see these looks put together, how that would create an interesting aesthetic for the characters and the world they were part of. I love the Japanese girl gang style and how it’s feminine yet strong and hard, it’s a look all of it’s own and I felt it would be great for the aesthetic I was going for. So I had to try it out.
I put this look together for a night out, figuring I could probably get away with it in the low light of a bar, even if I decided it didn’t work for me. That being said, it worked great and I really loved this look. Sounds so ridiculous, but it was genuinely wonderful moment of “wow this really works!” which is rare for me. Normally I know when I get dressed how an outfit is going to make me feel, but this was so on the fence that it was a revelation that I actually liked it. Aren’t I a ridiculous human? I know you think so. But what can I say? It was a success and that makes me a happy ‘Olly.
I’m going to start with the colour palette of this look, which I feel like with this outfit it was the most important element. I knew what styles of clothing I wanted to use, but the black and white (and silver) is the most striking part of the look. I felt, since I wanted to go for a quite unusual style, that keeping the colours simple would be better. Plus the look I was basing this off, is very mono-coloured.
With that in mind, the sailor top is the next obvious step. It’s a cute shirt and the style reflects the Japanese school uniforms which I love. Again, that’s very classic with this look. It’s a vintage Laura Ashley top, that I wear a lot (I really love it) because it’s super versatile but also quirky. Unfortunately, sailor blouses aren’t the easiest things to get hold of, but you can find some very good and simply tutorials on how to make either the whole blouse or just the collar. You can start with this one or this one.
The jacket is actually one of my favourite items that I own. I got it in a sale for £2 (yup, two whole pounds) and it’s so comfy and easy to wear, it goes with pretty much everything (though definitely not plus fours, even though I’ve tried). I also love the patch “Viva La Femme” which is not only awesome but great for the aesthetic of this look, don’t ya think?
This style of jacket adds a really cool punk/retro vibe to the look, makes it look like you don’t care and you’re a rebel, without going full leather jacket, which can sometimes be overwhelming. Again this jacket is invoking the idea of the school uniform, the varsity jacket of American high schools, contradicting the more traditional and classic sailor blouse but in the most complimentary way. Jackets like this are super easy to get hold of at the moment. Most high street shops have them, or ebay is full of this style. As for the patch? This jacket came with it, but you can find great ones on halfstitch embroidery.
I love how the skirt is both vintage and futuristic at the same time. The silver, almost holographic fabric (doesn’t quite show in the pictures but trust me, it’s great) cut in this quite old fashioned style, the long pleats and high waist, is everything. I love how it compliments the vintage style of the blouse while rocketing the look forward into the 21st century. It has it’s own vibe, and isn’t apologetic for that. I love that these skirts are in fashion at the moment and you can get them in all sorts of fabrics and colours. It’s worth look around until you find the perfect one for you, as there are as many variations as there are looks and you will be able to find the best one for your personal style. On top of that, these skirts are super flattering on everyone. Yes, everyone.
With the accessories I went pretty simple. Belt, bracelet, ring, necklace, the trademark pieces. Whoever, each one is a little statement in itself. The choker necklace is an obvious one. It’s leather, with that great pointed V shape creating the double layered look, while also mirroring the V of the blouse. It’s punk, it’s dystopian, it’s a bit risque, but most of all it’s cool. It’s also a little uncomfortable which is a shame. Again, chokers are really in and you can get your hands on them in most accessories shops or in the jewellery section of pretty much all high street shop. If you want something a little more unusual, like this piece, it’s off to etsy you must go, but there’s no harm in a little bit of a browse through the wonders of etsy now is there?
The cuff bracelet is silver and mimics a cage in appearance, with bars and studs in it. It feels a little “dangerous” as does the large ring on the other hand. These are ornate pieces for appearance alone, they are saying something a bit more – and though I hate the word – “edgy”. This look is all about combining things that shouldn’t quite fit together, and creating something that makes people look.
Lastly the belt. That big, chunky, black belt. It perfectly breaks up and balances the outfit. Without it, this could be shapeless and white, but with it, it sections the white and silver out, and defines the waist, not too much, but just enough. It balances, something that is often needed in a look that gets overlooked. If you’re wearing less colours, you need to make sure they are balanced or it will become shapeless and just a bit blob of that colour, but define the areas with a belt or something similar and you stop that happening.
I hope you’ve liked this week’s piece, I’ll be back next week, hopefully with a Back to Basics article.
If you like what I’m doing please you can buy me a cuppa on Ko-fi!
Article disclaimer: This is all based on personal experience and is in no way expecting fashion to magically cure mental illnesses.
I was going to do another autumn outfit but then I decided that this was more fun! And everything is better when it’s fun!
I have never been one who wanted to sit at the back being quiet, despite being incredibly shy. I wanted to be the centre of a crowd, or be funny and witty, but my shyness and anxiety held me back. It wasn’t until I was in Sixth Form (so that’s 16-18 years old for anyone outfit of the UK) that started to try ways of overcoming my anxiety. I used to push myself forward, raising my hand in class, opening debates, and fear of all fears, read aloud – I am completely terrible at it to this day – and still do, even if my heart was racing and I felt like I was going to throw up. Every time I get on a stage or ask a question in a panel/talk, I still feel this complete fear. It can feel like it’s going to overwhelm me, but I want to beat it so badly that I have found more and more ways to overcome it. The biggest of these being costume and fashion.
Yes, yes, I’ve talked about this before, but I think it’s important to push the idea that you can break through these anxieties, even if it’s only in a small way, by creating a shield for yourself with your clothes. You can make yourself into someone new, someone who can step onto that stage, or can ask that question, or make that phone call. I’m not going to say that fashion can cure anxiety, I’m not that stupid, but it does have a power that you should not underestimate. If you look good on the outside, I promise you will feel a good 5% better on the inside, maybe even more.
For me it wasn’t just shyness this helped with, I’ve used fashion as a way of helping deal with dysphoria and anxiety. It’s my little push to help me get out of the house.
On my worst dysphoric days I dress myself up. I plan and put on an outfit that looks damn good, I’ll do my makeup so I’ve got cheeks for days, and no, I don’t care if I’m wearing “too much” makeup to go to the shops. It’s making me feel better. So I might be over dressed but it’s making me feel just that little bit better, and that’s what matters. If I have to be completely over the top and ridiculous – I mean, I’ve had days when I’ve gone full on lolita just to walk to the shops – then fuck it, I will. For someone else, it might be as simple as putting on a clean t-shirt, but it’s presenting an outward appearance even if inside you aren’t ok.
There will always be days when that isn’t enough, or you simply can’t do it. But you can still use fashion on those days. You can look through your wardrobe, put things together, have a mini fashion show in your bedroom just for yourself. Or if you can’t do that, imagine putting those items together, there are some good apps for outfit building and inspiration, though don’t get sucked into the “I’ll never look this good” place. That’s dangerous. I often find sketching helps too. Maybe designing an outfit I’d like to sew, or some clothes I might go and look for when I’m feeling more up for it. See, the wonderful thing about fashion is that it is a great distraction. You get excited by it, or at least I do. I want to pull those clothes out of the wardrobe and see if it works. I want to go into town and make that new look. It can really boost me.
Again, I am aware that this is not going to be enough for everyone, and that it is not a cure. But if it works for me, it just might work for someone else.
If you are feeling severe anxiety or depression, please see your doctor and seek help, if you haven’t already.
This outfit is what I wore to the Leaky Con (a Harry Potter convention) evening do. It’d been a really long day, after several long days of travelling, sewing and conventioning – I had in fact just got back from travelling as well so I was a bit of a wreck – and I was super overwhelmed. I could feel the anxiety pulling at me, and I was so glad that I had decided to bring such a ridiculous outfit to wear, as I knew it would divert attention away from me and onto the clothes.
Let’s start with the main piece of this look, the galaxy print pantaloons. These are, unsurprisingly, hand made and hand painted. They are one of my favourite things that I have ever made. They are so individual and unusual. I think it’s nice to have the main piece of an outfit be the trousers. It’s different and shakes up the look a little. Why does the statement piece always have to be a dress or a top? Statement trousers are the way forward!
I have to say, I’ve never seen a pair similar for sale, even on lolita or ouji shops, but if you feel a desire to try this for yourself, you can follow this tutorial for making the fabric and then I suggest I very basic trouser or shorts pattern with added cuffs at the bottom of the legs as a sewing base as this a, badly, self made pattern.
The galaxy print pretty much dictated the rest of the look. I decided that rather than going overboard with the galaxy print on all the other big pieces in the outfit – the waistcoat and blouse – I’d focus that aesthetic into the accessories.
The tights continue the galaxy print down the leg and extend the statement, which is reflected in the wrist cuffs and neck bow. These items bring the print into the upper part of the outfit without making it too OTT (I mean it’s pretty OTT but still). The bow on the hat makes sure that it is tied into the rest of the outfit as well, while also using pieces like the feathers – the same colour with a scifi style – and the flowers that looks like little white stars, to make sure it is in keeping with the rest of the look while also being flouncy and fun. As well as this the gold star on the hat is the same star as on the cuffs of the pantaloons though you can’t quite see that in the picture.
When it comes to accessories, thinking about how the work with the rest of the outfit is important, obviously. With a look like this each little item is informing the whole rather than being it’s own statement piece so they need to lock together to create the big picture. For example, the white flowers on the hat also match to the blouse with is covered in white rose patterned lace. I didn’t want to have any of the pieces feel like they were standing alone and so tried to bring them together as much as possible.
If we look at the necklaces, both are gold like the buttons and makeup, both employ purple as their main colour, though one is a galaxy style piece, the other, the moon is very different it matches the aesthetic just as much as the galaxy print pieces. You don’t want to over do it with one pattern style as it could ruin the look and become tacky, but mixing it up with a matching aesthetic will keep it interesting instead.
The waistcoat in this outfit is wonderfully versatile. I’ve used it a lot in very different looks and it always works. I think a piece like this, plain colour but with some interesting stitching and detail is a great piece of have in any style of wardrobe. You can use it over and over and it doesn’t get boring or stagnate. With ouji, this waistcoat can be military, gothic, circus, you can play around with it and see what you can get. It’s perfect.
Last thing in the outfit before I move onto the makeup – yeah, I know you’re waiting for me to talk about that – is the shoes. Simple black oxfords. Perfection. There is nothing better for a complex look than a simple shoe. Sometimes you might want to push the look into that OTT place, but often you don’t need to and simple shoe can keep it from tipping over the edge. With these I styled them with glittery ballet ribbons for the laces because, well why not, I was going to a party, and it was just enough.
Right. Ok. Let’s do this. The make up. I love galaxy print. I love it so much so I put it on my face. I used a couple of different tutorials (see here and here) and then kind of had a play myself. This version is a little more bright colour than I would normally have down if I was doing this look, but with the bright purples of the print in the outfit I felt it needed to match and stand out. It’s a really fun party look and adding the gold highlights on the brows and eyelashes just made it pop! The lipstick is just lipsale (or chapstick) with gold eyeshadow pressed onto it and blended. It’s so simple, though it doesn’t stay that well so drink with a straw.
Not sure why I went for a wig, I think just because I wanted to look really different and hide behind the outfit. It worked and looks great so.
That’s all for this week, I hope you like this. I will be trying to keep to weekly updates from now on and doing more variation in the articles so look out for more cosplay stuff and I will be bringing “Back To Basics” back properly.
If you like what I’m doing please you can buy me a cuppa on Ko-fi!
So, this is something a little bit different. I have talked many times in the past about how I make my own clothes, but I also make costumes, specifically I am a cosplayer. Some of you know this, that’s why you’re here, some of you will be going “what the hell is a cosplayer?” and others will have already stopped reading because “ugh, cosplay”, which is fair.
Cosplay is literally costume + play. It’s dressing up as characters/people from media of all sorts and that’s kind of it. Some people, like myself, get a bit carried away with and make increasingly more ridiculous and over the top costumes, learning how to sew, make props and armour, style wigs etc etc. Others, don’t. Which is also, fair. People like to do things in whatever way they deem to be fun. I like crafting, it’s really fun, but I’m a weirdo. What I also love is designing. I absolutely adore it. I actually wanted to be a costume designer, until I went and worked in a theatre for 18 months and decided that I’d rather write and have no money, than work in a theatre and have no money – couldn’t deal with the stress of it honestly. But that didn’t kill my love for design, so I started designing and redesigning costumes for cosplay and more recently clothes and outfits.
When I talk about designing, I don’t mean coming up with a character from scratch – though that is also fun and totally worth doing sometimes if only for the creative challenge – I mean looking at a character like BB-8 from Star Wars, or Eevee from Pokemon and making them human or taking a character from a book, say the Discworld books, and creating design of what you think they look like. When I say redesign I made a character that already has a costume and changing it. Simple? Yes? Good.
Personally I think that designing and redesigning characters is really fun, but I think there is a lot fear about doing it as very few cosplayers will do original design pieces. A lot of people will copy fanart or other people’s designs, but I do think there is a lot more scope for cosplayers to makeup their own ideas, after all we are a bit of a creative bunch.
SO! In this article I’m going to a bit of a 101 of design tips and tricks, how to get started, what not to be afraid of and most importantly repeatedly reminding you that being able to draw is not important. No seriously, only you need to be able to understand it, so it does not need to be good, simply understandable. You can even write lots of notes on it.
Disclaimer: This is just my process, my way of working, it is not hard and fast rules, it’s just a starting point that you can work from if you want to start designing yourself. Also you don’t need to be able to draw.
It seems almost obvious but doing research into the character you want to design for is super important and should not be overlooked. Just because you have a great design in your head does not mean it can’t be improved by researching, and often you’ll work out a better idea through the research process. For example, with my most recent costume, Godric Gryffindor, I started out thinking about sort of generic DnD medieval fantasy bard but the more I researched into the time period and the clothing of the time, the more I found that viking and saxon clothing was more in keeping with what I wanted.
First design idea
You can see how it changed and how the final costume came out better because of just a little bit of research. I say little bit, about a couple of weeks worth of research, because I’m a mad person.
What you can also see at this point is that I really can’t draw. And that’s fine. Just remember that ok. I mean look at all those notes I did, very helpful. Obviously.
#2 Think about the character
This is something that I took away from working as a designer in theatre. You need to think about the character. If you are presented with a script, you can’t just go “I want them to look like this” you need to see what those characters are like and what is going on to inform those characters.
There are three questions that you did to ask yourself about your character when designing a costume: Where do they come from? What do they do? And, what are their character traits?
These are very important in designing what they look like. Shall we have an example? Let’s look at BB-8.
Where do they come from? Well, BB-8 is from the Star Wars universe, nice and obvious. They primarily seem to be living (I guess?) on the resistance base with Poe but they also travel and send a lot of time in an x-wing.
That’s all good stuff, very helpful. Knowing that they are from Star Wars, despite it being super obvious means that we should start by looking at the designs in Star Wars. If we look at what other characters are wearing, especially since a lot already exist, that can inform our ideas for design. The fact that BB-8 moves around a lot? It needs to be practical in some way. Not boring but practically might be helpful. And then x-wing? Well we can follow that up with the next question.
What do they do?BB-8 is an astromech. They work on the base, they are navigation, engineering, piloting etc etc etc.
Basically this tells me, is BB-8 was human, they would look like a pilot. Easy as that. So if we move onto our last question…
What are their character traits?BB-8 is cute, they are based on a child and are therefore childish and immature in many ways but also very emotional, they are funny, brave and mostly just done right adorkable.
Cool. This is very helpful. For me, this says don’t make this costume to grown up, this character is a child in many respects and so that should be reflected. I want it to be fun and silly and be able to move around in it so that I can get into character and run around. After adding all of this together, I ended up with this…
A few things changed along the way, mostly to do with practicality (and money) but it came together to look just how I wanted and it really fits the character. Or at least I think so. I wanted it to feel as if it were actually from the Star Wars universe and not just a costume or outfit based on BB-8 because for me that is really important as part of the design process.
Also it’s so much fun to be BB-8.
You can apply these questions to any character, and you don’t even need a massive backlog of designs like Star Wars. I used the same idea of characters from books and it works just as well, even if you don’t have other stuff you can look at and refer to in the same why, you can always look for other character descriptions and see if they give you more clues, or simply go into more depth with the answers to the questions. The more you think about it, the better your design will be.
And just in case you forgot, you do not need to be able to draw, look at how terrible that drawing is. Look at it.
#3 Refine your design
You do not have to stick with your first idea. In fact you probably shouldn’t. Don’t be afraid of doing 3, 4, 5 sketches, maybe even more, trying out loads of ideas, throwing in things you maybe don’t think will work, looking at different sources of inspiration – this is especially good with books as often you will find that there are many different descriptions and illustrations and therefore no one fixed idea of a character’s appearance and you are more likely to be able to pinpoint which features are repeated and therefore important to keep in the design – as well as just faffing around. It may be that design number one was great and actually it didn’t need changing, but in my experience you will almost always end up changing and refining something. Plus if, like me, you are pants at drawing, you may end up changing things as you build because your sewing looks better than your drawing.
Case in point!
This is the starting point I had for Riddler. It looks like Riddler, you can easily see what character it is, but it wasn’t quite working for me. It’s a little disjointed but I liked the basic idea so I had a bit of a think and refined it.
It’s much clearer, it’s better thought out with a more coherent look to the whole thing while still maintaining ideas from the original design. Then I went in and looked at the details a bit more, really working through the ins and outs of the design and what I wanted to portray with it.
The last thing I wanted to work out properly was the cane. I didn’t want something standard or boring, it didn’t fit the idea of Riddler I had created through this design process. It had to be flashy, he’s a bit of a needy thing after all.
I took inspiration from the Batman Arkham games where Riddler has light up trophies. It felt like a nice nod to an existing design while keeping the feel of what I was creating.
Each step of refinement allowed me to think further and see the design clearer until I was really happy with the end result. I think you don’t want to go for the east reach, that first idea, when you are designing, you want to work through the thoughts and process it all until you get something you are really proud of – even if your drawings are bad.
Right. That’s it. Go have a go! I mean it, have a try even if you don’t like it in the end, it’s worth seeing where your creativity takes you. You may find you come up with something awesome, everyone has to start somewhere after all.
I hope you liked this, even though it’s quite different and weird. Next week some sort of regular service will resume!
If you like what I’m doing please you can buy me a cuppa on Ko-fi!
I’m very much enjoying the return of autumn. It not only means breaking out the tweeds and wools but also my favourite colour palette. I love the rich feel of darker tones, burgundy, bottle green, midnight blue, they have a depth and a weight to them that compliments the autumnal weather, as well as creating a strikingly inquisitive look. They make me feel like a forest wizard waiting for the turn of the season, with it’s new burst of very particular magic which I cannot wait to be part of. I feel I should also note that I am very fond of squirrels and you can get away a lot more quirky animal motifs in the autumn. Honestly I think quirky animal motifs are one of the best things in fashion at the moment and we should have more of it. But that is besides the point!
All of this combines into a seasonal expression of character and intrigue, something that I feel is less attainable at other times of year. As much as I enjoy a cute sailor suit or a fun summer dress, or the pastel colours of early spring, the return of colder – thought not cold – weather allows for layering and that, for me, is the joy of outfit building. I find the summer a much harder time to present a style or character in my outfits, there is only so much you can do with a shorts and shirt combo – I mean you can do quite a lot but it lacks something. It’s a time to explore a full range of looks before the winter comes and big coats, hats and scarves hide the majority of your appearance. Autumn is the time to embrace your adventurous side.
Layering, as I have said many times before, brings depth to an outfit, but you cannot simply throw pieces on willy nilly. Each item tells you a different thing about the wearer. A hoody with alternative boy scout badges – a personal favourite of mine – is different to just a hoody of the shelf. An overcoat blowing open combined with a slightly dangerous trouser gives an air of mystery and intent, though they could just be pretentious. But you see what I mean, selecting a specific item says a specific thing about you and that is important.
I talk a lot about creating an outfit or a look around a character or an idea, and a lot of that is to do with making people see you how you want to be seen. But you don’t have to be the same character over and over, you can vary and change as much as you want. I very much like to look like I’ve just stepped out of an adventure, but that could be anything from hunting for lions in wardrobes to chasing down criminal robots in a dystopian future, both looks are still very much me despite being incredibly different. And that is entirely down to what I layer together. If I pick jeans then that is saying something different to if I pick chinos or tailored trousers, if I wear the, ever so slightly ridiculous, alternative scout hoody, that is saying something very different to if I am wearing the frock coat in the above image. I am telling the people around me how to view me and how, to a certain extent, how to treat me. It’s an important thing to think about.
This being said, there is no right or wrong way to build a look. If you want to be a Hogwarts student but don’t want to look like you’re wearing a school uniform then you find your way of doing that. Personally I’m all about breaking up ideas and splicing them in, you want to wear your quiddich jumper with your plus fours I say go for it, or your Ravenclaw cardigan with that totally on point 50s midi skirt, then do it and it will look excellent because you want it to. If you feel confident then that will finish any look off and make it brilliant. Also I may have been at the Harry Potter convention Leaky Con over the last week so have a bit of Hogwarts on the brain. But my point still stands.
Let’s get to it then. I love this outfit, it really does make me feel like a dapper wizard, or a timelord, which are one and the same I suppose. This look was very much inspired by the Regency Dandies with a touch of the later Victorian fashions thrown in for good measure.
The key element of the outfit is very obviously the green frock coat. It’s an absolute thing of beauty and I got it for £5 in, surprise surprise, a charity shop! It’s actually a designer piece, and fits like a glove. Charity shops are definitely worth giving your time to, as I went about at length in my last article – Thrifty Fashion.
But if you can’t find one like that, you can either go full price and look at tailors or the like, or you can hunt up and down until you find something in a vintage shop. Honestly neither of these options are great so what I would recommend is looking for coat in a similar style from a high street brand. You’re more likely to find something for less and you can still style it the same, even if it does have quite the same cut.
The dark green is really nice, I feel like it carries some gravitas, which is clearly very pretentious, but I like that. It isn’t overbearing despite the more unusual cut of the jacket, in fact it complements the rest of the outfit, the autumnal reds and browns in the shirt and waistcoat are really set off by the dark green.
Moving onto the shirt and waistcoat; both were super cheap and I’m quite proud of how good they look considering how cheap their were. Sales are you friends people. The waistcoat was literally £2 and it’s a really nice brown and grey flecked tweed. It was a little big for me, but some clever tweaks and now it looks much better, so definitely worth picking up. This is why I keep going on about learning how to alter clothes, at least a little bit, because you will be able to get so many more bargains and amazing finds the long run. I really like this waistcoat because it works all year round. It can be an easy spring wear or a smart Christmas day walk to the pub piece and everything inbetween. I picked this up in New Look Mens (shock) but you can get similar ones in Marks and Spencers, Top Man, H&M if you’re lucky (both Top Man and H&M do great smaller sizes for trans guys, nb folks, or just anyone on the slighter side), as well as the more up market places like Tommy Hilfiger. It’s worth shopping around to find something you like, coz it will be worth it.
The shirt is just a burgundy, brushed cotton shirt from H&M that I got years ago but has worn really well. Again, it’s an easy wear and be dressed up or down. I love it with this outfit as it’s proper splash of colour without being OTT, which, when you are being a classy wizard, you do not want.
The trousers are a very simple straight leg which I turned up because, quirky? I’m honestly not sure what colour they are, somewhere between green and brown, maybe a moss green? Anyway, they are kind of here nor there, they work with the look but are almost just background to the rest of it, after all, you can very every piece be a statement, something has to be the base of it all. Plus when you have excitingly patterned socks, you want to show them off to best effect.
The shoes are my comfy, comfy brogues. Everyone should have some comfy, comfy brogues, they make life easier and better in my opinion, though possibly I should take better care of them. Oops! Again they are something of a nonevent in this look, just doing their job quietly in the corner and letting other items take the limelight. What a good pair of shoes they are.
Last thing is the accessories. I went very sparse with them for this look, but picked three statement pieces. The acorn necklace, being the most obvious reference to the season, but also putting a hint of magic into the overall look, is one of my favourite pendants. It’s a bit different and gives a little twist of the unusual to most outfits. The signet ring is a bit showy for me, but with the Regency influence it worked rather well. Lastly the collar pin, which is actually a broach that I bought because it made me look like I was in Babylon 5 – and do you need any other reason to buy something – gives the whole outfit a more modern feel without too much effort.
Overall I think it’s a pretty perfect outfit for an autumn day, or maybe drinks in the evening depending on your fancy.
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Hello all! I’m sorry it’s been so long since I updated, but I have been travelling. I promise I will post some articles about my travel looks soon! As for now, I promised a while ago I would do an article on shopping thrifty so here it is. Hope you enjoy.
I think that there is this idea that to look good you have to spend more than just a pretty penny, but that simply isn’t true. You can put together some amazing, and quirky, outfits by using a little bit of brain power and a creative eye. In this article I am going to give you a brief once over of how to build yourself a wardrobe that most definitely won’t break the bank. We are going hunting in the Charity shops – that’s thrift stores to you Americans.
The best way to start is to scope out your local shops, most towns will have a few and you can always go a little further afield. You want to see which ones are worth your time, after all there’s no point hunting through the rails if you’re not going to find stuff you like. Of course, everyone has their own style so what you’re looking for will be different but there are some simple rules you can follow.
First, look for somewhere that is constantly getting new donations and has a high turnover of clothes on the shop floor. It’s likely that you’ll have times when you don’t find anything you like, but if you know they always put new stuff out on say a Friday then it’ll more probably that’ll you’ll find something you like.
Second, try and find somewhere that hasn’t worked out that “vintage” is a thing, but also has a high quality of donations. It sounds pretty specific, but trust me, it’s worth finding that one shop that fits. These are the places that are going to have more high end clothes (we’re talking lower end designer in some cases but definitely stuff like Superdry and Boden) but not for an unreasonable price.
Third, they want to be just that right level of quirky. If it’s too weird it’ll scare the nice people who donate clothes away, but if it’s too bland all you’ll get is a few boring t-shirts.
Ok, so you’ve found your shop, or shops if you’re lucky so you want to run straight in and start buying? Wait! Before you step foot in the shop, you want to have a vague idea of what you want. Not something completely fixed, after all this is a charity shop, you have no idea what you’re going to find you aren’t looking for some certain thing you saw online, but also you don’t want to buy the first sparkly thing that catches your eye. Have an idea of a style or a look or maybe just feeling, but enough of a vision so you don’t just random pieces that will never work together. This being said, you still want to keep an open mind to something you might not have thought about before. This is all very contradictory, I am aware of that.
Of course, there will always be a piece that you see that doesn’t go with anything but you’ll buy it anywhere, case in point the bright red, Chinese style jacket I bought last month. Eh, I’ll work it out eventually.
You will want to take your time as well. If you need to take hours, then take hours. You look through every rack, every rail and every bin, because you can’t rush in and find gold dust. Sometimes you’ll be lucky, the perfect piece will be hanging in the window – I’m looking at you £25 Vivienne Westwood dress – but most of the times you’ll need to put in some work. But I feel that give over a little extra time is worth it if you manage to save a few hundred pounds. And remember, just because you don’t find something one week don’t give up, go back in a few days or a few weeks, things will have changed you’ll have a whole new pond to fish around in.
Remember that as well as this you won’t always find some crazy amazing thing, but instead you’ll get a couple of new shirts or a basic cardigan or maybe a cute skirt. Base wardrobe pieces, shirts, blouses, trousers, skirts, etc, etc, are just as important and more use than a spangly top, after all you have to wear that top with something.
On top of all of this I would urge you to learn to sew, if only a little. This will mean that you can mend things where a button has come off or the sleeves need turning up. It’s a massive shame to have to dismiss something just because you can’t fix it. You can even modify with cute patches, or adding straps, pieces of embroidery, whatever you want.
You can take it further if you fancy it. You learn enough and you can refit garments or change them completely, there are plenty of blogs out there with make do and mean fashion that you can get inspiration from as well. Pintrest is a great place to start looking as well.
I guess these can also be applied to online shopping, but it’s harder to find things by happy accident or be spontaneous as you have to search more actively for things, but that doesn’t mean ebay and other places can’t be a useful tool in your thrifty arsenal. I’d use them more as a secondary choice, and only if I was looking for something more specific for an outfit, plus not being able to try things on is always annoying.
A massive part of shopping thrifty is seeing more in a piece of clothing, seeing what it could be, not just what the shop is telling you it is. You go into Tom Hilfiger or River Island and they’ll have put the “outfit” on a mannequin, and pasted perfectly presented models all over the walls, and that’s how you’re expected to dress, but you go into a charity shop and there is no such pressure. It’s all about your vision, your creativity, your way of being and you’ll get 10 items for £15 rather than one hair scrunchy.
So that’s it. That’s my tips and tricks on how to put your wardrobe together for under £100 (ish). I hope that I have been of some help and that you have started you’re journey to thrifty fashion heaven. If you have any more questions, feel free to send me a message here or on my facebook page.
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Since it’s been a heatwave here in the UK, of course I thought a throwback to winter’s chill was in order. Plus it’s been a little while since I did a lolita piece and I do love to go just that little bit more flamboyant every so often.
It’s something that I have always loved to look at, avantgarde fashion and alternative style, but for a long time I never felt like I could pull it off. After all I had a lot of issues with my appearance and despite not ever wanting to wear “fashionable” clothes, I never felt a pull towards the high street styles, I couldn’t quite bring myself to stand out so much from the crowd. It took me a long time to realise that I didn’t have to hide to accepted, purely because their are people who are never going to accept me for who I am so why should I pander to their ideals and sensibilities?
In this vein, I decided to start dressing how I wanted to, screw the rest and I pushed myself to drag the confidence I needed to do this from the very depths of my soul. So, let’s talk about confidence.
Confidence in one’s self is hard at the best of times but how to be confident when you are struggling with dysphoria or any other body issues is a completely different kettle of fish altogether.
I’ve talked about days when you want to just cover up and hide, but I really want to talk about how you can overcome that. Let me introduce you to the art of distraction.
Let’s have an example shall we. Today I am really not 100% ok with my hips, am actually about 0% ok with them. There isn’t a huge amount I can do about that, they are wide, that’s the shape of my body, but instead of trying to hide them with baggy clothes, I’ve put on a shirt with a great pattern and slightly unusual colours and suddenly no one is looking at my hips, heck I can even wear skinny jeans with this top. It’s about making people look at something else.
You take this to the extreme with alternative fashions like lolita and you can get things like the outfit above. Not only person was looking at my figure because you know what, that ridiculous feather cape was the star of the show.
This look, along with many of my lolita, ouji and kodona looks, is almost theatrical, and is the other half of confidence. Acting. You are acting a character, you are letting the clothes build that for you to play and you can let yourself be whoever you want to be. Trust me, you put on a feather cape and floor length coat and you feel like you can do anything. Clothes inform your behavior, your body language, your self esteem. You tell yourself “today I am going to rule the world” and with the right look you will believe it. Also helps if you play the Imperial March on repeat while you’re getting dressed. Just saying.
Distraction can help you fake the confidence while helping you create it for real. The more you wear interesting clothes, unusual looks and adding those key pieces to your wardrobe, the more confident you will feel in yourself.
You don’t have to be scared of looking outrageous. You don’t have to hide behind baggy clothes and plain outfits because you can hide in plain sight. You can have people turning heads to look at you and not one of those people will think “oh look at their body” because they will all be thinking “I wish I could pull off that look”. At the end of the day, you are never going to be able to please everyone, so if you simply please yourself then that will rub off on other people. Maybe not all of them, but haters gunna hate.
I’m going to go straight in with this one and say that it’s basically completely handmade, using my own altered patterns. Sorry about that. This being said, a lot of this look was inspired by other pieces I’ve seen in lolita stores so I’m going to do my best to find alternatives as well as link to patterns that you could use to make something similar.
I’ll just preis this by saying, this was for a Christmas party with my Lolita Community. Now, I’ve talked before about how I don’t really do OTT but I felt this was a perfect moment to push the boat out and go completely OTT. And even then I could have gone so much further with this look; though I can see myself probably making this look even more extreme in the future, because sometimes you need to have no chill – pun intended.
Shall we start with that cape? It’s one of my favourite things I have ever made. 300 goose feathers, sewn by hand onto a lightweight cotton, circle capelette, with a velvet trim to finish. It’s about as austenatious as you can get. And what is wrong with that? Remember this look is all about creating confidence, and nothing does that like telling the world you give no f*cks even if deep down inside you want to run away and hide. Feather cape = no f*cks. Plus the chain clasp that’s holding it in place acts as an extra little accessory, I’ve added a mirror and a rose charm to it (both references to the original inspiration for this outfit, Wintersmith from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.)
Let’s move onto the waistcoat, because that’s what it is, a floor length waistcoat, and it’s made of velvet. That’s right. Velvet. You all know how I feel about velvet, I’ve talked about it in the past, but this look, this is the time and the place for this most unapologetic of fabrics. Because what else could go with feathers? This isn’t a look for going half-arsed. It’s a statement beyond statements.
Velvet is a very difficult fabric to pull off. You can’t just throw it one with any look, or make any type of garment from it, despite what the high street might be telling you. It oozes richness and gives the wearer an air of levity, that few other fabrics can provide – see silk and furs, and that’s probably it. Now, you shape that velvet into a full length, large circle coat, and you get flair and dynamism. This coat flows out behind you like you own the ground you are walking on. This look is telling the world that “I’m royalty from some fairy realm and I’m not going to even give you the time of day”. You want confidence, you get a floor length coat. Doesn’t have to be as extreme as this look, but a proper, full length coat with a good collar and you can trick everyone and yourself into believing that you are a confident human being. Promise.
So next up is the pantaloons, which you can’t really see in this picture, but are cut in the style of Georgian breeches, just under the knee and fastened with a button. I am never making or wearing breeches in this style again. It’s a pain. They are the worst to wear and there was much drama with the fitting. I would suggest to go for a longer style of pantaloons or in fact a military trouser if you’re really wanting to play around. And to not make them from velvet. Don’t copy my mistakes good people.
You can look for pantaloons in this style from the same places as the waistcoats, but I’d also recommend looking in vintage stops and on ebay. Not necessarily for pantaloons, or brand lolita, but for cool vintage military trousers and possibly some cute long shorts. You can have a bit of a play with the look of the bottom half of this style of outfit (though the lolita elite might have my head for saying so.)
The blouse is actually the easiest part of this look to talk about. It’s from Infanta. It’s blinking lovely. It goes with almost all my lolita dresses (such a good find) and has flair coming out the wazoo. The flamboyance in cuffs, with the layers of lace allow for way of moving and talking with one’s hands that creates elegance and charm, key factors in this confidence thing we’re trying to create. You might feel a bit fop-ish but you’ll look amazing.
Right-ho, how are we all feeling? A bit overwhelmed? Yeah, me too. This look is overwhelming but do not be put off my darlings, if I can wear this, you can too. So let us push on.
Accessories. I’be already talked about the charms on the cape chain, but there are a few other pieces that pull this look together. As I said above, this whole thing was inspired by Terry Pratchett’s Wintersmith, the god of Winter from Discworld. He has certain items that are associated with him, the mirror, the rose and an iron nail, something I went and found and made into a pendant. Now, that’s not all the sensible or normal, but such a hard piece in a outfit that is predominantly soft (feathers and velvet) creates a juxtaposition, causing the different items to stand out. This means that you have to look at it twice, first you take in the outfit as a whole, and then that nail catches your eye and makes you look again, seeing all the little pieces on their own. It’s a clever way of distracting people from the body that is wearing the outfit, while still showing off the look. This is a technique that can be used on any look as well. Tip of the day that.
There is also a broach at the neck, it has a small image of stage in the snow. This again, means that people aren’t looking at you, they are looking at the small detail in the broach or the necklace of the ring, whatever piece you decide to use as highly detailed distraction. Also it’s really pretty and sometimes that’s enough. The broach is from Etsy store Curiously Charmed, which you should all check out!
I don’t really want to talk about the shoes. I’m not happy with them. They are the one thing that I desperately want to replace if and when I wear this again. Next!
You may have noticed that I’ve used a wig for this look. Pretty sure I’ve talked about wigs and how they change your look before in other lolita and ouji articles, but the reason for wearing one this time is purely that my hair looked wrong. It’s ginger and ginger would not work here. It’s worth thinking about sometimes with these more OTT looks.
I’ve saved the best until last, the crown. It was made for me by my wonderful friend Alyson, and is actually just cardboard and tinfoil with some rivets. It’s very clever, and shows that with some patience and skill you can do pretty much anything on the cheap. As for the reason for wearing a crown, well it was pretty much, go big or go home. I have wanted to do a proper Kodona prince for years and finally had my chance, so I was not going to let it slip by. If you want to prince it up yourself ebay has loads of good crowns (look for prom crowns to get the best selection) and you can always make your own (thesetutorialsaregood).
I hope this has been helpful in some way, and if you like what I’m doing please support me on patreon.