I have arrived.

19 Oct

A month ago! It’s been a month now of living on my own in the UK. At 24, I’m doing what most people do at 18. Instead of flying the nest I kind of just stayed in my egg to the point where I turned rotten and became so unbearable that I had to be thrown across the ocean.

Because that is what people do with rotten eggs.

I had a rough three flights to get to Norwich and arrived exhausted and irritable on campus a day after I’d left home. There was a mix up involving my room key and no one communicated to me what I was supposed to be doing or where to go. I also encountered a problem when I was nearing the point of passing out and realized I didn’t have a pillow or duvet. The previous day I thought there would be no problem with packing 75 pounds of clothing and nothing useful, but it turns out that you can’t build some sort of makeshift fort out of dresses if you have just been in transit for 24 hours and smell kind of bad and just want a goddamn nap.

In the midst of sorting all of that, out, though I was forced to find my way around campus and take the bus to the city and really start learning my way around. I got myself a bus pass, which restored my sense of autonomy and reduced the amount of anxiety-attacks-per-second I was experiencing.

 

 

Norwich is a city unlike anywhere I’ve ever seen before, perhaps because I haven’t seen much of Europe. The lanes in the center of the city are so narrow that they only allow pedestrian access. Boutiques and cafes occupy timberwood buildings that have stood for hundreds of years, usually formerly as pubs. So many goddamn pubs. And churches.

 

the medieval Maid’s Head pub

 

There is a tendency towards the precious and vintage that verges on fetishism of a time where England was England and everyone was colonized by the English. And it was great!!! Pin up girls and tea cakes and no critical thinking!!! No, really, it’s cute.

 

 

As far as what the young people are up to in Norwich, they all seem to congregate outside of my flat at night screaming their heads off. I haven’t advertised any drink specials but everyone seems to think it’s a really good idea to go to “Prevent Mary From Doing Her Coursework Tuesdays!!!” and “Don’t Let Mary Sleep Thursdays!!!!”

Truthfully I spend a lot of time in my room because I am expected to read 2-4 novels a week, but it does mean every time I go out into the city I have somewhere new to explore since I never have time to cover it all in a day.

As far as culture shock goes, I find it really perturbing that no one listens to Yes or wants to make out with me. I find that people here have almost as little body awareness as I do and will not alter the path they are walking on even if there are large obstacles that threaten to occupy the same physical space that they’re heading towards, obstacles like people or cars. Norwich is a city that is congested by people who don’t understand that pavements are for walking on and not for congregating on for no fucking reason.

People actually talk in seminars without raising their hands. They get a fuck-off week in the middle of their already-only-3-month semester to just drink (“reading week”). There is a bar on campus and all of my modules end their semesters with a class trip to a bar.

As far as food goes, everybody is eating a baguette. I mean that in the present tense because as I type this every single person on my campus is currently taking a bite from a prawn mayonnaise baguette or a BLT baguette or a cheese and red onion baguette. The restaurants in town are mostly Thai, Turkish, or Indian, and even though I like all of those things, I am rarely tempted to buy my dinner.

Truly, I like it here. It’s taken me this whole month to start adjusting but I did leave my family, my job, my friends, and my certainty behind. I have to start over somewhere that isn’t particularly known for the warmth in its weather or its people, and I am shy and picky and not too welcoming myself. I like that the weather is cold enough for me to layer everyday, I like the landscape, the ivy on the red brick houses, being able to enjoy the mental privacy that comes from not being approached by strangers all the time like I am back home. It’s so beautiful here but essentially foreign to me. It’s not my history and the buildings seem to reject the newness and brashness I bring. Maybe as the months go by I’ll be eroded by the wind and rain, too.

Yo I want tacos, though

heroism

4 Sep

I’m not mad at summer being almost over. It’s still regularly muggy and 85-95 degrees here in Philadelphia and it doesn’t really mesh with my personal style. I like to layer and to not sweat over everything in a gross way. Summer is not conducive to that.

 

There are also fewer opportunities to wear fancy summer hats. You can’t wear them to indoor movies because it is both rude and unnecessary. So I called up my friend and said, “I need a place to wear a fancy summer hat, so please take me to a drive-in!”

 

 

My friend said, “Ok!” so I flipped up my hat in happiness.

 

 

MY FRIEND’S NAME IS BATMAN AND HIS CAMO PANTS BETRAAAAY HIM.

 

Superheroes require deep-sea sustenance!!

 

 

Spiderman doesn’t have a mouthhole so he can’t partake. Thus he is weak.

 

 

This movie was boring!

 

Batman: Party City

Spiderman: Wal-mart

Dress: Took in a consignment at work. Probably from the 90s.

Belt and hat: thrifted

 

 

It will soon be time to transition to a DIFFERENT kind of fancy hat!

domino dollhouse review and big news

10 Aug

So first off, sorry for the long absence. I found out for sure that I am doing an 8 month study abroad in Norwich, UK starting next month so I have been focusing on getting my stuff in order for that. This blog will also be a place for me to write about my new adventure and hopefully some travels! It’s a special kind of stupid that enables someone to go live in a place they know nothing about and have never been to, and I am excited about it.

Secondly, the etsy seller thewhitewoods (who sold me the dress in the last post) has offered you all a hefty 25% percent discount on a non-sale item if you use the code FRIENDZ on your next purchase! She has some super darling things right now, so go take advantage of it!

Last November, at Re/Dress’s big finale fashion show, I got to finally try some of Domino Dollhouse‘s outrageously cute things. Ever since they launched I had wanted to buy pretty much every piece of every line they released. They’re a little out of my normal budget but that’s to be expected when you think a $10 dress from a thrift store is just too much. I decided that it’s beyond worth it for the kind of stuff in my size I had always wanted but had never been available to me, things that were over the top and youthful, punky and cute and not at all boring or matronly. Their models look sexy and are styled in a really fashion forward way, not in a way that covers them up or is focused on the nebulous concept of “flattering”.

When I got the chance at the trunk show to get a few items, I totally jumped at it. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, most of the items in 1x were already gone, but there were still a few things I really loved.

These are items that I did pay for myself and one of which is no longer available.

However, it’s been less than a year since I bought them so I hope it’s still representative of the products they make.

Does not come with cat, Betsey Johnson tights, or skinny belt

I was saving my watermelon dress from the Delectable Dresses collection (Cupcake’s Clothes has the original promotional pictures for it here) for a special occasion so for 7 months or so it sat in my wardrobe, waiting for the summer. I finally ended up wearing it to the Roots Picnic at Festival Pier.

It is definitely comfortable. As a size 16/18 the 1x provides a good fit, especially because it’s shirred in the back, so it wasn’t loose in the boob area like many dresses made in my size. It was the right shape to wear my squaredance petticoat under it for extra poof, but they also sell really cute meringue petticoats in different colors.

The only notable criticism I have of it is that the cotton it’s made out of needs to be ironed/steamed repeatedly or it looks a little schlubby. It’s very wrinkle-attracting, but it’s also the price you pay for having custom-printed fabrics that can be produced in large quantities and tailored easily, I think.

 

The design is amazingly eye-catching. I got a ton of compliments and a couple of people even took my picture. I am actually very shy so wearing over-the-top fashion is like creating an extrovert self that people can make friends with. The superficial is integral to my not being a lonely hermit!

 

Me in my natural habitat

There is so much from their current collection that I want but don’t currently have the funds for. I would say if it’s in your budget and it matches your aesthetic, DEFINITELY buy from Domino Dollhouse. They’re filling a niche that has been sadly vacant for so long: fun and often sexy plus size clothing that comes in a range of sizes. I’m excited to see what they’ll have in store for autumn and winter.

The other little thing I got from them was a pair of Robin Leggings in a size 1x. They don’t really fit me like leggings, as my waist to leg proportions are very off (I have much more of the former than the latter!) but they look pretty cute as just regular, stretchy pants on me. They’re AMAZINGLY comfortable. I haven’t figured out an outfit for them yet as I am terrible at pants, so here’s the only picture of me wearing them:

Damn I miss my ultraviolet hair. Probably gonna do that again before I leave.

So yes, Domino Dollhouse is for fine ladies of distinction who obviously have very full and rich social lives and not upwards of 1000 pictures of themselves in their Photobooths.

I also got to see two musical and fashional icons at the Roots Picnic:

St. Vincent, who obviously disregards seasonal clothing conventions as she was wearing a long-sleeved metallic shirt, leather formal shorts, and tights in the middle of summer, and who was AWESOME as usual. Gives me hope for wearing a watermelon dress in an English winter.

Andddd:

 

Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs. Not a lot of hub-bub is made about her size and all the attention is paid to her musicianship in the stuff I’ve read about her– which is awesome! She’s an incredible musician. She also wears amazing stuff, like these neon majorette shoulderpads.

DE LA SOUL WAS ALSO THERE but their clothing wasn’t of particular interest.

Garden Party!

16 Jul

I took the leap and went back to a natural hair color– not my natural hair color, but one that ostensibly exists in nature for a person. It took a week of leaving crushed vitamin C powder in my hair and washing with a clarifying shampoo to lighten the teal out of my hair, and though I used red hair dye, it came out brown.

Chocolate brown. It made me too hungry so I’ve ended up going back to red, but looking at it now it doesn’t look as horrible as I thought it did at the time.

I had the most difficult semester of my life in school– four literature surveys with some truly nightmarish teachers, but I made it out alive with a 4.0 gpa for the semester. I thought I deserved a little celebrating. Academic rigor calls for a garden party!

We started with mint juleps. I had no idea what “muddling” meant, but if you don’t have an actual muddler, it’s ok to get a wooden spoon and crush the mint and simple syrup together. My fatal flaw was that I should have absolutely filled every glass to the brim with ice and instead I ended up serving my guests each a 1/4 of a bottle of bourbon. I didn’t see the problem with that but apparently that’s not how it’s done.

The drink that I ended up appreciating the most was an off-the-cuff mixture of Pellegrino Aranciata and apricot brandy. Super light and refreshing, unlike a 1/4 of a bottle of brandy with some mint floating in it.

Any party I have involves a trip to Trader Joe’s beforehand where I spend far too much money but if you can’t pay for catering, I feel like Trader Joe’s is a reasonable alternative. I also happen to be extremely lucky enough to have a mom who majored in food science and a mom’s boyfriend who makes an OUTRAGEOUS tuna confit with lemon and avocado. It makes me cry.

The food table: vegetarian tarragon chicken salad, fruit salad in a watermelon bowl, curry chicken salad

 Artichoke dip made by Courtney, cranberry scones, aforementioned scary good tuna confit, cheeses!

Croissants, hummus made by my friend Kara, soba noodles with mango made by Annelise

I did have a dress code for the party: must dress fancy, with fancy to be defined by the wearer, and hats are encouraged!

I was wearing fancier shoes beforehand but I’ve been operating on a sprained ankle since April. My dress is a 1980s dress bought on etsy (I think I searched for “plus size garden party”) from thewhitewoods.  Vertical stripes! Flowers! Accommodates a petticoat! Pretty much a dream dress for me. The belt is Cynthia Rowley and has a bicycle on it. I took it in a consignment so I could buy it. The hat is vintage and was $6 at a thrift store in Glenside, I believe.

My mom wore a Yoana Baraschi dress from my work. And a side pony!!!

Kara proved you can go Gothy for Garden Party

HATS ENCOURAGED

 

So what do you do to entertain guests a garden party? Why, you make them listen to you perform songs in French!

From garden party

18 Jun

Hi. Never your dye your hair teal.

 

It may look super cool with some things, like a Free People stripe top (size L) from work and a Cynthia Rowley bicycle belt, but it’s a more permanent investment than you realize.

 

It is somewhere between blue and green, so it looks off with blue and it looks off with a green polka dot dress (size 16, thrifted).

 

And although it looks pretty amazing at first, it ends up fading to a color between the green of the dress and the brown of the polka dots.

 

And once you dye it teal, it never truly goes away. And if you are not like me, and understand color theory, you will want to avoid cool green and taupe and white animal print skirts from the 60s that you bought on etsy. You can still wear a size L polka dot top from the Limited that you bought at work, but you may want to skip the thrifted size M cardigan.

 

YUP JUST SITTIN’ IN A TRAIN STATION TAKING PICTURES OF MYSELF WITH MY COMPUTER.

 

This is a huge endorsement for the color Twisted Teal by Raw, though. If you WANT a color that stays in forever, let me tell you that no matter how hard I tried, this stuff didn’t fade a bit for a month. It did stain everything all the time when taking a shower, though. And even though I faded it with clarifying shampoo and vitamin C powder and dyed over it twice, it STILL shows through once my current dye starts fading. ONLY DYE YOUR HAIR TEAL IF YOU ARE PREPARED TO HAVE IT BE TEAL FOREVER.

the girls of e-bay

11 Jun

Shortly before I made my last post I had been thinking about my struggle to find readers for this blog, about whether I wanted to start doing contests/giveaways (I do, but more to promote the many, many talented people I know than to simply promote the blog) or what I was doing wrong, and I came to the elusive epiphany that there was no point to having more readers if I wasn’t saying or wearing anything interesting.

Sure enough, when I finally wrote something I put some thought into, I got linked by Already Pretty (thank you!).

I want to thank everyone for really engaging with that post. It was really rewarding for me in a way that reblogs on tumblr and other instant gratification kinds of social media interactions aren’t. I can’t promise I can keep it up, though.

Do you know the tumblr Girls of Ebay? I like to believe it’s not about meanspirited mockery, and my favorite part about it is that there are no pithy, try-hard, Tosh.0 style comments attached to the pictures.  To me it’s what American Apparel would like to be but is unable to be because it is so earnest that it is almost alien. It is also clearly not about objectification or sexualization. I know the spirit of it is not exactly celebratory of the photographic accomplishments of these women, but the idea that they are subject to interpretation– just “this is funny/neat/interesting for the fact that it is exists”– is my favorite part about it.

I don’t have great equipment.

I have a pretty low-powered point-and-shoot, a Nikon 2600. When I took these pictures, I didn’t think “I want to look like a Girl of E-bay”.

 

But when I uploaded these I saw something similar about them. I often wonder if I did have the time and capability of taking a DSLR into a field of daisies if I would find it something worth doing. I think part of following a fashion blog is a certain kind of escapism. Seeing a girl posing like a tool in her (sister’s) room, even if she’s wearing an interesting outfit, does not provide a feeling of “I want to dress like her and have a life like hers”. That’s the feeling I look for in fashion blogs that I follow, at least.

I wore this to school. I do go through a thought process of “I want to go full-on 90s goth today” before I get dressed. The dress is INC, either an L or XL, and it was the first thing I ever bought at a branch of the store I currently work at. Anything fancy I do with my hair either involves braids or curls.

 

 

This is one of those outfits that I build up from one particular piece, in this case, lion skirt. Lion skirt is a size M, also from my job. The top is Old Navy, size XL. The tights were a gift.

I was wearing a sleeveless top at work recently and a lady says something to me about how she needs to cover her arms, and how I’d understand when I’m older. I told her I did understand but chose a long time ago to completely disregard things like that. It wasn’t too long ago, actually, that I refused to wear anything shorter than short sleeves. My arms are still not my favorite. They are easily one of the most visibly fat parts of me and I have trouble seeing beauty in them. I think actual naivete, not practiced naivete, is part of the appeal of Girls of Ebay, and seeing pictures of myself where all the non-standard parts of me (arms, chins, rabbit teeth, belly) are highlighted is very Girls of Ebay.

 

I actually did buy a GorillaPod and am waiting on it. I will never be able to afford a DSLR, I think, but I am intrigued to find out if a small investment like this will make all the difference.

I always feel embarrassed asking people to take pictures of me or having people catch me take pictures of myself, which seems to be an integral part of fashion blogging. We may be immersed in Instagram culture (guess who will also never be able to afford an iPhone, probably?) but there’s still something uncanny about “being your own best model”, as the Girls of Ebay tagline says.

trope-ical thunderstorm

3 Jun

I can identify my aesthetic with a few phrases: “sexy party clown”, “precocious uncomfortable baby”, and perhaps “aggressive whimsy machine”.

 

 

Fat female-identified people have only a select number of roles people feel comfortable with them filling: “curvy” vamp, matronly mother-type, non-sexual best friend, and whimsical quirky girl.

Christina Hendricks is allowed to be fat on TV because her curves are anachronistically celebrated on “Mad Men”. Melissa McCarthy is allowed to be fat in movies because she often performs a caregiver or best friend role.  Adele is allowed to be fat in music because she follows the great tradition of soul singers draped in mourning clothes, for whom we can’t really imagine sex or heartbreak happening, but whose voices we use to channel and embody our own heartbreak. We particularly use the matronly trope for fat women of color in white-dominated media. As far as quirky girls go, do you know how many times I have been told I look like Garcia from Criminal Minds?

The fat quirky girl is different from the Zooey Deschanel or Natalie Portman quirky girl because she is completely removed from the ideals of sexual appeal. A fat girl can never be a girl next door because her fatness is indicative of excess or lack of self-control, which can not coexist with the wholesomeness  and invigorating liveliness of a girl next door.

 

So how does this manifest in fashion? CONSTANTLY AND UBIQUITOUSLY. When we think of the main distributors of clothing for fat wearers of female-marketed clothing, Lane Bryant might be the first to come to mind. Their catalog is aimed at two fat markets: conservative/work-appropriate and conservatively sexy. “Cute” or “interesting” are never facets of design for them, only “appropriate”. Lane Bryant wants to help you let the world know that you are appropriately ashamed of your body and would not dare call attention to it by wearing prints or any cuts other than classic wrap-dresses. This is your store for fat type matronly.

For a younger market, Torrid is the primary retailer, but having tried to shop there when it used to be the only option for me, the only aesthetic it caters to is youth by way of sex appeal. This only works well if you happen to think sex appeal can be carried out by wearing poorly made and designed polyester club wear. This is part of fat type “curvy”.

Of course there is nothing wrong with embracing your sexuality, and any word that you’d like to use to identify yourself or your body, even if euphemistic, is valid. I think, though, there is a constant perpetuation of the idea that if your curves are in the wrong kinds of places, then you are the wrong kind of fat. You are not Joan, you are Peggy Olson when she didn’t know she was pregnant (SPOILERS).

 

Once, a boy I was dating informed me that I could never be sexy. “Only cute”, he clarified to me. I have very small breasts, no hips, and no ass, and because of that I can’t demonstrate the kind of body . bravery that is celebrated commonly in fat circles. I cannot demonstrate sexiness. I cannot wear a bikini or a crop top because I have a body that does not lend itself to sexualization, even by other fat people. I am frequently asked if I am pregnant because there is no place for a body that is fat but non-sexual, that has an ample belly and arms but no “curves”.

 

 

So do I carve out a space for myself in the trope of infantilization, where I feel comfortable but commonly make other people uncomfortable? I think discomfort in many ways is virtuous. I am attracted to disruption but on a very base level I like things that are cute. I do not want to be anyone’s mom, aesthetically or otherwise.

What is the difference between an Alison Brie type and me? What makes her a dewy-eyed Disney bride and myself a weird baby lady? I think that it is that fatness and a childish sense of wonder in combination recall associated stereotypes of fatness like laziness, dependence on others, and stupidity. It takes fatness to an unsettling place for people.

I am 24 now. I have no desire to drastically change my aesthetic, as I will always like cute things, weird things, goth things, and retro things because they appeal to me without the baggage of seeming “childlike”, though that baggage seems to exist for many other people. I am only now beginning to wonder if I always have to be an Adele or a Garcia to everyone, regardless of how carefully I cultivate my own fashion choices.

 

The octopus dress is a vintage dress upcycled by aorta on etsy and I can recommend them highly. The cardigan is by Design History, size L, bought at work, and the belt is J Crew and also from work.

resigned to consign

8 May

I feel like fashion has currently caught up to what I’ve always been into. I feel lucky! Truly, I don’t like feeling not unique but it is good to be able to easily purchase things I like.

 

 

I got this dress at a Buffalo Exchange in Center City, which is not the consignment franchise I work for. They have a lot of fun stuff, and this was new with tags (from TJ Maxx, haha).

 

 

I really liked the staff at Buffalo Exchange, and was surprised to see such negative reviews on Buffalo Exchange, especially for their consignment policies.

 

 

Consignment is a great way to make a little money if you have things you’ve bought but don’t use or just generally take great care of your clothing (personally, I couldn’t consign anything I’ve bought because it’s usually thrifted in the first place and worn until it’s in tatters).

Here are some tips on consigning clothing. These aren’t specific policies related to where I work; they should help you no matter where you consign:

-Before loading your stuff up, make sure you read ALL of the consignment policies before you go. This will help prevent wasting your own time and theirs. It’s important to know whether or not you need an  appointment, whether they pay you up front or put you on a contract, how they would like you to bring your items (on hangers? in bags?), if they have a minimum of items they take, whether or not they take vintage pieces, what sizes they take, etc. Unfortunately plus size consignment is hard to find, but many places will take up to size XL or don’t have a maximum for shoe sizes. And let the consignment store know there is interest in plus size consignment if they don’t have it!

-It’s always best to launder anything you want to consign before you consign it. It’s just polite, and it will help get rid of simple things that might prevent your item from being taken (dirt, cat hair, etc).

-To prevent embarrassment for yourself and for the staff at the store, make sure nothing you bring has any icky stains. Period and pit stains happen to everyone! It’s normal! But you don’t necessarily want to share yours with the world. Check every item you want to bring for deodorant stains, collar wear, pulls, all the things they will be looking for, too. Pre-sorting your items saves you time when you get there. If it’s something really high end, like a designer purse or designer shoes, keep in mind if there’s significant wear you might not make as much back as you’d like.

-Don’t try to argue with the staff about what they will or won’t take. They probably know the stock of the store well enough to know what will or won’t sell. If there are extenuating factors (it’s a designer they might not know, you paid $1200 for it, it’s made out of whale bone penis, whatever), politely let them know before they start looking at your items.

 

That’s it! Go make some money off your stuff!

destroy it yourself

1 May

 

It’s been universal knowledge for generations that the best way to dye your hair is with a sleepover. Kara and I both used Manic Panic Ultraviolet (with a splash of Electric Amethyst) and it turned out… turquoise? Not really what we intended, and I am kind of over Manic Panic as a result.

The color barely took for me! It became kinda cool mermaid hair but I have since done something a little less splotchy with it. It was not Kara’s fault at all, though. We each completely coated our hair with dye but it must have been a bad batch or something.

This blouse is a fun thing from a thrift store that I butchered. Some people can do any kind of DIY project and make it look beautiful. I just took a pair of scissors and started chopping at the sleeves unevenly until I was too angry to do more. I am too impatient and clumsy for craft.

 

I’m with grill. Kara also thrifts pretty much everything she wears.

 

The skirt is actually a poodle skirt my mom made for me in 7th grade, and sure, I still wear it. If it fits, why stop?

 

Here are some DIY projects I would do if I weren’t totally incompetent:

bow on the back Valentino t-shirt

stencil your own heart print tights

easy circle skirt tutorial

 

I think my very cute Oxfords have become the reason I can barely walk because of carpal tunnel in my foot. :( I have to find something that is not Crocs to work all day in.

TIGERFUNCTION

23 Apr

Pennsylvania weather has been hovering around 60 for the past 6 months because we think we are San Francisco without the basic concessions to human rights. I realize none of my clothing is seasonal. Any of my outfit posts could happen at any time of the year.

Looking towards summer, which is the worst season, all I really want is basically a variety of printed togas with little braided belts. I don’t know why everyone has to complicate fat fashion. In the summer, when I sweat like manappendages, I just want a breezy thing that doesn’t have an empire waist or any kind of tailoring or material that shows exactly how much I’m sweating.

The frustrating thing about this is that I feel like that’d be a relatively simple and cheap thing to produce, but all anyone ever wants to hoist on fat ladies is sheaths of rayon to show off your chests, regardless of whether or not there’s anything to see.

I also don’t ever want a waistline to end right below my boobs. Ever.

 

I JUST WANT A PRINTED TOGA.

Instead, I am a printed tiger:

 

This was at the peak of hair grossness. I’ve since fixed it so it’s a different type of gross.

 

Fashion tip for this week and every week: Alienate everyone.

top: Patina Vintage, size OLD

skirt: on clearance at work, size HANDMADE

tights: prolly kohl’s