It’s More Of A Nebula, Really

Everyone calls it “galaxy print” and that upsets me.

il_570xN.375596474_skxzThat’s clearly a nebula cloud.  Anyway, this glorious bangle is available from Beauty Spot on Etsy, who do many other colours of nebula bling, and some planetary bling, too, if you fancy looking like a Hubble fanboy.  I’m getting a couple to wear with suits.  How will you style yours?

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my love the astronaut

My description here on the blog mentions that I’m into goth, lolita, and the darkest of inky black nights. This is true. Less relevant to fashion is the fact that I’m also a massive nerd.

I love playing with Polyvore, and a while ago I combined nerdery and wishful wardrobe-thinking to put together outfits based on the solar system.

My favourite is the Asteroid Belt:

asteroid belt

– because McQueen, Litas, and glitter can’t be wrong. I also love the more casual Dwarf Planets:

dwarf planets

– as, although I rarely take off my Vonda Doc Martens, I’m considering cheating on them with a pair of Triumphs.

The whole collection is here. Where do you want to go today?

Semaphore without flags

A great deal has already been written and argued about and yelled about the use fan as an identity; how fans connect with texts and express that connection. I want to use this as a jumping off point, largely due to the fact that I already have a shelf of acafan books, to talk about the use of witty t-shirts in fandom.

While flicking through Fan Cultures by Matt Hills, it seemed like a good idea at the time, I found the sheer number of “words” used in “inverted commas” left me with something of a headache. I do understand the desire to qualify what we say, to ensure that it can be understood in it’s appropriate context, “but” “it” “can” “go” “too” “far”. In academic fandom this can be particularly problematic as we are often writing in several dialects, so to speak, and in an effort to avoid that particular style of prose here I will have to be general and subjective (and therefore in some cases, wrong).

Witty t-shirts, buttons, slogans and icons have been prevalent throughout my time in fandom (starting in 2000ish, the internet rather than classic BSFF zines-and-conventions) and frequently act as an online and real world flag of membership. They are frequently ironic or self referential, my favourite example is from Threadless “I supplement my personality with witty shirts” which says it all really.  At the same time as marking the wearer as belonging to a subculture, these sorts of statements use irony to claim a kind of detachment from the risk entailed by caring enough to belong. They are multilayered messages of affiliation to texts and ideas and frequently show how the wearer wishes to be thought of by others. If you understand this then we have something in common.

It seems as though we are coming back round to the idea of identity as something constructed rather than innate and we know, or at least strongly suspect, that we will be judged on what we leave public. In media fandom as in politics (remember the fixation over Nick Clegg’s many ties after the 2010 election) people don’t wear clothes as much as they wear costumes, each one understood to be sending a message. Given the amount of time that we spend analyzing texts for clues it’s not terribly difficult to start turning that perception inwards. Witty t-shirts can be a way of claiming the right to judge yourself first on your passions.

Then, of course, there’s class to take in to account; this is Britain after all. Some fandoms are considered more respectable than others. While science fiction and fantasy are still questing for credibility, although we’re closer than we used to be, you can have what is for all intents and purposes Sherlock Holmes fanfiction taken very seriously as part of the British literary tradition even if it’s not exactly high culture. In “Bachies, Bardies, Trekkies, and Sherlockians” Roberta Pearson comments on the tension between the paraphernalia she owns which link to her interest in high culture as well as popular fandom

“a tiny cut-out Bard’s head floating above a blank and white picture of Anne Hathaway’s cottage. Just the thing for a postmodern academic Bardie who wants to declare an allegiance without committing a class faux pas.” (Pearson:2007)

It’s an interesting and self-deprecating example of the tension exhibited by the knowledge that what you do, even what you love, will be judged and therefore becomes a performance in and of itself. The irony is there as a nod to a judgment which has not yet been made by an imaginary audience; a way to protect yourself from any of the all-too-easy accusations that you risk whenever you wear your heart on your sleeve.

But back to those t-shirts, in two authors known to be affiliated with fandom, HP in particular, these crop up as markers for how we are to read the characters. In Valiant (Black:2005) Ruth wears a badge with a slogan from a well known piece of fandom parody and in Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon trilogy(2009,2010,2011) each slogan is as lovingly recorded as the one liners lobbed by the relevant characters. They are aimed at a culture where it is understood that what we wear is linked to who we are.

Not Quite Standard Bibliography :

http://www.threadless.com/product/1671/I_supplement_my_personality_with_witty_shirts [online] [Accessed 21st September 2013]

Black, Holly (2005) Valiant : A Modern Tale of Faerie, New York: Simon & Schuster

Brennan, Sarah Rees (2009, 2010, 2011) The Demons Lexicon, Covenant and Surrender, New York: Simon & Schuster

Hills, Matt (2002) Fan Cultures. Wiltshire: Routlage (best read in small doses.)

Pearson, Roberta (2007) “Bachies, Bardies, Trekkies, and Sherlockians”. In Gray, Sandvoss and Harrington eds. Fandom : Identities and Communities in a Mediated World New York: New York University Press, 103-104

Courtney Love: Never The Bride

Courtney Love has an iconic style, she modelled herself after punk fashion icons (possibly most obviously, Nancy Spungen) and you can see a lot of the old in way she dresses, but she’s always tilted things just enough they become something new on her. She’s boho, babydoll, whore, punk and princess: sometimes all at once.

It’s a style I’ve admired since the first time I saw her (on television in the early 90s, at the very height of the iconic “kinderwhore” look, in her black babydoll with its white Peter Pan collar):

 Courtney Love

(The white buttons are forgotten on 90% of the numerous remakes that are in shops at the moment. I think ASOS does the nicest one, for anyone who’s interested in hunting on down).

But since her heyday and the peak of her infamy, Courtney has never actually stopped being incredibly stylish and original, something I don’t see people talk about very often. She recently put out a fashion line called “Never The Bride”, which is a flowing, boho, freak out in a vintage store collection of worn looking and beautiful things (again modelling her style on the old and tilting it just enough it’s new again). The dresses look as if they’re held together with then lace and attitude:

 Never Mind The Bride

I found an article I won’t link to because it’s a deeply unpleasant pile of trash (or should I just say “a Daily Mail article”?) talking about her releasing “bizarre” pictures where she modelled some of her own clothing from the line. I am genuinely confused as to what makes the pictures bizarre, because all I’m seeing is someone doing an excellent fucking job wearing the clothes they’ve designed themselves straight from the heart (you can’t deny that Courtney isn’t someone who makes calculated or commercial music, and I think it’s the same for her fashion line. These clothes are Courtney. It’s fitting she shows us how to wear them):

 Courtney Love

Courtney Love

What can I say, I love Love.

 Courtney Love

Haters may utilise the sinister egress, and enjoy the swift firm kick of my Docs on the way out.

Trainer Heels

During my more adventurous youth I was given to the wearing of branded trainers, because they were comfortable and practical and made my feet smell like someone had dumped a plague pit upside-down in a sewer but no one was going to go near my feet anyway. The generally uninspiring form was mitigated by the function: they were easy to get around in, comfortable, and supremely convenient for kicking off and across the room in one easy, stanky-footed manoeuvre.

As an adult I have come to accept the occasional necessary evil of heels. They make my feet hurt, because I am a fat woman and fat women are not easily balanced on very small spots of shoe leather; they don’t do well with grass; they make everyone’s back hurt because that isn’t a natural posture for any living being. However, I cannot get away from the fact that some of them are breath-takingly beautiful or at the very least outrageous enough to merit a little pain now and then.

They both had downsides, I thought, and upsides. I found happy compromise in Doc Martens, which were both stylish and comfortable, and didn’t make my feet smell like a WW1 trench half-way through the massacre. How else would one choose to bring together the world of trainers and the world of women’s heels?

Like this.

Apparently by taking the design eyesore of standard trainer design and allying it with the pain of high heels. I certainly know that when I brave the backache of high heels, what I really miss about wearing trainers is the impression that I couldn’t be bothered to dress up like a grown-up, and the foot stench. And when I wear trainers, what I really truly miss about heels isn’t the glamour. No, it’s the sore feet, the likelihood of hurting my ankle, and the back pain.

These are, quite honestly, a torture implement for chav masochists. That is wonderful if your social class and sexual preferences align in this fashion – good for you, you live the dream – but I’m not sure I fancy the idea of these being introduced at any place on earth as a fashion staple.

One could argue that I’m being a snob and I just have it in for trainer brands associated with A Certain Quantity of Foundation, or that I’m eager to disavow my own hoop-earring-wearing Adidas-aficionado Croydon-facelift days, but to that argument I point out this:

Yes, the standard-issue alterna-brand of canvas trainer has also participated in the abomination.

Those are a particularly ugly type of heel, though… perhaps the concept is improved by the inclusion of the trainer greats, and proper heels?

Nope. Ugly, weird, déclassé, and guaranteed to make your feet honk. The only possible use for this trend is to placate the withdrawal symptoms of those who want a little additional height but cannot bear to be parted from the comforting (whiffy) embrace of their Nikes for a whole night. And if that is the case, might I suggest:

After all, there is supposed to be an inexorable 90s revival, whether we want it or not.

Holographic Leather, How I Hate You And Love You In Equal Measure

Everyone and their dog’s all over holo leather at the moment.  Look at these boots, available from Topshop of all places:

topshop-pewter-argo-heavy-strap-boots-product-1-12850533-041028536

Doc Martens did a pair of oilslick patent brogues in their blokes’ range last year, but haven’t brought them back for this Winter.  What the hell, Doc Martens?  The Argo boot (above) has sold out all sizes but two at Topshop in this colourway – holo leather is the thing at the moment because everyone loves the 90s, apparently!  Get it together!  And, um, restock my size, please.

Fashion, style, opinions, mockery