Tag Archives: clothes

Lo-Fi Gothic: The Orphan’s Arms

I’m really feeling The Orphan’s Arms right now.

But who wants to pay £80 for a sweater? NOPE, NEITHER DO I, so praise be that there’s an outlet store! It’s way better than their official site, anyway.

They say:

RENOWNED FOR ITS ICONIC GRAPHICS, THE ORPHAN’S ARMS IS UNDERPINNED BY ITS SENSE OF PLACE, SEEKING THROUGH POIGNANT AND REACTIONARY MOTIFS TO CAPTURE A LITTLE OF THE ENGLISH SPIRIT THAT IT FEELS IS SUCCUMBING TO A GLOBAL CULTURE OF BLANKET HOMOGENEITY.

Yawn. Or: “Melancholic, wryly casual threads in statement prints for the thinking misanthrope in your life”. They should get a new copywriter and it should be me.

Anyway.

Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit

As a documented rabbit enthusiast I’m big into the “Follow” print they do, now available in two versions:

FollowNew_FollowAww yissss.

The pros:

  • A complete steal at £18. I’ve already got one in grey and I want more in black (so the White Rabbit can actually be white, you see).
  • Real talk, it’s a wonderful soft-touch, cosy quilted material with a bossly-flattering scoop-neck.
  • Get the more detailed design in a lighter shade, and the White Rabbit transforms into the BLACK RABBIT OF INLE, offsetting the delicate pastel hue with subtly morbid bunny vibes and gothic script.

The cons:

  • For now you can only get black pullovers in size S. I’m still waiting for the black ones to come in in size M or L because a) I am never a size S; b) when you are a hyperbuxom style monarch you want your prints to not get lost under the majestic shadow of your boobshelf; and c) COME ON, I LIKE TO LAYER IN WINTER. The nice people at the warehouse say I have to just keep checking back. I really hope there’ll be more soon. 😦
  • There are no other cons. This is the perfect statement sweater.

Moving on!

Girl Mysterious

I also recently nabbed this drop-shoulder raw-edge pullover featuring a massive and unsettling print of a Victorian girl being held up high by ghostly hands:

Mystere_drop

The pros:

  • Holy shit this print is a definite statement. It’s huge. Never a subtle creature, I’m OK with that.

I’m teaming it with flared jeans when I’m feeling lazy and a big ruffled skirt when I’m feeling effortful.

The cons:

  • One Size is a foul lie and we all know it. Shoppers of distinction, and ‘alternative culture’ types in particular, are fucking bored of it. Fuck One Size in the bin. The body of this top fits me fine, but the arms are very clingy, so the whole “drop shoulder” effect isn’t really going on for me. I still like the top, but the shape is totally different to how I visualised it – and this is the sort of shit that’s a total gamble with this brand, because they use very few model-photos, and those they do use are all wearing size S. (I’m a curvy lady, but my arms are not especially wide, either.)
  • The print on this line is rough and not as nice as it is on the ‘Follow’ quilted sweater. This is probably because they’ve got different techniques for white-on-black, but it’s noticably not as lovely.
  • Raw edges: I am on the fence about raw edges. When they roll up and need a bunch of ironing, they’re really annoying. So we’ll see how this garment ages, because as a matter of necessity I’m far too busy being fabulous to iron shit.

T-shirts, though. Let’s TALK about T-SHIRTS.

Hogwarts Schmogwarts

Let’s talk about the fabulous “London School of Sorcery” print!

Sorcery_black

The pros:

  • Longline, but fitted on the arms even in size L! Bum-covering and loose, but not a sack! Love it.
  • Soffffffft, oh so soft

The cons:

  • No real cons. Maybe they could state how longline this is, though. Some people are gonna be after something else.

ANYWAY SO HERE ARE THE RULES FOR SHOPPING ORPHAN’S ARMS

  1. Screw the main site; it’s all about Outlet.
  2. Get in quick or it’ll all sell out.
  3. Remember Outlet = Some Experimental Variation Going On.
  4. Be careful you don’t end up bankrupt. I own four things from these people already.
  5. Team these predominantly loose garments with stretch pencil skirts and an understated pair of boots. I recommend Triumph 1914s or something with a witchy chunky heel, as usual.

One last image before I close: the Tea For Two design, with unsettling backprint.

Tea-black (1)

“It wasn’t until after
I had poured the second cup
That I realised
I was alone.”

I like to think that’s because the tea companion was a ghost.

In T.O.A. gear, you actually look like you rule the night, on a practical basis. You know, getting shit done while you rule the night. Having a wry literary joke while you get on with the business of night-ruling. That’s the look here. These pieces need minimal accessor-effort, because the prints really do do most of the talking.

Unlike that dude in the frilly shirt with flocked bats all over it who hasn’t yet gotten over the cultural death of LiveJournal. His screenname is probably Hades1977 or something, but in gear like this? You’re the real Persephone.

Mucha this, mucha that.

Who needs an Alphonse Mucha silk kimono in their life?

Everyone with £175 to spare on one, of course!

She Vamps, a London-based Etsy seller, has a serious collection of these beautiful, classic Art Noveau kimonos and a selection of other high-end accessories guaranteed to appeal to the decadent and comfortably-off.

Thoroughly recommended if you’re staggering under the weight of excess Christmas money and just want something beautiful and unique to shine out in at New Year.

 

 

The life aquatic

So it all started with:

Jellyfish socks!
Jellyfiiiiish

Jellyfish socks, £8 from The Fox In Socks.

Then someone pointed out this t-shirt, which I was naturally charmed by:

Anglerfiiish!
Anglerfiiish!

$15 from topatoco.com, who have many other cute t-shirts, all of which will be mine.

Then when I was looking for winter socks, I found:

Octopiiii!
Octopiiii!

Octopus socks, $12 from Sourpuss.

Suddenly it’s looking all too easy to become a walking aquarium!

Winter Warmer (for the wealthy)

Once again Bolongaro Trevor provide longing for the impoverished and slightly-too-rotund, but if you’re richer than me and have a chest measurement under 46″ you may like to wear this on my behalf:

Great Wool Coat (Green)

On closer inspection I can’t say I’m personally thrilled by the buttons, being a great lover of shiny brass military ones, but I have to say that these demure and understated black two-hole ones have their place.

Familiarity with the standard of BT’s other creations suggests that this will be comfortable and wear well, and for the listed price of £295 it bloody well ought to. Maybe wait for the January sales!

A Short History of Knickers: Queen Victoria’s Crotchless Panties

So, a couple of years ago a pair of Queen Victoria’s bloomers went up for auction. They had a fifty plus inch waist and had her initials and a crown embroidered on them (in case she left them on the bench when she changed for swimming lessons and couldn’t remember which ones were hers afterwards).

A picture of such

Also, they didn’t join up between the legs.

No one’s did. When you’re wearing a chemise, a corset, a bodice, stockings, multiple petticoats, a dress and various other layers of clothing, in the days before the invention of elastic and your bloomers had to be tied on to your waist (under your corset), your toilet choices were stripping naked or not stripping at all.

Before the 1800s polite women went completely commando; only prostitutes bothered with pants (presumably because their legs got colder?). Then came pantaletters, aka “two tubes tied on with string”, which tended to come undone and fall off one leg at a time. As the crinoline comes in split leg drawers becomes more popular, mostly because of the drafts, but then the crinoline flattens at the front and moves to the back and bustles are the new black. There’s no need for drawers to be completely split any more, so like Victoria’s above they tend to join at the back and split from underneath to the front.

Knickerbockers, that joined up completely, start appearing in the 1850s, but they’re considered terribly unfashionable, impractical, and frankly unhealthy. Plus, when you tripped over your crinoline and when arse over teakettle, you didn’t flash the gentlemen, and apparently that just wasn’t on.

By the late nineteenth century they were beginning to pick up in popularity, if you were the sort of woman who did mannish things like gardening or bicycle riding or anything practical, but your gentry still weren’t terribly keen. Though they joined up underneath, it still wasn’t easy to get them off, so trapdoors were introduced in the back. Think “cartoon children’s onesies”. Which were next up to bat, for fashionable women – as dresses got tighter and more streamlined underwear became an all in one proposition, camiknicker style. Some sported trapdoors, some stuck to split legs.

Mentor is the Memory Word for underwear
Mentor is the Memory Word for Underwear – though we can’t see hers, thanks to her petticoats, chemise, corset etc, her daughter is sporting a nice pair of all in ones.

By the end of world war one open crotch drawers were on their way out – skirts got shorter and dancing got wilder, and apparently flashing your parts at the French Diplomats was no longer the done thing – and with elastic becoming readily available it was even possible to get them on and off with some ease.

If you want to know more about the history of underwear, check out the following:

Rosemary Hawthorne‘s books (aka the Knicker Vicar’s Wife)

Vintage Fashion guild

The Ladies’ Treasury of Costume and Fashion

the Lolita files: what is Lolita fashion, anyway?

Part 1: What is Lolita fashion, anyway?

Lolita is a Japanese street fashion that’s blossomed into a worldwide subculture of sorts. Unlike Western goth or steampunk, Lolita’s community centres solely around the fashion itself,  tending to exist side by side with its associated musicians and artists instead of coalescing around cultural factors. It’s a niche fashion, certainly, both in the West and in its native Japan. Traditional Japanese society values conformity and subtlety; the ostentatious display and marked silhouette of Lolita are seen as a form of rebellion and eccentricity. Lolitas are few in number but very dedicated – and would want to be, with the high prices and scarcity of brand-name Lolita clothing. The spread of the fashion outside of Japan in the past fifteen years or so has opened the market up to many more prospective customers, but the price of pieces has remained high as the brands value their status as sub-couture fashion ateliers.

The origin of the name ‘Lolita’ is unknown. It doesn’t seem to have come from Nabokov’s novel, despite the fashion’s emphasis on innocence and youthfulness. It’s most likely a Western cultural loan word that became generic to the Japanese public to refer to young girls and girlishness, but stripped of the sexualised overtones assigned it in English. For a time the style was referred to mainly as ‘Gothic Lolita’ or EGL (Elegant Gothic & Lolita), but as substyles other than goth started to become more clearly defined, the overall term came into widespread use. Today, Lolita encompasses several main substyles and also features crossovers with other Japanese street fashions like mori girl, visual kei, and dolly kei.

The hallmarks of a Lolita outfit are: a bell-shaped silhouette, formed by a petticoat under a full skirt; attention to detail in clothing and accessories (ruffles, bows, lace, jewellery); modesty and/or skin coverage – high collars and knee-length skirts; a generally co-ordinated look in style and colour. Many Lolita co-ordinates have an anachronistic feel, as the fashion takes much of its influences from Victorian girls’ and women’s clothes.

Within Lolita itself, the main styles are:

gothic lolita. More toned-down in hair and make-up than Western goth, gothic lolita features as many roses, crosses, vampires, graveyards, and general goffabulousness as your undead little heart could desire. The big sister of gothic lolita is aristocrat fashion, which equates roughly to Western romantic goth – tailcoats, floor-length skirts, tophats if you’re so inclined. Some major brands in gothic lolita are Moi-même-Moitié, Alice and the Pirates, Atelier Pierrot, and h.NAOTO, and Surface Spell.

Moi-Meme-Moitié's Sleeping Garden; Alice and the Pirates' The End of Immortal EDEN; Surface Spell's Judgement Day
Moi-même-Moitié’s Sleeping Garden; Alice and the Pirates’ The End of Immortal EDEN; Surface Spell’s Judgement Day

sweet lolita. Sweet lolita is big on: pink, lilac, mint, baby blue; dolls, toys, sweets, oddly anthropomorphised animals. That’s your lot. Sweet lolita is the most childish of Lolita styles, and it revels in its childishness. Have you ever walked around a store and wondered why kids get the best clothes? Sweet is the substyle for you. It’s about as far as you can get from my usual dress sense, but it’s very popular in the Lolita world. Angelic Pretty and Baby the Stars Shine Bright are the main brands catering to devotees, with some of Metamorphose Temps de Fille‘s dresses also popular.

Angelic Pretty's Daydream Carnival; Baby the Stars Shine Bright's Paris Window; Metamorphose's Songbird Bouquet.
Angelic Pretty’s Daydream Carnival; Baby the Stars Shine Bright’s Paris Window; Metamorphose’s Songbird Bouquet

classic lolita. The most anachronistic-looking substyle, this is what you’d first visualise when thinking about Victorian-influenced clothing. It values demure and refined dress, using dusty jewel tones and florals. A classical wardrobe includes pieces from Innocent World, Victorian Maiden, Mary Magdalene, and Juliette et Justine. Also, if you read those four names in order, you get a progession from ingenue to the Marquis de Sade in ten words.

Innocent World' Theresia Rose; Victorian Maiden's Rose Flocky; Juliette et Justine's La Carte de la Vérité
Innocent World’s Theresia Rose; Victorian Maiden’s Rose Flocky; Juliette et Justine’s La Carte de la Vérité

There are also several thematic elements to Lolita fashion that don’t quite qualify as substyles in their own right – sailor/pirate co-ordinates, old-school, shiro/kuro lolita, etc. Some of them are explained (with cute illustrations) here.

Next time: putting together Lolita outfits, sticker shock at branded clothes’ pricing, and how to incorporate Lolita themes into your wardrobe without going full-on frilly.