Meet the Models

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Goth Baby Goth

Hello, everyone! This week's post is all about an important lesson that I've learned -- about being a stylist, but also about being a friend. If you've been following my blog for a while, you may remember that I've tried a couple of times to put together outfits for my friend Tabitha, whose personal style is goth, and more specifically, grunge-goth. This means she likes to wear a lot of black and army green, things with skulls and pentagrams and things on, and clothes that throw back to the grunge style of the early '90s, like flannel shirts and Doc Martens. In my previous experiments with Tabitha's outfits, I've focused on trying to find things that I like and think are very stylish, and then turn them into outfits that somehow Tabitha is magically supposed to love and feel as though they accurately express who she is. The outfits themselves have been quite cute, I think, and they look great on Tabitha... but they aren't really her.

When I asked Tabitha if she would be my model this week, she was quite snippy with me! She said that in the past I haven't listened to her about what she feels good wearing, or what really allows her to express herself. She told me she would model for me, but that I should just pick an outfit I like and not try to make it about her expressing herself, because it was really just about me expressing myself. What she said really hurt my feelings, because my greatest passion when it comes to clothes is helping people use them to show the world on the outside who they really are inside. At first I thought I would stop asking Tabitha to model for me at all. But I talked to my best friend about it (because I talk to her about everything!), and Charlie said she thought I should listen to what Tabitha was saying and let it help me be a better stylist, rather than feeling badly about it. I realised that Charlie's advice was good, and Tabitha's complaints were fair. So I swallowed my pride, went back to Tabitha's room, and asked her if she would pick the basics of her outfit herself -- whatever she wanted to wear -- and I might perhaps offer just a couple of suggestions about styling it up. Graciously, Tabitha agreed. And would you believe, it worked! Together we put together an outfit that was really and truly about Tabitha, but also a refined twist on what she might wear every day.

The original outfit that Tabitha chose began with what looks like her ribcage T-shirt. It's actually a T-shirt dress -- just a straight T-shirt that comes so a bit above the knee. Tabitha was going to wear it with destroyed grey jeggings, this flannel tied around her waist, and black Doc Martens. I'm going to be honest: I kind of hated it, because I would never ever wear it myself. I started to realise how Tabitha must have felt about the outfits I picked for her to wear, and I felt pretty ashamed of myself as a stylist.

I actually love the hand-painted ribcage dress, honestly. I thought it would work beautifully with some super-feminine styling as a memento mori (a Victorian thing that reminds you of how fleeting and precious life is), but I wanted to work with Tabitha's choices too.

I decided the best place to start looking for inspiration was in Tabitha's own closet. That's where I found this completely amazing black crinoline. Tabitha said she wears it under a couple of her dresses when she has to really dress up for some reason. I suggested that she try wearing it OVER the T-shirt dress, as a skirt. Tabitha loved the idea!

I really felt strongly that the nearly all-black look needed some colour, so I reached for the flannel Tabitha had chosen. Tabitha agreed with the decision, because even though she loves all black, she was concerned that the super-ruffly 'skirt' needed something to balance it out and make it less 'girly-looking' (her words). I love that this flannel shirt is cut in a fitted modern style, not the long, shapeless flannels of the '90s. It makes all the difference in ensuring that Tabitha's outfit looks put together rather than sloppy.

The short skirt provided the perfect opportunity for Tabitha to show off this beautiful pair of hand-knit knee socks that I borrowed from Charlie. (Charlie's mom runs a knitting shop. She has hand-knits stashed everywhere in her room. It's like a treasure hunt every time I go in there, I'm telling you!) Tabitha reached for her trusty Docs, but I suggested these mary jane-style sneakers instead. They show off more of the socks, and they also fit in perfectly with the outfit's very-casual/very-dressy contrast.

Both Tabitha and I are so happy with the way her look turned out! Tabitha feels completely comfortable in this outfit. She tells me she would wear it almost anywhere she needed to be a little bit more dressed-up than usual. I think she looks really cute and put together, and when I look at Tabs in this outfit, I immediately see my friend, not just her clothes.

I'm grateful to Tabitha for being willing to work with me again, and most of all, for being willing to teach me the most important lesson a stylist has to learn: it's not about me, it's about the person I'm styling. If I can't make them look themselves-but-even-better, I've not done my job. It was a painful lesson to learn because I really hate to admit when I'm doing something less than perfectly. But owning up to your failures and mistakes is the only way to get better and do it right the next time! Have you ever had to learn a hard lesson from a friend?

Outfit details:
Ribcage dress and flannel shirt: The Doll Designer
Crinoline: Argh, I cannot remember where I got this! It's not from Etsy or eBay; it was an independent online shop. I bought it at least three years ago. They had crinolines in a ton of different colours. It's the most beautifully-made crinoline I've ever seen for dolls. If you know of an online shop that sells doll crinolines, please post it here and I'll update the post if we figure it out!
Knee socks: Hand-knit by me
Shoes: ReleaseRain

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring Blossoms

As far as I'm concerned, spring is all about the flowers. Could there be anything prettier than a field of wildflowers? Maybe one thing: a pretty girl wearing a field of wildflowers! That's just what my friend Tamsyn is doing in this week's post. :)

Tamsyn's favourite colour is coral, so I knew she would really like this dress that I had in my closet. We borrowed this great army-green jacket from Tabitha, and Arpana loaned us the most beautiful dogwood-blossom crown, and we came up with the perfect outfit for a sunny, early-spring day.

Just look at this beautiful floral crown, would you please? To me, dogwoods are the very essence of spring. There's an old, old myth that Jesus's cross was made out of dogwood, and so the flowers are shaped like a cross and have a reddish stain on the tips of the petals, to commemorate Jesus's blood. I always look for the delicate, lovely blossoms around Easter-time. This crown is made of silk flowers, so even if the trees aren't blooming yet, you can still enjoy the flowers. We put Tamsyn's super-long hair into thick braids and pinned them into a casual, pretty up-'do.

This dress reminds me a lot of calico prairie-style Gunne Sax dresses, which were really popular in the 1970s, except it's more casual. The super-feminine coral and yellow flowers and trim are contrasted in a really interesting way by the military style and olive colour of the jacket. I really love the rough-cut seams on this jacket!

Here's a close-up of the print and texture of the dress. The embroidery is such a nice touch. Because it's still chilly here in Bruton, Tamsyn's wearing the dress with olive-green tights and a pair of neutral tan boots.

The back of the jacket is a surprise! The military style gives way to really feminine touches -- rough-cut ruffles and velvet-laced cuffs. The overall effect of the outfit is so very vintage, even though they're all new pieces.

Outfit details:
Dress: OG Faux Keeps outfit
Jacket: I bought mine secondhand from a friend, but it was originally made by Maddie's Girls
Dogwood crown: Fleur 18 Studio
Tights: Purely Splendid
Boots: AG Pretty and Plaid outfit (retired)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Comfortable Classic

Have you ever heard the saying, 'March comes in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb'? Well, that has definitely not been true this year! March came in like a lion, and it went out like one too... albeit maybe a slightly less ferocious lion. It's been unusually cold and wet here in Bruton. This is particularly rough on those people who are inexplicably cold all the time. My friend Julian is constantly shivering, and Rowan literally carries a blanket with her everywhere she goes... even classes! 

Elijah, on the other hand, never seems to be cold in the winter -- nor hot in the summer, for that matter -- no matter what he's wearing. The trick is that he's a master of comfortable layers. At any given moment this month he's been wearing four layers of clothes: a T-shirt, a button-up shirt, a lightweight jumper (which Americans would call a 'sweater'), and a light jacket. The day we did this photo shoot was pretty warm, so he left off the jacket in order to show off the jumper better.

Elijah's style is classic, with a dash of hipster seasoning. He prefers clothing that is timeless, high in quality, and perfectly tailored to him. He's shorter and slimmer than a lot of guys, so a lot of clothes that he buys off the rack are too long or too loose on him. But Elijah knows that ill-fitting clothes -- whether they're too big or too small, and whether the person in them is big or small -- just make those things that you're insecure about even more obvious, because it's clear to everyone that you're trying to conceal something about yourself. The best thing to do is to wear clothes that fit you, no matter what size you are. Elijah very often takes clothes he buys off the rack to a local tailor who can take them in or hem them for him. Alterations mean extra money, which is why he is very careful about buying clothes that he can easily mix and match with other things in his wardrobe.

The outfit he's wearing here begins with a chambray button-up shirt that looks almost like denim. Elijah always buttons his shirts to the throat -- there's the first bit of hipster style in his look. His jumper is a beautiful fine-gauge knit with a sweatshirt silhouette. If it were oversize, it could look casual or even sloppy. But because it fits him perfectly, it looks trim and classic instead.

Elijah's jeans, as always, are skinny but not super-skinny. He really loves the rolled cuffs -- again with the hipster vibe, but also, they give him some flexibility in ensuring that they're just the right length. His boots are classic chukkas. 

Elijah didn't pick his outfit to highlight his gorgeous eyes -- he just likes neutrals and blue. But you have to admit, this look certainly shows off his (dark) baby blues to their best advantage. (And look at that gorgeous topstitching on his jumper... so classy!)

This is a perfect transitional outfit for Elijah as we finally move into spring. It's warm and comfortable, neat but unfussy, timeless yet trendy... a lot like Elijah himself. :)

Outfit details:

Sweater and boots: I bought these from Caroline at Sparrow & Wren Mercantile (formerly Janie Jumps; the new shop debuts tonight, 2 April!!!), but not through her shop; she made the sweater.
Chambray button-up: All Dolled Up Doll Clothes

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Androgynous/Tomboy Style

William Shakespeare once wrote, "Clothes make the man." I don't know about that, but they surely do tell you a lot about the man... or the woman, or the girl, or the boy. When people see your clothes, do they think you're a girly-girl? Do they think you're a real classic, or maybe goth? Some of my friends understand really well that some kinds of clothes just don't fit with who they are. For my favourite photographer, Tegan, it's dresses that just don't work for her. Her style is what's called 'androgynous' -- that means she likes to wear clothes that can work just as well for boys as for girls. In fact, while most of my friends borrow clothes from each other, Tegan tends to borrow clothes from Elijah rather than the girls. She has a really clear sense of the clothes she likes to wear, and she rocks them!

One thing Tegan knows about herself is that she prefers a looser cut of jeans than skinnies. As a photographer and an artist, she spends a lot of time bending, squatting, and generally hunkering down to look at things, and skinny jeans just don't let her move comfortably. These medium-wash jeans are the perfect fit for her.

Tegan also loves hats. You might think she'd want to make sure everybody sees as much of her awesome blue hair as possible, but in reality, you almost never see her without a hat on. This gorgeous sueded bowler was a Christmas gift from our friend Rachel, who has a great eye for what kinds of clothes and accessories suit her friends.

Tegan does an amazing job of balancing a very casual style with a very put-together appearance. In this outfit she's wearing comfy jeans, but they're freshly laundered and not faded or torn. Her shirt is untucked and open at the throat, but it's crisp as a fresh apple, impeccably white, and ironed. Her waistcoat is colourful, but the pattern is neat and small. Her rainbow-beaded pride necklace is subtle, tucked inside her collar because she wears it all the time (that's the nice thing about rainbows; they go with everything!). Everything she's wearing fits her perfectly -- it's neither too big (which looks sloppy) nor too tight (which looks ill-fitting).

Because the orange of her waistcoat is perfectly complementary on the colour wheel to Tegan's blue hair and blue jeans, it works as a great accent rather than a jarring visual contrast.

Finally, just because you're rockin' an androgynous style doesn't mean you can't love an amazing pair of shoes. The awesome pattern on these picks up the colours in the rest of Tegan's outfit.

Tegan will tell you all day long that she has no interest in fashion, but I can honestly say I had nothing to do with pulling together this outfit -- this is all her. She knows exactly who she is, and she knows how to make sure her clothes fit her personality. It all comes together perfectly!

Outfit details:
White button-down shirt: Maddie's Girls
Vest and shoes: QTπ Doll Clothing
Jeans: Pippy LaJade Jean Co.
Hat: Village Hat Shop, San Diego, California

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lá Fhéile Pádraig! (Happy St. Patrick's Day!)

Dia duit! That's pronounced DJEE-ah DITCH, and it's Irish for 'hello.' It's the 17th of March, and that can only mean one thing... it's time to get our Irish on, because it's St. Patrick's Day! Even though I'm not the least little bit Irish, I love this day. Everybody is all about having a good time, there's lots of singing and dancing, parades... what's not to love?

So of course I had to ask one of my Irish friends to model today's outfit. It's the perfect day to introduce you to my newest friend, Reilly Wren Mullen. Reilly Wren is from a town called Athenry in County Galway, Ireland. There's a very famous Irish ballad about the potato famine called 'The Fields of Athenry':

It's very appropriate that Reilly Wren should come from a place made famous in Irish music, because she is a singer -- and specifically, she's a sean-nós singer: someone who sings traditional Irish music, often in the Irish language, a cappella. She also plays the fiddle and the bodhrán, which is a kind of Irish drum. ...Yeah, she's pretty musical! I asked her to pick some clothes that she would wear if she were going to be singing at a céilí (pronounced KAY-lee, it's an Irish party that is all about music and dancing and having fun). Here's the gorgeous dress that Reilly Wren picked:

I really expected Reilly would pick something green, so I was quite surprised when she brought this dove-grey crushed velvet dress. She laughed at that and said that Irish people don't usually wear green on St. Patrick's Day. In fact, in a lot of more rural parts of Ireland, Paddy's Day isn't nearly as big a deal as it is in Dublin or England or America. The lines of this dress made me think of some of the dresses I've seen my friend Felicity wear for Irish dancing, so I wanted to find something that could be a focal point for a special occasion, like the embroidery designs on the bodices of Irish dance dresses.

This medallion couldn't have been more perfect. It has Celtic knotwork in the silver part, and the green stone in the center is a piece of marble from Connemara in Ireland. Reilly Wren thought it was kind of huge, but I pointed out that it's a special-occasion piece, not something she'd wear every time she wears the dress. 

And I pointed out that she can take the medallion off when she plays the fiddle, since it would get in her way. So then Reilly decided she liked it. :-) (She still wasn't quite sure about the Dublin sign I picked for the photo shoot, though, since she's from the west of Ireland... but the sign belongs to my friend Rachel, who DID live in Dublin!)

It's still quite chilly, so even though in a week or two Reilly Wren might wear the dress with a cute pair of flats, this week I chose some opaque white tights and grey felt ankle boots. Reilly liked them because she said they make a nice sound on hard flooring, so she can keep time by tapping her foot, even if she's not playing her drum.

We kept her hair simple, just pulling it back out of her eyes with a couple of mother-of-pearl clips.

At the end of the photo shoot today, Reilly Wren asked Tegan and me, 'Where's the craic for Paddy's Day around here?' Fortunately, Rachel has taught me before that when an Irish person asks ' where's the craic' (crack), it means 'where's the fun stuff'? She was disappointed when I told her we didn't have any good plans in Bruton, because students aren't allowed to go to the pub. Reilly Wren talked to Rachel about it, and the two of them decided to make their own Irish fun. They enlisted help from Rachel's best friend Kinneret, and before you could say Jack Robinson, they'd put together a céilí for tonight at our local coffee shop! Reilly's going to sing and play, and Rachel's going to recite some Irish poetry. I know Autumn will do some Scottish dancing for us, and Tegan will play her guitar. I might even do a bit of singing myself, who knows? It should be a grand time. Are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day where you live?

Lá Fhéile Pádraig (LAW ay-leh PAW-drig -- that means 'Happy St. Patrick's Day' in Irish!) from me, Reilly Wren, and all of us at the Bruton School!

Outfit details:
Velvet dress: Closet 4 Chloe
Tights: AG, but I don't remember which outfit!
Ankle boots: AG Grace's meet boots
Medallion: Brooch that I got on a visit to Connemara, Ireland
Dublin sign: Amazon
Irish flag: Mine is from Scotland House, Ltd., in Williamsburg, Virginia, but you can find them easily on eBay

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

C'est Chic

My wish from last week has come true -- in the last few days, spring has definitely sprung around here. Today is warm and rainy, all our snow has melted away, and our clocks have leapt an hour forward so the evening stays lighter longer. This is one of my favourite times of the year, because the whole world is soon to be full of colours and flowers. Spring is also great for fashion -- no more bundling up against the cold or hiding outfits behind bulky coats! It's time to bring out your best style. Today I want to showcase a really stylish transitional look that the beautiful Amy Jinn will be modelling.

Plaid has been so fashionable this year. This checked dress isn't exactly plaid, but it evokes it, and the lighter, simpler pattern makes me think of the lightness of spring. Since it's still a bit cool, this layered look is plenty warm. But the shorter sleeves and lighter colours definitely look forward to warmer days ahead.

The dress, as you can see here, is a nice thick wool. It's lined inside so it won't be itchy. Did you know that colour has different aspects -- hue, saturation, and lightness? I bet you did if you have a mobile phone with a camera. 'Hue' is what we usually think of as colour -- it has to do with the wavelength of light that your eyeballs are perceiving as colour. The 'saturation' is how intense or pure that hue is: a pure hue has no grey in it. Hues of various saturations are often mixed with white to make them lighter, or with black to make them darker -- that's 'lightness', obviously.  I've paired Amy Jinn's dress with magenta tights. These colours work together because they're the same hue; it's just that the dress has a tiny touch of grey (that is, it's slightly less saturated than the tights) and lot of white that make it pink, whereas the tights are dark.

I chose to accessorise the outfit with black and grey because I was thinking about hue, saturation, and lightness. To balance out the dark tights, I topped the dress with this black faux-leather cropped jacket. I love the simplicity of this piece: no collar, no closures, lots of straight lines. It really balances the pattern of checks nicely, and the straight-edged lapels continue and elongate the box pleats that give the front of this dress some architectural detail. Putting the black jacket in the centre of the outfit meant I needed to balance it above and below so it wouldn't look too harsh. So the knit hat continues the lightening motif...

...while the medium grey boots balance the look on the bottom. The dress is by Our Generation -- wow, they've really been stepping up their fashion game lately! I love them!

Such a clean-lined outfit inspired me to pull back Amy Jinn's lush curls so they wouldn't be too overwhelming. But I wanted to keep her hair soft, too, so the overall look wouldn't be severe. We just pulled her hair into the loosest possible Elsa-style braid, and didn't even secure it. The whole point is to be messy-neat.

This is really a go-anywhere outfit -- school, the shops, work, the cinema, anywhere. What do you think?

Outfit details:
Dress and hat: Our Generation "Check This Out" outfit
Jacket: Izzadorabelle
Tights: AG Bitty Baby Sweet Snowflake outfit
Boots: Lorelie Creations

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Too Cool for School

As I type up this post, sleet is ticking on my dorm room window... it looks like winter may keep us out of school again tomorrow. Is it ever going to be spring?! The thing I miss about spring and summer isn't so much the weather as it is the colour. I really want to see the bright colours again; everything in winter is so stark and bare. So in today's post I'm going to try and bring you some bright, cheerful colour in the middle of winter.

This outfit is a great example of how shopping in your friends' closets can be even better than shopping in your own. The only thing I'm wearing here that belongs to me is the blue flower barrette (well, and my undies, lol; definitely can't borrow those!).

This bright green shirt belongs to Tamsyn. I love the little sequined butterfly and bow on the collar -- just the teensiest touch of sparkle makes this shirt something special. Peter Pan collars like this were particularly popular for girls in the 1920s, and Tamsyn's style often harks back to that era. But it's continued to be popular for many years since, so it works well for my style, too, even though I often prefer clothes with a '60s or '70s vibe.

Next are these completely awesome tie-dye corduroy trousers that belong to Tegan. She loves them because they're funky and all the colours of the ocean -- blue, purple, teal, green. I love them because they're so bright, and because tie-dye was all the rage in the late '60s. 

The hiking boots belong to Arpana. They're sturdy enough to keep my feet warm and dry in this cold, wet weather. Hey, a girl has to be practical sometimes, right?

I topped everything off with a real showstopper of a coat -- Kinneret's leather trench, which she was SUPER-generous about letting me borrow. I love this thing! It takes me right back to the '70s. Have you ever heard of a movie called Shaft? I haven't seen the original one from 1971, but a new Shaft movie came out in 2000, and I watched it with some friends on telly a few months ago (even though I'm too young, shhhh!) It's about a really tough New York police officer called John Shaft who hunts down drug dealers and murderers. Anyway, Samuel L. Jackson, who is almost the coolest actor in the universe (Idris Elba, of course, is the coolest... I plan to marry him), plays John Shaft, and he wears a coat like this. I feel cool and tough and brave in this coat. Isn't it funny how much your clothing can affect your mood?

I'm pretty sure Shaft's leather coat doesn't have this amazing Disney cartoon lining, though. If I get bored, I can just read the inside of my jacket!

In this outfit that I pulled together from my friends' closets, I'm ready for anything. Now I just need to find an adventure!

Outfit details:
Shirt: AG School Days outfit
Trousers: Addi Jane Clothing (Sadly, this Etsy shop is no longer open.)
Faux-leather Le Marais coat: Lia's Doll Boutique
Hiking boots: Mj's Doll Boutique 18T
Barrette: Vintage