Rockabilly Style and a Witchy Cocktail Bar
My dear friend Melissa happened to be in town for one more day before heading back to the west coast and gathered a handful of friends together for a Saturday afternoon to catch up. We needed to go somewhere that had tea, but after 2pm when one of us got out of work. Now most bakery/tea shops around here tend to close at about 3pm on a Saturday...that was not going to do. We could meet a restaurant, but sometimes it can be loud and hard to hear each other. I did a google search of tea shops in the area, and found a place that piqued my interests---a witchy themed speakeasy in the middle of a strip mall in Wallingford that was open between 12-7pm. Everyone agreed it was very interesting and wanted to give it a shot.
Pahl and I were the first to arrive at Bones & Bontanicals. I checked the website quickly to acquire the door code. I punched it into the box near the door and was immediately amazed by the dim light and glow-in-the-dark decor. There were about 2 open seats at the bar, and a bench that could maybe fit 4 people and the rest of the 6 chairs were already occupied. Knowing that there would be 5 of us total, I grabbed the bench quickly and some cocktail menus. We talked a little bit with some other visitors who were facing the bench on the comfy chairs. Between us was a low glass topped table which held a glittering sarcophagus inside with glow in the dark sides and bottom. To the left of the bench were stacks of books and games that patrons could utilize and herbs in glass jars on a shelf above our heads. To the left was a curious assortment of decorations of an occult nature on a shelf along with two digital portraits whose expressions would periodically change. Straight back there were floating candles hanging from the ceiling with glass pentagrams hanging over the bar.
What I really liked about Bones & Bontanicals is the atmosphere, decor, and the vibe. They have cocktails, mocktails, and regular tea, so there's something for everyone to try, even if they aren't imbibing. They also have some small bar snacks that you can purchase along with your drinks. Pahl and I ordered the "adult lunchable" that basically had mixed nuts, chocolate and pita chips in it. I honestly never thought I was into the "bar scene" or cocktails, but apparently if you serve them to me in a dark witchy themed secret access only speakeasy, I can be persuaded.
Pahl and I decided the day before that we would dress up in Rockabilly style outfits to meet everyone with. Rockabilly fashion is a style of dress that takes its inspiration from 1950's American Rock and Roll culture. It is often characterized by bright colors, bold prints, and a mix of vintage and modern elements. Rockabilly music (which inspired the fashion) is a mixture of rock and roll music (think Johnny Cash and Elvis), hillbilly and country western aesthetics, and 1950's fashion with a little bit of punk thrown in.
Pahl has got the faux vintage western shirt, black denim inside real motorcycle boots, with a vintage motorcycle leather jacket, and round sunglasses. He's basically James Dean from Rebel Without a Cause, minus the pompadour. Now my elements are a bit tricker to compare as it was January and still far too cold for pigtails, half sleeves, or open toed shoes. However, I did opt for a low cut black shirt tucked into a leopard print mini skirt with punk elements (see the straps hanging down). To go extra bold, I wore tights that have imagery of magenta lips tucked into over the knee suede boots with chunky heels. The boots and the beret are a bit more modern looking, but I just really wanted to wear them with the outfit. I was also hardly wearing any makeup-except for a bold red lipstick.
It was so nice to catch up with Nell, Jess, and Melissa. I hadn't seen Nell and Jess for over a year in person, and well Melissa we actually did see her a few times in August, but it's always a fun time. We had many engaging conversations about topics ranging from how our families are doing to artificial intelligence and how advanced it is already.
It could have been the angle of the light coming through the window, or it could have been the fact that we are both Scorpio risings. The Scorpio Ascendent is a placement that is known for being mysterious, otherworldly, spiritual, and even attracted to taboo and occult topics. How fitting it was to capture this image at a cocktail bar that has all of these elements!
Christmas 2023 Recap: Alt Outfits & Gifts
I shall now recap my final fashion adventures of December 2023. I had oh so many other adventures I had to cancel on from a Holiday party with the Steampunks to a tea party with my own EGL fashion group because I got sick. So for the rest of December I didn't go much of anywhere, except to go out to eat a few times and to do the holidays with our families.
Christmas this year ended up on a Monday, so I got a wonderful three-day weekend with Pahl that I wouldn't normally have. On Saturday night we went out to eat at one of my favorite local restaurants, Home, in downtown Branford. Home serves comfort food (which can be made gluten free) in a relaxed dining atmosphere. The front of the restaurant is set up like someone's living room with comfy leather chairs and small low tables. This part cannot be reserved, and it can be a little awkward to eat like this...but I prefer it because the section is walled off a bit from the rest of the restaurant and its a lot quieter. I chose to sit on the couch while Pahl chose to sit on the leather chair. It is better to sit across from one another for talking to one another (as well as taking pictures of each other's outfit).
I am wearing an outfit that I purchased from Killstar a few years ago. The red blouse which is a stand collar (that laces with velour lacing at the top), extends into long bell sleeves to the wrist. The velvet repeats at the bodice downwards. The matching mini skirt (which is hidden by the sleeves while sitting) is tiered red lace at the front with a red interior lining. Red, white, and grey on black plaid tights from Snag Tights match the black beret with the red plaid accent at the top. I am also wearing a quartz and silver ring to tie in the gray neutrals.
We didn't plan this at all, but complementary to my mostly red outfit, Pahl is wearing mostly green. He paired a navy and dark yellow floral motif button up shirt with a dark cotton waistcoat and green pants. He's also wearing his green striped Italian race car driver hat, which may be initially mistaken for a beret, but it is not. The front flap can be put down to act as something like goggles or sunglasses for the driver. It is a rare occasion though when Pahl is not wearing any of his rings!
Dinner was so fantastic we actually went back to Home the following week to celebrate Pahl's birthday (and I ordered the same exact thing...the bone in porkchop meal is splendid!)
On Christmas Eve, I decided to wear EGL fashion. My parents did not have the pleasure of witnessing the Christmas Bear Sweet Lolita dress last year, so I wanted to wear it again. It's a pretty great design from the sailor collar to the very cute bear print and the interior lining. I wore the pink waist belt and gold shoes with it again this year, but I changed up some of my other accessories. I moved the bow that came with up to the space between the two collar sides, and I repeated the bow pattern by wearing a red velvet KC (headbow) from the chinese indie brand Infanta. Instead of pink diamond tights, I wore winter white sweater tights. I also wore a gold star/celestial necklace and gold rings. Lastly, I added the Brown Bear Christmas Bag that 42 lolita had sent me as a gift for being an excellent customer. 42Lolita always sends free gifts with every order (including some of the soft ornaments hanging behind me), but this was a special gift package that came separately.
Some of Pahl's family also got to witness the Christmas Dress. It is such a delightful piece of clothing, it always brings smiles and warmth to everyone it encounters. It seems as if it is my fate to wear it every year in some capacity, until my nieces can both fit into it so I can pass it along to them.
Christmas Gifts We Exchanged
The Miss Point Point Manor High Waisted Skirt, Stand collar blouse, matching hat, and chain belt I asked Pahl to get me for Christmas.
As far as Christmas Gifts, we were definitely feeling green. We basically both picked out the big pieces that we wanted each other to buy. Pahl chose this green waistcoat from the Historical Emporium as he did not have a double breasted one quite like this in his collection. All of the buttons are functional, and it does take some effort to put on for sure, but he looks great in it. I also got him a special box of Victorian themed socks from FootClothes (that had 5 different pairs of socks and some other things like a candle, a brooch, and a little jar of teeth).
My outfit that I selected is actually the skirt and blouse version of the Miss Point Point Manor OP dress that I already own in the yellow striped colorway. You know you love a piece when you buy it in a second color way. I asked 42lolita to help me acquire it (so Pahl could buy it for me of course). I wish I could link it to you, but it looks like it's just not available anymore. It was available made to order from Sept 2021-Dec 2022.
Pahl also got me a variety of other things like a lightswitch, a silver rat ring, a really cool looking steampunk bag, and a very nice pair of earrings from Crunchy Diva Designs that I said I liked at an indoor holiday market we attended. I can't wait till summer to wear the earrings--they will really shine when I put my hair up out of the way!
Victorian Miniatures Lecture at the New Haven Museum
Nemia-Rose, Pahl, and I in front of the rotunda at the New Haven Museum
(Nemia-Rose and I are wearing sweet style)
One of my favorite things to do to dress up to match the theme of events offered at various museums. The New Haven Museum is a museum dedicated to the history of the city of New Haven, CT from its colony founding as puritan village, through it's growth into a major industrial center, and now a thriving metropolitan area. The museum was founded in 1862 as the New Haven Colony Historical Society, whose goals have always been to collect, preserve, and make available research materials which document the history of the greater New Haven area. The current building on Whitney Avenue was built by J. Frederick Kelly, a notable colonial revival architect, in 1929. It's absolutely gorgeous inside the building, even on a rainy dreary overcast day!
The lecture that we attended in the Auditorium/Ballroom was called "Delight in the Diminutive: A History of the Victorian Doll House", by guest lecturer Eliza de Sola Mendes who is an independent decorative arts scholar from New York City. This particular lecture included a special tour of the New Haven Museum's own Victorian Doll House (located on the first floor), and a tea reception after the lecture as part of their "Free First Sunday" events. The lecture covered the history of antique doll houses and miniatures from the early Victorian period to the beginning of the Edwardian era. Eliza de Sola Mendes led us through various parts of a doll's house and how the miniatures reflected exactly what people living in the Victorian era would have put in their own real homes, just in the miniature. Early doll house furniture and furnishings did not spare any expense. The crystal is real. The silk is real. I had no idea the level of detail and attention to miniatures, nor realizing that the perfect image of Victorian life was to be found in depictions of doll houses---not photographs of the era!!!
Now I only subconsciously knew that my dress was the perfect choice for this lecture. I learned that many dollhouses included portraits just like the ones in the dress design. See, I've been doing a little research about elegant lolita fashion, and yes it IS influenced by the Rococo, Victorian, and Edwardian eras, but an elegant combination of its own making. The Victorian aspect is closely akin to what maybe Victorian children wore, which can also be seen in dolls and dollhouses of that time!
Myself and Eleanor modeling the same dress in different colorways
Now you shall know the story of how I ended up with this dress. Basically last time I saw Eleanor, she wore this dress to the tea party in July. My boyfriend thought I would look especially smashing in it, and wanted to know where Eleanor got it. It's called Portrait of A Little Lady from the Chinese Indie Brand Infanta. Eleanor assured us that they already sold out of the colorway she had, so we just picked a different one. Mine is more of a blue-gray with rose gold accents, while Eleanor's is more of a green-gray with burnished gold accents.
Now what's great is you can see how to style this dress in December vs July, which are two very different climates in Connecticut. For December (which is cold, rainy, overcast, and might be snowing), I paired mine with an apricot colored long sleeve stand collar blouse from Metamorphose, printed bow tights in pink grey from Red Maria, gold mary janes, and the head bow that matches the dress design. For July (which is humid, hot, sunny, maybe a little sticky), Eleanor paired it with a cotton short sleeve blouse with a peter pan collar. She is wearing over the knee socks in a crossing ribbon pattern (often seen on Victorian dolls), classic brown shoes, and a clever head piece that was literally a cup of tea with flowers and some ribbons. The hand fan was absolutely essential as well. Not just a prop.
Overall I had a wonderful time making all the connections between historical Victorian and modern Japanese street wear fashion. I also got tea twice in one day! I drank hot tea after the lecture, and bubble tea at The Whale Tea, which is a very good bubble tea shop also located on Whitney Ave (just on the other side and up the road a bit from the New Haven Museum).
Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village
One of the winter programs I had the pleasure of attending this past December was Christmas By Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village. Old Sturbridge Village totes itself as a living museum of a recreated 1830's town in rural New England. Within its 200+ acres and 40 historical buildings, attendees can freely walk around and enter buildings and spaces and interact with costumed historians as they work the tasks of the past including pottery, woodworking, smithing, general store, preaching, bank, etc. What makes Christmas By Candlelight particularly special is that the entire town is ready for Christmas. Decorations are up on the inside and outside of every building. You can attend the tree lighting and are invited to sing yuletide carols. Many of the buildings are offering fresh baked or brewed samples of hot apple cider, sweet breads, and cookies that were made for Christmas specifically in the early 19th century.
Old Sturbridge Village is a lot bigger than I remember it being since the first time I went back in or around 30 years ago on a school trip. I have faint memories of entering the general store and the gift shop, but I don't remember the extended bridge around the pond next to the Qunebaug River, or any of the extended houses and fields beyond that. I was able to go on this wonderful trip because my friend Barbara and her husband Jake are members of the museum and they won 6 free tickets to Christmas By Candlelight at a members only gathering! Barbara said they had expanded a lot since the last time I attended, so my suspicions that it was bigger were confirmed.
The area around the pond and river were beautifully lit up at night by lights that reflected off the water. There was a large covered bridge over the river which housed many evergreens that you could attach a holiday wish to. A smithery and grain area lays further beyond that as well as fields a plenty for livestock (which were safely put to bed in their pens for the night time event).
Every time there's a meeting at a museum, Pahl and I love to try to match the time period, the activity, and or the lecture being offered. This time we went for simple (for us), nearly puritanical looking pieces that highlighted classic black and white. I decided that it was the perfect time to bring out my Elegant Solid Color Skirt in Black from the brand Yuan Su. What I love about this skirt is that it is quite long and elegant and that the slightly nordic design above the bottom hem is actually embroidered into the material. For such a lovely piece, it also includes contrasting ribbons that you can lace up on the sides and back of the skirt, as well as functional pockets. It's definitely a good piece to have if you identify mainly as a Classic EGL enthusiast. I paired it with a Time Memory long sleeve cotton blouse which I had purchased somewhat randomly back in May of 2022 when I first began my EGL fashion journey. It is quite perfect for classic or maybe even old school looks, but it didn't lay well under the jumper skirts I had at the time, so that's why it took so long to make its debut. And of course, my big black bonnet, which basically goes with everything---Classic, Regency, and over the top Gothic. I didn't bother with makeup, (I bet people in the 1830's in rural New England were also skipping that part) but I was wearing several layers including thermals top and bottom, fleece lined socks, and lined knee high boots. The last fashion meeting at Elizabeth Park prepared me for dressing for colder temperatures.
You can't really see the intricacies of Pahl's outfit outside of the white collar of his shirt with the red paisley and black puff tie and "Sherlock Holmes" great coat. He was wearing suspenders and a beautiful red waistcoat under the coat, but again, function over fashion dictates on outside excursions when the temperature is cool.
Everyone else in our group either went full on cozy Christmas vibe with red and green throughout or classically cut wool coats and sneakers. Barbara also applied very festive and vibrant makeup as part of her look.
The Christmas by Candlelight program was so fun!!! I would love to do it again sometime. I definitely prefer historical living museums when it is too cold for all manner of insects to be buzzing around.
Elizabeth Park in Late November
Colleen and I twinning with an archway
Now, if you've been reading the blog for awhile, you'll know that Pahl and I went to Elizabeth Park back in early summer (first weekend of June in fact) to see everything in bloom, do a photoshoot, and have a picnic. I wrote extensively about the history of the park and its gardens and you can read about that here.
This time we were at Elizabeth Park for a spooky photoshoot with my fashion community. The dress I wanted to wear (back in October when the original date of the meeting was rained out) had exposed shoulders and at daytime temperatures stopping at 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun, that was definitely not going to work. I didn't want to wear the exact same dress I wore at the trolley museum either. I wanted to look like Persephone, Goddess of Spring, about to descend into the Underworld.
My friend Colleen was going to attend the meeting as well, and we knew that we had the same dress SKULL LOLITA JSK in the exact same colorway with the exact same misprinted backwards design. We decided to twin our pieces. We had only talked about the wearing the same jumper skirt, but our outfits were very similar. She is wearing a black beret with faux pink and purple flowers. I am wearing the Woody Rose-Elegant Lolita Small Hat in Black, which comes with faux decaying roses on the brim. We are both wearing wigs; hers is more of a pink-purple and mine is more of a blue-purple. We are both wearing black blouses under our jumper skirts, and likely thermals as well---it was starting to get very cold outside! We both have big black wool coats with faux black fur somewhere on the coat. You can't tell from this photo, but we also almost had the exact same bag, except mine was slightly bigger. They are Morning Glory~The Star-Moon-Grimoire Crossbody bags with silver or gold writing on them. The only big difference is the shoes. I went for my wine red shoes to match some of the red roses on my hat.
My wig had fallen down in the car on the way to the park, but Colleen was able to get it to stay on my head properly applying a few bobby pins on each side of my head towards the front. Despite the difficulties with my wig, I feel that I did a great job with my makeup, especially the eye make up matching my wig and the purple/pink tones in my dress. I used my ABH Cosmos eye palette. There is a pink shimmer shade that when applied to the eyes actually comes out as a radiant silvery purple. I don't make the rules, but it was an awesome discovery while getting ready for the meeting. Additionally, I brought a small mixed deck of tarot and oracle cards as another prop...but if you know me, it's not just a prop. I've been slowly working on my own tarot major arcana since 2020.
Overall, it is very fun to twin with a friend! I highly recommend the experience. I was glad that we got to get out and take lots of fun photos together. I also liked visiting Elizabeth Park in November because there were far less people in the gardens and I didn't have to wait or move out of someone's photo to get a good shot. Walking around Elizabeth Park can work up quite an appetite, especially in November when it is too cold to picnic, so as a food recommendation, if you are looking for a lot of choices that won't break the bank, I highly recommend Parkville Market- "22 restaurants under one roof" located 6 minutes away. I got to try an El Salvadorian tamale, drink a matcha boba tea, and eat thai street food for dessert all in the same place! There were a lot of people at Parkville market, but when you wear an alt fashion with a big petticoat, people tend to make way for you.
Shoreline Trolley Museum in November
Sarah, Me, Pixie, Barbara, Caroline, Jess K, Jess J, Mel, and Pahl
Photo Credits to Ben Jordan/Photo Images Co.
If you've been reading the blog regularly, you'll know I had originally tried to plan the Shoreline Trolley Museum visit in July 2023. But...the weather wouldn't cooperate with torrential rain, coastal flooding, and tornado warnings. I figured the second weekend in November ought to bypass all that type of weather.
The Shoreline Trolley Museum totes itself as the "oldest continually running trolley museum in the United States". This time around, I made sure I planned it right. The director of the museum worked with me to plan the meeting. I told him that I wanted a private charter essentially, but for only 10-12 people, and that we weren't having a party or anything. We just wanted to model our outfits with the trolley station and trolleys as our background. Intrigued, he let me fill out a form and I didn't have to pay for our meeting in advance...all they asked for was that each person who attended donate some money of their choice to the museum that day. After I knew that we didn't have to pay up in advance, I went ahead and also hired a photographer to follow us around all day and take staged photos of us inside the station and various trolleys. I was able to get a very reasonable price and cut the cost with attendees. This was going to be the best meeting I ever planned yet!
The day was cool, crisp and clear. This was the weekend after Daylight Savings Time ended. (For those of you who live in a part of the world where you don't do this, we "fall back" and are forced to turn our clocks back an hour to provide us with slightly more daylight in the morning as opposed to the evening, to I think make it safer for people waiting for transport in the morning time? From November to January, we are lucky to get approximately 9 hours of daylight in my region). So my thematic suggestions were fall colors, jewel tones, gothic/black, and or pinstripes. I wanted to evoke a historical feeling that worked with the interior of the cars as well as the season of the year.
Everyone really "nailed the assignment". Sarah is wearing some great jewel tones of her green chocolate rosette dress paired with a bright red coat and shoes. I had a vision that I must wear my Miss Point gothic pinstripe Point Manor OP and accessories that I purchased in 2022 because I knew these colors would work with the inside of the older trolleys especially. Pixie wore an outfit that matched mine quite a bit with the black shirt and yellow topaz skirt, but paired with a beautiful jewel tone blue corset and a purse that was a working clock!! Barbara went for all black, and as she put it, "the look of an orphan looking for a new lease on life". Caroline wore a garnet red dress that had a print of different types of coins on it, which is cleverly reminiscent of the fare that many operating trolleys still take in various parts of the world today. Jess K stuck to ruby red and white for her main pieces and a blue and white caped coat as an accent (and to stay warm I imagine). Jess J wore a dress with a design called "British Bear", which was sapphire blue plaid with gold accents and different kinds of teddy bears on it. Mel wore a bright red and white dress (which reminds me of a classic Chinese styling with the shape as well as the diagonal fabric buttons on the front). And lastly, Pahl wore his new gray outfit which included a shirt he purchased from Thomas Farthing (which we visited when we were in London), his slacks and tailcoat from the Historical Emporium, as well as a new navy blue puff tie. The herringbone black and grey shoes he apparently had for a long time, but didn't have anything to go with them until this year. (He actually wore this exacty same outfit at the Bakery Meeting, except that he wore a Sherlock Holmes type hat rather than a bowler).
An posed group photo next to one of the the Trolley barns
Group photo in front of a trolley very similar to the one that we rode on our private charter
Pahl & Danielle close up in the party car
I had a lot of fun learning more about the museum from our private charter conductor as well as Lydia (the events coordinator) who was volunteering that day. I enjoyed moving from trolley to trolley to take wonderful group and close up photos. I highly recommend this museum as a place to work with for your next event. I also highly recommend nearby Transilvania Restaurant, which serves Romanian and American style food (we went here as a group afterwards). The owner is super nice and the restaurant theme is really fun (in a weird and good way) and I've tried several of the Romanian dishes and they are all delicious.
Erector Square Open Studios Oct 21-22 2023
Pahl & Danielle dress up as nouveau punks using backdrops provided by @studioinewhaven
Erector Square in New Haven, CT was first established as a toy factory in 1923 by A.C. Gilbert. The classic Erector Set, American Flyer model trains, and other toys were produced here until the factory's closing in 1967. The building itself was then transformed into one of the largest studio complexes of its kind-175 studios in 8 buildings. It is now home to a community of established and emerging artists, architects, musicians, designers, theater, dance, and fitness professionals.
I love going to Erector Square because the hallways are long and deep and you're not sure what building is connected where. To be honest, it can be a bit disorienting, but I consider that part of the fun. If you like adventure around every corner and eventually ending up in a back lot next to the back door of Bregamos Community Theater, then this is for you. I generally start at Building 3 (where the main parking lot is), and work my way around Building 6 and 8. If you want to go to Building 5, it's easier to just leave the front of Building 3 and walk to the right to enter it. (All the buildings are connected somehow (except for Building 4), but sometimes it's easier to just go back the way you came than trying to find the right stairwell).
In the past, Erector Square Open Studios was a part of a month long City-Wide Open Studios in New Haven that Artspace used to manage. Unfortunately Artspace shut down their physical location in June 2023 and basically said, "we're putting Open Studios back into the hands of the artists this year". But luckily the artists of Erector Square came together and put on a very good Open Studios on their own.
Artists work that I particularly enjoyed were that from Eliska Morsel Greenspoon whose collage work must be seen in person for the sheer complexity of it, Greg Shea for his work in alternative photographic processes, Amelia Ingraham's high res pop photography, and Julie Fraenkel's "Carnival of Human Nature".
We spent approximately 3 hours at the Open Studios during the last day of the event. Just as we were reaching the end of the hallway in Building 5, Studio i Gallery showed up. Studio i Gallery is basically a ready to rent space for all sorts of creative endeavors, whether it is an art show, a photoshoot, workshops, and installations. They encourage visitors anytime and for Open Studios they had a couple of really cool backdrops available to pose in front of.
Both Pahl and I are artists, and one thing we like to do when we attend other artist's open studio events is to "Dress Like an Artist". That way we can send out a beacon of like-minded energy towards all that we meet. Pahl is both a surrealist painter, mask maker, and stop motion animator and I mainly work on my Other Worlds Series, which is manipulated photographs of my own menstrual fluid. Both of our art styles are a bit edgy; so we wanted to reflect that in our style choices for the day.
Pahl is wearing black jeans, a wine red "early-American style" cotton shirt, a grey herringbone waistcoat with black buttons, lighter gray and black herringbone shoes, a slightly military looking leather jacket, and some of his signature statement rings. To match him, I also wore a wine red cardigan over a dress that has imagery of skulls and roses on it. I am wearing a black denim punk vest with an intricate pin from Pocket Full of Posiez that was a birthday gift I received this year and goldenrod colored crocheted fingerless gloves. My tights are pink dotted diamonds with contrasting black and gray and black and see through diamonds that I purchased from Hot Topic a few years ago, and I am wearing black cherry patent leather boots. I am also carrying around my new backpack purse, my Emily the Strange bag complete with my 3D printed skeleton hand I picked up at the New London Pirate Festival a few months ago. At least half of the pieces from my outfit I have had for at least 3 years, so it was definitely a creative endeavor of combining old pieces with new accessories to make a new outfit.
Did dressing like nouveau punks work for us? Certainly! We had a lot of wonderful conversations with other artists right away. So that old adage is true: Always dress for the occasion!
Sweet Poppy's Bakery-North Branford CT
So one of the things that it did in Connecticut a lot this year was RAIN. It rained every single weekend in September, and almost every weekend in October. Another person in my fashion community had planned a very fun meeting at Elizabeth Park in October that was rescheduled to late November because of rain. I felt like we still needed something to do, so I made what I assumed to be the easiest meeting possible-go to a local bakery and a farmers market.
We met up at Sweet Poppy's Bakery, which is a Top 9 Allergen Friendly Bakeshop in North Branford, CT. (Top 9 allergens include wheat (gluten), milk, eggs, soy, sesame, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish). Being wheat, lacto, and peanut sensitive myself, I was very excited to find a local bakery that not only made sweet things I could enjoy, but also made it affordable as well. I got to try the pumpkin bread and a hot tea, and my friends enjoyed other treats and the sweet tea. I also purchased cupcakes and cookies to share with my family for a special occasion later that day. It was all very good--even to people that are not sensitive to any ingredients! The bakery itself has a little bit of seating inside and a nice wall with sprinkles for some good photo opportunities.
For the theme of the meeting, I said anything fall colors, gingham, country, sweet, candy, and or Halloween theme. As for myself, I was inspired to wear Infanta's Little Red Riding Hood JSK that I had received in a Lucky Pack last year because it is wine red (a fall color), and has a country feel with the attached gingham apron. Last year I wore a very spooky coordinate for Halloween, so I wanted to mix it up and wear something totally sweet.
I mixed and matched both white and off white with my coordinate because the bottom lace in the jsk is off white so I paired it with an off white shirt, and used white and red patterned socks with a white bag to balance the white aspects in my JSK. The bonnet is also from Infanta, but technically goes with an entirely different JSK. I wear a lot of brown pieces in general and figured I could use a bonnet like this for many different jsk that I own. This is also the first time that I am wearing my matte wine red Sheep Puff Elegant Lolita Bowknot Retro High Heeled Shoes. I feel like I ordered them in April, and by the time they came, I wasn't incorporating wine red at all into my wardrobe. They waited about 6 months for their official debut. They are super comfortable and I am very pleased with them.
Mel has a wonderfully sweet and spooky at the same time theme. She is wearing a dress with the Sanrio character Kuromi on it that is black with pink polka dots and accents. She balances the pink with a pink and white headdress. What is the most special about her coordinate is her matching bag. One side is black with a pink accent with Kuromi's face and the other side is pink with black accent with My Melody's face.
K's coordinate actually perfectly balances with mine as she is wearing fall colors as well as an Infanta fairy tale theme skirt (it illustrates that of Snow White rather than Little Red Riding Hood). She balances out the primary accent colors of wine red and white in her skirt with her choice of leg wear, shirt, and cardigan. The rose necklace is also a wonderful touch!
As far as getting to a farm market, the best I could do was a roadside farm stand. Unfortunately because of all the rain, the larger outdoor market with the pumpkin patch, gift shop and corn maze would have been terribly muddy for our beautiful shoes, and the other smaller one that had an indoor hay maze had unfortunately closed for the season the weekend before my meeting. So here I am standing in the mums for sale in front of a green house. We didn't spend a lot of time here...it looked like they might have been getting ready to close for the day and that it looked like RAIN again, so we took a few photos, bought some veggies and went our separate ways.
Here's a bonus shot of Pahl and I at the bakery. This is his first time wearing nearly everything in this outfit and it was actually a little challenging to put on so he came a bit late to the bakery. He wore almost the exact same outfit a few weeks later, so I will talk more about it then. I wouldn't necessarily consider gray a fall color, but with all the rain we had---I'll let it pass~
The Regency Ball at The Guildhall 9/16/23
When Pahl asked on our third date if I would attend the Jane Austen Regency Ball with him, I basically knew Jane Austen as the author of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, the former of which I was assigned to read over summer break twenty years ago in high school. We'd already established by our third date that we were both very into alternative or historically based fashions, and both individually concluded that we intended to wear our pieces as frequently as possible. For me that meant mostly elegant lolita fashion and for him that meant anything that matched what I was wearing in color, era, or theme as much as possible. However, as I got to know him more, it turns out Regency Era England is one of his absolute favorites.
Not knowing much about Regency Era England, the fashion for men and women during that time period, or anything in particular about Jane Austen, naturally I said yes I will go with you! I'm more of an action research gal anyway...experience first, reflect later.
The Regency Era of British history is commonly described as the years between 1795 until the ascension of Queen Victoria in 1837, and is remembered as a time of refinement and culture characterized by distinct fashions, architecture, and style (at least for the wealthy). The Regency era overlapped with Romanticism and many of the famous artists, musicians, poets, and novelists of the Romantic period were also prominent Regency figures such as Jane Austen, William Blake, Lord Byron, John Constable, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, etc. I think the main reason the Regency Era is on our minds nowadays is due to the ever popular Netflix period drama, Bridgerton, which is set in a highly stylized version of Regency Era London.
Bath, UK is about 90 minutes west from London using modern express rail. It's considered a ceremonial county of Somerset, England, known for and named after its Roman-built baths. It was founded by the Romans as a thermal spa, which became an important center of the wool industry in the Middle Ages. In the Georgian Era, it developed into an elegant town with neoclassical Palladian buildings, which blend harmoniously with the Roman baths. Bath really has so much to offer between the Bath Abbey, The Roman Baths (an UNESCO world heritage site), various tea rooms, and of course the Jane Austen Festival, the largest and longest running Jane Austen Festival in the world.
The Jane Austen Centre celebrates her as "Bath's most famous resident" and puts on the festival every year in September. The 10 day event draws over 3500 people worldwide. I mean, that's a lot for a niche interest group, if you think about it.
Entirely relying on Pahl's expertise and guidance for the fashion this time, we decided on "burgundy" and black as the main colors of our outfits. (I put burgundy in quotes because I always imagined burgundy differently but deeper bluer red works). Pahl basically already owned the correct blouse, slacks, boots, and suspenders, but specifically ordered the waist coat and tie for the ball. My gown was custom made by Robe d'Exception, through their Etsy platform. (A lot of people who attend the Jane Austen Festival make their own costumes. The best we could do was support a small business-which is equally good).
For my accessories, I pulled out some from my lolita fashion pursuits. I wore my BBB (big black bonnet), a velvet choker, a waist belt that goes with an entirely different dress, white short gloves (see ball picture), and something like a reticule that my friend made me for my birthday (that has exactly 38 stitches in it to represent my age). I am wearing flats that I bought years ago for work. They're really cool looking, but definitely not Regency Era. It's a good thing my gown is floor length and you can't see them anyway.
I tried putting my hair in a bun and it was successful enough to keep my hair up, but it probably looked a bit messy from the back. All I can say is that I frequently need someone to help fix my hair or head piece, but I've got the makeup part squared away.
We did a very fine job of looking the part. People in Bath did not know we were Americans. They just knew we were part of the Jane Austen Festival. However, we were not particularly well versed in the Regency dances of the era. And our outfits were kind of hot...we had anticipated it being a little cooler than it actually ended up being. So we fumbled our way through some of the earlier dances and spent a lot of time enjoying watching others dance. I came back from the event thinking that I would like to learn more about this style of dancing so that I can not only look the part, but actually act the part!
Exploring the Irish Garden...and beyond!
September 2023 was a big month for us for traveling and trying new things. In the first week alone went to Boston to see the Arctic Monkeys at the TD Garden, and we attended a Steampunk picnic at Wickham Park.
The Oddball Newt event "Summer's End Picnic" at Wickham Park in Manchester, CT started off in the Irish Garden. Wickham Park is a non-profit private foundation whose property extends into Manchester and East Hartford, CT. It contains 280 acres of gardens, open fields, woodlands, ponds, picnic areas, and sports facilities and is local favorite for wedding receptions, fundraiser walks and other events. Wickham park is generally only accessible from April through October and normally it is $7 per car to get in. Luckily Oddball Newt was able to get them to waive the fee for this particular event.
I had been here once before for a friend's wedding and her wedding was located at the top of the hill where the cabin is. Turns out the Irish Garden is just a little bit after the entrance, to the right. There's a parking lot next to it. It is a good site for small picnics and meetings. The gazebo wasn't open, but there were plenty of places to sit as well as take wonderful timeless photos of days gone by. You would never know that this garden had been completed in the summer of 2016 with the high stone walls, thin metal fence, and small stone tables.
Pahl really exemplified the explorer theme in his look with his pinstripe pants, earthy paisley waist coat, spats over his boots, pith helmet with snow blind goggles and a cane. He's ready for anything! I kind of look like Jane from the animated Tarzan movie, except that I'm not wearing a full gown and a bustle. What I am wearing is actually two separate pieces from the Chinese Indie brand Tiny Garden. I've written about the shirt before because I wear it a lot. It was in fact that only off-white and 100% cotton shirt in my wardrobe and man it was hot! The sun knew no mercy, so wearing all cotton was imperative for me.
The real star of this outfit is the Dream Bouquet Elegant Sweet Lolita Skirt. This skirt is incredibly comfortable. I didn't notice that it had pockets on each side until I put my petticoat on and they magically appeared in the right place for me to utilize them! Now I normally wear the shirt under a jsk, so I didn't ever worry about the gapping at the bust that had suddenly almost become a fashion faux pas. I added a waist belt that kinda was supposed to cover that part...but it uh...had no backbone and sort of flipped over itself. Instead of fussing extra or trying to find an alternative last minute, I just went with it. I had been thinking I could use an under-bust corset in my life, but I feel like this minor experiment with this particular waist belt proved that I would need something much sturdier.
As explorers, we could not help but get distracted away to other nearby gardens. This scene from the Oriental Garden is almost like a Monet painting, sans water lilies. But we do have ducks.
We had a wonderful time exploring the park on our own, but we did miss most of the group photos due to a panic attack I had about yellow jackets. They were literally everywhere around the picnic site and more than a few times they did try to fly into my bonnet. After the third time of this, I freaked out and had to leave. The gardens within the park are absolutely stunning for photos and I would definitely like to go back wearing some different pieces, but maybe not for a picnic, unless it was really early spring when the yellow jackets aren't so desperate.
I love EGL and alternative fashion and modeling. I am taking two of my favorite hobbies and making them into a story for you to read about.