Cautionary Tales in Oral Traditions Presentation
The Book Fiends Festival was a celebration of local writers and readers of Steampunk, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror novels put on by the Silk City Steampunk group. The event was held at the Bristol Carousel Museum in mid August and it not only had vendors, snacks, and entertainment, but it also had plenty of hands on workshops and panels to attend. The organizer of this event had asked me months ago to create a panel about Oral Traditions because they saw I had degree in it. (Yes fun fact, I have a Masters in Oral Traditions from The Graduate Institute. If you thought I was just naturally good at storytelling, be amazed that I have a Masters degree in it!!)
It took me seemingly forever to narrow down the topic. Oral Traditions are considered a highly dynamic and highly diverse oral-aural medium for evolving, storing and transmitting knowledge, art and ideas. I tried to think of what Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, and Steampunk stories might have as a common theme. It occurred to me one day (while in a half meditative state) that it might be the idea of the Cautionary Tale. Cautionary Tales are a type of tale built on a prohibition or act that is said to be dangerous with someone performing the forbidden act and coming to an unpleasant fate in grisly detail. For my presentation I went through famous examples for adults (of political and moral nature) that are meant to be performed (like a fable, speech, prose, ballad, poetry and lyrics) in chronological order.
Now one of the most famous Cautionary Tales out there is that of Little Red Riding Hood. I did not highlight this one in my presentation as it is most often introduced to us as children. We all know the story of the young girl going to grandma's house innocently enough and speaking to a wolf (an unsavory character) on the road about her adventure. The wolf runs over to her grandmother's house, eats her up, and poses as the would be grandmother. In most versions, Little Red Riding Hood doesn't make it out alive, either.
However, once I finished the research and power point of the presentation the Alice Girl Gothic Lolita "The Hunter" Jumper Dress Set became available to purchase in my size. I thought, how meta would it be if I was delivering a presentation about Cautionary Tales dressed as an assassin version of Red Riding Hood? In this version of Red Riding Hood, I am a wise adult cautioning you by having you reflect on The Second Coming in the lyrical poetry of W.B. Yeats and the moral implications and consequences of Dr. Frankenstein's actions in Mary Shelley's classic prose.
This set came with the jsk (which is more like a bodice with shoulder straps and a very short flared skirt), matching bloomers, and a hooded bolero. What was extra nice about this set is that it is nearly 100% cotton. Middle of August in Connecticut is not for the faint of heart. It gets very humid and sticky during the day, and this was the perfect coordinate not only in theme, but material. I comfortably wore it all day inside and out.
I paired it with knee high socks that have the matching wine red ribbon sewn to the top of them that you can tie in a bow. These are great because they give the visual affect of a crossed ribbon without the ribbon repeatedly falling down all day like a pair of espadrilles. Lastly, I wore my Modo platform shoes that also have crossing straps. It was my first time wearing these shoes and they were very comfortable all day (even in the humidity).
As I understand it, my panel was one of the most well-attended with 7 or 8 attendees, including my long time friends Melissa and Barbara as well as Pahl. I also made a handful of new friends at this Festival, took a hand sewing class, and picked up my first set of steampunk themed novels from local author Jessica Lucci. I don't know if this particular event will happen again, but it was fun to "use my degree", still dress up in elegant lolita fashion, and get in for free as a Presenter.
Afternoon Tea and Local History Presentation
Eleanor and I at our afternoon tea service at Gallery 53
I've certainly tried a lot of afternoon teas this year. If you recall, I started off the year at the Friends of Long Hill Tea at the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown. It was a large extravagant fundraiser at $45 a ticket, and there was very limited open table seating (8 seats in total in fact. Our group managed to get 6 of those seats!). Later we went for afternoon tea service at Tea with Tracy in Oxford, which is a combined tea place and restaurant in the middle of a mixed use residental/medical/retail space that used to be a quarry. Tea With Tracy afternoon tea service is only served on a tiered platter if two people order it at $28.00 a person. But if you like learning about local history, being in a local artist gallery/workspace, and being offered copious amounts of homemade tea sandwiches and desserts, then do experience a "Gilded Tea" at Gallery 53 for $30 a ticket.
Not only do you get a pretty filling afternoon tea service, but you also get a wonderful presentation put on by Christine Volpe, curator of the Barnes Museum. In this particular presentation she highlights the Afternoon Tea social ritual (popularized in the Gilded Age 1870-1910) by upper class ladies to avoid feeling faint before dinner and to dress up in their latest tea gowns and gossip. She also talks extensively about the Bradley/Barnes Family and their local contributions to the city of Southington and Meriden. What makes Gallery 53 special as a venue is that there is a gift shop on the lower level filled with jewelry and art made by local artisans. So if you attend this particular event, it's got tea, food, history, and shopping! There is a huge parking garage across the street from Gallery 53 that is free on weekends and it is also right next to the Meriden train station (which services the Hartford Line rail that connects from New Haven, CT to Springfield, MA).
What was I going to wear this time? It was super humid, and I still couldn't wear proper shoes yet for my outfits because of the broken toe situation that affected me for the entirety of July. I decided to try out this wonderful dress from Chinese Indie brand Soufflesong, the "Neverland-Wishing Stars" Hot Stamping Chiffon JSK. With elegant lolita fashion, you can get away with not wearing a blouse if you have a shawl. And I did have this very nice cotton shawl, which I had ordered from 42 lolita from the brand Miss Point. The ivory colored shawl is the most versatile in my opinon, and it actually matched the ribbon on the central part of the bodice quite well. I tied on a pearl and lace choker that came with a sweet outfit I purchased last year, white and gold (with pearl accent) wrist cuffs, white sandals with gold and silver accents on them, (my toe nails were painted navy blue with gold glitter like my dress), and I decided to once again ((like seriously this is the third time in a month)) wear my smoky quartz crown as my head piece. I wore a very lightweight petticoat that didn't do a whole lot shape wise, but I had to make choices for my health and safety even while participating in a fun fashion hobby. Oh and because I didn't do half of what I'd normally do for a coordinate, I spent a little more time on my makeup using the ABH Cosmos Eyeshadow Palette for that ultra dreamy starry look.
All in all it was a wonderful time I would recommend to anyone who likes afternoon tea, socializing, shopping, and history.
When Inclement Weather Changes Your Plans
Now we all know that winter weather is the most likely culprit to cause meetup plans to change. Driving in snow or sleet is not safe. Wearing your nice costume shoes in the dirty snow---no thank you. What about summer weather? What could possibly screw up a picnic and trolley ride in the middle of July?
I had planned this meeting since the beginning of the year and I thought July was somehow the perfect time (because I didn't realize that the museum was actually open all year round). I had visions of us riding the trolley and having a picnic in the trolley yard in perfect summer coordinates...and then we had TORRENTIAL rain in the forecast. You can still ride the trolley in the rain...right?! Well yes...but...I mean I'm talking the flooding was so bad that the Connecticut River was overflowing so anyone to the east could literally not drive across the river and anyone who lived in the north not only had flooding but also a possible tornado. I wouldn't let my spirits be entirely doused. I said heck we're still having the picnic, but it's at my house! Anyone who can make it can come. Bring a food item to share. And wear whatever you want. No theme.
So I got to spend time with Ave and Caroline and I made a new friend, Cordelia. One thing that is cool about having an open theme, is that you'll probably get at least one of each type of EGL enthusiast at your event.
Cordelia's dress is somewhere between sweet and classic lolita. The length of the piece is more stereotypically sweet lolita, but the theme of the print had multiple layers. You can see roses and something like a light colored plaid border, but I do recall there was an imprint design in a blue satin that looked like fairytale characters. It was something that I could only discern in certain lighting.
Ave and I took the picnic theme literally with the designs on our dresses.
This coordinate is considered Sweet Lolita hands down. You can see in this up close shot of Ave's dress that there are cute animals having a picnic and specifically eating pancakes together. She's wearing lollipop earrings to also match the lollipop design on the dress. Short socks paired with pastel pink shoes and head bow tie this look together. The long bear bag is also ultra cute. A functional and fun piece!
This dress is also sweet, but in a subtle way. The imagery isn't stereotypically sweet (like cute animals in a pastel color way), so it's tricky. I thought it was a classic style when I first saw it because brown/cream/ivory/gold color ways are more often found in Classic styles, but the length of the dress is so short, it is definitely reading more sweet. I am wearing my Musee du Chocolat dress from Angelic Pretty which features imagery of cakes and frosting and crowns with the matching head bow. I wore a short sleeve cotton stand collar blouse because despite the rain, it was still very humid and anything else would have been too hot to wear. I classed it up with wristcuffs that are white and feature gold and pearl accents. I was also still recovering from breaking my toe a few weeks back, so I had to wear sandals instead of the cute brown platform shoes and patterned over the knee socks I have that match in color. To seal the Chocolate theme home, I have a cross body bag in the shape of a chocolate bar.
Caroline's look reads pretty goth, especially with the black lace dress, choker, hat, and shoes. They tie in red to the coordinate with a red waist sash, a military like blazer, and the diamond designs on the over the knee socks. Also featuring Sesame, which is one of my Meowchi plush that lives on my couch.
I love planning events because secretly I love to design the themes around what is in MY CLOSET. However, I did enjoy the creativity brought on by having no theme what so ever other than what is physically comfortable on a rainy humid day.
Summer Looks for Couples
A Renaissance Faire is mainly a United States phenomenon (which can also be enjoyed in some places in Europe, Canada, and Australia). It is held outdoors as a public gathering with entertainment, vendors, and contests. There's usually a storyline at each faire with scenes played throughout an entire day of events. Renaissance Faires in general try to reimagine the best parts of 16th century England (loosely based on the reign of Queen Elizabeth I). People dress up in costumes of what they imagined people might wear at the time. Historical accuracy though isn't terribly important. What is important is being comfortable and having fun!
When I'm at the Renaissance Faire, I love to see the vendors, listen to the actors re-enact scenes from the land, and attend the various musical and comedy acts performed throughout the day. Pahl likes to dress up as a Knight or some kind of swordsman, eat a turkey leg once a year, see live animals, and interact with the on-site actors. I don't have a specific go to costume or persona for these events, but I pretty much like to dress up as some kind of lady, so you'll always see me in a dress or a skirt/shirt combination.
The first two times we went to the Renaissance Faire this year was the Midsummer Fantasy Renaissance Festival in Ansonia, CT. This is one of the smaller faires you could attend by far, but it has plenty of heart and is conveniently located near a major highway. I love this faire, but the beginning of July is basically sweltering. What do you wear to stay cool and look cool in the heat?
The answer for me was lightweight layers and sandals with accessories and a few trusty parasols. [Pahl didn't care during our first visit about feeling cool, he was more interested in looking cool].
The look on the left, I am going for more of a courtesan persona to accompany my Knight. I'm wearing the shirt I bought last year for the Lavender Farm meeting, paired with a black boho one size fits all skirt I got back when I was in high school. Yes, you read that correctly. They are a great investment those boho skirts...very lightweight with a bit of interior lining where it counts! The coin skirt was actually a gift from my cousin way back in my early 20's when I told my extended family at some holiday gathering that I wanted to learn belly dancing. The skirt looked pretty frumpy and was dragging on the ground, so I pulled it up and put a girdle around my waist (one that came with an elegant gothic lolita OP actually). I wore a subtle silver head necklace, large dangly brass hoop earrings, a large pendant necklace, and a waist pouch that matched my sandals. I had been walking around with a very cool looking stick both of those weekends---to be honest, for me it was more functional than just fun--I had actually broken one of my toes and it was only the way to achieve balance on the uneven hill of that particular faire. I also grabbed my gothic umbrella out of my vehicle in desperation to try to deflect the incredibly hot sun.
Another hot weekend followed, so I wore even less than the first week. This time I went for a persona of fairy queen. The dress was actually given to me by a friend, and I already had a matching waist belt long before the dress and I were united. I wore a necklace that I acquired when I worked back in my retail days (you know those chunky statement necklaces were all the rage back in 2011), earrings I acquired at a different faire, and yes, my smoky quartz crown I also wore on my birthday. I managed to do my makeup too this time.
Pahl had decided that it was actually too hot for armor, and chose a much lighter weight costume to accompany me this weekend. It seems roughly based on Robin Hood, especially with the hat he chose. However, my niece said that we looked like Zelda and Link from Breath of the Wild and you know what, she's not wrong.
Autumn Look for Couples
Our last visit this year brought us to the Connecticut Renaissance Faire, which is toted as Connecticut's largest Renaissance Faire. [It's still way smaller than other states by far]. This one seems to be located in a large field with dedicated structures in an agricultural town over an hour's drive (backroads ONLY mind you) from my house. But here you can see the Knights of Gore, bigger musical acts that don't go to the Midsummer Faire, and actual jousting. Pahl wanted to make it count, so he updated his Knight costume with real chain mail and new black leather arm gauntlets, and a cape, for an added flair.
That particular weekend was the last weekend of September, and in alignment with Oktoberfest celebrations, so I pulled my Miss Point Bavarian long velvet JSK out for the first time. I guess my persona this time is "beer maiden". This is a fantastic set. I saw the JSK and matching cape available to purchase from 42 lolita much earlier in the year, but I wanted the whole outfit. I used their "Buy for Me" option to ask them to list the matching cotton blouse along with other accessories.
(Basically with Buy for Me you can email customer service some screen shots of what you're looking for and try to provide as much information as possible like the name of the brand, name of the design, and what size/color you want and they can check and see if it is available in the first place and then list it on their website so it is easy for you along with anyone else who might want it to buy it off their website).
I paired it with a daily A-line petticoat, the matching blouse, and the matching velvet cape. I didn't wear the other accessories I purchased because of the weather. The Renaissance Festivals basically happen rain or shine (unless weather is particularly inclement) and I knew this day would probably be kinda muddy and it might rain again. (I was correct in both instances), so high leather boots and a leaf shaped leather waist belt completed my look. I received many compliments on my "skirt"--many people did not know this was actually a jumper skirt and a separate shirt because of the cape. I did take the cape off later, but it did come in handy when it rained a bit to keep me warm and dry.
There's another Renaissance Festival that happens in the spring that I haven't been to yet. I also acquired some new accessories and main pieces at each of the weekends I attended this year that I have yet to include in my alternative fashion pursuits. So stay tuned! Maybe I will get a chance to wear some of them in late autumn/winter/spring!
When your Boyfriend Plans Your Birthday Party
It's not every year that my birthday falls on a Saturday. In fact it's once every 6 years. And I always have to compete with America's Birthday too as far as who's in town to celebrate with. Pahl really wanted to celebrate my birthday. So much so that he decided he was going to host me a birthday party on Saturday afternoon at my house.
Look at this stunning invitation. He hand drew all of these characters and then colored them in Photoshop. OBVIOUSLY the lady in the elegant lolita dress is loosely based on me, and I'm assuming he's the Regency style man to the left. The other characters are "from the imagination". The party theme was dressing up in either a costume or a fancy dress/outfit. Let's give those pieces you bought but have never worn, or the one that you bought for a wedding two years ago some love, shall we?
Not only did Pahl make the invitations and handle all the RSVP's, but also made me cupcakes, procured pies from the local farmers market, and set up the most thoughtful piñata ever. On the outside it looked like a mermaid shell with a mermaid tail, but inside it was filled with Halloween toys and candy. Because let's face it, I'm a mermaid on the outside and a spooky babe on the inside. He didn't stop there though. He gave me a variety of gifts of jewelry as well as a commissioned drawing of a water dragon that he forgot about and gave me later.
You know how I said on my last post that you'd be seeing more Miss Point dress designs? Well here's another one. This is the Miss Point Dusk Bester Egyptian Casual JSK in the black colorway. I saw this dress for sale back in December 2022 and absolutely had to have it as soon as I was able to procure it. I'm very into mythology and occult symbolism and this dress is full of it it.
First off, the design is an ode to the Egyptian Cat Goddess Bast. Bast was known as the Egyptian Goddess of Protection and Cats. What could be more fitting that getting this in the black colorway (as black is also a color of protection). Then there's the Seal of Solomon (hexagram), which is described as giving Solomon the power to command the supernatural, and the ability to speak with animals. And there's also a heavy influence of sun and waxing crescent moon motifs. The sun is seen as a symbol of vitality and life (hello I'm born 10 days after the Summer Solstice) and the waxing crescent specifically about positive thinking and action, increasing happiness and joy, and increasing love in your life.
Secondly, the design is absolutely gorgeous. Who can go wrong with black with gold, cream, red, and cyan accents? (I feel like I've been collecting these colors all my life). There is careful consideration to visual balance on both sides of the dress. It's says it's casual, but that's only because the design only repeats twice. There is absolutely nothing casual about this dress otherwise.
I paired it with the matching halter shirt with detachable sleeves, and the rhombus brooch from the collection. I'm wearing a crystal crown (smoky quartz points to be exact) that I got at the local Renaissance Faire the year prior. I remember asking my friend Ave if I could wear it with a coordinate, and she said "maybe"? Well I'm here to tell you that sometimes the dress just comes later and to have faith you'll be able to wear it with a coordinate.
I also am wearing a standard hoop skirt as my petticoat of the day. I noticed that you have to start getting pretty creative for events in the third fiscal quarter as it's just so incredibly hot and sunny during the day you have to make health based choices to stay cool. Halter shirt or just a shawl? Petticoat or Hoop Skirt? Socks & Shoes or Sandals with painted toenails?
That's right, I painted my nails a metallic gold to match the gold detailing in the dress and I used the Anastasia Beverly Hills Cosmos Palette. I was super excited about that release because I love anything celestial themed and their formula is great. The colors in that palette paired perfectly with this dress and my eye color! (You can also see that the crown has the exact same sun motif as the dress--what a coincidence)!
Overall it was a wonderful party and just the right amount of activities and socializing. I loved having someone else handle the details to be honest. I am a planner of many events, but it is nice to just enjoy the event as well!!
Date Night at the Little Theater of Manchester
It has always been my intention to wear elegant lolita fashion pretty much any time I feel like getting dressed and going out. It didn't matter if I had a boyfriend or not. It didn't matter if my other friends I was meeting with were dressed up or not. I just have this thing about being a bit eccentric and standing out (in a good way). It just sort of worked out that Pahl feels the same way about his "costume" collection. [We call them costumes for other people, but to us they are just extensions of our regular clothing collection].
Pahl has been collecting Regency fashion for at least 20 years and is a fond admirer of all things written by Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters. When we found out that there was a live production of Pride & Prejudice at the Little Theater of Manchester this past spring, we had to jump on that opportunity.
Pahl claims that his look is early Regency. He said that he was inspired more by Lord Byron than that of Mr. Darcy or Mr. Bingham. He is wearing a white blouse, black trousers, a black corduroy waist coat (with suspenders underneath), and a long black tail coat, with I believe a fall collar. He also pairs his look with a white cravat and black leather riding boots.
I'm wearing the French Rose Elegant Lolita JSK Dress from Miss Point in the black color way. The listing says this is a JSK, but it's much better worn without a blouse underneath. I wore a 78cm daily petticoat underneath (which peeked out a bit) as well as the Miss Point Rhine Riverside Summer Bow Lolita Top Hat in black. I love the headpieces that Miss Point comes out with, but I always feel it's best to mix and match them with other designs. This one went particularly well with the lacing on the black color way of the French Rose dress. I also paired it with slightly heeled black oxfords, real pearls, and gem fishnet gloves for a fun embellishment. I chose a classic smoky eye and natural looking makeup.
The production of Pride & Prejudice was over 3 hours in length and it covered everything except for meeting Mr. Darcy's sister. The costumes were superb and the choreographed dancing was pretty darn good for English Country Dancing of the era. The actors, especially Mr. Bennett and Mr. Darcy's aunt played their roles particularly well. I received many compliments from other theater attendees for my outfit. No one said anything to Pahl about his.
All in all I would definitely wear this piece again for any spring time or early summer activity. I think I'm drawn to Miss Point as a brand in general, because a lot of their pieces can be used in various costume contexts. However, other people in the fashion will say that Miss Point is more..."lolita adjacent" as they tend to choose eclectic cuts or patterns for some of their pieces. For instance they even have an entire empire waist line that they claim is a lolita dress...but is much closer to Regency period in my opinion. Will you be seeing more Miss Point designs in these blog posts? Absolutely! You can count on it!
Mew Haven Cat Cafe 2023
Just outside of the entrance to Mew Haven Cat Cafe with friends.
Alright, I know we visited Mew Haven Cat Cafe as a group last year in June 2022, but this June was markedly different. First off, except for me, everyone who attended was different! Secondly, the meetup organizer was able to get us as a group private time with the kitties during the annual "Cat Prom" fundraising event. It costs approximately $18 per person to spend one hour with the kitties. I think our tickets were a little bit more because it also included our drinks. Any additional items such as a baked good or cat themed merchandise are extra.
Now it was nice to see Margot and Jax again as I hadn't seen them since our epic zoo trip. They know a lot about animals and are especially good with kitties! It was also nice seeing Caroline and Weslee again. And of course my people Barbara and Pahl who tend to accompany me on many adventures including the steampunk variety. It was also nice to meet some new people as well!
The fashion theme was to wear something with animals or cats or something classic. So I wore the exact same Bodyline dress I wore last year with its very subtle brown cat silhouettes in the vertical lines of the design. Now I've been able to invest in my wardrobe quite a bit over the last year. Back in 2022, I didn't even own a petticoat yet. You seriously would never have known that this dress has skirt pickups back in 2022.
Improvements abound in 2023 with my new favorite Tiny Garden blouse in Apricot (I wear this one A LOT), the bonnet I purchased for my lavender themed outfit for the lavender pond meeting last year, a stuffed bear bag I bought in lieu of something else I wanted that was out of stock, sweet lolita ankle socks, my favorite MODO wing tipped birdcage heels, and a pair of wristcuffs I bought on Shein (that I already accidentally stained with coffee and didn't realize I was wearing backwards).
As a group we have some nice blues going on! Margot went for a Cinnamonroll (from Sanrio) themed casual look (complete with Pikachu socks!), another girl went full on old-school elegant lolita with the shirred sax blue top and skirt, and Jax is wearing a clever milk-themed jsk that has different kinds of milks (like chocolate, strawberry, ube, etc) showcased in the design. (It's clever because purportedly cats enjoy drinking milk). Caroline went above and beyond by MAKING HER SKIRT (apparently she just had the fabric and the lace on hand), and Weslee went along with all of us in his cat themed waist-coat. Barbara has a beautiful classic skirt and shirt combination with cats on it as well as wearing black cat ears on her head and carrying a black Luna bag. Pahl went completely Victorian/Steampunk here with 2 pieces of a 3 piece suit, a waist-coat, a bow tie, a bowler hat...luckily Weslee incorporated some of the same brown into his outfit so that balances out the colorful choices in the group photo.
Caroline reaches for Rohan
The Cat cafe doesn't normally have silver and gold stars on the wall, but it was the middle of Cat Prom weekend, which made our private time more festive.
Phillip eyes my baked good item while Margot tries to distract him with the aerial toy.
Besties doing their bestie pose.
Pahl getting down to the kitty's level. See how he matches this cat's fur!
Clearly we had a great time at the cat cafe! I enjoyed my experience much more the second time. I don't know if it's because I've been there before, or if it is because I felt more confident in my outfit. But if there's another meet here next June, I'll be sure to style the exact same dress differently again!
A Fine Day at Elizabeth Park
Do you need a free place for a romantic and gorgeous photoshoot location? Look no further than Elizabeth Park, located in Hartford, CT. This park is on the National Register of Historic Places and has just over 100 acres of formal gardens. We spent our time in two of the 5-6 gardens on-site, but there are parts of the park that continue to bloom from May-October. There are multiple entrances and plenty of parking.
It was the first weekend of June, and we had planned a picnic with our friends/family inside the rose gardens. Of course Pahl and I had to get dressed up for the occasion. The dress I'm wearing is another fantastic dress set from Chinese indie brand Miss Point. [You'll notice I have a thing for this brand]. The official name of this piece is Elegant Flower Wall Lolita JSK Dress. I fell in love with this dress right away, as it reminded me of things I found from my grandmother (she loved light blue/light turquoise) and the print evoked a vintage romantic feeling. The set came with the JSK, a flower brooch, and the waist belt. I additionally purchased the matching shirt (in ivory), cardigan (ivory long sleeve), and a bonnet (large straw hat) all from Miss Point. Other things I'm wearing include a pair of leather oxfords I bought on the clearance rack at DSW over 8 years ago and a pair of ivory below the knee lace socks. My classic ivory lace parasol is used in almost every picture to protect me from the sun (and look extra romantic). One interesting thing is that I'm not wearing any makeup whatsoever on this day! I guess it goes with that country romantic feeling!
Pahl is also wearing oxfords, a bright red and black smoking jacket, an earthy colored paisley waistcoat with matching striped pants, an Alice in Wonderland themed bow tie, and a straw boaters hat. Again it's kind of like that time we went to Tea With Tracy--he's got the saturated warm color vibe while I have the neutral cool color vibe of the same general whimsical romantic feeling. As a side note, this dress from Miss Point I had purchased the evening before our first date. I showed it to him and he very much liked it. I thought he was just being nice...but it turns out he's just as much into dressing up in costumes as I am!
Elizabeth Park is probably most well-known for their rose arches. These are in the Helen S. Kaman Rose Garden. The rose archways, only bloom mid to late June. As you can see, in early June the arches were not really blooming...yet. But it certainly added an otherworldly feeling between my vintage looking outfit and the tall archways. If not for my mini backpack, it would seem as if this photo was taken 100 years ago.
My friend Sarah is in the same garden that I am in above (with the arches). There are rows and rows of different types of roses planted all over this garden. You can get an idea of the scale a little bit more from Sarah's picture. The rows of roses continue to bloom into October.
In the very middle of this garden is a Ghibli-esque "Rustic Summer House", which is made of cedar and is covered with Virginia Creeper. You can kind of see how the archways meet on the four sides of this structure and go outwards from that point. This is one of the largest gardens on the property and you will find a lot of people posing in this garden for various photo shoots. I don't believe this girl was posing, but it was hard to get a shot without anyone in it at all. While I was there, I witnessed many varieties of photoshoots including an engagement as well as a maternity shoot. People visiting the park were respectful of one another and didn't linger too long in choice photo areas.
Here I am in the Heritage Rose Garden. This garden carries some exceptionally old varieties of roses, some going all the way back to 1240 (crusader times)! The roses in this garden only bloom once in early to mid June and are exceptionally fragrant. Sarah had been to Elizabeth Park many times, but it was her first time being able to witness the Heritage Garden in bloom. I absolutely loved the stone walls in this garden as well as the romantic petals strewn about. If anything, this garden I felt truly went the best with my dress!
Overall, it was an incredible experience! This was also the second time I dressed in elegant lolita this year just for fun! I really enjoy wearing the fashion. I find it fun and appropriate for a variety of activities, especially for visiting historical places, museums, and going out to tea or picnics.
A Curious Exhibit at the Old State House (Hartford)
I felt it was my solemn duty to plan the World Goth Day Meetup for 2023, as I have identified as a goth for the last 20 years or so and I can't disappoint my community with all this first hand knowledge. There's so many options for gothic themed activities in New England, much less Connecticut. Where would we go this year?!
Turns out, we were going back to Hartford, Connecticut, (which by the way is one of America's oldest cities as it was founded in 1635) this time for a historical tour of Connecticut's Old State House. The Old State House was one of Connecticut's state capitals from 1796-1878 (the other one being in New Haven). It housed all 3 branches of government and all of the historical chambers have been beautifully and authentically restored to what they would have looked like in 1818. It is truly a fun place to explore and be inside, but the best part is on the third floor. Across from a beautiful golden statue of Lady Justice lies the Joseph Steward Collection of Curiosities. This room was once a painting studio to the artist Joseph Steward (1797-1808), who identified as a portrait painter. His collection included wax works, portraits, and natural curiosities such as heron, a hummingbird, crystals, sea shells, a dwarf cow, a two-headed calf as well as some made-made curiosities like an organ. The room has lovingly been recreated with fossils and taxidermy birds, reptile skins and shells, antlers, and of course a two-headed calf.
I'm very thankful that I had the foresight to make an indoor meetup, because it was raining pretty hard THE ENTIRE DAY. It did give me a chance though to use my matching Tim Burton-esque umbrella.
So let's talk about my coordinate. The dress is an OP (one piece) and it includes the waist belt with removable chain. This a Chinese Indie Brand called Xiong Dou Jiang, which totes itself as an affordable lolita brand. I bought it on Devil Inspired because I was blown away by all the product photos (I ordered the Red & Black Long Version), but you can also get it on 42 lolita for less. I am also wearing a large full black bonnet, a black choker (which I yet again discovered is virtually unnoticeable with a bonnet on), a gothic bracelet/ring combo, black tights, and Strangecvlt coven boots with a coffin ita backpack. The look that I went for with my makeup was super dramatic with red/pink around my eyes and a super dark red lipstick that was almost black.
I think the petticoat that I selected really shows the volume of this dress. I am wearing the Aurora Ariel Ultimate Violence Super Puffy 45 cm petticoat. This petticoat practically needs its own zip code. When you take it out of the bag, it's like a large size dog with a 28 cm radius. I love how it looks under these large dresses, but it actually hurts my hips to wear it for several hours. I really feel the burn the next day, like I worked out using muscles I didn't know I had.
Well, here I am with the two-headed calf. I wanted to especially share this photo as you can see a detailed closeup of my eye-makeup. I created it using a palette I received in Gothic Beauty Box #53, which is a special box of gothic lifestyle and beauty items that also include a printed edition of Gothic Beauty Magazine. I reached out to Gothic Beauty Magazine's Instagram page to thank them for including the palette as it helped me achieve my look, and they went ahead and asked to share photos from the meetup on their social media pages (with permission of course).
Now we are all officially GOTHIC BEAUTIES!!!!
Two Fashion Meetups in One Weekend
The day after our epic trip to Roseland Cottage up in Woodstock, Connecticut (the northeast corner of the state), Pahl and I were at another fashion related meeting, this time for my elegant lolita fashion club. The meeting was set up by my lovely friend Almira at Tea With Tracy in Oxford, CT. Tea With Tracy in Oxford is located in the "valley", south west part of New Haven County. It is both a breakfast/lunch/dinner restaurant and tea place where you can order an "afternoon tea" which includes a scone of the day, a choice of tea sandwiches, a dessert, and a 2 cup pot of tea of your choice. Two or more food orders on the same ticket will be served on a tiered platter with different colored tea pots. If you are going there for the first time ever, you should order the afternoon tea, especially if you haven't had an afternoon tea experience before. (As I understand it, it doesn't compare to actual afternoon teas served in England, but it's a good introductory experience for the uninitiated).
This was a great meeting because I got to catch up a little with Colleen, Almira, and Marisa, and I also got to meet a handful of new people who are interesting and fun. Almira did not give a coordinate suggestion for this meetup, so there was a nice mixture of sweet, elegant, and gothic lolita styles representing. I chose to wear a gothic style that matched Pahl's outfit. It was only fair after he had done all the work to match my navy and silver dress from Roseland Cottage (purchasing a matching waist coat and cravat) that I should select an outfit that matched what he wanted to wear that day. (He's apparently had those red and gray striped pants in his wardrobe for years and it was the first time he got to wear them!). I'm pretty sure he built his outfit around those pants.
So here's the coordinate I put together to match Pahl's red/white/gray and black theme. The dress is a jsk from Chinese Indie brand Nya Nya/Cha Cha Lolita and the name of the print is Love and Death High Waist JSK in Wine. It is the first second hand dress I purchased off of LaceMarket, which is medium level difficult to shop from. First you have to make an account and have it verified from the moderators through FB messenger and then you go about and bid on items (like on Ebay). You have to make sure you check the country of origin because there are a lot more sellers outside of the USA than in it selling pre-owned dresses and accessories. Then (like Ebay), seller and buyer feedback is very important for continued use of the site. If you get more than one bad review, it might be over for you. Also, if you don't really have a buying or selling history, some sellers may not want to sell to you at all, especially for more expensive japanese brand pieces. The previous owner of this dress said they wore it twice and that there was some nearly completely unnoticeable snag in the back somewhere and was selling it discounted as a result. I was the third person to bid on this dress and won the auction. What a relief!
The print itself has white and red roses with crow skulls and skeletons and bandaged skulls that are dripping blood on a wine red background. There are also little banners that say "love and death" along the bottom of the print. The bodice is a high waist but it is not TOO HIGH for me. (Luckily having a narrow waist and a short torso works for me in these instances if there is enough room in the bust). The shirt I am wearing is a gray long sleeve shirt with something like princess sleeves. It comes from a company that sells the same shirt in many different colors. It works perfectly with the cool gray on this print (but trust me I didn't plan that when I bought it. I only noticed it after I had both items in my house at the same time after 6 months went by). I'm wearing the exact same black half bonnet that I wore the day before at Roseland Cottage, this time with some white roses stuffed in the top, to match the roses on the print. Black (under the knee?) socks with a silver chandelier print mirror the black and silver ribbon in the bodice. Sweet patent black shoes with modest heels and little black bows complete my look.
So how did I do? I already know that Pahl's grays are warm toned, while mine are cool toned. It's not perfect, but it works pretty well. You can tell we're together.