Vintage Styling: Hair Extensions

Wearing hair extensions is something that I have been doing for the better part of twelve years now, so it has become like second nature to where even I have a hard time distinguishing the difference between the hair that grows out of my head and that which is fake.  There is absolutely no shame in having fake hair, as it is often used by celebrities, models and even stylists to enhance the natural hair.  Whether you want to add several extra inches or color without the commitment, there is certainly no shortage of different extensions to select from.  Instead of going into a lecture about the pros and cons of these, for the sake of this article I am going to focus on weft hair extensions, otherwise known as a weave.

When buying extensions, it is important that you know what you are looking at, especially since people can be easily confused by what is written on packaging.  First and foremost, for this type of extensions you want wefts, which are basically lengths of hair that come in a bundle and are woven together on a track.  This typically comes in a length of at least three feet and can either be bonded with glue or sewn in.  Secondly, you want to read everything to determine if the hair is right for you.  Synthetics are not something I work with when it comes to weave, as I find the hair to be a bit scratchy and it tangles easily.  Also stay away from anything with a ‘yaky’ texture if your hair is smooth and straight.  Finally, price is always an indication of the quality of the hair, especially when it comes to human.  Generally I pay about $40-$60 for a pack of twelve-inch human hair, though this will certainly vary depending on the brand and even location of the store.

Installing a weave can be tricky, particularly if you have never done it before, and so you can always find someone to do it for you.  However, I am a huge proponent of DIY and after going to a salon once, gained the knowledge to be able to reproduce the same results at home.  For the photos below, I had a very small square of hair at the front of my head – a sort of fringe if you will – and therefore I do not find it difficult to add extensions to this patch.  Section hair using a tail comb and starting at the bottom of the head, use clips to keep extra hair out of the way and apply a generous amount of bonding glue to the track of the weft.  There should be a small channel where the glue goes, but if you cannot locate it simply bend the hair at the base and look for the short half, as that will be the side you want the glue to be on.  Press the weft onto your hair, not your scalp, and hold for ten to fifteen seconds.  Give it a quick blast with a warm hair dryer to help it set and repeat until done.

Now the hair is ready to be styled!  If you are using human hair, you can use any of the tools or products that you normally would, and that is one of the reason I prefer human over synthetic hair.  However, be gentle as excessive force can actually pull the extensions out, and that is pretty darn painful if I do say so myself.

 

Wet styling is pretty self-explanatory and one of the main components to achieving vintage looks.  Wash hair as normal but add a bit more conditioner and don’t worry about rinsing it all out.  Though many guides will suggesting using a setting gel, my hair is quite thick and usually needs nothing more but a topcoat of pomade.  Adding subtle finger waves to the extensions in the photo above was achieved by making ‘C’ shapes with the comb in extensions that were dripping wed and had a touch of gel in them.  The curl should be flat but I was impatient and did not allow it to dry fully; it is the product of some carefully place pincurls.  Overall I was pleased with results.

A staple of vintage and pinup styling are rolls, as they are a means of bringing the hair away from the face in a more elegant from than a ponytail.  Rolls are created by taking a section of hair and, well, rolling it!  They can be big or small and place pretty much anywhere on the head, though typically are used for keeping a heavy fringe off the face.  Holes in rolls is a definite pet peeve of mine, as there are a few trick to prevent them, and I feel that nothing ruins a style faster than holes.  This is my first attempt at doing a forward roll, which I accomplished by wetting the extensions and installing a roller.  After the hair had dried completely, the roller was removed and a few bobby pins were used to keep the extensions in place.

My second attempt at a forward roll I feel was much more successful.  This time, after taking the roller out, I backcombed the base of the extensions and then finished with liberal amount of Aqua Net.  As can be seen, this roll had much more height and volume, which obviously can be attributed to the teasing.  This will be the way I always do it in the future and some day I might actually let my real hair grow long enough to try it out.

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Totaled Teeth

There are moments in life that stick in the mind for a variety of reasons, perhaps to serve us in the future to prevent making certain choices due to a bad experience.  Often these things come up when sitting with friends and sharing stories, animated voices and gesturing hands assisting in recreating scenes while laughter fills the room.  Being someone who has listen to more tales than I ever thought I would, it seems strange that I have my own assortment of experiences which may not have been pleasant at the time they occurred.  The fact that I have conquered so many obstacles and found strength in myself instead of relying on others is something I am quite proud of, though I am reminded that I also had amazing people who helped me when I was in need.

Four years [and three days] ago I came to terms with the fact that I had a problem with alcohol, which was something I had access to and consumed at a young age.  It was a social crutch to drown out anxiety that often led to making a fool of myself, getting sick, hangovers and making empty promises to have more control.  Aware that there were relatives who also had issues with alcohol abuse, I joked that drinking was in my genes yet mostly did it at home or a local club.  When I was hanging out with Jon, there was not as much pressure to do what everyone else was doing, and he preferred whiskey or moonshine, both of which I accepted when I wanted to.  The point is that for several years I consumed alcohol for a number of reasons; sometimes I got sick and others I had the time of my life.

Moving to Philadelphia in 2006, I was relieved to be on my own yet hit with that realization in a way which was not expected.  Having limited funds, I decided that snacks and packs of beer were a good way to unwind after long days of fighting through traffic to seek out jobs or go to interviews.  Then came the stress of moving after finally feeling as though I had just settled in, followed by that evening with Jon where we parted ways with me knowing he was madly in love with me but had to deal with his own issues before he could seriously pursue a relationship.  During his absence I had a a really traumatic experience that was treated with drinking, room mates that enjoyed and encouraged partying, and generally had a hard time dealing with overwhelming depression.  One night I had a bad time with a bottle of vodka which brought me to realize I had to face reality instead of hiding in an alcohol induced stupor.  That was the plan anyway and it went alright for a couple of weeks until I get the news that Jon was dead.

While it could be easy for me to use that as a scapegoat for any of the substances that were consumed while I grieved, that does not mean I openly talk about it because I recognize that it was addictive behavior.  Over the next few years I continued to drink on a frequent basis but did not have many incidents of being sick and figured that I found the right level of moderation.  After ending a relationship that should have never been, I moved into a house with a friend and wanted to straighten things out so I could support myself.  Eventually I started dating said friend and drinking became a regular activity, though I tried to regulate my intake and often watched the person I loved become highly intoxicated, which did not always go well.  The point is that alcohol was a presence it seemed difficult to ignore, but I still felt as though I was using it and other substances to escape from things I did not want to deal with.

On August 20, 2008, I had been watching the news and they declared the day was ranked among the Top Ten Most Beautiful Days of the Century, which compelled me to get dressed up with the purpose of wandering the city to enjoy just being outside.  It was also to avoid being around people who were going to be drinking a bottle of whiskey, which I was currently avoiding since there had been night where I had too much and got really sick.  Conditions were perfect: blue sky, no humidity, low temperature and a gentle breeze.  A friend of mine was working at a bar on South Street and invited me to come have a drink on her.  The walk from my house was awesome – people populated every sidewalk table outside restaurants.  As soon as I get to the bar my friend gives me a margarita, we talk for a while and make fun of Kinky Quizzo.

Noted here that I saw someone I recognized but decided against engaging in conversation for personal reasons.  At that point a bunch of people who work at one of the local tattoo shops come in, I was in the middle of my second drink and then they are telling me I have to do shots with them.  Since I did not want to mix liquors, I decide that tequila is an acceptable shot despite having never really drank it much before.  Everyone is chatting, laughing, drinking and having a great time.  Three shots and three margaritas later I am really enjoying myself but also ready to go, so I get up from the bar and head into the bathroom.  One of the tattoo artists offers to call me a cab when I return, which was unexpected but appreciated.  In the cab I am completely lucid and recall most of the ride, though do not remember getting out.  Then I am in my house, climb up the stairs and pass out.

Wake up from a bizarre dream I was in the middle of having and then fumble my way to the bathroom.  Something compels me to look in the mirror, and that was when I realized my teeth were broken.  After a moment of being sick in the toilet, I notice my left knee is slightly scraped.  Went back to the mirror to survey the dental damage – there is a corner of the right central incisor missing, the bottom of the left central and lateral incisors is completely gone, nerves aware of being exposed.  There is a tiny bit of blood on my upper lip and a bruise on my cheek under my left eye.  Then I see that my lip ring is gone, and I figured that I fell somewhere, causing the captive ring to hit my teeth.  There is a bead shape chip in one tooth to support the theory, but I am not concerned with how it happened because I was in so much pain.

My friend stopped by later that day with my phone because it had accidentally been left at the bar, and said the people who bought me shots apologized for getting me so drunk.  She mentions checking on me and said I seemed okay, though I was not sure if she had seen me fall.  Having to explain the whole thing to my father was quite awkward because he could not understand what happened and I had a piece of my memory missing. The fact remained that my teeth were broken and I could barely eat, so I made an appointment with a local dentist and began the process of getting them repaired.  Over the next few weeks, I had a root canal, my teeth ground down, temporary teeth that made me feel really self conscious and finally three crowns replaced the damaged ones.  It was quite expensive since I had no insurance and I went through a tremendous amount of pain.

The photo above was taken a few days after the first part of the root canal, because I felt that I needed to be able to smile and laugh about the situation to prevent myself from getting caught up in depression.  Along with the details I have shared, it serves as a reminder of how a situation can get out of hand, even wen one does not have such an intention.  Though I became aware of how dangerous alcohol could be, I continued to drink but imposed restrictions to prevent any further incidents.  Obviously it has been a long struggle, though I can say that I no longer have a desire to consume alcohol.  Hanging out at clubs or bars was never really my thing, and when I am at home I can have one or two drinks and be satisfied.  Do I consider myself recovered?  In a sense yes, because I do not depend on booze to have a good time and generally find those who drink in excess to be highly entertaining.  That is not a role I want to fill, and while I will likely never be completely sober, at least I have control over my intake of substances but do not allow them to rule me.

Jersey Trash and Leftover Crack

[Originally written on this date in 2004]

Woke up with the sun to get dressed, have a quick breakfast and roll to Englishtown with Jon.  Sat for two hours while cocksuckers browsed without buying.  Saving grace was having the occasional smoke, which we did out in the open because we fairly confident no one would see us.  Eventually the sales picked up but still it was only a dollar here or there.  Jon pulled out the showmanship and tried his best but the vultures seemed to enjoy circling more than actually eating.  Around one we decided to pack it in because we made whatever money we could for the day and did not see the purpose to sticking around for any longer, though I made five bucks just as I was about to put all of the books away.

Upon returning to Jon’s house, I immediately jumped into the shower and set to assembling myself while he unloaded the car, then tidied himself up as well.  Smoked a fat joint and hit the drags before climbing into the Chevy.  We arrived at Krome after five and had a few shots of whiskey before approaching the venue.  Was not allowed to wear my nail bracelets in, due to them being “hazardous”.  Jon offered his persuasive services but it was not worth making a big deal over something so silly.  Depositing them back in his car, he paid the admission and we went inside.

Now to be honest I have never been to Krome before, mostly due to the fact I didn’t have a reason to go, but I must say that I was slightly impressed with the size of the PA and the club in general.  The last time I saw that many kids in one room was the old days at the Cove.  There was a vast variety of dressed-up kiddies in various stages of “I’m-punker-than-thou”, which included mohawks that were spiked, fanned and with grown in sides that needed to be shaved; dyed ‘hawks that needed root touch-ups and hair that was spiked yet drooping.  Plenty of studded vests, belts and bracelets galore and just about everyone was wearing boots.

Then there is Jon and myself – rude, crude, pierced and tattooed Carny Trash in all divine King Shit and Queen Bitch glory.  We pride ourselves on not fitting in because there is no reason to actively portray a stereotype.  Scenes are filled with so much trivial bullshit that I left behind when I graduated high school, so I do not see the point in putting much energy into being a part of something that I have no interest in.  Jon has taught me to see value in myself rather than clothes, music and whatever else people use as a facade for their personalities.

Of course on that particular evening, Jon laughed at the fact that he was one of the oldest people in the room and could have easily crushed those kids with his knowledge.  However, there was no need to flex that sort of muscle because he’s a gentleman, not a dick, and he was sort of preoccupied with finding ways to steal kisses.  Apparently adults making out would probably have been awkward even though we were subjected to spit swapping teenagers.  We kept slipping into the bathroom to drag race and do shots of whiskey since there was no alcohol being served.  Paid no attention to the first act- they were rather weak, though some people took the opportunity to start a small pit anyway.

What sparked my interest in the show was Stockyard Stoics, as I had enjoyed them at the basement show in New Brunswick some months back, so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to hear them through a proper PA.  They did not disappoint – strong drums and rhythm section in general; good guitar and vocals that were understandable.

Next up was Rivercity Rebels, which happened to be another fantastic band. My pessimism that there are no good punk bands left in Jersey was beginning to be demolished.  Some people actually know what they are doing, and they deserve to be applauded for that.

The headlining act for the evening was Leftover Crack, and I have heard some good things about these guys, so I was really interested in judging them for myself.  Now I am not a super-picky person when it comes to music, but I certainly know what I do and don’t like.  Leftover Crack certainly falls into the category of music I definitely like, though I thought their lead singer got a bit preachy at some moments.  The set was powerful nonetheless, thanks mostly in part to the drummer from X-Possibles.

Other humerous notes for the evening include when we had first entered the venue and watched some kid get yanked out of the club by securty, who remarked: “You’re 14 years-old, what do you have to rebel against?”  After the show, some ohter kid got escorted out by security.  Kids are aggro these days.

Needless to say I had fun and am glad that I also happened to be in the company of my favorite person in the world.  Shows are a lot more fun when you have someone who makes witty comments and generally gets you to laugh at things that should not be funny but are.  Then again, doing drugs in the bathroom at an all ages show where kids were getting searched for liquor add an element of stupidity to a situation which might ordinarily be uneventful.  Sometimes I feel that Jon just likes to know he can get away with doing such things in public, but he does have some strange tendencies that I do not question.

Over all we had a great time and I feel that is always the important thing to remember.  Besides, the past couple of months we have been busy with sideshow performances without much time to just enjoy ourselves.  It is back to work, of course, but I always appreciate being with Jon no matter what we do.

Aesthetic Autopsy: Snake Girl

There is no mistaking the claim that comes blaring through loud speakers as the banner comes into view, and while some words may be different depending on what region you are in, one thing will always remain the same – she has the head of a beautiful woman and the body of an ugly snake.  Much like Spidora, the Snake Girl is a simple illusion that utilizes the head of a real woman and is proclaimed as capable of talking or answering questions, though often the popular attraction seems to be sleeping.  Despite the blatant advertisement that she is in fact one of the oldest illusions, people still make obnoxious complaints when they actually see her, perhaps hoping that the banner was some sort of indication of what she would look like.  However, that does not stop the crowds from coming in, and I had the opportunity to see the Snake Girl up close on my visits to the State Fair in New Jersey, which I absolutely enjoyed.  There is a bit of mystery as to why she is usually called Angel, but there is no denying the allure of this mysterious half-woman half-reptile that lurks inside of a dim canvas tent, drawing in the young and old alike to gaze upon an abomination of Nature.  If someone feels duped, all it takes is a simple suggestion that they can play a trick on their friend to turn their scowl into a smile.  Whatever reason people have for being captivated by these types of exhibits, they remain an integral part of traveling carnivals and offer the opportunity to experience a sideshow tradition that is slowly disappearing from midways in favor of more rides or concessions.

SERPENT SEDUCTRESS

 

Translating the bold imagery of a banner into wearable fashion might seem easy considering how many garments are available in snake skin – whether real, fake or a print version of their unique patterns – yet one should also be able to edit and maintain a level of sophistication.  The cinching power of a Snake Skin Corset Dress mimics the masterful power of its namesake’s muscular body to create a curvaceous silhouette.  With Autumn in the air it would be wise to slip on a bolero jacket – the golden denim coordinates with the scales of the corset, white details such as the ruffled collar and pleated power shoulders accent its structured shape.  A pair of asymmetrical cropped black leather gloves would also be a chic way to keep warm without adding bulk to the outfit.  Continue the illusion that the lower half of your body is of reptile origin with Vivienne Westwood’s snakeskin leggings from her Anglomania collection, which features a ruched elastic waistband and has gold detailing that shimmer in the right light.  It would be predictable to wear snake skin boots, and perhaps even tacky considering the muted color palette of the other garments, so instead I suggest these stunning Jeffrey Campbell boots aptly named Runway.  The black leather is decorated with silver studs and a pair of silver-tipped buckled straps which might encourage you to strut your stuff.  Give new meaning to elegance with the Ava Crossbody Snake Bag, the metallic print lambskin and stud detailed tassel shimmering and shining in all the right places.  Establish your reign as queen serpent by wearing the bones of your enemies with a vertebra necklace, matching vertebrae bracelets, plated in black gold and  hinged so each piece moves individually, silver plated Open Bone Cage Rings and Triple Drop Bone Earrings.

The styling should be sharp and sleek in hues that compliment the detailed patterns in the above items, so hair should either be swept back in a ponytail, perhaps secured with a snakeskin cuff, or slicked back on the sides with volume on the top for those with shorter locks.  Compose dramatic eyes beginning with Illamasqua‘s Cream Pigment in Hollow, a warm toffee brown, then sweep on Pure Pigment in Ore, a rich russet bronze, and highlight with Breathe, a white pearl shimmer.  Contour cheeks with Disobey, a soft biscuit shade and blend into Ambition, a neutral shimmer that will give your face a soft glow. Line lips with Hex, a soft biscuit nude, then apply a coat of Utopia, a deep rich brown in a shimmer finish, which seems to be a prevailing theme with this makeup and mimics the effect of sunlight hitting the scales of a snake.  Add finishing touches for details that really pop by lining eyes with Precision Ink in Glister [opalescent nude], fluffing lashes with Raven Masquara and polishing nails with Baterium [pearlescent ash ochre].

CASUALLY COILED

 

When she is not entertaining curious spectators, one would imagine the Snake Girl would want to relax just the same as any other working act.  Slip into the softness of a Snake Print Suede Skirt, wrapping a black leather five buckle corset belt around the waist to maintain that hourglass figure and accentuating assets with a black studded bra top.  Tired of seeing the same generic black and white striped sweater, I was admittedly skeptical to find this Living Dead Souls Crop Cardigan; on closer inspection found that the square studs and collar detail captured my interest.  Not only will it replace relics that need retirement, but also is a great base for customization.  The simplicity of Bordello’s Black Velvet Burlesque Boots should not be underestimated, as they allow the legs to capture attention, especially if they are wrapped in grey snakeskin tights.  Hailed for the attention to details in past style guides, Iron Fist’s Lacey Days Handbag features a lace print on neutral colored background with a black skull in the middle, glossy black handles and a striped bow all make this anything but an ordinary bag.  Tame tresses into a snood and add a few loose rolls in the front, then deck your noggin out in the remnants of your last meal via this macabre  Crow Skull Fascinator.  Sport serpent solidarity via an extravagant Onyx Snake Cameo Pendant that hangs from a sterling silver chain and is trimmed in 14K gold, a glittering Black Enamel Snake Bracelet, a striking White Gold Black Diamond Ring and Snake Stud Earrings.

To avoid detracting from this festive feast of fashion, it is best to have a fresh face and minimal makeup, playing up the power of color contrasted with the precision of a pinup drawn by one of the masters of the art.  This time the selected brand is NARS, taking their Shimmer Eyeshadow in Voyage [golden sand] and working it from the outer corner and halfway into the crease.  From the Douce France Trio, pat the Rose Petal Pink across your eyelid, then blend into the crease color and highlight using the Icy Pink.  Line eyes with Patmos, a shimmering khaki green pencil for contrast and define lashes with a few coats of Larger Than Life Lengthening Mascara.  Add the slightest touch of flush to cheeks with Gold Member Cream Blush, a smooth and velvety texture of golden sunset with a hint of pink.  Go one step further with Copacabana Illuminator, an iridescent glistening pearl that is deceptively sheer and will highlight your best features.  Define lips with Amazon Liner Pencil [cool brick red], fill using Rogue Basque Satin Lipstick [also brick red] and give them a touch of sparkling platinum gold with Moon Fleet Lip Gloss.  Go for neutral nails with Zizi, a clear polish with peach and gold glitter; try it with a vintage style manicure when feeling extra fancy.

VICIOUS VIPER

 

 

The basis for the inspiration behind the first two looks is the illustration that usually accompanies Snake Girl and were built on a limited color palette, though certainly there is room for bursts of bright hues if one feels too muted.  This finial ensemble however, strays away from the earthy tones and has less of a dependency on items that are snake skin or print.  Instead I wanted to use the Eyelash Viper as an influence, since it is noted as the most polymorphic of the New World tree vipers and can be seen clad in scales of orange, various shades of yellow, olive brown and dull to rich moss green; contrasting cross  bands, spotting or flecking may also be present.  The layers of this elegant 1950s lemon chiffon dress are similar to the scales of this venomous snake, and while potential prey is captivated by the deceptive femininity, the predictor can skillfully strike.  Since reptiles are cold-blooded, they depend on heat from an outside source, and when the winds of Autumn kick up be prepared with a vintage faux fur shrug.    Let your hair run wild in deep waves with lots of body or bouncy curls thick as jungle vines, but keep them away from your face with a lime Faux Croc Headband.  Slither your way through crowded parties with Jeffrey Campbell‘s death defying Night Walk Exotic heels in Ivory Python, and protect personal items in a Lulu Tiki purse, complete with retro tiki print and a bamboo handle.  If you are feeling particularly outlandish, try an alluring Classic Latex Feather Neck Corset in olive green with bronze yellow schlappen feathers by Collective Chaos .  Compensate for lack of working fangs with triple tiered gold spike bracelets, gold spike hoop earrings and gold three finger spike rings.

Prime face and eyes as you usually would and then get ready to make your eyes pop with Urban Decay’s Vintage Eyeshadow in Eldorado, a bright sparkling gold that emulates the skin of the Eyelash Viper.  Blend out using Blunt, a subtle golden beige, and highlight with Midnight Cowgirl, a luminous beige and gold sparkle.  Create a precise cat eye by gliding on their 24/7 pencil in Bourbon, a velvety brown with tiny specks of gold.  Sweep cheeks with Score, an Afterglow Glide-On Tint that is a sweet pink peach and has a gold shift.  The lips are the focal point of this look – stain them with Gash, a deep blood red, and add shine by coating them in your favorite sparkling gloss.  Accentuate eyes with 44 Lash by MAC, which are separate bundles that combine for a fabulous effect.

The provocation to compose these types of style guides comes from the hope that they will kindle the imagination of those who want something different than the usual tropes of alternative fashion.  It is not necessary to construct an outfit that is a literal interpretation of its inspiration source, particularly since one risks giving the impression of being cheap or lazy.  While it might take more effort to actually hunt down pieces that not only encompass the aesthetic you are aiming for, but also represent your personality, I feel that the result is far more appealing than something that was manufactured and mass produced for the mainstream.  There is more value in clothes which are suitable to an occasion yet remain unique enough so that one does not blend into the surging crowds that don’t even think about fashion.  Of course the right dose of confidence is the greatest accessory to carry, which will always make others want to gravitate towards you when it is positive.

Rad Plaid!

It is a strange-looking word that has a strong sound and is the final pattern in the triumvirate that has been established as key elements in Circus inspired fashion.  Having already covered stripes and polka dots in previous articles, this guide is all about plaid.  Not to be confused with flannel, as that is textile not a pattern, plaid is created by intersecting lines on a solid background which is usually one or two colors.  The thickness and amount of lines vary, creating a wide variety of combinations that can be overwhelming to some.  Unfortunately plaid has a bad reputation of being associated with elderly people, and of course it often a stereotypical component of punk wear.  Going further, Tartan plaid is indicative of Scottish heritage or a Catholic school uniform; it has been seen in couture and walking the runways.  Though I would only suggest wearing a full suit of plaid if one was doing it for a performance, it is also possible to create looks that are contemporary and unconventional without being antiquated.

As mentioned, there are numerous types of plaid that could leave one feeling swamped when picking something that is going to be flattering.  Primary colors are always the fail safe and can be paired with neutrals such as slate grey or smokey black; adding select accessories should be based on achieving harmony between all of the pieces to avoid appearing crowded.  Much like the other patterns, plaid can be found on nearly everything from jackets and sneakers to hats and ballgown dresses, yet coordinating it into something that represents the inspiration it claims is an entirely different feat.  Hitting up the local thrift store and piling on whatever can be found on the racks might be a style, but it is certainly not one I would associate with myself or any of the individuals who have been presented as notable figures in general Circus culture.  Though I am a proponent of encouraging people to be creative and that everyone should be able to wear whatever they want, citing something as influence also means paying tribute to the canons of Circus fashion.  There might not be any real rules, but as always the following guide can be sourced for those who would like to embrace the style without proverbially or figuratively stepping on any toes.

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lucky-13-darkwater-red-black-taupe-plaid-shirt

A plaid shirt is one of the best basics anyone can have because it is versatile enough to generate several outfits without having to spend much.  While it is commonly affiliated with burly bearded lumberjacks, equally hairy but skinny hipsters and kids with moppy hair that all look the same, quality fabric and custom touches can easily separate you from that pack.  Lucky 13 is one of those recognizable purveyors of alternative fashion, partly because they emblazon their name on clothing such as the Dark Water Button Up, where a red/black/taupe plaid is the background for custom artwork.

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Dead Threads produces collections for those who seek originality without having to compromise, and their fitted pink plaid shirt is an example of how details distinguish the difference between a generic garment and street style.  The stark black collar, cuffs, detachable straps and accents give a hard edge to a color that is often reserved for ‘girly girls’, whatever that is.  Rock this top with a pencil skirt, denim capris or a mini skirt and patterned leggings.

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There is no doubt that Vivienne Westwood has secured her place as the reigning queen of British punk fashion, and the best way to pay homage to such an innovator is by featuring this beautiful Anglomania Jaket, which combines a classic cut with the typical quirky style of Westwood’s work.  The jacket is ideal for day to evening wear and can easily be a standout piece for updating your look.

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monroe-plaid-coat

Monochromatic color schemes are fundamental for the leading lady aesthetic, and the vintage inspired details such as three-quarter sleeves, over-sized fabric covered buttons and a poly/cotton blend makes this black and white coat a garment one can wear from Autumn to Winter.

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If outwear is too intense for your first time wearing plaid, a fitted vest might be more comfortable and is made casual with a tank top and jeans, or it can be dressed up with a silk blouse and pleated skirt.

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There cannot be a discussion about plaid fashion without bringing up one of the paramount symbols of punk, which happens to be bondage pants.  They are often tight fitting, accented with zippers that do not really serve a function purpose and D-ring from which one can clip on hanging straps.  This half red and half yellow pair were found on Crust Punks Distro, where one can also purchase studs, patches or other tchotkes to customize the pants.  Or you can wear them with suspenders, a white shirt with light blue stripes, dark blue tie, vintage black dinner jacket and a snazzy pair of freshly polished loafers.

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Though the thought of wearing plaid golf trousers might evoke images of white haired men with wrinkled skin wasting their life chasing a ball around lush green lawns, Nike makes them fashionable and functional in a grey and white plaid with tailored fit.  Plus if they can withstand all the action of a golf course, they should be sturdy enough to bounce around a basement for the local punk show.

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The retro styling of this houndstooth plaid pencil skirt is a classic piece that can be worn to the office or cocktail hour, depending of course on how one chooses to accessorize.  A buttoned blouse and sensible pair of heels will prepare you for long hours of busy work, while a corset belt, peasant top, back seemed stockings and ruby red pumps can keep you dancing all night long.

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Pleated plaid skirts seem to be divided into two distinctively annoying categories that designates them as befitting a sexy stripper or conservative librarian, neither of which actually represent Circus fashion.  To avoid being cast as someone’s school girl fantasy come to life, begin with a wool twill dark plaid skirt from Vivienne Westwood’s Anglomania collection, then add a graphic print top, leather jacket, opaque tights and pointy toe ankle boots.  Now you are ready to strike a pose or kick some ass depending on what the occasion calls for.

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If the phrase “plaid dress” incites nightmares of shapeless sacks donned by house wives who really let themselves go, I have one that will pique your interest – Plaid Taffeta Mermaid Prom Dress.  Ignoring the “prom” part, this strapless dress has a fitted bodice accented with a bow, draped body, tired skirt and a lace-up back which makes it far beyond homely.  The black and white color scheme makes the plaid pop without melting the eyes and lends itself to silver accessories.

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Another popular alternative fashion label has been offering plaid garments most likely since it’s inception, so it is no surprise that Lip Service has this ultra chic Plaid Ruffle Prom Dress as one of its current Internet Specials.  The rich purple hue is accented by black ruffled trim which even extends to the eyelet straps, and those type of subtle details are what makes these clothes stand out from the competition.

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On my very first visit to the Mecca of alternative fashion in New York City – that being Saint Marks – I was introduced to the legendary Trash and Vaudeville, which is where I saw something I did not think could possibly exist: a plaid ball gown.  There was something elegant about the way the pattern flowed, and I had visions of wearing it decked out in sparkling jewels, pinup perfect makeup and tumbling curls as red as the fabric, perhaps with the sides of my head shaved.  This garment symbolized the oxymoron of being a ‘rich punk’ that helped form the basis of what has evolved into Carny Trash Aristocracy, and so I was delighted to find Lip Service offers the Destructive Tease Ball Gown, though it seems to only be available in red plaid.  Not too fond of the black zipper in front, but I do like the detachable spiked bracelets and see potential for adding more studs.

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Some might prefer a touch of plaid to get used to incorporating the pattern into regular wear, and these purple plaid pumps are definitely simple enough to coordinate with a sleek black cocktail dress or a retro lavender suit.  The round toe and lace trim create soft lines that are accented by the stiletto heel and hidden platform.

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Red multi colored plaid forms the base of this sizzling Betsey Johnson peep toe pump.  Red patent trim is punctuated by brush gold studs, while the thick strap and oversize buckle add a bit of zest.

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The most important thing to keep in mind when putting together an outfit is to have fun with it and have the confidence to carry yourself with a composure that will turn heads for all of the right reasons.  What others think or say is completely arbitrary, and I wonder when society came to a point where it feels so comfortable voicing opinions to complete strangers about their choice of clothes.  Apparently any level of manners is completely nonexistent when one steps into public, and certainly there are going to be rude remarks when one decides to go against anything that is mainstream, popular or being perpetrated as the latest trend.  Taking advantage of the latter can benefit your wardrobe if you are seeking something that might otherwise be difficult to find, but you must also remember that quality always reigns over quantity and that even the best stylist knows when to edit.  In closing, I have assembled a gallery of images that I feel encompasses the essentials of Circus fashion in a way that is fresh, chic and attainable without being garish.

1 – Houndstooth Plaid Suit, 2 – 1970s Window Pane Check Suit

3 – Cabernet Checkered Suit, 4 – thelingerieaddict.com

5 – 1950s Red Plaid Dress, 6 –  High Waist Steam Punk Skirt

In Your Head

Recently I was reunited with a slew of items I had left in someone’s basement upon moving out over a year and a half ago.  Long story short, I have been spending some time reading old journals, because I always like to see how much my life has changed and find a sense of pride in how well my writing has evolved over the years.  Among the entries that are faded due to being written in pencil and doodles that fill up most of the margins, there are works of prose that have been inspired by or dedicated to my late friend Jon, with a few that were written from his perspective long after his death.  These words haunt me on occasion, as they are things he had either said to me or jotted down on random pieces of paper when the mood to do so struck him.  While the memories can cause a variety of emotions to fill me when reading these works, I find myself compelled to share them in the hopes that someone out there will enjoy them as much as I do.

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Heroin-kissed veins cleansed of sin
Shots of whiskey to silence voices within
Lines of cocaine to numb the pain
In the end, shit’s always the same
Can’t run or hide from my fears
But I can close my eyes and disappear

Shot after shot; line after line
Needle in my arm, time after time
Throw me a bottle, ‘cos I’m going full throttle
Drinking down whiskey and tears

Another sleepless night, body feeling cold
Demons come to taunt me; it’s getting old
Lonely soul in the desert, looking up at the stars
Thousands of miles on the road to bury the scars

Racing down a one-way track with the devil
Light a joint and put the pedal to the metal
Nitro-burning rat rod heating up the asphalt
There is no coming back if I get caught

“It is clear that now is not your time
But one of these days, you will be mine”

High-octane engine waiting to stall
Paranoid that one day I would fall
A victim of this blackened, broken heart
My life was meant for ruin from the start

Heroin-kissed veins cleansed of sin
Shots of whiskey to silence voices within
Lines of cocaine to numb the pain
In the end, shit’s always the same
Can’t run or hide from my fears
But I can close my eyes and disappear

Shot after shot; line after line
Needle in my arm, time after time
Throw me a bottle, ‘cos I’m going full throttle
Drowning myself in whiskey and tears

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West coast sunset painted on a postcard
Faded colors and tattered corners
Too many miles away from this tired body
But right at my fingertips when I sleep
Thousands of grains of sand under my head
Powdered mirror twisting my reflection
Atlantic Ocean roaring in the distance
Tonight I am flying among the stars
Far above the cold boardwalk
Into the valley of sun and tan skin
Palm trees and sparkling blue waves
Don’t want a California girl
Fake friends that are dead and gone
Never needed their empty shells
My weary soul aches for rest
Another round of lines to numb the pain
Reaching for that picture perfect sunset
Bury it deep in the dry sand once more
Alongside hopes and dreams of my youth
Take that long hard road instead
Lonely miles that build up sorrow
What if I don’t make it past tomorrow?

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A cocktail of mud and blood
dripping down his tattooed face
A young man in the fight of his life
where failure meant disgrace

A rebel consumed by the blues
who struggled to walk the line
and became lost deep in love
A legend ahead of his time

Kung Fu-Shoes: Violent Violet

What separates purple from violet is that the latter is present in the visible light spectrum, and the other is the product of mixing red with blue.  The color violet can motivate ones inner self-love, incites innovation and does it all without  building up the ego.  Violet brings harmony not only to your spiritual side but to your sense of style as well – it is a favorable hue for artists, musicians and writers in particular.  If incorporating a bit of enlightenment and a consciousness of modesty seems old-fashioned, violet is also indicative of being a distinguished individual who is motivated by creativity.  Utilize it to add ambiguity to any outfit, because in the sideshow one always keeps the audience guessing as it is far more entertaining than making an attempt to explain what they don’t really want to understand.

 

 

Emulate the sophisticated couture glamour of  silver-screen starlets with an added touch of modern flair with these decadent Pleaser pumps aptly named Deluxe, which come from their Day and Night collection.  Vibrantly violet suede is punctuated with glistening rhinestones for a lavish ankle-hugging peep toe upper, while the heel metallic platforms are inspired by architecture aesthetics.  Wear them with sheer vertical stripe stockings for an added touch of cabaret style elegance.

 

Of course one can always go straight for the opulence with a satin based platform pump that is drenched in glittering rhinestones.  While it may seem more fitting to wear these on stage for an unforgettable burlesque performance, it is entirely acceptable and in my opinion a bit more fun to dazzle at moments when it is less expected.  For instance, attending the latest art show in the Birdie Party Dress [black] by Pinup Couture and these shimmering beauties on your feet, it will be difficult for others to ignore your regal status.

 

Classic pumps do not mean dusty discards at the local thrift store and Waleo is advertised to help one earn their fashion credentials, and violet suede is definitely an update to a style that is occasionally viewed as stale.  Capturing that iconic type of beauty can be easy as slipping on The Original Vamp Dress by Mode Merr, a pair of vintage seamed stockings and the aforementioned shoes.

 

The downside to suede is that it can be easily ruined by rain or snow, so it should be a Given that having the same pair of shoes in patent leather means that you can still have that pop of color to your favorite black vintage dress.  However, if you are feeling a bit more daring, try them with the Serious Business Suit in Steel Grey, which is Mode Merr‘s interpretation of a traditional men’s suit that is tailored to fit the curves of a more feminine body.

 

Patterns are always an excellent means of making your footwear standout, especially when dealing with such a volatile color such as violet, because apparently purple is the preferred color to label a large majority of shoes that are definitely a different hue.  Nonetheless, as any good fashion writer would. I used my prior knowledge gained from high school art courses in deducing that both exist on Shoe Republic’s Cheker, which contains both of the aforementioned colors along with white and fuchsia; interlocked they create an appealing optical illusion.

 

You have woken up to find that you are a secret agent named Malika and your mission is to assemble an outfit to coordinate with ultra violet suede pumps.  Flexible black elastic straps ensure that they will stay on your feet whether collecting intel at a party or kicking ass with the double stacked platforms.

 

Comfort is something usually sought before and after a performance, but that does not mean one must sacrifice style and satin ballet flats are always a good choice to give feet a break from towering heels.  The pleated details create a point of interest and would go well with a basic black pencil skirt and Jeanie Lurex Top from Pinup Couture in aqua.

 

Summer is slowly winding down but there is still plenty of time to enjoy ocean breezes, which is made especially refreshing with wedge sandals that  have a minimalism approach to structured straps and light neutral toned wooden wedges for that futuristic flair.  Coordinate a chic pinup style with Pinup Couture’s Sadie Dress in Purple Floral Boarder Print, advertised to be “like a rose garden come to life” and soak up the last of this season’s memorable moments.

 

Precise lines and a velvety texture set the stage for this stunning peep toe platform wedge, the rich color subtly accented with a leopard print interior.  Before getting pregnant and leaving town with Butch on Zed’s Chopper, Fabiola was a dancing queen and would wear these with the Ava Dress, complimenting her namesake footwear by going for the gold and rocking a vintage styled dress that is flattering on all body types.

 

Color blocking has become popular in fashion over the past few years and is another way to bring unique elements to the wardrobe without being tacky or over done.  For instance, a peep toe platform wedge sandal is a great canvas for color blocking, and here hues of violet are accented by blue and turquoise elements, a shocking strip of orange and a fuchsia interior that combine to make a work of art.

 

Dusty trails and shady saloons are settings for rowdy outlaws and tanned cowboys that hardly ever had a place for women, unless they were the damsel in distress type cinched in by corsets and drowning in petticoats.  Not being one for out-dated stereotypes, these Very Volatile Rio Grande boots are all Americana  attitude and carry a badass babe vibe that can be felt for miles.  The smokey violet leather carries a distressed look ideal for a post apocalyptic dance off, complimented by sunset orange details.

 

It is never too early to be prepared for Winter, particularly if one lives in an area prone to significant amounts of snow fall.  Moncler Boots are made of quilted nylon for layers of warmth and a rubber sole that will prevent you from slipping on icy surfaces.  They work well with jeans and while they might not be the best looking boot, it is better than having frozen feet.

When it comes to envisioning a futuristic inspired fashion, violet proudly represents unlimited inspiration and imagination, stimulating intellect as well as dream activity.  The color is also noted for it individuality, and is best suited for a personality that likewise enjoys doing their own thing.  Other positive qualities of violet include empathy, tolerance and a love of humanity, which are all wonderful ways to invoke emotion through fashion.  There are a few negative aspects to violet, as it is noted to be immature and encourages an idealism based on fantasy.  It can be seen as impractical and cynical, which makes excessive use of the color give off the wrong tone.  This guide will assist you in communicating that you prefer the finer quality in life without sending the message of arrogance.  Of course part of that come from one’s own attitude, because no amount of clothes or accessories can help mask cheap and nasty, but otherwise your compassionate nature will shine forth.