When searching for a piece that will serve as inspiration for one of these articles, I have all too often become disappointed and even a little disgusted at the amount of appropriation from cultures, religions and even hardcore criminals that are turned into tacky over-priced clothing. These symbols mean absolutely nothing to the people wearing them, which becomes painfully obvious when they are more than willing to pose in them for personal gain. However, the fact remains that certain things are offensive and it is not a case of people being oversensitive or whatever bullshit someone wants to pull out of their ass to defend their problematic behavior. This is something I intend to write about more in the future, but for now I am willing to say there are a number of alternative fashion brands who are guilty of peddling such wares, who have been shamelessly mentioned and freely promoted on this blog in the past. While I am only one person, I will no longer consider being a customer of such sites [even if I have purchased from them before], nor will they be actively linked, named or have any of their name brand products used in any fashion articles.
Moving right along, there is one site that I am always happy to promote, and that is Pinup Girl Clothing – they have a gorgeous selection of retro and vintage style dresses, separates and accessories that are worth the financial investment. As much as I enjoy casual clothes, I am also someone who wants the option of quality garments that can be worn in different ways in order to get the most from my money, so to speak. This is a site that certainly delivers, with four house brands which all have definitive details to distinguish them from one another, though they can be combined for a cohesive look as well. Browsing the newest additions, I was immediately attracted to the Deadly Dames Kinky Box Skirt in Venus Fly Trap Print and felt it was just the right thing to reignite the creativity I have been neglecting. Constructed from sateen tinted a royal purple hue, this skirt’s main feature are the classic box pleats, as they allow the garment to sit flat while providing fullness that defines the waist. That is where the 1950’s influence ends and breaking the mold of conventional vintage garments comes into play through the custom designed print of grinning Venus flytrap plants that parade from top to bottom. It is sure to grab plenty of attention, so balance the kitsch with the Eye Candy Blouse by Mode Merr, which is made from a soft cotton lycra jersey material that comfortably contours to every curve. Red ric-rac trimming the Peter Pan style collar and keyhole neckline adds a bit of contrast to the black top, while a matching grosgrain ribbon tying everything together in just the right place.
The chill of Winter is slowly creeping up on us, so now would be a good time to lay out some serious cash for a coat that is both fashionable and functional, since the whole point is to maintain warmth. Besides, I am a fan of outfit revealing, especially when you notice quite a few heads turning in your direction. A nautical nobility is evident upon first glance of Hell Bunny’s Millie Coat, the dark grey material shaped into a vintage silhouette where a pair of black stripes highlight the sailor style collar, cuffs and hem, coordinating with the anchor printed buttons and square buckle on the belt that allows you to cinch it for an ideal fit. Speaking of cinching, a Jade Stripe Elastic Belt from Vivien of Holloway is a great finishing touch to give your figure that classic 1950’s hourglass appearance, while also breaking up the top and skirt to avoid a rather obvious seam which may make that area appear larger than it actually is. The jade is a great companion to the purple in the skirt while picking up the variegated greens in the plant print as well, which will come into play later when deciding on a color palette for the makeup you want to wear with the outfit. Precarious lineation doesn’t get more precise than the Jeffrey Campbell Watch Cuff, the metal plated ankle cuff securing you into heels that are just over six inches tall, the matte black synthetic leather flattering the top and skirt rather than detracting from them. This theme is carried into the final major accessory, and the Pinup Couture Amoeba Handbag has the ability to adapt itself to every occasion with clean, distinctive and futuristic lines. No detail was overlooked: lipstick red glitter vinyl and black vinyl trim are tamed into the unique retro shape; dazzling chrome comes in the form of a chain, clasp and bullet feet that keep your purse clean when you set it down; a two-toned handle ensures longevity, while the size and interior zippered pockets allow you to carry as much or as little as you need.
Up to this point, you have a fairly polished pinup look and are certainly welcome to skip ahead to the makeup guide. However, this wouldn’t be Carny Style without citing the correlation between the outfit and Circus culture. Seeing as how this carnivorous plant has been the source of a fiercely popular 80’s horror movie, where an over-sized and campy version of a Venus flytrap winds up devouring a few people, I am sure that has led to a few urban legends of such man-eating plants existing in the wild. These sort of stories are rampant in sideshow exhibits, and therefor decorating yourself in honor of Dionaea muscipula becomes a satirical interpretation of society’s vision that woman are “man eaters”. A surefire way to get that message across is by wearing a pair of Kreepsville66 Eyeball Hair Bows, the creep-tastic veined detached oculars set in the middle of green leopard print meant to represent the tropical climate Venus flytraps are found in. Display your love of entomology with Brass Fly Earrings, intriguing stamped brass designs that have delicate details to distinguish them from cheap costume jewelry. Though the literal translation can boarder on cheesy, again the emphasis on quality keeps this look grounded in kitschy chic, as is examplified by the J.Crew Venus Flytrap Necklace. Gold tone brass and steel link together faced green crystals surrounded by settings evocative of the hairs that line the trapping structure of the plant. Fusing the sinister side of beauty with bold masculine lines, the Venus Flytrap 3 Claw Ring utilizes gold and diamonds wrapped into a captivating piece that challenges preconceptions of self-adornment. This is also evident when wearing a Horse Tail Bone Bracelet, though the bones here have been hand made and cast in bronze as opposed to be sourced from a real animal.
No style guide is complete without a selection of cosmetics that have been carefully chosen to coordinate alongside various aspects of the assembled outfit. Skipping over basics such as foundation, concealer and primer since numerous product suggestions can be found in previous articles. The focus here are the eyes, and the best way to draw attention is by executing a dramatic application which begins with Marie-Galante, an Eyeshadow Duo by NARS that is long-wearing and crease-resistant. Pat the iridescent blue shade across each of your eyelids, building up a dark base and then blending it up until it disappears to create a gradient. Then take the iridescent orchid and layer it starting right under the brow bone and blending it down into your darker shadow. Dip a liner brush into teal-toned blue green Pure Cosmetic Pigmet by Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, and carefully line the outer lower lash line from outer corner to the inner one; bring it up the inner corner and slightly blend it into the upper lash line. Black liner can have a tendency of giving eyes a harsher look than intended, so keep them soft by drawing your cat eye in Steel Ink, a shimmering deep charcoal grey Long- Wear Gel Liner by Bobbi Brown that glides on smoothly and quickly dries to a water-resistant finish. Complete the eyes with a few coats of your favorite mascara and remember to curl for extra volume, or you could add a few pairs of false lashes.
Though also suitable for eyes and lips, OCC’s Creme Colour Concentrate is an innovative cream that is buildable and blendable, offering coverage that wears like a dream. Use the subdued, whitened plum of Miriam to give cheeks a ‘wind kissed’ appearance, which can be intensified with bronze for an evening look or diffused with a highlighter if you prefer a velvety finish. Shifting to the lips, though it is generally known that strong eyes call for a more neutral lip, I could not resist replicating the pout on the print of the skirt and chose the cool brick red tone of Amazon as the liner to accomplish this. Using it to fill in the lips, the product glides on and leaves a creamy texture behind that won’t feather or bleed, acting as a barrier for your lipstick. Staying with NARS, I selected Future Red, which happens to be a part of the Guy Bourdin Holiday Collection Limited Edition Cinematic Lipsticks. The energetic cherry is delivered with gorgeous saturation and plenty of shine, where an innovative blend of conditioners hydrate, nourish and protect your lips as you wear the product. Classic pinup lips are always acceptable no matter how much or little makeup you choose to wear. For an extra dose of shine and to slightly tone down the boldness, dab a bit of Scandal in the middle and gently blend it in, using the pinkish brown gloss for a more natural yet shimmery finish. Meticulously maintained manicures deserve varnishes that are hard-wearing and chip resistant no matter what situation you find yourself in, which is why I turned to Illamasqua and their appropriately named Venous – a striking blue green polish that picks up on similar hues scattered throughout the outfit. Though it certainly stands out on its own, adding a few coats of Swarm on top not only amps up the gloss factor, but the fleck of matte black glitter could also be seen as abstract flies.
Not every outfit has to be 100% serious or dripping in elegance – there is a balance of kitsch and couture featured in this guide that lends itself to being taken in one direction or the other depending on what your personal preferences are. It’s perfectly alright to wear designer jewelry with hair bows that have plastic body parts tacked to them; to mix sparkling vinyl, iridescent sateen and patent leather without blinking an eyelash; to create dramatic eyes and lips and not care whether other people think it’s “too much” or “too extreme”. Fashion is about what you like, what makes you comfortable and inevitably is successful when carried with the right amount of confidence. While it can be fun to incorporate trends into your wardrobe, remember not to let them ultimately define you or become so lost in chasing a label that you forget to be yourself, as that is the greatest asset anyone can have.