Kitschy Variety: Welcome to the Sideshow Leggings

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The search for a clever way to cover legs during winter without constantly relying on tights brought the discovery of a truly unique separate that I just had to use in the first Carny Style article of the new year.  Despite my aversion towards the company due to some of the designs, Sourpuss did more than hit the mark with these graphically appealing Welcome to the Sideshow Leggings, which take black and white stripes to a whole new level by covering them in an array of boldly printed slogans that are influenced by those found on sideshow banners.  It would be very easy to create an outfit that reads cartoon character, which is fine if this is the look you’re going for.  However, with a garment which makes a profound statement all on its own, one can become lost and even overwhelmed in something that is too busy.  While it seems simple, the Vavavoom Top [also by Sourpuss] is described as having the “perfect pinup fit”, achieved with a ruched sweetheart neckline and cap sleeves that comfortably hug your arms.  Since there is already plenty of blue and red in the leggings, I thought it would be nice to balance with a bit of yellow in the form of the Anna Rose Embroidered Cardigan, since the color is soft without being too distracting.  The black trim disguises  the buttons down the front while a set of roses embroidered on the back adds a nice ‘surprise’ detail.  Layering the Shadow Stripe Swing Skirt over the leggings may risk covering some of that amazing print, but the subtly striped satin skirt is another vintage styled separate from Sourpuss that focuses on the fit of the garment, which shows in the way it gives the illusion of a tight waist.

What better way to coordinate with stripes than using polka dots, particularly when they are plastered across Wanna Be Bad yellow heels, their classic shape and mellow tone putting a bit of punctuation on the mostly monotone materials.  A popular Sourpuss purse gets an updated look, the Floozy now available in gold trimmed black vinyl, the vintage inspiration gleaming behind custom hardware, a kisslock closure and the overall polished finish.  Protect the skin from sudden gusts of cold with the Merona Stripe Scarf, where an engaging mix of black and white stripes, starting with one color dominant over the other and having the two reverse positions, will make it seem as though you have a bit of magic up your sleeves.  Accent an artfully arranged up-do with Gimme Couture’s Audrey Hair Clip, faux pearls set in the center of pointed petals – the black and white striped variety – for a hint of glamour.  In fact, turn up the dial on that with hair clips from Claire’s such as the ravishing red Flower With Feathers and brilliantly blue Glitter Rose, their small sizes ideal for accenting the main piece without weighing down the hair.

Embellishing an ensemble that already has strong lines is open to interpretation depending on whether you want to look refined or like you fell out of an alternative clothing catalog.  The opulence of circus can be translated through shimmering accessories such as the Aurora Borealis Diamond Drop Earrings, which feature a cluster of stones that form the diamond shape for plenty of sparkle.  This can be another area where kitschy and campy can go too far and come across as overdone, but a Rhinestone Braided Choker gives a dash of brilliance to the neckline as rhinestones dance along braided strands.  Combining elements from both of these pieces, the Crystal and Shiny Stone Squares Bracelet has glittering stone squares that are framed in multiple crystals, with trios of links bringing them together around the wrist.  Even though they are rather trendy at the moment, I have been pulled in by the allure of Midi Rings, and this particular set offers a two different thicknesses as well as a spiral ring, all of which can be worn alone or stacked.  They can be mixed with statement rings for a very extravagant effect or in a simple layout that still accents the anatomy in just the right way, particularly when paired with the manicure detailed below.

 

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One of the most important parts of Carny Style is coordinating an outfit to ones makeup, and this is an outfit which certainly speaks volumes on its own and can easily be lost in a sea of too many colors on the face.  Picking up on the palette that appears throughout the look assembled above, the following products are merely suggestions based on what I felt would work best to execute the idea that popped into my head when thinking about the finished ensemble.

1 – Achieving flawless skin is something that many crave, and Camera Ready BB Cream by Smashbox is a mutlitasking product that can deliver just that, providing a glowing and ethereal finish to your face in any occasion.  Enhancing the wear of makeup while maintaining moisture, the tinted cream also primes and protects from the moment you put it on.

2 – Having a choice between sheer and full coverage is what makes COVER FX Pressed Mineral Foundation ideal for layering over the BB Cream foundation.  The product is said to never dry skin, so you won’t get that ‘cakey’ look that other powders can leave behind, which is fairly impressive for a vegan foundation.

3 – Conscious of the inevitable aging process, Urban Decay offers their incomparable Eyeshadow Primer Potion in an Anti-Aging formula that actually minimizes the appearance of wrinkles.  Not only does it cover up imperfections, but it locks your shadow in place for a crease-free color that remains vibrant all day.

4 – Using the Pretty Rebel Eyeshadow Palette by Too Faced, a range of 10 highly pigmented shadows, take Ringleader and pat it across your lids, gently blending it slightly past the crease.  Grab an angled brush and swipe Jailbird from the outer corner and down into the crease, ensuring that the application is in a ‘C’ shape to avoid sharp corners.  Follow up with a healthy dose of Badass, blending the blues together and bringing the darker shade under the eye as well.  Tap a bit of Instigator on the inner corners, and then wet a brush to line eyes with Miss Sparkles and a thick ‘flick’.

5 – While completely optional, the hyper saturated pigment of Ubangi Eye Paint lays black and blue shimmer wherever you want.  Precision may be essential but with a seemingly weightless gel and the right tool, drawing lines to emphasize the previously created cat eye is a breeze.

6 – The fact that a mascara can lengthen, curl, lift and separate lashes with just a few swipes is so unbelievable that Benefit called it They’re Real! to ensure there is no trickery afoot.  Each and everyone of your lashes will be treated to a coat of luxurious jet black pigment that won’t clump or dry out.

7 – Following the application of this magical mascara, set False Feathered Eyelashes with proper adhesive for a deluxe extension custom designed faux lashes that have a severe angle and feathers that accent the sharp corners.

8 – Conceived for the Parisian Aquatic Ballet, the Aqua Lip Waterproof Lipliner Pencil is guaranteed to stay put, allowing the nude tones of Rosewood to define your lips while delivering vitamin E and jojoba wax in the smoothest lines.

9 & 10 – Touted as having 50% more pigment than traditional products, Rogue Artist Intense is an immediate true-to-color lipstick that delivers in one swipe, a blend of three natural waxes allowing it to glide on effortlessly yet promising a long-lasting hold.  When paired with the liner, it sort of ‘mutes’ the lips in order to allow the work you did on your eyes to be the center of attention, while also making sure they don’t completely disappear.  This can be achieved with a bit of Glossy Gloss in Royal Icing, a high-shine lip gloss packed with plenty of white and silver shimmer that gives the otherwise matte lips a wet look without making them sticky.

11 – Contouring and highlighting are becoming more common in makeup application, so why not choose a three-in-one product that allows you do it all?  Ultralight pigments in the MicroSmooth Baked Sculpting Trio blend effortlessly to enhance the skin, from defining cheek bones to giving them a lustrous highlight.

12 – 15 – Minimalism has its place in circus, such as the white faced clowns and pastel shades that occasionally grace costumes, and that is the base of this show stopping manicure.  The sheer cream porcelain of Unforgettable, part of the Translucents range by Forumla X, might seem muted, but there is a certain luminescence that radiates from the fast-drying polish.  Apply it to two of your nails and then top it with Chaotic, essentially black and white confetti that might as well be glitter graffiti found among the Xplosives Top Coats.  Crushed microsparkles and metallic pigments collide in Grandiose, a kaleideoscope of rose and shifts of bronze with plenty of multidimensional shimmer.  Allow this to take over two more of your nails and then get ready for an explosion of blue rainbow mega-glitter on one nail for an Outburst of excitment.

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Kitschy Variety: Luscious Dress

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The prototypical baby doll goes through a grown up transformation and becomes the Luscious Dress by Pinup Couture, a high quality stretch cotton knit tinted a sensational pink that practically screams retro chic.   An embellished draws attention to the flattering wrap style bust, where charming black ric rac trim add a bit of contrast and coordinates with the embroidered swans and atomic starbursts on the shoulders.  Gathers in the skirt spill from the fitted waist into a sophisticated length that is not too long and not too short.  While the dress comes in a few other colors – each of which have a different design – I chose the swans as they represent artistry and grace, two key elements that are often required in Circus culture when presenting a successful performance.  In the classic children’s tale of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ it is a token of inner beauty, and for those who consider it to be their totem animal, the swan signifies you are empathic towards others.  Prepare for them to be drawn to you, especially wearing Betsey Johnson’s Makenna, snappy black suede slingback wedges that have  adjustable heel straps and peep toes that will leave an indelible impression.  Candidly express your love of impeccable vintage vogue by toting along the Floozy Purse by Sourpuss, where creamy pink vinyl is decorated in black polka dots, a black vinyl bow sitting beneath the kiss lock closure and black piping that makes it look like a piece of pop art.  Extend the theme to your legs by covering them in a pair of Reverse Polka Dot Tights, which are opaque tights with sheer spots from hip to toe.

When styling hair, I would suggest sweeping it up in a sophisticated bun or twisting it from the nape up to the crown and allowing tendrils to fall on the side of the head, elongating the neck to resemble that of a swan.  Then place a Cocktail Hat on top – this particular one is coated in hand-stitched sequins, a goose feather flower adorning the front and extending into dramatic fronds that curl into the air.  Perplexing accessories that lend themselves to formulating a story often make the difference between a look that is a cataloge copy and one which reflects couture characteristics.  Teaming up Cameo Key Earrings from Too Fast and an Oval Keyhole Necklace from Classic Hardware prompts the imagination to wonder which key opens the lock and what sort of treasure lies behind it.  Drawing inspiration from water drops, the Anzie Starburst Bracelet is a dazzling array of white saphires, clear topaz and pear shaped mother-of-pearl gemstones in unique silver settings.  Finalize the ensemble with a Swan Princess Ring, a magnificent piece of jewelry that captures the elegance of a swan in stunning silver and glittering diamonds, the detailed head and spread out wing setting the bar for a statement ring.

Although the nods to Circus may not be as obvious as previous style guides, it is important to remember that stripes, primary colors and other attributes which are often associated with ‘circus fashion’ do not always need to be present.  Here the not-so-subtle addition of polka dots retains a certain level of playfulness that is reiterated through the distinctive placement of pink and black, while tribute is paid to vintage tastes and piece can be utilized in other outfits.  The swan becomes a representative of the fluid ballets often executed in the air, as artists nimbly navigate their apparatus of choice in a display of skill and talent that leaves the audience breathless as they stand up to applaud.  Channeling this same determination through all aspects of life is what separates a Carny from those who just sit around wistfully lamenting about running away to join the Circus, signifying the dedication which is often lacking in pipe dreams.

Kitschy Variety: Just Desserts Dress

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When it comes to creating an ensemble that draws upon Circus as an influence, it is not always necessary for it to be obviously stated in a relevant print or pattern that has a history of association with the culture.  The first two looks that were put together for this particular Carny Style feature fell into both of these categories as a means of utilizing something people could easily identify with, and then expand upon that with designs which might have otherwise been overlooked.  The goal is always to come up with a result in which you feel comfortable displaying, catering to your personal tastes while also emulating a specific image.  A guide is nothing more than that – merely suggestions of what one individual would select to represent a unique culture that often gets reduced to the same stereotypical trope – which can be followed to the letter or taken in the bits and pieces that suit you.

Drawing inspiration from color-blocked frocks of the 50s, Pinup Couture’s Just Desserts Dress has a separate bust panel that gives a flattering fit, accentuating the figure further with a one and half inch wide [removable] grommet belt.  The alternating and vertically striped colors of the skirt help elongate your body while the fabric is promised to “provide maximum twirl-ability”, which is good news for someone who often feels stunted in full skirted dressed due to the fact I am fairly short.  It would also be fun to test out this claim on a dance floor or during a performance, especially if it responds well to dramatic movements.  While also available in a pink and black option, I chose the black sateen with two tone blues for the use of a primary color, which is something I usually take into consideration when styling an outfit.  Channel your courageous side and put some pep in your step with Irregular Choice’s Tea Time, where luscious blue leather is trimmed in puffy pompoms and the thick heel is covered in a dark faux fur.  The combination may seem strange, but remember that is the case with circus in general.  Maintain the vintage vibe and store your personal items in the Fast Track Bowler by Sourpuss, the black matte vinyl accented by aqua handles and a diagonal stripe that reaches from the bottom to the zippered top.  Providing three types of attachment, this Black Chiffon Rose Clip is a high quality piece that can be used to hold up high ponytails, secure straggling strands away from the face or pinned to a number of items for a quick touch of florid chic.

Featuring a fluctuation between smooth and grooved arches, the Idin Disc Drop Earrings are high polished metal rounds dangling from another pair of textured discs that give this jewelry its distinguished appearance.  Another habit I tend to have when styling outfits is selecting one statement piece that coordinates with whatever else you happen to be wearing while offering versatility so that you can wear it with more than a few things.  For this look, I chose a bright blue Bubble Necklace that has cascading layers of shiny baubles which still manage to drape elegantly across the neckline.  Ignoring the outrageous price for the simplistic design of Beaded Weave Bangle Bracelets, their criss-cross weaving of delicate silver beads reminds me of the ring they put up at the circus when they bring out the big cats.  Complete your collection of adornments with a Tarina Tarantino Cameo Ring, the hand carved white lucite portrait standing out against a vivid nile blue background.

Since summer is slowly winding down and the winds of autumn will soon be passing through trees, a pair of sheer Vertical Striped Stockings will not only give you some protection, but will also give you legs a long and lean look.  Bare shoulders and arms might also be asking for a bit of coverage, and the Deadly Dames Bad Girl Bolero would prevent chills from creeping across your skin while also adding a piece to your wardrobe that can be coupled with anything from casual to dressy.  Pretty much anything from this outfit [and previous ones for that matter] can be combined in a variety of ways to satisfy a desire to use retro and vintage designs in a contemporary manner.

Skeletal Animals

In a time where there is zombie acceptance to the point where the living dead are found in popular movies, television shows and on a wide assortment of merchandise, one might become overwhelmed by all of the options and want to pursue another interest instead.  Enter the anatomical wonders that are see-through animals and the odd charm they can bring to your wardrobe.  Though bone prints have been done to death [no pun intended] as much as zombies have, there is still something appealing about shadowed skeletons of various animals.  Here are a few pieces to inject some creepy and kooky designs into your favorite fashions!

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1 – Express your pleasure for summer love by wearing the X-ray Seahorses Necklace, the two-tone green and pink chain holding onto an enamel heart-shaped pendant that has lightning bolts pierced through it.  The colors of the boney oceanic equestrians coordinate with the chain, which also has a coffin charm and extender, where one aches while the other’s heart breaks.  [Kreepsville666 – $22]

2 – Cameo collectors can end their search for a peculiar piece, as the Skeleton Stag Necklace is an exclusive handmade design where the emaciated remains of a stag are set against a black cabochon.  A delicate black chain is secured to the intricate frame that twists around the cameo, making it a suitable accessory for any outfit.  [Diamond Star Halo – $26]

3 – Deflect diminutive demonic rodents with the Claw Cameo Ring, as they will quake in fear that you have harnessed the remarkable authority of their deceased predator.  Alternatively, you might just appreciate the contrast of the detailed bird skull contrasted by a flat black background surrounded by thorned curls that sit on an adjustable base.  [Too Fast – $10]

4 – Acquiring insight from images associated with rockabilly, tattoos and the 50’s, these DOTD Flamingo Earrings are hand drawn and focus on complex components such as the tiny hearts and dots adorning some of the bones.  Initiate a new trend with the matching necklace and for a kitschy way to add ghoulish glamour to any retro look.  [Dolly Cool – £7]

5 – Step right up to see these mystifying creatures of the sea, perfectly preserved for your edification and displayed here for all to witness the oddities for themselves.  Suspended from the silver hooks that were used to catch them are the marvelous Skeletal Seahorse Earrings, ready to purchase if one has enough fortitude to adorn the earlobes with them.  [Plasticland – $14]

6 – There are plenty of things to fancy about the Flamingo Bone Heel: the 5 ¼” shiny black bone-shaped heels, an open toe, a concealed platform and X-ray flamingos with pink feathered wings printed across the black patent upper, accompanied by bones and pink polka dots.   They are also currently 20% off and will likely be gone soon, so scoop up a pair while you still can!  [Too Fast – $48]

Kitschy Variety: Hotrod Honey Dress

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Fashion is far less critical of the bodies that wear it than the people who have nothing better to do than comment on the appearance of others.  You do not have to fit the stereotypical boundaries of what society and the images splayed in public media want to dictate as the acceptable norms of beauty.  Unfortunately, it is difficult for individuals such as myself who are considered ‘plus size’ to find garments that actually fit proportions that are far more varied than factory mannequins.  This is even harder when you have subscribed to a certain aesthetic, often lamenting at the fact that many websites which offer alternative styles do not commonly carry larger sizes.

Renown for their quality brands, Pinup Girl Clothing can be relied on to have something new for every season and the impending  Autumn means eventually cooler temperatures and the need to cover skin one has been comfortably exposing all Summer.  Fanatics of Deadly Dames and their Juvenile Delinquent Dress may recognize the pairing of a knitted striped top with a fitted black skirt, the fabric snug yet still easy to wear.  However, their plus size Hotrod Honey Dress pays homage to the source of its inspiration through an embroidered skull and crossbones that sits on the front right shoulder.  The red and white stripes are contrasted by black trim on the low neckline and cuffs, while a wide faux leather black belt cinches in your waistline to create dangerous curves.  Horizontal stripes can have a tendency to shorten your frame, so give yourself some extra inches in a pair of Ceres by London Trash, captivating red suede platform pump that has black elastic bands along the vamp that conform to your feet and keep them in place.  A store I recently discovered through Tumblr called Viva Dulce Marina that specializes in retro clothes with a moderate plus size section offering dresses, separates, shape wear, petticoats, hoisery and belts.  There are definitely a few items that may appear in future Kitschy Variety articles, but today I am focused on the Betsey Handbag since it could very well be a prop from Mad Men, the white vinyl covered rattan sporting a simple gold metal clasp that lets the weaved texture do all the talking.

One of  the most popular accessories that quickly transform a seemingly ordinary up-do into a stunning pinup style is a Snood, the high quality black netting allowing you to secure long locks for extended periods of time, and lending itself to be readily decorated by other items such as a Petite Red Rose Clip.  Celebrate cocktail hour any time with a Rhinestone Cosmo Martini Necklace, the pint-sized glass decorated in shimmering white rhinestones and dangling from a delicate chain by way of a faux ruby.  Denizens of the East Coast have enjoyed a late Summer serenade that was supposed to disappear sometime in June, and I am a personal fan of this odd mating ritual that happens once every seventeen years.  While some may find them creepy, I am kind of partial to the idea of owning a pair of Couture Creatures Cicada Earrings for a number of reasons.  Featuring over-sized antiqued silvertone charms that are fairly accurate replicas of the insects, they will definitely be an interesting element in any outfit.  Though made of shiny black acrylic, these black Bamboo Tiki Bracelets can be stacked around the wrists to bring some structure to this part of the ensemble.  Color and pattern matching does not always have to be obvious, and the Big Top Ring is a fabulous way to do both with one accessory.  A red and white striped cabochon framed in silver sits on an adjustable ring that is a cheerful reminder of circus influence which attracted me to this dress in the first place.

Aside from the sites already mentioned, the remainder of the pieces in this look were found on Plasticland and Etsy.  As much as I enjoy being able to find clothes, shoes and accessories all on one site, the challenge of being able to hunt them down in places others might not even have thought of exploring.  Knowing some key words is incredibly helpful, particularly doing an image search or navigating through pages such as Amazon or Ebay, both of which I have read are useful to those seeking plus sizes.  If you are fortunate enough to have a store local to you that carries alternative brands, make a trip there and try out a few things to get an idea of how pieces from certain brands are going to fit you in order to avoid returning or reselling something you bought online that doesn’t fit.  Another tip is to buy a bigger size than you need and just take it to a tailor or do the alterations yourself if you are able to.

There was a time when plus size alternative fashion was almost non-existent, being restricted to dark corners of places like Hot Topic lest someone be offended that there’s anything above a medium hanging on the rack.  New companies are being born every day while existing ones are evolving as they realize what is considered plus size by ‘industry standards’ makes up a significant portion of the population and that we want to buy their stuff too.  Here’s hoping this is a trend that continues and inspires others to follow suit.

Kitschy Variety: Strongman Swing Dress

There hasn’t been a new Carny Style category in quite some time, and in general I am finding it takes me more time to seek out pieces to combine into outfits that are wearable and reflect the characteristics of Circus culture.  A few things have been rolling around in my head concerning the direction I want to take these articles, a focused emphasis on showcasing my styling skills and the ability to promote popular alternative brands.  Without giving too much away, I know for certain that my detailed guides are appreciated by a significant amount of people.  Continuing to provide history and other information along with the articles is also something I feel is important to maintain, and I definitely have a few new features that will be introduced in the future which I hope is going to become an essential part of my ever growing portfolio.

Today I bring to you Kitschy Variety, a compilation of items where at least one of them is circus or sideshow inspired which can be used as a quick guide to organizing a polished look.  Even though I can occasionally get carried away accessorizing outfits, particularly when it comes to color coordination or pattern matching, I understand that this is not everyone’s taste.  If you do not have the time to drape yourself in jewels and etch out some killer makeup, this is the place to find easy instructions on how to put yourself together with little time and money.

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Shopping at sites like Sourpuss allows one to navigate from one category to the next and assemble an ensemble, where there is always a selection of merchandise on sale.  One of the newer arrivals on is the Steady Strongman Swing Dress.  The fitted bodice flows into a full skirt, the black trim a nice contrast to the tea toned fabric, upon which images of tattooed circus performers, animals and stars have been printed.  When it comes to selecting shoes, I tend to go for one of the primary colors since they are more interesting than the standard footwear that is on display in stock photos.  Vibrant yellow Wanna Be Bad heels decorated in solid black polka dots are paired with Eyelash Web Lace Stockings to give texture to the legs that flow with the retro theme of this outfit.

At this point one would have a polished look and could go out to enjoy tea with friends or check out the latest installation at a local art gallery.  However, I am a firm believer that those little extras are what puts a personalized touch on what would otherwise just be clothes you pulled out of the closet.  These are merely suggestions and can either be taken literally or used to find things that suit your own aesthetics.  Here I selected the Sourpuss Floozy Purse for its vintage influence, the cream colored vinyl and the contrasting large black vinyl bow.  Even if I have no makeup on, I never leave the house without having something on my head or in my hair – for some reason I just feel incomplete and it might be related to the fact that at one time a woman was considered as being undressed if she did not have a hat on.  A golden Glitter Rose Hair Clip can readily transform an ordinary ‘do into one that shimmers in the sun, and you could always clip it onto a cardigan or purse for a custom touch.

Overwhelming jewelry is not something I am keen on, as it can give off a cluttered vibe and weigh down the silhouette you just carefully coordinated.  These Yellow Rose Earrings may seem small and simple yet standout among traditional pinup designs, plus they go with the shoes and the hair clip.  Picking out certain elements of prints that appear in the outfit to match to accessories is another habit I have, but when there are pieces such as this Vintage Strongman Necklace it is difficult not to.  The portrait of a mustached man wearing stripes hangs next to a key charm on a sturdy ball chain, though that could be swapped out for a piece of ribbon or suede if desired.  Symbolic of mystery, wisdom and intelligence, the Retro Owl Ring is a limited edition piece by Sourpuss that features a detailed black owl perched on a purple band.  The only item not found there is this Crystal Circle Bracelet, selected for its black beads and circular gold charm that represents the center ring.

While I used a primary color and polka dots, neither of them completely dominate the outfit and yet still manage to generate interest compared to the way the model was dressed on the website.  Nothing wrong with that, as it allows one to take the reigns of creativity and make choices that represents your personal style.  This is just one way of taking things found on one site and putting them together in a cohesive manner.

Aesthetic Autopsy: Fiji Mermaid

For the first time since beginning this series of fashions based on specific characters from Circus culture, I selected one that technically does not exist.  While many sideshow banners are often an exaggerated depiction of a real person or animal, the Fiji Mermaid lives only in myths.  To be more blunt, it is a gaffe – more commonly known as a fake, fraud or hoax.  A few artists have managed to capture the spirit of showmen eager to boast their rare find in taxidermy effigy, but otherwise what has long been reported as a half fish, half human hybrid is nothing more than an active imagination.  However, this does not discount the Fiji Mermaid from being a prominent figure, to the point where just about every sideshow had their own version of this creature, accompanied by an emotionally charged origin story that was too good not to be true.  Their existence can be traced back to the Renaissance and Baroque eras when they were staples in curiosity cabinets.  The exhibit credited as popularizing the concept of a mummified mermaid was owned by P.T. Barnum, an artifact that came into his possession on June 18, 1842.  Since then it has been copied mercilessly by people who claim theirs is the ‘orginal’, with variations appearing in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museums and Coney Island’s Sideshows by the Seashore.  During the brief existence of Curiosities From the Wilds of Weird New Jersey, Jon managed to obtain a brilliant version that was billed as the Atlantic City Mermaid, who had her own merchandise and attracted plenty of curious observers who wanted a picture or two.

Each of the outfits below take inspiration from sideshow banner imagery and the idea that modern wares can be combined with vintage pieces and the right accessories in order to produce unique results.

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MARITIME MAIDEN

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Choosing a nautical theme for this first look felt a bit obvious, however utilizing that inspiration without overwhelming the outfit in too many cliched tropes can be achieved through careful editing.  The striped pattern of Miss Fortune’s Nautical Halter Dress lends itself to being a neutral when pairing it with other items and becomes a versatile piece that plays to both circus and pinup styles.  Picking up on the navy and white colorway of the dress and offering protection from chilly evening ocean breezes is the Nautical V Neck Cardigan, a pair of anchors set on the shoulders.  This detail is also reflected on Pleaser’s Anchor Open Toe Pump where deep blue patent vinyl is accented with white piping, a bow on the heel and another secured to the toe opening by way of a golden anchor charm.  A pop of red in the dress can be found on the interior of the shoe as well; ensure it becomes a part of ensemble with the Floozy Purse by Sourpuss, the vintage influence prominent among the bright red vinyl, giant red bow and kiss lock closure.  Reflecting rays could prove distracting so don’t forget to bring some Cat Eye Sunglasses for fashionable protection and a bit of rhinestone sparkle.  Sailing the seas is a thrilling adventure but carefully coiffed manes could use a bit of taming, the Sail Away Bandana coming in handy when you want to tie tendrils in a pony tail while Nautical Octopus Hair Bows use adorable blue cephalopods mounted on red and white polka dot satin ribbons to wrangle any stray strands.  Kitschy jewelry such as the Sourpuss Limited Edition Sea Horse Earrings are delicately detailed that prevent them from being confused for cheap costume pieces, while a Red Beaded Necklace continues the vintage influence of the outfit.  It is contrasted by the one-of-a-kind Shark Tooth Ring, the two inch tooth surrounded by 18 karat yellow gold and white diamonds; similar pieces can often be discovered in antique stores or custom constructed by a jewelry maker.  Draping yourself in the riches of your kingdom seems to be expected, so don’t forget the Gold Starfish Cuffs before emerging as an amazing mermaid ready to stun mere mortals.

Devious transluscence that enhances the complexion while delivering a refreshing incandescence, Copacabana Illuminator by NARS applies a glistening pearl sheen to the parts of the face you wish to highlight such as the cheeks and bridge of the nose.  The base of the eye art is built on Biarritz, an ideal shade of neutral cream colored matte shadow that is heavily pigmented despite the sheer appearance.  Starting slightly above the natural crease, glide on Dark Rite and slowly blend the smooth navy blue shadow pencil upwards and outwards.  Draw in your cat eye using Via Veneto, the soft black pencil effortlessly delivering plenty of creamy color that does not cake and will last for up to twelve hours of wear.  Take a small brush and tap a bit of Electrum on the inner corners, perhaps even putting a thin layer of the antique gold liquid metal underneath the brows for extra emphasis of an alluring sea nymph.  Don’t forget a few coats of Larger Than Life Mascra to bring your lashes to their fullest potential!  Understated eyes are balanced by the rich boldness of Majella, a decadent garnet Satin Lip Pencil formulated to give lips a long-wearing statement shade to seduce sailors in every port, and the shimmering golden coral tones of Torrid, the blush giving a natural glow to the face.  Prior to engagements, paint nails in Desperado for a lively manicure imparted with vernerable vogue.

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SEAFARING SOVEREIGN

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Sophistication and elegance combine to form a classic silhouette where the bountiful riches of a deep sea mer-kingdom are delicately displayed across this Cream Striped Corset, the mild sweetheart bust line dripping in faux pearl embellishment.  When laced it offers up to five inches of reduction on the waist, putting emphasis on the bust and hips for that alluring hourglass figure.  It would make sense then, to create unequivocal flattery and the illusion of a tail with a Black Jacquard Mermaid Skirt that has distinguishing black inlay kick pleats, a row of buttons allowing you to wear it as open as you would like.  Redirect sun rays and shield your briny pallor in a Gold Bolero, the shiny fabric gathered in ruffles around the collar and cascade down to the cropped hemline.  Choosing to leave the skirt full closed, one can give the appearance of floating in a pair of Pewter Rhinestone Teeze platforms, these Bordello beauties featuring a grey satin pump covered in sparkling gems that just might blind anyone who stares at them too long.  The minimalist shape of this Black Satin Handbag may not be obvious as a shell, but the gathering of the fabric manages to mimic the ridges of those found on beaches.  Procuring accessories that are actually dated may seem as though it defeats the purpose of a polished appearance, but Cat Eye Sunglasses carved from mother of pearl become a sleek way to wear shades.  Once again it is suggested that portions of hair be swept up to capture the movement of waves, an Octopus Cameo Clip offering security for voluminous styles.  This also allows you to show off delicate Starfish Earrings, their golden bodies studded with gleaming stones and perched on a pair of pearls.  Nuzzled together on a sixteen inch chain are Kissing Seahorses, detailed one inch golden charms that will sit nicely between the bolero and the corset to make it seem as though they are sharing an intimate moment hidden in a field where Gold Fish casually swim by.  Counter all that  gold by weighing down wrists in mother of pearl chip bracelets as a reminder of the bounty of natural riches found in the sea.

The palette for the face to go with all of this opulence is dominated by neutral tones, but each product serves an important purpose and together they ensure the time spent on application was not in vain.  Since humans are not blessed with flawless mermaid skin, Illamasqua’s Powder Foundation is there to cover blemishes and provides a shine-free finish.  Take a small brush and layer Servant on the eyelids, building up a solid foundation of pale eggshell that you are going to bring up to just beneath the brow bone.  Then come in with Bronx, applying the pale bronze-gold shadow heavily on the outer corner and then blending it in towards the crease.  Now you can see the shimmer forming, but go ahead and add a bit more using Furore, the champagne peach Pure Pigment giving your eyes the right dose of iridescence, and finish off this enchanting style with a few coats of Lewd.  Drawing attention to the lips,  Bait is a hot candy pink used to create smooth lines that are true to color, which are to be filled in using Scandal, a warm coral pink lipstick that turns up the intensity of your pout.  Complete this look by coating nails in Bacterium – no, not secret lab specimens, the pearlescent ash ochre varnish that won’t distract from other elements.

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SEDUCTIVE SIREN

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Lovesick sailors who have spent far too many hours drinking the brine their weather worn vessel has been traveling on and are likely to be completely enamored by the sight of the Polka Dot Madame Dress, a vintage inspired latex garment that has perforated pink pleats and permanent dots assembled in rows across the front.  Here a grey feather shrug serves as the ‘fur’ often found on some varieties of the Fiji mermaid, adding texture and another color to avoid overly matching accessories.  Confidence is key when wearing and walking in Shoe Republic’s Pink Faye, the deceptively feminine fuchsia satin wrapping around the open toed platform shimmering with silver studs and strapping you into almost seven inches of sculpted heel.  The scales of Liquor Brand’s Hell Kitten Handbag are advertised to be faux snake skin, but they can emulate those found on mystical sea nymphs as well.  For a no fuss hair style that is still glamorous, try this Ruffle Grey Sequin Turban, the soft cotton making it comfortable to wear no matter what your locks happen to be doing.  Decorate your ‘do with some Pearl Gem Hair Clips, 24 karat rose gold plated pins that have a star burst on one end that is flecked in Swarovski crystals, mother of pearl pieces and white opal circles.  Sea-faring fashionistas utilize natural resources for their jewelry, but us landlubbers have to rely on designers such as Michael Spirito to come out with pieces like the Fish Bone Earrings and Shark Bite Necklace, which mix rich materials to replicate bones and teeth.  Slightly more playful though effective in keeping the theme of the outfit are a Black Bubble Bracelet and a Pink Bubble Ring that features a yellow gold band coated in pink resin, cubic zirconia ‘bubbles’ set on top.

One does not have to make a deal with an evil queen to obtain impeccable skin; all it takes is an application of Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream, a five-in-one formula that has a built-in SPF of 35 and will moisturize, prime, perfect, protect and control oils.  Sephora and Pantone Universe teamed up to release a series of dynamic color palettes, one of them being a Color Theory Shadow Block.  The neutral tones of Elemental makes the Color of the Year available to wear as subtle or dramatic as you choose, universally flattering every iris.  My suggestion is to cover the lid in Caramel [middle brown], apply Appleblossom [light brown] to the brow bone and then blend the two together, using the Emerald Shimmer to outline the eye.  Follow up with Urban Decay’s 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Woodstock to add hot pink and iridescent sparkles sure to draw plenty of attention, and a few coats of Volumizing Mascara.  Natural is not the first word that comes to mind when describing any sideshow attraction, but it is certainly applicable to Golden Gate, a mauve lilac mineral blush which gives cheeks a healthy glow in just a few sweeps.  If that is not enough illumination, one can always take Moon Beam and highlight specific areas with a golden sheen.  Hydrating lips does not mean sacrificing vividness, and even though Tashkent is a nude beige, it is still a super rich matte lipstick that is easy to wear.  Once again, a pop of bold color is used to generate intrigue, this time by using the bright neon pink of Collide on the nails, its satin finish giving off the right amount of shine to complete this look.