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.

Kitschy Variety: Venus Flytrap Skirt

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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.

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.

Ritzy Ruby

The exceptional hardness of a ruby is surpassed only by a diamond, making it one of the elite precious gems which are not only used in presenting you pride for a July birthday but also revered for their valued beauty.  Characteristic colors and quality varies depending on the geographical source; a fine, deep, clear red in Burma; a dark red to brown tint in Burma; medium light tones in Sri Lanka and small, sheet like purple hued stones in Africa.  Durable for every day wear, rubies symbolize intelligence, prosperity and generosity, radiating a strong sense of vitality where feelings of passion are unashamedly incited.  A phenomenon caused by very fine needles of rutile inside a ruby give it a ‘silky’ shine, and rarely they can form a star-shaped deposit that would be highly visible should this kind of stone were to be cut as a half-dome cabochon.  While derived from the Latin word rubens, which literally means ‘red’, the color of a ruby is far more warm and fiery, an undiluted, hot and passionate tone that is unrelenting in saturation.  Though certainly the most important feature, transparency matters just as much and inclusions that do not impair the quality are viewed as a fingerprint defining a ruby as genuine.  No matter how you choose to display it, be confident that you are just as rare and radiant as the characteristics of this ‘king of gemstones’!

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1 – Leave the bleach out of the equation when coating your locks in Manic Panic’s Vampire Red, adding richness to brunettes and dark blondes without damaging the hair, leaving you with relatively virgin hair that is shimmering with natural highlights and lowlights.

2 – Red around the eyes can be too intense or give off the wrong vibe, but thanks to Ruby Red Make-Up Studio Eyeshadow you can get strong pigmentation in a soft powder that glides across eyes and leaves behind a subtle shine.

3 – Combining the hydrating power of an ointment and the shine of a gloss, Ruby Color Balm Lipstick rejuvenates your lips in a luxe, satin finish that contours them to add definition and volume.

4 – The convenient design behind the Mysterious Red Lip Pencil allows application of crimson pigments that provide long-lasting and seamless coverage whether used for lining, all-over cover or pairing it with another product.

5 – Another way to protect your pout in style is with a blend of conditioners and antioxidants found in Trans Siberian, a brilliant ruby rose Semi Matte Lipstick that is vivid but doesn’t leave lips feeling dry.

6 – Notable for serious shine that is ultra-smooth and comfortable to wear, the sheer cherry red tones of Misbehave are accented by just enough golden shimmer that makes this lip gloss as enriching as it is dramatic.

7 – The brilliant quality of Scarab is due to the nail varnish being exceptionally hard-wearing, allowing the deep ruby-red to stand out as a bold shade while the metallic finish is reminiscent of the gem it represents.

8 – In case you are craving even more shine, top it off in the shimmer red tones of Saratoga, giving nails an extra layer of fortification that will resist chipping and fading.

9 – Collecting false lashes has become a small hobby due to the versatility of looks which can be created by using them, so discovering these cute Ruby Red pair that is decorated with tiny black stars and red swarovski crystals at an extremely affordable price has the ideas brewing.

10 –  If wearing red is a bit too daring, try storing your favorite cosmetics in a Holdfast Makeup Bag, a custom construction of ruby-red glitter vinyl decorated with white glitter vinyl stripes and a contrasting bandanna style print lining.

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1 – Alternating colors that surround the perimeter of these Anatometal Gemmed Eyelets is just one of the many customizing options available, the polished stainless steel reflecting white and black cubic zirconias alongside synthetic rubies.

– Though recommended for healed lobes, Teardrop Eyelets are a stylish alternative to the circular shapes that dominate the selection of jewelry for stretched ears, while decorating them with synthetic rubies further accentuates their intriguing shape.

3 – Going one step further by anodizing the steel to a crisp light blue, these Super Teardrop Eyelets not only have the same gleaming trim as the others, but also a huge synthetic ruby nestled in the lower half of the interior.

4 – Forecasting autumn trends, the Pear Faraway is a rose gold septum piece that features faux wire wrapping and a genuine ruby flanked by a pair of 1.5 mm diamonds.

5 – Compliment your refined taste with a Water Lily, the rose gold petals surrounding a bezel set ruby on the end of a nostril screw that is dainty and daring.

6 – The filigree details of Leslie’s Heart is a testament to the quality of jewelry offered by Body Vision Los Angeles, the charm dangling from the end of a yellow gold curved bar highlighted by a genuine ruby.

7 – Romance abounds at any time of year, so if you are looking to give that special someone who also happens to adore body jewelry something that shows them how you feel, go for the Heart Navel Cluster where 18 karat yellow gold arches between a round and heart synthetic ruby gem, the latter surrounded by cubic zirconias.

8 – A slightly different design that has the same strong yellow gold base, the Flower Navel Curve is topped with a  white synthetic opal while a cluster of synthetic rubies surround a cubic zirconia.

9 – If you have a curved bar you already adore, simply slip on an Oval Prong dangle, the delicate beading of a white gold chain supporting a 6 x 4 mm Chatham ruby bringing instant opulence to any ordinary piece.

10 – A solid metal spike protruding from a piercing might be too much of a ‘hard’ look for some, so a threaded Prong Set Spike made from a synthetic ruby on a flat back labret could be an appealing alternative, the tip almost glowing when sunlight hits it.

11 – Balanced on the anodized blurple surface of a titanium Gemmed Industrial Bar are a set of synthetic rubies and a synthetic amethyst centered flower with synthetic ruby petals, giving the 1 1/4 inch length a bit of sparkle without overloading it.

12 – There is nothing understated about the Mini Pleades, what with all that white gold, diamonds and rubies; somehow it still manages to be less contentious than other low quality pieces would be when aiming for a certain aesthetic.

13 – Give your jewelry the royal treatment with Doubled Threaded Princess Ends that anchor down square-cut synthetic rubies, available in several sizes to put the finishing touch on your daily adornments.

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.

Purloined Pearls

Pearls can be found in the waters of place such as the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Mannar,the South Pacific, the Gulf of California, the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Coast of Mexico, Europe, Japan and Australia, produced by calcium carbonate that resides in the soft tissue of a shelled mollusc.  These spherical wonders come in a wide range of iridescent shades: black, blue, gold, green, pink, cream, silver or white – the lighter tones will be the main focus of this guide.  Originating from the Latin word “pirum” which translates to “pear” and indicates the shape of the gem, a decently sized pearl can take between five and eight years to grow.  Value is determined based on the coating known as “nacre” that gives the pearl its lustrous appearance, though color, size, lack of surface flaws and symmetry appropriate for the type are attributes also taken under consideration.  When combined, these requirements ensure that precious pearls are recognized as such, though one certainly does not have to wait for the right one to be discovered in order to reap the benefits of their beauty.

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1 – Exceptionally simple to apply and blend, Cultured Pearl is a glimmering bareMinerals Eyecolor that bestows opaque allover color or translucent highlights depending on how you choose to use the pigment, giving you the option to customize your favorite products with it.

2 – Achieve maximum coverage with Iridescent Pearl Grey eyeshadow, the satiny luster carried by dense pigments that merge into skin for a rich texture which is sure to stand out.

3 – Technologically advanced enough to claim “insane color payout”, Urban Decay’s Vanilla is a velvety pearl eyeshadow with golden shimmer that effortlessly glides on lids and will stay put so you can enjoy it all day long.

4 – Shimmer does not have to be gaudy and Star Powder in Pearl Gold certainly gathers light to impart a unique glow on skin, increasing hold by dabbing it on with a wet brush to whatever area you want to accentuate.

5 – Kohl lined eyes walk the plank this summer in favor of Heavy Metal Glitter Liner, the chunks of opalescent pearl in Distortion depositing crystalline shine whether you draw precise lines or arc the side of the brush across your face.

6 – As seen on red carpet celebrities, Pearl Encrusted False Eyelashes form a lasting bong from the minute they are put on, flawlessly mingling with your own lashes for a natural look.

7 – Prepare lips for perfection by generously applying Lustrous Pearl, a highly reflective lip gloss that packs plenty of shine and saturates your pucker with moisturizer for all day comfort and no stickiness.

8 – Hailed as the ultimate all-in-one makeup stick, the Multiple in Copacabana offers a cream-to-powder glistening pearl finish that can be utilized to charmingly heighten specific features with a luminous sheen.

9 – Decorate your latest manicure using Nail Art Pearl Beads, an imitation of the coveted white gems that are 2mm in diameter and have a flat back to readily adhere in any patter of your choice.

10 – Formulated to be long lasting and ultra glossy, Mayfair is a pearl white nail polish that takes inspiration from runway trends and gives you the best possible results every time you put it on.

11 – Rejuvenate the area under your eyes with Masque*ology’s Revitalizing Eye Gel Masque, the mesh saturated in luxurious pearl powder to reduce puffiness and leaving behind a youthful appearance.

12 – One of the new dyes released by Manic Panic this spring, Manic Mixer is hyped as a pastel-izer which can be combined with any of the other various vegan colors put out by the company, though it could also be just the thing needed to generate the ideal pale white hair, especially when combined with Virgin Snow and previously bleached hair.

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1 – Decadence is always on trend, particularly when one finds their social calendar suddenly filled with potential events to attend and in the mood to do so by making an unforgettable entrance.  To achieve this, turn to Body Vision Los Angels and their Jill Eyelets, a magnificent pair of gleaming rose gold fronts decorated in minute detail, pink pearls and green quartz which are worth the investment to watch jaws drop when you come onto the scene.

2 – Equally impressive are the Reign Eyelets found over at Kolo Piercing, the stainless steel tunnels surrounding intricately carved mother of pearl inlays that have a semi-opaque quality and will have people doing a double take as they realize your holes are filled with magnificent art.

3 – Featuring deeply embossed mother of pearl inlays displaying Lotus flowers, these Black Horn Plugs use a more organic container for the sculpted pieces to help them stand out, particularly since patterns and coloration vary between each piece.

4 – On a the more minimalist spectrum are the Ebony Bolt Plugs where the ebony dominates the majority of the eyelet that is set off by a mother of pearl inlay shaped like a lightning bot, for fans of kitschy accessories and solid plugs.

5 – Treat yourself to a royal pleasure with Crown Eyelets, immaculately polished white gold settings grasping firmly onto 14mm mabe pearls which reflect the flawless surface of the metal it is set atop.

6 – Hanging styles have become more popular since there are a variety of shapes that can be inserted into various ear piercings, and they are particularly decorative in large gauge cartilge.  The Winged Glory has a simple curve at the top which leads to feathers hand carved into mother of pearl and back into another pair of curves, some waves sprouting from the sides to cap off these unique pieces.

7 – A similar style are these Floral Spirals that take a set of mother of pearl spirals and add just enough flourishes to set them apart from all of the other designs that can be found in materials such as steel, bone or glass.

8 – Breezy island getaways are the perfect time to hang Tawapa’s Stellar Shell Plates from your  tunnels, the circular shaped mother of pearl adorned with geometric silver accents that give the jewelry a sort of art deco flair.

9 – Cut out all of the settings and get right to displaying opulence by wearing Adonica, a strand of genuine 2mm pearls that take the iconic pearl necklace and presents it in miniature form to wear in your favorite piercing.

10 – This is not an engagement ring, it is a BVLA Pearl Ring crafted from 18 karat gold that has a 3mm pearl as the captive bead.  Though it may seem simple compared to some of the other pieces here, when place in certain piercings it raises the bar for quality over quantity.

11 – Gold and pearls are matched again in the Pearl Sunburst, a navel curve topped with a 3mm and 5mm 1/2 pearls surrounded by slightly pointed petals.

12 – The only other non-white pearl of the collection, this yellow gold Pearl with Tri Accent navel curve has a 4mm black pearl that shows off the gems iridescence, a trio of 1.25mm diamonds on the bottom and a sparkling cubic zirconia on the other end.

Dazzled Emerald

A gem beloved by Cleopatra and dedicated to the goddess Venus by ancient Romans, the emerald has long been connected to fruitfulness, revival and  passion.  Contemporary jewelry fans use it to signify devotion and companionship, believed to contain effective healing powers relating to issues with  eyes, the spine, headaches and fertility.  Originating from the Greek word “smaragdos” which translates to “green stone”, the emerald is well-known for its rich color and is the most valuable gemstone in the world by weight.  A member of the Beryl family, the gem generates its green hues from elements of chromium that are contained in the crystals.  In Victorian times, it was customary to wear jewelry decorated with emeralds to represent the rebirth of nature, the deep green a reflection of the plant life that returned each spring.  Though almost all of them have small imperfections, they are seen as part of the character rather than something negative, which is a reminder to embraces flaws rather than trying to hide them.  Emerald has also been elected color of the year, appearing in garment form on celebrities during red carpet events, being promoted by alternative models wearing it in their hair, and comes in many variations of cosmetics one can use to create their own trendy beauty looks.

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1 – Count on Illamasqua to provide magnificent matte shadow in the form of Permission, a cool emerald green that still has plenty of powerful pigments which are tremendously long-wearing.

2 – A reformulation of Urban Decay’s notable eyeshadow has resulted in Loaded, a remarkably smooth consistency delivering dense distribution of deep metallic emerald that blends in a uniform fashion and offers a crease-free finish.

3 – Enhance the vibrance of Pure Pigment No. 18 by mixing it with gloss to produce your own unique product, or using a wet angled brush for drawing precision lines, ensuring to add a pop of color to your face.

4 – Profoundly spectacular shade named for an iconic street, Rue di Rivoli is a metallic forest green Larger Than Life Eyeliner with a buttery texture  that does not smear or cake and presents incomparable 12-hour wear.

5 – For those who have an on-the-go lifestyle, where you are constantly in motion but still want to look great there is Mildew, a 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil that is a deep forest green that goes on strong and lasts all night long.

6 – Give your lashes layers of volume with Smokey Lash Mascara, the green tint penetrating the roots of your lashes to lengthen and curl as you apply, an intensity that brings out all eye colors.

7 – Chic manicures begin with quality polish, something you don’t have to worry about when using Rampage, a dark green jelly varnish that has a glossy finish and exudes plenty of opulence whether using it alone or topping it in a coat of glitter for extra shine.

8 – Reign as jungle royalty in Zulu, deep vine green that is chip-resistant whether you are battling venomous plants, wild animals or a pile of paperwork preventing you from leaving work early to enjoy a sunny vacation.

9 – Though looked upon as a color of affection, emeralds may also incite jealousy, especially if your hair is dyed with Venus Envy, one of Manic Panic’s High Voltage vegan dyes  that transform ordinary tresses into gleaming locks befitting mystical creatures.

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1 – Golden spools studded with diamonds and genuine emeralds are a symbol of the quality available from Body Vision Los Angeles, where Ritual Evolution allows a transition to sophisticated jewelry without overwhelming the wearer.

2 – Filling the gap of large gauge eyelets is one trend I like to keep tabs on, and then discover intriguing designs such as Plumeria Eyelets by Anatometal that has bronze petals surrounding a synthetic emerald.

3 – The finish of Anatometal’s jewelry is recognized as one of the best in the industry, a prime example being their Super Gem Bling Eyelets which are a combination of refinement and sophistication, the large synthetic emerald in the center surrounded by a unique patter of alternating cubic zirconias and more emeralds.

4 – Setting the standard for majestic adornments comes in the form of Irish Eyes, a dazzling yellow gold septum piece featuring princess cut emeralds and several minute details that make it worth closer inspection.

5 – Four millimeters is the total measurement of this Tiny Flower, an 18 karat gold nose stud topped with six emerald petals that surround a cubic zirconia center to meet a certain level of refinement BVLA is known for.

6 – Another design that is three millimeters larger is the Emerald Flower which has a sapphire center and white gold tips at the edge of each petal, hand polished to a mirror shine.

7 – Threaded ends allow certain jewelry to become more versatile, or sometimes there is just a special occasion where 18 karat gold Tama Ends with synthetic emeralds are more visually appealing than the usual default finishes.

8 – Continuing along this floral theme, the Rose is an exquisite curved bar that has an explosion of gems set on each end composed of Chrysoprase and green cubic zirconias accented by yellow gold.

9 – Slightly more demure though sure to make a statement nonetheless, a Gold Flower Navel Curve constructed of 18 karat white gold provides sleek contrast to genuine emeralds and diamonds that make up a flower and rounded ends.

10 – Luxury is evident in every twist of filigree that makes up Ascott, listed as an Exotic navel curve that has plenty of aesthetic elements to capture the eye, ending in a 2.5 mm emerald gem.

11 – Ear projects are another way for piercing artists to showcase their skills, particularly when using a Gemmed Industrial Bar with Prong-set Gem Ends and Threaded Flower, the anodized green titanium serving as a colorful base for synthetic emeralds and peridot st0nes.

12 – Prepare to be covet when you wear a Polaris Pendant, the sleek design and variety of selection in customization appealing and in high demand, the anodized green titanium surrounding a deep purple opal seen here illustrating just one of the many possible combinations.