There is no doubt that Coney Island has remained a significant part of my life despite not having properly visited the area since performing there in 2007, though I tend to immerse myself in the history of the amusement area and its incredible menagerie of aesthetic architecture, innovative rides and bizarre penchant for displaying live human oddities on a constant basis. The Island will never be what it once was, nor has it been as great in many decades, which is more than tragic to know but incredibly heartbreaking to actually be witness to, and thus I have stayed away because I hate to see what has changed. George C. Tilyou brought the first attraction to the Island in the late 1800s – he had seen the Ferris wheel at an exposition in Chicago and decided to build one of his own – and then added rides including a mechanical race horse course which led to the park being named Steeplechase. It opened in 1897 and to this day is considered one of the most influential amusement park of all time, having survived a fire that destroyed most of it in 1907. Admission to the ruins was ten cents, and it would be a couple of year until the park was fully open again, though the new feature was a beautiful five acre indoor enclosure covered by glass and steel called the Pavilion of Fun. The face of Tilyou in character form, hair perfectly parted down the middle, had been an emblem of Steeplechase and remains a mascot of Coney Island. Though somewhat frightful and grotesque, the Funny Face exemplified the mood of the park – the attractions were slightly more low-class and vulgar compared to the competition – and visitors hoped to experience irresponsible hilarity for a quarter. The Funny Face has appeared in many forms such as a neon sign, tattoos, merchandise and even painted on the side of a bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey. It has been reinterpreted through art which may change the original design, but there is no doubt that those in the know can certainly see the grin and instantly connect to what it represents.
As someone who is still relatively new to writing about fashion, I often find myself visiting a variety of sites to check in on what has recently been added, and then pass on the information in a way that still falls into the category of Carny Style. In doing so, today I discovered the Thrill-A-Rama dress by Sourpuss, a delightful stretch cotton halter design that comes in three colors and features an inspired version of the legendary Coney Island icon printed along stars and dots. For me it certainly embodies the whimsical nature of Steeplechase, being flirty, fun and all around fabulous. Though the dress certainly speaks for itself, this guide will assist in creating comprehensive looks that can easily be worn to any carnival, boardwalk or other vacation appropriate destination this Summer.
The soft shade of coral that defines the base of this first look can be likened to the piles of cotton candy that send our brains into desire overload as soon as that confectionary scent hits our nostrils. Certainly this style of dress is ideal for the warmer temperatures that is slowly creeping up the East Coast, but from time to time there is still a bit of chill when evening comes, and a 1970s black sequined shawl is an easy way to keep exposed skin cozy while perhaps taking a midnight stroll along the beach. During the day, black and white satin pinstripe Teeze shoes with crossover strap and patent toe cap strike a dynamic chord and gives the outfit an instant pinup flavor. While some will be eager to get their tan on, I am not a fan of my legs and prefer to preserve the paleness of my skin; if you are the same I would suggest using Black Milk Leg Bones leggings for a bit of mischievous misdirection. Though they are no longer being sold on the site, there are similar designs floating around and could also be a fun DIY project. Speaking of bones, a set of Kreepsville Gem Bone clips is a fun way to add some sparkle to your tresses while keeping them out of your face. A coordinating satin handbag that has a rigid body will ensure that valuables are stored safely while hurtling down the hill of your favorite roller coaster. For a touch of faith, love, hope, passion, wisdom and beauty, accessorize with gleaming stars such as a white gold ring, jeweled silver pendant and shimmering bangles. Finish this look with a pair of coral framed sunglasses to protect eyes from the glaring sun, a fresh face with black eye liner, mascara, dewy cheeks and the right shade of coral lip stick or gloss from your favorite makeup brand.
A sure sign of Summer are well manicured lawns that have an interesting aroma when freshly cut, a sort of freshness that would give you same feeling wearing the Grass version of the Thrill-A-Rama dress. The satin and lace rendition of the classic Teeze pump brings a slightly feminine touch to this look, while a pair of black and white swirled footless tights will give your legs a silky, luxurious feel without the hassle of shaving. Layering this Dex Striped cardigan on top, which features metallic thread and embroidered hole details, comes in handy when the need for shade arises. Walking the streets late at night does not have to be intimidating, and the fashionable Peace Keeper lets everyone know that you are the one in charge. The quickest hair styles for Summer is a ponytail or vintage up-do accompanied by a bandanna to keep necks cool when the heat kicks in. If the generic bandannas have gone boring, try the Felon Viva La Meurte one from Sourpuss, which features a print of pinup girls accompanied by coffins and skulls. Be your own superhero or villain with Cat Woman Claw rings by Noir for DC Comics, which are made from solid brass and doused in Cubic Zorconia stones. Lovers of tiki and vintage will have no problem stacking up these carved black Tiki Bracelets, while sideshow aficionados such as myself can swoon over the hunky image of famed Half Man Johnny Eck on a stainless steel necklace. Viewing a world of imagination is best done with eyes treated with a healthy coating of Sugarpill’s Absinthe loose shadow, lined with Illamasqua’s Precision Ink in Scribe from their Human Fundamentalism collection and accented with a pair of Grandeur False Eye Lashes.
This final look centers around Thrill-A-Rama’s Sky Blue colorway, which is accented with contrasting red trim and my favorite of the trio. Street wear is just as important as stage clothes and certainly an essential part of my personal style, because one never knows when the opportunity to network might arise and making yourself a brand is a necessary evil when it comes to being a performer. Taking this dress from simple sophistication to carnal hellion is all about the attitude and confidence to work the look. Hell Bunny’s Candy Leggings use black and red stripes in a quirky way that make them an item that can be worn with a number of other things. Slip into a pair of Iron Fist’s Devil’s Plaything wedges – the reptilian print is metallic foil – which feature a horned devil face on the upper and precise piping across the peep toe and foot opening. Upgrade your diva status with a silk red bolero that is tailored yet comfortable and sets off any type of curves. Lavish deep finger waves and tight pin curls by pinning in this lovely white feather fascinator, and keep yourself cool while outdoors with a red paper parasol decorated in a tattoo print. The retro styling of this metal flake glitter vinyl purse along with its bold sky blue and white stripes is hand-made with quality, featuring a coordinating handle, black silk lining and four metal feet that give it stability when set down. Reaffirm your love for all things Coney Island with a Funny Face necklace, Token earrings and a hand-made recreation of a 1950s charm bracelet, while paying tribute to sideshow attractions of the past via this beautiful and eerie Conjoined Twins ring. Cinch in your waist with a studded suede cutout corset belt and add some layers of volume with a bright red petticoat. Dramatic makeup can be achieved by layering Sugarpill’s Afterparty with similar hues that are darker and lighter, a healthy dose of micropearl pigment and a few strategically placed dots using Elmer’s 3D Washable Paint Pens in Sparkle Scents. Saturate your pout with Urban Decay’s Revolution, advertised to be decadent, creamy, long-lasting lipstick that nourishes and protects, prevents dehydration and fills in wrinkles. Finish off with some thick cat eye liner, rosy cheeks and feather tipped eyelashes.
Pulling together a look is not something that needs to be incredibly difficult, though one must find a balance when utilizing a specific pattern. Going overboard with accessories or coordinating a color scheme can make an outfit seem straight out of the catalogue and not very indicative of your personality. Overall, no matter what one wears, the clothes do not and should not speak for you, but rather tell a story that makes people want to approach you and discuss your fantastic outfit.
Photo credit: 1 – First Steeplechase