Kitschy Variety: Vintage Goth Pinup Capsule Collection


Designed by Laura Byrnes and Micheline Pitt, the Vintage Goth Pinup Capsule Collection available through Pinup Girl Clothing is a creative collaboration between two women who always come out with figure flattering garments, and this is certainly no exception.  Comprised of several different pieces, many of which are separates that can be worn with any of your favorite PUG wares, bold black and white stripes along with spiderweb print give classic silhouettes a modern edginess.  In fact, I am fairly certain I have reviewed both the Jenny Skirt and Lauren Top in past Carny Style articles – something tells me it was related to the harlequin print items that came out this past spring.  However, the bold graphics and contrasting, monochromatic color scheme of this collection could not be passed up as an opportunity to come up with an amazing outfit.  After all, stripes and spiders are two things that certainly fall within the realm of circus inspiration.

Though it may shimmer like gossamer, the Lauren Top in Black with White Spiderwebs carries the strength of stretch cotton sateen that is form-fitting and curve-conscious.  Now that the weather is growing colder, long sleeves are on trend, but the adjustable cuffs and coordinating color allow you  to have options when styling as opposed to accents that are static.  Black and white silk sateen will make you scream when you set sights on this don’t-say-the-name-three-times inspired Jenny Skirt, where voluminous vertical stripes are gathered at a nipped-in waist and spill down past the knees.  One would be hard pressed to resist giving this a whirl, as watching the fabric twirl would gather quite the entranced crowd.  To accentuate the waist even further to really capture that ‘hourglass’ shape often associated with pinups, use a wide elastic belt; I selected the Red Rose one for the satin ribbon and lace framed cameo set in the center.  Inside the oval frame is an illustration that gives the accessory its name, which also brings another color into the styling palette for other things to play off of.  The elaborate details of these black Spiderweb Tights come together and form an intricate design that is also abstract and doesn’t come across as too costumey.  Having the addition of red in the belt means being able to pair this look with Pinup Couture’s new line of shoes, brought to you by the same fine folks that are behind the infamous Bordello collection.  Red patent vinyl trimmed in black is just the beginning of why the Smitten Pump will bring a sense of balance.  The retro curve of the shoe leads into a round toe topped with a pleated bow, and though the heel is only four inches high, it makes the shoe ideal as an affordable basic you will love having in your wardrobe.

Instead of going for a high shine vinyl, I thought the matte red of Pinup Couture’s Bow Handbag would suit this outfit better, as it doesn’t give off the overwhelming glow that can occasionally accompany red.  The trapezoid-shaped body has been slightly rounded and edged in glossy black vinyl, which can also be found trimming the handle and in the form of a bow on the front.  While there are a few other hats that can also be worn with this look, the forthcoming Swirl Dish Hat was too decadent to resist, what with the alternating rings of white and black ribbon tucked under a cascade of netting and all.  Since it’s not available just yet, I did not hesitate to sign up for the wait list, as I suspect this will be a widely popular item and I would be bummed to miss an opportunity to acquire it for myself.  An unlikely suggestion as far as jewelry goes, but remember that mixing quality pieces with those that are of a more kitschy nature is what these guides are all about.  Personally I would wear the Pentagram Earrings by Killstar through my stainless steel tunnels, but however you choose to adorn your ears, doing it with black hoops that have pentagrams inside will certainly make a statement.  The only accessory to feature an arachnid is the Black Widow Cameo Necklace, where the red and black resin cameo is surrounded by a filigree frame and hangs nicely when the 1 3/8″ chain is draped across the neck.  This outfit is about a polished presentation, and too many ‘matching’ items can make it messy, though any of the items recommended here can be swapped for ones in the Spidora guide.  Skipping bracelets on account the cuffs of the top speak enough on their own, the final pieces of jewelry happen to be another trend this season, as Phalanx Rings appear on fingers from the runway to the red carpet.  More commonly known as ‘middle of the finger’ or ‘knuckle rings’, the stacks of white and black diamonds can be alternated to pick up the pattern of the skirt for a unique touch.

The cosmetics selected to coincide with the completed outfit are meant to reflect its minimalist aesthetics, and it is suggested that one goes through their usual moisturizing routine and priming the face prior to applying any of the following products.  Advertised as having “everything you need for the perfect neutral eye”, the Naked Basics Palette by Urban Decay contains six versatile shadows that can be used to contour, line and highlight to create the right amount of definition for any occasion.  Build a foundation using Venus, a soft off-white demi matte, by patting it along your brow bone and then blending it both directions; up towards the brow and down to the lid.  Then take Walk Of Shame, a very light nude matte, and pat that all across the lid, blending it up into the other shadow.  Finally, sweep the warm and dusty brown tones of Faint into the crease with an angled brush, making sure to soften the edges along the outer-V.  Now that you have a nice base, cut into it with Illamasqua’s Precision Gel Liner which will allows you to effortlessly draw your cat-eye wither you prefer demure or dramatic.  After coating lashes in your favorite mascara, tack on a set of Sugarpill Charlotte Lashes, their spider web shaped edges sure to make your eyes appear larger.

Versatile enough for any skin tone, Naked Flushed by Urban Decay makes an excellent companion to their similarly named eye shadow palette with a luxe bronzer, blush and highlighter in one compact.  The soft satiny bronze should be used to contour cheeks, chin, forehead and any other areas you want to minimize; dust cheeks with the rosey blush and top with the shimmering pink champagne highlight, which can also be applied to places you want to illuminate.  With the rest of the face set to neutral, the lips are the star of this show and deserve to be heart-stopping.  Take the emollient enriched Cruella, a Velvet Matte Pencil by NARS, and use it to line the lips, the creamy formula depositing rich pigment that will stay put no matter what.  Follow with Vesuvio, a full bodied red Pure Matte Lipstick that adds another layer of hydrating protection despite the matte finish.  The last touch will the Super Charged charcoal and rainbow multi-glitter splendor of Formula X, a textured polish that encrusts nails in sparkling glamour that rivals the world’s most expensive jewels.

Kitschy Variety: Venus Flytrap Skirt


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.

An Afternoon in Smithville

smithville_03Located along Route 9 in Galloway Township, the Historic Towne of Smithville does not quite have the same lengthy history as Batsto, but it does offer an atmosphere of family friendly activities that will certainly make you glad that you took the time to visit.  My husband has been telling me about it for quite some time now, and when we learned there would be a car cruise there today, it seemed like the ideal opportunity to take a drive out.  His dad came along as well, which is always nice since it tends to be just the two of us and it is not often we all have the chance to do something together.  This also means that during the ride we get to hear stories about how he used to go there with his wife and how long it has been since they last went.

The oldest structure in this quaint little South Jersey town is known as the Smithville Inn and it dates back to the late 1700s, though there is some debate as to whether or not the structure was originally planned as an inn.  It is now a 42 seat restaurant which offers a charming and intimate dining experience, though there are several other places you can also grab some grub that range from coffee and baked goods to pizza and pretzels.  Aside from food, there are over 40 different shops and boutiques that have a wide variety of merchandise such as collectibles and crafts, arcades that house antique artifacts from old amusement parks and an old-fashioned steam train that takes visitors on a tour around the town.  You can also enjoy paddle boats, miniature golf or a round on the carousel that spins its riders right next to the lake.

smithville_05Our purpose in visiting, aside from it being my first time there and wanting to check out what it was all about, was to browse the classic cars that were supposed to be on display until 5 pm.  Whoever gave my husband that information may have misunderstood his question and thought he was asking about something else, as all of the cars were revving their engines and leaving just as we got to the lot they had been parked in.  Oh well, it was still a beautiful afternoon and there were enough still around for me to get my fix of nostalgia and whatnot, so we decided to walk around so I could check things out.  The arcades had piqued my interest when my husband had been showing me the town map, though I was disappointed that they did not have any games.  They did, however, have some amazing vintage machines that are as solid as furniture, but I was not interested in flattening out my penny or having my ‘fortune’ delivered on a card via automaton psychic.

There were plenty of interesting shops that we visited as well, such as Evermore Herb Co. where you can purchase just about any herb you want for the kitchen or your own well-being.  Inside the Candle Shoppe one will undoubtedly be overwhelmed by the numerous fragrances of Yankee Candles, though there are other assorted housewares available as well.  We happened to find some really lovely smelling incense and bought a dozen sticks – I don’t know why we haven’t done this sooner since I used to burn incense all the time, as I tend to prefer them over candles.  At Fantasea Treasures, I was enamored by the display of kitsch in the form of hand carved tikis, giant glasses made from cut liquor bottles and a large assortment of nautical themed gifts that were set beside quirky bar signs.  Could not resist purchasing a blue crab, as they had plenty of them hanging on the wall, perhaps to integrate into a future hair piece or something.

Dad treated us to a ride on the train, and I don’t care how hold I get, I will never stop enjoying amusement ride and see plenty of people who are in there 60’s and beyond having a heck of a time relieving their youths on them, so I am going to have my fun too.  There was a couple twice our age sitting in front of us, so that made riding with tons of kids and their parents a lot less awkward.  Basically the train runs a loop around the area of shops known as the Village Greene, and gives you a better view of some of the on premises lodging options such as The Barn and the Johnson House.  If you suddenly are struck with the urge to be groomed or pampered, there is a full service salon, nail space and barber shop that are more than happy to cater to your needs.

My favorite shop is also the last one we happened to stop in, and I was kind of surprised to hear punk music blasting out of it since the general vibe of the town is quiet in comparison.  Underground is full of apparel, records and artwork related to punk, but it also carries a significant amount of Jersey pride merchandise.  The prices are also much better than a certain store in Philly that carries mainly mass produced alternative uniforms, and I am always happy to support local businesses over larger corporations.  We were just browsing, but I definitely spotted a few things I would not mind going back for, as the town is open every day except for Christmas.

On the way back we stopped for dinner at Mickey and Minnie’s Inn, a restaurant on the White Horse Pike that has been owned by the same family since 1938.  There are not enough of these places, as large chains of the same old shit tend to dominate the highways that pass through all of these South Jersey towns and buildings that were once filled with hungry crowds now stand empty and slowly decaying.  The interior of Mickey and Minnie’s was covered in wood paneling, kind of dark and looked like it hadn’t been changed since the 80’s.  Our service was more than friendly and prompt, and the food came out on giant plates, so that made up for feeling as though we had hit a time warp.  None of us were able to actually completely finish our meals, but we were all satisfied and that’s what matters.

Despite having missed the car cruise, I would have to say it still turned out to be a really great day that I got to spend with two people who mean a lot to me, and I don’t think it really gets any better than that.

Kitschy Variety: Just Desserts Dress


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.

Kitschy Variety: Hotrod Honey Dress


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.

Deadly Dames: Malibu Tiki Dress

Recently revamped, the Malibu Tiki Dress by Deadly Dames has been fabricated from a rich stretch satin reminiscent of classic 1950’s Hawaiian designs.  Each and every detail has been made to accentuate the natural curves of any body, where a fully built in bust with padding forms a super sweetheart neckline, crossing over into a side tie that flows into a tulip skirt.  The straps adjust for a custom fit and the dress is accompanied by a double-lined bolero, which has been omitted in the second look due to the fact that is how the stock photo appeared.  While these types of kitschy frocks are appealing to many tikiophiles, there are some who are not attracted to such bold prints and that is just fine – more palm frawns and exotic flowers for those of us who love them!





The cool blue tones reflect those found in oceans and skies alike, punctuated with bursts of red that somehow flow across the body in harmony throughout the print.  An escape to paradise – be it a tropical vacation or just a tiki themed party – is not complete without Iron Fist’s Kokomoan, a platform heel that has a criss-crossed open toe, ankle strap and eye-popping turquoise paint job where flowers and other images are hidden all over the shoe, while a red and black print can be found the interior and sole.  For me it is always fun to take decidedly feminine garments and give them a punk rock edge, accomplished here with Too Fast’s Suicidal Bag, a matte black purse that has a hard shell exterior covered in cone studs and a brass knuckle style handle.  Protection from the sun is always important, so don’t forget those Cat Eye Sunglasses, the red frames a refreshing change from the traditional black yet with plenty of retro vibes in extreme shapes where stars and rhinestones serve as dazzling decorations.  Humidity is a drawback of sultry hideaways so tame those curls by using a Perfect Pinup Scarf, the sheer red fabric flexible yet firm to provide sturdy hold for any ‘do, and then decorate using as many white and blue Plumeria hair clips for any stray strands that are tempted to run free.  Lavish yourself in Tarina Tarantino Flower Earrings, the Nile blue gems dangling from filigree flowers accented with deep red swarovski crystals.  Hand carved from the shell this jewelry gets its name from, the Paua Tiki Necklace is encased in clear resin, the tilted face augmented by gleaming natural Paua shell donuts.  Fans of kitschy nautical trinkets can tie a Gold Anchor around the wrist using this blue leather bracelet by Michael Saiger, then slip on a Sterling Silver Mermaid Ring where the tiny detailed scales circle around your finger.

Melding the execution of a foundation and the comfort of a powder, Siberia by NARS is a lightweight product with a natural balance of pink and yellow tones which gives skin a soft matte finish.  Embark on a journey to daring eyes as you pat Outremer on the lids, a bright true blue shadow that delivers refined and radiant color, then pull the royal hue of China Blue from the crease to the outer ‘V’, blending softly as you go along.  Amplify their intensity by highlighting the brow bone with Hollywoodland, a pale gold Soft Touch Pencil that provides velvety and long-lasting sparkle.  The Factory was where Warhol had his original NYC studio, located on 47th Street and reflected in this Larger Than Life Eyeliner, the black flecked with silver that effortlessly floats across skin to draw precise lines.  Enable maximum lengthening power by pairing the liner with Larger Than Life Mascara, a formula that sculpts and separates each lash while making them impossibly long.   Though the blazing burnt orange and gold shimmer in Taj Mahal may seem a bit too powerful for cheeks, a light application produces a natural looking finish.  Lustrous lips are achieved with Norma, a Larger Than Life Lipgloss in an iconic shade of cherry red that stays put while giving your pout volume and shine.  For once the manicure to compliment such a vivid face leans toward the neutral spectrum, using Candy Darling [sheer baby pink] as a base and building it up with coats of Zizi, the clear peach and gold glitter accumulating plenty of oomph.





This second outfit caters to more of a dark tiki aesthetic, where layers of green leaves are crossed on a black background and lavender blooms subtly in just the right places.  A pair of Pinup Couture Tiki Heels make the ideal footwear, the carved wooden heels resembling ancient tiki idols while the bow detail over the peep toe matches the one on the dress.  Mixing retro elements and contemporary textiles, Teaserama by Sourpuss is a textured black matte vinyl purse that has an over-sized kisslock, easy grip handles and silver Bettie Page hardware.  Faux pearls embellishing the black frames of Highbrow Cat Eye Sunglasses from ASOS nicely set off the purple tinted lenses and sleek, comfortable design.  Perhaps there is a reason that zombies come to mind when creating a tiki outfit, though one can choose kitschy accessories simply for the fact they bring a smile to the face.  Lighten the mood with Green Heart Bows, the black satin bows splatter with mysterious green stuff and a zombie heart charm set in the middle, then ease into chic luxury in these classical Green Flower Earrings that have plenty of gleaming peridot crystals.  Cater to your campy side in a Purple Skull Collection Necklace by Kreepsville 666 while also pleasing your lavish cravings with a rhinestone encrusted Gold Tropical Flower Ring and a 1970’s style yellow gold Serpent Bangle Bracelet.

Allow your complexion to emit a healthy glow using Loose Powder by NARS, the Flesh tone supplementing skin with a translucent appearance.  Then take the High Society Trio Eyeshadow and paint your lid in the Forest Green, its matte finish setting the stage for Irridescent Amethyst to work its way from the outer corner to the crease, which is accented by Lavender on the brow bone and inner corner.  The micro-fine pigments pack a powerful punch, blending effortlessly while still presenting plenty of color.  Couple this with the archetype for accuracy and sharpness, the violet eyeliner pencil known as Manon that coasts across the lid depositing long-wearing product.  Go for a natural glow on the cheeks using Nico, an award winning blush which has a silky texture and brightens the face no matter how much you choose to wear.  Line lips in Borneo, a  pencil that is soft brown with a hint of pink, formulated to be creamy yet prevents lipstick from bleeding or feathering.  Similar to the first look, the lips are more muted as the eyes are meant to attract all the attention, so a few layers of Napoli to tint them a cool natural beige that has the same pink tinge and a sheer, sophisticated shine.  A vintage manicure where the black and green pearls of Night Porter are balance by deep smoky lavender half-moons painted in Manosque imparts a conventional yet cutting-edge glamour to this guise.

Pinup Couture: Harlequin Print Skirt




An exceptional design by Pinup Couture, the Jenny Skirt in Harlequin Print is crafted from quality cotton sateen and caters to fans of vintage silhouettes.  The material has been gathered for extra fullness and is held in place with a wide band that gives the illusion of a nipped in waist.  Here the colors of its retro pattern is brought out by the boldness of Laura Byrnes’ Sean Top, the cuffed sleeves, stand-up collar and meticulous seaming of the red poplin create a fit that accentuates every figure.  While also recommended in the Harlequin Print Shorts guide, this is where the similarities end and more of my own personal aesthetics come into play.  Pattern coordination is an effective way to get people to keep their eyes on you, so what better way to do that by putting on a pair of Iron Fist platform pumps covered in black and red argyle print with a white skull etched at the sides.  Embracing elements of different cultures, the Cruiser Tote by Lux de Ville has spectacular tuck and roll details which highlights the black and ruby red sparkling vinyl.  Though elegantly timeless, give a classic retro accessory an update via Triple Optic Cat Eye Sunglasses, the black frames decorated with rhinestones that sit at your temples while polycarbonate lenses protect your eyes from the sun.  Adorn your favorite up-do in Peacock Feather hair clips to bring a bit of contrast to all that red, the precise trimming shaping them into a flower that surrounds a centered rhinestone cluster.  For those with piercings, a set of Round Harlequin Ends from Body Vision Los Angeles inserts a touch of opulence by way of 18 karat gold and synthetic jade stones.  The Spangled Maker Mermaid Necklace reminds me of the legendary Fiji mermaids that often accompany traditional sideshows, those the upper half is not a mangled monkey but a lovely Victorian style lady complete with cinched corset.  Ward off wandering hands and wrap a Crystal Spider Cuff around your wrist; red, pink and white rhinestones make it hard to miss.  As a final touch,  this 1950’s Harlequin Ring that is genuine vintage jewelry, where a 10 karat gold setting holds onto black onyx and chrysoprase marquise diamond cut gems.

Selecting a foundation is important when executing a dramatic look, as you want the makeup to stand with staying power so that all of your hard work isn’t melding down your cheeks after a few hours.  For a complexion where the cosmetic will be indiscernible even in a professional HD environment, Illamasqua’s Skin Base is appropriate for all skin types, blending easily to provide soft, smooth and natural coverage.  Using a small brush, pat Toxic across the eyelids to deposit a layer of warm coral nude shadow, bringing it slightly up into the crease.  Then using an angled brush, draw out a ‘V’ shape on the outer corner of the eye using Daemon and bring it down into the crease close to the inner corner; then fill in with more of the bright scarlet red shadow, lightly blending the two together.  Highlight your brow bone and inner corner of your eye in Static, an iridescent pink and silver Pure Pigment that has a shiny metallic finish – keep it handy to add a touch of sparkle to cheeks later on.  Now it’s time for those cat eyes, and I prefer a short but thick ‘flick’ at the end that tapers out to about the middle of the eye on the lower lash line, and to just past the iris on the top.  Experiment all you want, as Precision Gel Liner is guaranteed to stay in place so when you do find your signature style you will be able to maintain it with little effort.  Turn up the tease by treating lashes to Lewd, a blue mascara that thickens and lengthens in a just a few strokes, then top it all off with a pair of No. 13 False Lashes for theatrical impact.  Distinguished cheeks are built on the soft apricot tones of Lover, the powerful pigments exuding radiance.  Since there is so much emphasis on the eyes, lips should be treated to Sonnet, a cool peachy nude lipstick that goes on creamy yet has a matte finish that will stay put all night.  Complete the whole ensemble by applying a Viridian manicure, adding extra sparkle to the metallic peacock green polish with Untold, glossy red glitter that will also give your nails some hard-wearing shine.