I Dream of a Haunted Circus

So since my last post, the strangest things happened to me… my computer’s hard drive failed on me, which led me into a downwards spiral of stress and sadness. I lost so many important files, including childhood photos, undergraduate essays, among others.

Then, during a spontaneous trip to Disneyland, I had a sudden nerve pain even before I sat on a ride. I couldn’t sit or stand so now I’m constantly just trying to find the most comfortable position until I see a doctor.

I planned on writing a few posts but alas, I let my grief overcome me. Also, please ignore the bad quality photos this time around – I couldn’t stand and pose for too long. Regardless, here I am! Hi!

Pinup Girl Clothing came out with their new print peasant tops last week. I immediately ordered the pink and white striped because there was one specific outfit I wanted to try out. If you can’t tell yet, I love stripes! [3 out of my 4 blog posts so far feature stripes, I have a problem!]

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As usual with Pinup Girl Clothing, I received my peasant top the next business day. Their customer service is simply amazing!

The stripes on this peasant top are so perfect, and they remind me of Jo Ann Callis’ artwork, Untitled. Her work is absolutely beautiful, and I particularly appreciate the way she frames her subjects, highlighting the surrealism and seductiveness of her subjects. I came across the following photograph by Callis while perusing LACMA’s artwork database. The print is surrounded by a pink and white striped fabric mat, very similar to Pinup Girl’s new peasant top.

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Jo Ann Callis, Untitled, 1995. Photograph (LACMA)

 

I got home on Friday and I was overjoyed to see the FedEx package on my doorstep! I’m not even kidding – I did not waste a single second. I immediately put it on and paired it with my spiderweb jenny! I wanted to try juxtaposing the darkness of the spiderweb jenny with the softness of the pink and white stripes. I was inspired by the idea of the way vintage circuses are usually depicted in contemporary culture and art. Circuses are meant to be magical and happy, but the depiction of circuses reveal the darkness behind the scenes.

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The shade of pink peasant top is drastically different than the bubblegum pink voodoo vixen top and the new run of the pink peasant top. This shade is pink is a bit like Crayola’s Tickle Me Pink, in my opinion. However, you’ll notice that in the photos of me wearing it outdoors, it looks drastically lighter because of the sunlight (these photos are unedited).

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I ordered my usual size small, and I found it to be a little loose, especially in the waist. I should have probably waited to exchange it, but in my excitement I didn’t think about it. I guess if necessary, I can always alter it to fit my waist, although it’s not much of a problem.

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I’m not used to mixing prints. I usually wear a single print, either as a skirt or a dress. Initially, I was unsure of the combination, but I was reassured by some lovely friends that it works.

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And voila, my dream became a reality! I love the combination of the delicacy of the peasant top with the darkness of the spiderweb jenny. I also wore my soft pink Jennifer petticoat from Malco Modes for the extra poof!

I wore it out last Friday night to the wedding florist’s office and Ladies and Gents Night at Magnolia Park. But since my post-work hair was a mess and I was just so exhausted, I didn’t have the chance to take decent photos, but I did get this amazing photo in front of the florist’s bookshelf. It was organized by color and surrounded the entire space. Perfection! Even though I was not prepared at all, I just had to take advantage of the opportunity.

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To be honest, there wasn’t a specific artwork or artist that inspired this outfit. It was a combination of vintage circus photos and paintings, Melvin Sokolovsky, Mary Ellen Park, and others. I stopped by Pinup Girl Boutique for Ladies and Gents Night, and Doris  Mayday even commented on how my outfit looked like a creepy circus. Outfit achievement: UNLOCKED!

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For the photos, I added one of my favorite hair accessories, two skeleton hand hair clips I got from Halloween Town in Burbank. I also wore black heels that I got on sale from Sidecca. Sidecca carries great pinup style clothing and shoes for a decent price. I especially LOVE their shoe selection. As someone who orders online more frequently than I should, it’s great that I can try on all my favorite brands at Sidecca and just make purchases at the store.

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So regardless of my exhaustion, laziness, and all other problems – my outfit ended up making me so happy. So happy, in fact, I recreated it to take decent pictures for this blog post!

So here’s to a brighter, more energetic future, more art, and more fashion!

[and one last pic because I love this so much 😉 ]

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Outfit Details:
Peasant top, skirt, and belt: Pinup Girl Clothing
Shoes: Sidecca
Hair Clips: Halloween Town
Liquid Lipstick: Anastasia Bevery Hills Sarafine

 

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Candy Stripes Galore!

HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SUMMER!

Yesterday was by far one of the hottest day in Los Angeles. As much as Angelenos like to brag about our clear skies and heat, sometimes it does get unbearable for us too. But just like every Angeleno, it was the perfect opportunity to go to the beach for a lovely relaxing afternoon.

So of course, my friend and I went to Redondo Beach to hang out and take some fun photos.

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It was the perfect opportunity to debut my vintage 1940s candy striped playsuit I’ve had waiting for a hot day like this! I absolutely love candy stripes, and this has got to be one of my favorite color combinations. The combination of red, green, and ivory reminded me of two of Josef Albers’ paintings from his Homage to the Square series. 

The two paintings that immediately come to mind are Emeraude (1965) and 
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Vintage beach wear is so beautiful, and if I had the money, I’d buy them all! The details are stunning and the cut is so flattering yet comfortable. It’s really difficult to match shades of red and green without making it look like a rejected Christmas outfit, and I really appreciated the way that these shades of red and green in the playsuit worked together. That’s also why I immediately thought of Joseph Albers’ Homage to the Square series and his intricate study of color theory.

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Bottom line: I had to get this playsuit!

I paired the playsuit with soft green Chelsea Crew sandals and my white Ted Baker glasses I came across in a sale bin at Nordstrom Rack. I’m not a fan of hats, but I did take a floppy woven hat with me anyway – and I must say, it was a serious struggle. I guess this is something I’ll just try to get used to because I love how they look on everyone else.

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I also wore my What Katie Did maitresse bullet bra. It’s one of my favorite and most comfortable bras I own. Because it’s so lightweight, it’s also breathable. The vintage cut of the bra is [of course] perfect for the cut of the crop top.
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Now, confession time: I hate my arms and my back. I’ve always been self conscious of showing my arms and back. Even with crop tops, I’m always worried about that tiny part of my back showing. As you can see in the image about, my arms are scarred. Though you can’t see in these photos, I have a birthmark on my back. So when people would see my arms or back, they’d ask about it out of curiosity and proceed to give me “expert medical advice” or holistic ways to clear my skin. I only stopped caring once I began shopping at Pinup Girl Clothing. If Ani from two years traveled in time and saw current Ani in this playsuit, she’d be horrified. Not only did I wear a set with a cropped top, but I posed for a photo that shows the scars on my arm…and now I’m sharing it. That’s a pretty big deal for me.

 

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Of course, no trip to Redondo beach would be complete without a stop at Old Tony’s for the best Mai Tai ever. Plus, you get to take home a free souvenir glass with every Mai Tai purchase. It’s almost like they’re giving you an incentive to drink, if getting drunk isn’t a good enough incentive.

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Outfit details:

Playsuit: Birthday Life Vintage
Bra: What Katie Did
Shoes: Chelsea Crew from Modcloth
Hat: Francesca’s
Lipstick: Starlet Scarlett, Charlotte Olympia for MAC

 

The Art of a Picnic

Last week, my good friend George and I decided to go to Griffith Park for a picnic photoshoot. The sun was out, the sky was blue, there wasn’t a cloud to spoil the view (if you read that in Buddy Holly’s voice, we’ll be great friends). I picked up an adorable wine bottle from my most recent wine club shipment from Sort This Out Cellars (the greatest winery in the whole world!), a couple of pies, and a basket of fruit and we headed out to Griffith Park. I wanted to make sure I included very typical elements for a sweet summer picnic.

It was a bit strange at first, since people kept staring at us as we took photos, but after a while, I completely forgot anyone else was watching and just had so much fun.

Initially I wanted something reminiscent of typical pinup picnics, since I was primarily thinking of Gil Elvgren’s work. Then I started thinking about the depictions of picnic scenes in the history of art. I immediately thought Jean-Antoine Watteau’s Fete galantes and Edouard Manet’s The Luncheon on the Grass. 

There must be a reason why picnic scenes with women as the primary subject have always been so popular…

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Jean Antoine Watteau, The Pleasures of Love, 1718-1719. Oil on canvas.

Watteau was known for his contributions to Rococo art, a softer painterly style with delicate and pastel colors and rounded, soft curves. Fete galantes were a style popularized by Watteau as charming and idyllic scenes of the patrons enjoying life, almost as if merging traditionally mythological scenes with imagery of his commissioners. This blend resulted in paintings such as The Pleasures of Love (1718-1719). We, as the audience, are viewing the figures even though their backs are turned to us. We’re unwelcomed visitors watching their lovely picnic. The women in the painting are in dialogue with the men, with their body language suggesting a sense of carefree flirtatiousness.  Sarah Cohen, in “Watteau’s Fete Galantes and the Artful Body,” said:

As in a painting such as The Pleasures of Love, the explorations of what elegantly clothed bodies could do, and what they could do with one another, provided ample interest to sustain the attention of early eighteenth-century audiences.

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Edouard Manet, Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe, 1862/1863. Oil on canvas.

Fast forward to the mid 1800s, and you have Edouard Manet’s Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe, possibly one of the most controversial and intensely studied paintings in art history and gender studies. Two dressed men are in conversation as a fully nude woman turns her gaze directly towards the viewer – aware of her nudity, aware of our gaze. For Watteau, the female picnickers were simply bodies to admire. In Manet’s painting, the nude woman is either accepting and returning our gaze or challenging it – we are left unsure of her motives. Regardless of her nudity and vulnerability to the male gaze, by returning the gaze she is acknowledging and owning her unclothed, vulnerable body, causing much controversy for nineteenth century audiences.

In my photoshoot, I was not unclothed and I did not feel like Watteau’s wealthy patron stuck in a mythological scene. However, I felt as if the way I chose to position my body, and the gaze I was very comfortably and fearlessly returning to the audience, were heavily influenced by scenes of leisure I’ve studied in art history.

While I had analyzed these female subjects in textbooks before, for the first time, I realized I have become that female subject of my analysis. A very strange feeling, indeed.


For my first outfit, I chose the Trixie top and skirt in BBQ print by Bernie Dexter. It just screams pinup picnic, don’t you think? To avoid gingham overload, I primarily posed standing or sitting on the grass. I wanted the outfit to speak for itself, so I kept props very minimal as well.

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People recommended that I size up when I ordered the outfit, which I did. Unfortunately, I should have just purchased my true size. Since I was too lazy to go through the exchange process, I had to alter my skirt to fit properly. The Trixie skirt is also shorter than many other dresses and skirts I own, so I bought a shorter petticoat from Malco Modes in order to give it some fullness. While the Jennifer petticoat would have worked, it was just too full for my taste – especially for a picnic photoshoot on such a hot day.

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For my second outfit, I chose the red bustier top by Pinup Girl Clothing and a pair of high waisted navy blue shorts I got off the sale rack at Urban Outfitters 3 or 4 ago.

Fun fact: If I’m not mistaken, it was my first pinup-y piece of clothing. Plus, they were $7! I was the real winner that day.

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The shade of red that Pinup Girl Clothing uses is such a true red it matches perfectly with almost everything. I love wearing red clothing, and I find that PUG red is the most flattering. The bustier top has a few large buttons on the back and no zipper, so it is a bit difficult trying to get it on. Imagine how tough I had it, as I was trying to button it up in a park bathroom stall! The easiest way for me was to button it in the front and then move it to the back. Even though getting it on is a pain, it’s definitely worth the effort since it looks so beautiful!

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The shoot ended when I spilled wine all over the blanket. However, we did have two delicious pies to enjoy afterwards. What a wonderful reward for a day of hard work! 😉

All photography: GeorgeK Photography

Outfit #1 Details:
Top and skirt: Bernie Dexter
Shoes: Pinup Girl Clothing
Petticoat: Malco Modes
Stockings: What Katie Did
Lipstick: Besame Cosmetics

Outfit #2 Details:
Bustier Top: Pinup Girl Clothing
Shorts: Urban Outfitters
Hair Flower: Nancy’s Fancy Fruits

Elephants…Elephants Everywhere!

Oh well, here’s my first blog post!

I thought I should do a dress review of one of my favorite pieces in my closet, the Mary Blair Circus Elephant Print Lydia dress from Pinup Girl Clothing. Considering how much I talked about the dress before it was even released, it’s only fitting I talk about it first on my blog too.

I absolutely love elephants, I even have a pair of elephant menagerie that was passed down to me from my great-grandmother. Fun fact: elephants can swim and they use their trunks like a snorkel underwater to breathe. Isn’t that just one of the most adorable things you’ve ever read? Elephants are just…so special to me.

When I think of elephants, I think of Dumbo and Dali. The former depresses me, even though it’s one of my favorite movies, and the latter excites me because I’m a bit huge Art History nerd. So one of my inspirations behind this purchase was Dali’s…wait for it… Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening.

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Salvador Dali, Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening, 1944. Oil on wood.

 

The light, airy quality of the painting, as well as the the fact that tigers are also a circus animal, slightly alludes to the circus print dress.

(Note: For the sake of all our sanity and keeping this blog post short and sweet, I’ll avoid the Freudian interpretation of this painting)

As a result, I patiently impatiently waited for the release of the print. With the help of the lovely girls on the Facebook Pinup Girl Customer Lounge (sidenote: you should definitely join if you haven’t yet), I decided to purchase the Lydia dress as opposed to the Jenny skirt. I have not tried yet, but apparently the Lydia is one of the easiest dress to convert into a skirt. So anytime I get bored of wearing it as a dress, I can easily pair it with a blouse and wear it as a skirt!

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The Lydia dress has about the same fullness as a Jenny skirt. I paired it with my soft pink Jennifer petticoat from Malco Modes since recieving this dress was a momentous occasion for me. For a more casual look, I prefer the Malco Modes Cosette petticoat with my fuller skirts.

I don’t usually wear much jewelry, as you can tell, so I only wore my beautiful gold hoops. The neckline of the Lydia dress is so flattering, I felt that wearing a brooch or a necklace would be a distraction. I know some people find the bust to be a little too revealing, but I actually don’t mind it at all. The adjustable straps in the back are also helpful to make sure that the straps sit comfortably.

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I paired the dress with my pink heels from Chelsea Crew. When I was taking these photos, I actually had a sprained ankle, and I was worried that I’d aggravate the pain by wearing heels. Chelsea Crew shoes are so comfortable that it actually didn’t do the damage I expected. So if a clumsy girl with a sprained ankle can wear these shoes comfortably, then you can too! It is definitely one of my favorite shoe brands.

Coincidentally, I had a hair appointment with Missy on the day that I received my dress! As Missy said, I had Natasha Fatale hair. Comparing hair to cartoons has got to be one of the most flattering compliments in the world. So yes, ladies and gents, Missy is a magician when it comes to hair.

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On this one Saturday, everything fell perfectly into place. My hair was freshly dyed and styled, my dress came in the mail, and I was rather proud of the makeup I did. To say the least, it was a good day.

Oh, and one last thing…IT HAS POCKETS!

Dress: Pinup Girl Clothing
Petticoat: Malco Modes
Shoes: Modcloth
Lipstick: Besamé Cosmetics
Hair: Missy Firestone