Sunday, 29 April 2012

Hello to Durham

I though as I did a small photo based post about leaving Brighton I thought I'd do something similar for the city I now live in - Durham.

Durham is a World Heritage Site famous for its snaking river, cathedral and castle. It is a very small city with lots of trees and greenery by the river bank.

It has very old architecture and is also home to Durham University. It is a fairly quiet city, but its only 10 minutes away from Newcastle and its nightlife by train (also I'l be working in Newcastle for the foreseeable future).

Durham only has three main shopping streets, a huge amount of cobbles, and not that many high-street shops, although it has enough to get by.

However it also has a good selection of quirky boutiques, charity shops for thrifting, an indoor market for home bargains and a regular market in the city square with vintage dealers, local food produce and crafts - like Wickham Cottage Crafts who make cute and kitch home decorations.

It's a totally different type of place to Brighton - lets see what kind of adventures I get up to here!

(I attended Judy's Vintage fair last weekend so I'll be posting on that soon!)

Saturday, 28 April 2012

A 'GoodBye' to Brighton

I thought that since I have finally left Brighton, I'd post a final piece with a few pictures that sum up my memories of the strange little city...

Brighton is fmous for its Pavillion, its architecture, the Sussex Downs, mods, beach, sun-shine and seagulls...

....and while I have had a lot of fun in the town, the beach, the pier and on campus...

...most of my memories are very tied up into dancing...

..but then I did spend a lot of my time doing it!

So that's if for Brighton now, I don't really want to dwell on the things I'll miss, and I'm sure I'll be back in the future but for now its 'Bye Bye'

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

An All-American Party and a Marilyn Monroe Costume

Hey there!

It’s been a long time since I last updated, what with moving etc., but I’m back now and I’ll be posting regularly from my new location in County Durham.
(Although I will still be visiting Brighton and London occasionally!)

So my first update from the North East is to talk about my leaving party – a joint event with my friend Ann-Sofie who was leaving for new frontiers in the USA (I also need to give her credit for almost everything in terms of organising this party!) so we decided to have a USA theme party and attempted to encourage people to dress up as American icons.

I decided to use this opportunity to dress as an American icon I have been a fan of for a while: Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn, even though she has a very classic look, is actually fairly simply styled – classically 50s style, bombshell hair, 50s makeup and ideally the white dress from The Seven Year Itch (of course being a brunette I would require a wig!).

To complete my costume I turned to the website Theme Party Fancy Dress UK to provide me with a Marilyn dress and wig.

When they arrived I have to say I was very pleased with the wig while the quality may not be as good as that of a real hair wig, I found it very affective, and for £12.99 who can complain. It was adjustable for comfort and brush-able so I could attempt to tease it into an appropriate style.

The dress was a little more difficult as it was a generalised size medium, or 12-14, and in order to achieve this the dress needed to have an elasticated back so it could stretch to fit. This meant that the front of the dress provided very little bust support, something that was a real problem for me.

To counteract this problem I needed to sew the strap over the halter neck so that it pulled the neckline up, this spoiled the bist line a bit, but it meant that I could wear a strapless bra with it which made it much easier to wear.

Unfortunate compromises, but I feel that the overall effect was quite well put together.

For the make up I did a simple 50s style flick and red lips. Annoyingly my eyeliner ended up quite a bit heavier than anticipated and my brows, as ever, were too dark I really had to hope that it didn't spoil the illusion too much. Then as I said previously, I loved the wig, I think I’d quite like myself as a blonde occasionally.

The party itself was great fun! It was held at JB's American Diner on the Brighton seafront (I can really recommend their root beer floats!) and there were some really innovative costumes, for example the White House, a hot dog, Minnie Mouse, Catwoman, Rambo, Lucille Ball, Napoleon Dynamite and even a sexy astronaught!

I will miss the fun times in Brighton a lot, but I look forward to my new future in the North.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

A Quick Guide to Buying Costumes

A lot of real (and I use this term loosely as to not offend anyone) costumers and cosplayers will tell you that if you’re not making your costume, then you’re doing it wrong. I, however, think it is important to keep and open mind about these things. We all lead busy lives these days and while it may be easier for some people to find the time to practice ninja-like sewing skills, some of us simply may not have the time.

For example my life is a little chaotic right now! In the last month I have been finishing up my labwork for my PhD (which requires very long shifts in the lab) I have moved house twice, and am due for a third and final move next weekend, I had my birthday last weekend, I have prep work for my wedding, keeping on top of comics for Den of Geek… oh and my leaving party – which of course, is fancy dress!

I’m sure you can forgive me if I didn’t have time to work on making anything too fancy for this event, so I turned to the costumers back up plan – the bought costume.

I have had a fair amount of success with bought costumes to date:
My Sally costume from a Halloween past was a great licensed costume, it even included the wig, but some extra tights to make my arms and legs blue and some extra facepaint really made it stand out. For my birthday last year I dressed a Jessica Rabbit using a bought dress and a wig, and of course my Harley Quinn costume was bought from eBay many moons ago.

I wont tell you what my new outfit is yet, only that the party is USA icon themed and my outfit will be very appropriate for this! The costume was very kindly provided for me to wear by the folks at:

Who sell a wide range of licensed costumes - and with some very minor adjustments using a needle and thread I think this will be a really fun costume to wear, and with this in mind I thought I’d give a few of my top tips on maximising success when buying costumes.

Choose carefully and work with what you have
Its worth taking a bit of time to consider the theme, and chose an outfit that works with your colouring and body type. Choosing someone or something with the right colour hair is just one less thing to worry about after all. It also helps to think about skin tone, make-up style, shoes etc. anything that you already have will make the costume that bit more authentic and reduce the number of things you need to find or buy.

Think about longevity or re-sale value
This is a sort of bonus really, but still worth thinking about, if you are taking the time to buy items for a costume you really should pay attention whether an item will be usefull for another costume. The more you can wear it the better! For example my black catsuit has been worn four times as three separate costumes, Selene, Black Cat and Catwoman with more potential for a fourth soon hopefully – its more than paid for its original cost of £18. I think it is important to think about the life of clothing items, even for something as frivolous as fancy dress, and if items can be reworn or resold then it makes them even more appealing.

Look for licensed
This may or may not be obvious - but costumes come in many forms, especially those based on movies, celebrities, pop culture and superheroes. So it is worth taking the time to track down what products are licensed or official as they are more likely to be accurate representations of the costume. Once you have an idea of brands and prices you can shop around.

Be prepared to adjust the fit
One of the biggest problems with bought costumes is the age old S, M or L problem. Bought costumes are made with an even more generic fit in mind than the high street so it is usually a good idea to try and set a little time aside for sewing in order to adjust the fit.

...and finally...

Last but not least - once you have your costume it is important to add, make, paint, alter any components that are missing or aren’t quite right, for example, add gloves, sew on a trim, buy face paint, shoes, tights… the list is endless and it is these items that make the most difference to the overall effect of the costume. It is important not to overlook the details.

I hope that gives you some advice on where to start if you are ever pushed for time and need to buy a costume. I'll have a post on that leaving do next weekend hopefully, until then...

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Trailer Trash! Prohibition Speakeasy - Dancing, Acts, Songs, Burlesque and Vintage Costumes!

I'm very sorry for the lack of regular posting lately, I've had rather a lot on my plate with moving house and finishing up the final parts of my PhD so there wasn't so much time left for blogging!

Any who, FINALLY here is my post on Trailer Trash! The Prohibition Speakeasy Special.

I won't talk about what I wore as I put a post here last week, but the night was so packed with acts, music and dancing it was tricky to sort out all the photographs from the night.

I arrived just in time to see the first act singer Laura Luard serenade the crowd with some relaxed vintage tunes

From there various acts took to the stage every twenty minutes or so. There were several dance based performances, with a pretty 'serpentine' dance, an exciting tap routine from the Sugarbeats and a Charleston routine provided by The music for the evening was great too! I especially enjoy electroswing so the tunes were very suited to my taste, but with my injured foot it was slightly torturous not to dance the whole night away. I couldn't help myself however and was a little naughty and managed to squeeze in a few dances without resulting in too much suffering the next day.

There was also some unusual burlesque from Coco Deville with a vintage clown theme and a vintage tableau performed by the Trailer Trash Troupe.

 As ever there were two performances by Trailer Trash's co-founder Miss Kitty Peels. Stepping the danger and style up a level both performances were double acts, the first a hoop arial performance and the second a double rope performance. Both acts were outstanding as usual, but for me the hoop act was my favourite of the evening, from the elegant 'alcohol induced' swinging from the hoop to the arrest of the performers at the end. It was great.

As far as costumes were concerned the event had a really different feel to the other Trailer Trash! events I have been to, I think it was the infusion fo the vintage style that meant we didn't see any exotic cardboard creations or any face paint, but there were a huge array of sharp suits, beautiful dresses, hair feathers and brogues.

Here are some of my favourite outfits of the night:

For the big finale before Nick Hollywood's DJ set our host Helen Day introduced the finalists of the costume competition (right). The winner was the young lady in the yellow dress who seemed very flattered to be even in the running. There was also another treat of a dance competition, it ended up being a strange contest between two lindy hoppers showing their skill and a couple of non-hoppers dancing with a different style. The competition was won by a landslide with the mysterious gentleman (yes that was what he claimed his name was) amazing the audience with his unique keyboard miming style.

Overall the night was good fun, but it did have a distinctly different feel to the usual Trailer Trash! events.

The next event is a Hip Hop Block Party on the 25th of May which promises to be, again, very different (one of the main reasons I love Trailer Trash!) however I am leaving Brighton before then so I won't be at Trailer Trash for a while.

It is one of the nights out I will miss the most after I have left Brighton and when I return to visit, I will certainly be trying to time it so I can sneak into Trailer Trash!

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