Monday, 29 October 2012

Cosplay Costume: Sookie Stackhouse from True Blood

This weekend began the Halloween celebrations began. Being a fancy dress fan Halloween comes as an opportunity for me to share my love of costumes with those close to me.

My friend Philippa was having a Halloween house party, several of my friends from work were going and Philippa was nice enough to let me bring my husband along too.

I have wanted to dress a Sookie Stack house for some time now but haven't, partly because there hasn't been an appropriate event, but also because I was a bit to large to fit into my denim shorts...

Luckily for me the party was at the perfect time and taking up running meant that those shorts were a good fit again.

The key to Sookie's look is the blonde hair, pale pink lip, a summer dress or her Merlotte's bar work uniform. I decided to go for the more iconic outfit and invested in a t-shirt and apron that were branded Merlotte's Bar and Grill. These came as a set from eBay and I was pretty pleased with them, being very picky I'd say the logo on the top was a little too big but all in all it worked out really well.

Here's Sookie's look:

My friend Sam asked me whether I was going to try and replicate Anna Paquin's trademark gap tooth look which I'll admit I had completely forgotten about until then. But after some careful online research I became aware of 'tooth wax'. It cost me £1.49 for a huge pot so hopefully it won't dry out in case I need to wear it again.

Overall it was a very comfortable way to spend an evening, even the wig lasted well which was a big surprise to me as it was snowed on earlier in the evening.

Mr Fancy dressed as Bill Compton (yey couples costume!) but that pretty much involved him wearing his work clothes and some pale face paint... Mostly because I forgot to pick up some fangs for him :(

The party guests totally excelled themselves! We had a zombie Mona Lisa, Mario and Luigi  an ewok, Princess Diana and so many more! It was really excellent work by all who attended.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Cosplay Tips: The Best Science Themed Costumes for Halloween

Halloween is approaching very quickly now with just one week to go before the big night - plenty of time to put something a little bit special together.

Some of you may know that outside the blog, vintage and costume world that I am a scientist - so I thought I'd make a list of some science themed Halloween of varying difficulty for you to get your teeth into. After all Halloween is the one night of the year when adults, as well as children, are able to dress outrageously, so why not embrace it?

I am planning on wearing one of these costumes to work for our Halloween Late event and I'm pretty excited!

Here is my pick of some of the best science themed Halloween costumes:

Dr. Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s Monster or Bride of Frankenstein
From Frankenstein 1931 here and Bride of Frankenstein 1935 here

Good ol' Frank is the original mad scientist! You could play the part of scientist with nuts and bolts and a sawn off (false) leg. Another option is that you could dress are Dr Frankenstein’s monster made up of the composite parts of previously deceased individuals - a flat top head mask and neck bolts from a fancy dress shop are an option but for a simpler, and quicker, version you could paint sewing seams and ghoulish make-up to your flesh. For ladies wanting an alternative spin on this classic you could take the Bride of Frankenstein route by digging out a gaudy old wedding dress, pale make-up and big hair with spray streaks in either side.

Darwin, Einstein or Curie
DarwinCurie & Einstein

The beauty of these costumes is that they are mostly able to be made using bits and pieces from your wardrobe or charity shop, an old dress, a vintage suit, with the addition of a few fancy dress items. The above are just a few of the many options you have if you want to attempt the famous scientist route. For example for Darwin you need a long grey beard (and perhaps, for Einstein a voluminous white wig and for Marie Curie a black dress, Edwardian up-do and if you're feeling in a bit of bad taste some glow sticks?

Schrodinger’s Cat
Image source

Everyone knows of the traditional Halloween black cat costume and Schrodingers cat is a science twist on this traditional costume. Schrodinger’s cat was a thought experiment that ponders whether a cat in a box is alive or dead (more info can be found here). To give the, widely available, cat costume the quantum mechanics spin you could add cardboard speech bubbles saying 'am I alive?' and 'am I dead?' you could even pick up a box to wear from your local supermarket. If you're feeling very adventurous you could even make up one side of your costume to look like a zombie cat.

Sci-fi Inspiration
Weird Science, 'Doc' Emmet Brown, Mr Spock 

Taking inspiration from science fiction films is another option, a ‘mad’ scientist like Doc Brown from Back to the Future or Lisa, synthesised girl from the movie Weird Science! At a push I'd also add Mr Spock from Star Trek - he was the science officer after all.

Cardboard Robots

I know this one's not cardboard, but you get the idea right?

If you've looked at some of my other costume posts you'll know this is one of my personal favourites - the cardboard creation! Suiting up in boxes to appear as a robot is pretty nifty and all it takes is a lick of paint and some creative scissor work. If you're stuck for inspiration check out the amazing box work of transformers fans - some of their designs even transform! Another extrapolation of this idea is the painted A-board style costume - two bits of card, some poster paint and some shoulder straps and you can be almost anything you want! A cell? No problem, a Bunsen burner?  Sure, the Higgs boson? Perhaps a little trickier but with some creative cutting, why not.

I hope that's given you a few ideas if you're planning to take a turn for the geeky for whatever you are doing for Halloween.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

My Wedding Dress

When I was a little girl I had a rule, I liked to wear dresses, but if I did they had to pass the spin test. The spin test involved me spinning around as fast as I could to see if there was enough swish in the skirt. Even as a bride on my wedding day I gave my dress the spin test - it passed with flying colours, cornflower blue mostly, and that was how I knew this was the perfect dress for me.

The time has come. I'm finally posting on my wedding dress.

This is probably to most important post I'll ever write on the most important dress I'll ever wear. I don't want to sound shallow, but even as someone who hadn't planned on what kind of wedding dress I wanted, I still knew that I wanted to look my best on that most important day of my life.

I previously described my route to finding my dress here and the need to shout from the roof tops about it has been burning in me ever since.

My dress was designed and made by Joanne Fleming at Joanne Fleming Design.

Her studio is located in Brighton opposite the famous Pavilion and during the design process I visited the studio four times. Each visit I felt very welcome and excited to see my dress getting closer and closer to completion, what was really wonderful was that while constantly remaining calm and cool about the process Joanne became like a friend that I could go to when I wanted to gush about all things wedding.

I went with a fairly certain idea about what I wanted, something like the Annie design I had seen online, but with a few tweaks and changes, most importantly the change in the sash around the waist. Small things like choosing fabrics,  lace finishings, colours and beading meant that I could make the dress my own and that helped make it all the more special. I wasn't really looking for something specifically vintage, but it ended up being heavily inspired by the Dior new look dresses of the 50s but lets face it, they suit my shape so why not?

The original sketch design for my dress

My final dress was a tea-length silk and organza dress in ivory with a lace overlay over the bodice and a cornflower blue (that and teal are my favourite colours) silk sash and flower. Something that made the dress so different was that in the tulle underskirt there was a silk binding in the same cornflower blue silk (this is something that I believe is one of JFD's signature flairs) that gave a flash of colour as the skirt moved.

Photos courtesy of JFD on Facebook and my mum @JanetteWphotos on Instagram

The dress was surprisingly comfortable, the fabric was light and the bodice was secure but wearable, I can't really describe the feeling the moment I put the dress on I felt fantastic and I knew without looking in the mirror that I would probably never look that good again. It felt magical.

Adding a few accessories, a simple veil also made by Jo, my Irregular Choice shoes and my vintage cream gloves, bought and monogrammed by my maid of honour Sadie and I was ready to go.

I wore the dress all day, and the next day I was really very sad that I couldn't put it on again. I am now trying to create elaborate costumes that would mean I could wear it again.

I received so many compliments on the dress, as I'm sure every bride does, and a lot of people seemed surprised by what I ended up wearing to be married in (in a good way) saying that a long traditional dress wouldn't have suited me. I think I agree with them, I wouldn't have felt right in a long dress.

Dress in Durham City copyright Alan Gibson Photography

I was and still am so pleased with how it all turned out. My husband said I was stunning, or that he was stunned by me (...he then proceeded to make a bad Star Trek joke about 'Set Jennie's to stun!') and that's all that really mattered to me. You can probably tell from the smile in the pictures how happy I was and it wasn't all down to the dress - but it sure helped.

The Swish
Copyright Alan Gibson Photography

Vintage Events: Pickering Wartime Weekend 2012

Last Saturday I attended the Pickering 1940s Wartime Weekend with my parents and husband (still getting used to saying that!).

Pickering is a 1940s re-enactment event that has been running for 20 years and is one of the biggest in the country. Although the centre of the event is Pickering North Yorkshire there are events held across the North Yorkshire Moors Railway line, from an evacuation re-enactment at Goathland to the occupation of French village LeVisham.

Travel between events via the railway on beautiful steam trains was the way most seemed to get around but, sadly, we didn’t have time to travel by train on the Saturday.

We did however manage to get onto the train platform as a train was arriving, the platforms were separated into one for ‘period costume’ only and one for everyone else. I believe this was so photographers could get ‘authentic’ vintage shots, but who knows.

The station was not only the focus point for many re-enactors but was also the location of several musical performances and a mock blitz air-raid (which was pretty scary).

There were also lots of vintage stalls selling clothes, accessories and military memorabilia, we even managed to find a retro beauty parlour tucked away in a back street.

And everywhere you looked there were vintage cars!

At one point my mother took a photograph next to a vintage car and a swarm of photographers started taking my picture, it was fun for a few moments but then I began to feel a little embarrassed – it wasn’t even my car!

We also stopped off in the local church where they were serving tea and cakes and they were also creating a memorial installation using poppies form the poppy appeal.

The streets were full of people, so many of them in full costume I was really amazed by how much effort people put into their clothing. There were a lot of men and women in vintage armed forces uniforms, as would be expected at a war re-enactment event, but what was really amazing was that so many children were dressed up too. It was nice to see history so alive and well in the hearts and minds of those attending the weekend.

All in all I had a great day, but to get time to see everything, or even close to everything, it would be a good idea to spend more than one day there. But I would recommend it to anyone even vaguely interested in vintage, the 1940s or the home front.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Vintage Events: Leyburn 1940s Weekend and Vintage Accessories

Hi everyone!

A few months ago I went to the Leyburn 1940s weekend. I only went for one of the days but there was still lots to do; shopping, dancing, speeches, a parade and re-enactors. I had a really great time despite the slightly iffy weather.

I wore a coral dress by Pearl Lowe at Peacocks. It is a lovely dress with a very vintage inspired shape, but the print and colours make it look quite modern and the shape of my cardigan was not very vintage at all. I think when I was choosing what to wear I didn’t expect other people to go so 'all out' when dressing for the event!

Thats not to say I didn't have a good time - I did, however, I made the decision then and there that for the next 1940s event I attended, I would dress more appropriately. It just so happens that I am attending Pickering 1940s weekend next week. I have heard that this event is huge for re-enactors and vintage enthusiasts so I very much wanted to dress the part.

I have two outfits in mind for the event (depending on the weather of course) and I went shopping last weekend to find some choice accessories for the event.

I attended the New College Durham vintage and antiques fair that I have written about previoualy here. It is not typically an event for looking for clothing, but for finding accessories, it seemed to be the perfect place for bargain hunting!

While rummaging around I managed to find three hats, one a genuine 1940s hat, a vintage faux pearl bead necklace a vintage broach and a beautiful mink stole!

The stole is a simple gorgeous fit, it has a gap over th shoulder so that it fits perfectly - I was so pleased when I found it. (What made it better that all of the above cost less than £60!)

Hopefully with a lovely vintage hat and a classy stole I will look like I fit in at Pickering. I'll post soon and let you know how I get on!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Cosplay Review: Lions and Tigers and Tabby Cats, Oh my! - Kigurumi Suits and Animal Costumes

Hey there everyone! I'm finally back, and what a summer it's been. I have lots and lots of weird and wonderful things to share with you all, but don’t worry, I’ll be doing it a little at a time.

Anywho, I have something a little but silly to get started with.

Last year I wrote about the MCM Expo in London and this event is huge, not only for cosplayers, but also for costume and fancy dress novices alike.

One type of simple and fun costume that I keep seeing more and more off at these types of events, and occasionally on the high street is the kigurumi suit.

The kigurumi suit, affectionately referred to by my friend Ms.Doherty as a ‘giant baby-grow’ and often also referred to as a ‘onesie’, has grown in popularity and seems to be worn by vast numbers of people attending festivals, going on stag or occasionally hen dos or even for lounging about in the house.

In fact back at Christmas last year, I saw a Superman suit hanging next to a Santa suit in the high street ‘mecca’ that is Primark!

Well, I had to know what the fuss was about… and lets face it, when writing a thesis, what could possibly be more useful than a fleecy one-piece suit to wear while snuggled up writing in the house?

Yes, I know, I have shattered all of your glamorous illusions now haven’t I?

So, where to buy my suit? Well, I managed to find a website called Animal Costume Shop – a site with so many kigurumi suits shaped like so many animals my mind was a little bit boggled.

After much deliberation I decided to go with the grey tabby cat, mostly because it looked quite a bit like my very own tabby cat - impeccable logic.

When it arrived it was wrapped up in a little packet, its little eyes and ears looking out of the wrapper.

The fabric is a sort of fleece, but its not too fluffy, so its warm but not too hot. The sizing was not the most flattering fit I have ever encountered, I am a person that is used to something fitted around the waist, so having something so baggy was a bit of an adjustment but I have to say, it was pretty comfortable!

My only problem with the fit was that the size L which was the main option available on the website was a little long in the body for me so I ended up with a sort of droop crotch kind of effect… and hopefully I will never have to use that phrase again!

If I am completely honest, I did feel a little silly while wearing it sometimes, and I was terrified I’d have to answer the door for someone to catch me wearing it. But for those wanting to wear it as a costume, I would definitely advise wearing something underneath as the white section could get a little see through in bright light.

I think they make great lounge suits, and are great for people looking for silly costumes for events, or even Halloween! There is also a range specifically for children that I would definitely recommend, I saw a kid in town dressed as a cow a few weeks ago it was adorable!

Oh and just for you guys, here’s a few more silly pictures!

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