Thursday, October 20, 2016

Frankenstein | BBRBF Book Club + Outfit

Welcome to the October edition of BBRBF Book Club! This month we made a collaborative choice to read the classic Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature's hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever.

The story begins with the captain of a ship writing to his sister about the extraordinary events that occur in the unlikely icy sea in which they are travelling. They spot a creature of giant proportions dashing along the ice on a sleigh and the next day they find a man almost dead from exposure. They pull him aboard and as he opens up to the captain about the circumstances that brought him here, the tale of Frankenstein unfolds.

I was immediately drawn in by the language. As a Gothic novel, I didn't expect anything less, but the cadence and the darkly haunting tone throughout set the stage well for the tragedy that was about to happen. I found myself unconsciously mimicking the old fashioned, poetic style while I was reading the book which is common for me. Does anyone else do that? It's really embarrassing when I'm reading Shakespeare and start trying to add "eth" to everything.

The story is fairly common knowledge. Frankenstein harnesses the power of science to reanimate a creature composed of pieces of corpses and when the creature is set upon the world he finds nothing but violence and hatred aimed at him. What I didn't know is that almost every iconic image I have in my mind, from the movie, does not exist in the source material. There's no Igor. There's no dramatic scene in the lab where Frankenstein hoists the monster to the heavens to shock life into him with lightening. The monster is no ungainly, lumbering beast who becomes a rage filled animal at the sight of fire. He is actually quite eloquent and sensitive and a very nuanced and moving character.

Throughout the book Frankenstein is described as a wonderful being who is all the goodness of man, but I often found him to have more flaws than the monster. His ambition drove him to extremes, but he was too weak to be responsible for the product of his fiendish drive and pays the price for his wrong doings accordingly. He actually brought the monster to life and was so repulsed by it that he just went to bed to wallow in his unhappiness. When he discovers that the creature is gone he doesn't even seem to question what has become of it.

There were so many times with Frankenstein that I had to just stop and say, "what did you think was going to happen there?" Especially when he refuses to comply to the monster's request and then seems shocked when the monster follows through on his revenge. I even had a few good chuckles at the sweeping, dramatic physical illnesses that he would succumb to over emotional turmoil. I didn't judge the book by this characteristic because it's not something that is relatable in modern times, but I couldn't help but saying, "that's not how this works. That's not how any of this works!"

But, oh my. The highlight of the whole book, for me, was the monster's story. I felt swept up in his simple tale of the poor family that he shadows and I felt all of his grief and shame as each attempt he makes to find friendship and companionship becomes an episode of violence and prejudice for the monster's countenance. I hurt for him.

I have been carrying the final scene with me since I read the last page. It was chilling and terrible and I lamented deeply the fall of such a good and innocent creature. I lamented the loss of so much life and potential in all of the characters that became victim to circumstances that had nothing to do with them. It's the kind of story that leaves a sad and hollow feeling in your soul for a long time.

My outfit was inspired by the dark and elegant tones used in the tale. The black and white is an homage to the classic movie and the beautiful lace detail reminds me of the era in which the book was written. And I won't lie. I felt some Bride of Frankenstein vibes with this for sure.

Be sure to check out all the other babes and their reviews of this Gothic pioneer of horror and science fiction.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Buffalo Plaid and Stripes | Outfit + Body Positivity

This outfit is breaking so many "don't do that!" rules. Don't wear horizontal stripes! Don't wear over-sized clothing! Don't wear short dresses! Don't wear tight dresses! Don't show any evidence of a body that hasn't been given the stamp of approval by the media and the masses. Don't have curves in the wrong places. Don't let anyone know you have a body that has indulged and lounged, worked hard, slept very little, slept a lot, fought battles with strength and fragility, and lived only by it's own rules.

If you did any of those things you might be showing yourself as too lazy to care how the mechanics of your body affect others. You might be revealing yourself as too undisciplined to try to garner the amorous attention of every person you come into contact with. How are you ever going to be a pretty object for someone else's benefit if you don't start acting like one?

But even when it can leave me feeling exposed and vulnerable, to brashly defy the expectations that have creeped in and overtaken the minds of so many people, that is just not what I want to spread around. I don't want the standards that I pass on to my kids to be perfection or nothing. I don't won't to hide the honesty of myself.

Maybe. Just maybe I will be able to raise kids who see life as something to experience and not an experience to be worthy for. I also hope that I can prevent the hard edge of criticism from forming in their brains and retain the kindness that doesn't require people to check off a list of desirable attributes before they are granted respect, acknowledgement, or even eye contact.

Appearances, theirs or others, are not something that concerned them while they were running around picking pumpkins, getting dirty, acting goofy. They only followed a natural proclivity for joy. Wouldn't it be amazing to always see life that way? Joy has no standards. So, if it fills you with joy to run around a pumpkin patch in a short, tight dress with horizontal stripes, please, don't be afraid to be that bright spot of defiance - that agent of joy.

Dress: JCPenney's (similarsimilar in straight sizes, similarsimilarsimilar in plus) | Shirt: Borrowed from my husband but originally from JCPenney (similar) | Socks: Sockdreams | Boots: Modcloth (similar)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Shades of Cream and a Chevron Print | Outfit

Today's outfit is brought you to by twinning! Hannah of The Outfit Repeater and I both had the same skirt collecting cobwebs in our closets. Hannah challenged me to a twin-off and I happily accepted because I adore her and needed to give this skirt a good reboot anyway.

When I bought this skirt a few years ago, it was my absolute favorite. I wore the heck out of it and we had quite the happy little relationship. Until we didn't. I didn't know what happened. Things just kind of petered out. The love just faded away.

I did manage to pinpoint the dip and sway of my affections eventually and truthfully, I just got sick of chevron. For a while there you couldn't turn your head on the internet without running into chevron something and while some people get jazzed by all the fanfare, I get bored. I don't mean to be the hipster who just has to be different. I truly just lose interest after too much exposure to something. It's the whole been there, done that concept.

So, it was my inclination to focus on what I still loved about the skirt. I love it's fullness and I love the colors. I would swathe an entire furniture set in this ultra saturated red-orange color because yum. That's how I came to the decision to highlight the red-orange and take advantage of it's classic shape by wearing all my favorite cream colored, vintage or vintage inspired pieces.

Nobody could feel overdone and too trendy when wearing such classic and understated pieces.

And in case you've noticed, yes I did dye my hair. I didn't do the typical social media reveal because I am still trying to like it. It's a touch darker than I was looking for and that seems to have ruined the whole thing for me. I don't know. I am a child. But I have a nice long backlog of pictures to get through so you might not see this particular dark brown head again for a couple weeks.

Head over to Hannah's side of the Internet and check out how she styled her chevron skirt. I'm telling you, you are going to love her sophisticated yet fun take on this piece!

Shirt: Modcloth (similar) | Skirt: Target (similar) | Shoes: Thrifted (similar) | Brooch: Vintage (similar) | Lips: Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Unicorn Blood (similar in the shade Heathers)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fresh Floral Skirt | Outfit

I'm sure it's quite obvious that I have been delving deeper into the world of sewing, but I struggled for years as my skills creeped along not wanting to gain any traction. My first big breakthrough was realizing that I needed to research how to use my sewing machine. I thought that sewing was simply a matter of getting a sewing machine. Boom. That was it. I kept buying patterns and attempting to attach fabrics together and for years I couldn't figure out why it wasn't working. 

Now I realize plopping myself down in the middle of things like that meant I had several gaps in my knowledge. It was always a mess because I was using the wrong needles or using needles that were way too dull. I know now that each fabric is unique and takes a slightly different skill set to work with successfully. But even with that knowledge I struggled and still did more fighting with my sewing machine than actual sewing.

The real game changer happened when my sewing machine died. Croaked. Keeled over. Left this world for a better one. I did some research to find the best value and got myself a brand new, shining pet and oh, my. Sewing was suddenly easy! Actually enjoyable! I had nothing holding me back anymore and took full advantage. 

I have spent the last few months actually concentrating on understanding construction and building a repertoire of go-to patterns. I love it!

I had made a gathered skirt before, but I accidentally stumbled on this video tutorial and found myself engrossed. I watched the entire thing absorbing new knowledge and decided to ditch all prior experience and start fresh. I made three whole skirts the next day and never have I sewn anything I was more proud of. Never had a project gone so well. I only wish there were a thousand more of these videos!

If you are a beginner sewer, I highly recommend trying that tutorial over any others.

Cardigan: Target (similar in plus) | Skirt: Handmade (pattern, fabric) | Tights: Walmart (similar in straight sizes, similar in plus) | Shoes: Thrifted (similar) | Lips: Stila All Day Liquid Lipstick in Aria

Monday, October 10, 2016

Pleasantly Lazy | Outfit

This outfit is all about the comforts of home. It entices me to be languid and stretch out like a cat with a book and a hot cup of coffee- pleasantly lazy. The revealing romper, which in summer is fresh and innocent, becomes softly intimate with the addition of cozy layers. Less skin is exposed, but with a subtle, sensuous result. It's the kind of outfit that encourages an afternoon of being pleasurably supine.

Maybe I'm drawn to this narrative because the outfit has a feeling of vintage undergarments. I kept imagining a girl lounging about in friendship with others in the daytime hours of a brothel or living unmarried with a man in some rundown apartment, poor, but without want. Comfortable and in gentle leisure with the welcome knowledge that eventually hands will find their way to her body.

I've mentioned before that I spend my days creating characters for my outfits, right? I wonder how many hours a day I spend in this reverie. I might have a problem, guys.

Romper: Forever 21+ (similar in straight sizes, similar in plus) | Cardgian: Eloquii (similar) | Socks: Torrid (similar) | Hat: Thrifted (similar) | Shoes: Torrid (similar) | Lips: Nyx Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Soft Spoken