I think I've said it before, but our house is literally in the bush. On every side there is thick forest, homes nestled in massively overgrown gardens, and beautiful parks, not to mention a 225 hectare native forest and wildlife sanctuary that starts at the end of our road. Every time I go for a walk or a bike ride, I seem to be finding some other gorgeous bit of greenery to get muddy shoes exploring. So when Kita and I went for a walk the other day to find somewhere to take some photos, we weren't too surprised to find this little bit of woods a few hundred metres from home. We wandered, we got terribly lost, we took pretty photos. The end.
I have wanted a dress like this ever since Caitlin's post with a near-identical one, which was in January. I missed out on buying her one off her, but searched madly for one with all sorts of keywords on eBay and Etsy. I finally found this one and snapped it up for a very reasonable price, but not before Oasis made a poor replica of it, for the massive cost of £85. This is by no means the first time a big-name company has blatantly ripped off a vintage garment, and to me it reeks of a lack of originality. If all that corporate backing can't buy an original design, what's the point? Mine is the real deal 1950s novelty, the label is 'Kay Whitney by Huntington' and the placement of the print is so perfect. It came with a matching belt, but I decided on this pink one off another 1940s dress for today. I wore my Marie Antoinette dress with an old pink handknit ballet cardigan, Columbine brown woolen tights, opshopped black t-bar mary-janes and the 1960s banana basket that Jack's lovely mum opshopped for me.
Can we all please watch this rude, offensive bit of nonsense and discuss it? Deborah Schoeneman, one of the writers of Girls, is on the Huffington Post live panel slamming women who dress like 'women-children'. This was started by an article she wrote on the website on the subject. For a publication which seems to beprettyagainstslut-shaming, this just seems like the same thing- deriding women for making active choices regarding how they present themselves.
To equate Courtney Love's wearing of babydoll dresses with her infantilising herself is beyond offensive, and shows Deborah Schoeneman truly has no understanding of Love's ideologies. Asking a man what he thinks of a woman's choice to wear something girly is offensive, because it implies all my choices are made for the viewing pleasure of men. I will not change the way I dress to become a better product of the male gaze, and is some seriously heteronormative bullshit. To say that femininity must be 'authentic' for it to be justified is offensive. Nobody else gets to qualify or justify the way I dress. To make these sweeping generalisations about me based on how I present myself is ludicrously offensive, because it shows that you have no desire to engage with me about why I choose to dress the way I do, in novelty prints and full skirts and florals and frills. I am offended, and I am allowed to be, because I am not some passive sweet little baby despite what you may read from my love of pink puffy dresses.
And why do I choose to dress like this? Because I god damn like it, and I am allowed to. I am attracted to all things typically feminine, and I do not have to and will not ever apologise for this. I have always thought of fashion as the only mandatory form of engagement with art. If you want to live in mainstream society, you have to wear clothes. So I believe you should have fun with them. You should wear whatever you want even if it IS childish, skimpy, all-black, corporate, ripped or whatever. There is no correct way to dress. The concept of 'dressing your age' is outdated and silly, and entirely constructivist. You don't just get to say 'these are the fashion rules because I say they are and you need to dress how I like'. Why? Why should a woman only be taken seriously if she is wearing a suit? I need answers and justifications, not this classist, snobby crap.
Brad Beardall is featured on this video panel, whoever he is, and he doesn't get to tell women whether or not their choice to wear pink is valid or not. I am not going to explain all the ways in which I am an empowered woman, because I do not need to justify the fact that I am wearing a frilly carrot-print dress with a ric rac trim right now. This assertation also speaks down to implies women who make the choice to do 'non-empowered' (and I say that with quotation marks) things. Schoeneman says because some women write their own movies and make their own websites and other 'strong' things, it is OK for then to be a 'woman-children'. What? There is no condition of dressing in a youthful way. If a woman doesn't have a career in the business sector or doesn't challenge traditional notions of femininity, is she allowed wear girly clothes because it's more 'authentic' that way? Femininity, masculinity, or anything in between does not need to be justified by our actions. I don't need to dress in the costume of the demographic I belong to or the job I work.
And maybe the worst part of this all is that Deborah Schoeneman, backed out at (literally) the last minute from having Jess Mary, author of this great article on why the idea of the 'woman-child' is dumb, appear on this panel as her response was deemed 'too scathing'. Actually, Jess Mary debunks the myth of the 'woman-child', like so so so many other awesome ladies I could name. By being a strong, thoughtful, interesting, independent, mature woman who also chooses to sometimes wear 'childish' clothing or present themselves in a 'childish' way, Jess Mary contradicts this ridiculous idea that a love of a youthful aesthetic means you are a helpless baby. It seems like Schoeneman wants to have her cake and eat it too. She wants women to dress 'adult', but doesn't acknowledge the right of an adult to make their own choices.
My kitten sweater* and Heidi braids, like my hairy legs and lack of makeup, are choices I make because I like the way they look and the way they make me feel. However, they are also a 'fuck you' to people like Schoeneman who think their opinions are the be-all and end-all of gender politics. Deborah, I don't want your approval. What I actually want is to make you angry and disgusted at the way I dress, so you can keep feeling bitter and looking down on people arbitrarily, and so I can keep feeling awesome about my clothes. Because I do feel awesome about every last bow and frill. I am not 'scared of growing up' simply because I adore clothing with kitties on it, nor do I desire to go back to my childhood, or some synthetic romanticised conglomeration of childhoods. Brad Beardall's claim that I am scared of tackling big issues is made redundant by the fact that I just wrote like 1500 words on a Big Issue.
*My amazing kitten jumper was made by Joy White, amazing mum of the amazing Kelly White, and adapted from a pattern by Tiny Owl Knits. I will definitely be posting more on this later because it is the nicest, warmest, most beautiful quality thing I've ever owned and I've barely taken it off since I received it. Kelly is a great example of a funny, smart, cool, interesting entrepreneur who dresses in bright colours and novelty prints. Kelly has made her living making beautiful homewares and jewellery that are laden with cutesy nostalgia and childish goodness. Does that qualify her femininity enough for you, Schoeneman?
I've seen and heard a lot about the Home Sewn exhibition at Britomart in Auckland, but these photos are giving me serious feelings. I don't really like Auckland a lot but these pictures from Black Betty's Facebook page are giving me the awful vintage envy feeling you get when you see someone with a better wardrobe than you. All of these clothes are vintage and handmade in New Zealand, from loads of different collections. I reckon I have a few dresses I could've contributed to this.
Woah, look at that print. It reminds me of this dress that my friend Ella made and sold me.
If you are an Aucklander here is some more info on the exhibition, which runs until the 26th. See the main photo on that page? That's a 1950s pattern for the 'Walkaway' dress, one of which I have! Also the lovely lady who took these photos sells gorgeous vintage on her Trademe shop, which I urge you to check out as she has great new stock up every week.
CHRISTIE CAME TO WELLINGTON AND IT WAS REALLY FUN. She came to look around universities but I'm gonna pretend she came just to visit me and go vintage shopping and eat amazing food, which is what we did all weekend.
I've been working normal-people hours at my normal-people job and I now remember the joys of a Friday afternoon, and how great it feels to have two wonderful days of freedom and sleep-ins ahead of you, and my afternoon was made even better by seeing Christie. Man, I have missed her. We vintage shopped and had a cheap noodle dinner (Satay Kingdom, you are my everything), and then did the same thing on Saturday except with a slightly fancier dinner. It was so nice seeing the city through new eyes. Pix:
Christie is wearing an opshopped lemon yellow angora jumper, a pale blue 1950s day dress from Emporium Vintage, Goldenponies t-bars and a Baggu backpack. Her rings are by Karen Walker and Steven Junil Park.
I am wearing a 50s-style dress by Papercup via Recycle Boutique, emerald green 1950s princess coat, Golenponies t-bars and a belt off another vintage dress. We accidentally wore the same colours and the same shoes, which many many people commented on. WE KNOW.
And we both bought lots of excellent things (which I can actually do now because employment) including a Ruby Boutique dress from 2008 that I have wanted ever since it came out, an amazing black beaded 1930s blouse (Christie) and this amazing perfect dress:
And it was perfect and fun and Christie needs to move here next year the end.