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A Brief History of Fancy Dress

A few years ago, my good friend Jon had a blog. Upon it, he once wrote about his entire backlog of fancy dress costumes, which struck me as an idea worth thieving. In the time since, he has of course ditched the blog in favour of amusing videos, so there is no evidence of this.

Nevertheless it happened, and as my work and this space has recently been feeling a bit heavy, I think we ought to talk about something silly instead. Today is the day the idea thievery happens, and we shall delve into my own backlog of fancy dress. Plus, with halloween coming up, it seems perfectly apt.


2007: Book launch of Harry Potter 7. Mary & I dressed as Hagrid and Buckbeak. We were the oldest in costume. I wore a wig on my face, she wore sparkly leggings… I’m not sure what more I can say.

2010: Dandy Man. Readers of my old blog may remember this one. The first year of university, my flatmate had a superhero themed party. We all left our costumes to the last minute and make-do-and-mend came into full force. One friend went as “box man” in a cardboard box. I think I got the better deal.

2011: Toucan. Once upon a time, I went to visit my friend at Oxford. She took me to a bop. It was jungle themed. The end.

2011: Jon’s 21st and halloween. We dressed as clowns. I wore my liquorice allsorts shirt, courtesy of Mary’s Dad. It rained when we left the house. Bedraggled clowns entered the club we landed in.

2012: Techno Starfish. Carly’s birthday was “Under the Sea” themed. I bought some poor quality, yet oh so shiny fabric from seemingly the only fabric shop in Bristol. My first attempt at a starfish costume went wrong. The second attempt saw me working for 5 hours on the day of the party to stitch up the magic you see above. The costume got recycled 8 months later for a “Space” themed evening. Waste not, want not.

2012: Noah’s Ark party. My pal Dan and I share a birthday. So for our 21st, we decided to share a party. I decided the theme was Noah’s Ark, Dan agreed and much fun was had. My costume was a lion and that is the most terrifying face I could muster, apparently. I’m sure I’d get exiled from my pride if I really were a lion. Anyway, there were peacocks, zebras, bears, doves, two people who came as one another and God. We threw another party for our 22nd, which was Myths & Legends themed. Sadly, my Woodland Nymph costume was crap and few photos were taken.

2014: New Year. After that, there was a long fancy dress break. Until the New Year’s Eve just gone. The theme was “the future” and I made a shiny mirror dress. You can read more about that one here. Needless to say, it was a costume that rustled, as much as it shined.


So there we have it. A brief history of my fancy dress outfits.

How about yourselves? Any costume highlights or lowlights? Or perhaps a Halloween special you’re working on right now?

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I went to bed earlier, around 10pm. Snuggled deep into my quilts and cocooned myself into the enveloping warmth. Sleep came quickly; atypical for me compared to most nights, where it can sometimes be a struggle to fall into a slumber. Yet this night, sleep came easily and before long, a dream state arose. I’ve no doubt that I dreamt a good many dreams that night, yet most evade me except this:

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Power cuts are peculiar, in that they show you just how much of your life has come to rely on electricity. Your instinct is to groan. Mild irritation before rationality hits; it's temporary. A disgruntled house-mate, newly returned from a trip away, has left to shower at a friend's house. Seemingly simple conveniences, like washing, have been taken away by the outage. Power showers, you understand – another luxury, much like insignificant others that have come to punctuate daily existence, in the time and place I live right now.

To be exacting about it, the candles lighting my page and the pen held in my grasp are very much technologies too. I've recently begun reading Living in a Technological Culture, by Mary Tiles and Hans Oberdiek. A twenty-year old text, that is speaking to some loose thoughts of late. Our lives are shaped and formed by technologies; and in taking this from a person, are we stripping the human from their being? I'd like to believe we are more than that; more than the artifice that has become naturalised into insignificance. Yet today, when the power cuts, I'm reminded of how much my life requires technology. How much human history has been defined by technology. And that what I do, simply everyday things, presupposes the certainty of having a flow of power. It's surreal to think about how we lived without this. If only because I've never known a world without electric technology.

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Worn, worn, worn... how many words can I entangle today to express how much adoration I hold for you? Or perhaps that should be held, since the final issue landed with a thud through my post box in January. What struck me then, was that this was an opportune moment to reflect on the publication. Delve into those bits of the Worn ethos that I've subconsciously nicked from every issue I've read, and resonate still today.

Worn Journal has a core, maybe cult, following and doubtless, some reading here may count yourselves amongst them. I came to Worn in 2009; when, through the joys of Twitter, I was sent a review copy for the tiny blog I kept at the time. The only remnant of that review is the photograph at the top, but suffice to say reading that issue was enough to hook me into Worn's World. Back issues and subscriptions were bought, and copies remain amongst the treasured possessions on my bookshelf. Maybe you'll have similar stories.

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