Tears, existential angst, joining a philosophy class, leaving a philosophy class, leaving my job, dating again, visiting friends more, focusing on uni, trying to get into yoga, saying thankyou not sorry, visiting my family more, cooking, riding my bike, reconnecting with lost friends, enjoying the sunshine, sending bad but hilarious selfies, cracking jokes, eating out, reading my horoscope, remembering you can’t be there for everyone, resting, putting down books that are too heavy, exploring London, experiencing what a relationship can be, going to Devon for my birthday with a bunch of my best friends, planning a European jaunt with Emma, realising that maybe fashion isn’t my thing, buying ice cream and eating straight from the tub.
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?
It’s a little know fact that the Au Lazuli project stemmed partially from a dream. A dream filled with awe, the likes of which I’ve only fleetingly experienced before. This night, was much like any October night in late 2012. A little chilly, and terribly lethargic after a day spent at university, fretting (a lot) over what to make.
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:
A good few years have passed since I participated in that old pastime of outfit blogging. It's not really something I think much to do these days. Partly because there are enough people documenting their clothing online, and partly because my wardrobe seems a little lacklustre at times. I would say money and time are the causes, but that would indicate that interestingness in appearance is dictated by those factors. My idealistic notions do not wish to believe that, though our current fashion system does seem to suggest money and time are the lifeblood of this, so-called interestingness in dress.
Sometimes, I remember the practice of photographing an outfit though. Locating the trusty tripod, before darting backwards and forwards within the 10 second timer on the camera – I never had a photographer boyfriend, as the running joke dictates. Documenting chance outfits is not something I would say I ever truly enjoyed, but it was something I did. Because I liked clothes. Because I was exploring my aesthetic preferences and sense of style. And most of all, because I was intrigued by how all these appearance related matters, could alter perceptions both internally and externally.
Life, with all its funny twists and turns, often leaves me confused. Perhaps it’s due to my constant thinking or perhaps it’s just that the world can be shambolic, and negotiating your way through it isn’t always a barrel of laughs. Nevertheless, we continue forth because Pandora’s box let hope escape too, so we can believe that things have a strange way of working out for the best.
“…when life looks jolly rotten, there’s something you’ve forgotten, and that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing”
Truer words never spoken.
Sometimes, the smiles come from the little things. The quirky details in an outfit. The glow-in-the-dark face on your watch. The unexpected card from a friend at a difficult time. The funny little late night conversations. The spontaneous dances. Sharing music, books, knowledge, thoughts and ideas with other souls. Making things. And really, just being a little bit more bloody grateful for everything you can surround yourself with.
The only other thing is time. Time to figure out who you are and what you believe, and the things you hope for. Words are the easy bit really, but the time it takes to understand the pieces of your puzzle? That is invaluable.
I was digging through some old photos today and found this little one of a jacket I used to own. Beautiful was it, with its black & taupe panelling, elbow patches (yes!), large pockets and tartan lining. One of those rare finds, which you can’t seem to pass up despite the money and it not being your usual thing.
You take it home, dig out one of those antiquated padded hangers reserved for delicate garments and special items from lost relatives. You stare longingly at it, hesitantly shrug it onto your shoulders and strut around your room like you’re Freddie Mercury, wary of taking it into the big bad world. You begin forming a strange attachment, guarding it from possible pain and trauma, using it on only rare occasions… and one day, a friend asks to borrow it. Carefully, she knows how you feel.
Then it happens. A dark night, a chill in the air, a little too much tipple and vamoose! Into the dust of the darkness it disappears, swept into an underworld of lies and deceit.
You hear the news and like a scorned lover, you sigh heavy defeat; imagining scenes of it parading on less idyllic shoulders, hugging the curvature of another body and oblivious to your mourning. Your poor dear friend, mortified at the occurrence, finds a replacement, buys you flowers and very sweetly makes amends. You’re thankful that she cares – and the new jacket is warmer, simpler and still tartan inside. Time passes and your loss stings less, yet some days, you can’t help but think of that special, irreplaceable charm that the original held.
That, with a few artistic embellishments, is the tale of this little jacket. Thankfully, blogging in the past means that photographs of our time together exist, not relegating it to fading memories. One day I will create a replicate, with bells and whistles to make it more mine and infinitely better. For now, I shall have to look upon these pictures with idle hope, exhale a wistful sigh and slowly move on.