November 25, 2007

In which Dianna vaguely resembles your grandmother.

My house is eighty years old this year, and very weird. Therefore my roommates and I are doing what you do for someone who is eighty years old and weird, which is use them as an excuse to throw a party. The house, unlike your 80-year-old great-uncle, has a basement lounge with a full bar (mirrors, drink wells, ice bins, tap) and oppressive wood panelling and it could, theoretically, have been a speakeasy during Prohibition. Probably it wasn't, but the attitude among my roommates and myself is basically that if it hasn't been one it should have the chance now, and if it has, that's simply fucking awesome.

So of course we are having a speakeasy party. My owning roommate is making home-brew beer, there is a password, costumes are highly encouraged, and last I heard there was going to be a still in the bathroom. For show. I think. One never really knows. In any case, I am not on the committee responsible for actual decoration and planning, so I am viewing the whole affair the same way I tended to view Kingman parties: purely an excuse for costumes that don't even need to be practical enough to leave the house.

I contemplated going as a gangster. Moustache! Hat! Silly tie! Toy gun? Sleazy dames on either arm? But sleazy dames aren't that easy to pick up in this town, so I thought about being a flapper instead. And then I realized: the 1920s may be the last decade of American women's fashion that I can really get behind. In fact I can get quite wholeheartedly behind it, seeing as it was about skinny leggy women with no boobs trying (within skirt-related limits) to dress like adolescent boys. Baggy sweaters and sailor collars and short hair and no waists and clothes you can move in, nay, not just move but in fact dance lewdly in. I don't do that much lewd dancing, day to day, but I like for clothes to allow the possibility in general.

Hence, after spending two hours and 20 bucks at Goodwill, I do perhaps resemble your grandmother, if your grandmother spent the 20s being awesome with reckless abandon.

And of course the sensible flapper, though she may be a contradiction in terms, needs to plan for it being December in Oregon with people coming and going through the giant garage door making it freezing fucking cold. More to the point, the sensible flapper contemplating this point realizes that it gives her an excuse to buy a perfectly awesome sweater which, being a skinny woman with no boobs who more or less dresses like an adolescent boy at all times, she will rock with equal aplomb whether flapping or not.

I still need to find myself a long string of fake pearls, because my jewelry here is not quite doing it, but I'm awfully proud of what I've collected so far. The critical insight that made it possible was that, for once, I did not need to scour Goodwill for a dress that fit me. I just needed a dress that fit me so badly as to totally lack waist and bust definition, and that is precisely what Goodwill is always awash in. The above is not really remotely a flapper dress; it just, on me, hangs like one. Also, I must have a large head because every hat in the world fits me like a flapper hat. Easy!

Posted by dianna at November 25, 2007 08:15 PM

The best part is how you managed - intentionally or not - to strike poses that uncannily resemble the actual poses used in 20s an 30s clothing catalogs.

Posted by: Chris at November 26, 2007 01:12 AM

I don't know about yours, but my grandma brings the boys to the yard.

Posted by: Elliot at November 26, 2007 07:19 AM

Chris: that is because I spent the morning doing Google research and discovered that if you just stand like a 1920s fashion plate, you look devastatingly authentic no matter what you're wearing (that is assuming you don't fall over because of your ridiculous shoes). I'm particularly proud of #3 and #6 for this reason.

Elliot: does she? And what are they like, these boys?

Posted by: Dianna at November 26, 2007 09:16 AM

You know, you actually have a real knack for costume creation from what I've seen. Have you ever thought about doing that for a living instead of boring office work? You could work for a local theater or something.

Posted by: didofoot at November 27, 2007 08:52 AM

Oh my god, how great would that be? Fucking great.

On the other hand, my current boring office work gives me a massive employee tuition break at a school with an excellent anthropology master's program, and as such offers me the opportunity to have actual income while taking grad classes and making myself qualified to do stuff I want to do. That's pretty good.

Until someone spoils it by making me think about how much fun it would be to go around inventing costumes all the time, as a job, and almost certainly giving up all of my job security and most of my money and all of my benefits except that one about actually liking what you do. Sigh.

Posted by: Dianna at November 27, 2007 09:29 AM

I once went on a date with a woman who did costume design for a living. It was almost the only thing we talked about for the entire date, other than where we would eat and what food we would purchase. One wouldn't think it would be possible to make costume design for broadway musicals into a tedious subject. One would be wrong.

Posted by: Zach S. at November 27, 2007 10:51 AM

broadway musicals

Well, there's your problem right there.

Posted by: Dianna at November 27, 2007 11:29 AM

Maybe you could work at a campus theater and still get the discount! Probably, come to think of it, they let the students design the costumes though. Oh well.

Well at least now you have something to fall back on, as they say. =)

Posted by: didofoot at November 27, 2007 01:36 PM

#3 is hands-down my favorite. You look exactly like the line-drawing that would appear on the outside of the packet for a Simplicity shapeless-flapper-dress pattern from 1928. Also, because in that one and in #4 you are showing quite a bit of knee for 1928, and your knees are clearly the bees'.

Also, re: costuming, which you are really very good at, one of my friends is a costumer and wigger (I really don't know what else to call it) for Shakespeare Santa Cruz, which is a campus-based company, and she's not a student at all any more. She did go here for college and she does have a degree in something fashion or design-related, but I also know that several of the people she works with in the costume shop are also non-students and are basically itinerant, professional costumers. Like gypsies who arrive in the night and sew sequins all over your clothes. It sounds like a seasonally stressful but overall fun gig. My friend's most recent task? Sewing fake bubbles all over the girls in the fake princess bubble bath number in the Roaring 20s Busby Berkeley-style musical version of "The Princess and the Pea." That's right.

Posted by: katie at November 27, 2007 10:48 PM

I ask purely out of detached professional interest and not because I want to have a fake princess bubble bath Busby Berkeley musical number of my own, but, um, how do you sew fake bubbles on people? Where do you get these bubbles and how do they attach? Maybe a bunch of variously-sized Styrofoam balls and some Superglue would work?

Really critical: where do I get myself a bunch of dancing, enbubbled fake princesses? Is there an agency somewhere?

If I am going to show a lot of knee I should probably have turned-down hose (although lacking the turned-up nose and totally failing to be 5'2" may make the issue moot) and, according to something I read yesterday, rouged knees. The more I think about that the more I think it is a) hilarious b) really fucking scandalous and c) kind of clever in its plausible deniability of being outrageously lewd.

I'm also thinking I might need period-appropriate makeup, but I'm arguing with myself for reasons of a) ideology and b) being likely to forget I'm wearing it and accidentally smear it all over my face. And I don't think I really have a makeup-compatible face. But rouged knees, man. No wonder mothers were horrified.

Posted by: Dianna at November 28, 2007 05:04 PM

I want that sweater.

I really, really want that sweater.

But imagine that, more than I want that sweater, you want your scarf back. Erm. So, uh, if you e-mail me your new address, I'll put it in the mail post-haste.

Posted by: Arianna at November 28, 2007 10:33 PM

My scarf! Yes! I would love to have my scarf back! I will email you.

It is an excellent sweater, make no mistake. But I think it's the belt -- which is not attached or related to the sweater -- that makes the sweatery ensemble so outstanding. In the pictures the belt buckle just looks shiny, but in real life it is a whole tacky starburst of fake orange gems. When I saw it on the $2 belt rack my hands went all grabby and could not be restrained.

Posted by: Dianna at November 29, 2007 09:12 AM