Guest Post: Professional-Type Lady

[Hi, folks! I’m off on a little-deserved vacation around Austria and Slovenia, so please enjoy a series of guest posts from my rad internet friends! This one is from Jess, who is a knitter/secretary in San Francisco; online, she can be found on Twitter @MsJinxie, where she mostly tweets about terrible dates, bad public transportation, and misandry. -Mia]

Hey gang! The delightful Ms. Mia has graciously allowed me to participate in the temporary guest-takeover of this-here blog, yay! I’ll admit I had a hard time deciding what to show off to y’all; I wear clothes every day (it’s too cold in San Francisco to go without), but which clothes are the MOST representative of me/my look? In the end, I went with a work outfit, since 5 out of 7 days in a week I have to (at least try to) look like a semi-professional-type lady.

In theory, my firm’s dress code is business-casual.  In practice, at least in the East Coast offices, it’s more like business-business. Since I’m on the West Coast (and The Powers That Be have lowered expectations of us out here) I can usually get away with bending the rules a little. Nothing too out-there, of course, but my clothes tend to run on the more colorful end of the spectrum. Today’s outfit is typical: we’ve got comfy, fitted pants, a button-up shirt (layered over a camisole, to help with boob coverage), and a cardigan (layers are VERY important here). The most important component of this outfit is the (ratty, old) shoes I’m wearing, because they match the colors in my clothes almost exactly.  It’s almost unseemly, really, the amount of joy this brings me, and I will cry actual tears when these shoes finally bite the dust.

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(Pants:  LOFT, the most comfortable and flattering non-jeans pants I’ve found – I love them so much I bought them in 3 colors; cami, blouse, and cardigan all from the Gap because there’s a location in my work building and I’m lazy; shoes are so old I no longer remember where they’re from.)

Today’s accessories are:  a surprisingly flattering purple lippie (Revlon Super Lustrous in Violet Frenzy) and Big Hair (assisted by a windy afternoon near the water).  I’ve spent far too much of my 34 years battling The Hair, but I’m trying to embrace it, let it do what it wants.  I’ll admit, my ‘do is a big part of why I never feel entirely right in a Professional Lady costume – to my mind, grown ups have neat hair.  They have hair that behaves.  Mine has never, ever done that, no matter how hard I try, so lately I’ve given up trying to fit a mold meant for someone else and that means giving my hair the freedom to do its thing and then just wearing clothes that suit the hair.  Progress!

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(Thanks to MLE, @pantalonesfuego on the Twitter, for taking these photos during our lunch date.)

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Guest Post: Icicle Bonnet

[Hi, folks! I’m off on a little-deserved vacation around Austria and Slovenia, so please enjoy a series of guest posts from my rad internet friends! This one is from Rae, who, and I quote, “spends more time on Twitter than is practical or reasonable and was inspired to start caring more about style by some great people there! Her nonsense resides @slowseptember.” -Mia]

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Shirt: Ricki’s. Pants: Ricki’s. Boots: G.H. Bass outlet. Earrings: Ricki’s. Headband: actual headband from Shoppers Drug Mart, fascinator hair clip purchased at a street stall in London by The Fellow shortly before I shaved my head and couldn’t wear it so sewed it to the headband. Bracelet: #allinforGillian. Sunglasses: Melanie Lyne. Purse visible in top two pictures: Miche Canada.

Our choir director, in tandem with the lady who takes care of all our music and herds us around on performance days, decided that for Easter we should wear “spring colours on top, dark bottoms, dress nicely but it doesn’t have to be formal.” (Our choir dress codes can sometimes be maddening). Nevertheless, I struck out to Ricki’s and bought a blue shirt that had enough room in it to take deep, soprano-note-sustaining breaths. I also bought some matching earrings.

I made my dad take pictures of me. He was a little confused as to why, but was fairly game.

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I couldn’t stop singing “in your Easter bonnet/with icicles upon it” all week after I saw it on Twitter, since in Calgary spring means nothing. I decided that therefore Easter Sunday meant fascinator time (as close as I could come to an Easter bonnet).

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“Okay, let’s go,” said my dad, so I took the opportunity to grab my turquoise sunnies and take one more quick picture. I make this face in 90% of my selfies – they just don’t make it to Twitter.

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Happy Spring, everyone!

-Rae (@slowseptember)

Guest Post: Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy

[Hi, folks! I’m off on a little-deserved vacation around Austria and Slovenia, so please enjoy a series of guest posts from my rad internet friends! This one is from Whitney; she holds a master’s degree in Northern Renaissance art history, but she will respond sincerely to any topic of conversation with, “I’m very interested in that.” -Mia]

I remember the first time I ever saw a piece of taxidermy. I was ten, and my class was visiting the Children’s Museum in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. I was standing at the back of the crowd in a dark corridor, listening to our guide describe the next room. One of my classmates looked back, snickered, and pointed behind me. I turned and found myself almost leaning against the knee of a fully-grown, male polar bear reared back on his hind legs, front paws raised, face frozen mid-snarl. He was more than twice my height. For a moment I could not speak or move. Then it hit me: This is real. He was alive, and now he is not. And then: I will never be this close to a polar bear again. I relaxed. I noticed the length of his claws and teeth, his massive height, and how long and shaggy his hair was—not white, like I expected, but a dirty yellow. If I had dared, I could have run my fingers through it.

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I had experienced why humans began practicing taxidermy as we know it back in the eighteenth century. Taxidermy is intimately associated with natural history. The preservation of animals both exotic and domestic allows for close observation and study not possible with live specimens. It even preserves some species after extinction, such as the Dodo and the Great Auk.

Today we might associate taxidermy with hunting, and perhaps with attendant issues of waste, poaching, extinction, or cruelty. Taxidermy also suggests issues of class, both high and low, from big game hunting and safari to subsistence hunting and American frontier traditions. It typified Norman Bates’ creepiness as early as 1960’s Psycho. Taxidermy almost always inspires strong reactions of either revulsion or fascination. Some people think it’s morally wrong, but many practitioners, collectors, and plain old enthusiasts like me consider it art.

Whatever your personal opinion on taxidermy may be, there’s no denying that from the Saatchi Gallery to the hipster bars of East Nashville, taxidermy is undergoing a renaissance. For a new generation of fans just discovering its historical appeal, it’s wonderful to celebrate the release of a book on an exceptional artist, Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy by Dr. Pat Morris and Joanna Ebenstein. Walter Potter (1835-1918) was an amateur taxidermist in Sussex, England, who created a collection of truly delightful, bizarre, and completely unique anthropomorphic tableaux, or scenes of animals acting like humans. His collection of tableaux, “freaks,” and local fauna became a museum in his hometown, and after Mr. Potter’s death his son ran the museum until his own death in the late sixties. I could describe the collection, but it’s really better if you see it for yourself. Here’s a British Pathé newsreel on the museum from 1955:

 

The museum and its contents were sold and moved from Bramber to Brighton and Arundel for many years before finally being sold again and reestablished in Cornwall. Though the museum remained fairly popular, its owners sold the individual pieces at auction in 2003, disassembling the collection forever. In 2008, Dr. Pat Morris, a biologist and taxidermy collector, published his first work on Walter Potter’s museum. In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the auction, his book has been rereleased in a newly illustrated and expanded edition. The front matter sketches biographical information on Walter Potter and traces the journey of the museum. There is a wealth of information on the changing attitudes toward taxidermy throughout the museum’s history, which no doubt led to the museum’s (relegation) as a historical oddity and its eventual closure. Fans of Victorian culture will find plenty to interest them in the literary inspirations for the tableaux as well as the slice of life they preserve. The tableaux of social gatherings are especially fascinating as records of Victorian life embodied in an ideal Victorian medium.

The real heart of the book is its gorgeous full-page photographs of the collection’s finest pieces. Potter’s tableaux, like the Renaissance cabinets of curiosity they’re meant to evoke, require close viewing for full appreciation. You’re meant to walk around their cases, interact with them, and put your nose up to the glass. How else could you appreciate the painstaking effort of Mr. Potter’s hand-crafted musical instruments in the guinea pig band, the utensils at the Kittens’ Tea Party, or the brocade gowns of the Kittens’ Wedding, carefully stitched by Mr. Potter’s daughter? You are meant to quietly discover the subtleties of the Rabbits’ School, to delight and marvel in their fabricated society. Now that the collection is scattered in private holdings, most of us will never experience that joy in person. Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy is the next best thing.

 

Further Exploration

+ As of last week, the book is now available for purchase on Amazon.com

+ The book’s official website (with a great blog filled with behind-the-scenes production anecdotes and many, many guest posts by artists inspired by Potter’s work)

+ Morbid Anatomy blog (run by Joanna Ebenstein, co-author of the new edition)

+ Info on the Morbid Anatomy Library, in case you’re ever up Brooklyn way

+ A list of upcoming Morbid Anatomy lectures, most the New York City area

 

 Image Galleries

+ Taxidermy4cash.com’s image archive, lots of less popular works

Acaseofcuriosities.com’s image archive, not great quality but lots of supplementary info

Guest Post: DAR & Drinking at the Movies

[Hi, folks! I’m off on a little-deserved vacation around Austria and Slovenia, so please enjoy a series of guest posts from my rad internet friends! This one is from Margo; she is a London-based waster of time who believes in internet friends, a well-stocked pantry, and the medicinal power of celluloid and print. -Mia]

I’ve just finished up reading four volumes of comic book memoirs by two American twenty-something ladies who draw dealing with the stuff of life through ink, paper, pixels, and punch lines. Both of them work out identity and life issues through clothing, and I related to both of them from different corners of my messy closet.

When I started planning this post I didn’t realise that Erika Moen had immortalised Reading In Skirts in a blog post. That really tickled me, as I have an outfit that I always secretly think of as my Erika Might Wear This ensemble.

Erika Moen’s DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Diary (volumes one and two) takes us through her University years until her mid-twenties. She works through a lot of stuff about who she is and what she wants, in between adventures with cops on Segways, Miracle Fruit parties, and strip club etiquette. There’s a lot of slice of life stuff – awkward conversations with friends, ear wax issues (oh god, me too), and jokes based around genitalia being inherently hilarious. Which, of course it is. She nails the dirty joke told with clean lines. If it didn’t read so sincere, it’d be cloying, but Moen has a knack of presenting stories about sex and desire with a gloriously wide-eyed joy.

For my DAR outfit to be really canon-compliant, I’d be wearing a tank top with wide-legged trews and flats. But my epic vision is based more on the Erika Moen I know from the Strip Search reality tv show and her outfits in her current web comic Oh Joy, Sex Toy! (Which is NSFW, my peeps.)

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Dropping the graphical and modelling standards at Reading In Skirts

I love People Tree’s ‘ethical’ clothing as it wears well and always fits me nicely. Probably the most ethical clothing choice would be knitting my own unitards out of locally-sourced root systems, but I figure they’re a step up from the Fast Fashion outlets all over my local high street. I usually hunt their casual dresses across eBay, which is where I got my ‘high school art teacher sweatshirt dress’. It has enormo-pockets where I could keep useful and creative materials, though in reality I just stash things in my bra as the PATRIARCHAL FASHION INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX has trained me not to expect pockets.

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My best hard femme daywear

Like Moen, I love me some patterned leggings and boots. These boots are MBTs, a type of weird rocking thick-soled orthopaedic brand. Both them and the dress are from eBay. My tank and leggings were thrifted.

Julia Wertz’s cartoon series was called The Fart Party, and hilarious vulgarity is one of her hallmarks. But she has an uncanny ability to pull you in with the dry humour and dark wit to explore life at its messiest. I started on her books after reading this essay (The Fart Party Really Stinks [TW for self-harm -Mia]) about struggling with her strip after chronicling her sobriety. In Drinking at the Movies Wertz covers moving cities (San Francisco to New York), getting herself canned from lousy jobs, and spending a lot of time in bed being sick, hung over, depressed, bored, or thoroughly fed up with the human race.

In this guest post she has a cute panel on her different outfits and how they fit certain moods and New York days. But in Drinking at the Movies her default Julia vs. the World sidewalk warrior ensemble reminds me of what I wear on my days off. Those kind of days off where I’m not likely to talk to anyone else save someone at the shops or the pool. I kind of crawl into my own cave and focus on cooking, or walking, or spinning time out from one end of the internet to the other.

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My photography skills are up there with my mirror cleaning skills

The hoodie was abandoned outside a drycleaner with a tag attached, draped over a rubbish bin. The zip doesn’t work anymore and if I have the hood up I can’t see anything. It’s got hairdye stains and other less verifiable marks. This is a feral bit of clothing, one I would usually keep to myself. The jeans were meant to be wardrobe essentials, skinny leg low-cut and black, I’ve worn them to gigs and on dates, but I’ve finally reconciled myself to the fact that they’re not actually comfortable and slumpy like my platonic ideal of jeans. Instead they insist on defying the basic laws of physics as they simultaneously dig in to my stomach while the Grand Canyon blooms out at the back. I got them at a massive Sainsbury’s supermarket on a street in London called Dog Kennel Hill.

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The top is striped and super soft was originally from Reiss but reached me via eBay. I really should wear a bra with it, but this my day off. The girls can chill. The snood was crocheted for me by the lovely Quince Tart out of luxury German über-wool.

– Margo (@infamy_infamy)

Liebster Award

The Liebster Award recognizes up-and-coming bloggers with 500 followers or less. And would you look at that, Ruby Bastille saw fit to pass it on to Reading in Skirts! Laura is one of my favorites and I love talking books with her. Thanks, Laura! (The bribe is in the mail!)

The Rules:

  1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you.
  2. You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to the nominee before you.
  3. You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated who also have 500 subscribers or less.
  4. You must create 10 questions for your nominees.

You know I can’t resist a good blog meme, so let’s do this.

1. It’s game night! What do you want to play?

Something without too many complicated rules and tokens and things. (I’m really bad at Euro-style gaming, okay?) Something quick and simple makes me happy, like Love Letter or Guillotine! Or Spaceteam, if I have my phone and I feel like screaming for a while.

2. What’s the best book you read in the last year?

Okay, I’m going to refuse to commit to ONE BEST BOOK because that’s just humanly impossible, but I recently read Susanna Clarke’s short story collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu and was extremely pleased! My expectations were way high thanks to the amazingness of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and she still met them.

3. The book you’re reading currently is terrible/boring/not what you expected. Do you quit reading, or do you force yourself through it?

I’m actually going through this right now, and feeling very disappointed because I was looking forward to it. (Shan’t name names because it…might still get better?) In this case, I keep giving it extra chances because it’s written by an author whose work I normally enjoy–usually if it’s someone I’ve never read before, I’ll quit. Why waste my time?

4. You have the opportunity to do any extreme sport, whether or not you actually know how to do it, with very little risk of serious injury. What would you do?

I wanna say surfing (does that count as an extreme sport?) but I know there are appropriative roots in white people surfing, so I’m gonna say hang-gliding. That would be pretty friggin’ sweet, high-fiving eagles and shit.

5. What movie have you seen so many times that you basically have it memorized?

There are a number of them (as a kid I watched Zoom, The White Dolphin so many times my dad took it and put it on a high shelf where I couldn’t reach it)–one I just watched again recently is the MST3k episode of Mitchell. “Word on the street is, you’re a jerk!”

6. What book or movie coming out in 2014 are you most looking forward to?

CLARIEL. CLARIEL CLARIEL CLARIEL. Furthermore, Clariel.

7. Do you like science fiction? (Hope so!) What’s your favorite book/TV show/movie?

Yes indeedy! One of my favorite SF books is Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban (the same guy who wrote the Frances the Badger books–dude contained multitudes), and my favorite overall series–which I’m not yet done with–is Kage Baker’s Company books. Re: TV shows, I have a soft spot for Eureka; most of its science is suuuper hand-wavy (and I have weird feelings about what they did with Kevin’s autism), but there are multiple main characters of color (including women of color!) who are so interestingly written and complex. As for movies, I’ll fangirl over Pacific Rim anytime, and I’ll also probably make you sit down and watch Moon with me if you haven’t seen it already.

8. Do you watch the news?

Not…really. We don’t get TV, so I don’t watch any news programs, but I sometimes read the local paper. Honestly, I get most of my news info from the smart, hardworking activists I follow on Twitter, and through other internet sources.

9. What talent or ability are you most proud of?

When I’m not hating it all as garbage, I’m pretty proud of my writing skills! I’m also inappropriately proud of the fact that I can squat on the ground with my feet flat, because apparently not everyone can.

10. You get to use a time machine to go back in time and meet three different people and do only three things: punch someone, hug someone, and have a drink with someone. Who would you punch, who would you hug, and who would you have a drink with?

Punch: Jessica. Hug: Jessica. Have a drink with: Jessica.

 

Ten bloggers I’ll “nominate” (aka do this if you feel like, and if you don’t, ignore it! I know memes aren’t for everybody):

  1. Flint Hills Hausfrau
  2. Megan Mae Daily
  3. Plus Size Curves Ahead!
  4. Brittknee, Brittneigh, Brittnoo
  5. My (Not So) Style Blog
  6. His Black Dress
  7. My Darling, My Dear
  8. Star-Crossed Smile
  9. Swear Jars & Shoe Funds
  10. More Courage Than Skill

(Also, I have very little idea of how to check the overall number of followers you have, so don’t hold me to that rule.)

And the questions you must answer truthfully, under penalty of…nothing, really:

  1. What’s your desktop background right now?
  2. Are you more of an asker or a guesser?
  3. If you drink, what’s your favorite cocktail? If not, what’s your favorite thing people ask you when they want to know why you don’t drink?
  4. Would you rather have super-long fingernails or super-long eyebrows?
  5. Do you write the number 8 with two circles or as a “figure eight”?
  6. What’s your least-favorite fruit?
  7. What’s your go-to summer food or recipe?
  8. If it’s not too personal, do you have any food allergies?
  9. How do you leave a party?
  10. If you’re unhappy with food, will you return it?

Go forth and Liebster, my charming ones!

Outfit Post: 4/20/14

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Dress: eShakti — Sandals: Dansko — Bracelet and earrings: DIY

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Apparently I think of coral as a very Easter-appropriate color.

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It just comes to hand so easily!

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As a full garment, it’s very springy, and as accessories, it gives a slightly more grownup feel to equally-Eastery florals.

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Plus, I guess I unconsciously like to make coral-colored accessories, so I might as well wear them together. They accompanied me to Tia’s mom’s house, where we had smoked lamb and cake, and also socialized with each other nicely or whatever. But mostly lamb and cake.