December 31, 2013

An End of a Year and an End of an Era

As you bid adieu to 2013, please include in your remembrances this study of Neo-Aristocratic lifestyle. This will be my last post in this blog.

It has been a long, fascinating journey of aesthetic, fashion, lifestyle, discovery, and writing, but it has come to an end. The world of alternative fashion no longer holds my same interest. I have no desire to return to creating and exploring my own aesthetic. Finally, this blog no longer holds the same joy it once did.

It is time for me to move onto new experiences and new writing projects.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my thoughts and comment. Thank you to the friends I have made through this experience. I will not forget you or your kind words.

I wish you the best in your writings and lives.

May 2014 be full of happiness and growth!


Evelyn Lynette

November 9, 2013

Thoughts for Autumn

This past week, autumn swept in with a vengeance.

I've always thought autumn has had a very dualistic personality; it travels between the extremes of soft and harsh. In September, the weather has a hint of chill- enough to pull out the sweaters and begin our now metaphorical gathering of foods to store. Soups become appetizing, apples need to be picked, squash and pumpkin fill the supermarkets, leaves change their colors.

But by late October or early November, the weather breaks. The chill transformers to a cold that leaves lips numb and- if you live up north with extreme seasons- it means reaching for that second layer of clothing. I think, temperature wise, it happens when the thermometer drops to the forties during the day.  The leaves are gone from the trees, the earth has stopped producing and the long cold nights of winter are clearly ahead.

When people say their favorite season is autumn, I doubt they mean this half.

In Chinese Medicine, the season of autumn is related to the element of metal. Metal is a hard element to understand. In the organ system, it relates to the Lung and Large Intestine. Emotionally, it corresponds to grief. In the cycle of our lives, it corresponds to old age and, eventually death.

The image I have been meditating on is metal corresponding to The Knife. A knife cuts away unnecessary things. It parrs the fat, rids us of the waste. In our hectic world where we define ourselves by what we do, I think it is easy to overload our schedule and lives with things that are not useful or are no longer useful.

It is hard to say no and to bring things to an end. There are fears of disappointing people, of burning bridges, of closing doors. But we are not beings of infinite energy- no matter what the advertising might say- and doors must close. Especially as winter comes and the cold sets in.

Winter is a dark, cold time and our natural energy ebbs during those months. Not that you would be able to tell by the constant schedules we keep. It is a time of endurance, of rest, of letting our energy collect for spring and new growth. Autumn is the time to cut back on our energy expenditures and prepare for the lesser energy.

This autumn I have been trying to do just that. There was an impulse upon returning to school to fill every bit of my schedule with new activities to meet new people, do new things, not be left to my own. But I sat with that impulse until it disappeared and have been very cautious about adding new responsibilities to my life or making demands on my time: job searching, meeting new people, living a full schedule.  The only things I keep to are my school work and my writing (though obviously not blog writing).

It is damned hard to live a simple life. I used to scoff at monks or people who lived in incredible simplicity until I learned just how hard it is to say no to things and remain interested and focused on the task at hand. It takes immense will power to continually look for the new and exciting in what you already have rather than to get your thrills from external novelties.  We have forgotten how to do that as a culture.

There are certainly essays that I wish to write and this blog is not dying by any means. But it will pass into a quieter state of hibernation as I conserve my energy for winter.

What do you do to conserve your energy? Do you notice changes of energy in the shift of the seasons?

September 27, 2013

RAC: A Closet for a Real Life

Well organized, massive closet with floor to ceiling accessories
Well organize, but unnecessarily large closet
I want a closet I can wear. More importantly, I want a closet that I do wear. Lets say you've looked through your look books, you've found your personal style, you've gone out and bought your personal style, you've got a coordinated closet of skirts, high heels, blouses and blazers. It's beautiful. It's perfect. But it remains untouched. Because you are a yoga instructor and are rarely required to wear office wear. 

Your closet should fit your actual daily life- not the daily life you want to have. 

If this seems obvious, it is. Does it still require a blog post? It does.

My closet feels like this sometiems

For instance: in the past year, I have not worn one pair of high heels. I can't bike in them. I can't walk the requisite mile and a half in them. And yet, half my shoe collection is comprised of unworn high heels because I like the idea of them. While my two pairs of flats and single pair of boots are worn down to almost nothing.

Or, I have three fancy winter coats perfect for going to the opera or the ballet. Yet, I never attended either the opera or the ballet once this past year despite loving the idea of it so much. 

These items fit my personal style certainly. They are beautiful, I love how I look in them, but they don't fit my lifestyle and so they go unworn. Does this mean to the donation bin for them? I'm not sure. If there comes a time in my life when I can wear high heels and afford the theater, I'll want these on hand. But in the mean time, one thing I can absolutely do is keep myself first, from buying things I won't wear and second, being on the lookout for things that I would wear on a daily basis. 

A closet full of pretty clothes, might not get worn

How to do this?

A lifestyle analysis. These are the steps I am taking to try and decide what I need to be on the look out at thrift stores and the like.

1. How do you actually spend your days?

This is a difficult question to answer since I feel as though I am in transition for so many things. For paid and regularly attended commitments, I have two: School and Krav Maga.  For the divisions of my days, I attend school, study, hang out with friends, and work on my desk. (As I continue to adjust to my new life, these activities will, hopefully, expand.)

2. What do these activities require in apparel?

Krav Maga: Basic workout clothes:  (clean tennis shoes, plain shorts, plain shirt, sports bra) X 2

School: my school is wonderful and allows me a wide variety of clothing for the basic classes. I can go from very casual jeans and a tee shirt, to my more elaborate daily wear.  However, the practical classes are a little more strict.

Normal Classes: whatever I want: (Skirt, blouse, shoes, jacket, tights, etc) X4

Practical classes: clothes that aren't restrictive and allow access to general musculature. (Tank top, shorts (or skirt), closed toe shoes, something to cover during the colder months.) X3

Study/ Hanging out/ Work at desk: slightly more casual, comfortable clothes. X 7

3. What other conditions should you take into consideration?

You can include anything you want, but for me this is transportation and weather.

Transportation: since I walk at least a mile every day, my shoes need to be practical. Since, I often bike, I can't wear many hats.

Weather: up north, the winters are bitter and the summers miserable. I need two distinct wardrobes. In the winter, an abundance of overcoats, gloves, hats, scarves, sweaters and tights. In the summer, things must be light and flowing.

4. How well does your actual closet fulfill these needs?


My entire wardrobe is geared towards Normal Classes with little regard to transportation though pretty flexible for the weather. I have just enough workout and practicals clothes to last a week, but doing laundry every week would just wear out those pieces too quickly.

5. What needs to go on the shopping list?

From a quick perusal:

~ One pair of black flats.

~ A pair of boots

~ 4-5 new tank tops.

I know it is possible to find all these items in my aesthetic. The tank tops don't have to be practical for work out- they can be richly colored and embellished with lacy details. The shoes can have quirky details. But these will become immediate and instant parts of my wardrobe- not need to be left waiting until I found the right outfit.

It's tempting to create a beautiful wardrobe full of fancy, well matched outfits but only be able to wear it for a fraction of your life. Now that I have a better idea of what my actual daily life requires, I can shift the focus of my wardrobe to have beautiful, matching pieces that I regularly use.

How well does your wardrobe match your lifestyle?

September 14, 2013

RAC: Pintrest and Lookbooks

In my current quest to remake my poor, broken wardrobe, I have engaged in an attack on two fronts: both culling what I don't wear from my wardrobe and creating a series of inspirational lookbooks. I have talked about the culling aspect in the past, but not the building of inspiration- which I think is really the more exciting option.

Now, I have about a thousand inspirational pictures stored on my computer- they comprise most of my alternative aesthetic inspiration. But the documents page is unwieldy to use as an inspiration board: the pictures are too small, when you get them the right size you can only see one at a time, deletion is difficult, etc. So, I have finally turned to embrace what people have been using for ages: pintrest.

Pintrest has grown on me. I used to be a little disdainful of the hype and people who collect pictures of what others are doing rather than doing it themselves, but I've fallen fully into the fold. And though it seems like a great deal of the fashion tends towards the mainstream, hipster look- there does seem to be enough of a variety that I don't feel my aesthetics are being influenced by what is available when I create my lookbooks.

What is a lookbook?

For me, a lookbook is my inspiration or mood board. It is a collection of outfits, accessories and style pieces that strike a chord within me. From these pictures I'll be able to discern what I really like and what is just a passing fancy. I'll be able to pick up trends in interests and begin to create a list of what to look for for my wardrobe.

Like with most things I undertake, I have a process: I browse through pintrest searching for certain terms that resonate: vintage, street style, steampunk, elegant, sophisticated, sweater and skirt, etc. I go through the page and pin everything I like to my Lookbook 1. Everything and anything that catches my eye. Once I have reached 100 pins in my first look book, I create my Look Book 2 and continue the process. As of this moment, I am on my fourth lookbook and have found 328 pictures that I like.

However, just finding what you like isn't enough- as evident with my closet. Many different aesthetics appeal to me. Everything from steampunk to coquette. From edgy, leather Goth to modest, feminine styles. Were I to rebuild my wardrobe from this massive collection of pictures, I would end up with something even more ungainly than I had before.

So, every day for the past week, I've been deleting five pictures from each completed lookbook (completed = 100 pictures in it.) This way, I can whittle down what was a passing fancy, any thing that has the right idea but is just filler, and anything that I wouldn't wear.

This last point is very important for me. Usually my tastes in inspiration drift towards the grand, impressive and flamboyant. The clothes you might wear to a convention but not to get groceries. However a wardrobe needs to reflect your lifestyle and if all my inspiration is for once in a lifetime events- no wonder I don't know what to get at the store or feel like I have anything to wear!

This time I've been working very hard at only choosing only clothes that I would legitimately wear to school (my most common outing.) This means ignoring the over the top advertisements or statement pieces and focusing on street wear.

A few trends and ideas have emerged in the process:

~ I am very much a skirt person. I think there may be about 20 out of 320 pictures that tickled my fancy that were pants or shorts based. Lucky for my style, I usually wear skirts anyways!

~ I like a deep red, jewel blues and purples. These colors continue to be repeated in the pictures as accents or statement pieces. I have a closet of mostly black- it sounds like it's time to add some richer colors.

~ Sweaters belted with thin leather belts is apparently an attractive look for me.

~ If I ever got into Instagram, the super saturated filter would be my favorite. At least that is what my pictures are telling me.

~ My aesthetic was honed by pictures 101-200. It is much harder to cull out photos from that lookbook than the first (where I was still learning what I liked) and the second two (where pickings begin to get slimmer as major search categories are exhausted and I begin to get bored and adventuresome.

~ I had to create a "High Fashion" look book to place the extravagant pieces I liked. Just because I wouldn't wear them every day doesn't mean I cant gain valuable analysis from those pieces.

~ It is hard to look at a piece and ask myself if I really like it or if it is just pretty. Same problem with the culling of pieces from my closet I imagine.

My current goal is to whittle down each of my 100 photo look books into a mere 40 each, combine them into a greater file and then whittle those down to 50. At which point I think I will have a pretty solid core of themes and outfits I really enjoy. That should be ready in a couple of weeks.

September 12, 2013

On Polyamorous Relationships

Naturally, I've been thinking a lot about relationships lately and one of the considerations has been the number of people in a relationship: a polyamorous vs. a monogamous relationship.

To define the terms: a monogamous relationship is one where you are in a committed relationship with one person (cheating on your significant other in a monogamous relationship does not make it a polyamorous one- just makes you a cad.) A polyamorous relationship is one where you are in a committed relationship to two to many people, each partner is free to have other partners, and each partner is aware of that there are other partners. (Again, deciding that you are now going to be in a polyamorous relationship without informing both partners doesn't make it so- again, it just makes you a cad.)

 Now, as you can guess, I am a little biased against the idea of polyamorous relationships (so read this post with a grain of salt) but I can't deny them as a viable method of living outright. After all, there was a time when I wanted a polyamorous relationship. During our four years in college, the Law Student and I had an "open" relationship- though neither of us felt compelled to act on it and if we had it might have closed a bit faster. (We did eventually close it when we went our separate ways to grad schools. Or at least I did.)

I thought I understood the appeal of an open relationship. Think of the possibilities in bed! Think of the gifts you could receive from not one but two people! Think of the love and comfort and warm fuzzies that you would get from having two loves!

Then I realized relationships were hard. You have bad days. They have bad days. You need to forgive and shrug off little annoyances. Accept bad habits and different ways of thinking. You have to change yourself (and yes, every relationship requires this- the health of one just depends on how much you do.) It's not easy to love someone. It requires a lot of work on both parties part and I am still learning how to do that properly. If it was this hard to keep a relationship alive and going with one person, how hard would it be with two? Or more?

But! I can't say a polyamorous relationship is immoral or impossible. I think it would take a lot more work. And so while I don't have any tips or guidelines to offer, having never been in one myself, these are some thoughts I've had:

~ Understand your reasons for going into a polyamorous relationship. If, like me, you want multiple loves for the benefits it gives you, that won't work. Even in a monogamous relationship, if you are just using your partner as a tool to make you happy, it's not healthy. I can only imagine this is amplified in a polyamorous one.

~ Understand that you won't have the force of culture behind you. Whether right or wrong, we live in a monogamous culture (though it is swiftly becoming a serially monogamous culture). There aren't the institutions or social support in place to help you when you enter a polyamorous relationship. There aren't books written about what to do when one partner is jealous of the other or how to negotiate the tricky waters of multiple relationships. There are probably support groups of other people who  have chosen this lifestyle and they can offer advice and comfort. But you aren't going to find that in the larger country. If things go wrong, you'll hopefully be met with genuine concern, but I think there will be a tinge of "I told you so" in a lot of people. (After all, you've just confirmed the rightness of their own more normal behavior.)  Again, this doesn't preclude a polyamorous relationship, it just makes it more difficult.

~ Communication becomes even more essential. Jealousy is a normal response in our culture. If you've managed to truly free yourself from the concepts of possession, then that is wonderful and I'd love to hear how. But that takes a level of self-awareness and a understanding that I don't, and I imagine most people, don't have.

~ Don't start a new relationship when you are in a Long Distance Relationship with one or multiple people. New relationships cause new changes in people- as they should. And willingly changing to that degree while you have someone waiting isn't fair to either of you if you are committed to your relationship.

~ All the rules of being in a single relationship still apply.  I'd worry that I would forget this. That when things aren't going well with one person, I just start concentrating on the other rather than work it out with the first. Though, again, this could just be why I am not suited for a polyamorous relationship.

~ Make sure all your partners know that you are interested in a polyamorous relationship from the beginning. If they agree to try it- make sure they are really committed and not just agreeing out of fear of losing you or something else.

My final thoughts are that polyamorous relationships are a lot like communism. They sound great on paper, but in practice a host of human weaknesses come to light and the thing collapses. Of course, some people can thrive in a communal living situation and I have heard of polyamorous relationships that work wonderfully for everyone involved. It's just that the benefits of both lifestyles are only achieved through more hard work and personal changes of thought and feelings than I think most people who embark on them are aware.

September 10, 2013

RAC: What to do with Old Clothes

A sort of stunning picture

The zipper doesn't work.

There is a hole in the material.

There is a permanent stain down the front.

The cloth is all but worn through.

Two buttons are missing.

It happens. Clothes, just like everything, have an end date. Maybe not as soon as garment industries would like us to believe, but there comes a point when you need to say goodbye to a piece of clothing. For real.

I found a sweater like this. The poor thing has been with me for 10 years now. I received it in my freshman year of highschool and it has been a staple of my closet  ever since then. But after countless wearings and laundry loads, it has lost it's shape, its warmth, it's texture. It is old, raggidy and shiny around the collars. Even my higher tolerance with wear and tear can't support it- so I'm throwing it away.

Yep, throwing something away feels even stranger than giving it away. But often times the thrift store isn't the option with a piece of clothing too far past it's use. No matter how nice it would be to think that everything has value to someone else. If you wouldn't pick it up in a thrift store, don't assume someone else will.

So what to do?

First, harvest all the hardware. Snip buttons, take out zippers, unstitch trimmings- if there. If you sew, upcycle these items into other projects. If you don't, from personal experience I can assure you that zippers and buttons are a great find at a thrift store.

Second, if the material is 100% something and you have a compost bin, try slicing it up into strips and composting it. I've heard this from a few other sites- not sure how the dye would affect anything, but it's what the Victorians did with their materials.

Third, if neither of those apply, throw it away and don't feel guilty. Cloth still decomposes faster than plastic bags. (But this is another excellent reason to only buy natural fibers.)

What do you do with clothes that are too old to be donated?

September 9, 2013

Remaking an Aristocrat's Closet: Lessons from Rarity

Yes, that Rarity.

Like many of my generation, I am a fan of My Little Pony. I like the expansion in variety of female archetypes for girls. I approve of the lessons of the show for the most part. I appreciate the integrity of the aesthetic. It is a fun, pretty show with a good host of characters and a great thing to watch before bed.

Rarity is, by far, my favorite. Does that really come as a surprise to anyone? She is elegant, passionate, intelligent and mature. It is possible, she proves, to possess both femininity and strength. She also represents the element of generosity.

The more I think on elegance and nobility, which I do think Rarity possesses, the more accurate her element appears. Elegance is inherently generous. It operates from a position of abundance because a mark of beauty is that it is enough. Beauty exists when nothing else can be removed.

Generosity is a quality that I with which I.... could use some improvement. I have a tendency to hoard on the chance of a "what if." I like to accumulate clothing, books, pretty trinkets and then guard them jealously. Even if I don't use them. Even if they just sit there collecting dust. At least I know they are there.

The things I have, I don't like to share. Not snacks. Not books. God forbid you want to borrow some clothes. But more than my things, I am jealous of my time and energy. There are several times I fall into the unfortunate mindset that everyone else is out to drain my precious minutes of alone down time which I hoard with all the powers of my Introvertedness to.... read webcomics? But that is a discussion for another day.

The mental shift I am trying to engender with Rarity's lessons of generosity is this: the clothes which are sitting in my closet and being admired but not worn could be used instead to make someone else very happy.

Now, to satisfy the Randian in me which is balking at that statement, this is not to say that I should give away my favorite pieces that I do wear just because they might make someone happy. Rather those pieces which have the right color, but not the right cut; have the right style but don't quite fit; have more sentimental value than use; that might be used one day for a cosplay of something- those are the pieces which need to move on.

And they are the hard ones to move on- because they are the just ifs. If I just lose a little weight. If I just find the right skirt. If I just remembered it existed. They have sentimental value. They have aesthetic value. But they are still taking up valuable space in your closet.

I just cleared out two paper bags worth of such items and I have to keep myself from going back to them and hanging the items up- because of those just ifs. But I look in my closet and it feels healthier without the dead weight. Looks slimmer and fuller of potential. And yet I want to go hang up that Lolita shirt (I decided that it would be easier to thrift the shirts) or the silk shirt from Thailand that is wrong color and has slits up to my bra straps but that my mum bought for me years ago.

So rather than thinking of these clothes as a loss from my life, I am trying to think of them as a gift into other people's lives.

It's helping a little.