London Alice (Alice: Madness Returns)

Things I have discovered upon trying to kick myself into blogging here again: you can definitely, definitely get out of practice with this sort of “skill”, if you want to call it that.

Second thing I discovered: I give good advice that I should occasionally take myself some time 😉

As soon as I started playing Alice: Madness Returns (about a week and a bit ago) I knew I wanted to try out Alice’s London outfit. Firstly, I didn’t have a blue dress anything close to the one she’s known for wearing, and secondly, I knew I had all the elements of the London dress in my wardrobe. (As an aside, for each level Alice has a different dress to match her surroundings, but they’re pretty special and you’re probably not going to find anything that looks vaguely like em sitting in your wardrobe. I couldn’t even find the elements of her steamdress and my wardrobe is pretty damn steampunk.)

I actually thought this was going to be the easiest outfit ever and actually an easy peasy “get back into the thick of things” post for NaC. Uh no. So while I had the black skirt, striped top and apron, as soon as I put them on in that combination I knew it wasn’t working. It looked, to be honest, kind of shit. It was very much “why the hell is this person wearing an apron outside for no reason” rather than “slightly creepy, plain, Victorian-inspired get-up”. I couldn’t in good faith post a picture of it here and tell you I would genuinely wear it out because I absolutely wouldn’t have.

So today I got a bit of a brainwave. I realised I was doing this wrong because I was dressing too much to the specific items of clothing (ie. it has to be a long-sleeved, striped top, it has to be a knee-length gathered skirt, it has to be an apron, etc) rather than roughly dressing to the shape, silhouette and blocks of colour of the outfit. I was getting too caught up in the details rather than getting the gist and bigger picture across.

So remember, back in the day, when I annotated like this?

What I used to do was follow my instincts and then work backward to to create the annotated image above. This time, I found it useful to draw a little stick figure in my head of what she was wearing and the shapes she created. Alice’s torso is somewhat square – which told me that I need a top that was tight-fitting in order to create the contrast of the more triangular skirt area. This would also be helped by having a belt-like piece of material to really emphasis my waist. As for black skirts – I would need one gathered at the waist and I would need something that was longer than the apron I owned (which is actually stupidly long).

The Outfit

Here’s the breakdown of what I’m wearing – at it’s a lot more than you might imagine:

  • Long-sleeved striped top – $6 random clothes store
  • Dress – $10 from ASOS
  • Underskirt – $2 from Cotton On
  • Bodice/Vest Top – ~$10 from Target
  • Striped tie belt – Actually a scarf I thrifted for another outfit *coughKnivesChaucough* but it was long enough to be used here as a belt. $3.
  • Apron – This had a torso section as well, but I had to fold it down and also tuck the rest of the bottom bit under the white top because it was so damn long! $2 thrifted.
  • Stockings – Leftovers from High School, yep. $10.
  • Boots – ASOS ~$40.
  • (Bottle necklace – Diva $5.)
  • (White Rabbit plush – by Funko ~$10)

As usual, everything is layered to the max. The striped top went on the bottom – that was easy – because it’s all we really need to see is the striped element on the sleeves.

Next I added a black dress (whose black short sleeves you can see) because it had the most triangular shape of everything I had. Unfortunately it was a little short, so I added another black underskirt to increase the length, puff out the skirt and give the bottom a bit of added interest. When you’re doing stuff like this, I would recommend picking an item of clothing that has a wildly different colour or texture to the material above. You’ll unlikely get two items of clothing with exactly the same material, and going for “as close as possible” usually means people notice the variations more and it looks weird. On the other hand when you combine two thing that are wildly different in some way, it looks deliberate and therefore not so noticeable (weird, eh?). You can’t really see here, but the dress is made out of a slightly shiny polyester material, whereas the underskirt is cotton lace.

To create the more square look, I opted to go for the white bodice which fit me quite tightly. As mentioned previously, I was able to fold and tuck the apron under the bodice as well as try for that more trapezoid shape (which isn’t quite conveyed in this photo). In retrospect I would have probably used some safety pins to secure everything in place and ensure that it looked exactly like how I wanted.

Lastly, I think the long, trailing bow at the back of Alice’s apron is kind of a trademark. I couldn’t find any white material that was the right colour/texture/length, but I opted for the scarf because the stripes were a repeating motif. That scarf is pretty long, but it could actually be much longer for the bow at the back. I think in this case instead of having an in-between length bow, you might have to choose between a really large, wide bow OR really long trails. I tried to get the both worlds (not that you can see in this picture anyway) and it ended up looking kind of half-assed. UP TO YOU THOUGH.

edit: Here’s a simpler alternative version. I am really out of practice.

Came up with this when I was taking off the outfit and facepalmed myself so hard it bruised.

This is basically above without the dress and tucking the extra length of the apron into the skirt I’m wearing. Because the skirt puffs out, a little extra padding underneath isn’t really noticeable.

You’ll notice I changed the top from the tight-fitting bodice to actually a quite loose-fitting white tank! I actually think this top works better when the dress is absent – the looseness is just about right to create that square shape, and I think it mimics the relative free-moving apron so you can kind of trick people into thinking it’s part of one thing.

Tank was from Big W for about $5.

Bring Your Own Attitude.

How to Shop

I admit it, I was actually going to skip this week because I was feeling tired and didn’t have a post lined up ready to go. However at ten to midnight I decided that a short one-picture post was better than no post at all.

This Cue dress rocks my world

In the past two weeks I have been on the prowl for a cheap plain black dress. I had some parameters of course – it had to be above the knee but not too high, have a high neckline, short sleeves, be figure-hugging and look good. I browsed some stores online (Sportsgirl, Supre, Cotton On) and visited a lot of them in person. Supre’s website looked most promising but when I went to the store I found while the items were cheap, so was the fabric. $15 for a nasty rayon/viscose dress? No thanks.

A couple of days ago I went into Myer with my mum and found this awesome black dress by Cue on sale for $60. It cost four times more, but the dress was at the very least five times better than the one in Supre. (More like 13 times better if you compared it to the original price.)

I do have a couple of super-cheap items in my wardrobe, but for the most part my wardrobe is thrifted, mid-range basics, sale items and super-expensive luxury stuff (that were probably also on sale). At this point in my life money is still an issue as a student, and I can’t afford the quality items I’d like at full price. Price is only one consideration, most of the time I try to shop by value:

  • Price – can I afford it?
  • Source – second hand, mass manufactured, independent label, handmade.
  • Materials and Workmanship.
  • Fit.
  • Versatility – how many different looks can I get out of this?
  • Durability – how long will the item last or how long will it be “fashionable”?
  • Alternatives – can I get better value elsewhere?

When buying new items durability is probably one of the biggest factors for me. I hate the capitalist culture of disposability because it creates demand for more of our scant resources while simultaneously creating waste. I tend to go thrifted when I can, or save up for items that will last me a lifetime, not just a season. I believe this is the most sustainable way to shop.

CONNIE’S GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE SHOPPING AND ACQUISITION

1. Browse often, buy occasionally

This applies mostly to thrift stores, but you can probably extend it shopping in general. I indulge in impulsive purchases very rarely – in most cases I let the decision ferment like a fine wine. 😉

It helps if you have a thrift store you pass regularly; because item turnover is so high it’s worth going back every week to see what’s new instore (if you do this weekly it should take only 5-10 minutes to scope out the new items). Finding the right item is a matter of luck, but you can increase your luck by going often. I buy something maybe 1 of 5 times I go thrifting.

2. Save your money

My USD$150 Skingraft skirt was one of the best things I’ve bought and it was worth every penny. Similarly my $100 Tony Bianco boots are going super strong (reheeled once). Even if you don’t have a particular thing you’re after it’s worth saving money for that day you come across the perfect whatever, at which point you can buy it and still eat for the rest of the month.

3. Take care of the things you own

Enough said, right?

4. Learn to DIY

Knowing how to sew is really useful if you find an item with a small hole, missing buttons, broken zipper or a weird fit either in a thrift store or on sale. I’ve altered a couple of new items that had a strange cut and I don’t regret using the scissors and thread.

On the flipside it’s also great for clothing that’s outlived its purpose. I’ve turned old pants into a pair of spats, t-shirts into skirts and Gibbous Fashions makes a living out of it.

5. Try on everything

So many times I’ve seen something on the rack and hated it only to have it look freggin awesome on. A lot of times something on the rack will look awesome and be a fashion disaster when I wear it.

If I’m looking for a specific thing I try on as many different styles as possible. If I’m just browsing I tend to try on the weirdest, most complex-looking thing on the rack, but that might just be the type of clothing I gravitate towards.

6. Know when to leave it

If something doesn’t fit (DIY opportunities aside), then leave it. Seriously. If it doesn’t fit you now there’s no guarantee it will ever fit you in the future. It’ll probably just sit at the back of your wardrobe making you feel sad because a) you can’t wear it and b) you wasted money on clothing you can’t wear.

7. Sharing is caring

Sell or donate clothing you don’t wear. Or better yet – have a clothing swap with some friends. Your old loved items will go to people who’ll appreciate it, and you’ll get some funky new items as well.

I will be attending an 80’s theme party next week so my upcoming post should be fun…

Style Quickie – Alice (Alice Syfy Miniseries)

Humour me for a paragraph while I rant about not-fashion. I absolutely adore the Alice books and the subsequent works of art they’ve inspired including half my Year 12 portfolio.  The books themselves are fairly unintelligible (in a good way), but I believe the strength of Alice comes from the ability of new artists to project onto the existing work. Burton’s recent remake was one of the most disappointing and heartless adaptations I’ve ever seen, and I say that because I’m a fan of Burton, Depp and Alice. It was truly horrible and whenever someone brings it up I always point them to the recent Syfy adaptation that’s at least 20 times better made at a fraction of the price.

The adaptation is not without its weaknesses and I would go on if this were a TV review site, but what is important is the fantastic costume interpretations of the characters. I’ve read they were designed by Angus Strathie who also designed the costumes for Moulin Rouge. At some point in the future I might write a deconstruction post for several characters, but what I like to focus on is either the sheer brilliance or fashion suicide:

Blue dress, red tights.

I’m on the side of sheer brilliance. They’re both primary colours that contrast and really bring out the vibrance of the other colour. Most people, myself included, tend to stick to analogous colour harmonies when “matching” colours. But there are lots of harmonic colour combinations from colours that you wouldn’t think could work together.

Visual artists and graphic designers are probably familiar with colour theory and the colour wheel but I think just knowing a little about how colours work can really improve an outfit! For some people this comes quite naturally, but I personally find it difficult to even entertain the idea of combining brown, blue and green even though it looks great if you pick the right hues and shades.

If you want to expand your colour combination horizons then I would suggest playing around with Adobe’s online kuler tool. The site was meant for graphic and web designers to experiment with colour combinations, but it works equally well for clothing choices. The tool has several preset colour harmonies so you can pick one colour and it will adjust the other colours for you. Be bold!

Aaaand if you’re sick of all this arty-farty stuff then this site has a pretty good rundown of the Alice and Hatter costumes (and strangely homewares too) although the focus is more on shopping than improvising.