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Dia & Co. — really? No, seriously, really?

Obligatory disclaimer:  This is a rant.  Nothing disclosed herein has not already been addressed with the company that I have written this review about.

This is my first foray into personal stylist subscription box and going out the gate color me not impressed, at least with my stylist.  Their Customer Service department is another story altogether.

By way of instruction, Dia & Co. is a Plus-size clothing subscription service.  They charge $20 per box styling fee, which is credits towards whatever you purchase, assuming that you like what they send you.  If you love everything, they credit the styling fee and give you a 20% discount on the purchase of the full box.  You can get a box monthly, quarterly or whenever you’re looking for something new.  You answer a series of questions like do you like type of tops, bottoms, dresses, outwear, accessories and what type do you like; what body parts do you like and what do you want to hide; colors to avoid; styles you like (vintage, preppie, urban, etc.); companies you like and the like and price range that you’re comfortable paying per garment, not per outfit, per individual garment piece.  The cynic in me looks at the styling fee as covering the cost of shipping to and fro under a different and more tolerable name.

In my case, it was purely migraine pain medication fueled curiosity: it sounded like fun and I spend so much of my sewing time not in the 21st century, I decided why not see what the rest of the world is wearing when I found the link in my Pinterest recommendations.  I spent the better part of Saturday evening binge-watching almost every “Review” unboxing video on YouTube.  Based on what I saw, knew before my box arrived that I was going to be sending everything back.  The target audience was Millennials, which I am so not (tail end of the Baby Boomers, thank you very much), and the clothes were way out of my price range — Not going to pay night unto $50 for an unlined skirt or top unless it has some seriously awesome detailing.

The box arrived and to quote Lorelai Gilmore of the Gilmore Girls “Oy with the poodles already!”  I have never seen such a mismatch.  I dutifully filled out my profile and answered by style questions, which in retrospect was not as thorough as it now is, but really?  Did my stylist even look at my profile and if she did, did make any notes?

First, the clothing was all too small or way too short, but definitely way, way too young for this increasingly conservative middle-aged woman.  I clicked all the appropriate boxes to describe my style, I really did, but nowhere could be found anything remotely looking preppie, or classic, or romantic, or retro (meaning 1950-1960, not 1970s or ’80s [shudder].  What I got was modern, urban and 1970s disco-equese.  So let’s break down the list of the five items I received in my box.

  1. A Multicolor Skirt — I specifically said no yellows, oranges and gold and I got a georgette mini-skirt in a 1980s vertical stripe with those very colors I said to avoid. It also had 2-1/2 inch wide black exposed elastic waistband.  A personal dislike second only to exposed zippers.
  2. A Wrap Dress — There was a cobalt and kelly and white faux wrap dress that even had it fit, would have had way too much northern exposure with the girls busting out all over.
  3. Top #1 — There was the black asymmetrical hem, sheer georgette with a chiffon top.  In truth, there was probably less wrong with this top overall, but who decided it would be a good idea to give the overweight, middle age woman a top that she would have to wear something underneath it?  And the name of the top was “meadow”, which conjures up something green with a small lavender floral print, not a little black blouse.
  4. The LBD — I suppose that if I were 12 or 13 years old, this could have passed for a dress, but it would have been a tunic on me and I am not that tall.  It was a basic black sleeveless shift with a large, cut-out black lace appliqué…on the back so it would be impossible to wear a bra without to showing.  This look always makes me think, “hey, you’ve got your top on backward!”  It’s all I can do not to take pity of the poor soul wearing it and say something.  Something else about this dress-tunic-thing: It felt like this was something that I had seen far too often and on too many people to be done with the look.
  5. Top #2 — I am not sure if I can adequately describe the horror that this shirt was.  The overall silhouette was a basic shell with sleeves; normal, classic design and then it fell off the rails.  The card said it was gray, but it was taupe, at least the front was.  It too was fashionable in georgette and had a brown polka dot cotton patch pocket over the left boob.  The sleeves were in the same color.  The back was white, a jersey I think and had a 1-1/2 inch wide strip running down the center back.  The whole thing looked like it was made from leftover fabric scraps from past projects in an attempt pad the designer’s bottom line.

I said I like Classics, yet I saw none.

I said I like “preppie”, yet where were my polo shirts, pencil skirts, my pinstripes/dots/ginghams?

I mentioned previously, I said Vintage meaning 1950-1960, not 1970s or ’80s yet I got clothes made in the same fabrics we sold at Cloth World and House of Fabrics when I worked for them in the 1980s.  (I had a black and purple version of this very stripe in a Jonathan Martin dress in the late 1980s.)

I said I like Bohemian and Romantic, yet where was the paisley, the small floral prints, and fine lace or even fringe?

Where was the cute little clutch style handbag or scarves (love scarves), where was the cute black with white polka dots and white collar or the houndstooth cape or the floral print tops that I saw on YouTube?  [sigh]

Now, here is why I was impressed with their Customer Service department.  I had problems creating an account and they helped me out using a live chat feature on their website.  When I received my box, I asked about their target market because the box was too young for my tastes which then opened up a conversation on the whole experience and her giving me a $20 credit on the next box and me going back and adding more details about my personal and giving them a second chance.

Here are a few excerpts from our chat conversation:

She patiently explained that, “We have stylish pieces for women of all ages, but with first boxes it can be really difficult to grasp your personal style solely based on your style and fit preferences. The feedback you can provide will really help us make smarter selections for your next box!” and then she added, “The first box is always the trickiest, so with the help of your feedback on the items, we can definitely make sure to make selections that match your specific style!”

We’ll see if they get it right in September.  Stay Tuned.

 

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What we’ve been up too — 7/21/2016 edition

Besides tending to the needs of our gracious feline overlords, where is a little of what we’ve been up to lately:

  1. Game of Throne cosplay — We created our version of the High Sparrow’s robe.  Blog post in progress in this one.  Did you know that he had four different ones if you count the one he wore in the Season 6 finale?
  2. Went on “progress” to have lunch with Claire and Jamie — I went to the Outlander exhibit at the Paley Center.  I have two words: ‘awesome’ and ‘go’.  Seriously, if you live within a couple of hours and are a fan of the show and the incredible work that Terry Dresbach and her extremely talent team create it, it is worth the trip to Beverly Hills to see it.  [Me: Does sipping a frappucino in front of the window drooling at the RED dress count as lunch?]
  3. Fabrication:  We’ve received our first batches of Tudor era style wool from England.  We’ve received some heavy weight “poor black” linen as well.
  4. Costume College 2016 — Yep, we’re going.
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Help us grow the business!

We’ve launched a Patreon Campaign!

Help us grow the business so I can quit my day job and write and create full-time again!

Please consider being a patron and we promise there will be swag in it for you.   Swag ranges from branded reusable shopping bags, and backpack for schlepping your costume pieces or other stuff and for the truly generous, you’ll get a costume of it …and everyone will receive an old school So. Cal. Renaissance Faire style favors

We’re also now on Faceboook!

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What’s New and Upcoming … 4/16/2016 edition

Here are some of the things that you can expect to find in our shop in the near future, in order of anticipated additions:

  • 16th Century Tudor era
    • Men’s breeches
    • Ladies ruff shirts (or more commonly known on the Faire circuit as “partlets”).
    • Ladies underpinnings — corsets, fathingale and bumrolls
    • Accessories — Hats, cloaks and pouches and such.
  • 18th Century attire — think Outlander era clothing
  • one very long, Gallifreyan scarf
  • 15th Century attire
  • 17th Century attire
  • 19th Century attire — think Dickens fair and Civil War
  • 20th Century attire — think Downton Abbey, WWII and MOD and Mad Men

Make sure you sign up for our mailing list so you’re among the first to know when these items hit our virtual storefront or for the impatient among you, please submit your custom-made inquiry today.

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Site Hiccups!

As a result of the fabulous time we spent celebrating our site shop grand opening with our furry friends at #NipClub at their NipClub Monthly fund raiser party, we should have know there would be fallout or some sort.

Now for those not in the know, NipClub is short for Catnip Club — and well, several hyper-nipified kittens got loose and uncovered things, chewed on cables, batted links underneath the stove and well, caused unmentionable havoc.

So with that disclaimer, our shopping side of the website will down for a few days while we scold bad, but ultimately helpful, kitties and fix things.

 

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Costume vs. Garb — well, which is it?

You’ve just discovered the joys of historical reenacting[1] and have joined your first event as a real participant, not a well-appointed patron, and during the course of the event, you find yourself engulfed in a heated dispute over what to call the outfit you are wearing. ACK! What’s a newbie to do? So, while you’re fending off some overzealous, self-appointed member of the costume police, please allow me to clarify a few points and answer that eternal question . . . The ultimate answer might surprise you. It did us!

Is it a “Costume” or is it“Garb”?

As much as some would prefer it to be the contrary, referring to your “fyne period attyre” as a Costume is not only grammatically correct, but proper as well, as I will explain.

A Costume as defined[2] is either “the attire worn in a play or at a fancy dress ball”; “the attire characteristic of a country or a time or a social class” or “unusual or period attire not characteristic of or appropriate to the time or place.”

So let’s examine the facts.

  1. You are a Participant and/or a Performer at your local Ren Faire.
  2. You’re wearing clothes are indicative of 16th century England.
  3. It’s the 21st century America.

First, if you assume the premise that “All the Faire’s a Stage”, then the condition of “attire worn in a play” is met, and thus, you are wearing a costume.

Second, the simple fact you are wearing clothing reminiscent of 16th century England and the calendar says it’s June of 2003 and you’re in Devor, California precludes that it could be anything else but a costume.

Therefore, with that being said, you are wearing a Costume.

Nevertheless, there are instances where not only are you wearing a Costume, but you are wearing Garb as well.

 Garb, as defined[3] is most commonly what we do, e.g.: “provide [someone] with clothing or put on clothes”. Think of that line from a well known Christmas Carole – “don we now our gay apparel.” Additionally, Garb is also “a particular dress for sporting,” and here lays our clue, the use of the word “sporting.” While the usage is somewhat Victorian as well as arcane in nature, and no longer in vogue, sporting refers to one’s participating in athletic endeavors. As any student of Biblical Hebrew will tell you, Garb is one of those words that gets as close to a verbal noun as we get in the English language.

Therefore, if you are participating in recreation of a period athletic event (ie: fencing, archery, horse tournaments, jousting and such), the specific period attire worn for such an event would most certainly as well as correctly be considered Garb. However, it is only Garb if you are a participant in the sporting event, not as a part of the combatants’ following or the spectators.

Regretfully, there is a “certain stigma” that has become associated with the word “costume.” Amongst certain factions of historical reenactors, there are those would rather die a thousand deaths than to have their labor of love be equated to that $40.00 special from the local volume discounter at Halloween time. I, on the other hand am not, but I am going to take the leap and speculate that this might have something to do with the readily acceptance of the word “Cosplay”[4] as a way to distinguish our labors of love – usually from a movie, television program, comic book or anime – from a fancy dress party outfit. [Yes, I used the British term for a costume party.]

So what is our answer to the question? We say Yes, it’s both – we just lean heavier towards the costume side of the equation.  But whatever you want to call it, it’s still just clothes from a different era than the one we are currently in.

 

References:

[1]“Historical Reenacting” for the purposes of this paper is being generically applied to any and all activities which require the participant to dress and conduct themselves in manner appropriate to an era of history that is not the actual years in which they are living. Such groups include reenactors at such places at Kentwell Hall, Colonial Williamsburg, Plymoth Plantation; Renaissance Faire participants (“Rennies”), Dickens Festivals, and members of the Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA) to name a few of the more prominent groups.

[2] The American Heritage College Dictionary, Third Edition, Houghtion, Mifflin Company, 1993, page 314

[3]The American Heritage College Dictionary, Third Edition, Houghtion, Mifflin Company, 1993, page 561

[4] “Cosplay.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc, 5 Mar. 2016. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosplay#cite_note-42>.

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How I spend my Thursday nights (a reprise blog post)

OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER:

This is a “rescued” post from a now retired, theological theme subject matter blog, Hagios Blogging. I decided that it was worth reposting in as a prelude to the exciting happenings that are rapidly evolving for this April in association with my feline friends at NipClub and the site re-launch.  This post has been ever so slightly edited for content and craptastic(R) grammar.

“How I spend my Thursday Nights”

Originally dated 4/12/2012 in the “Almost Crazy Cat-Lady-land” category

Several A couple of years ago, I stumbled upon a group of people on Twitter who referred to themselves as “Ani-pals.” I discovered they were people who tweeted on behalf of their pets, and had made friends with other like-minded individuals.  Hence, they had become animal pals, which became shorten to Anipals because when you’re limited to 140 characters or less to express a thought you abbreviate . . . a lot.  (and yet another reason the English language and grammar is doomed, but that’s another rant for another time.)

I bring this up for a reason, through the process of gaining followers on Twitter and reciprocal follow backs, I have swapped tweets with many wonderful people, many of whom like I and my husband had gotten into animal rescue “accidentally,” having been seduced by the precious face of one of God’s purring or barking creatures.  For us it started innocently enough by watching the elderly lady next door and her porch-full of semi-feral cats that she would feed.  Not being a cat person, it was a source of amazement to me to watch the cats gather as if by announcement by their own Feline News Network that a snack would be available, and the various routes that they would take to get to her front door.  At time it seemed like they had transporter technology because one moment the porch was completely empty and the next they were there.  As time progressed, it became apparent that these cats were simply not getting enough to eat so every couple of days; we started putting food out, too.

As this was during the time that the both of us were working from home, I was afforded the time to observe these furry creatures just being themselves from our kitchen window while doing dishes and was able to connect the dots so to speak and make correlations between cats and how they treat us and how we treat our Lord and Master.  A paper came out of it: Curious about Kurios and Cats where I discuss my observations and how we became cat people.

Now to the subject of Thursday nights:

….having been introduced to this group of people and reading their tweets, I discovered that not only were they animal lovers but they supported animal rescue charities as well and held fund raiser events on Twitter.  They called them “Paw Pawties” and used the hashtag of #pawpawty in their tweets so other people could sort and follow what was going on.  I “attended” my first one in April.  It had a Science Fiction theme and was a birthday pawty for Boris Kitty’s human dad.  It was a little intimidating as most of the group had been pawpawtying for over a year and they had their own lingo and talked about things like Niptinis and Bacon! Beer, but with a photo-shopped picture of our Obi-wan Katnobi as his namesake for my avatar and I watched and learned.  An actual PawPawty itself is best described as a virtual reality gathering of like-minded individuals either tweeting on behalf of their pets or as themselves, (the majority are pets) and carrying on as if they were at an actual party.  (Think LARPing but online, with cats … and dogs and bunnies and the occasional hamster.)

The following month, someone had a brilliant idea to create a weekly ‘pawty’ gathering where people could hang with their friends in a more casual manner, relax and have a good time like the 1980′s TV series Cheers …and #nipclub was born.  Since then, as my work schedule permits, I pop onto Twitter and chat and share a virtual cocktail and have had the privilege of meeting some of the nicest “folk” around.

You can read a fantastic article in the Anipal Times about Nipclub’s origins here, and you can visit NipClub’s own page and read their history from the cats’ own mouths.

Nipclub is getting ready to celebrate its 6th birthday on on the second weekend of May 2016 and I’m glad to be a part of it.

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What the Dickens?

I’ve always wanted to go to a Dickens Festival and could never make it up to San Francisco to work let alone visit the annual event that is still put on by the same folks behind the original Renaissance Pleasure Faire.  I do not even remember how I found it — I may have been searching Steam Punk — but I found one that in held in Riverside, CA and in February.  Since it was only just a weekend event, I thought I might be able to get pastoral dispensation and work it, so I volunteered.  Then, I realized that I literally did not have a thing to wear, except for a pair of brown tights.

Here is my list:

My patterns are split between two companies: Past Patterns, whose patterns I’ve worked with before and will need to grade up a couple of sizes, and Laughing Moon Mercantile for the first time.  Their patterns go up to size 34, which is larger than I actually need.

Chemise: Past Patterns: # 717 — Tucked Chemise, circa 1850-1860, purchased via amazon.com.  I found some really awesome paisley eyelet fabric for the body at joann.com and some interesting eyelet trim from Korea on etsy.com.  The fabric washed up beautifully and is both delightfully semi-sheer and soft.

Petticoat and Drawers: Past Patterns: # 706 — Mid-19th Century Petticoat & Drawers, circa 1860-1870, purchased via amazon.com.  I found some very reasonably priced border eyelet fabric on fabric.com in white for both and denim blue for the top petticoat.

Corset: Bijoux Pattern Co. (they’re a division of Laughing Moon Mercantile) Ladies’ Victorian Corset #1.  I picked this one because it’s got more seams and should be easier to make the necessary sizing adjustments.  I’m also going to make this in a light khaki-color 5.3 oz linen that I have in my stash.

Day Dress (wrapper style): Laughing Moon Mercantile 120# — Pleated Wrapper/ Word Dress.  I found a cream background reproduction print for it at twobeesfabric.com

I also have a ballgown pattern and hoops and bustle pattern, but since I won’t be going to the ball, I won’t be making them for this go-round.

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Nottingham Festival 2015 — OMC, what have I gotten myself into?!

Having run my into the proverbial writer’s block known as having your characters sit down for supper and get stuck there for a year and a half, I decided what better way to get the mojo working again.  as I mentioned in my pattern review post, I had run myself out of original Renn Faire character story arc and the proverbial wall. So I decided, “Hey why not make yourself a costume and go to some local faire and be your female protagonist again and see where she takes go.”

So about a month ago I tweeted out the picture below saying, I’m thinking about making this to wear to the Nottingham Festival, which they favorited and replied they’d liked to see it.  My source is taken from the Album Amicorum of a German Soldier that is housed at LACMA.  It was part of their online collection a few years back, but is currently unavailable.  In looking at my graphics, I found similar gown in “gray” that might fit the bill, too.

Option #1

I have less than a month to build something from the ground up. And by the ground up, I mean the gown, some type of head covering since I have barely shoulder-length  hair, partlet, and a farthingale or petticoat, though I leaning towards just lining the gown with some heavy-weight linen and see where it take me.  The only things I don’t need are a smock and a corset.

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Tudor kirtles and petticoats

Intro: The Tudor Tailor’s Patterns for Tudor kirtles and petticoats

I am still in the midst of writing my historical romance novel and have hit that crossroads where I have run out of original Renn Faire character story arc and the proverbial wall. So I decided, “Hey why not make yourself a costume and go to some local faire and be your female protagonist again and see where she takes go.”

So I’m going the Nottingham Festival …. in a month …from yesterday. It’s the last local faire until the spring and will tie in nicely with the timing of #NaNoWriMo which starts on 11/1. No pressure. Since time was of the essence, rather than draft my own patterns because I have to start from the ground up, I chose to go with The Tudor Tailor’s Tudor kirtles and petticoats pattern. I bought the pattern a couple of years ago and it’s been sitting around calling to me.

The fabric of choose is asphalt grey 5.3 ounce linen that I also acquired two years ago. The sleeves may or may not be made in either willow or natural linen, it depends on our capricious weather.

More to follow …