Monday, November 15, 2010

The "E" Word

 You know, the last word in my blog title.  "Eccentric".

Most of the time what i wear isn't really all THAT out of the ordinary.  I get occasional stares, smiles, and comments, but on the whole i don't feel self-conscious about how i look or present myself.

But there are times when i realize that what i'm wearing, how i choose to present myself, is stepping pretty far outside the bounds of the 'accepted' or expected.  Like, when i was in my youth, wearing my earrings made of V-8 labels, my ultra-suede fringe pants, my black silk noil pannier skirt.  This outfit 'goes there' as well.

Jan Vermeer  'Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window'
I fell in love with Vermeer's paintings the moment i set eyes on one at the Metropolitan in New York. I'd been looking at so many masterpieces for days, and i felt like my retinas were throwing up - they literally couldn't take in another image. Until i saw the Vermeers.  I stayed there about a half hour, then found myself wandering back again.....

Jan Vermeer 'The Milkmaid'
The autumnal light of this time of year always reminds me of Vermeer's light, and between the light and getting dolled up for Halloween in an old-fashioned shape, i wanted to wear an outfit that spoke to those themes....small, constricted bodice, full skirt with bulk underneath, somber colors, a taste of the East...

The only way to get that shape of skirt, where the bodice bursts out of the skirts like a crocus out of the snow in spring, is to wear a bum roll, farthingale, or bustle.   Bustles give you a very distinct look which has very little to do with how a person's backside is shaped - you get a jutting out right below the waist.

I have two bustles - one for 'period' wear (1890's era) and one for modern wear which is much smaller. I made both of my bustles, along the lines of this pattern. (I designed them both for my own preferences, since i don't use them for historical reproduction.) I love the way it shapes the skirt and gives it a completely different presence.

So now you know a woman in 2010 USA who actually goes out of her way to ADD bulk to her hips/backside. The "E" word is in my blog title for a any of you 'go there' in how you present yourselves?  How much does the "E" word apply to you?

Wrap Cardi: Nine West
Jacket: own design
Blouse: made myself using Europa Pattern by La Fred
Skirt: Susan Bristol, gift
Tights: Hanna Andersson
Boots: Maine Woods


  1. I want to see those suede pants!!

    I think some folks may have thought I was a little eccentric Saturday with my white straw fedora! I got a lot of looks and I'm not sure they were all good looks! LOL

    And I don't do anything to accentuate my backside or make it any bigger than it is!! I'd rather hide it! LOL

  2. I'm naturally pear-shaped (or that's what ladymags tell me it's called!) and I very much dress to accentuate it rather than balance out my bottom half by creating emphasis on the top (as one is supposed to do...). Full, puffy skirts and fitted tops, that's my preferred silhouette!

  3. I wouldn't describe myself as eccentric but maybe some people think the way I dress is a bit weird.But I plan to be a lot more eccentric when in my 70s.I've made a promise to myself!What's the fun of being 70 and don't look as crazy as you want!

  4. I used to dress wildly, back when I was a hippie. My (now) sister-in-law and I would make an outfit then go to a concert. My father would call my outfits "get-ups"!

    I love your fearless sense of dressing. I love your art-inspired outfit too!

  5. I believe a new morning is another day to dress up. I wouldn't call you eccentric. I would call you a visionary.

    Thanks for the 40+ blogroll tip. Did you pass it on to Reva?

  6. Hello Joy! ah, i can just picture you in a fedora - smashing! you received looks of pure envy, i'm sure. : )

    oh little mouse, i love your preferred silhouete...and i feel so relaxed somehow when people go out of their way to dress to emphasize themselves. it's beautiful to see all the various ways we are made!

    angie, i love that attitude!! (but don't put it ALL off in the sure to have some fun now!) speaking of fun, you're knockin' it out of the park on your 30 x 30. so much color so beautifully done!

    hi FOF! yeah, i was a wee hippie in elementary school. it was fun! and the 'scandal' it created amongst the older and more fuddy-duddy was part of the fun... : )

    Hello Ms. Underdog! i like your motto, and you are very kind.

    re 40+: thank you for bringing that up!!!! - for some reason i thot by putting that info in your comments Reva would see it. but actually there's no reason why that would be the case. i'm off to bring her up to date!!

    have a fun evening everybody!! steph

  7. The skirt I remember most that you had when you were younger was the yellow background, tiny pattern (big spaces between the patterns - oh, I'm not saying this well) material you made into a short skirt - with rows of ruffles all around, hem to waist. Everyone stopped and stared when you went out in that skirt! It was very cute.

  8. I adore Vermeers - they have the most gorgeous light.

    I try to do a little bit kooky every day, whether it's the shape, a mix of colours or something unusual. I don't think I'm eccentric, though. :)

    Love your bustle!

  9. I am so glad you wear a bustle. Seriously, that's awesome! I don't know anyone else who does but I always thought they looked so cool in costumes.

  10. ah Sheila, the light in Vermeer......"kooky" is a great word, and a great way to be. i always think of my friend Shawn when i hear that word, since he likes to use it and he likes to use it about me (& not just about how i dress!).

    yeah, i think eccentricity is something that happens to a person, it doesn't really come across if you cultivate it. i think a lot of eccentrics actually try to tone it down, i know i do.

    thank you! i want to take a pic and post so you can see the bustles, but the one is very colorful and doesn't 'go' with the look of this post. have a great day!! stpeh

  11. Hi Kelly! thank you! yes, Mr. E and i have gone to a ton of RenFaires and Dickens Faires and i've made our costumes. i've had an interest in historical dress since i was pretty young, i don't remember how it's lots of fun to figure out how to work these arcane items into your everyday life.

    i thot the bustles and corsets on Deadwood were the most spectacular and very very accurate, fwiw!! it only increased my bustle-lust!@!

    i can't believe they have no mention of costume design on that wiki entry...but it's an intro to the show if you haven't heard of it yet. steph

  12. hi mom - i skipped over you, i can' belive it... : 0

    that skirt was basically a 'sherbet-flavored' version (shorter, ribbon trim on ruffles, pale pastel colors) of the skunk skirt: