Monday, August 30, 2010

My Corset

Honestly, last post for today and I will make it short, haha.

I wanted to go into a bit about my new acquisition for my costume - my corset. I have heard many good and many bad things about Casta Diva corsets. I am just here to relate my experience and what I think about my purchase. Firstly, I went to the faire with the mind to buy something, and settled on a corset. As I meandered around, I priced a few and found them to be way out of my range. I checked out Casta Diva, and liked the price and what I saw. First - the service. I got lots of attention from two sales people even though the place was packed. From what I was told, they do not have an online website and sell exclusively through Renaissance Faires. They like to measure and size in person, to ensure that everyone gets a good fit and that the corset is laced properly. The sales lady was also willing to lace me back into the bodice I walked in with. I was measured, and then set about finding one in my size that I liked. To be honest - the selection was huge, but not varied when it came to my size. It WAS rather difficult to find my size because I am a bigger girl and we tend to be squishy - something I realize and the sales lady told me quite gently, thinking I was going to take offense.

I was laced and re-laced about three times before I found a perfect fit. They were all very patient with me, and were extremely helpful and knowledgeable with all my questions. In the end, I got a corset that I love. It's perfect for the Faire without looking like I got it from Hot Topic, but I can wear it outside the Faire with no problems with a pair of jeans and heels. The fit is great and I do look damn sexy in it. The quality was another thing I looked at closely. I can feel that it is steel boned, and the stitching is very fine and well done - no loose threads in sight. I had my sister in law, who is a great seamstress and whose opinion I trust, take a look at it and determined it to be a quality, well made garment.

So, that is all I am going to say on my Casta Diva corset. Some people may not like them, but I had a great experience and love my corset.

Renaissance Faire Garb Advice from a Newbie to Newbies.

Firstly - since I do so happen to be of the female persuasion, mostly everything here relates to female clothing. But, some of my opinions and comments can be for guys too. Also, I write this for people who are new to this, as someone who IS new.

From what I have seen, Ren Faire costumes can go from the very easy Halloween costume in a bag type to elaborate, expensive ensembles. This also means costumes can go from being historically inaccurate to spot on. Of course, that does NOT mean your costume HAS to be completely accurate, elastic on a waistband or on the neckline of your chemise will not ruin the effect of your costume, in fact (and in my opinion) it can help the costume fit better, and make your life easier. Being 100% accurate is NOT a requirement. I tend to find that most costumes are very personalized from the overall theme, the fabrics and accessories. I feel that it's really all about what is comfortable for you and what makes YOU look good. If you want to wear a floaty Guenevere style dress, go for it. If you want to wear your full out Crusader kit, by all means, do it! Does it represent the English Renaissance to a "T"? No, but it works with the overall theme of the event.

Now, all that being said, there are a few things I would NOT recommend. Personally, I would not be caught dead in a bagged Halloween costume, for a few reasons (wow, I am a HUGE snob). One, they are extremely cheap, and poorly made. Their purpose is for one night for a few hours, not for a whole season or many seasons to come. Second, that cheap quality comes with poor fit, no one wants to be adjusting their bodice to no avail because the stupid thing is attached to her "chemise". Or no fencer lad wants to be picking up his trousers all day because they keep slipping. Third, the fabrics of those costumes are awful. They are most of the time made of 100% synthetic materials that tend of fray, unravel and rip. Plus, they are UNGODLY hot and do nothing to absorb moisture and sweat, because, this IS an outdoor event, in the sun you WILL get hot and sweaty.

On the converse side - super elaborate costumes are beautiful, make anyone look amazing and are for the most part quite accurate in a historical sense. I am specifically talking to the ladies on this one, here. Men's noble or courtly class outfits can be much more forgiving and easier to wear. For the ladies however, our world tends to be more difficult. For someone who is starting out - I personally would not recommend a huge elaborate affair. Why? One, cost. It can get very very expensive putting together a proper court costume, from the ground up. For a first timer out, who may or may not be sure if they will attend a function like this again, it may not be a good investment. Second, on the same train of thought - there is a LOT that goes into a court costume. You will need the proper foundation garments, like a supportive corset, bloomers, stockings, and a chemise. And of course a farthingale or a hoop skirt. I personally feel that the logistics of getting into and out of just the underwear seems tough. Walking around in all that if you're not used to it, seems really tough too. Especially with a hoop skirt - you suddenly become a lot wider and thus fitting into certain places becomes extremely difficult. You will be historically accurate, but honestly? I like being able to maneuver around into shops, dance, sit at the bar and sit in the grass when I watch the tournaments. Of course, all the above opinion is really for naught if you ARE experienced in wearing these garments or similar (and if you are, please tell me how you get into and out of those tiny little shops!).

Another suggestion: stay away from going out of period - Rocco dresses with their panniers are great, but not for this event. Also, while your Storm Trooper armor is by all rights awesome, leave it at home. This is a Renaissance Faire, not Comic Con. Same also goes for the anime and video game cosplay. I am sure you have worked really hard on your Cloud Strife or your Full Metal Alchemist costume, but it's not appropriate. If you are gung-ho and showing off your costume, try a fantasy based anime or one that takes place in a Medieval or Renaissance style world or time. Wolf and Spice is one that comes to mind, Record of Lodoss War (thanks Ed!) is another. Or even older (NES releases) Final Fantasy Games (We saw a White Mage when we went, and it was pretty cool. The Princess Leia Slave, not so cool). I will acquiesce to some things, considering that a lot of pirates tend to look like they have come from the 18th century rather than the 16th. And they all look like Jack Sparrow. And last year there was an AWESOME Capt'n Jack, who NEVER broke character. He was probably drinking real rum from his bottle.

So, really - this is just my opinion, if you want a Halloween costume for a day go for it, just choose wisely. I have listed below some of my favorite sites that offer all of the different types of Renfaire costumes I have talked about.

The Very Merry Seamstress - Excellent high quality, hand made costumes, ranging from affordable peasant costumes to gorgeous, elegant courtly costumes. They also will take custom orders.

The Tudor Shoppe They sell some pretty nice items, some are available on other sites, some are not.

Aurelias Regalia Again, very nice costumes and quality, plus a nice selection for more fantasy style outfits.

Medieval Collectibles I really like this site for it's HUGE selection of, well, everything. My fiancee got pirate pants and boots from here, and we both got ring belts. We love our items and we both highly recommend this site, especially to someone new at putting a costume together.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Renfaire!

It's been a while since I have posted - but I wanted to share my experiences at the PA Renfaire, since A) It is faire season and B) I went yesterday!

To start with, I am your basic Renfaire newbie. Well, last year I was. Even though I had a passable costume in my closet, I opted not to wear it (more on costumes later). I wanted to scope the place out, see what it was like and get the overall feel before I trudged around in skirts and a bodice. Well, my first impression was all smiles. The place is located on the grounds of a winery, with a historic Victorian mansion being the first thing you see. The entrance way is paved, with a fountain and flowerbeds, all very pretty. Then you reach the gates. Of course, this is also where you buy your ticket and redeem your e-ticket. If you get there early enough, there will be a crowd of people, actors in period dress milling about, and a musical group entertaining the crowd. On the parapets there should be some denizens of the Shire (the name for the "village") heckling, conversing and making merry.

Once the gates open, you redeem your ticket and make way to the Globe Theater, where the Queen greets the people at the Faire and you get your introduction to the story line. From there, you can follow the storyline through the various jousts and events. Every year there is a new scenario. Last year, a courtier wanted to marry Mary Queen of Scots and Queen deemed that this particular noble man and her champion would fight. If the noble won, he got to marry Mary, if Robert Dudley won, no. The only part of the story I got to see last year was the chess match, which ended with much bad-assery from Sir Francis Walsingham. I did not get to see much more, since we got there really late last year and other debacles.

This year was fun, I got to see the story line stuff, even though I missed a good part of Human Chess. I did get the gist though and realized that they tailored the storyline to make sense even if you miss stuff. I saw two jousts, and ultimate joust was amazing, and really entertaining.

The Shire itself is set up like a little village, with shops, food, and lots to do. All the structures are permanent, wooden places or at the very least have platforms and roofs with tent canvas walls. I know a lot of faires are like this, but not all. The "privies" are (at least for the ladies) are actual flushing toilets and running water sinks, not porta-potties. Which is wonderful, because really? That would suck. And they all have attendants with parfume, lotion, sunscreen and other nice stuff, plus they always smell nice and are decorated with dried flowers and herbs. For food you have a large variety, from cheese steaks (hey, this IS pretty close to Philly), to Turkey legs (which are DELICIOUS), Italian, Spanish, Tradition Irish and for the adventurous - Scotch Eggs, which are eggs that are wrapped in a meat/sausage mixture and deep fried and served with chips. I have never had one, but I am assured they are quite good. I liked the chips though :D There are also people wandering around with carts selling snacks like popcorn, pretzels, pickles on sticks, ice-cream and the like.

For Drink - the BEST part. There are three places set up as "Swashbuckler's Pour Stations" (The Brewery is called "Swashbuckler's Brewing Co.)As this event does take place at a Winery and Brewery, the alcoholic selections are of course amazing. I usually get the Honeyed Mead, which is sweet with a little alcoholic kick. At Baccus' Wine Tasting, I tried a few different ones (for free!) and came home with 2 bottles of the Apple and Spice. My Fiancee had the Captain Rude's stout, which will really put hair on your chest - it's VERY stout. As far as non-alcoholic beverages, there are of course options. We decided on arrival (as we were REALLY thirsty after a long drive)to get the tin commemorative cups, which are really nice, and you got a free refill and 2.00 for every other one. The soda choices are cola, birch beer, root beer, cream, and orange. Plus a diet cola. All the non diet options are 100% pure cane sugar. I love the birch beer and root beer. You also have the option of getting a really big blue bottle with a neat old fashioned flippy lock-top for 10 bucks. This also gets you 2.00 refills.

The shopping as always is the best part, right after the booze. At least for me, cuz I wouldn't be a card carrying shopaholic otherwise. hehe. There is SO much to buy, you could really go broke. I like going to the Pirate Ship of course, to get sharp pointy things, and the main shopping drag of Guildman's way. My fave is along Privy Lane, which tends to have some really nice hand made items. This year I got a cool gargoyle necklace and (finally) a corset :D I really love the quality and selection you get, a lot of items are handmade with love and care. Plus, you can't find these items online or in a regular store front. Truly unique :D

That all said, the faire is a really fabulous time! Just make sure you get there early, and stay the whole day, figure out what you want to see, but don't keep yourself tied to a schedule, because along the way you never know what you will find!

My next entry will be all about Faire Fashion!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Two in one day!?

I was just thinking about something I needed to rant about. When I say that I don't buy my clothes (except trouser socks) at Wal-Mart, it's not because I am a snob. Firstly, the selection at my local Wal-Marts (yes, with an 'S', there are three within a short distance) all have the worst selection. They are mostly basics, which is fine, but these basics are just really, really terrible quality. Some of the things they have, like the items with more flair are still, low quality and ill fitting. One time I tried on a pair of pants in my usual size, an 18 in the Women's plus section. For some reason, these pants were disturbingly tight on me (which sends me into a panic thinking "when did I gain weight?!?"). I try on the 18 in the missy's section - the "regular" clothes. It's fine. It fits. So, where is the consistency? I pulled out of my closet a skirt from their "George" line in green, black and white with a lovely small print that reminds me of interior decorative arts in the middle east. It's a quite lovely skirt, and beautifully constructed with no loose threads. The fabric is a durable cotton/polyester blend (mostly cotton, poly to keep wrinkles out) and is light enough for spring and summer. I compare this to the skirts they have now. It might be the styles, but they all seem to have these shoddy prints, and on this terrible clingy polyester/rayon/spandex material that looks good on - well, no one who shops at Wal-Mart.

I bought most of my Wal-Mart items about 2 years ago, and since then the quality, selection has gone down drastically. The button down shirts feel like they are made of the broadcloth that I make Halloween and Ren Faire costumes out of. Even details that should not be over looked, no matter where you shop are getting over looked. I noticed on a white button down shirt the bottom button was completely different from the rest and was sewn on with purple thread. This isn't just bad quality control this is just poor workmanship. And it's pretty disappointing. The last item I bought was a plain black shirt that I had to double check for issues and cut 4 loose threads from. It was thin and of course shrunk when I washed it. This was really the last straw.

I decided to stop wasting my money, and hence my ban on Wal-Mart clothing items. It seems very logical to come to this, but I had always been under the impression that Wal-Mart clothes were quality. I decided to buy good, quality pieces, with good construction and tailoring. Clothes that fit. Of course, finding these clothes on the cheap and affordable is another story. And finding them to fit is also another story.

So, where do I find my deals for quality? Mainly, I do shop at Target for my staples - tee shirts, cardigans, and the odd pair of work pants. I love their new Pure Energy plus collection for the fun stuff, and Merona for the nicer work pieces. Target doesn't always have the best quality in everything, but I have better luck finding fit and good construction. With the exception of the knitwear, I still own many of my Target items from two to three years ago. For awesome sweaters and well constructed pieces I go to Torrid. I find my fancier stuff there and the clothes stand up to the test of time with one exception - a really beautiful open knit cowl neck sweater I had in a pinky orange 3 years ago. I washed it in hot water and accidentally dried. My fault. I love Torrid the fashion forward stuff that I will always have. Now, for the foundations of my wardrobe I go to Lane Bryant. Yes, some of the clothes are dowdy and do nothing but make non model-esque women (plus size or otherwise) look chunkier. But for the long lasting stuff - a long boyfriend button down shirt, tailored white pants, a black jacket, and lovely knit wear that LASTS through many many washings - I go there. Pricey, yes but I have never had to throw anything away from Lane Bryant because it ripped, broke, or faded or whatever. I shop clearance, especially when the ICON stuff goes. Hell, I got a black sleeveless jacket that was originally upwards of 90 bucks for...12. Yeah, awesome. I digress.

It doesn't matter how much you spend, but quality is better. I get my foundations (black pants, button downs, knits) from the pricier stores, and the trendier (sparkly tops, leggings, plaid shirt) from cheaper places or on the clearance rack at the expensive. I also load up on trendy accessories at the cheap stores (like Forever 21, Icing). Paired with your basics, you CAN make the statement, know you didn't blow a lot of money on something that probably won't last (I am looking at YOU poncho craze of the mid 00's). Just my philosophy. As the great Tim Gunn says "Make it Work". For you.

Tax Return Shopping!

Like a kid on Christmas, I ran down stairs to my laptop and check my bank account. Low and behold: My tax return! I was pretty psyched and promptly told my fiancee we were going to Coach so I can get my bag. Which also turned into a shopping spree. But that's okay. When I got to Coach, I started just meandering around, looking at things. The shop assistant kept her distance until I asked questions. I was really going toward the Poppy area, because I loved the tote I had my eye on forever. Then I actually looked at the new stuff, that I usually sweep on by when I enter the store. The Kristin Collection. Brand spanking new, in the signature Coach op art jacquard and this softest, buttery leather ever. They came in really pretty springy colors, yellow, teal, white and the usual black and a darker multi color. I ended up getting the Kristin Opt Art Sateen Hobo. I loooove this bag. The short handle is made from the same soft leather and comes with a longer strap that can be removed. I adore this, because it's nice to have some versatility. I have fat line backer arms, so the sorter strap is hard to manage with my bulky winter coat on. I use the longer strap for now. But it's so lovely and once I saw that with the special clasp, all images of Poppy left my head. Poppy who?

The bad news is that my MOTHER got make up on the damn thing when I showed her. BUT I can say for a fact that the Coach cleaner is the most amazing stuff ever. It got the stains out perfectly and quickly with nothing left over. For 10 bucks, it can keep your investment in good shape. That being said, I think for next winter I am going to upgrade through to a full leather piece, one that can stand up to my abuse. :T

I also ended up getting a rather pretty dress from Target, a pretty tank shirt from Torrid and really lovely pointy kitten heals from Nine West. Hurrah, good shopping day!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines Day: Top 10 Things I have been loving,

10. Bayonetta

I have been stupidly obsessed with this game since I first saw an advertisement for it hanging in Gamestop. I immediately loved the fact that she wears glasses ( like me!) and still kicks ass. Upon watching the trailers I noticed that she has what looked like lollipops in her mouth (yes, lollipop, not sucker or taffy, you freaks). And here's the kicker - she makes her clothes out of her insane hair. Yes, she's my new video game hero, or at least until I start playing TR:Underworld again (not going into why I have to restart, that is a rant for another day).

9. Season Six of LOST

Some people get it, some people don't and some are just completely confused. I fall somewhere in between confused and getting it. But I still can't get enough of this show, especially this newest season. My biggest qualm is that even though we're getting answers, more questions keep cropping up, just like in past seasons. Plus at times, it just feels like we're back at square one, all over again. And how exactly is the biggest question going to be answered: How will this end?

8. Hard Candy cosmetics at Wal-Mart

The other day I was in my local Wal-Mart, when I turned a corner in the make-up section, trying to extricate myself from a crush of people and carts when I literally fell into the Hard Candy display. Wow. I was surprised because HC was a pretty upscale brand back in the day and expensive too. But they had cute little kits and cases for their products, and the quality was good too. I quickly scooped up the Baked Eye Shadow Duo in Rush Hour, Tinted Lip Balm in Carol and Ginormous Mascara in Carbon Black. I really enjoyed the products - the packages are attractive, the eye shadow blends really well (especially with my Sonia Kashuk brushes) and the mascara! Oh! Little to no clumps and the brush is small with small bristles. I will definitely be buying more.

7. Tan Trench Coat

I have been plotting to buy this trench for weeks. I am telling you, as soon as I get paid I am buying this thing. I checked it out in the store and lo and behold, it's quite nice. The outside shell is thick, the lining is soft and colorful. It's not warm coat, but perfect for the spring. I believe a tan trench is a great staple for any wardrobe and a great investment. This will be a piece I shall have forever.

6. Sano Ichiro Novels by Laura Joh Rowland

I don't remember how I got into these books, I think my Aunt gave me one in a bag of books to be passed along to my mom. Regardless, these books stuck a chord with me because, a) I loved anything having to do with japan and b) they are historical. As a history nerd, I couldn't not pass these up, especially since they are so well written. All the little historical details in the books - like clothing, food and even down do how a person was supposed to hold their hands. And of course, the mysteries are well written and completely absorbing.

5.This Top from Torrid

It looks a LOT nicer in real life. Really. The cool part, there are zippers in little places, like the shoulder and across the front on the pink under layer. It makes for a really cool effect and look. I dig the punk rockness, but at the same time I like the attention to the fact that zippers are really in right now.


Yeah, YEAH! This is another one I cannot wait for. It looks to be bigger and more action packed than the last one, with a glittering cast. The trailer? Amazing. It still looks as it Tony Stark's still got it. This just might be the antidote for the depressing recent comics ( at least the ones as of a few months ago, I lost track). And note the end of the may then jump up and go "HELL YES!"

3. The Daily Mail

For some reason I stumbled on to DM after doing a search on more Bridget Jones info, and saw the list of articles they had. It was amazing. All this lovely info from England. For some reason, I just kind of fell for it, and even though some of it doesn't make sense, or goes over my head I still read every day.

2. Poppy by Coach

Specifically the navy blue Op Art Glam Tote. Obsessed, Obsessed. I was going to go with the graffiti one, but I decided the blue tote was classier, but still extremely fun and falling into the poppy line. But, of course, I have to wait for it considering I like having a roof over my head.

1. My Fiancee, Eddie.

Yeah yeah, I love him everyday, but he really made today extra special, so for that, he is my number 1 :D

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hey, At least I am posting.

Decidedly, I have left this blog again to the wayside. Probably because I have been v. busy. Work, life and really just shopping. I tend to do that a lot. To be honest, I have been less focusing on the geek and more on the goddess aspect of my life. For some reason I have been in a video game and over all nerd funk. I mean there have been little things here and there. An extreme excitement for the new Iron Man. But I will not be attending the midnight premiere because, silly me, I miscalculated the actual date. But I will see it that friday. And BOY am I excited for that. I mean, Mickey Rorke as Whiplash? The trailer says it all, and it looks goooood. I have it downloaded to my iPhone so I can watch it at my leisure. I also had Ed buy me Prince of Persia for the PS3, but I haven't played it yet. I have been unusually tired on the weekend (I blame the Winter slump) and when I come home from work. All I ever want to do is watch CSI (the original thankyouverymuch) and Law and Order: SVU Marathons. Okay and a sprinkling of Project Runway and Americas Next Top Model. So now, I am wondering what happened to my inner geek? Did she burn out when I spent two straight months playing WoW? Probably. I dunno. Why did I suddenly stop buying 360 games and Steve Maddens instead (in Steve's defense, he makes the cutest shoes). Even the girly geek stuff I used to do - where did that go? Well, I know what happened to Tomb Raider. All my saved games for Underworld DIED when Ed decided NOT to take my advice and play WoW and installed FF:XI instead. After much cursing, tears, and throwing of tantrums our 360 was reformatted and all my saved games were GONE. After that I have been too depressed to play anything except DVDs on the 360.

So, I have no answers except for laziness and a willingness to look cute. And that's all right. Once the weather gets sunny, I'll break out the games because really? I don't go outside in the summer and spring. And to be honest...I am okay with that. Now, back to watching the Super Bowl and painting my nails :D