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Archive for April, 2011

Beginnings

This weekend marked two beginnings for Storied Threads.

The first was the very exciting launch of my newly re-designed website! Yay! There are a few bits of fine tuning still to do, I know. But the design is much nicer to look at than the old site, and easier to navigate as well. When I began this company, I didn’t have nearly as many items as I do now — maybe half a dozen each for men and women, and a few hats.  So that was how I broke the site down — men’s, women’s, hats.  But I’ve grown a lot since then, and as I added more things to my line-up, the website became unwieldy, with far too much scrolling going on. It was due for an overhaul.

The new site breaks down first into period, and then by gender. Some things fit multiple categories, and are listed on multiple pages as a result, but I think that in the end, it will be much easier for people to find what they’re looking for.  This is something that has been in the works for about four months now, so it’s extremely exciting for me to finally have it up and running.

You might notice, if you’ve gone and poked the new site already, that there’s nothing on my “In stock” page except for a notice that it’s currently disabled. The reason for that is my other new beginning — The Connecticut Renaissance Faire’s Robin Hood Springtime Festival!

The show opened this weekend to a rather rocky start, weather-wise. It poured nearly all day Saturday, resulting in a very swampy fairgrounds. In the end, we actually closed two hours early.  For all of that, though, there were a decent number of hardy patrons who came out to enjoy the show and the shopping, and for whom we are all very grateful.  I’m also grateful for my new tent from Panther Primitives, which held up like a CHAMP to the bad weather. It was dry, cozy, bright despite the gloomy weather, and a really nice place to be selling out of.  I really like my new displays, and just generally like the space much more than my old pop-up tent.

Sunday opened to much nicer weather, warm and sunny, and grounds that rapidly dried out. It was Easter, so we weren’t sure what to expect for crowds, but I think we did pretty decently considering the number of people who likely had family engagements keeping them away that day.  Storied Threads did decent business, and everybody had a really good time.

The show runs for four more weekends still, so I hope to see a lot of you there!

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Beyond the Wench

The Huntress

This month’s issue of Renaissance Magazine has an article written by yours truly — Beyond the Wench: Alternative Costumes.  In it, I talk about a few ideas for women’s ren faire outfits that are NOT a wench — the four I outlined are a swordswoman, huntress, bard, and tinker. So far, the feedback I’ve gotten on it has been good, that it’s making people think about why they dress the way they do, and maybe giving a bit more thought to the outfits they’ll put together. Which, really, is why I wrote the article in the first place, so – yay!

I’ve been going to and working at faires for a lot of years now, and wenches are a big part of that.  But it seemed to me that a lot of women never put much thought into WHY they were dressing like a wench — as if the thought only went as far as “Skirt, chemise, bodice: done! I’m a wench!”. I wanted to present some alternatives to this concept, other ways to dress up, look sexy, feel confident, but have a character or persona to back the look up.  Because I think when you’re dressing in a costume, WHY you wear it is just as important as WHAT you wear.

Okay, so let’s say you’ve read the article, taken my advice to heart, and really — you still want to dress as a wench. Awesome. Here are a few tips, then, to make your wench ensemble the best in can possibly be.

Wear a support garment
Look, I don’t care if it’s a bra, corset, or hella-supportive bodice, but make sure your girls have lift! Because saggy boobs are never, ever sexy. And this tip goes double if you’re wearing an underbust bodice — make sure those breasts are supported above the line of the bodice, or it just doesn’t work.

Layers are your friend
I have, on more than one occasion, seen a girl at a faire wearing nothing but a long chemise with a bodice. Once, she was on cast! I cannot even tell you how wrong this is. It’s the equivalent of going out to the mall in your panties and a t-shirt. Wearing skirts — yes, plural — is not only more accurate, it’s also more fun. You can play with lengths, colors, textures, ruching, and give your outfit a lot more personality.

Invest in good shoes
Do not go to all the trouble of dressing up, possibly investing in an expensive corset, and then muck it up by slapping sneakers on your feet. Just because your skirts are long doesn’t mean people won’t see your shoes.

Have a character!
All that advice in the article about creating a persona still applies to wenches. What kind of wench are you? Bar wench? Dock wench? Upper-class lady’s maid wench? Really, the word “wench” doesn’t mean anything but a serving-class girl, so make her your own. The best way to do this is with accessories. Find little details that say something about the kind of wench you are, and incorporate them into your costume.

Do you have any other tips about how to make a good wench outfit, or pitfalls to avoid? Please feel free to post them in the comments here!

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So, way back in December, I wrote a rather spur-of-the-moment e-mail to Kyle Cassidy, asking him what it would cost to have him do a photo shoot for me up here in Boston.  I’d been following him online since discovering him through Neil Gaiman’s blog, back when they worked on the “Who Killed Amanda Palmer?” book together, and always enjoy his work. And occasionally I’d think, “How cool and yet impossible would it be for me to have a photo shoot with him for Storied Threads?”

So, as I said, I wrote to him in December, expecting the answer to — in short — be “More than you can afford.”

And then, after much back and forth, and discovering he was already planning a Boston trip for other things as well — that turned out not to be the case. I hadn’t mentioned it here before, in part because I was afraid of jinxing myself. What if the weather was bad, and our outdoor shoot got spoiled? What if something happened and I had to cancel? What if it was all a dream, and when I woke up it turned out I’d never even written that e-mail to begin with?

But yesterday, I met up with Kyle (along with photographers David Aquilina and Anna Fischer) and a bunch of models in Salem, and we took nearly a thousand pictures at Winter Island Park.  Here, for your gratuitous viewing pleasure, are just a few of them.

The whole group, at the end of the day. Photo by David Aquilina.

These photos, and more, can be found on the Storied Threads Facebook page as well.  And I’ve already started plotting how to put them to good use.

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