Friday, May 15, 2015

When life throws you lemons, make a hat!

Like many people, I was very touched by the recent blog post on Wearing History about Social Media and the Myth of Perfection. I can relate to many of the things she has gone through, and I SO admire the courage that she showed by giving us a glimpse into the less public side of her life. I think Lauren started a conversation that really needed to happen. It is SO easy to feel inferior, jealous, or like the people around us live charmed lives when we only see the highly curated images that are typically shared on blogs and Facebook. I can also relate to the Dreamstress's post on Privacy, Perfection, and Blogging, because I too am an extremely private person, and there are just some things that I don't feel comfortable talking about in this very public forum.

2014 was a very bad year for me. 2015 has been much much worse. I have been struggling with what to say or how to say it here on my public site, so this string of recent articles was very timely for me. Everybody is different, but for me, costuming is my joy, my creative outlet, and most of all, my escape, and I just don't want to talk about sad personal things here - that's what LiveJournal is for! But if you notice that I'm not posting as much, I'm replying to emails even less than usual, or you see me wearing lots of black for awhile, just know that there's a lot going on beneath the surface, and I'm doing the best that I can.

So on a lighter note, I thought I'd show you a quickie project that I just completed last week. I wanted to wear my Edwardian half-mourning outfit to a DFWCG outing, but we were going to a crowded museum, so I didn't want to be a nuisance in my ginormous Merry Widow hat. So the night before the event, I whipped up a much smaller version to wear instead.


Edwardian hats are some of the most delightful things to make because they often appear to be big piles of fluff with very little rhyme or reason to them. I started with a flat brimmed straw hat that I found at an estate sale, and then I took some scraps of velvet and piled them on top to make the crown seem much bigger than it actually is. I tacked the velvet down by hand, and I just folded and scrunched it up as I went until it looked "right". (I know that's not very helpful, but I don't know any other way to say it!) I finished it off by adding 4 feathers that I lightly curled with my curling iron, and an antique buckle brooch that I bought on Etsy. These brooches are quite common and are often surprisingly affordable, and I love them because they are so easy to switch out from one project to the next.

Even though I don't want to delve into sad personal topics today, I will share one "myth of perfection" confession with you all. I often retouch my photos to remove wrinkles, blemishes, dark circles under my eyes, or fix my hair a little better. I figure that all of those issues could be avoided or at least lessened if I used expensive eye creams, botox, wrinkle fillers, or a hairdresser... but I'm poor and Photoshop is free, so eh? why not? I also take an average of 50 photos for every 1 that is good enough to show up on my site, so I'm extremely selective about what I show here. I often wonder if people see me in person at costume events and are shocked by how old and ragged I look compared to my online photos.  :)  But it's really hard to put yourself out there for the amusement and nit-picking thousands of strangers. A bit of retouching makes me feel braver and less self-conscious - it's like a psychological coat of armor - so I feel more comfortable sharing more photos of my costuming work, which is the real point of it all. So now you know my dirty little secret, and if you'd like to see the raw, un-retouched me, just roll over this picture and take a peek.

So am I spreading the myth of perfection by retouching my photos? Maybe. Am I going to keep doing it? You better believe it! Because in the end, costuming is not reality - it's an escape. Reality is not always pretty and it's not always fun, but I'm grateful to have this quirky little hobby where I can take a break from the real world to cast off my woes, wear silly hats, magically erase my wrinkles, and laugh with my friends. For me, it's the best therapy in the world.

21 comments:

Loren Dearborn said...

You're just as beautiful in real life as you are in the photoshopped pictures. <3

Miss Brilliantine said...

Thanks for a lovely post. I feel the same way, I'm perfectly aware that we are putting our best foot forward and wouldn't dream that anyone lives a life of perfection or floats through life pain free, it's our natural condition. So we sew, we play dress up and we show our best selves. I would LOVE to learn photo shop to smooth out a few flaws. Brava!

Cassandra said...

You are as beautiful or possibly even more beautiful in person - 3D is always a million times more exciting and expressive, and in 'live action' I just do not see the little flaws that we all think are so obvious when examining our own photos of ourselves for sharing.

Gillian Taylor said...

You are very brave to share this with everyone. I too think that you are every bit as lovely in 'real life' as your retouched self.

Gillian Taylor said...

You are very brave to share this with everyone. I too think that you are every bit as lovely in 'real life' as your retouched self.

ravenessdotcom said...

I was surprised at how tall and amazing you really were. And that you actually talked to me. (I was totally fangirling in the hotel room afterwards).
Photoshop is totally valid. Professional photographers use it before they print their work. Seriously, look at the graduation photos.

thepragmaticcostumer said...

I never noticed any difference between your online photos and your real life self. You're just so lovely and friendly in person that any little "imperfections" don't matter at all. You have such a knack both for making folks feel welcome and making amazing costumes (your hat is gorgeous)!

Stephanie Lynn said...

-hug- I'm so happy to see you back to blogging and costuming. Sometimes, it's these little seemingly silly things that really help bring joy back into our lives when things are tough.

I'm pretty lucky that I have a live in professional photographer to make me look more awesome than I actually am. I think we all tweak things and only share the best photos not the ones that show us as we are most of the time.

Cathy Raymond said...

Thanks for your post.

I agree with you to a large extent. Costuming, and researching costume, are escapes for me, too, which is a reason I try to keep personal issues of mine out of my own blog.

By all means, continue Photoshopping your images, if the results please you! Since you don't lie about doing it, it does no harm (in my opinion) and adds to the fun.

The Quintessential Clothes Pen said...

Don't we all photoshop our photos? I do, too, including changing backdrops to remove modern people/things, etc. I don't feel like that makes any of us less real! I'm very glad that you're continuing with this hobby. :)

Best,
Quinn

MindLess said...

I can't photoshop but if I could, I would! So now everyone has to cope with my little imperfections, the underskirt that peeks below the skirt, my blemishes aand the chaos that is my picture corner...

The hat looks marvelous and the edwardian fashion is something that I recently had a huge crush on. I'm already collecting materials and patterns!

Isis said...

It's a wonderful hat!

I too do some re-touching, but I don't think people really notice. I think you always look slightly worse on photos anyway, because they don't capture you moving. In reality we are in perpetual motion and people around you don't stand around staring at you, the pay attention to what you say.

I use LJ the same way, I share Little about my private Life on my blog, they are f-locked on LJ. :)

*hugs*

Black Tulip said...

I can honestly say that it took me several attempts to notice the differences in the 'real life' image - I think that we all too easily see what we think of as our flaws, which other people don't even notice. (That said, I really ought to get to grips with photo editing.)

Love the hat, and I hope that your always wonderful costuming continues to bring you pleasure and an escape.

Kleidung um 1800 said...

Beautifully done and matches your dress ensemble wonderfully, though my favourite still is your huge hat for that era ;)

Sabine

sunny jim said...

Isn't photo re-touching just digital makeup? I mean, at the point when you're already wearing a costume, there's a level of playing a character that should easily encompass digital trickery, and not just clothes/hair/makeup/accessories/backdrop/etc.

I'm generally too lazy to photoshop my pics, so I try to take photos that don't include my face. Or costume for other people. Other people always look fine to me!

Love the hat! Edwardian is a favorite of mine, though I've yet to do any costuming from the era.

myladyswardrobe said...

You are as beautiful and as fabulous in real life as you are in your photos. To me, each photo is a work of art in its own right, not merely a record of the latest costume, so why not have them touched up.

You've been through much in the past few years, particularly this year, yet you are still creating this beautiful gowns - and using them to help you through it. You are so very brave and such an inspiration to me and to many others. Hugs to you.

caeruleusberolinensis said...

I've been reading your blog for quite a long time and now I've decided to express how much I appreciate your work. Everything you do is just stunning. I love how detailed, your costumes are, how much attention you pay to every little detail. And the costumes are not only well-sewn and well-researched - they are also really beautiful. You have a wonderful sense of colour and a great taste in picking accessories, embellishments etc. This is definitely my favourite costuming blog so far and I just can't wait to see your future works.You are a great inspiration to me and reading your posts, seeing the pictures of your works gives me motivation to go on sewing and improve my works, especially when I'm fed up with them. My best wishes to you and keep it up! You are a wonderful artist :)

Audrey Lefort said...

Hi, am a french blogger and I have nominated your blog to an award. If you want to know more about it: http://en-robee.blogspot.fr/2015/07/et-les-nomines-sont.html

Cathy McGuire said...

I'm another longtime lurker and I want to thank you for your wonderful work, and to send whatever encouragement and hope I can. I went through a very bad patch a few years ago, and dear friends told me it got better and I wouldn't believe them... and it does. The human soul heals, just like the body... it's amazing. So hang in there. Love the hat, and I could barely see the photoshopped difference! Go for it!

Iron Chef Kosher! said...

I have wandered by occasionally, & am not sure if I have ever remarked on your posts before, but I feel truly moved to do so now: Photography is merciless. People who see pictures of me are SHOCKED that I look as haggard or puffy or harsh in them as I do, because they never see this when they look at me (&, TBH, if I am in the right light, I can't see any of it either!) So you fix every picture you dislike; it's not really a lie: you are correcting the weird angle/bad lighting/w3hatever that is causing the false picture in the first place.

Esther Courter said...

Would you PLEASE do a tutorial on how you do your hair for edwardian and 1910's era?

Thanks!
Esther

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