Thursday, 30 January 2014

Worn on TV

Just a quick post today.

I stumbled across the website and spent a significant amount of time browsing on there. It is quite an american website, so I'm not sure how useful it is for us Brits, but it does make for interesting reading.

I for one learned that almost all of Zooey Deschanel's lovely dresses are from ModCloth. As if I'm surprised.

Turns out that I am not alone in my ZoDe fandom and there is a sister site wholly devoted to her looks.
What would Zooey Deschanel Wear?

Here are a few of my current favourites from the site:

Many thanks to Linda for running these amazing sites! I hope the clothing inspiration keeps going long into the future.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Why getting to customise your looks in games is awesome (and less vain than it may seem).

The field of video games is a pretty fast moving one. I wasn't around when those original arcade smashes like Space Invaders and Donkey Kong were all the rage (although I have played re-releases) and some of my earliest gaming memories was on my family's Atari. They were simple games; catching fish, crossing a road, navigating a moon buggy across a crater... but since then things have become more complicated.

We wanted more interactivity, more customisability. It wasn't just about games letting us play as Mario, they were about letting us 'be' Mario. Role Playing (and fantasy) Games were my first experience of being able to name your character. In particular I remember playing Ocarina of Time on the N64, circa 1997, and deciding to call Link Jennie. As the Great Deku Tree spoke his words of wisdom I remember thinking, 'its so cool that he uses my name... but it is a shame that Jennie doesn't look a bit more like me'. 

When it comes to Zelda games, I learned the error of my ways (I often call Link Link now, although I regularly call Epona Stinky... because I have the brain of a 5 year old), and I thing that changing the look of an icon like Link would be an error, however, in other games I think changing the look of the characters is a huge step into developing more engaging game play.

Very recently I have been playing Pokemon X on the 3DS. There is a heavy element of player customisability in this game that wasn't present in earlier games (most likely due to graphical limitations) but with an improved game engine came more dressing up options. 

Standard options happen at the start of the game, name, sex and then you get to choose from on of 3 looks. I was pretty disappointed by this as none of them were even close to me:

I went for the middle one. However as the game progresses you get to the amazing Lumiose city (blatantly based on Paris) and things start to change, you can get a hair cut! AND Contact lenses! Then things start looking a little more familiar.

This is my character with my customised features, but the default outfit (with a blue hat instead of pink).

It is not long either before you can access the clothing stores in the various cities throughout the game. Some are more expensive than others, and for one of them you have to prove that you're stylish enough to be allowed to enter. 

Just like Pretty Woman!

A stylish establishment... With rude staff.

As a result of this, you are able to build up a collection of outfits to again, make your character seem a bit more like you. The outfits themselves are a little stereotypical, with a bit too much pink and too many miniskirts, but overall they cover quite a few bases.

Towards the end of the main part of the game I found my favourite outfit, and the one I have been wearing ever since. A lovely blue dress coat with fur cuffs. I would TOTALLY wear this one.

And perhaps this is the point, I know this character, I understand and identify with her. She is how I wold like to be if I lived in the Pokemon World.

Oh and did I mention she's a champion?

And she has a kick-ass Eevee team, the original customisable Pokemon.

Nintendo are onto a winner with this kind of game detail, but lets face it, other games have been doing this type of thing for some time. Getting to choose FemShep in Mass Effect, focussing on every minute race and look detail of your character in Skyrim its obviously not just me that likes this kind of customisability or why would other games do it too?

I suppose it is all part of the Effect philosophy, where everything you do, every choice, has an impact on the world you're playing in. A sort of pseudo free will, if you will. Did you ever play with the lives of Sims characters, taking away their fridges and gambling with the Grim Reaper to give them a second chance? Its all just another version of us wanting to have influence over a world we are investing time in.

One game that combines the customisable look element, and decision making/social responsibility beautifully is Animal Crossing. All the AC games have elements of this, but none more so that New Leaf. I mean you're the Mayor! You can build things, approve planning permission (sort of), ban a nightclub or sell at a flea market its all there.

On top of this you get to pay your mortgage and succumb to the pressure of expanding your living space and scouring the shops to ensure that your furniture matches.

This is my green room, I make my guests wait here before I interview them...

And here is my walk in wardrobe room...

And this is me, doing a spot of cosplay...

Just like real life... sorta.

Its not just in game now though, how you look forms part your avatar, you icon for the various social gaming circles out there. Just like your facebook profile picture it says a lot about you.

I initially tried to make my Mii avatar as close to me as possible, similar hair lined eyes red lipstick. But then vanity takes hold and I gave her a smaller nose, I look at the people I meet on street pass and wish i could do something silly with my face but no, I like this one. Because this is the one I can identify with.

Of course, if you play street pass games you earn costumes to wear:

I think I make a good blonde...
And before you start crying out that its not just Nintendo that are doing this, I know, in fact, here is my avatar on XBox, not that it gets used much, as i tend to play on the hubbies.

I love the fact that the 'vintage look' has become popular enough that victory rolls had a hair preset! However, I really feel that this more realistic avatar is least like me, but you know, that could just be because I am too stingy to pay £0.69 to buy a new virtual skirt?

Customisation is a right, not something to be paid for.

Overall, I think changing the way you look is just an extension on game play, and adds an extra dimension of engagement and personalisation, not vanity, but then, I'm someone who likes dressing up. Maybe I was always going to love this aspect of games.

Do you spend much time thinking about your characters look? 

Do you have any cool avatar looks?
Send pics to @JennieDresses on Twitter, I'd love to see your characters.

And my DS friend code is: 1220 - 60646 - 2417

Saturday, 25 January 2014

OOTD: A ditsy blouse, green cardigan, burgundy Docs and how I never though I'd wear chinos...

A casual day here at Fancy Dresscapades and the unusual sight of me in trousers. For my work I am not allowed to wear jeans, a plight of many people out there, and its not a big problem for me since I don't wear them very often, but occasionally I'd quite like to wear trousers without resorting to the ol' black work trousers scenario.

Obvious solution - chinos. With all the weird colour combinations of mustard, terracotta and burgundy I did not expect to find a pair of chinos I would like. Apparently chinos are defined by the type of cotton/cotton mix they are made from, and are typically associated with hipsters and old men. Surprisingly, there are a large amount of designs out there, and M&S have some pretty good ones, so I decided to get a pair of dark blue ones with a slim leg. 

The rest of this outfit was from a bit of a charity shop spree, the ditsy blouse is from a charity shop (originally F&F) and the cardigan is merino wool from Gap, again via a charity shop. It is beautifully soft and has pockets too it is possibly one of the best cardigans I've ever had.

Here is a close up on the colour of the cardigan and the pattern on the blouse.

Shoe wise I wore a pair of cherry DMs, Docs or Doc Martens that I got last year with my Christmas money. They are the Serena style and are lined with synthetic fleece so they are really, really warm. I spent most of the snowy days last year stomping around in these boots. I also got a pair from eBay that are black during the summer months for a super bargain price however they are still in Durham. I'm missing them around this time of year. 

Here is one last shot of all of that with my parka jacket. I can't even explain how much I am loving the jacket it is so warm and snuggly, one of the best investments I made this winter, especially for £16!

Chinos: M&S
Blouse: F&F via Salvation Army
Cardigan: GAP via Salvation Army
Boots: Doc Marten
Parka: Topshop via eBay

What's the most useful thing you've bought this winter?

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A home made tartan skirt

I love braces, I love pinafores and I even love dungarees. In short I like anything with shoulder straps. I caught sight of someone wearing a swing skirt with braces at a dancing event some time ago and since then I have coveted something similar.

After much failed searching and some close calls (mainly from Vivien of Holloway and Collectif) I decided that I would have a go at making a pinafore skirt myself. Since its winter I found some bargain plaid/tartan fabric on ebay for around £2.60 per metre!

I did struggle to find a pattern though. So I used some of the skirt pieces from a dress pattern I have moved the zip, changed the hem, added pleats and then added a waistband and straps from my own design. It is mainly a simple skirt with two pleats at the front and two at the back to give it a bit more volume.

Unfortunately I did not think to save the pieces so if I want to make another skirt like this on I'll have to work it all out again. Silly me. I'll never make that mistake again!

When taking the skirt for its first outing, I decided to wear it with a simple black jumper with a lace collar that came from Primark.

And here are the straps at the back, they fasten with hidden buttons in the front waist band. Oh and my beret too :)

These red shoes came from Topshop and a so darn ADORABLE, they seem to have cashed in on these babies and they have had the same design available in tonnes of different colours on the website in the last few months (I have found them a bit big fitting in case you were thinking about getting them).

Of course with a skirt I was so proud of, I simply had to do my hair. I did that really silly thing where you wash your hair and don't quite get all the conditioner out and it looks like crap, thing is, what that does is give your hair a bit of extra texture so you can get a bit more height.

So I did two asymmetric victory rolls with a beret. I think I did pretty well at building height. I bought a teasing brush, tail comb combo that really helps smooth and create the rolls. 
One more sot of the skirt with gloves, my coat and bag. I think it may have looked a little better with a neater coat but anywho.

Skirt: Home made, original pattern
Shoes: Topshop
Gloves, Hat & Scarf: Accessorize
Satchel: eBay
Jumper: Primark

The best part is, I got 3m of fabric and managed to make a whole other skirt out of the leftovers :D I'll show you those another time!

What do you think of this one?

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Save the cheerleader, save the world. Or a pretty amazing vintage cheerleader jacket...

So I found these photos on my phone from spring last year and I realised that I had never shared them!

I have appreciated cheerleading for a very long time, before Bring It On ever happened, before Heroes saver the cheerleader and DEFINITELY before Glee (since I'm old) but it wasn't exactly accessible back in the day and it was not something my school ever considered offering so it kinda got swept away and became something I enjoyed vicariously through every other medium I could get my hands on.

Last year around my birthday I came across a vintage cheerleading jacket in Rokit Vintage and since I had a bit of birthday money I decided to splurge.

It wasn't exactly cheap at around £45 (and that was with a discount) but it was in really excellent condition and in my size, something that doesn't often come about. It was exactly what I wanted, red, it had to be red and white as they're my home town's football colours, it had a hood rather than the sailor style collar and it had some patches on it but no silly names.

I couldn't wait to wear it! I works really well with my Vivien of Holloway jeans, among other things, but for its first official outing I wore it over a black jumper and a vintage wool pencil skirt. Its a little bit of a colour clash, but I think it kinda works.

I thought the fit of the jacket actually turned out to be quite slimming, which obviously is a bonus although the pockets are in a really stupid place.

What is even better about this jacket is that it has a quilted lining so it is really warm on a windy day, but I'm not sure how well it would last in a rain storm.

Here is a picture of the outfit without the jacket too:

Jacket: £45 Rokit Vintage
Jumper: £4 Wallis via charity shop
Skirt: ~£1.80 Ark vintage sale
Tights: £2.50 Primark
Brogues: £49 Clarks
(Blimey! One of my more pricey outfits...)

Frustratingly, when I was packing up last summer I wasn't able to fit this jacket into my suitcase so it is stuck in storage at my parents house :( but it is something I'll have to pick up when I'm back home visiting as I really love it.

Do you thing its okay to wear a cheerleader jacket when you've never cheered?

Thursday, 9 January 2014

A beehive, a fair isle cardigan and parka jacket

So I am still experimenting with my haircut and I have discovered that I can put it up. I played around with backcombing a little and gave myself a bit of a beehive. I thought the 60s look looked great with these cats eye specs so I was quite excited to put the look together. I used a thick line on my eye too and pale lips (going against my trade mark red).

I decided to wear a retro inspired dress by Holly Willoughby. I adore the peter pan collar on this dress, the lace is really substantial and the dress feels really solid over all so I was pretty pleased with the quality of this dress, especially since it came from eBay for ~£9! It is a little shorter than I'd usually go for but I found that with some thick wooly tights I just about got away with it.

Naturally with all the print on the dress I thought that the best thing I could do would be to team it with more colour with a nordic/fair isle cardigan (I'm not 100% sure what the difference is between the two but this forum helps a little). The cardigan is from Primark which is actually pretty good quality too. I have two similar cardigans from Primark that I have had for about 3 years now and if this one lasts as well, then I will be pretty happy with my £14 purchase!

Not so sure about that. But when you cover it up with a big cosy parka jacket you can't see it anyway.

Dress: Holly Willoughby via eBay
Cardigan: Primark
Tights: Accessorize
Boots: Clarks
Parka: Topshop via eBay

 I think the parka kind of completes the 60s inspired vibe. What do you think?

Friday, 3 January 2014

Dressing like 'Call the Midwife' in a (slightly anachronistic) 1970s dress - and I think I just about get away with it!

While catching up on Christmas special TV this holidays I was inspired by Call the Midwife. This is one of my favourite shows on the BBC, mainly because I like the stories and the characters involved. The show has a perfect balance of moments to make you cry with sadness and joy and there are a few laughs too. It is a delightful mix that makes for a well rounded viewing experience. AND, the main character is called Jenny, so its got to be good right?

Having said all that, I also like the style. A little too much.

Yes I'm a total sucker for anything from the Victorian era until the mid 1960s but the famous looks of the 1950s are my favourites so this show ticks all those boxes.

The young midwives wear lovely 1950s nurses uniforms, although I'm not sure how lovely they would be if you had to wear them everyday (mind you, my Mum is a nurse and she is obsessed with vintage uniforms so maybe they would still be). The uniform consists of a simple blue dress with white collar and cuffs and a contrasting red cardigan. 

Feeling inspired I had a little root around in my wardrobe and pulled out a dress from M&S from the 70s (based on the measurements and label style). I didn't have a white collar, but other wise it was pretty much perfect! I also has the red cardigan I found in the charity shop the other week that was again spot on.

I of course don't have a proper nurses hat like the ones in the show (seen in the many pictures of the ladies riding their bikes) but I figures a red beret would do.

A close up of the cardigan and the dress detail:

Just a little note on the shoes. Obviously the midwives wear simple stockings and simple brown shoes, but it is winter and it is COLD so I couldn't bring myself to wear sheer stockings for the post. I did try to have minimally disruptive leg wear though and wore these tights from Accessorize they are knitted and a sort of oatmeal colour so they are great for winter! They're also in the sale right now for around £3.50 too!

As for shoes, to stop my toes getting cold I wore a pair of vintage sheepskin shoes by Drapers of Glastonbury. They are total GRANNY SHOES but they are fleece lines so keep my toes lovely and warm, oh, they're suede too so pretty waterproof. I thought the colour worked well as part of the outfit too.

Dress: 1970s St. Michael
Cardigan: M&S
Tights: Accessorize
Beret: Accessorize
Shoes: Vintage Drapers of Glastonbury

Just a note on fur/fleece lined shoes, they are wonderful. I have a pair of vintage Morlands boots that are fur lined and a pair of Docs that are (faux) fleece lined. They keep my feet toasty and warm. They are definitely my must have recommendation for surviving the winter. Now I only wish I could find something fleece lined that was a bit more ladylike and I'd be a very happy lady.

Have you seen Call the Midwife? What do you think?

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2013 review and wishes for 2014

It has been a bit of a mixed bag of a year. Lots of changes and some challenges both in work and in play (click on the images to go to the related post).

I submitted my PhD theses and passed my viva!

I had an article published in a real printed magazine:

I got a new job and my husband and I relocated to Tunbridge Wells:

I had a go at stand up comedy:

I learned to make my own clothes:

Although I've done less in terms of cosplay this year I have managed to make my first costumes completely from scratch which is something I am immensely proud of.


I've also managed to expand my vintage clothing collection with some really beautiful dresses:


I also found out that I needed glasses!

And I lost my blonde streaks and had a large portion of the length of my hair chopped off:

New years resolution
Moving away from home I have managed to gain a bit of weight, lets just say this is likely due to a less active job, and a lack of self control. I'm pretty disappointed in myself if I'm honest and I realised that if I want to cosplay successfully then I need to take better care of my figure (aside from all the health reasons). Because of this I want to try and get things back in check and shed a few pounds. I'm hoping by putting it on here that it will help me stick to it. Hopefully you will be able to support me in this.

I also have big plans for my cosplay this year. Here are a few costumes I hope to make in the new year:

That's it for now, I hope you're having a good new year and that the rest of 2014 brings you lots of happy times!

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