My little brain train needs a rest and reset. I have been foggy and sick for over a week now and I have been trying to work and write and think– and the ol engines aren’t chugging and choo-chooing like they should. Or…like…at all, if we’re being honest.
Sometimes when I am feeling this way, playtime is what’s called for. A few moments of letting my brain dream up something fun, a low-stakes little puzzle that engages me creatively but the outcome of which doesn’t feel like the world will come crumbling down around my ears if it’s not perfect.
So I thought I might put together an outfit for the first few days of autumn. Something that felt a little spooky and silly and which is also actually a “How To Wear A Slick Satan Tee Shirt” ensemble, too, I guess, because I sure do love that Barbie’s SCREAMHOUSE top! Something I would totally wear from the top of that black straw hat to the toes of those utilitarian mary janes…if I had the money to afford any of this, and if the weather would allow for it. (Spoiler: I do not have that money and it’s hot pea soup out there until December. The weather will most certainly not allow for it.)
Anyway, unscrambling one’s epizootie-scrambled brain takes time, and I will be patient with myself. And maybe just play for a while.
I did…not…enjoy Things Heard and Seen on Netflix. I will admit, the trailer captivated me, with its teasing of Catherine and George, a young couple and their child moving from the city to a ~quite possibly~ haunted old house in a small Hudson Valley college town. I already want to run away to an isolated farmhouse in upstate New York and bake bread and feed chickens all day (okay, Yvan can feed the chickens, I don’t really care about that part) so this appealed to me on a very base level.
But. With the exception of one character, I did not care for a single person in this film. As it turns out, and I’m not really spoiling anything here, George is not a great guy. You get a sense right off the bat that he’s a bit of a dick and he’s kind of sneaky, and he only gets worse. I don’t think the house would have gotten to him to such a degree if it wasn’t already a bad apple. And by the end of the film, you start to wonder about some things you learn at the beginning of the film and wonder if he wasn’t already rotten to the core.
I didn’t really love Catherine’s character, either. And maybe that’s not fair because I don’t know that we ever got a chance to know her, other than she gave up her art restoration career for her husband’s teaching opportunity, which is why they made the move to the country. And that she’s “the believer” in the family, as George asserts to a colleague who is trying to talk with him about Swedenborgian philosophies and spirituality. But other than his referencing of it, and the fact that she begins seeing and hearing strange, ghostly things, we don’t get much in the way of an explanation or examples of that, or any back story for her at all.
Oh, and a big-time TW here: We also know that Catherine suffers from an eating disorder. We know this has been going on for a while, because George references doctor visits, and weight gain shakes she is supposed to be drinking for meals. An excellent example of this guy’s assholery is how he’s always harping on her for not eating, almost as if he’s actually concerned. And yet. In a car ride home, after they have joined Justine, a fellow professor (Rhea Seehorn, who plays Kim Wexler in Better Call Saul!) and her husband in their home for dinner, George remarks that Justine “can really put away some lasagna.” With commentary like that, it’s not surprising that Catherine has some issues with food and with her body. “That was a really nasty thing to say,” she remarks about his casual cruelty. And it was. Fuck off, George!
Justine Solokof, professor of weaving (?!?!) is a QUEEN and I would love to eat some lasagna with her. She is the very best thing about Things Seen And Heard.
If I am being honest, I utterly tuned out about 20 minutes into the film as I began daydreaming about life in my lovingly restored and gently haunted murder farmhouse. Crisp, clear nights with no light pollution or humidity and you can count every star in the sky and it’s so quiet you can hear the flights of bats and owls. Slow, chilly mornings warmed by endless cups of coffee and something cozy and autumnal to eat.
Like sourdough pumpkin pancakes! It’s 85 degrees in Florida this week, and the pancakes were the only part of this fantasy that I could recreate. I am not a huge fan of maple syrup, so I ate these with cream cheese and honey and they were delightful.
Of course, my haunted country home fantasy needs a rustic autumnal ensemble! Details on all of the items used can be found here; I’m feeling too lazy to list them all at the moment, but if you check back later, I may have done so.
And oh my lord people, you people with comments like “$12K for a bag, I would never!”Of course, you would never! That just goes without saying! We don’t have that kind of money! But what’s the point of daydreaming on a budget? No thanks, friends. If I’m gonna fantasize, even if it’s just a dream of making pies and knitting on a front porch rocking chair with no one in 50 miles in any direction to bother me, it’s gonna be dripping in luxury. You want a cheap murder farmhouse outfit, make it yourself.
How to wear an incredibly close approximation of a thing* I wear nearly every single day even when it’s close to 100 degrees outside and my soul feels it’s like dying after a six-month-long August inferno. But seriously, this is my favorite outfit ever. And I love gold jewelry now? Huh!
What is it about the desolation of abandoned spaces that fascinates and captivates us so? The architectural corpses of feral homes, deserted temples, ghost towns, dilapidated castles, drifting shipwrecks–whether it’s run-down, ramshackle structures or their derelict surroundings, humans can’t seem get enough of their own oblivion.
There’s an eerie, inherent beauty in decay and abandonment, in the decrepit, ghostly aesthetics of what was once thriving and pristine, now fallen to ruin, suspended in time and place. So many things vanish, yet these decaying buildings, these vestiges of places that once existed, remain in the landscape, reassuring our minds that death might not be the end.
If that’s all just a little too deep to contemplate on an early morning, perhaps then, consider this: in the grim gloom, bleak debris, and phantom shadows we conjure of those who once populated these spaces, there is much in the way of unusual and thrilling imagery to be found. Why not consider incorporating these spectral stories and eerie, distressed, decayed motifs into your seasonal wardrobe shifts?
Whether you’re a natty urban explorer poking about an abandoned asylum or a lounging quaintrelle with a penchant for tea parties in dusty turrets, no doubt you will find a bit of inspiration in the four ensembles I have compiled for you below.
Please note: This post was originally created in 2016 for Dirge Magazine, a site that no longer exists on the internet (except in some form or another at archive.org, probably.) I have not included the items used for these ensembles because these were created four years ago and everything is most assuredly out of stock! If you have questions about anything though, please leave me a comment, and I will try to find the answers for you.
Roosevelt Smallpox Hospital
Bonus! For your ears: ominous aural accompaniment to these ensembles in the form of a Spotify playlist , inspired by Roland Torpor’s The Tenant.
Well, you knew I was eventually going to do this sooner or later!
Also, this is a small announcement that the publish date for The Art of the Occult has been shifted from September 20, 2020 to October 6, 2020. With the world being in such a state right now, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if that shifted again, but if I find that out, I will update you immediately.
Sadly I did not engage in my annual tradition of watching one horror movie a day, every day during the month of October. I didn’t have the time! I’m so sorry! If you missed them in previous years, here are the links for my 31 Days of Horror in both 2018 and 2017. I’m definitely going to go for it again next year, so stay tuned.
(Although! In the first days of the month, I did watch one beautiful giallo-style horror movie with a cast almost entirely populated by queer characters, and that I highly recommend–Knife + Heart, on Shudder right now.)
So…maybe fill the void with something else, then? I gave it some thought and realized that over the past decade of assembling little fashion collages (see my How To Wear category both on this blog and over at my other home, Haute Macabre) so many of them, at least half, probably more, are horror-inspired! How fun would it be to gather up some of my favorites, dust off the cobwebs, and present them as…How To Wear 31 Days Of Spooky Attire! Apologies in advance for the double-vision; this same post is going up at Haute Macabre tomorrow, but I thought I’d get a head start and share it here, first.
A small disclaimer: many of these sets were made using a site that no longer exists. Whereas I used to have a list for every item I included for each ensemble, sadly that is no longer the case and I cannot link to any of the items used. I know–it’s a travesty! Some of them I might remember though, so feel free to leave any questions you might have in the comments and I am happy to try and guess! If you have any questions about the art used or the films or literature referenced, I am happy to address those as well.
DAY ONE // DAGON
DAY TWO // SALEM’S LOT
DAY THREE // LURID PAPERBACKS
DAY FOUR // SATAN
DAY FIVE // CRIMSON PEAK
DAY SIX // COVEN
DAY SEVEN // MORTICIA ADDAMS
DAY EIGHT // CARMILLA
DAY NINE // VAMPIRE SQUID
DAY TEN // WITCHES
DAY ELEVEN // A MOTLEY MENAGERIE
DAY TWELVE // JUNJI ITO (TOMIE)
DAY THIRTEEN // VIRGIL FINLAY
DAY FOURTEEN // FEMALE CENOBITE
DAY SIXTEEN // SPOOKY CHATEÂU
DAY SEVENTEEN // THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND
DAY EIGHTEEN // PENNY DREADFUL
DAY NINETEEN // WENDIGO
DAY TWENTY // MADAME DE LA ROUGIERRE
DAY TWENTY-ONE // AN OCCULT ENDEAVOR
DAY TWENTY-TWO // TERRIFYING TOTS
DAY TWENTY-THREE// SPIDER BABY
DAY TWENTY-FOUR // GOTHIC ROMANCE NOVELS
DAY TWENTY-FIVE // OBSESSED HORROR FAN
DAY TWENTY-SIX // PEEPHOLE
DAY TWENTY-SEVEN // TWIN PEAKS
DAY TWENTY-EIGHT // A SPOOKY SCENT
DAY TWENTY-NINE // CARNIVAL OF SOULS
DAY THIRTY // ABANDONED AMUSEMENTS
DAY THIRTY-ONE // PET SEMATARY
Featured image: George Ziel for the cover of Shorecliff by Marilyn Ross
I don’t think I really need to explain this one, do I…? There have been feelings lately, and I am muddling through. This is a look that matches my mood. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, and some of it should actually be exciting, but I am terrified; between this and the thing I wrote about last week, and some other work-related things, I really don’t know whether I am coming or going right now. I’m simultaneously ecstatic and and electrified with possibility. but also frustrated and angry and utterly paralyzed.
Pairing together clothes and jewelry that I’m only pretending to have seems a silly thing to do with my time, but it’s doing something, and having done one thing, it may easier to do the next, and then another. Progress will be made, I know it will, because it always is. I just have to start somewhere.
This is a look for that foggy somewhere place of vague starts and stops; where the ideas are buzzing and whirling around your head like hungry flies; you just need to reach out and snatch one of them out of the air with the tips of your fingers. It doesn’t matter which one you grab. This is where you start.