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Tokyo Otaku Mode Liz Lisa Review!

Liz Lisa Lucky Pack

It’s been a long time since I had that January rush of lucky pack season. When I first started wearing jfashion, lucky packs, or the as the Japanese say, ‘fukubukuro’, were the hot item to build a starter wardrobe and start girls prepping their Christmas grandma money every late holiday season. They’re still a big deal in Japan – especially if you can swing your vacation days to be there in person, lining up in the Tokyo cold to get giant discounted suitcases from your favorite design houses.

My first lucky pack was from Angelic Pretty, but as my style has grown I locked my eyes on my other favorite fashion darling, Liz Lisa. Typically when I purchase from Liz Lisa I buy secondhand from friends or on eBay. This was my first time shopping with Tokyo Otaku Mode, a middleman retailer like a giant Japanime online mall. They host a number of fashion brands I like, including Milklim and Swankiss, not to mention more figurines and kigurumi than you can swipe your mom’s credit card at.

In general, a great shopping experience: easy to understand and use English website, no extra fees, free shipping, and even a 10% off coupon that will probably convince me to come back post-holiday season.

Liz Lisa Lucky Pack

For $150, my lucky pack featured a large zipper-style purse with pink grosgrain ribbon (which, I must tell you, I have used every day since); an ice-grey tulle skirt; a white cowl sweater with scalloped edges; and a soft double-breasted camel coat. All together they make a complete outfit, but they also work to flesh out the rest of my wardrobe’s skirts and sweaters for an easy casual winter coordinate.

There’s also a new Bobon21 lucky pack on the site I’m eyeing – isn’t this a cute set? Everything you need to dress sweetly on a snowy day!

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Why I Don’t Miss EGL

why don't I miss egl?Wow, what a blast from the past is was reading Dresses and Devilment’s look-back on the once great Livejournal lolita fashion community EGL! Founded over a decade ago and the strong hub for many lolitas of my “generation” (the era of 2006 or so, when I got into the scene), this simple community was the backdrop of lolita interaction. While I loved reminiscing about the old site, I have to say, I don’t miss it. There’s a new style to communicating about the fashion online, and I think it’s got its pros!

Everyone’s Got Original Content

Before, when EGL was king, a lot of lolitas relied on a few big contributors to create new content. Guides, outfit posts, and events were all run by a small group who enjoyed putting together new resources for the community. Now with the flush of social media, there are more outfit shots and easy ways to share and selfie than ever. Scroll through the #eglcommunity tag on Instagram – girls everywhere are stepping up to show their stuff. Lengthy Livejournal posts with cumbersome tags and HTML are a thing of the past – showcase your dress unboxing or meetup in real time with tons of social media platforms. Instant sharing at meetups and events makes lolita a real-time experience even if you’re stuck at home.

Make Your Own Sandbox

If EGL had its rules and theme set, the new social media world of fashion is the opposite. Anything goes when it’s your own platform. Feel free to jumble up all your interests and different fashion styles into whatever mix you’d like. Tumblr can help you currate together your outfit ideas and inspirations as well as your favorite looks from others. New social media is more personal and less rigid than a fixed community. I remember when I started my blog, that was one of the appeals – I could make it my own space! My Pinterest fashion board is an easy way to organize my favorite inspirational photos, no categories required.

Real Time Chat – No Problem

Pages and pages of long, forum style comments were the preferred style of EGL. With multiple interfaces now like Facebook, instant messenger, Lacebook, Instagram, and Pinterest we have so many more ways to communicate. If you’re a lolita granny like me, do you remember refreshing the page for comments?! Oh, the minutes of my life lost to that F5 key when trying to follow a discussion on EGL. Now we can even host digital tea parties or event planning meetings over Skype, or have massive group chats.

Safer Shopping

Livejournal never really meant to work as a place to exchange goods and money, but we shoehorned it in there anyway. Facebook is still pretty clunky at sales, perhaps, but Lace Market, eBay, Etsy and Storenvy all make up for that.

Missing Memories

I used to love poring over the EGL Memories when I first started doing my lolita research. They seemed full of great information, especially the Lolita Handbook that practically raised me. Now a lot of the memories have fallen out of date, are a mass of broken and tangled links, and broken images – the saddest part, since they were once illustrated by EGL mod carnet_atelier’s adorable chibi themed artwork to teach the different lolita substyles and clothing items. I remember reading them as a beginner like they were all I would ever need to know in life, in awe of the girls with enough experience to write them.

 

The lolita web community is truly an amazing beast. When I think back on what we’ve come from – the simple forums and boards, the baby-faced Internet that lolita fashion has grown up alongside – I’m truly amazed. This fashion, despite being physical lace and threads, has always translated into tech to unite us from its inception. Sharing street snaps and tutorials and advice has kept us interlinked around the world. Now we can peek into the lives of lolitas around the world in real time, from Singapore to South America, from my own streets of New York City and into the rolling fields of Ukraine or Poland. Even better, as technology becomes easier to use and more enmeshed in our daily lives, we can all create content as easily as a few swipes. I can’t wait to see lolita fashion continue to evolve alongside its technology.

What’s your favorite way to share your lolita style online? Are you constantly mobile or still loving the desktop console?

Victoria Suzanne’s Modeling Crash Course

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If you are reading this article, chances are you are about to walk a runway, whether it’s at a huge anime convention or at a charity ball, in a fashion parade or an open-air festival. If you are nervous, not sure where to start, or wondering what you have gotten yourself into, worry not: this guide has got your back.

This year is my TENTH YEAR wearing lolita fashion! (Oh god, am I the crypt keeper yet?!) Of those ten years, I think I have been doing lolita fashion shows for about seven of them, and I have learned a lot about runway walking along the way.

One of my friends contacted me recently asking what advice I would give for first-time models getting ready to walk that weekend. She had some beautiful, lovely girls, but no experience! “How do I whip these girls into shape?” she wanted to know. “What would you tell first-time models who are about to walk?”

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The Night Before: Eat Pretty

Hydrate! Drink plenty of water the night before and morning of. This will flush your system and keep you from retaining fluid, give your skin elasticity and glow, and just make you feel better. I recommend a bottle of water before bed and upon waking up. Tea is okay in moderation, but remember it is a diuretic! Keep water with you throughout the day and make sure to pee frequently.

Sleep. Seriously, if you are at an anime convention especially, or you know you have an early makeup call, go to bed. If you need to, set an alarm to start getting ready and doing your night routine. Setting alarms in my phone reminding me to wash my face and moisturize are the only way I can avoid staying up on my phone or reading. A sheet mask or night cream can be a relaxing way to switch to sleep mode and take care of your skin for the following day.

No booze. Again mostly if you’re at anime conventions, there could be a lot of partying going on the night before you model. I personally won’t drink at all until AFTER a fashion show, but I suppose one glass to be social won’t kill you. Just remember that it will dry you out and you’ll need to double hydrate. It can also mess with your beauty sleep. Nobody wants you hungover for makeup call, either.

Cut the salt. Salty foods will also defeat the purpose of hydrating – you’ll retain water, which will make you juicy when you want to be lean. Processed food and convenience food is a big cuplrit, but also be careful if you like Asian food (ramen, my favorite!) or salty fish or sushi. Junk food is a given, as well.

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So what SHOULD you eat? I recommend eating something light and protein-rich the night before or the morning of with low sodium. You want to be full, but not bloated. You know your body best, so if you’re lactose intolerant for example, skip the dairy. Otherwise, I’d suggest a mix of healthy fats like avocados, an easy protein like eggs or tuna, and some bulking greens or rice. If you can make your own food, I’d suggest some kind of eggs or avocado toast, or bring a bento of vegetables and onigiri (I made sweet potato and avocado onigiri the other day for a dinner side – easy and healthy, recipe here). Sweet potatoes are also a great way to build low-calorie Vitamin E in your skin. You can microwave them in specialty cloth bags in your hotel room and eat them with a spoon with some salt and pepper, or cinnamon sugar.

If you have allergies, tell someone. Your fashion show coordinator should know to ask this in case you are provided with food, but in case they’re not, mention not only allergies but any dietary restrictions. If you have issues with gluten or are a vegetarian, it might just be easiest to pack your own food. If you are traveling for the show, you can stop at a local market to keep fresh food in your hotel room or bring your own cooking from home. Don’t get stuck with a wheat allergy looking at a box of granola bars!

Keep reading to move onto the big event – the day of the fashion show!

Read the rest of this entry »

A Tribute to Takamasa Sakurai

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It’s been several weeks now since the news aired that the lolita and j-pop culture world has lost one of its heroes, but I’m still struggling to process it. Takamasa Sakurai died unexpectedly this past December. Besides writing several pop culture books and founding the Kawaii Ambassador program with the Japanese Ministry of Culture, Takamasa Sakurai traveled the globe speaking on lolita fashion and Japanese pop culture. He described himself to me once as a “cute otaku”, a lover of all things cute and the cute girls who create them, and I can think of no better definition for him than this. His passion was to encourage cuteness and the happiness it gave to the people who wore and created it, in every style and in every corner of the world where it was found.

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I met him several times in my circuit around the lolita world of events, but most notably at one of his Otakon speaking engagements. He said he thought my style was cute, which of course got me starstruck hard. While I did meet Takamasa in person several times and chatted with him briefly online, I still consider his loss from two angles – the personal and the professional.

I’m not usually overly affected by celebrity death, like I’ve seen my friends be. For example, David Bowie’s recent passing from an eighteen month battle with pancreatic cancer has hit a lot of my generation hard, from the fans of Velvet Goldmine to the Labyrinth.  His fans may never have met him, but his work has so long been the voice and spirit in their ears that they feel his loss as strongly as a friend might. The song that got you through hard times, or the movie that made you laugh, the gift of their creations to to us, feels like a piece of them. An expression, a quote, from someone you never knew, can visit your dreams or change your life.

Takamasa feels like this for me. The loss of his contribution is like a light winking out. His joy at seeing girls create their own idea of what was beautiful was infectious. He was the ultimate cheerleader of j-fashion and youth pop culture. He was fascinated with watching us dream. If there ever was someone who clapped if they believed, it was Takamasa. We were all his Tinkerbells.

Takamasa Sakurai: thank you.

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image from Animedia

2015 Fashion Folio

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top photo by Nina Lin Photography

It’s New Year’s Eve Eve as I write this. I can’t believe that 2015 is suddenly winding to a close, or, more astonishingly, that I survived it. The highlights and lowlights of this year are stark, and my Instagram especially feels like a living document of where I’ve been and how my life has changed. With 2016 dawning soon, I decided a round-up of my favorite fashion moments was in order. This year, in 2015, I killed it in these favorites:

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Spring Lolita Day for me is always about showing my most fantastic lolita self. For me, choosing to illustrate that over-the-top sweet lolita is not dead, I chose to layer on as many pastels as I possibly could, wearing Angelic Pretty’s lavender Sugar Hearts. The handmade headdress I designed out of pink and lavender crystal.

My most daring piece was bought at Rufflecon. They’re cat ears that are made to look and smell like sugar cookies or vanilla cake. And when KAI and BABI of Triple Fortune say you look cute, you know they’re not fronting! I also finally got one of my dream dresses this year – Milky Planet in pink! It just has always been the iconic sweet style dress for me. Maybe this was the year of the ears for me? These bear ears were a perk from my job as a Rilakkuma girl.

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I also had some amazing growth in my lolita life this past year. It was pretty hard to narrow down my favorite three moments, but these were it.

Print media and I were pretty friendly this year – along with the Village Voice cover, I also hit the pages of the New York Daily News and MyM UK magazine. I will never get over seeing my face in New York City newspaper dispensers!

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I starred in the Simplicity fashion show at Rufflecon in their orange creme Rococo inspired dress, which was so different and striking than what I usually wear. Make sure to see their very cool behind the scenes video that talks about the outfits’ inspiration! The sweet bird-themed dress I wore for Pink Up! in the same show was also a dream, so comfy! And on Halloween, I walked a fashion show at a charity ball with one of my OG designers, I Do Declare.

I was blessed to have a wonderful birthday party this year. Dressing up in my absolute dolliest and then having a sweet celebration in a Connecticut French rose garden felt more like fairytale than real life. Friends were paramount to my fashion evolution and my personal evolution. I even tried yukata with my friends for the first time at a Japanese summer festival!

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In 2016, I’m going to set some fresh fashion and blogging goals!

I’ve loved showcasing my daily style more on Instagram (hint… getting a willing photographer boyfriend has been better for my outfit shots than any remote or tripod… yes, he’s basically an Instagram husband) but also show my readers some of my art! For years I’ve kept my watercolors, drawings and doodles to myself. Taking quick snapshots has really encouraged me to keep growing my skills. My Instagram has been a great platform for me to test different microblogging topics.

I’m also hoping to start blogging about a new passion of mine – cute cooking! I’ve started trying to copy my favorite foods at home with fresh ingredients, based on the cultures I’m surrounded by in my fashion – mostly Korean and Japanese. I can’t wait to show you tasty treats and adorable meals into the new year!

What are your new year goals and favorite moments from this past year? Full steam ahead towards cute fashion, food and the future!

 

Lolita Bingo Ice Breakers

Lolita Bingo?

Having just celebrated International Lolita Day in Laduree Soho and with New Year’s meets around the corner, I began to wonder about how other people celebrate International Lolita Day as well. There are so many different ways to celebrate Lolita Day, be it dressing up alone at home and making yourself a delicious dessert, or attending an afternoon tea. These celebrations are always quite different from one another, and in some parts of the world, they’ve even begun introducing a classic game that’s slowly been making a comeback: bingo. Nothing like a rousing ice breaker to wake up an ordinary tea party, right? More print and trivia bingo in the lolita world – I’m thinking yes!

It actually seems rather strange that lolita culture would be quick to adopt the game, seeing as how bingo became popular in the US in the 50s and 60s, and lolita culture wouldn’t gain recognition until the 90s. Recently, however, both have been gaining ground, with lolita culture now being celebrated all over the world, and bingo also reaching a wider audience. In fact, just recently, Gala Bingo saw a majority of its bingo clubs sold for £241m ($366m), according to reports by the Telegraph. Perhaps it’s the game’s versatility, or the fact that it’s so easy to play, but bingo has been showing up in various lolita celebrations. Add some prizes to the mix and lolita bingo can get real, real quick. Check out Lovelylor’s instagram snap of some intense bingo matches.

Intense Lolita Bingo

A photo posted by Lovely Lor (@lovelylor) on

This year’s RuffleCon actually held its own Lolita Print Bingo game, in which people were invited to “Come play a delightfully silly game of bingo… for some cute prizes,” testing their lolita print knowledge. Pacific Media Expo (PMX) also hosted a bingo game in their 2013 Lolita Tea, with the fashion guest of honor, Mari Nakamura of Juliette et Justine, giving out a dress to the winner. The whole bingo game can be watched in Richie Edquid’s video below:

Of course, even outside of large events, bingo and lolita culture have also intertwined. Some of the community has talked about creating a Reactions to Lolita bingo card, where you check off the reactions you get from people on the street when you’re in your latest lolita outfit. While this is a game that you could play in small teas and gatherings, it also reveals a bit about how others see lolita fashion.

Would you ever play bingo, or do you have any ideas for lolita-themed bingo games? I’m thinking writing your own bingo or lolita trivia game could be just what your next meetup needs!

Celebrating Lolita Day

ild15Another International Lolita Day in New York City has come and gone. Each one has been a unique memory for me, and this one is no different. As usual, I walked too much and ate too much. I was amazed by the beauty and ingenuity of my friends’ diverse fashionability.

This year although I was invited to multiple teas, I ended up at a low-key luncheon at Laduree Soho, a famous French bakery. The dining room is done up in a lush antique soda blue and lit with tiny white fairy lights out in the court yard.

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It’s been nine years now since I became a lolita. I’ve celebrated countless Lolita Days, large and small. For some years I was alone, making pink cupcakes in my kitchen in a handmade skirt. For other years, I attended grand champagne teas with dozens of Christmas trees and rose petal puddings. Summer Lolita Days sticky with humidity and icy Lolita Days fraught with snow. In the past I might have pontificated something about “lolita family” or “lolita culture”, and those things are still true. But I don’t think that’s all there is to it, anymore. Not to get all Charlie Brown on you, but this year I wondered: what’s the true meaning of International Lolita Day?

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Whether you choose to mark Lolita Day with something as large and as lavish as a tea party, or as quiet as dressing up alone and taking yourself out for a latte, the spirit of the holiday is the same. Though throughout the year we may reserve our dresses for bigger occasions, our hearts are still the same. As I pressed the long tails of my satin ribbon, I said aloud, “I feel better. I should do this more often – I feel more like myself.” I’m still myself in a pink sweatshirt and leggings; I know that. But the joy that comes from expressing your style and internal view of yourself brings a kind of freedom that’s hard to duplicate. I couldn’t help but twirl around in my new coordinate like a little girl. Appreciating my clothing, my community, the love for lolita around me, is all important – but so is cherishing the love of creativity within myself.

My coordinate credits: jumperskirt, Angelic Pretty Disney collaboration; blouse, KOKOkim; bow, Moss Marchen; tights, Ophanim

Damn Salty

I am damn salty today. I am so damn salty I am crusted with the stuff. I could be the Dead Sea, I am so salty. I am your grandfather’s overseasoned Thanksgiving dinner, I am a package of ramen noodles on a college night.

I am salty with swollen joints and edema that tightens my legs until I can’t walk. I am salty with numbers off the blood pressure charts and toxin counts that terrify medical interns. I am flush with an extra twenty pounds of fluid, tears I can’t remove without nightly dialysis. The fluid is stretching my vessels, my veins, my heart valves.

It’s one of the many symptoms of kidney failure. Kidney failure, or the technical term ESRD, end-stage renal disease, will kill you. It will most likely be slow. It is incredibly painful and gruesome as your body struggles to live without filtering out daily poisons and minerals that build in your blood stream. Your kidneys do a lot of important things you didn’t really realize until you try to do without them.

As everyone knows, probably from binge-watching House, the only really good fix for kidney failure is a kidney transplant. Most humans have two, and it’s nature’s clever design that they only need one. Therefore, they’ve become rather valuable if you need one and can get one from a living donor, particularly.

This has been illustrated twice now in Deerstalker’s recent short humor films, Lolita Problems. In the first video, a short clip remarks that the person has already sold her first kidney to pay for an expensive brand lolita dress, but there’s another one out now that they want, and she’s happy to make do without. In the second video, the joke gets another round as a lolita limps down the sidewalk, holding a ziploc Baggie of “kidney” (chicken parts, it looks like…?) and clutching one side in agony, shouting to get them while they are fresh.

My impending death is not a punchline.

Kidney failure is no joke. Dialysis, the complex system to keep someone with kidney failure alive, is a stop-gap measure. It is borrowed time, of on average, five years. Maybe a little more if you’re both young and lucky. Young, I might be, but luck has never been my strong suit.

So okay, you might be asking now, who is this joke even hurting? Who cares about a little joke in an Internet video? Well, I do, because it’s directly affecting people who need organs.

Misconceptions about organ donation are one of the leading causes of organ shortages in the world. People believe all kinds of crazy myths. Here’s a few. “I can’t donate my kidney, how could I play my favorite sport? How could I drink beer or eat hot dogs? What if they decide to STEAL my kidneys in a bathtub full of ice in some shady motel 6?!”

So, what happens?

Then, they don’t check their organ donation card. Then they turn down saving someone’s life. Then, at the end of their lives, their organs are thrown away into the trash. (No, you are not buried with your organs. That would be gooey.)

Here’s some real truth: kidney donors are healthy people with no limitations. Kidney donors have an easy surgery, done with minimal scarring, and are back on their feet in three days. My father donated a kidney. He plays tennis four times a week at age sixty-five. My aunt donated a kidney; she’s an avid mountaineer. The woman has literally climbed Mount Everest with one kidney.

So when you tell me that  this is just a joke, that I need to lighten up, that nobody is getting hurt by it, you can see why it gets me – just a little – salty.

5 Lessons I Learned at Rufflecon

ruffleconheaderThis was my second year attending the American alternative fashion conference Rufflecon in Stamford, Connecticut! (The second year since the convention’s conception, as well, so consider me officially OG as an attendee now.) Every year is different than the last, and I can’t wait for next year to do things a little different. Class is in session – the five lessons I learned in a hectic ruffle-filled weekend.

LESSON 1: YOU DID NOT BRING ENOUGH BOWS

I was so focused on not forgetting something serious, like my wig, that I really only packed a few bows and rings for accessories. I came down for breakfast in only one hair bow and a single ring, saw everyone and turned right around, went back upstairs and pinned on a few more bows. Then I hit the Marketplace, which is stuffed with accessories and dress dealers, to flesh out my outfit a little more. By the time I left, I had even gotten a pair of cat ears that looked and smelled like vanilla sponge cake from Triple Fortune. But hey, they matched! If you still want your brand fix, the consignment room is also full of things to blow your wallet on. I barely trusted myself to look through the racks, there was so much to see. Consider it a pop-up Closet Child. On the other hand, if you’re not sure what to bring, just bring a variety of your favorites. Sometimes inspiration strikes at the last minute, and anything you didn’t bring you can probably purchase. 

LESSON 2: LEAVE TIME TO EAT

And pee. And drink water. And other things you need to do to survive. You will get too busy and excited and want to schedule yourself for the bonnet workshop and the Victorian cocktails panel and the fashion show all at once. You will suddenly realize it is six hours later and you’ve been subsisting on a soy latte. Do not do this. If you’re hungry or running on caffeine, two things will happen: you will be cranky irl and not cute in pictures if you’d rather cannibalize the photographer. (Ohhhhh sounds like experience talking, hmmmm…)

LESSON 3: THE HANDMADE CONTEST IS A BEAUTIFUL BLOODBATH

The handmade contest is a beautiful bloodbath. We have some amazing talent in the Lolita world. The concepts alone were crazy beautiful and execution was spot on. For everyone who says brand is the only way – so not true. Even within brand, there is a huge upswing of DIY super powers lately for accessories, customization and creativity. I saw one girl in misty sky carrying a HANDMADE CLOUD that rained CRYSTAL CHANDELIER drops; I saw another with a light up rose scepter and so many others in intricately made handmade coordinates that could stand up to any brand look. Let it be known that the days of disparaged handmade are OVER, people.

LESSON 4: GO TO BED EARLY AT LEAST ONCE; YOU NEED SLEEP MORE THAN FOMO

I know it is only 11pm and everyone is in full-on party mode. I know that #rufflerekt become a very real thing for guests and staffers alike as alternative fashion rolled Fashion Week, every crazy karaoke meetup and sorority rush into only three days. But the best decision I made sometimes was to back away slowly from the partying and go to bed, dang it. I know that it seems like a great idea at late night, but come Sunday morning all but the superhuman (…and, there were a lot of you… HOW) can get up hung over at seven AM, pile on another four petticoats and manage to still look killer for the high tea. Wicked respect to those who did this; sanity check for the rest of us.

LESSON 5: YOUR FACE WILL HURT FROM SMILING

Your face will hurt from smiling at how cute everyone is. This convention felt more like a huge family reunion to me than any old typical media con. Everywhere I turned was someone I knew or wanted to get to know, and the hardest part was not being able to really invest my time into everything and everyone. Everyone was friendly and complimenting the amazing coordinates of all styles – the passion and effort for the fashion radiated from every attendee. It’s just a great feeling of camaraderie – when you put on your ruffles, the immediate world smiles rather than frowns. Even the hotel staff at brunch one day said to me, “We love having your event here. Everyone looks really beautiful and creative, and it’s incredible to see.” It was essentially the largest meetup I had ever attended.

After I left the convention, I grabbed dinner with my boyfriend in a simple KoKoKim dress – feeling under dressed for me, after a long weekend of princess clothes. Something felt different. Suddenly I turned to him and said, “We’re not at the convention anymore. Everyone is dressed normal and they’re back to staring at me.” The world Rufflecon created had dissolved back into dream. Welcome back from wonderland, Alice.

I can’t wait to fall back through the rabbit hole again next year.

PS: AFTER SCHOOL BONUS LESSON

You will not take enough pictures. Always take more pictures than you think you can possibly need; it will not be enough.

The Significance of Dining Alone

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Truth: I am twenty-six years old and I am still a little nervous about eating alone. I have to psych myself up. I try to bring a book, or a sketchbook, or some blog notes. I really try not to just get absorbed in my Facebook feed or self-soothe with texts, who are basically my imaginary friends when it comes to dining alone. I self-talk: “Lots of people eat alone. It doesn’t mean I’m lonely. Maybe my friends are just busy today. Maybe I’m going somewhere important. It’s okay to say table for just one.”

Why does it feel so taboo to eat alone as a woman? Why do I need girlfriends or a date to try that new restaurant or pick up a bite mid afternoon? Is it cultural or a glass of social anxiety served neat? I’ve talked about how to be alone before (and also, how to take yourself out on dates), but things get particularly sticky when you introduce the menu of insecurities women can develop around food.

It took me a long time to identify the problem. I always knew I felt strange out alone in public, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. When I read SARK in my early twenties, it clicked into place. SARK says there are women who are convinced that going out alone makes them look sad, or needy, or that they feel sad or needy if they’re not fulfilling the idea of going out in a social capacity. She imagines a rich world of women able to spend time alone. Here’s an excerpt from her book, Succulent Wild Women.

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So I knew there were other options to just waiting for the phone to ring or sitting at home waiting for an invitation on a Friday night. I just had to be bold enough to stop being what SARK calls ‘captive women’ and hurdle over the awkwardness of being alone in public, particularly the beast that is dining alone.

Dare: How did I get through this? I practiced. I started stopping in to places for takeout, or gas stations for candy bars, or drugstores for packs of gum. Then I graduated to lunches at diners and delis, then drinks at my favorite bar and grille. I still haven’t mastered the ultimate alone-date – a three-course, white-table cloth dinner with dessert – but I’m getting there. And once I started eating alone, I felt the world open up. I could go anywhere. I could take the train alone, the subway, walk in the park with no one but my shadow and a box of paints.

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My personal pleasure is shopping alone. Recently I had time to kill between a meetup and meeting my boyfriend for dinner, and wandered into the beading and rhinestone district near Koreatown – a block of trim and crystal warehouses, more rhinestones than I had ever seen in my life. I walked around with my jaw to my knees, running my fingers through buckets of beads and pom pom fringe. No one told me to hurry up, no one was bored, no one said it was stupid to spend twenty dollars on flatback crystals.

Anna Kendrick and Gloria Steinem team up to illustrate this phenomenom via Kate Spade’s MissAdventure series. The awkwardness practically radiates off the screen, but at the same time, I think we all envy the two ladies a little. They might be breaking all the rules of social niceties, that ‘nice girls don’t’, but golly it looks like fun.

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