This 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.