(Life) Style Tips in September

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September lends itself to cottagecore and hobbit vibes like few other months do. Start drying herbs in your kitchen by screwing hooks to the underside of your shelves and bundling your harvest up with rustic ribbons or colourful yarns. If you tend to forget which herb is which, add small labels to the string to tell them apart – no shame in that, especially when the labels are pretty.

If you grow your herbs on a balcony or outside your window start thinking about your Winter situation, even though it might seem early to do so. Where will you put that basil? Will the bergamot survive outside? Will the chili be okay with whatever light it can get on the sill inside? Prepare your inside winter garden ahead of time to make adjustments if you find it lacking anything, and maybe arrange it so that you have something to sit there and read or work in the company of your plants during the cold and dreary times of the year. You don’t need a winter garden or sun room to feel like a turn-of-the-century artist with a fernery (or herbery, rather)!

Get a disposable camera or a new film for your analogue and document the last hurrah of Summer. We usually think of analogue photography as either artsy or something to use on vacation for a retro twist. While that’s not wrong at all, catching early autumn sun filtering through leaves that are about to turn yellow or the hopeful atmosphere around campus for orientation weeks has its own magic. If you feel drawn to take snapshots of golden fields and wild flowers consider waiting to have your film developed after the first merry rush of Winter is over and you need something to tide you over the greyest time.

Treat yourself to the idea of back-to-school fashion, no matter how long it has been since you’ve set foot in a classroom. It doesn’t have to be an entire new wardrobe, not even a whole outfit, but maybe scout your local thrift haunt for a new neck-tie (you can wear them as belts, headbands, hair ties and neck bows if actual ties aren’t your thing), a pair of oxfords (brogue or wing-tip are the most dark-academia looking choice) or a pin that looks like it could be the crest of a secret society that meets in the attic over the auditorium to plot world domination or swap sticky-sweet poetry, your choice. Just get yourself something that gets you excited about September, is all.

With light and fields and even trees turning golden, why not experiment with honey for a golden addition to your cooking and baking? To continue the Dark Academia topic, there’s Roman baked goods like these globi by Cato or this honey cake, but there are also the cottagecore choices that look like they just jumped out of a Brambly Hedge illustration like this sponge-and-cream stack, honey butter crumpets and very autumnal apple tart. For a main course there’s naan pizza with honeyed pears, mushroom tacos and glazed everything. And if that isn’t enough yet, there’s also drinks: aside from sweetening your tea or putting it in your coffee (a whole science, as always) there are plenty of cocktail options like the Bee’s Knees, Eau de Lavender, Sting like a Bee and of course the Hot Toddy.

August Favourites

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Left: The Green Knight via | Centre: Der Weiße See (Theaterritter I) via | Right: Misbehavin’ Maidens: Busted via
  1. The Green Knight was a damn weird movie but still magnificent. Sure, it was like someone took an Arthurian tale, adapted it into an USSR fairy tale film from the 70s that in turn got made into a stage play for modern German theather, threw an outdoor shop catalogue’s worth of nature photography at it and then took a bunch of drugs, but I really like that combination. After two hours of being baffled and confused I staggered out of the cinema (the first time I’d been since the first Hobbit!) and didn’t want my money back, so I guess that’s a recommendation. I’m just still confused. Maybe I need to watch it again.
  2. I’m about to start the Theaterritter Campaign for Das Schwarze Auge. I can’t wait to dive back into the fantasy world that was my very first contact with pen & paper RPG after years of neglecting it (or just not having a group to play this specific game with), and I’m really looking forward to doing it with friends, and in person, too!
  3. Summer thunderstorms. Summer was long and hot, and now it is nearing its end, with days getting shorter and cooler. But even in the midst of the hottest time of year we were blessed with rolling thunder, thick drops of rain splashing into the still-warm sand of the playgrounds, onto the leaves of thirsty plants, into my stretched-out palms. I am grateful for not living in the parts of Germany that got far too much rain, and that I can still cherish every Summer storm to come.
  4. Being fully vaccinated feels. So. Good. I’m so happy to be able to do my tiny part to get to herd immunity, and relieved to know that even if I should catch the virus somehow it won’t be as bad. Three days of fever and fatigue are a price I’m happily willing to pay to return to a more relaxed life one day. It also has a few side effects I really enjoy, like…
  5. Seeing my family in person for the first time in over a year and
  6. Casually having friends over. We played D&D in person for the first time with our quarantine group. We had a BBQ. We’re meeting up with people to hang out by the river, having friends from other citys come over without a guilty conscience, visiting others ourselves without as much worry. Now I just need for my LARPs to happen again and my vacation plans to work out, but hey, I’m willing to wait it it’s needed.
  7. Walking 10k steps almost every day and discovering new places around me. I got myself a fitness tracker and as gamification always seems to work with me I’m actually really trying to meet my goals. Finding new places – interesting details, small shops, pretty spots, climbable trees – is a really nice side effect.
  8. Green nail polish. I sometimes remember to paint my nails and there is something about green – maybe it’s because it reminds me of goblin claws or witches’ talons depending on the hue.
  9. Plum Season is either in full bloom or almost over depending on variety and where you are, but oh, the plumpness, the golden-purple splendor, the sweet flesh, fleeting as they might be, are the last warm rays of the late Summer sun made fruit.
  10. Misbehavin’ Maidens are propbably the band I listened to most during the last few weeks. The Maidens play feminist, LGBTQ+ friendly, sex-positive sea shanties and nerdy filk that will make you smile if at least half your mind is somewhere near a gutter (and probably if you’re ace, too, just because they have their own community member and offer representation in more than one of their marvellous ditties). If you are part of the Alphabet Mafia, an 18+ geek or a horny pirate you should definitely give them a listen.

(Live) Style Tips in August

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If it’s still hot, spray the wet sheets or drapes in front of your window with a mixture of your favourite essential oils or a room or body mist of your choice for the Summer version of scented candles (without the fire hazard)

August creates as she slumbers, replete and satisfied.

Joseph Wood Krutch.

Embrace your inner picnicker at hanging rock, Southern Gothic hero*ine or Edwardian summer guest by dressing in all-white lace or linen. Add a boater for a classic choice of headwear or a crown of wildflowers or moss for the choice that will confuse, bewilder or enchant the people around you. Skeleton key necklaces, frayed scraps for neckwear or a headband and bare feet round off the waifish, slightly unsettling strange omen look.

A woman is like an artichoke. You have to do some work before you get to her heart.

The Pink Panther (2006)

If you haven’t yet, go and find yourself a local artichoke dealer. Learn to prepare them in a number of ways – boiled with a vinaigrette is a classic, but deep-fried alla giudia, stuffed (Italian or Turkish), grilled or sautéed variations are surely worth a try, as well. The smaller flower-heads can be eaten whole and the centre is delicious. Celebrate eating your artichokes, savour each petal and treat yourself to a meal that you couldn’t even wolf down mindlessly if you wanted to.

Did you know that a bee dies after he stings you?… And that around the tenth of August, any year, you can look up in the sky at night and see dozens and dozens of shooting stars?

Elizabeth Enright

If you want a change of routine without going on vacation in these strange times or just have trouble sleeping why not move your bedstead into another room for a few days? Swap beds with a flatmate or move your pillows and blankets to the sofa. If you don’t have that option, improvise a tent over your bed with a rope and some sheets. If you have a rain-proof balcony that might be a good place to rest your bones, as well. It might get a bit cold at night but isn’t that a wonderful idea during the hottest time of the year.

In the parching August wind,
Cornfields bow the head,
Sheltered in round valley depths,
On low hills outspread.

Christina Rossetti

If you happen to come by an abandoned lot or even live in the country, get yourself a bouquet of wildflowers. Others might regard them as weeds, but there will be enough time for greenhouse blooms come winter. When your flowers start hanging their heads, consider tying them up and hanging them to dry, either for their petals or even their seeds – keep them until spring to make seed bombs or plant them in your own garden or balcony as a buffet for your local insect population.

The Mental Health Benefits of Dressing Nicely

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Well hello there, welcome to the second episode of “things I wore, decided by a ten-sided chunk of plastic”. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I made a longer explanation video here, but the quick and dirty is that

(every day I roll a d10 to determine…)

It’s basically a fun little game I play with myself to explore my wardrobe and that keeps me from wearing the same three things over and over until I’m devastated because they’re completely worn out, unmendable and I don’t know what to cover my body with.

If you want to join me or just kind of understand what I’m doing here, the rules I use for myself which, of course, aren’t set in stone but more like guidelines, are these:

  1. Roll a d10
  2. 1 equals no effort at all, just throw on what’s there or stay in your pyjamas, if you can, 9 is literally dressed to the nines,
  3. 10 is weird fantasy critter stuff so that my latex ears and prosthetic teeth and contacts get some fresh air once in a while
  4. Sometimes you have to consider what’s going on that day, a work 9 might be different from a go-out-with-friends 9
  5. Dressing above the rolled number is always an option, dressing down not so much. It’s about the challenge, after all.

I should probably add “don’t beat yourself up about not doing it if you don’t have the spoons that day” to that list.

I’ll talk a bit more about that in a second.

May was a good month for this, it wasn’t too warm yet, I rolled a bunch of interesting stuff and I got a couple of real favourites out of it. June and now, July, on the other hand… not so much. I’ve horribly neglegted rolling for style due to several reasons. I think I haven’t done anything in three weeks? But that, as I said, is okay. It’s a bit sad because dressing nicely is a form of self-care, but sometimes we don’t have the energy.

I don’t deal well with heat at-fucking-all, and when I try to remember what I wore in June I feel like there were a couple of days when I would just wear some fluttery something over my undies and called it a day when I didn’t have to leave the house. Can’t show that on the internet, well, on most platforms, and if I’m already not in the mood to get dressed because I don’t like existing in a physical form in the first place I don’t think that would be a good day to make an Only Fans account, but I digress.

Aside from the heat and the unpleasantness that is existing in it, my depression also gets worse during Summer, and how am I to get dressed when I can barely make it out of bed? Of course, ideally, I would do it anyway, and there have been instances where it was a welcome kick in the rear to see that I should dress a seven or eight. It tends to get me out of my stupor, carefully picking something to visually build myself on that day, thinking about whether and if yes, how to accesorize.

Accessorizing is still a thing I struggle with. I like accessories, I just like little details and easter eggs and things to discover about a design – and by that also a person’s visual “character design” – I’m just far better doing it to other people, fictional or not, than to myself.

In fact, though, rolling my dice has led to me re-discovering a few items that I had completely forgotten about. Now you might say “but if you forgot about them, you could just throw them out, right?”, but that’s not how that works for me. A) I don’t do object permanence, I regularly forget the existence of things that I don’t see all the time (and even those), and B) I’m much more inclined to throw out things that keep nagging me because I see them all the time but feel no attraction to them.

When I look at my wardrobe, especially in the light of this little style experiment here, I see a few things that don’t really get any wear, and that should maybe vacate the premises of my life. Some of that might just be owed to the season, so I’ll have to wait and see, but there are things I actually look forward to wearing and coordinating when it gets cool enough for them again, and there are others that are just some sort of meh. Well, we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.

Am I just rambling on here? Maybe. But let’s circle back to days where I don’t feel like dressing at all and the mental health benefits of doing it anyway.

I already said that dressing nicely is selfcare. I feel like sometimes we are led to believe that the opposite ist true. That letting loose and not dressing up is the better and healthier of the two, but I think the best option, as so often, lies somewhere inbetween. What a Surprise.

Dressing to impress people that are not yourself is usually not a great idea. It wasn’t when you were a teenager, and it isn’t now. Sure, maybe you should not wear sweatpants to a job interview at the bank (except if it’s via video call, because then nobody can tell), but instead of dressing differently, probably more stiffly just because “that’s what one does”, rather look at it as dressing to show the respect you have for someone. And if you don’t feel like you have respect for the people you work with or for or whatever context, maybe that’s not the context you should be in. I’m aware that you can’t always choose, but if you can, if you see a chance for change, this might be a hint that you should maybe look for somewhere else to be. This doesn’t only apply to professional settings, but to your private life, as well.

If you dress stiffly, or according to societal norms, what part of society that might mean, do it because you want to. Because you respect the people around you AND yourself. And if you can manage comfortable and respectable (or rather respectful) at the same time you basically win the game, especially if you like what you see in the mirror.

But isn’t taking your own style and likes into account another sign of self-respect? And, now that I think about it, isn’t it also a sign of respect towards the people you interact with? It’s a way of saying “I respect you enough to show you my actual self, not some mask or costume I wear to blend in with something that is considered the norm or whatever applies here”, and what’s more, it’s a signal of trust, as in “I trust you not to hold my looks and taste against me, and to see me for who I am”.

I mean, sure, maybe hold back the fishnets and neon splotched corset for that bank interview, but I trust you to be creative enough to find a way to incorporate something into a “professional” getup to express who you are besides the suit and tie. Speaking of which, I’m all here for bringing back the novelty ties of the 80s and 90s. They might have been a tad bit tacky, but they did have personality.

Now how does this factor with the mental health thing? I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the saying “Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have”, mostly in combination with some quip about how your boss doesn’t like you showing up in super hero spandex, but there’s a kernel of truth in there. Don’t dress for the mental state you’re in, dress for the mental state you want to be in.

Dress for the feeling you want. If that is staying in your pyjamas or in sweatpants, that’s fine, but as someone who’s been living with depression since adolescence I know that that is rarely the state of dress and mind that I actually want. If I stay in pyjamas, I could at least throw a kimono or manteau du lit over it and feel glamourous – more on the quest for nice sleepwear on another day. If I want to slump around in sweatpants, how much difference in comfort do nice leggings make, and how much difference in feeling good about myself?

It’s a bit like with chores. When I’m in a really bad mental state, depression-wise, just looking at the wall, or opening and closing every thirty seconds in the hope of an anodyne post or picture, I often tell myself that I might as well do the chores I don’t want to do. I’m unhappy anyway, so I might as well be unhappy while I do the dishes. I’m not saying that this kind of mindless, non-creative productivity is the perfect solution, but if I can’t cope or self-care anyway, this is a way to pay it forward to tomorrow’s me. In fact, one of the worst depressive states I’ve been in during the last five years was the time when I got most shit done, boring-things-I-had-to-do-wise.

In the same spirit I might as well dress nice. I can be unwell in a nice outfit just as well as I can in the crumpled throw-over thing I picked from the floor. Heck, I can even go the extra mile and go full-on romantic poet, gothic novel tragic hero*ine, new-romantic artist and suffer in exquisite style.

Clothing is selfcare. Clothing is self-respect. It doesn’t always have to work out, but at least thinking about making the effort is a good thing to do.

And I think I’ve rambled enough for today. I hope you enjoyed this video, and if you did, consider liking, subscribing and sharing it, for that is how we grow the gang, and I wish you all a wonderful time until we meet again.

Take care of Yourself.

Some Favourites from the Last Months

  1. I finally, finally began watching Gentleman Jack. I’d had the DVDs around since Winter but never felt like I was in the right mindset to start. Halfway into the first episode, I ordered the books and now I’m adamantly set on watching it will ALL of my friends because it’s hilarious and a romp and all of those good things. There are far too little comedic elements in historical drama (or costume drama in general), and works like Gentleman Jack are a breath of fresh air betwixt all the pining and anemic love stories without any fun in them.
  2. The Season 3 finale of The Magnus Archives. How could they break my heart like this?! Oh, Martin, my poor little cinnamon roll! Funny enough, season 4’s finale didn’t screw me up half as bad, but I’m already looking forward to the last one.
  3. Venusbrüstchen – “Venus’ bosoms”, an incredibly tasty treat from one of our local bakeries. I haven’t been able to find this variant anywhere on the internet… there is one from Salzburg in Austria, but it’s different. This one is a lovely filling of foamy nougat between two macaron shells, partially covered in dark chocolate and topped with an almond, and it’s fantastic.
  4. Roll For Style, my little experiment (that I have shamefully neglected during the last few weeks, cursed be that seasonal depression thing). It helps me a lot with picking outfits and seeing what my wardrobe is still lacking, so I’m going to try my best to pick the habit back up again as soon as I have the spoons. I made a video about it, and it will hopefully not be the last.
  5. Sending and receiving lovely packages is one of my joys at any time, but especially during the pandemic. I sent my Mother and Grandmother biscuits and books – my Grandmother has not been able to go to the library, but I have a loose grasp on what she likes to read, and there’s a brand of cranberry biscuits they can’t get in the Shire -, I send friends all the little trinkets I’ve been collecting for them over the last year-and-a-half, and I also got a package from my lovely Verdinium returning the favour.
  6. Mariah Pattie’s Worldbuilding Channel. I love how incredibly detailed and meticulous she is with her cultures and even their biology (I’m still impressed with her breakdown of how feather patterns are passed down within her avian race, it’s absurd in the best of ways).
  7. I’ve been inside a thrift store for the first time in half a year! Ever since Germany went into lockdown shortly before the Winter holidays I hadn’t, and I almost wept for joy when I could set foot in one again, appointment and negative test for the plague in tow. By the time I’m posting this thrifting has returned to normal (aside from the mask, but the mask feels normal by now, anyway).
  8. The Eurovision Song Contest. I had not watched it for ages, but when a friend asked me to watch in with her I happily agreed and after ten minutes decided that this must become a yearly thing. Italy’s first place was incredibly justified – they just had that energy that has been brewing in all of us during the lockdown, and we all just want to get out there for some bacchanalian revelries. My other favourites were France and Switzerland, but I also loved Ukraine, of course, and Russia, and honourable mentions to Germany, it might not have been grand enough for Eurovision but it was really cute and it’s now stuck in my head.
  9. Period Panties are one of my favourite new things. I’m so happy they are so easily available, too, I can even get them at the drug store!
  10. Summer Rain. While we had a few far-too-hot days in Northern Germany we also had an okay share of summer rainfall (I really don’t want to jinx it by calling it fair). To put a clichée phrase to use, the land needed it. It still does, the last Summers having been too hot and dry for our part of the world by far. I just love the smell of Summer rain so much. I love rain in every season, each has its own magic, but right now it’s the time of the scent of hot, suddenly wet tarmac, the almost warm droplets, fast-drying clothes and loud patter through wide-open windows and balcony doors at night. Right now rain feels like a promise of a day without heat fatigue, something to stand in for a moment and just cherish it, arms stretched out wide to welcome that shower.