The continuing saga of two women, their men, and a whole lot of hats.

Posts tagged “Gothic

The Suit Hat

One day, she looked around and realized that Prudence’ once bountiful wardrobe was now a thinning supply room. Like a magpie in the graveyard, Temperance had plucked and picked every bauble and frill, taken panels of fabric from without and within to adorn her one of a kind creations. Looking upon the threadbare threads only served to mirror the reality of her sister’s lingering absence. And the sadness was almost too much for Temperance to bear. The only styptic for such a wound was creativity. But what does one create with dwindling supplies?

They say necessity is the mother of invention. And Temperance now knew this to be true. For as she was looking around a shop still rife with men’s finery, she realized that she had only scratched the surface of her resources. Prudence was not the only one who had flounced across oceans. Henry was even more to blame for her sister’s extended absence. And so Henry would be the one to offer Temperance his support.


Design Details: The Window’s of Hell

We all know that history repeats. But we often forget that fashion history does too. Generally, it is thought that fashion tends to recycle itself approximately every twenty years. But there are certain design details that, while seem absolutely modern, actually originated centuries ago.

Men’s wear is a great example of this. Over the years it has proven the slowest to evolve. In fact, up until recently, most suits still featured details which were carried through to modern times from a long-gone age. The vents in the sides and in the back of a men’s suit-coat, for instance, were originally favored for function and not for form. While coats have grown shorter over the years, the original lengths required slits to accommodate the necessities of the times (like riding horses and carrying swords). While most men would still proudly carry a shiny melee weapon, sadly they are left only with this nod to a time when battling highway men by the clanging of steel was commonplace.

Suit Vents

Can you imagine the design details women’s fashion has implemented in recent years that might have actually had a place in eras that most aren’t even familiar with? Some of them might surprise you!

From runway to red carpet, modern fashion has become bold and unafraid to celebrate the female form. One such design detail that has scoffed at the prudish ways of bygone eras is the side cut-out. From flirtatious to rebellious, designers have pushed the limits of propriety through reduction.

Hells windows duo

But this idea is not entirely new. In fact, one could argue the original inspiration hales from the Early Gothic period (1330-1390), when shop was still spelled with two p’s. SHOPPE.

Hell's Windows

When thinking of centuries past, we often think of complicated fashions which greatly alter the feminine silhouette. Yet, much to the dismay of the church, the dresses of this period were unusually figure hugging.  The cotehardie was a tight fitting, body conscious dress that buttoned from neckline to hem over which the sideless surcoat was worn.  They say the devil is in the details and this very well could be the frock that proves it. Characterized by a deep cut armscye which revealed the figure beneath, the sideless surcoat was nicknamed “The Windows of Hell” proving, once again, that fashion risks often become fashion classics!


The Sweetest Days Have Yet to Come

Temperance lived the holiday months shrouded in sadness. Letters from her sister had been far and few between and the great Mr. Travis Quellwood, supposed love of her life, had skipped town with his troupe like a thief in the night. Apparently he decided he had had enough of their quaint little town. “My dear,” he waxed one night, “I am a traveler….” Those words echoed in her ears in the months after he left. It occurred to her that no matter how thin she was, she would never fit in a bindle.

While the ticking clock did taunt her in those darkened winter months, the gaiety of her favorite time of year eluding her just as love had, it was the calendar which offered respite. Make no mistake, though the servants were convinced she was a hair’s breath away from a walking corpse, her milky skin seeming almost blue and luminescent in the darkened hallways of the house, by the time the year turned over to begin anew Temperance…was over it.

Unlike the many ghosts of her checkered past, Mr. Quellwood would be relegated directly to the rubbish bin. The more she thought back on his grand demeanor and flowery words, the more it occurred to her that while perhaps she loved, she could never have loved him; for he was but a wraith from the moment he entered her life. A wraith that could only ever suck the breath from those he touched, his grandeur, a facade from behind which he could cower while he fed only on those with the most unique vision. And if Temperance had anything, it was unique vision.

Upon waking on that icy January morning, the sun brightly glinting on the snow, Temperance inhaled deep and strong. And it was in that single breath that she returned to life. Where once her wrath had burned within her, strong enough to sear through gaze alone, she found serenity. Where once she had drifted through the hallways, her curls wild and untamed like a nest of snakes, she now walked with purpose, making lists of the things that would need tending to after her months of brutal retreat. Where once she could not be spoken to, she now could not cease to speak. Temperance was, once again, a force to be reckoned with.

One day, while walking through town, she was stunned by a striking display. The dread of Christmas had barely been put to bed and already the dress makers were flooding their windows with pinks and whites and lace and…hearts. Ever so many hearts. Upon seeing this Temperance expected she would glower. She expected her spinster bitterness to rear its ugly head. But much to her surprise, her reaction was quite different. Instead of scoffing and snorting at the ridiculously feminine finery, she found herself quite intrigued…inspired even.

While Mr. Quellwood had decided that she was not worth trading his bindle for a chest of drawers, somewhere along the way she had decided she very much was. And though this was the first time it had occurred to her in such a conscious manner, the idea had taken root firmly somewhere along the way. Temperance’s spine straightened. Her chest puffed out. Had anyone been looking, they might even have noticed that, in that moment, hair which had only ever been frazzled twists of angry frizz, released a sigh of relief. What once was a wrangled, frantic, mess, was now somehow, just this side of tame.

In that moment, Temperance gathered herself up and took her new found inspiration back to the shop. She had not felt joy for her work in those long, dark, months, but now she knew she could begin again; refreshed, renewed! And she would not be the typical girl who grumbled and wept into her tea as St. Valentine (who Temperance already had her misgivings about) wove his garish heart-shaped web of white lace frills and gay pink furbelows. No. ~Temperance~ would step out on the 14th of February embracing it all. For in embracing the holiday focused so singularly on a couple’s love, Temperance was displaying the love she had found for herself.

The Sisters Brimm: Candy Hats


Breaking the Fourth Wall: Help With Your Inspiration Boards

The Sisters Brimm is approaching 1000 likes on Facebook and we think it’s a great time for a contest, the prize of which is a custom creation by us. Here’s how it works:

To enter start building inspiration boards based on what you would like to see in a Sisters Brimm creation!

Your inspiration board can be based on:

a current costume/outfit you have

a costume/outfit you are planning to put together for the future

a theme or persona you base your outfits on

Like our page, share our page and post your inspiration boards to our Facebook page or our Instagram.

Tag us @TheSistersBrimm

And use #TheSistersBrimm , #inspirationboard & #TheSistersBrimmContest to make sure we see your entries.

When we first posted this contest we thought it seemed pretty straight forward. But we have found, much to our surprise, that the concept of assembling an Inspiration Board has proven a tad daunting to many of our followers. When we talked it over we realized there are many reasons why posting an #InspirationBoard might seem intimidating. Whether it is because of a mild case of stage fright or you just can’t seem to edit your ideas down, putting yourself out there creatively can be a scary thing! Not to worry, The Sisters are here to help!

Inspiration boards can consist of anything you find inspiring: fabrics, accessories, a particular outfit, or a theme. Choose one item that sparks your innermost greed. If you want to own it, hoard it, or possess it, it’s probably a good place to start! The Sisters have a weakness for beautiful fabrics and really amazing feathers.

 

This went on to become one killer custom!

This went on to become one killer custom!

 

You can pick one item and use it to choose your next inspirations by asking yourself simple questions. What characteristics do you like about the item. Color? Texture? Time period? Genre? Materials? Once you know what draws your eye you can search out other items or pictures that have similar characteristics. This is something that many of you are already doing on Pinterest. This is just on a smaller scale. Think of it as an exercise in refinement!

Inspiration can come from anything. Even if the ultimate goal is to create an outfit, your inspirations do not have to ~only~ be wearable items:

 

You can’t wear a vase or a lamp but MY GOD who wouldn’t want to!

 

If you find yourself unsure if what you have chosen works together, try beginning with this simple formula we use all the time. It gives you a clear and concise starting point from which to expand your ideas.

 

Creating a Cohesive Palette

The above collage was done on our Polyvore.com account. Not very Victorian, but a good illustration of how the formula can tie together colors you may not consider compatible or fashionable. Neither of The Sisters are prone to wearing purple and orange together but, if done well, they make for quite a stunning palette!

Try not to over-think your boards and be not afraid! This is an opportunity for you to figure out what makes you happy! Don’t bother with worry over whether or not others will agree. Go forth and create. A beautiful custom hat could be yours and all it will cost you is a little bit of courage!

For more tips and examples of what we find inspiring check us out on Facebook and Instagram (#TheSistersBrimm).


Breaking the Fourth Wall: Reality in the World of The Sisters Brimm

Recently, we here at The Sisters Brimm have decided that it is necessary to add a new section to our blog. In the past, we have used this as a a doorway into the world of the sisters, Prudence and Temperance. After-all, it is through their eyes that these many hats have come to be. However, there is another aspect to these hats. Once they have been dreamt up, it is by the hands of Jamie and Heather, that the hats are guided through the transition from The Sister’s world to ours. And while the Sisters have much to say, it turns out that we do too.

So we feel it is necessary on occasion to “break the fourth wall” offering tips, tricks, and new ideas to help our fellow lovers of Victorian and fantasy headwear present themselves properly!

Gone are the days of gorgeous hats sitting atop meager ponytails! Down with the poorly accessorized gown! 

Ponytail again?

No friends, now, for just a mere moment of your time, you, that’s right, YOU can be the clearest ringing bell at the ball!

Wow. I don’t know when this became an ad. Just goes to show how closely the world of The Sisters Brimm is to our own. One never knows when they may slap the rouge out of your hand or pin up your hair just so that the crowning glory of your crowning glory has a perfectly proper perch!

And while the Sisters have their ideas on fashion, deportment, and sumptuary law, their alter-egos (imprisoned by the meager realities of modern times as are you) do too. We understand that not all, in fact MOST of you do not have lady’s maids to lace your corsets and to properly pin-curl our hair. We sympathize to no end over the fact that “they (whoever “they” are) just don’t make ‘em (whatever “‘em” are) like they used to!” And we thought it was high time, neighbor, you had someone out there to acknowledge your struggle and to FEEL YOUR PAIN.

In short, we are excited and eager to share what we know with you. From building a costume, to fashion history, to suggestions on what the H-E-double toothpicks to do with your hair, we, the sisters behind the Sisters Brimm, are here to help!


Pardon Me

The highly macabre event was not spoken of by civilized folk; and yet, the little hamlet of Bridgeport was “a-buzz” with the news. A few towns over a woman of well-known stature had achieved a most unfortunate sentence of “death by electrocution” by way of a new-fangled chair designed to send lethal current throughout. Many felt this method even worse than hanging and pleaded with the governor to show mercy on her soul and to pardon her from death by The Chair. Rumor had it that the governor would be traveling through Bridgeport while reviewing the case and the idea of being linked to such sensationalism, though most adamantly denied it, had everyone worked into an eager lather.

Mr. Harman Michaels finally whitewashed his entry gate, a task The Women’s League had been bothering him about for several months. The mercantile hung festive bunting along the entire perimeter of their wrap-around porch, an extravagance usually saved for more patriotic celebrations. And the church choir was primed with a trio of songs, each carrying God’s opinion of the excitement at hand.

Temperance, though less concerned with the political or religious implications of the situation, still found the details quite intriguing. She had known the woman at the center of the scandal, Martha, briefly in her youth. And although the two had not spoken in quite a while, a result of a small misunderstanding involving an accident with a sleigh, she felt a personal involvement with the case. In fact, Temperance could not recall the exact reason the two stopped talking. She certainly had not intended to strike the other with the sleigh, so there was no reason to hold a grudge. Still, in the years since the accident, they had only seen each other occasionally, while picking up parcels or passing through town. It was true that Martha’s brother remained exceptionally cross about the situation and, for this reason, Temperance thought it best to avoid them both. 

So the news of Martha’s plight came as quite a surprise. Temperance knew it must have been an accident.  Martha didn’t seem capable of murder. She was a terribly gangly woman, and quite clumsy as evidenced by the mishap with the sleigh all those years ago.

While the idea of entertaining a politician in no way thrilled her (politics is how thieves fail upward, you know), she felt it her duty to speak on behalf of poor Martha. Of course, Temperance’s plan hinged entirely on the governor’s acceptance of her invitation. That is why she made sure to drop the name of Henry Allworthey into her message. Surely all thieves colluded or, at the very least, were bound by a code. It seemed her best chance at luring the man to her. Much to her delight but not to her surprised, her invitation was accepted. The governor and company would indeed stop by for tea.

Upon her guests arrival, Temperance was pleased to find an intriguing addition. Mr. Brown, a scientist credited with the construction of the much talked about “Electric Chair,” was traveling with the governor to lend the benefit of his expertise regarding matters of fitting the chair to a woman’s frame… and he was quite the entertainer! He held Temperance captive as he spoke at great length on new methods of alternating current. While most found electricity a modern vulgarity, she believed it necessary for the advancement of society. It was, after-all, science! And it would benefit households everywhere.

The gentlemen stayed in her company for several hours. Between Mr. Brown’s captivating recitation on the marvels of modernity, and Temperance’s willingness to soak up his sermon, she had barely noticed that, for an extended period of time, the governor was absent. He left for a tour of Prudence’s grand old mansion returning only to inform his company that they really must attend to more pressing matters.

Temperance was, surprisingly, an excellent hostess. She thanked them both for attending tea and welcomed them back at any time. Still giddy with a day full of stimulating conversation, she waved goodbye to the governor’s coach. But, as she headed into the house, she could not escape the sinking feeling that she had forgotten something…. something terribly important.

A few days later the town erupted with shock when it was announced that the woman had indeed been executed.

It was then that Temperance had remembered what she had forgotten.  “Poor Martha.”

Little Sparky


Be my… Valentine?

It had been weeks since Mr. Travis Quellwood, the man responsible for Temperance’s new-found love of hatting and her heart’s singular desire, had been in the store. And since his first visit, much had changed. Prudence’s wardrobe had been selectively pruned. What once was a haberdashery, had bloomed into quite the place for ladies. Henry’s stock was pushed aside, gathering dust since Herman’s (his former employee and suspected thief), hasty departure, and the space that was once filled with men’s finery was brimming with ladies brims.

But while the store had transformed, the clientele had not. In fact, in the absence of a man to sell toppers and the like, Henry’s faithful audience had dwindled.

Though she ached to see him, Temperance had given up hope that the handsome Mr. Quellwood would make another appearance until one cold day. The little bell at the front door rang, and Temperance, who was in the back room deconstructing yet another of her sister’s dresses came scurrying out. Clucking like a barnyard hen about the constant interruptions, her customer service was more likely to scare perspective customers away than it was to welcome them in. But this particular customer was not afraid. He was used to working with the temperamental and flamboyant. They had only met once, but he was already used to the mad hattress’ idiosyncrasies.

With  twinkle in eye, and wallet in hand, he took a look at her created collection. Clucking ceased when she realized who it was she was clucking at. For what seemed like an endless moment there was nothing but the ticking of the clock between them.

~Tsk Tsk Tsk~

Temperance’s heart leapt into her chest. She could hear it pounding in her ears. The floor fell away from her feet and she became weak in the knees. Collapse was eminent but she never hit the floor. As she regained awareness, she found herself in the strong arms of Mr. Travis Quellwood, himself. All her months of worry and wait were worth it for they brought her right to that moment.

She swooned for a matter of seconds before lashes fluttered and she clutched  her heart which, though still fluttering, had sunk back into her chest.

“I’ve come to see your work, my dear. I can already see that you have been quite busy,” Mr. Quellwood said, easing communication by not letting Temperance speak. He lifted her easily to her feet and was careful upon letting go should she swoon once more.

Temperance, straightened her dress and smoothed her frizzy hair with a flattened palm, nodding in answer to the man’s observation. “I should like to buy one for a ….well….for a very special lady.” His weighted gaze shot right through the tiny, chalk-white, woman who’s voice had yet to return.  He smiled and continue looking around. “But it must be ~exquisite~.”  He approached Temperance who’s eyes never left him and stopped only inches from her. She inhaled deeply as her nose nearly bumped into the brass button on his vest. He smelled of pipe tobacco and spearmint. Like everything else about him, Temperance found the scent intoxicating.

She could barely bring her eyes to his for fear that she might swoon once more. “What would you suggest for a creature with skin of alabaster…like your’s? Something red, perhaps? The color of love?”

Temperance stumbled backward and pointed across the room to a crimson bonnet trimmed in black, glittering with crystals. Mr. Quellwood followed her direction, his long stride carrying him quickly to the masterpiece. He snatched it up with breathless exclamation and then peered at its creator. “This…this is too pretty to part with,” He said, holding it as if it were made of glass. “But if you would entrust me with the purchase, I am sure you will meet a much deserved reward.”

Temperance nodded dumbly, stumbling to the cash counter. Quellwood met her there and held the bonnet up to her,  admiring the contrast between the scarlet fabric and Temperance’s pasty skin. “You are correct! This is perfect for one with skin as fine as yours.”

Now, Temperance couldn’t be sure, but for one brief moment, it felt as though Mr. Travis Quellwood was flirting with her. The thought made her giddy.

As she wrote up his bill of sale, he leaned on the counter, a hint of mirth alight in his eyes. “May I ask, my dear lady, what are you doing on the evening of the fourteenth?” Temperance looked up at him, her mouth falling open with the hope that a voice would come out. In it’s absence, she simply shook her head, a lost look in her eyes. The man smiled as he gently brushed one of her frizzy curls aside. “I should like to see you at a special performance my troupe is putting on. Would you come? Would you come…as my special guest?”

Of all the dreams she could have dreamed she would have never dared to dream this one. It was too bold…too unlikely…and had it never occurred, it would have left her tattered hopes too tattered to repair. But here, it was happening! She wanted to scream, to cry, to run out into the street and yell the news at the top of her lungs! But his presence held her still and silent. Upon his last visit he had stolen her heart and upon this one, he had stolen her voice; a feat never before accomplished. She could only nod, the sloppy bun jiggling back and forth on top of her head.

“Good!,” he exclaimed exchanging the neatly packaged bonnet for the agreed upon price.  “I knew you would not dare break my heart. I promise it will be a night you shall never forget!” With that, he doffed his hat and offered her a deep bow as he backed out of the shop disappearing into the busy street.

Image

In the moments after their meeting, as her thoughts fell quiet and the ticking of the clock became apparent once more, Temperance’s voice returned. She gasped a small gasp of shock. “Oh dear,” she said, worrying the cuff of her sleeve. “Oh…dear.” Her heart began to race once more. “What shall I wear? The fourteenth…of February…” Eyes widened as everything he had said came flooding back in bits and pieces. “OH DEAR,” she exclaimed, unable to believe her good fortune. She ran outside stopping in the middle of the street and yelled at the top of her lungs. “I’m going to be his Valentine!!!!”