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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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).
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.”
There was a surplus of miner’s headlamps in the neighboring town of Persecution come Christmas due to an unfortunate but not entirely unexpected mine collapse and M.H. Penniworth, purveyor of fine and overpriced goods, was determined to eliminate them. Convinced that a little rebranding was key, he placed a full page ad in the monthly circular.
Upon viewing the ad Temperance was disgusted. “Oh for heaven’s sake! Using God to sell that hat! That is sacrilege, plain and simple! God wouldn’t wear a hat ugly as that! ‘Stylish,’ indeed!”
Though the execution was poor, the idea seemed sound and Temperance felt a woman could certainly do it better. So, do it better she did.
She wasn’t much to look at; a young woman, slight of frame, posture, quite correct. Her daily costume was serviceable and free of dust. In fact, it was the town’s general opinion that their librarian was free of most anything interesting. But her commitment to her position was notable. The sun never made her acquaintance for she spent the entirety of her day moving like a wraith among the stacks, her arms full of books, her voice never sounding above a whisper. She was the perfect model of loyalty and efficiency save her mild propensity for the occasional bout of absent-mindedness.
That is why it came as such a shock when Earnest Peppermill, afflicted with a question that simply could not wait, discovered her in the back of the stacks engrossed in one of those French novels his mother had worked so hard to ban.
Rumor has it that little Earnest found her crumpled unceremoniously in the corner reading wide-eyed, white knuckles clutching the sinful volume. “Her cheeks were crimson with stirred desires,” Earnest’s mother assured the good women of the town’s Propriety League. And the news was met with gasping breaths and clucking tongues. They had all had their doubts about that girl from the moment she was hired. After-all, no one can be that unremarkable. No one! And now they had their proof. SCANDAL!
Time passed by and the store remained quiet. Temperance had abandoned her efforts at reading her book, and the grandfather clock was winning every fight it picked with her. Days of being trapped in the store mirrored days of being trapped in her head until one day, it occurred to her: if no one saw fit to come in, then perhaps it would be a good idea for her to come out.
It was only five minutes before the doors to the shop flew open and, with some effort, Temperance dragged a rather large rattan chair out to the boardwalk setting it against the store-front which was nicely shaded by a generous overhang. Next came the table. And after that, a nice cold pitcher of sweet tea and a number of glasses set to chill in a generous bucket of ice. Temperance set up camp just outside the store, content to watch the people.
In truth, the lack of customers did not surprise her. First of all, she thought: “Men don’t really shop. They aren’t very good at it.” She doubted if it was even included in their natural make-up. It was not even included in the list next to snips, snails, and puppy-dog’s tails. Secondly, men’s furnishings were so very boring. How many derbies could one man possibly need? No. Henry was missing the mark. It was the women who did the shopping. They kept the houses as well as their men. And they certainly were more likely to splurge on something that they wanted instead of staunchly adhering to practicality as they were supposed to.
Temperance let go of a heavy sigh as she tried to reconcile the rift between the society that clung to the idea of being so very practical and utilitarian versus the one that passed her on the streets donning giant ostrich plumes and patent leather spats. What once were simple clothes born of necessity had long since evolved into ~fashion~ which, as was evidenced by the very corset she was wearing, had been elevated beyond practicality. If it could be trimmed in ribbon or beads, it often was and Temperance spent many nights, and now one hot summer day, pondering the chasm between society’s prized morals and its favored aesthetic.
It was this landscape of feathers and flowers and fabrics and frills that created a backdrop for new forming thoughts. With the grandfather clock silenced by the bustle of a busy street, Temperance could stretch out. She found more peace and a piece of her mind with the busy sounds of life passing by. Sitting like a royal presiding over her court, she could take in the movements of life around her and chuckle at all of its frivolities.
Little could pull her from the vacation in her head. Not even the heat, which was beginning to penetrate the deep shade provided by the awning. Temperance fanned herself slowly and watched the world buzz by through distant eyes.
Several hours passed before she was drawn from her daydreams by a vision. She straightened in her chair, and pulled herself out of the vast cavity of her mind. Her focus was drawn to a young girl who appeared in the middle of the street, despite horses and carriages and the foot traffic wefting through the warp. She was a mirage amidst the hard lines of the self-important.
Her dress was from the east. It was light, woven of the thinest silk, and splashed with fine, hand-painted designs. Her skin was smooth, unmarred by age or sun, and made of bisque or china or crushed rice. Her cheeks held the pink glow of humility and youth, and her hair was arranged in intricate curls which were sculptural, but still soft. Toward the front of her head, perched a fan, somehow woven amidst her coif. It seemed to float atop her head, its sole purpose to prevent the sun from marring delicate features. The girl was, in Temperance’s eyes, a work of art; something out of a fairy story, the quintessential exotic.
The beautiful creature stood there for the longest moment before beginning her stroll down the street. Temperance was captivated. She studied the girl from the bottom up and the top down, taking a moment to marvel at how very small her feet were. Everything about the girl was magic. She was the most fragile statement of womanhood Temperance had ever seen, and her expression could make the blue sky blush.
Tiny steps carried the girl along her path. Temperance noticed the men noticing her. She watched, mouth slightly agape as nearly every male in the fabric of the street either slowed or halted completely for at least a moment as she passed. Though no one stopped the young woman, she did manage to slip calling cards to a select few.
“Curious,” Temperance thought. “She must be new to town.” It was not usual protocol for a girl to announce her family in the middle of the street, but then customs were changing every day, and the girl was clearly not local. Temperance noted the new procedure and resigned herself to amending her behavior accordingly should the need ever arise.
Her attentions turned toward the girl once again, eyes darting between the handful of males that warranted a card, and the way the girl’s delicate fingers were held to her lips as she appeared to giggle, coyly returning their admiration with a second glance cast over slender shoulders. Everything she did seemed just so, as if it were a choreographed dance, and the fan in her hair, tilted and sitting gently askew, added a wonderful mystery to her expressions. From the shadows it cast, to the way the paper filtered the light over her luminous skin, Temperance was fairly sure it was enchanted.
The traffic seemed to roar to life as the demure figure receded into the distance. The pounding of hooves on the street, and the clanking of heels on the boardwalk made Temperance aware of her surroundings. Finally, a sea of people fell across the distant vision of the young girl, like the final curtain on a show which demanded another encore. It was this that freed Temperance from her dream.
“Indecent,” Mrs. Evan Bryant hissed once the girl was well away. “Simply scandalous!” Her words jarred Temperance from her captivation, and she stared at the woman confused. She wondered what sort of scandal she had missed. She could not imagine anything worth looking at that was more interesting than that beautiful young sprite.
Temperance flopped back into her chair, remembering to breathe again. Her eyes fell to her lap and studied the fan around which her fingers were still loosely wrapped. She paused, brows drooping heavily over her eyes in thought, then, struck by inspiration, she bolted from her chair and scurried inside leaving Mrs. Evan Bryant to sort out her scandals.
The next day brought an early rise and shine. The house was consumed with the hurry of making sure everything was taken care of. Temperance was running around, clucking at everyone as she attended to the last minute details. Prudence felt a pang of suspicion. Her sister was being so ~helpful~. Too helpful, perhaps. When she told her sister of her lengthy departure, she was almost sure that Temperance would be upset. How upset, she could not say, but at least a little! It was almost as if she was rushing them out the door. At one point, Prudence pulled Temperance aside and asked her just why she was being so very helpful. Temperance only stared, wide-eyed, and smiled saying: “Why sissy! The sooner you leave, the sooner you can return!” Then she was off again, barking at Thomas not to steal any of the luggage as he was want to do.
Finally, the trunks were on their way to the dock and Prudence and Henry were ready to depart. As they started out the front door, Temperance came running behind, with Prudence’s carpet bag and Henry’s stationary in hand, shrieking for them to wait. “Don’t forget your lovely gift, Henry!”
Prudence looked perplexed. She could have sworn she had packed the stationary in the traveling desk and had asked Thomas to load her bag into the carriage hours ago. “It must have been forgotten in all the hustle,” Temperance said. There had been a great deal to think about. And it was often the little things that were overlooked. Prudence, thankful for her doting sister, kissed her cheek and took the bag which promptly plummeted to her feet, thudding on the floor, and taking her upper body with it. Henry, ever the gentleman, lofted the unusually heavy bag, and the couple embarked on their odyssey around the world.
The days stretched out before Temperance. Discontent to sit at home and prevent the servants, who were, quite possibly, a hive of villainous kleptomaniacs, from stealing anything that could be lifted by their hot little hands, she gathered her crumbling spirits, and ventured into Henry’s store. Quite the boring place, it was clear her sister had been there. Rows of furnishings were neatly folded and tucked away. Since taking over this part of Henry’s business, and effectively removing him from all aspects of organization, Prudence had trained Herman, Henry’s shop-keep to uphold her methods.
Temperance began her days in the store quietly sitting behind the counter, a book in hand. Not one to interrupt someone’s job with constant chatter, she remained silent as the french mannequin Henry had in the window. Though he couldn’t pin-point why, he found her company unsettling, as if he were now performing his daily tasks under severe scrutiny. But every time he looked to the woman behind the counter, she was hidden behind that book. Herman would shrug off his suspicions easily enough, at first, returning to his duties with extra vigor, but just when he would return to his duties, the veil would lower, and a pair of fiercely green eyes would watch every tiny detail of every move he made. Occasionally, Herman thought he heard a small “tsk” of disapproval or disgust. He couldn’t tell which. But every time he looked back to the woman, all he could see was book.
A few weeks after Prudence’s departure, a rather large parcel was delivered to the store. Herman signed for the package, as usual, and a perfunctory glance revealed a pair of extremely interested eyes peering at him over the top of that book. The two stared at one-another for a long moment, she a lion ready to pounce, he, the prey. “Who’s it from?” Temperance’s small voice drifted across the counter.
Herman’s eyes shifted slowly away from her, planning his escape, perhaps. He cleared his throat. “Uhh…From Mrs. Allworthey,” He muttered, subtly recoiling as Temperance craned forward.
Once she saw the load of international postage markings littering the brown paper, she gave chase, flying from her chair, abandoning her book to the floor, eager to get her hands on that parcel. Herman didn’t put up much resistance. He didn’t get paid well enough for that.
Temperance tore into the package, lingering for but a moment as she noted a letter of instruction contained therein which was written on Henry’s stationary. She smiled fondly at the sight of the decorative paper, and then let it drift to the floor before ferreting her way through the other contents. It wasn’t long before the supplies were sufficiently riffled through, laying on floor and counter and strewn over french mannequin. Once the excitement of opening the mystery package had subsided, and it was clear her loving family had thought nothing of her when selecting it’s contents, Temperance slumped. The box was completely devoid of imagination. Disappointed, she looked around, and resigned herself to putting everything away. Woolens and suiting materials in greys and blacks were tossed on shelves and plunked in drawers. Herman followed her through the store, winding around displays and fixtures as she shoved this here and that there. He tried to explain to the woman that there was a place for everything and….
But Temperance stopped short, and spun around to meet the tall, spindly man, eyes narrowed. His words triggered something in her. “And everything in it’s place,” she screeched. Apparently, she had heard it before. In fact, she had heard it all her life. It haunted her. “And now ~I~ will decide what goes where and why and who and how! ME! I decide!” Though she delivered the words with all the fury of a flock of cackling hens, there was an undefinable desperation in her eyes that caused a little voice inside Herman to let her have her way. He didn’t get paid well enough to risk arguing with ~that~.
The pattern was set. Packages arrived, instructions were discarded, and the contents were then re-appropriated as Temperance saw fit. Herman hadn’t quite given up yet. Often, he would follow her around, “helping.” He would hand her items to put away, and once she went off to find a place for it, he would redistribute what she had already “organized.” It seemed a better option than to get her flustered. She was rather scary when flustered.
One day, whilst maintaining their exercise in tension, a package, larger than usual, arrived. Temperance hopped from her perch and scurried to sign for it before Herman could even get to the door. Once in her arms, the box, which eclipsed the small woman, seemed to float around the store until it reached its destination. Ignoring the word “fragile” which was boldly printed on the side, the box was dropped to the floor, it’s arrival marked by the racket of the contents breaking within. Temperance made quick work of twine and paperboard, and dug in. Nestled inside towards the top was a woman’s hat. It was quite an intriguing little thing, filled with souvenirs of some sort. Decidedly not Temperance’s color, she tossed it on the counter above, and proceeded with her exploration.
Indeed, this box differed greatly from the others. In place of the usual tweeds and worsteds, a gorgeous selection of satins, taffetas and brocades resided. Jewel tones evoking the feeling of far-off places, a richness not commonly seen in their small town. She sifted through the gems, letting each one carry her off to its imagined place of origin. As she worked her way through it, the fabrics were laid over the side of the box. About mid-way through, she reached a separate collection of parcels which contained the most wonderful array of glass and china, in pieces, of course. Still, in Temperance’s eyes, they were treasures. This box had her sister’s good taste all over it. She paused for a moment, shards in hand, and thought. Finally, they remembered! How could she have been so childish as to think her sissy would forget her?
After she reached the bottom of the box, and her fingers had caressed the last of exotic fabrics, she sat back against the counter, an exhale of satiation slowly leaking from the faintest smile. She felt like those ladies looked in the naughty pictures at the penny arcade; the ones they kept behind the velvet ropes in the gentlemen’s section.
Herman watched her from the opposite end of the store, like a scientist studying an animal in the wild; afraid, but intrigued. Finally, Temperance roused herself out of her afterglow and began to carefully pack everything back into the box. She dragged it by one of its flaps into the storeroom. Once she disappeared, Herman snuck over to the counter where she had binged, and gave a look around. Nothing was left except the hat, carelessly discarded to the counter, and some papers which had fallen, unnoticed, on the floor. His lips moved as he scanned the letters which were penned in Prudence’s hand. Eyes widened and shot to the hat on the counter, and he snatched it up, looking to the door of the storeroom just in time to meet Temperance’s suspicious gaze. Though he attempted explanation, it was to no avail. Temperance had been waiting for just such an occasion. Clearly, Herman was every bit as much like the others in the employ of Mr. Allworthey; a thief. He hadn’t even time to blink before Temperance was after him, beating him to death with a hatstand she had snatched from the counter. “Thief! Thief,” she screeched. Herman had no choice but to drop the hat and the letters, and run. He didn’t get paid enough to argue with ~that~!
The commotion drew attention from passers-by, and there were quite a few witnesses for Herman’s hasty departure. No one was surprised to see him running from the store with the small woman cackling behind him brandishing that hatstand. In fact, the town had been quiet in anticipation of just such an episode.
It was as if a fuse had been lit. Gossip spread on the breath of a whisper. Word of the event made it all the way to the barber shop before Temperance even made it back inside, the door slamming behind her.
Mr. Jacob Harl told Mrs. Talene DuValle all about how the crazy sister came bursting out of that shop with the fury of God at hand. And Mrs. Talene DuValle told Mrs. Ida Bernard about how she came out with the fury of God and a red-hot poker. By the time the story reached Mrs. Evan Bryant, the details were expanded to include something about scarlet bloomers and Mr. Allworthey’s double-barrel shotgun. Upon hearing such outlandish detail, Mrs. Evan Bryant just nodded with an air of “I told you so,” and tsked. “If you all know what is good for you, you will keep far away from that one,” she said.
And so began Temperance’s days of solitude. Though every so often a stray soul would venture in to the store, for the most part, things remained rather dead. She did not miss Herman’s constant mothering, though she did miss the energy of another body in the now deserted haberdashery. Men’s furnishings were so very droll. The hat her sister had sent was plopped on a stand, stabbed with a hatpin, and left to gather dust on the front counter. And Temperance returned to her book, this time having no choice but to actually read it.