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

Posts tagged “Victorian

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.


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


The Gravedigger’s Girl

Temperance moved through the graveyard towards the source of faint illumination settling silently near the two industrious figures. She, a girl not more than twenty, holding a soot-coated hurricane up high. He, a boy, perhaps a year or two older, shoveling dirt wildly over his shoulder in the dimly lit night. The two bickered as only a couple could, she complaining of her arm growing tired from her duty as chief illuminator, he, placating her with promises of riches.

Temperance, intrigued by the scene, could only remain quiet for so long before she broke their focus with a single comment. “Good place to hide the bodies,” she said cheerfully. The two gasped, their faces, drained of color, whipping toward the pale figure. Mouths agape, they stared for but a moment before the girl shrieked. The male, robbed like a grave of his voice, dropped his shovel and shot off into the night like his shoes were on fire. Temperance, greeted the couple’s terror with her own, releasing a mournful shriek into the dead of night before bolting for home like a wraith on All Hallow’s Eve.

The next day, Temperance ventured back to the scene of the horrifying encounter. There, on the ground, was proof that it had not been a figment. A lantern and hat lay in the dirt, abandoned by their owner in a fit of sheer terror. Temperance ‘tsked’ and rescued the items, eying an upset headstone toppled into a pile of disturbed earth. Clearly, their encounter had upset the person formerly at rest at the location. Chills ran down her spine and she made a quick departure.

She was not surprised when later in the week she heard frantic whispers ripple through town about a banshee that was spotted roaming the late evening hours. And though she wished to meet the young girl again to return her things, she certainly had no intention of disturbing any more of the dead. So instead, the items, layered with the grime of honest work, were displayed in the shop window alongside all of her other creations.

Gravedigger's Gasp


The Greatest Show

Summer was always a disappointment to Temperance. It lacked the romance of the holiday season and the weather was uncomfortably hot. In fact, though her least favorite season was not yet in full swing, her state of mind was such that the days were a blur of dust and irritation…. until the carnival came to town.

The women at church were scratching and clucking like hens in the yard about the carney folk and how they were a bunch of sinners; How Mr. Jackson Burne was made a mark the summer prior by just such a show and ended up stripped of both his wallet AND his dignity. From the liberal use of alcohol to the wanton women, one could be sure to find themselves nothing but trouble at the carnival. And that is why, Temperance thought, it was the most exciting and the most welcome breath of fresh air to come her way since Spring’s first blossoms.

Temperance stalked the circus during set-up. She crept like a wraith through the tents of red and gold, desperate to catch a glimpse of what “The Greatest Show” may hold. And while she saw hints of what was to come, nothing could prepare her for the extravaganza in its entirety. It was like trying to taste the cake with only egg and flour in the bowl.

Evening’s veil shrouded the dusty installment in it’s magic, concealing imperfections and lending brilliant contrast to the show. What was a dirty, faded, sleepy encampment in the light of day came alive at dusk and flourished into the night. The barker’s call beckoned folks, be they reluctant or excited through the tent city like pipers to mice.

And while the electric lights highlighted the spinning merry-go-round, and acrobats gave folks a taste of the wonders hidden just beyond pavilion flaps, not even the jovial tunes of the calliope could disguise the creeping sense of danger that grumbled in the gut of even the most naive souls.

It was as the Sunday hens had said. Sin was in the air. As people rushed past, men desperate to lose their wives in the crowd, children eager to crawl beneath a loose canvas wall perhaps to sneak a peak at the show that mother forbade father to see, Temperance breathed deep. She filled her lungs with the smell of roasting peanuts and drank in the soundscape that some would liken only to their worst dreams.

She did not partake of fairy floss nor did she linger long at the burning footlights of the stage. She merely moved through the circus as it bloomed wildly in the night, captive not to its manipulations, but captivated by its affect on the people of the town.

Temperance reveled in a sight more rare than the bearded lady or the siam twins. She watched as the ladies of the Women’s League, the same ones who rebuked the mere presence of carney trash in their town, gambled away their purses at the wheel of luck. She watched as men stood open-mouthed, hypnotized by exotic dancers dressed in little more than a clutch of lace and sparkle. And she saw the children sent round and round on the giant wheel while mother and father did boring adult things.

A hundred Sundays had not brought with them a fraction of such honesty. She felt her thin lips pressed into a perpetual smile as the scene swirled around her, for while the carney folk put on their masks, the town’s mask slipped away and, for Temperance, that was the greatest show.

Image