As some of you may be aware, October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. While College Fashion is primarily a fashion blog, we’re also more than that – we strive to create inspirational and relatable material to expand your knowledge and give you, our readers, a place to feel comfortable and safe. With that in mind, it’s time for some real talk about domestic violence.
Domestic violence is an issue that hits close to home for me. Since joining CF as a nail art columnist, I’ve encountered a nagging voice in the back of my head urging me to step aside from my usual column and write about this serious and – unfortunately – common situation. After all, I experienced it myself.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women will encounter some form of domestic abuse, while 1 in 4 men will experience the same. To many, domestic violence is automatically associated with physical abuse, but the fact of the matter is that abuse is abuse, and can come in many ugly forms, such as emotional, financial, and sexual abuse, just to name a few.
So today, in the hopes that I can help even one person feel less alone, I want to share my own experience with domestic violence.
Emotional Abuse: My Story
(*Warning: The following may be triggering*)
My story of emotional abuse ends in a way that many stories unfortunately don’t – with me getting out. The sad fact is, many victims aren’t so fortunate.
To begin, I was in a relationship with someone I had known for six whole years. Six years of constant communication and friendship with someone I believed I had connected with on every level. And then one day, everything just snapped. I discovered he had cheated on me numerous times while we’d been living together, and after months of unnecessary grief and anxiety, I finally understood that there was nothing left to fix. So I ended it. But he didn’t see that line of thinking.
Due to financial instability, I was forced to continue to live with him, and with that came a side of him that I never could have imagined. Because I had begun to pull away, he began to fight, using anything he could to keep me there. He would guilt me every chance he could, saying that I was becoming a different person, that I was abandoning him, that I was weak and pathetic. Anger and jealously would overflow and cause him to scream and yell at me, yet as soon as he would see I wasn’t falling for it, he’d begin to talk about hurting himself because I didn’t care, causing me to comfort him. Whenever his anger didn’t work, he’d switch to a different method to keep me under his control. The more I pointed out his tactics, the more he would try to disillusion me and claim that I was crazy, that it was all in my head, when not more than five minutes before, he had been calling me obscene names.
For months, I became increasingly brainwashed by his actions. Day after day, I would allow him to yell, to make me feel small, to make me feel as if I wasn’t even a person anymore. All his manipulation made me into a shell of my former self, and made me believe that everything that had happened was my fault. And so I stayed with him. Even though we had broken up, I let the “relationship” continue.
It wasn’t until a friend stepped in, and pointed out that everything he had done was abusive, that things finally turned around. At first, I shot down the idea. “No, this isn’t an abusive relationship,” I would think to myself. “He’s just upset.” I would make excuses for him, until it finally dawned on me that his words and actions were, in fact, abusive.
And with that truth, I learned to stick up for myself. I no longer allowed him the satisfaction of control, and instead I started to build my self-confidence back up so that he was unable to knock me down again. His anger grew as he realized his control was slipping, causing him to sink to attempts at scaring me. He would punch walls, kick over chairs, and block the door whenever I tried to leave, and even threatened suicide if I left. But no matter how difficult things became, the thought of finally being able to escape kept me going.
After an entire year of manipulation, lies, guilt, and verbal attacks, I was finally able to leave.
Yet, if I hadn’t been aware of emotional abuse, I don’t know where I would be now. Forms of abuse like this are easily overlooked and difficult to recognize, which is why I wanted to share what I went through to promote better understanding of what to look out for.
As stated by HelpGuide.Org’s article on domestic abuse,
“Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you.”
Abusers will do absolutely anything and everything to keep control, no matter what. Recognition is the first step towards ridding yourself of a poisonous domestic relationship, and although it may take time and hard work, always understand that you can do it. Don’t ever believe that you are in it alone. Whether it be friends, family, hotlines, or websites, there is always someone there who will listen and who will help.
How to Seek Help for Domestic Abuse
If you think you are in an abusive relationship, or know someone who might be and want to know more about signs and how to handle it, The National Domestic Violence Hotline has a great site dedicated to all forms of abuse and how to get help. Also, here’s a great PDF from the American Psychological Association targeted towards high school and college students. Remember, there’s always a way out.
Help Raise Awareness for Domestic Abuse
In addition, the NNEDV is sponsoring events all throughout the rest of October. Tomorrow, October 23rd, is #PurpleThursday – to participate, wear purple tomorrow and share a photo or update on social media to raise awareness. They also accept donations, and every cent helps.
Have you or someone you know been affected by domestic violence? Have you successfully ended an abusive relationship? Do you think domestic violence awareness deserves more coverage? (We do.) Do you have any questions about my experience or how to leave an abusive situation?
This is a safe space – we’d love to hear from you in hopes we can inspire others to seek help. (Feel free to comment under a fake name if you want.) Leave a comment below and let’s discuss.
Welcome to the latest edition of Looks from Books, which aims to prove that you can look smart, while still being book-smart, too. Fashion inspiration can be found between the pages of your favorite stories, on well-designed book covers, and in your favorite characters… if you read closely enough.
This week, we’re taking inspiration from an appropriately thrilling tale to herald the arrival of Halloween… and the Headless Horseman! Here’s Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow:
Cover via Amazon
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is an iconic American short story written by Washington Irving and published in 1820.
The story is set in a Dutch settlement in 1790 New York, in the secluded village of Sleepy Hollow, where schoolmaster Ichabod Crane pines after the lovely Katrina von Tassel.
After a harvest celebration, where scary stories were told, his competition for fair Katrina’s heart, Brom Bones, along with other members of the town, preface the superstitious suitor’s encounter with the local spirit, The Headless Horseman, while riding home.
The ghost of a Hessian soldier separated from his head, The Horseman chases Ichabod through the woods, racing for safe passage over the bridge the legendary phantom is unable to cross. However, the story ends with the townspeople baffled by Ichabod’s unheralded disappearance, with only a smashed pumpkin lying on the road next to his deserted hat, left behind from his flight through the forest.
The story is widely considered as one of the most enduringly popular American short stories ever written. Hundreds of adaptations and allusions made to the classic tale permeate popular culture, as well as the general cultural practice of Halloween itself. The real-life town of Sleepy Hollow, New York celebrates the legacy of the “Legend” with a yearly historic celebration… and its local high school football team name? The Horsemen!
A Fashionable Literacy
A promotional photo for the second season of Sleepy Hollow on Fox || Photo via IMDB
With a legacy spanning across multiple forms of media, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” might be most recognized via such adaptations as Tim Burton’s 1997 take on the tale, Sleepy Hollow, which starred Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci, or even Disney’s 1949 musical short, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (which brought about the Bing Crosby hit, “The Headless Horseman”!).
The most recently popularized adaptation of the short story is Fox’s Sleepy Hollow television series, which premiered in 2013. Subverting the traditional ghost story through the lens of the Biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – with the Headless Horseman also serving as the Horseman of Death, and Ichabod Crane as one of the two Witnesses sent to destroy him – Sleepy Hollow was renewed for its second season after only three episodes had aired. Starring Tom Mison as Ichabod, and Nicole Beharie as his co-Witness and partner in defending the town, Police Lieutenant Abigail Mills, the series remains generally well-received by critics and viewers alike.
How to Add Sleepy Hollow to Your Wardrobe
By integrating key elements from the short story into your own wardrobe, you, too, can have a look just as fit for the fall weather as this Halloween-y hit. Just make for the bridge, with all your might!
The classic tale is just one of many fall favorites that crop up this time every year. From pumpkin patches and apple orchards to hay rides or just watching the leaves crunching underneath your feet on campus, college women everywhere love to celebrate the season. The people of Sleepy Hollow celebrated their own harvest festival in the short story, so why shouldn’t you go out and have some fall fun yourself?
Channel the seasonal vibe of the short story into your own look by crafting the perfect fall outfit from some unabashed seasonal favorites. Tall brown boots, thick thigh-high socks, a denim jacket, and a cozy infinity scarf are standards for any college-aged woman around this time of year, but a graphic animal sweater, plaid wrap skirt, vintage-looking jewelry, and multichrome nail polish are updated versions of old standbys.
Isn’t it Romanticism?
One of many reasons for the enduring legacy of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” is its status as an early demonstration of the Romanticism movement in US Literature. Alongside works like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, or the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Romanticism was a rally against the growing Rationalization movements of the time, and celebrated elements of literature – emotional thought, the beauty and impact of nature, and the presence of supernatural forces – as well as boasted the Gothic literary movement as under its umbrella.
Channel the Romanticism movement by bringing those same elements of the literature style into your outfit with elements like intricate lacework, flowy fabrics, and bright ornamentation. Chiffon is a flowy, beautiful fabric, but is a little hard to wear by itself in the fall, so layer up this moody wine-colored shift with black lace tights and a black lace open jacket. Nature comes into play with a gold leaf necklace and headband, while the outfit gets a little more grounded with tall booties and set of mixed media bangles.
This article would be entirely remiss if I neglected to focus on the true star of this short story, and one of the most iconic villains in American literature: the Headless Horseman! This dark rider has had many incarnations through the ages – even beyond Sleepy Hollow! – and has been found in traditional tales since around the Middle Ages. Cropping up in various facets of European folklore, like the Irish “dullahan” and even tales from the Brothers Grimm, the fearsome figure of a horseman who rode carrying his own head has made its rounds.
Channel the Headless Horseman into your own easily-wearable look with all-black basics and fashionable takes on riding gear. Tall black riding boots, skinny dark-rinse jeans, and a long black coat, are all fall basics in the Horseman’s signature hue, while a plaid shirt layered under a graphic horse sweatshirt brings a bit of the legend to the real world. A gold saddle bracelet cements that status and a glaring gash of red, in the form of a long-staying lip gloss, brings a highlight to your face… even though the Horseman wouldn’t have had one!
What Do You Think?
Have you ever read “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow?” What’s your favorite ghost story? Are you excited for Halloween? What do you think of the outfits and styling tips? Let me know in the comments below!
L-R: Ping, Mulan, Arwen. It should be noted that all of these took a lot longer than a weekend to make!
Here at College Fashion, we’re big fans of Halloween. And here at the Geek Chic column, we (and by “we” I mean “I”) are maniacal fans of Halloween, for one reason and one reason only: costumes. Okay, the candy’s pretty cool too, I suppose.
This past weekend, I embarked on a quest…journey…thing to see how many budget-friendly costumes I could come up with in the span of two days. The purpose? Well, besides my desire to test the limits of my sanity, I also wanted to show you guys examples of costumes that can be assembled both inexpensively and quickly. (I also just really wanted to make a bunch of costumes.)
Professors always seem to have the sadistic habit of scheduling midterms right around Halloween, so I know your time is precious! If you have anywhere from a couple of minutes to a few hours free this weekend, though, it’s definitely not too late to put together an awesome costume.
The Field Work
I visited several locations to find materials for the costumes below. Since I was on a mission to keep it crafty and to keep it cheap, I had to force myself to think outside the box and to not be too attached to specific details.
Since some of the costumes require permanent alterations to clothing, I relied on thrift stores as a source of inexpensive clothing that I wouldn’t feel guilty cutting up or painting on. Check out your local Goodwill or Salvation Army!
I also hit up The Garment District, a vintage department store/costume shop, in Cambridge, MA. They have a section called By The Pound there, which is basically huge mounds of clothing and accessories dumped on the floor of the store. You put all items you want in a plastic bag and they charge you $1.50 per pound. Most of the clothing I used came from By The Pound, which helped to keep costs down despite making 8 different costumes.
Note to those in the Boston area: the By the Pound section of the Garment District is unfortunately temporarily closed until after Halloween. However, it’s still a super spot to find costumes and costume components!
While I’m clearly in favor of homemade costumes, party stores can be a great resource for costume accessories that might be difficult to find and/or make, such as hats or props like swords and fans.
Tar-jay carries a ton of random yet adorable holiday products, like stick on mustaches and animal ears of all kinds. Check out their dollar bins for inspiration!
Art Stores/Craft Stores:
Oh, how I wish there were a Michael’s or other chain craft store near me! While Blick’s and other art supply stores are a decent resource, their products are more geared towards actual artists and art students, not towards crafters or DIY-ers.
Raid your closet to see what costumes hide within! The Team Rocket, Nerd Herd, and Tower of Terror costumes below were all inspired by my closet, and not the other way around. Also, as you’ll see below, my grocery/shopping bag hoarding habit sure comes in handy this time of year!
For many of the costumes below, you’ll need basic crafting supplies, such as scissors, tape, a stapler, a hot glue gun, needle and thread, and some sort of writing utensil. You likely have all of these on hand, with the possible exception of a glue gun – see if you can borrow one from a friend. If not, they’re pretty inexpensive… ~$5 or so for a mini one.
The Cast of Characters
1. Jessie from Team Rocket (<10 minutes)
- Red felt: 50 cents, Blick’s
- White jacket, black cami, white skirt, over-the-knee boots, gloves: from my closet
- Other materials used: safety pins, scissors
- Total: $0.50
Okay, first things first: I was clearly never meant to smolder or smize or smirk. This was my very best attempt at a villain-esque glare and it looks like I just smelled something awful. But I’ve put it here on the Internet for posterity because that’s what Halloween is all about: you get to be someone you are totally not and you will have fun doing it!
This Team Rocket outfit pays homage to our favorite bumbling villains from Pokémon. Since I didn’t have a white blouse that I was willing to permanently alter, I used a cropped motorcycle jacket instead. What really makes the look recognizable is the big red “R” (cut from felt and safety-pinned on) and the miniskirt paired with over the knee boots. I substituted my winter gloves for Jessie’s opera length ones, but I feel like it still gets the idea across.
- To be more true to the actual Team Rocket outfit, cut off the bottom half of a white T-shirt and pin or glue on the red “R”. Next, make a vertical cut up the front.
- Add a red rose for greater recognition factor, as well as a James (and a Meowth!)
2. Science Pun, Anyone? (<10 minutes)
- Dog ears: $2, Target
- Sweater, jeans: from my closet
- Other materials used: brown felt for nose, medical tape, Starbucks cup, cardboard, marker
- Total: $2
For those of you who appreciate a punny costume, this one couldn’t be easier! (Get it? I’m a basic b—-.)Plus it’s a science joke, which makes it 72.65 times better (a scientifically proven statistic, of course.)
All you need are a pair of dog ears – make your own by gluing felt or craft foam to a plain headband – and a nose. I used a little piece of medical tape to affix it, but you can also just draw on a nose and maybe whiskers with eyeliner.
Last but not least, make yourself a sign to show that you’re definitely not acidic. You can punch holes on the top and tie on some string so you can wear it as a necklace instead of carrying it.
3. Buy More Nerd Herder from Chuck (15 minutes)
- Buy More ID: 12 cents to print at school library
- Tie: 50 cents, Garment District
- White collared shirt, black skirt, heels: from my closet
- ID holder: borrowed from work
- Other materials used: photo editing program (I used Gimp), cardboard, gluestick
- Total: $0.72
If you’re a fan of Chuck, this is a super-quick costume to assemble! All you need to do is to put your picture on a Buy More ID! (Full disclosure: I forgot my library print card at home so the “ID” in the picture is a hastily hand-drawn one.) If you do print one out, it may help if you glue it to a piece of thin cardboard so it’s not flimsy.
The rest of the Nerd Herd ensemble is easy: a short-sleeved collared shirt, a black skirt or pants, a gray tie, and shoes of your choice! I went more for the GRETA look, but you can personalize it however you like.
4. Misty from Pokémon (20 minutes)
- Yellow tank top: $3.50, Goodwill
- Jeans: $5, Goodwill
- Suspenders: $9 (I used a $5 off coupon, so $4), Garment District
- Backpack, sneakers: from my closet
- Other materials used: scissors, needle, thread
- Total: $12.50
Take a cue from one of the most beloved shows of our childhood and dress up as Misty, everybody’s favorite Water Trainer! This is a super-simple outfit to put together: the yellow crop top, red suspenders, and denim cutoffs combination is very recognizable, so you don’t need to worry too much about the other details.
I’m assuming you all know how to make denim cutoffs – just remember: always cut off less than you think you need. It’s easy to cut more, but it’s a lot harder to put the fabric back on! All you need to finish the outfit is a side ponytail and a pair of sneakers. Psyduck optional.
Suggestion: If you can’t find red suspenders or just don’t want to buy a pair, you can tie red ribbon to the belt loops of your shorts instead.
5. Tower of Terror Bellhop (~1 hour)
- Gray makeup: $2, Garment District
- Maroon tablecloth: $2, Party City
- Gold tissue paper: $2, Target
- Shopping bags: free
- Maroon blazer, white shirt, maroon trousers, black oxfords: from my closet
- Other materials used: glue gun, scissors, black ribbon, black elastic, stapler, circular object to trace, black eyeshadow
- Total: $6
If you’ve ever been on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction at any of the Disney parks, you may have seen these ghoulish fellows lurking about the Hollywood Tower Hotel! I’m a big fan of both the Twilight Zone and of the park attraction, so I decided to pay homage to the castmembers who run the ride. (More importantly, I own a maroon blazer and a pair of maroon pants!)
I forgot to take a “before” picture of the materials I used and had to strategically place everything so the gaping holes in the Madewell bag wouldn’t show. Refolding the tablecloth was also a pain in the butt!
To make the cap, I modified these instructions for a pillbox hat. I followed steps 1-5 (no sewing machine needed!) and then step 7. To attach the hat, I stapled a piece of black elastic to the opposite sides of the hat’s interior. Since I had no cereal boxes on hand, I cut up a Madewell shopping bag. I also used a plastic tablecloth in lieu of fabric since it was the cheapest maroon-colored material I could find. The gold trim is tissue paper and the black trim is the ribbon handle from a Banana Republic shopping bag.
To finish off the look, I applied gray makeup to my face and then used my fingers to smudge black eyeshadow under my eyes and cheekbones. I also darkened my eyebrows and lips for an extra-undead look.
6. Dancing Groot (<1 hour)
- Tan turtleneck: $3, Goodwill
- Trader Joe’s bags: free
- Pants, boots: from my closet
- Other materials used: permanent markers (brown and black), c0lored pencil, stapler, scissors, index card, measuring tape
- Total: $3
Ah, everybody’s favorite character from this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Groot! Specifically, adorable dancing Groot from the end of the movie. If you wear it to a party, make sure to request “I Want You Back” and get your groove on! Or should I say… “Groot on!” (Cue groaning at awful pun.)
This costume is easy to put together and is guaranteed to put a smile on your friends’ faces. Plus, it’s super comfortable! One caveat though: you won’t be able to wear it in the rain.
To make the tree trunk, I drew “bark” onto a tan turtleneck using a brown Sharpie. I tried to imitate the twisting tendrils on Groot’s body and continued drawing the lines onto the sleeves. Don’t forget to do the back!
To make Groot’s head, I cut a Trader Joe’s grocery bag apart. Next, I measured my head to see how long of a piece I would need. (You can just use a piece of string to do this if you don’t have a measuring tape. I added two inches to the measurement so there would be some overlap.
Next, I sketched and cut out the branches. Make sure to draw on the “wrong” side of the paper so there won’t be visible pen marks. Before stapling the ends together, I drew Groot’s face in marker and added some “wooden” detailing with a colored pencil. Once it’s all done, staple it together, make sure it fits, and you’re good to go! (Groot to go?)
Oh baby give me one more chance! Won’t you please let meeee back in your heart?
7. Elsa from Frozen (3+ hours)
- Teal T-shirt, maxi dress, light blue long-sleeved shirt: ~$3, Garment District
- Scarf: from my closet
- Glitter: $4
- Other materials: needle, thread, scissors, straight pins, Mod Podge
- Total: $7
Okay, so maybe this is going to be a totally over-done costume this year, or maybe I’ve overestimated its popularity because I gauge the public’s interest in Frozen through Buzzfeed and the kids I work with, but I’m just happy to pretend that I’m the Queen of Arendelle.
This project takes more time and effort than the previous entries because it does require some sewing.
Below are the raw materials I started out with. The t-shirt became the bodice, the maxi dress became the skirt, and the long-sleeved shirt became the sleeves and upper bodice.
I didn’t take pictures during this process because a) my room was a mess of pins and scrap material b) the material you start out with is likely to be different from mine and thus the process may be completely different, and c) I plain ol’ forgot. Basically, though, it boiled down to:
- Cutting the top part off of the maxi dress to make it into a skirt.
- Cutting off the sleeves and neck of the T-shirt, cutting the hem into a pointed shape, cutting a sweetheart neckline, then taking it in to make it fit better
- Removing the lower portion of the long-sleeved shirt (below the seam at the bust)
- Sewing the T-shirt fabric to the long-sleeved shirt
If you do plan on making the costume this way, I’d recommend looking for knit fabrics instead of wovens. For one, a stretchy fabric means that you don’t have to tailor the garment perfectly. Also, knit fabric won’t unravel the way a woven will, so you can get away without hemming anything.
No Sew Method:
If you don’t want to/don’t feel like sewing or you don’t know how, you can also make this costume with a long-sleeved, pale blue shirt, and a maxi dress in a darker blue color. Just wear the maxi dress over the shirt! A tank top + maxi skirt combination would also work. Honestly, as long as you’re in a long blue dress, have a side braid, and sing “Let It Go” at the top of your lungs, people will totally get it.
- Although I included glitter in the total price for this outfit, I didn’t have the time to glitz up the dress within my two day deadline. I’m thinking about wearing this to work on Halloween (I work in the Pediatrics department at a hospital, so I’m hoping it’ll be well-received!), so I will be adding the glitter before then. To do so, I plan on mixing Mod Podge with glitter and applying it to the bodice with a paintbrush. While the dress will no longer be washable, it’ll be sparkly, and everybody knows that sparkly is better.
- If you’re not a blonde, a wig will help to really complete the look. I considered powdering my hair with baby powder, but as I discovered (see below), that’s much easier said than done.
8. Anna from Frozen (3+ hours)
I dunno if any of you noticed, but I got all of the hairstyles flipped! Misty’s ponytail, Elsa’s braid, and Anna’s white streak are all on the opposite side from what I did. D’oh!
- Blue nightgown, black v-neck tee, dark blue blanket, pink coat: ~$5, Garment District
- Acrylic paint (green, pink, gold, purple): $7
- Boots: from my closet
- Other materials: needle, thread, paintbrush, scissors, baby powder (for Anna’s white streak)
- Total: $12
Apologies for the multiple representations of fandoms here. I just really like Pokémon and Frozen! You can’t blame a girl for getting excited though: this is literally the first time in forever that I’ve gotten to dress up as Princess Anna!
Since I couldn’t find a blue skirt, I made one out of some blue flannel fabric. However, that’s pretty much all the sewing that the costume required! All you need to do is to layer a turquoise blouse or dress under a dark blue midi skirt. For the bodice, I cut the sleeves off of a black V-neck and cut the hem into a pointed shape.
Left: the clothing I used to make the costume | Right: Painting the bodice!
I couldn’t find fabric puffy paint at the nearby art store, so I used acrylic paint instead to paint the gold trim and floral pattern. It took several coats of paint because the fabric kept absorbing the paint and because the background was so dark. Make sure to put a piece of cardboard inside the shirt so the paint doesn’t bleed through to the other side!
No sewing required for the cape: cut a large half-circle out of magenta or hot-pink fabric, then cut out a smaller half-circle from the flat part. (Imagine a donut cut in half). The smaller half-circle is for your neck. Then just safety pin it shut!
To mimic Anna’s icy streak of hair, I poured small amounts of baby powder into my hand and smoothed it on with my fingers. To be honest, this didn’t work particularly well (can you even make it out in the picture?) and I didn’t enjoy the constant cloud of baby powder scent. If you’re dedicated to this particular detail, a clip-in extension may work better.
What did you think?
Thanks for sticking with me throughout this ridiculously long article! Would you wear/make these costumes? Do you like to make your own Halloween costumes? What are you dressing up as this year? Any suggestions for other DIY costumes? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. Which costume should I wear to work: Anna or Elsa?