Bibliotheca October 2022 – Magic: Community Through Dressing Weird
Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! This month’s theme for the Bay Area Kei Bibliotheca blog circle is “magic,” and my original plan was to talk about magical themes in lolita dresses and kimono that I own. I’m sure I’ll go down that path at some point (and I figured I could at least tantalize you with my Night Parade of 100 Demons dress above), but I wanted to talk about something else today so I hope you don’t mind! ❤
I have believed my whole life that clothes are magic, and wearing alternative fashion has only confirmed my initial hypothesis. When I was younger, they were a way to change who I was. I wanted to be braver, bolder, more interesting, more independent — and wearing alternative fashions (mostly Western Gothic styles) helped me transform into the person I hoped to become. Now that I am that person no matter what I’m wearing, I’ve found another magic to alternative fashion – connection.
I often wear lolita fashion for trips on our local ferry system. I wore this particular coordinate last month, and on the ride over it caught the attention of a couple out for a trip with their teenaged kids. We ended up talking for the entire ferry ride. He was also a martial artist, while she was fascinated by my clothes. Her son was really interested in Japan and I told him I studied Japanese in college and to follow his dreams. Her daughter loved our dogs and wanted to know all about greyhounds. Magic.
At the Japanese Gardens with my parents, I met several people who were drawn in by my purple and white kimono and hakama. I made friends with a GORGEOUS lady who was also wearing J-fashion, and we exchanged Discord handles. An older docent at the garden asked if I had just graduated (I told her I just passed my black belt test, which felt like graduation enough to me!), and told me how happy she was to see someone wearing hakama as just wearing kimono was more common. A kind pair of folks started talking to me while I waited in line for tickets, and they ended up taking some really nice pictures of me with my family for us. Magic.
I have been taking kimono dressing lessons from Sparrow Sensei for several months, and what prompted me initially to start was knowing that there would be a banquet at the Iaido seminar in October of this year. I wanted to be able to wear kimono properly, and Sparrow worked patiently with me to help me get a handle on the process. My Iaido Sensei’s wife event lent me her gorgeous obi! And there’s no other word for how the night went than “magical.” I had so many people come up to me to tell me stories of their mothers’ kimono, or their wife’s, or their own. I’m quite low-rank still so it can be hard for me to approach higher-ranked people, but my kimono broke down those barriers and allowed us to connect just as fellow humans. Magic.
No matter where I go I make connections with people thanks to wearing kimono, lolita, or historical fashion. The magic of beautiful and interesting clothes transcends culture, language, background, and rank. It makes little girls shout “She’s a princess!” and elderly ladies tell me how they love to see clothes from their childhood again. It’s made me friends from all over the world, and it’s even made this blog happen! So thank you for joining me on this magical journey, and I’ll see you next week here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤
Check out what other members of Bibliotheca had to say about this month’s topic!
Dear Gabriella Marie Helps You Dress Like a Magical Girl
Dearie Dawn Casts a J-Fashion Spell
Forestsandtea Discusses the Magic of Mori
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