Stud me with (copper) barnacles and drape me in (silken) kelp
July 4, 2020 11:32 PM   Subscribe

Help me style myself / my wardrobe along these lines: selkie, sea witch, tidepool faerie.

Early 30s lady person here, hoping for help assembling magical outfits.

Thanks to the recent post on the blue about Elin Thomas's amazing crochet art, I have purchased this necklace.

It's so tickled me that I'm inspired to try to update my wardrobe to reflect a new idea of my style. It made me realize that I want a bit more of the wild and wonderful in my wardrobe, but in a way where (most of) the clothes are sturdy and comfortable and can be worn day to day.

It's not possible to try on clothes in my favorite stores right now. Can you please help inspire me with new ideas? I would love suggestions that help me build whole outfits! Also, if you know any good local shops to support in Seattle, I'd love that advice too, even if I have to shop them remotely.

The best words I can conjure to capture the feeling I’m going for are: sea witch, selkie, tidepool faerie. The necklace itself is inspired by lichens, but it reminds me very much of creatures I meet swimming and scuba diving the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and Canada. (Plus, lichens are awesome, because they're a community organism of fungi, algae and/or cyanobacterium.)

Colorways: I really like greens, blues, and grays, with some safety orange and neon yellow as highlights/accents.

Gender presentation: Sort of a mix of, I dunno, hard-femme + tomboy? Like, I usually wear my long hair up in a twisted bun with a squiggly brass hairpin. I like work boots, knives, dresses, and skirts. I tend to wear those nice dresses out with a more masculine/workwear-styled Patagonia denim jacket, and a delicate but unusual necklace made of different rocks and sand from the Great Lakes captured in round pendants. I don't usually wear makeup, it won't stay on my face.

Size: I’m going to be at least an L, probably an XL. Clothes that wear weight fluctuations well are much appreciated as I am currently losing weight I gained due to an injury.

Time period: I like the distant sci-fi future way more than the 1950s, and I also like fusing that future aesthetic with natural materials literally or figuratively -- stone, wool, leather, ecological systems, the microbial world. Like, my sci-fi future isn't sleek stainless steel, it's oystertecture for coastline protection, it's partnering with microbes to build houses and plumbing systems. To me, this feels totally compatible with the feeling of sea-faerie magic/animism described above.

Texture: Wool, leather, stone, cotton, bamboo, fake polar bear fur, knits, metal, wood, silk, netting, ceramic, soft, quilted, drapey, bumpy, squishy, airy. I particularly need some light stuff for summer (aka temps above 60 F when it becomes difficult for me to dress entirely in tights and wool sweaters).

Clothes I wear:
Dresses — I usually prefer fitted/curvy/flattering through the bust and waist, flaring or swinging nicely below the waist (no butt-hugging). I would love recommendations for a few easy-comfy-soft-stretchy AND flattering dresses to put on (deck change) after open water swimming or scuba diving.
Skirts — some amount of butt-hugging is acceptable (but at all not required) for skirts if they’re made of a substantial, non-revealing material
Shirts, blouses, ??? - Open to ideas. Summer weight = good.
Shoes — I like boots, I have plenty of boot options. (I also have a pair of dusky purple heels that I love, but they're basically impossible to wear after serious ankle fracture.) I would like to add some non-boot flats to my repertoire. Bonus if they're classy/pretty, come in awesome colors compatible with my aesthetic, AND robust to heavy use / divers(e) environments.
Pants — are complicated for me. They don't handle weight fluctuations well. They aggravate my acid reflux. They don't feel flattering. Feel free to recommend some awesome pants that will change my mind! For example, I would love a pair of culottes that act like a skirt, or a similar romper, but I haven’t found anything in my size. Clothing that is Seattle summer appropriate = good.
Jewelry — I have a lovely bracelet made of smooth broad metal pieces in silver and brass colors hooked onto many thin round black leather bands. It smells good, and reminds me both of cup fungi and of glittering northern snow under moonshine, so basically the perfect piece of jewelry. This is the kind of thing I'm interested in.
posted by cnidaria to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: oh i dig dig dig this and want to hang out purely based on your question, but please be warned, my answers are DIY focused unless i emigrate to the USA and setup a studio dedicated to your vision

i previously had a silk & cotton dark grey dress which invited itself to be wrapped in interesting ways until i destroyed it with bleach. it worked beautifully in summer as a wafty number and as a more structured pinafore layer in cooler weather. great with boots and sandals. if you can sew, Named Patterns Kielo dress is the closest approximation i have found. ( ignore the model photo, this works so well for all body shapes as evidenced by my pregnancy and postpartum roundness). super simple to sew and there are mods for adding sleeves. i think it would be a great core element of your sea witch wardrobe given the right fabric. it works in both jersey and woven fabrics.

a drapey handknit cardigan out of a very fine yarn in a green grey painted yarn which would layer between the simple dress and denim jacket. Hedgehog Fibres Nutmeg colourway would be good with hints of Kelp and Ferrum. You will probably find a pattern amongst Stephen West‘s designs eg. Marled Madness.

for more practical days (beachcombing, wooden boat maintenance and protective spellcasting) the seawitch may want to wear an overdyed Breton shirt which looks like it has lain in a rockpool for several weeks and is no longer white and navy stripes, but murky grey and greenblue.

a rain slicker / coat out of oilskin feels like it has a place in this mix, you might want to see what drizabone (australia) has but that might lean too brown

I think that COS might be a good place to look for the appropriate trousers and cuts for a lot of things . These feel appropriate for wading in rockpools and there is also a pair of culottes that might suit but i can’t guarantee that the COS sizing would work (they do run large)

would related books be out of place peeking out of your artfully slung crochet net stringbag? Eat Like A Fish by Bren Smith and The Scar by China Mieville are what i immediately thought of as I read your question.

For shoes, the All Birds Elephant Grass merino sneaker might provide the appropriate bright green / yellow accent and a flat shoe.
posted by pipstar at 8:17 AM on July 5, 2020 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Practical concerns: I can knit but am still learning, I've never done a sweater or something that needs to be well-fitted. I don't know how to sew but could learn! Crochet is on my list.

Thank you for all these suggestions! Excitedly working through them.
posted by cnidaria at 8:27 AM on July 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Take a look at the daily faeshion community on Facebook.
posted by azalea_chant at 8:27 AM on July 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Uh, hi, if you ever are in Seattle and want to hang out, let me know, because this is amazing?? (Also, wow, we have...very similar styles!) ANYWAY.

As you get more confident in knitting, I'm currently making this cardigan, and it's proving to be lovely and drapey and soft. I'm making it in white, but in a greeny-bluey sea-colour especially, I could see it working.

Sea silk yarn is light enough that you could do lacy things for summer.

I have a dress from Thief and Bandit, and really want to get more of their pieces; they're incredibly comfy and fit well and the prints are beautifully witchy, including sea-witchy.

I tend to keep an eye on Title Nine; don't let the same-y femme models fool you! I've found their dresses in particular meet my hard-femme/forest witch lewk requirements, while wearing like iron and easy to wear on hikes, kayaking, whatever. They don't have the most amazing size ranges, but you can get an idea of other brands you might like. I wear a roughly size 16 US, and rarely hit the top of their size range, for what it's worth.
posted by kalimac at 10:00 AM on July 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

The guy who bagged my groceries had beautiful teal accents in his hair, definite seawitch vibe. I am trying to talk myself into cobalt blue streaks. Many hair colors are temporary.

Faerie Magazine on fb is enjoyable, published by Enchanted Living. The acrylic bracelets appeal.

Google seaweed scarf to go with your beautiful necklace or coral necklace.

Pinterest is ideal for this. if you make a couple boards of things you like, it will feed you more and more, which makes it a tremendous time sink, but it can really help you find a look. Sponsored posts are far less accurate, but some good sites will bubble up.
posted by theora55 at 10:20 AM on July 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I love this question so much. Everyone in here sounds like so much fun.

I really like shoes that are comfortable, hard-wearing, and work in a lot of contexts -- like beach, restaurant, etc. Believe it or not, Crocs makes awesome women's sandals. I have the Sexi Flip. I once wore them to a wedding, then into a muddy outdoor reception, back to the hotel and into the shower, and then straight into the hot tub. I didin't take them off that whole time. That is versitility. They're made of a stretchy material so they stay on your feet even if you swim with them, which could be convenient for a sea witch.

Also, Jambu and Keens have sandals that transition well between the land and the sea. The keen's sandal I linked kind of looks like a sea star on your foot and is super comfortable.
posted by selfmedicating at 10:35 AM on July 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have a friend whose style could be described as sea witch, and she has lots of clothes from Blue Sky Clothing. The owner started it in small town British Columbia and now has a few stores throughout the province, as well as an online shop. The company’s values are supporting communities and engaging in fair trade, making clothing to fit a large range of sizes (XXS to XXXXL), and using natural, environmentally friendly materials.

I think this skirt would suit your purposes—it’s flowy and the bottom looks like plant or seaweed fronds. This dress looks comfortable and comes in an ocean colour. This one seems perfect! It is out of stock in your size at the moment, but you could ask them to contact you when it’s back in stock.

You can also search their site by colour as well as by clothing type, which is cool. There’s a turquoise/blue category, as well as brown, and khaki/green.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:42 AM on July 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

I just want you to know that this is so much fun to me that I am relaxing by looking at some of my fave stores to give you ideas!!! further comment to come!
posted by fairlynearlyready at 10:59 AM on July 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

The Japanese fashion subculture for this (because of course there is one) is hama kei. Might be worth a google for ideas. Dark mori kei might also be relevant.
posted by corvine at 12:03 PM on July 5, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Hair inspo

I’m thinking like a dusty mauve brown with copper balayage and some frothy babylights and tiny opal hair clips.
posted by kapers at 1:29 PM on July 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What a fun question! You might check out Prairie Underground and see if anything strikes your fancy there. I could see this dress working with your style, though it may not be fitted enough.

They’re based in Seattle, and I believe they have a sample sale coming up this week, too. The pieces that I have are well made and work well for Seattle’s climate. I’ve been wearing this cardigan/wrap non stop since I got it a few months ago.
posted by Maeve at 2:05 PM on July 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Each and every answer so far is delightful, thank you all so much!
posted by cnidaria at 2:38 PM on July 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

There is a store in Eugene OR called "Folkways" that I think would be up your alley... I don't think they have a website but I know one brand they carry is which strikes me as kind of your vibe.

I also frequent a lot. They have a weird assortment of steampunk, renfaire, etc type stuff but at least some of it also seems you.
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:52 PM on July 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I had overalls once in handwoven-texture drapey linen, loose all the way down, not trying to enforce a waistline. Pockets all over. I’ve been looking for replacements since they wore out! If you want a pants option.
posted by clew at 8:05 PM on July 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I love my CowCow dress for changing after swimming or paddling, it's stretchy bathing suit fabric so ok getting wet or damp, but looks like a pretty normal garment. they come in many sizes and one million patterns- including some that are definitely mermaid inspired. many of the patterns are really bold/out there but there are some more low key ones that you can find. they're also super cheap but mine barely looks worn after 3-4 years of abuse
One caveat:pretty sure only available through amazon :(
posted by genmonster at 6:31 AM on July 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: okay, i know that this took a long time because i accidentally deleted this comment when i tried to make it the first time after i had typed it all but before i posted! but here are the things i found for you, this was really fun! i don't know any stores that are local to seattle, so i did a couple things from etsy and the rest are from local portland stores that i like!

ocean dress for summer

deep sea dress

squiggly earrings that remind me of seaweed

awesome seahorse hoodie

marine whale underpants!

cute casual dress in an oceany color

pretty coral shoes from rothys - they make their shoes from recycled plastic water bottles! save the ocean!

really beautiful grey linen dress

beautiful sea jasper pendant

brittle star fossil pendant

triple turquoise ring

blue velvet cowl

cashmere fingerless mittens in blue tones

beautiful seafoam wrap dress

this dress is beautiful and light and airy

aqua spear earrings

and for fun, sea salt surf roll on perfume
posted by fairlynearlyready at 12:43 PM on July 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Just found this question through the metatalk.

I will recommend this yarn because it is literally made from the sea.

Sea Silk by Hand Maiden Fine Yarn. It is 70% Silk and 30% Sea is 30% kelp. And silk. Silken Kelp. (Here is the ravelry search results for all yarns containing the words Sea and Cell in their names and/or descriptions.

It is a bit slippery, so you will want to go slow. It is also not an inexpensive yarn, but let me tell you, it is so nice to handle. If you are willing to order from a person who already owns the yarn and is interested in selling, you can find some discounted here in the stashes section on ravelry.

Whether you decide to invest in this yarn, a "feather and fan" pattern would make a wonderful cowl, which I recommend over scarves because
1. they take less time
2. they take less yardage
3. changes in gauge tend to be more easily absorbed in a cowl
4. their faster completion time means less gauge changing in general
5. you get a quick mastery of knitting in the round in a relatively low stakes project

Here are several cowl patterns on ravelry with "feather and fan" in "">their name or description. Some will be available for free on ravelry or elsewhere, others are in print either as stand alone patterns or in books, some you can purchase on ravelry or outside sites.
posted by bilabial at 11:37 PM on December 30, 2020

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