Pretty, not Punk

The best of the "worst" at the Met Ball

The annual Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Benefit Gala tends to be the one place celebrities experiment with their fashion choices. Of course, this means the press’s worst-dressed lists are twice as long as best-dressed ones. But they’re SO wrong. Sure, pretty much no one stuck to the night’s “Art Punk: Chaos to Couture” theme, and in their failed attempts and pure disregard for it, the collective group of attendees managed to pull together one of the most lackluster, all-over-the-place set of gowns I’ve seen in a while. But luckily some people had the good sense (and you might be surprised who) to embrace the experience and show some life with their choices. In the end these controversial pieces made our best-dressed list.

1 // Kim Kardashian, Ricardo Tisci for Givenchy

When I first saw this dress on Monday night I thought it was awful, but I couldn’t really look away. The dress’s built-in gloves and peony floral print put me into an optical illusion-type daze from which I somehow emerged a fan (okay, it also took a little cajoling from some fellow Wornettes who pointed out that this may just be the best thing Kardashian has ever worn). It breaks all the so-called rules of wearing prints or dressing during pregnancy. It’s adventurous and sophisticated and hugs every-last curve. Kanye West was heard singing, “Let nobody bring you down, you’re so awesome” to Kardashian during his performance at the event and I couldn’t agree more. By not letting her pregnancy dictate her style, she’s suddenly become a role model for us all.

2 // Katy Perry, Dolce and Gabbanna

Over-the-top accessories aside, Perry managed to dress up without over doing it in this Fall 2013 beaded and sequined dress. It shines and sparkles with religious glory and makes a canvas out of Perry’s form. She’s known for her theatrical costumes, so the unconventional choice doesn’t surprise me, but just how much I love it kind of does. Maybe it’s my pleasant memories of gleaming mosaics in Venice’s San Marco Cathedral (the designers were inspired by the walls of Sicily’s Catedral de Monreale). Or maybe it’s the teased curls, pale skin, and burgundy lips that are just dramatic enough to stand up against the dress while inspiring images of a castle-dwelling renaissance woman. Either way, she looks like the kind of sparkly religious idol you’d gladly take home as a souvenir.

3 // Kristen Stewart, Stella McCartney

Looking closely at the first three entries on this list, I’m surprised at how my expectations have been defied by women who are not typically commended for their fashion choices. Granted, K-Stew is often styled in admirable pieces, but the visible discomfort with which she wears them almost always undermines the effort. In the case of this jumpsuit however, the choice of pants over a dress seems to put Stewart more at ease. Meanwhile, the lace paneling adds a feminine touch, and the matching burgundy eye shadow brings out her signature steely gaze.

4// Zachary Quinto, Designer Unknown

Blue hair does not a worst-dressed candidate make, though that is what some other lists would have you believe. God forbid any of the men in attendance try to dress in line with the night’s theme. The history of men’s fashion has a lot more to offer than just slim-cut tuxedos, after all. Quinto’s tailored vest and crisp white shirt paired with satin paneled pants and gold detailed loafers gave him a pirate-like appeal, while the blue-tipped diagonal Mohawk reminded everyone that dressing up should be fun.

5 // PSY, Designer Unknown

Why Psy was at the Met Ball at all remains a mystery to me, but he put some A-list celebrities to shame with his attire. A short red and black checkered jacket with thin lapels and a single button harkened the punk theme while his black and white wing-tipped shoes and round sunglasses added a touch of ’50s glamour. This is how to do put-together punk.

6 // Solange Knowles, Kenzo

So both Knowles sisters missed the theme of the night, but Solange out-wowed her sister by far. Staying true to her bold print, big hair style in a black and mazarine wave jacquard split-front dress by Kenzo, she looked like she took a cue from her sister’s Foxy Cleopatra wardrobe. It was one of the few blue dresses on the carpet and Solange’s confidence sold it. She looks like a sexy ’70s goddess and we love it.

Stick It To Me

The DIY tattoo, coming soon to a party near you

I was attending a co-worker’s birthday party when, in need of a drink, I walked into the kitchen to find the birthday girl being pricked with a sewing needle and India ink. It was her present from a friend—and for a small fee, I was told I too could get in on the action. I declined. Was this really what the kids were doing these days? Stabbing each other with sharp objects and ink? Well, yeah, Katy Perry’s lover giving her a heart-shaped stick’n’poke in one of her videos definitely affirms the artform’s youthful revival.

I associate the rise of stick’n’poke tattoos with the recent popularity of all things punk rock, but it’s really a modern take on an age-old tradition. The Maori used sharpened bones to cut designs into the skin and then tap pigment into the wounds. The ancient Egyptians are believed to have used wooden instruments with metal tips and soot. And until the invention of the tattoo gun in 1891, Westerners used a tattoo method adapted from the Tahitians after explorer James Cook’s sailors took up the practice in the 1600s. These cultures used the same basic model: a sharp object dipped in some sort of pigment that was hammered/scraped/poked into the skin.

Since that first party, I have had more than one friend get drunk and break out a BIC pen for a quick and dirty tat. But I’ve also seen stick’n’poke stands at craft fairs, and I’ve witnessed more than one tattoo parlor advertise the old-school service. Most recently, I started working with a bunch of DIY tattoo enthusiasts who all frequented the same amateur artist. My coworkers frequently traded meals and scotch for one of her at-home tattoos. I decided to put my curiosities to rest and tagged along when my boyfriend went to her to get some new ink the old fashioned way.

The tattoo artist decided to remain anonymous, due to the murky legal area this all occupies, though she was more than happy to answer a few basic questions. Although she agreed with my initial assumption that stick’n’poke’s popularity has been partly fueled by the rise of punk and DIY, she says there is more to this resurgence than mere trendiness: “Everyone’s moving away from manufactured goods that were made as quickly and cheaply as possible. Everyone is going and getting handmade, crafted, made-in-America type goods, and the same is true for tattoos. People don’t want to get flash off the walls anymore.”

She first tried tattooing the more conventional way, apprenticing at a parlour in Montreal post-university, but says she hated the feeling of using a tattoo gun and ended up “drawing a bunch of shitty tattoos that people came to get on a whim.” She got her first pin-prick tattoo at 20 when a friend experimented by giving her “a moon that looks more like a piece of swiss cheese.” Despite this lukewarm introduction to the form, the artist has no intention of going back to the gun. For her, stick’n’pokes are superior because they’re cheap, heal quickly and, most importantly, are a slow process, allowing for an intimate experience for her and whoever she is tattooing.

My first query was, of course, a style one. Since the only DIY tats I’d seen before hers were punk emblems and prison tats (OK, those were only on TV), I assumed the form lent itself to a particular style. She quickly dismissed these restrictions.

“I think often people assume stick’n’pokes are limited to certain styles, like harder lines with not as much shading. But you can achieve anything with stick’n’poke, because really, a tattoo gun is the same just a lot faster.”

Her clients are evidence of this. Some get only straight lines and bold colours (my boyfriend opted for a simple design that mashed up his punk inclinations with some good old fashioned illuminati insignia). Others opt for shading and more complex images, like my coworker, who has a beautifully coloured rose, or my boss, who has Piglet holding a red balloon on her upper arm.

The resurgence of stick’n’pokes as a party game is not without its negatives. When I voiced my concerns about hygiene, the tattoo artist agreed, saying people need to be careful. “I get the fear of transferring disease, because it’s not often that you talk to someone who got a stick’n’poke tattoo that has been sterilized. Most people are drunk at a party and pull out some ballpoint pen, and use that ink and a sewing needle they probably didn’t even burn with a lighter. I think that’s a huge risk with their building popularity.”

Despite being worried about her drunk brethren, the tattoo artist still believes the rising popularity of stick’n’poke is nothing to fear. “I remember wearing plaid skirts and army boots and studded everything when I was 14, and that was frowned upon. Now you walk into ZARA and everything is studded. Who ever thought that would happen? With that I think comes stick’n’pokes.”

Like so many counter culture practices before it, stick’n’poke is slowly slipping into the realm of the socially acceptable.

Our anonymous tattoo artist gave us a quick rundown of how she gives a sterile tattoo from the comfort of her living room:

1 // Establish clean and dirty fields (both of which are lined with paper towel). The clean field is where you keep sanitized needles (she personally uses tattoo gun needles) and whatever super clean receptacles you’re keeping your ink in. The dirty field is for discarded needles and used paper towel.

2 // Slap on some rubber gloves and wipe the skin down with rubbing alcohol.

3 // Draw an outline of the tattoo on the skin with a thin layer of tattoo ink. Sometimes she will use transfer paper or India ink to draw a preliminary mock-up on the skin, but more often she freehands it.

4 // Dip the needle in the ink a few times to build up a layer of dry ink—this will help keep the ink on the needle as you go. Other people use a thread attached to the needle as an “anchor” to accomplish basically the same thing.

5 // Pull the skin taught so the image doesn’t get distorted and start poking. Dip and poke, dip and poke. Periodically wipe away excess ink with a wet paper towel.

6 // Once the tattoo is done wipe it well with a damp paper towel and then apply some aloe or other soothing lotion.

7 // Wrap the tat in saran wrap—to keep it clean—and then voila. Tattoo complete.

photography // Laura Tuttle

Think Pink!

Alyssa Wornette shares her favorite set of ultra-girly internet snippets

Lately I’ve been floating around on fluffy pink cotton candy clouds, sipping pink tea in a lavender bath and sporting pink mittens with my new knitted cat ear hat. It seems everywhere I look, I am left helplessly fawning over whatever cutesy, fluffy, object-with-a-face meets my eye. This existence trapped within rose-tinted glasses has of course bled into my cyber activity, and inadvertently, into my link roundup:

Kittens, Unicorns, and Puppies, Oh My!
Cats riding rainbow unicorns on a pink heart background ON A SCARF? Yeah, do I need to say more to communicate the brilliance of Silken Favours? If you need to hear more to be fully converted, read this great interview with the creator, Vicki Murdoch, and learn why she thinks everyone should own a scarf.

Bubble Pop
I love K-pop. I am NOT ashamed to throw this love in others’ faces, switching the playlists at parties to my friends’ shock and dismay. Too bad. Just look at their sets, their dance moves, and most importantly THEIR STYLE! From the adorable flower crowns and cat tails of AKB48, to the yellow braids and tiger-print pants of G Dragon, this piece by John Seabrook captures a great tasting of K-pop style and sound.

“I’m the Mary!”
Growing up, Romy and Michele held the keys to my heart. Aside from their hilarious date ditching tactics (“Will you please excuse me, I cut my foot before and my shoe is filling up with blood”), they had the most fearless fashion sense and lived on a candy-filled diet. I got a 15 out of 16 on this quiz, and I’m celebrating with candy corns.

Cattoed, if only for one day
Ever thought you loved cats so much that you wanted to cover your body in them? Well, thanks to illustrator Harriet Gray, you can! These temporary tattoos are so adorable they are almost fluffy on your skin, and bonus: once your cat craze is over (if it ever is) they’ll wash right off!

Call on Me
I recently visited Pacific Mall for the first time. I walked in with a basic iPhone in an Etsy-ordered case. I walked out with a pink iPhone, complete with 3 different new cases and several accessories, like a popsicle plug for the headphone jack. I never realized phones could change with your outfits, but NEWS FLASH, it’s totally possible! The Cute iPhone Cases Tumblr validates this new obsession.

My Teenage Dream
No roundup of mine would be complete without a Katy Perry reference. We can all haggle over Katy’s upbringing, her choice of lyrics, and her politics, but when it comes down to her style and HAIRSTYLES, no one can really debate her genius. Case and point, this Glamour UK photo collection of KP’s 58 best hair days.