I have such a thing for big belled sleeves; I bought this dress 30% because it was pretty and fit well, and 70% because of those sleeves.
The thing for big belled sleeves dates back to my sophomore year of high school, when my three best friends and I decided – mostly because of The Craft, I think, because we were original like that – that we were witches. All of us were into it to varying degrees, but I took our pastime one step further: I locked myself in my bedroom and performed candle spells before wandering down to the Hudson to toss the burned wicks into the running water, devoured book after book after book about Wicca, attended group meetings at our local pagan bookstore (this freaked out my parents until they attended one with me and realized that it was actually a very nice group of people), and started wearing things like purple velvet robes and tie-dyed gowns with sleeves that trailed on the floor to school. (And yes, these outfits were received approximately as well by my 15-year-old classmates as you’d imagine.)
It wasn’t the best time in my life: for some reason, the moment between childhood and young adulthood was a frightening one for me, and I spent a lot of my time feeling so alone that I didn’t know how to even begin to climb back out into the real world, where I’d heard that people lived. There was an entire summer when I did very little other than take the M11 bus up Amsterdam Avenue and then back down Columbus, stopping off at Barnes & Noble to sit cross-legged on the floor and read books for awhile before going home to light some candles and stare into the pendulum that my aunt had given me, hoping it would tell me something different.
I may not have been very happy during that time, but it did have one very important silver lining: more than anything else it was that period in my life that taught me that I was OK on my own; that “by myself” wasn’t necessarily a bad place to be. And even though my floor-length robes may not have made me especially popular, they went a long way towards shaping my later attitude towards more or less everything, up to and including style. Big belled sleeves on a flowery minidress in October, fake deer heads on the wall, a candle tossed into the river because if you believe it, maybe it will be.
In fashion, and in life: do your own weird and wild thing.