Soundtrack for this post, courtesy of Sonnet and Stevie: Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac
Hello! Long long time no see! We hope to catch you up on things since we posted last, but let’s dive right in to this week’s FriendsdayWednesday! A little explanation for the theme: our first Black and White Wednesday for the blog, I went to my first post-candidacy group therapy meeting. This Wednesday, I finally started individual therapy in NYC! I needed a little extra courage, and a friends-outfit day was the perfect thing.
To demonstrate what collaborative excellence is: Monday Sonnet made a still from The Craft her cover photo, spurring much nostalgia and delight, Tuesday Colleen followed up with this (Right) “Y’all I wore a grownup version of The Craft uniform (complete w/ Docs) for today’s OOTD” to which Cindy responded “Um ootds inspired by the craft all around please” and I asked that we do it the next day! And my squad-coven responded powerfully. And so here we are! People had varying availability this week, so different amount of outfit explanation!
You can read about the creation of the look of the film here. And, to play along take a quiz and find out which pop culture squad-witch character you align most with! For The Craft and for AHS: Coven, which Sonnet is currently watching and Colleen and Cindy love! Or for a lone-witch: Which Witch? Shoutout to our resident Rochelle, Jacinta Yanders, for tracking down THREE versions of The Craft quizzes–you’ll see our results with our outfits!
Witches in (Pop-Culture) Context
Witches were on the media-mind this week. Part of Vulture’s “Witch Week“, Kathryn VanArendonk’s “Why the Witch is the Pop-Culture Heroine We Need Right Now” (h/t Colleen) touches on the representation of witches in popular culture since the 1500s in relation to Lindy West’s great piece following the Weinstein allegations “Yes, This Is a Witch Hunt. I’m a Witch, and I’m Hunting You.” In the article, VanArendonk assesses the current status of ‘the witch’ in this political climate:
The magic of the witch in this particular moment is that both the traditional, villainous witch and her feminist, heroic opposite are equally alive in the cultural consciousness. Of course, the pervasiveness of the evil witch is what gives the newer interpretation its vigor: Even when we try to divorce the witch from any direct implication of injury — when a coven comes together as a self-contained group, a safe community apart from the rest of the world — the traditional vision of witchcraft still lurks in the air. Women gathering together to perform spells? Women gathering to share information in the dark of night? Women gathering? Whether you call it witchcraft or you call it a feminist book club, it will always feel a bit dangerous. Thinking of the witch as a protagonist rather than a villain feels subversive and gutsy when so few women, in fiction or in life, get to hold actual positions of power.
But it’s also a little more complicated. After I posted the call-for-outfits on Facebook, including the prompt ‘black, white, and/or witchy,’ a dear friend and colleague who identifies as a witch wrote to me to express discomfort with the framing. I have their permission to discuss this here. Michael wrote that they were troubled by “transforming other people’s spiritual practices into a style or costume” and pointed out this is not something we accept for other cultures or religions. I actually had hesitated when I first posted the call, because Michael is not my only friend who is a Witch, Pagan, or Wiccan. I wish I had listened to that inner voice, but since I didn’t, I’m glad Michael addressed the issue to me. We got to have a productive conversation about the reclamation of ‘witch’ in a similar way as bitch by feminists given the historical interpretation that people were prosecuted as witches for existing outside the heteropatriarchy, and the way that sartorial signifiers often circulate outside of their original communities, changing and accreting as they go. Summing up our exchange, Michael noted that:
While [witch] is a term that has old roots in different cultures (for wise women, for healers, for shamanic connections to the earth) that have been taken up by modern Wiccans and Pagans, it also has a juridical history, a theatrical history (witches of Macbeth, witches in Romantic ballets, etc.), and a pop culture presence. Even as someone who identifies as a witch, I don’t believe that any of us get to claim authenticity or authority over a term; rather, our work is how do we work through our multiple, intersecting and diverging uses—and how do we take responsibility for their effects.
This was an important conversation for me, and I hope it gets you thinking, too. And now on to the The Craft–as a pop culture work with complex inspirations—inspired outfits! I see a lot of elements of what has become coded as ‘powerful’ for female and non-binary folks: black, metals, kick ass shoes, and a #DontTellMeToSmile be-lipsticked mouth. In “The Profound, Enduring Legacy of The Craft”
here’s to #GloryandRisk.
What We Wore
Sonnet: (Sarah The Craft/Madison on Coven):
Cindy (Bonnie The Craft/Zoe on Coven):
During our great hiatus, I broke my shoulder and got a non-academic job. So I’m technically failing at the “scholar” side of sartorial scholars, although I’m happy to report that now, six months after I quit my postdoc, I had two journal articles make it to print. And on b&w Wednesday itself, two of my coworkers, upon seeing the dark outfit and dark lip, told me that I looked good, as though I don’t look good every day—which means I’m probably also failing at the “sartorial” side of sartorial scholars, if my (Uniqlo) jeggings, (Zara) weird af top, (some random pop-up store) duster, and Keds (forever Keds) impress them. Also, like Sarah in The Craft, I changed my hair color a few times. Unlike Sarah, I rode those hair colors out until the only one that would stain my hair anymore was purple. It makes me “quirky” and also probably “visually annoying”. Leave me alone. I’m growing it out.
Colleen (Nancy The Craft/ “If I am not Myrtle Snow, the quiz is flawed” on Coven):
Alex (Bonnie-Sarah The Craft/Cordelia on Coven):
The outfit elements that really stood out to me from the film are black-and-white (obvi), the catholic school aspect, and The 90s. To really channel the 90s-ness, I felt like layering was in order, so I paired my me-embroidered “Good Witch/Bad Bitch” (current motto, meaning roughly “do no harm, take no shit”) collared shirt under a new black shirt dress from Old Navy. I’m also wearing my kilties from Clark’s that the squad helped me pick out, men’s dress socks from Target, and my new bomber, also from Target, which I have adorned with friend-and-Cbus pins (more on that in another post, hopefully). And also a brown lip, b/c 90s. This is one of the first times I think I’ve had my knees out since my knee injury over a year ago! The socks helped me feel not nakey, though.
Rachel (friend & contributor):
We’re not sure how things will proceed from here, but we want more guest posts and will definitely be doing more CFO (calls for outfits) so make sure you’re following us here, on Instagram, and Twitter. Tag us #SartorialScholars, or send us a post idea–If it’s about you, and clothes, we want to see it. You can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org