Let’s talk vampires. Because if there’s one thing I can talk about, it’s vampires. Vampires were my first real foray into the goth scene in high school (thanks, Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned). I met most of my college friends through playing live action Vampire: The Masquerade for YEARS – way into my 20s. Hell, I met Doug at a Vampire LARP.
If you ask me why I love vampires so much, I can’t put a single finger on it. The concept of the human fighting with their monstrous instinct is interesting, not to mention the question of what would you do if you couldn’t die? How long would it take a person to go from human with morals and ideals to a killer suffering from ennui and a never-ending hunger? I do appreciate good melodrama, angst, and sexuality, which vampires lend themselves to easily. But one of the biggest influences on me from those early vampire books were FASHION.
Anne Rice’s vampires were always decked out in the finest clothes. Poet shirts dripping with lace, leather pants, heavy satin skirts, velvet dresses and suede knee-high boots. The way she described those vampires just sounded so LUSH. It was a major influence in how I loved to dress back in high school and college. I wore poet shirts with worn-out jeans and combat boots, crushed velvet babydoll dresses and ribbon chokers, black tights and maryjanes. Y’all, those Victorian goth-slash-grunge kid feels were REAL, and I was all over it.
The other week, we were chatting in the hotel room at BLC and Allison was talking about how she was really liking Holly Black’s work, and she recommended The Coldest Girl in Coldtown to me since she knew I loved vampire books. I found the book on Libby from my local library and decided to start reading it yesterday afternoon. I COULD NOT STOP. This book is SO good. It’s a really awesome YA vampire novel that puts a new spin on vampires in modern society:
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.
After Twilight, I’m pretty hesitant about YA vampires because I’m of the opinion that vampires are supposed to be DANGEROUS. (I don’t like Twilight, sorry. Yes, I read them all. No, I won’t talk about them.) I much rather prefer vampires that are attractive, dare I say sexy as hell, but in the end they are monsters and you should have a deep struggle with wanting to be with them. However, I really liked how she treated them in this book – you wanted to be with them, but you were never sure what they would do. Did they have the self-control to stay away from you, would they gently drink from you – or would they rip out your throat just as soon as they got a taste? Skirting that edge of control and instinct is one thing that I love in a good vampire story, and this one did it well.
The next thing I loved in this book? THE CLOTHES. Holly Black does a great job of describing how everyone dresses. A lot of humans in the Coldtowns attended vampire parties and the Eternal Ball (a giant constant party in an abandoned church) so they were always dressed up as much as they could be, even though they were pretty much squatting in buildings that had been abandoned. So they definitely had a very gutter punk-esque, thrifted look that I’ve always loved. White babydoll dresses, oxblood boots, velvet tees, and ripped jeans – very much my late teens/early 20s aesthetic.
Even though I’m older now, I still do love a good slip dress and combat boots, so here are some pieces that I’ve found online that are influenced by The Coldest Girl in Coldtown!
When you meet Tana, the heroine of the book, she’s described as wearing a white babydoll dress that was her mom’s. This dress from Torrid is a cute and comfy alternative. The bell sleeves give it a kind of “old-fashioned nightgown” vibe to this dress that makes me want to float down dark hallways while wearing it.
This lace skater dress from Torrid would look really cute paired with black tights and boots. I dunno why, but I’ve always liked light dresses with black tights. It’s just a thing, I guess.
I had a babydoll dress in high school that looked almost EXACTLY like this Torrid purple dress. I wore it with my faux Docs from Payless. It was my favorite outfit ever.
This Torrid lace maxi shirt dress looks like something you’d find in the back of a thrift shop. The blush color is super pretty.
If something is velvet, there is a very high chance that I’m gonna want it in my closet. This Torrid burnout velvet gown is just so damn luxe.
Speaking of velvet, how about a 90s babydoll shift dress in blue crushed velvet? With bell sleeves? I would have worn the HELL out of this back in the day.
I still have a thing for black mesh and lace, even though I didn’t wear it as often as I wanted to. This black lace and mesh maxi dress looks like a lingerie piece you’d find in the back of a resale shop.
Even today, I adore the look of a motorcycle jacket over dresses. I used to borrow my first college boyfriend’s jacket all the time. This vegan jacket from Vixen by Micheline Pitt is a better alternative, and the cropped cut will work better on shorter girls or short-waisted people like me.
Sometimes you just need a lighter jacket, one that you can smush down in a bag or tie around your waist just in case. I love the look of an olive drab jacket and it works a lot better for fall here in Louisiana since it’s more breathable. I found this Old Navy version on Poshmark and it definitely fits that vibe.
One of the things that Tana is wearing at the beginning of the book is oxblood boots, and the first thing I thought of were old-school Doc Martens. DM still makes the oxblood leather boots today, although the cherry red in the classic Doc Martens 1460s are a good alternative. (I had a pair of Docs from 1998 until 2008 – they cost a pretty penny but they last FOREVER.)
Not wanting to spend a ton of money on the combat boot look? These Target boots are similar to the Steve Madden Troopa style and zip up on the side for easy on and off.
If you’re looking for a dressier option than boots, chunky maryjanes will never do you wrong. These schoolgirl maryjanes from Doc Martens are a good choice, and they’ll last as long as their boots will.
If you’re like me, and need something a little less chunky for weekday work, I highly recommend these Dansko maryjanes. I have a pair of these and they are my go-to comfy shoes.
These fabric maryjanes were my go-to dressy shoe in college. They were super cheap, lightweight, and could be worn with everything from jeans to dresses. At 10 to 12 dollars a pair, these are great to have in your closet.
ALL BLACK CHOKER EVERYTHING. Ribbon chokers, lace chokers, mesh chokers, all the dang chokers.
In the book, Lucien is described as having a claw ring and my mind instantly went to finger armor.
If you’re looking to go full on vampire fabulous, you can’t look much further than this full hand piece from MyrilJewels on Etsy. It’s got claws and filigree and chains and is just SUPER awesome looking. I want to wear this as my only jewelry piece in a goth club with just a simple black velvet dress. Stunning.
Let’s be realistic, though, you’re probably not going to want to wear a full hand piece. But if you dig that lace look, this filigree armor ring from ravenevejewerly on Etsy is a much more do-able option.
If you’re like me and can’t really do a full-on armor ring at an office job, this statement ring from UpBrass on Etsy is a LOT more appropriate and will get you less raised eyebrows.
If you’d rather your finger armor look like actual armor, this jointed ring from eBay is a nice option, and comes in different finishes.
And if you want your armor to have more detail, a la Game of Thrones, check out this adjustable armor ring from Lamegghina on Etsy. I really love the detail that goes into the different styles.
So that’s it! I want preeeeeeetty much every piece in this post (dangit, unemployment) but I think I’ll be working some of these more casual pieces in my wardrobe over summer and fall this year. I’ve already got the combat boots so might as well. But more than the outfits, I highly recommend reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown! It’s a great book and it’s definitely piqued my interest in the rest of Holly Black’s writing.
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