Otohime’s Coral and Blue Undersea Gown from the Japanese Fairy Tale Urashima Tarō‎

A blue gown with a stylized wave pattern in a darker shade of blue. There is a vest and overskirt with uneven, coral-like edges in shades of orange and coral with a golden scaly pattern all over it. The vest forms a large V over the top and is held in place by a wide belt in an aqua and teal wave pattern with gold accents. There is a thin dark blue ribbon tied around the belt. It is held in place with a brooch made of polished green and blue abalone, and the two ends of the ribbon extend almost to the floor. Underneath the belt is a short overskirt in a semi-transparent white fabric with a subtle shimmer. The collar is formed by several overlapping robes in shades of blue, dark where it is in contact with the vest and progressively lighter until it reaches the neck. The sleeves are wide and bell-shaped, and at the shoulders there is another layer of the shimmery semi-transparent white fabric. There is a wide white ribbon that floats over the dress in a large circle and slips under the arms, its edges curling around the skirt.I’m sorry to have made you wait for this one! I just had some kind of block about it, but now it is done and I can go on to something else. This is my version of a dress worn by Otohime, who is a figure from a famous Japanese folk tale, Urashima Tarō‎ (浦島太郎). In the story, the young fisherman Urashima Tarō saves a turtle from some kids who are tormenting it, and as a reward, he is brought to the undersea palace of the Dragon God and meets his daughter, Otohime (乙姫), who was that turtle that he rescued. He stays there for a few days, but soon wishes to return home. Before he does, Otohime gives him a box, warning him not to open it. When he gets back, he finds that everyone he knew is long dead and his village has greatly changed. He opens the box, but in it was his old age, and he turns to dust and blows away. Some versions have happier endings, like this illustrated retelling. If you’re studying Japanese, give this version a shot.

Urashima Tarō‎ is a story that pretty much every Japanese person would know, and Otohime is a famous figure. As it’s a very old story, the way she is usually depicted is in a gown like this (with obvious Chinese influence) and not usually a Japanese outfit. As it’s a famous fairytale, though, the depiction varies with the artist.

Thank you for all of your fun entries in my contest! I really just need a post to enter someone in the drawing, but it’s more fun for me to read about whose costumes reign supreme. (The cast of Downton Abbey would triumph over the cast of the Titanic, according to my readers.) The winner, although I hate to admit it because he was talking about his plans for what he’d do if he won the other day and I know what I’m in for, is my husband Brian.

Come back next week to see what ridiculous design Brian will choose for my 1912 gown, and for a new poll! Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for site updates, complaints about Facebook and gowns with interesting details. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.

Masquerade Gown in White Lace and Blue Sequins with Light Blue Ruffles and Coral Ribbon

A masquerade gown with a bodice patterned with white lace. The neckline is off the shoulders and slightly V-shaped, and is trimmed with a line of sparkling blue ribbon. The sleeves are three-quarter, and their edges are trimmed with more sparkling blue ribbon. There are long ruffles attached to the edges of the sleeves, and they are colored in a gradient from dark blue to light blue, nearly white, at the edges. They are decorated with a light water pattern. The bodice extends over the top of the skirt and is gathered at one hip, decorated with a bright coral-colored bow. From the bow, four rows of ruffles fall towards the base of the skirt like a waterfall. Each one is colored from dark blue to light blue at the edge, and each one is decorated with a light water pattern. The skirt is royal blue, deeply pleated, and patterned with sequins, so that at the top of each pleat they catch the light and sparkle vividly. The skirt is long, and falls to the floor.Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

When I selected this gown and started working on it, the purple sparkly dress was ahead in the poll, so I thought, sure, I can take a hint. This week is now Sparkle Week, because I’d like to practice making things sparkle. I really like how the skirt turned out on this one, but hey, there’s always room for improvement. It is all a matter of getting the brushes right… I have a lot of sparkly brushes to play with thanks to Obsidian Dawn, and the lace pattern is also one of theirs.

Let’s have a new contest!
Milo has received so many beautiful, handmade blankets from family members and friends that I probably could have started a baby blanket shop. Recently, though, one of them has become the favorite blankie. He likes to have it in his crib with him at night, and he wraps it around his shoulders and walks around with it like he’s the emperor of the house. (Which he is, but…) It has three colors in it. What are those three colors? The winner gets to tell me how to color this week’s gown!
Hint: I’m not being picky about color names. It’s not like you have to say royal blue, crimson and lemon yellow (for example), I just want the basic color names here.
One entry per new post per day, please.
Update: Sarah guessed. I thought that would take longer than it did! It’s white, blue and green.

Also, I’ve set up a Facebook fan page and a separate Twitter account. I’ll use both of these for announcing new posts, but also I’ll try to put up some new content, like special recolored dresses and contests, and I’ll also post some links to paperdoll and fashion related things I like. So please like my page or follow me, depending on your choice of social media!

Halloween ’10 Day 5: Queen of the Seas

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

As you know I generally have a soft spot for anything flowing and cool-colored, so I wanted to do a generic Queen of the Seas costume this month. If you were wearing this to a party with no particularly picky mythology or history geeks in attendance, you could perhaps call yourself the Queen of Atlantis, but I can’t just go blithely saying something like that somehow.

Lindsey commented on my blue and gold princess gown and said that she’d seen a similar one on Zwinky, but I can’t check it out because I use a Mac; can someone take a screenshot of it and send it to me, please?

The verdict is still out on the Good Queen…

Prismacolors used: Cool Grey 30%, 70%, 90%, Black, White, Indigo Blue, Denim Blue, Light Cerulean Blue, Sky Blue Light, Marine Green, Jade Green, Tuscan Red, Poppy Red, Pale Vermillion; Verithin Black and Cool Grey 70%; Sakura Soufflé White.

Mermaid Monday #20: Grey-Tailed Mermaid with Red, Blue, Green and White Patterned Skirt

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

Now, mermaids love color; it’s a precious thing because their environment itself makes the bright shades they prefer transient. Get even a little ways down, without the benefit of the magic lights many mystics make a living out of producing, and everything is just blue and purple. But because of the intermittent nature of underwater color, the ensembles worn to well-lit mermaid gatherings are wonders to behold, and even just knowing you have shining auburn hair or that the emerald and opal bracelet on your wrist is absolutely fabulous in the sunlight is enough to be happy, most of the time. This is also part of why mermaids value their tail color so highly: feeling like a brilliant blue or gold is an intrinsic part of you gives you a pleasant warm sensation when you’re feeling grumpy or plain.

This means that grey-tailed mermaids, like the one we see today, have an unfortunate tendency to be maladjusted or insecure, more than those with other tail colors do. Even colors like white, black and brown are thought of as preferable. After all, white has a sort of unearthly cachet, while black has a rakish, cool image, and both of them are easy to match with other, brighter colors. Even brown can look good, assuming you can afford the right shades of red, gold and so on. Grey doesn’t seem to match with anything, really: blue and green, maybe, but the combination just seems glum. This mermaid, I wouldn’t precisely say she’s come to peace with her grey tail, but she’s scared of mystics (some of whom might be able to change it for her… for a price), so she overcompensates with long skirts and vivid colors, and she has a habit of tucking her tail close to her body while she works, so only the pale edge of the fin sticks out from under her skirt.

This would, certainly, be hard to swim in, but she works as a scholar in a big city, and so she doesn’t generally have to get around very quickly; in any case, she thinks it would be better to meet her end courtesy of a shark than to live a long life with her tail in full view. It’s a shame to feel that way, but that’s what happens when you feel hideous all your life. Honestly, I think it draws more attention to her than a skirt with a more normal cut, or a sheer skirt, would: no one wears skirts like this underwater, and even the mermaids with big old scars on their tails are often proud enough of them to not much care whether they show or not. So even though this is a mermaid equivalent of wearing a sandwich board that says “I’M INSECURE ABOUT MY TAIL,” it makes her happy. And heck, if I had a rainbow-colored skirt with a coral and fish pattern that cute, I’d probably be happy too.

I was asked to list the colors I use for each drawing, and I’m going to see how it works out to list them…

Colors used: Colorless Blender, French Grey family, Cool Grey family, Black, Sky Blue Light, Greyed Lavender, Violet, Ultramarine, Violet Blue, Spring Green, Dark Green, Yellow Chartreuse, Grass Green, Sunburst Yellow, Crimson Red, Poppy Red, Yellowed Orange, Tuscan Red