Lydia Edwards’ How to
Read a Dress covers nearly five centuries and makes quick work of some
complex sartorial times. Critic Genevieve Valentine says, after you read it, “Period-piece
TV will never look the same.”
Hi my name is Draco Malfoy and I have short platinum blonde hair (platinum just like my bank account) and cerulean orbs that fanfic authors cream themselves over and a lot of people tell me I look like young Gerard Way (AN: if u don’t know who he is get da hell out of here!). I’m not related to him but I wish I was because he’s a major fucking hottie. I’m a dragon but I don’t have scales. I have pale white skin. I’m also a wizard, and I go to a magic school called Hogwarts in England where I’m in the seventh year (I’m seventeen). I’m a goth (in case you couldn’t tell) and I wear mostly black. I love Hot Topic and I buy all my clothes from there. For example today I was wearing a black frock coat with a lot of frilly lace and black jeans and black combat boots. I don’t have a crush on Harry Potter but I was looking for him anyway because I hate him so much. I was walking outside Hogwarts. It was snowing and raining so there was no sun, which I was very happy about. A lot of muggleborns stared at me. I put up my middle finger at them.
Hell, if we’re gonna talk about bringing back old-timey styles for men, why stop at the 1900s? Let’s bring back fucking dandyism - I’m talking makeup, plucked eyebrows, immaculate curls, brightly coloured fabrics, waxed moustaches like architectural edifices if you can pull one off, dudes all swanning around in tight corsets so as not to disrupt the smoothly tapering lines of their frock coats, the whole nine yards. I mean, why not?
They’ve been told they would be meeting with only two members of the Triumvirate, but three people stood by the pool. Jesper knew the one-eyed girl in the red-and-blue kefta must be Genya Safin, and that meant the shockingly gorgeous girl with the thick fall of ebony hair was Zoya Nazyalensky. They were accompanied by a fox-faced man in his twenties wearing a teal frock coat, brown leather gloves, and an impressive set of Zemeni revolvers slung around his hips.
“Surveying more than 13,000 people — the largest published study of The Dress to date — [neuroscientist Pascal Wallisch] finds that early risers tend to see the frock as gold and white, whereas night owls are slightly more likely to see it as blue and black.”
Your roomie freshman year calls herself Inari, like the sushi, which you try not to roll your eyes at. It’s obviously a weaboo thing, since she’s definitely not anywhere near Japanese with her red-blonde hair and blue eyes. She also has two dads who work for the forest service - one blond and stocky, the other tall and red-haired, and they both call her Flower when they kiss her goodbye before leaving. You’re too polite to ask which one is her real dad.
There’s far weirder stuff at university to worry about than that.
Inari (who, thank god, doesn’t put up anime posters or talk about manga and maybe you were wrong about the nickname?) pays as much lip service to the weird traditions of Elsewhere as everyone else does, and a few more besides. She accepts them without comment when other people laugh them off, like they’re common sense, like she’s done it all her life. When people whisper about seeing things in the deep end of the pool or in the forest or in the depths of the library, she doesn’t blink an eye. When you whisper to her one night that you think these strange traditions might actually be in place for a reason she says “of course they are.” Like she’s known all along.
Inari wears her iron and carries her salt, but she doesn’t add to the stories and the gossip and hysteria. She’s aiming for law school, which you can already tell that she’ll be great at. You share theology and history and you’ve never seen her lose a debate. She’s crafty and smart and more focused than anyone else you’ve met at Elsewhere, and you wonder if she’s decided she just doesn’t have time for the stories. You wonder how someone can both accept and completely ignore The Neighbours. You wish you could.
Then Apples from your lit class gets replaced by something Else, and her girlfriend spends the evening bawling in your room Inari listens, then sighs, and packs a bag. Then she pulls a rusty iron bar out of her closet, and heads out into the forest under the cover of moonlight. You don’t want to watch, you don’t want to think about what might happen. You clench your iron medallion tighter and try to tell yourself that the hulking dark shape that appears next to her is just the shadows of the trees, that you didn’t see the moonlight glint off green, inhuman eyes.
(You never expect to see her again.)
Except she comes back, and Apples is back in her place, seeming none the worse for wear (though she leaves paper-wrapped notebooks by the fountain every full moon until she graduates). Inari says nothing, but during finals she disappears into the library after someone else, clutching her her iron bar and accompanied by a tall man in a black frock coat.
“How do you do it?” You ask when you can’t stand not knowing. “How do you know…”
Inari shrugs. “My fairy godfather taught me how to be the right kind of persuasive. It’s simple once you know how. You speak softly… and carry a big stick.”
You hope that in this case, fairy godfather is some queer term. You’re afraid to ask her clarify.
After that the whispers start. That if you’re desperate to get someone back, you go to Inari, who never seems particularly happy, but eventually accepts most pleas. She can’t and won’t help everyone, of course. If your friend was desperate enough to kiss Anna Monday there’s nothing to be done. And she always asks for a favor in return, to be held in trust until a time of her choosing.
A favor in trust is a serious price, at Elsewhere. But at least Inari is human, they reason, staring at her bare hand wrapped around the iron bar.