Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Satan in a Sunday Hat

As most of you probably won't be familiar with the above term, I shall elaborate. Ok, I'll give you a clue- it's another True Blood reference. The term is used by the characters Tara and her cousin Lafyette- a term they've inherited from Tara's alcoholic (but delusively devout) mother Lettie-Mae, meaning that 'if something looks too good to be true, then it probably is.' I just love in Season Two when Lafyette tells Tara that her new beau Eggs is 'Satan in a Sunday hat, girl. I'm trying to tell you, Satan in a f***ing beautiful Sunday hat.' You gotta love Lafyette. Anyway- for me- this phrase kind of sums up the whole vibe of the show. From the title sequence onwards, the juxtaposition of religious fanaticism and ecstatic spirituality with images of sexuality, violence and decay captures that whole Southern Gothic vibe that the entire show encapsulates. The contradictory images of religious purity and sexuality, violence and death kind of point to the idea of dark truths that lurk behind the stereotypically polite/devout Southern facades, and this idea continues to be explored throughout the entire programme. First of all, you've got the central relationship; you have Bill- a dark, dangerous, mysterious Vampire and Sookie- a pure, innocent, blonde-haired, blue-eyed virgin; two entirely different characters, one a metaphor for darkness and the other for light- falling desperately in love with eachother.

I love the way that the use of wardrobe in the programme reflects this theme; suddenly, the sweet, sundress-wearing Sookie is getting bloodstains on her floaty white nightgown courtesy of the the smoldering, leather-clad Bill Compton and his piercing fangs. The scene where she runs barefoot through the graveyard in the darkness to make love to Bill for the first time, said flowing white nightie glowing faintly in the moonlight, just makes my heart stop. The mix of dark and light seems to be mirrored by the pure and good Sookie Stackhouse with her golden tan, sunshine hair and floral prints getting mixed up in the dark and seductive world of stone-cold, deathly-white Vampires. Likewise, you've got Lettie Mae attending Gran's funeral in her Sunday finest, church hat and all, when really she is an alcoholic who believes she has a 'demon' inside of her. Then you've got the Fellowship of the Sun Church storyline in Season Two- Steve and Sarah Newlin are all sunny smiles and matching, buttercup-yellow outfits, when really they are leaders of a vampire hating cult (basically a metaphor for deluded, religiously fanatic homophobes who call themselves Christians.)  The entire idea of darkness lurking beneath an exterior of beauty is summed up by Tara in season one, when she rages at her newly-reformed mother and her church-going friend that 'you can lie to yourself and everybody else, but when you go to bed, you just as f***ed up and miserable as I am, and going to church, and wearing a crazy-ass hat, ain't gon' make you a better person.' (Yes, I did spend ages going through each scene on the box set to find that exact quote, and yes, I did have to replay it 3 times before I got it word-for-word ;-) ).

Anways, let’s get onto the fashion. About this time last year, when I first got into True Blood, I was totally loving the whole Sunday dress/ church hat/southern Belle theme but with added creepy vibes that was depicted in parts of the show’s wardrobe. Think old-fashioned white church dresses complete with matching hats and fans from the blood-spattered worship scenes in the opening sequence, and Sookie’s lemon coloured sundresses accessorized with none other than Alice bands and bleeding fang punctures. It seemed like everywhere I went there were pretty, chiffony vintage dresses in respectable knee-length styles and candy colours which were just begging to be taken to church and worn with a Sunday hat/vintage fascinator. For weeks, my head was filled with visions of old fashioned hair rolls (like Sookie’s when she wears the lilac chiffon dress Bill buys her) and pleated fabric in pastel hues. However, one can’t exactly stroll down to Sainsburies in this sort of attire. I waited patiently, but sadly, I didn’t exactly receive heaps of invites to attend christenings, summer weddings or holy communions (or one of those gospel choir concerts in the Deep American South that you always see in films like Forest Gump and The Color Purple. Is it weird that I’ve always wanted to go to one and wave one of those fans? Ok, don’t answer that.) 

I did get to work the look at a few occasions that summer, but sadly, my fashion dreams didn’t get to be lived out any more than that, so I’ve decided I’m carrying on with the theme this spring. I have a holy communion to attend this May, and I’m already SUPER excited about my outfit. I did find the perfect dress- it was kind of like the blue one Kate Middleton wore when she and Prince William posed for all those engagement piccies- but it had to be altered and it sort of got totally ruined and butchered in the process. I know- don’t.  It was gutting. But after seriously mourning my vintage tragedy, I had to take a deep breath and let it go. These things happen. (Although I still haven't had the heart to throw it away.) But hey, I’ve always got my never-ending store of ideas inside my head- I’m sure I’ll pull something from my imaginary vault.
 Me working Sunday-dress chic at a wedding back in the summer
Moi again, taking my vintage dress for a spin on the dancefloor

So. I'm thinking pale, pretty ice cream hues, faded floral prints, nipped in waists, airy cotton fabrics, sun-bleached gingham, cream lace tights, ankle socks, softly falling pleats and tea-coloured accesories, but all with a dusky, faded sort of look to imply a Gothic undertone. Think crumpled cotton Sunday dress, dusty from a dirt road in the Southern heat, or Sookie in her cherry-print sundresses with a devilish flash of cleavage. Or I'm thinking I could add a subtly dark, creepy undertone by patting on some deep red lipstick with my finger for a bloodstained lip effect. I think there's always something a little creepy anyway about looking too sweet and innocent and perfect- like with china dolls. They have those pretty porcelain faces and angelic curls and those huge, innocent, long-lashed glassy eyes- but everyone finds them a little bit scary. Here are some pictures which capture the creepy, Southern Gothic, dark-meets-light ambiance of True Blood and the whole Satan in a Sunday hat concept. Be inspired, be very inspired :-)
Grainy image of gospel-worshipers from the opening sequence
Lettie Mae in her Sunday best

Sunny smiles and hate messages; Sarah Newlin with her 'no special rights for dead people' apron.

  A graveyard steeped in darkness provides the perfect backdrop for Sookie in her pale blue printed sundress.

         Another haunting still from the opening sequence

           Lettie Mae works florals and a hat at Gran's funeral.
Sookie wearing a white cotton sundress for a date to solve vampire mysteries at Fangtasia
Sookie looking like 'vampire bait' in another fifties style sundress

Classic Sook on the right. I cannot even tell you how much I love Sookie's yellow ensemble. Just the perfect look to solve vampire crime in Dallas.
I felt it deserved two pictures ;-)
Seductive, smouldering Bill in his dapper vampire finest, and Sookie looking sweet as sugar in her lilac dress (the one he buys for her- awwww) and her hair swept up in that elegant forties-style hair roll. This picture just makes me fall in love with the gorgeous Bill just a little bit more each time I look at it.
LOVED this moment. Sookie unwrapping the beautiful lilac dress from Bill...

Collection of images from the opening credits...kind of a mood board for the creepy Southern Gothic vibe.
Beautiful image from the film adaptation of Alice Walker's The Color Purple
Another still from The Color Purple
 A few of the vintage dresses I have to work with. From left: yellow floral dress, only £2 from Greenwich Market! (Was altered ALOT though), bright blue dress (the one that got ruined-it's too short and the hem is wonky) purchased from an old lady selling her old clothes, dusky blue one-shoulder dress, Greenwich Market (was taken up a lot), floral dress, Rokit Vintage, yellow pleated skirt, purchased from the aforementioned old lady (also taken up a lot).
Same but without the bright blue dress.

Also, I've recently got really into, a website where anyone can join and post pictures of their outfits. It's an online treasure trove of endless style inspiration, and I must admit that I am a little obsessed. One girl that I'm a fan of is Dee. N, whose sugary sweet Sunday dress and straw hat looks are totally part of the inspiration behind my Satan in a Sunday hat look. Do check her out, she's amazing!
Thanks for reading, and please leave your comments :-) xxxx 


  1. Lovin' your dress! It's gorgeous!
    Love your blog too!
    I hope we can follow each other, I'm following now...


  2. i loved that outfit.. your style is amazing! you've got now on a new follower, hope you'll do the same :D

    xxxx Tamy

  3. Hattitude Artistic Style Blog

    ah i LOVE true blood. huge fan. unfortunately i had to cancel hbo this year, so i missed season three! have to get my hands on it some time.

    i love that blue vintage dress you are wearing. SO SO SO adorable and chic.

    the pleats are just amazing on it!
    talk soon wild child

    Hattitude Artistic Style Blog

  4. haha love this!! true blood inspirations for outfits!! so awesome!!