Thanks a Vermillion!

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Red has a complex and fascinating past–as a valued commodity, a treasured signifier of wealth, a color of power and prestige. One of my favorite books that tells such scarlet stories is Amy Butler Greenfield’s A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of DesireIn particular, Butler traces the trade history of cochineal, one of the most coveted “New World” substances discovered after European contact with the Americas: all due to its ability to create a vivid red dye.

Luckily, the red that has appeared in my life recently has little to do with empire-building or early modern trade. A pepper plant beginning a vivid transformation and the arrival of my Coach Tour Dress in Rouge from Modcloth has made this a red morning indeed (though I’m glad there was no red sun involved, Legolas).


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I spent nearly a month waiting for what I thought was a green pepper to reach maturity. Imagine my surprise when I woke up to see this newly-red beauty dangling from the plant! Until I harvest it, the red pepper can hang out with my equally vibrant alien cactus.

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I’ve had a long, strange love affair with Modcloth’s Coach Tour dress. Two years ago, I waited patiently for any of these adorable cowl-necked dresses to go on sale, and was finally rewarded with their now-discontinued teal version. I loved the dress, but the fabric did start to pill after a year or two of steady wear, and I wanted to replace it–though not for quite so high a price!

I’ve recently discovered the joys of online secondhand shopping and was delighted to find a barely-worn version of the dress just a few days ago for $12 (about a fifth of its original price). As a ginger, I’m always a little nervous about bold reds: and I’m so glad I went for it anyway!

This dress looks like something you could wear to a secret open-mic where you’re performing original songs based on Finnish mythology or something. If Nancy Drew were serving aboard the Enterprise, she might forgo the traditional uniforms and wear this instead. It’s bright, unique, and has shiny buttons beyond belief–a perfect complement to any day, red or otherwise.

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4 thoughts on “Thanks a Vermillion!

  1. I really hope going to “secret open-mic where you’re performing original songs based on Finnish mythology” is a regular occurrence in your life ❤ I'm really interested in that book on red, actually. Sounds fascinating. Oh, and the dress looks so pretty! Also, it makes me so happy whenever you throw in Lord of the Rings references.

    • Sadly, such open-mics are currently as mythical as the Kalevala itself–but perhaps that will change now that I have the perfect outfit for one! 🙂 I definitely recommend the “red book”; it’s accessible and fun in a way that few material culture history books are, haha! (And my life is like 99% LOTR references; I have an unfortunate tendency to tell students whose work I’m editing that an undeveloped paragraph or thesis is currently but a shadow and a thought…)

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