Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coordinate Tuesday: Country Cutie

This Tuesday I wanted to make a really nice coordinate that was simple to put together. I think I have succeeded! The whole idea behind this coordinate was DIY. I'd like to learn to make my own skirts, but I haven't started working on learning that yet.

This skirt is a simple design that can easily be replicated by a seamstress. The gingham fabric is easy to find, and you could make it (or have it made) in any color you'd like. The trims are easy to come by, you can order them online or purchase them in a major craft/fabric supply store. This type of skirt is made with three tiers of fabric, gathered onto each other. It's a fairly simple design, there should be commercially available patterns. The blouse is very similar to ones sold at Forever 21 and H&M. An off-brand blouse or cutsew is a great way to save money and pull a new coordinate together really quickly. Simple white tights or OTK socks make the coordinate feel fresh. Alternatively, you could match your tights or socks to the color of the skirt. Blue shoes to carry the blue color down. The hairpieces I chose are very specific. The two smaller bows are actually from hair ties, like the things you use to do ponytails. So you use those for pigtails, tease them up so that they're really poofy, then add the white bow. I think this would be a really cute look, but if you want, you could just pick one hair piece or wear a different kind all together. I chose bow-themed jewelry because there are all of those bows on the skirt. I'm especially fond of the sparkly earrings and necklace. Finally, the purse. It's white with a bow, so it fits in with the color pallet and motif. It's also woven, making it a perfect choice for a country coordinate.

I was planning to use this coordinate for an article on wearing lolita to school or work, but it just wasn't coming together nicely. Is that an article that people would like to see? Also, I hope you've noticed the new poll on the sidebar. It looks very similar to the last one, but I promise, it's new. Please vote in it!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

30 Day Lolita Challenge - Day 3

WARNING! This post contains my honest opinions! If you are someone that takes offense to things easily, this is not the post for you!

I should have combined days two and three together. That would have made for a much longer post. But I didn't and so now they'll have to be separate. Do you like the new banner? If you want to make a 30 Day challenge banner and see it here, you can email me the file at theelegantwardrobe@gmail.com and I'll use it!

10 Things I Hate About Lolita

1. The word "burando." - All I can think of is Marlin Brando (the actor). This was captured perfectly in an image I saw once. I think the word is kind of stupid, just call it brand.

2. Angelic Pretty "Clones." - I think hate is a pretty strong word for this one. It's not that I hate that they exist, I just would like to see them have more variety in their outfits! They are lovely girls, they should show that off instead of trying to all look exactly the same.

3. Wigs - They're itchy, even the good ones. I own one wig, and I don't plan to ever buy another one.

4. Poorly maintained wigs - More and more I see girls with what must have been expensive wigs and they're tangled, sliding off their heads, and generally disheveled. This to me is equivalent to not wearing a petticoat or showing up with wet hair.

5. The term "fatty-chan" and any other term like it - How would you like to be called something like that? I don't care what you look like, it's exceedingly immature. Leave the name calling to the grade schoolers.

6. People that bash Bodyline, F+F, homemade, off-brand, etc. -
These are all viable options for obtaining lolita outfits. Just because they aren't made by the most popular companies or may be flawed doesn't mean they aren't beautiful.

7. Vice versa. People that bash others for wearing only brand or mostly brand - Why can't we all just get along? So what if some people prefer to buy the expensive brand clothes. It's their money and their preference. It's only affecting their life, not yours.

8. Saying that so and so can't be a lolita because of the color of their skin or their religious beliefs and practices. Come on guys, really.

9. The price. Ugh, it sucks! I have zero sewing skills when it comes to human-sized clothing. And now with shipping costs rising, even shops like Bodyline aren't as affordable as they used to be. I've bought pretty much every piece in my wardrobe second hand. I work two jobs, but I
use most of the money I make on things such as rent and food and gas.

10. How most of the community is LJ based - I'm not so great with Livejournal. I've been usingit a year and a half now and I'm just starting to get the hang of it. Maybe because I'd never used a site like that one, but it has been hard to pick it up. I wish it was more of a traditional forum. But it would have to be massive.

There you have it! 10 things that I dislike about lolita fashion. I could probably come up with more. For a fashion full of love and lovely things, there sure is a lot of hate in the community and between members of it. I'm no exception, I just think that if we all followed the golden rule, then the community would be a slightly better place.

Friday, May 27, 2011

30 Day Lolita Challenge - Day 2

Alright, day 2. Two days in a row! 10 things I love about lolita, go!

1. Colors! Whether they're in prints, solid dresses, just in the accessories, I love seeing so many colors! Which is odd since I'm a kuro lolita.

2. I love how everyone has their own spin on their coordinates. There aren't two people that look quite exactly the same ever. At least around here that doesn't happen. I have seen Angelic Pretty clones in pictures only, never in real life.

3. Twirling around in a skirt or dress. It never ever gets old and isn't fun anymore. Never ever.

4. Having tea. I hadn't been to a tea party before about a year and a half ago and now I'maddicted! We have tea every four months or so here. It's really broadened my horizons as far as types of tea and sandwiches. Plus it's quite a lovely activity to participate in.

5. Bloomers! I sleep in mine. They're so comfy!

6. The friends I've made through the fashion. Not only have I made a lot of friends locally, but I made some when I was in Japan two years ago and in NYC a year ago.

7. SHOES! I love lolita shoes. I know I've mentioned this a few times before.

8. The cute jewelry! I love it! Even though I only own one kitty ring.

9. Dressing my doll(s) in the fashion too! I find so many doll dresses that I want to have in my size! Some day, I will get matching outfits and we will twin and it will be adorable.

10. When I wear lolita, I feel really beautiful. Which is not an everyday sort of feeling for me. And it's really a nice one.

So are you enjoying the 30 Day Lolita Challenge? I think I am. Today ended up being kind of short though... which is disappointing. I hope I can keep it up!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

30 Days Lolita Challenge! Day 1

Since I've been stuck in a blogging rut recently, I decided to try this 30 days meme that's been circulating around the community recently. I believe it was Kris at Sweet Lolita On-the-Go that started this meme, at least that's where I saw it. So I'm going to try it out and see how far I get. I probably won't post one every day, but it'll be great inspiration for new posts.

Day 1 - 10 things about your lolita bubble
I'm not all too sure what this actually means. Does it mean my local group, my personal lolita experiences, or what?

1. For me, lolita has been a on again off again thing. I first got into the fashion when I was in 7th grade, got my first proper pieces in 9th, and then I sort of dropped out of the style. After I graduated high school, I went to study abroad in Japan and fell in love with the style again. Ever since I've been a proper lolita going to meet-ups and stuff.

2. I love the rules. A lot of lolitas these days are all like "screw the rules and be creative." I think that that can be one approach to lolita and some of my polyvore coordinates take that a bit more to heart. But for what I actually wear, I go traditional all the way. It can be boiling outside and I'll show up in a blouse and bloomers.

3. Mana. Eh. I'm not a Mana fan girl. So many people are, I don't really get his whole draw. I like his brand, I like his music, I'm just not a big Mana fan.

4. My local community is pretty darn awesome. We've had our share of problems. But I think we've been heading in a positive direction now. I've been a moderator there for about six months, and so far it's been crazy fun.

5. I love running lolita fashion shows! I've done two now, each one has been an extremely stressful experience. Somehow I manage to be extremely stressed and having the time of my life. It's a good 50 hours of pre-con work, and this past con I was so stressed I threw up. But that's probably my favorite part of being a lolita and I wouldn't give it up for the world. I'll probably be writing a whole article about my experiences with this at some point.

6. I think I'm a kuro lolita with a color problem. It's so strange because I really love colors and my apartment is just covered in scraps of colorful fabric. But I wear kuro lolita. It's quite odd to me.

7. I LOVE SHOES. I never really was a shoe girl until I got into lolita. Now, I've picked out like 15 new pairs of shoes that I'll be slowly obtaining pair by pair. My favorites are rocking horse shoes and anything with laces.

8. I never wear OTK socks. If my knees are showing, I feel cold and naked. So I always wear tights.

9. My room doesn't have a trace of lolita in it at all. Except for the pile of dresses for sale in a chair and the G&LBs on the book shelf. So I won't be taking pictures of my room for day 22.

10. I desperately want an elegant wardrobe of my own. My closet is just a normal one, but it doesn't even have a bar in it to hang stuff on, only hooks. It's a pain! Someday I'll have a vintage armoire or something glorious for my clothes. But not anytime soon.

Day one done! Let's see if I keep it up! I already can pick out days that I won't be doing, namely the ones that require pictures of myself. I try not to post too many of those to the internet, so I'll be changing those ones a bit. If you've got any ideas, feel free to email me at my new email, theelegantwardrobe@gmail.com! Bye bye for now!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Coordinate Tuesday: Marseille Rose

I haven't been the best of bloggers as of late, but at least this portion hasn't been sliding. I have an all new coordinate for you today, with a French flair to it no less. Let's get right to it.

And here we are. A country coordinate made out of separates. Cream and red is one of my favorite color combinations. Again, I went with a rose theme. Incidentally, roses are a very popular print for florals. As a result, roses pop up a lot in lolita fashion and in my coordinates. This one is no different, the print on the Baby the Stars Shine Bright skirt is in face, roses. The hat was really the inspiration behind this coordinate. I think it's interesting that the hat's on a headband. It makes it easy to wear and something interesting that not everyone has in their wardrobes. The cardigan makes the coordinate easy to wear during the day or night, spring, summer, and fall. The lace tights have a slight floral print on them, bringing the floral all the way through. The bag I chose is something I haven't used before. I love the polka dots and the faux lace on the corners. Best of all, it can fit a whole lot of stuff in it! Rose earrings complete the look.

I'm running out of ideas for posts. If there's anything that you'd like to see me write about, please let me know by commenting below! Also, if you want to see your coordinate here next week, email me at my all new email address: theelegantwardrobe@gmail.com! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Experiments in Tea Dyeing

Ever since I was little, I've had this fascination with color and changing the color of things. So when I learned about using tea, coffee, juice, and other natural dyes to dye fabric, I had to do some experiments. This wasn't my first time doing tea dyeing, but this was the first time I did such a comprehensive test with a wide variety of products. I wanted to post my method, mediums, results and application ideas here. Maybe they'll inspire you too!

Step 1
Choose your fabric! Natural fabrics work best, like cotton. Once you have your fabric, if possible, cut a test swatch. This isn't alway possible, for example, if you're doing a whole dress, an antique, or a single piece of fabric, like a handkerchief. In cases like these, try and find a fabric that is similar to your piece, and use that as the test. The test strip(s) are important to figure out the right amount of concentration (how long you steep your tea) and/or time to
leave your piece in. Since I wanted to try as many different dyes as possible, I cut ten strips.

Step 2
Soak your test strip(s) in a bowl of clean tap water. This removes excess dirt and dye from the fabric, as well as loosens up the fabric to accept the dye better. I left mine in the water about an hour. After awhile, take the fabric out and rinse it under running water. Pat dry, but don't dry them fully. They shouldn't be dripping.

Step 3
Start your testing! I used apple juice, orange juice, and cranberry juice first. Since these don't get brewed like tea or coffee, you can start dyeing right away. I left these swatches in for ten minutes.

Then I started with the tea. I only did three at a time. Each tea was brewed for four minutes. On the left you can see my set up for the swatches. I left all of the tea swatches in for five minutes each. Finally, I used this setup to try two more products, powdered juice mix (expired) and watered down raspberry vinegar. Now since these are only swatches, these little bowls work perfectly fine. But if you dye something bigger, then you will need a much larger container. It has to be able to hold both the item and enough liquid to completely cover the fabric.

This is the most exciting part, pulling your fabric out and seeing what happened! Swatches 1 and 2 (apple juice and orange juice) didn't really take any color at all. After drying overnight, the apple is a tinted white, almost like an off-white, and the orange didn't really change. That's to be expected, as they don't really have dark colors. The cranberry swatch, 3, came out really nice though. After drying, the color became lighter, but a lovely dusty pink color. 4, the green tea, was a light green-yellow when it came out. After drying, it's become much more yellowish. The earl grey tea, number 5, took the dye very nicely. My fabric has a slight print, originally it was white on white. This tea not only dyed the base fabric, but the print as well. Not every substance did that. Lipton tea is number 6, it seems to have gotten cut off. It's not much different from the earl grey in all honesty, maybe just a little bit lighter. 7 is a mint tea. This one came out pretty interesting. I didn't think it would be much different from the green tea, but it is. It's quite green, and the print was dyed darker than the base fabric on this one. It's quite lovely when you hold it up to the light. Ah, if only I could do curtains in it. 8 was the chai tea, and 9 was the lemon tea. They look pretty much the same after drying. They're both lighter than the Lipton tea (6) and the Earl Grey (5). The raspberry vinegar (10) was an afterthought, and I watered it down quite a bit. The color is quite flat, and it smells, well, like vinegar. Finally, number 11, the drink powder (strawberry lemonade FYI). Also an afterthought. This one is nice too! It dyed the fabric, and only a little of the print. It's a bit darker than the cranberry juice too.

Step 4
Let your fabric dry completely. The ideal way to do this is to hang it up on a clothesline overnight. I took mine and sandwiched them in paper towels. This probably lead to the lightening of the colors. Make sure they don't drip onto anything stainable. Do it over a sink, lay out towels below, etc.

Whew! That was a lot of dyeing! But what application does this really have for the world of lolita? So much! You can apply this method for lovely results when making your own accessories. You can control the color and get a completely unique piece all your own. You can dye lace handkerchiefs, and even socks for stunning results.

To seal the color in (prevent it from fading, bleeding, etc.), there's a very simple method. If you have a big piece, like a skirt or dress, then you can do this in your washing machine. I recommend doing this as a stand-alone piece to prevent your other laundry from getting dye on it and vice versa. Set it to cold and allow the machine to fill up halfway, before putting the piece in the machine. Stop the machine and pour in one cup of white vinegar, and 1/2 cup of salt. If you can, turn on the agitator for a few minutes to allow the salt and vinegar to dissolve. Put the piece in and allow the wash cycle to complete as normal. Once should be enough. Alternatively (and probably overall a safer option) you can do this same method by hand. This works well in small batches (if you're doing socks or a headbow or something), but could be tough for a big piece. Repeat the procedure until no more dye comes out.

Are you going to try it? I like to use this method to dye fabric for doll clothes, as they always are small batches. It gives a really nice antique look to fabric and it's a fun project!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Coordinate Tuesday: Bluebird

First of all, I'm so sorry for this past week. I've had absolutely no motivation to write, and while I've written half articles, nothing ever seems to be where I want it to go. So I'll try better this week, and hopefully finish some of the things I've started. I did manage a coordinate this week, one that I really like too.

This coordinate has a refreshing quality to it. I think it's the blue and off-white color scheme that makes it so refreshing to me. The most important quality in a country-style summery coordinate of any kind is to make it look breezy and effortless. This is achieved here with light fabric, the subtle floral print, the lace shoes, and the light blue color of the blouse and tights. Feel free to wear sandals or knee socks if you don't like tights, or it's especially hot. I think sandals, nice ones not flip flops, are completely appropriate in this case. I chose this birdcage necklace right off the bat. Then, I discovered the BABY parasol, as well as the matching earrings. I love birdcage motifs, and you hardly ever see them in prints. Sure, you'll get gothic-style gates, chandeliers, and the occasional cage, but there are so few bird prints. Anyhow, moving on, the bag just seemed to fit with what I was going for. It's a vintage crocheted bag that has such a great texture to it. It must be lined, otherwise it looks like everything would be constantly falling out of it! The woven hair bow isn't really anything special, feel free to swap it out with anything. It's there to carry the texture from the bag up, but like I said, it could be replaced with a hat, a different bow, a flowery hair corsage, or what have you. I believe this dress is a Mary Magdalene piece, isn't it lovely? Perfect for a stroll on a sunny afternoon, or for a fancy garden party.

Well, that's all I've got. I'm having tea on Saturday, so I'd like to make that a photo post of the place we're going, it's absolutely lovely! We'll see what happens. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Coordinate Tuesday: Rose Princess

Roses always remind me of royalty. They are intricate little buds with a lovely scent and a rich history. They are the symbol of love, and have been cultivated since 3,000 BC in China. They are one of my favorite flowers and I've actually named one of my dolls Rose. This week's coordinate is a tribute to roses, and while I didn't use a rose-printed or rose-colored dress, I think this sums up my feeling towards roses very nicely.

I'm really proud of this one. The simple dress and blouse are exactly the same color, so they blend in to each other, letting the textures do the talking. For instance, if the dress was a bright pattern, or even a different color, you wouldn't notice the crocheted neckline of the blouse quite as much, a feature I wanted to highlight. This beige color also seems light and airy to me, making for a cool summer coordinate. The tights took awhile to choose. I wanted to bring in a second color, but that's usually done through a blouse or chosen from a print on the dress or skirt. However, since there isn't anything to go off of, it was pretty much wide open. These tights are just so interesting, and since the rest of the coordinate is monochromatic, they pop. The shoes introduce that woven texture that fits perfectly into the country style. It's carried up through the coordinate to the very top in the hat. I personally would get a plain straw hat and then customize it to match perfectly with whatever I was going to wear, but Polyvore won't let you do that. This one would definitely serve as inspiration for mine for sure though, I love the patterned stripe with the solid bows on top. For the jewelry, the rose bracelet with the metal was the jumping off point, both color and style wise. I chose two different pairs of earrings, and a ring. I love this ring! The rose is actually made from fabric, which gives it a delicate look that only fabric can achieve. The bag, oh the bag. I've had this bag in quite a few coordinates, and it fits well into all of them. It's the perfect color and style to match with this coordinate without drawing too much attention to itself.

I've written so much about this coordinate, that should say something about how much I like this one. I hope you also love it! I'm hoping to do another giveaway this month, but I'm not sure what to actually give away. What would you like to see? Let me know!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Anime Review: Gosick

Do you watch anime? I do! I know that many of us enjoy anime and manga. Gosick is probably one of my favorite anime currently airing. It's great! It started last season, and it's been picked up for 24 episodes. The anime is set in the fictional country of Sauville, in the year 1924. Kujo, the main character, is a exchange student from Japan. While attending St. Marguerite Academy, he meets a mysterious girl named Victorique (Vic-to-ri-ca). They have a series of adventures, all around solving mysteries. It's a great show, but what relevance does it really have here?

Well, the main character, Victorique, wears the most beautiful gowns, all with lolita elements
in them. Also, Innocent World has paired with the animators to make an original dress set, that, if I understand correctly, will be animated into the show at some point. She wears long dresses in the Victorian style, but it is easy to see where Lolita styles get
their influences from. Victorique wears her hair extremely long, which seems like a character trait rather than a fashion norm (as other women in the series wear theirs at different lengths). She's obsessed with books, and spends her days in the library. She has a penchant for sweets, and demands that all visitors bring them to her. She lives in a house that can only be described as "fit for a doll." It's the picture to the right, isn't it adorable? Anyhow, I'll be reviewing this anime really quick. As it's still airing, I can't comment on the show as a whole, just what's been shown so far.

Story: 9/10
I'm a sucker for a good mystery story. You just don't see too many mystery anime being made. The story lines are masterful, with each being neatly tied up within two or three episodes. There aren't really gimmicks or anything in this show, the only thing I can think of is what seems to be the heightened logical reasoning skills of Victorique, which she calls her "wellspring of wisdom."

Sound: 10/10
The music! I love it! All the background music fits perfectly into the scene that it goes with. And the opening is one of my most favorite anime themes ever. The ending themes (there are two now) are both lovely, yet sad sounding, which I'm sure will fit into the story line later on (it's going to end up being sad, I just know it).

Art: 10/10
This show is gorgeous! The studio that produces this anime (Studio Bones) is known for their
eye-catching artwork, and this show is no exception. The opening and ending have less of a finished look to them, they look more like
line-art, if that makes sense. But that's a good thing in my opinion. The show itself is polished, dynamic, and detailed to a tee. There are tiny bricks on buildings, hair and clothing move hyper-realistically, and everything is depicted beautifully, even gruesome scenes.

Character: 9/10
Most of the characters in this show are really interesting and dynamic. Victorique can be very childish, demanding sweets and rolling on the floor when she's bored. She can also be very mature and she's just brilliant. She has a porcelain pipe that she keeps by her site at all times, a nod to Holmes if I'm not mistaken. Kujo (the male protagonist) has been sort of flat for the beginning of the show, but little by little he's changing. The rest of the characters are sort of plain and predictable, with the exception of the Inspector (the drill-hair character). He's actually quite interesting in my opinion, I hope the show explains him a bit more in the coming episodes.

Enjoyment: 10/10
I love this show! As soon as I see it up to watch, I watch it. Others take me days to get to, but a select few get the top priority. Gosick is in this category. It never ceases to intrigue me and every episode gives me more questions that I want answered.

Overall: 9.5/10
This show is brilliant. Victorique's character is terribly interesting, and each episode creates more mysteries around her. I cannot wait for the new episode each week. Plus, the main character wears lolita-esque clothing. It doesn't get much better than that, right?

Are you now sold on Gosick? Have you been watching it as it airs? If you're at all interested, check it out! I have a feeling that this one might get dubbed into english, but there are plenty of places to see it now! If there are other anime or manga that I find that seem appropriate to review here, I'll be doing that! Anime is my first love, so I'm more than happy to integrate it into my blog.

In other news, I recently acquired a new part time job. I'm not sure of my hours yet, and it shouldn't affect this blog in a negative way at all. But if for some reason it does, please bear with me. I am really excited to start this job because I'll actually be able to wear lolita to work, so hopefully I can write some stuff about lolita in the workplace.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May Theme - Country Lady

Hello all! I'm sorry this has taken so so long, but here's the theme for May! This month as well as next month are going to have a country twist to them. Since this will be lasting for two months, I decided to make the collage pretty simple, consisting of mostly dresses and skirts, with only a few accessories.

So here we are. Tons and tons of gorgeous dresses and skirts. Some from Innocent World, some from Victorian Maiden, a Metamorphose Temps de Fille one piece, Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Angelic Pretty, and Mary Magdalene. Aren't they lovely? I chose florals, fruit prints, and solids in neutral tones for a simple country style. As a bonus, most of these pieces could do double duty in classic or sweet coordinates. I also put a few hats on here. Hats are a country lolita's best friend. A lovely hat can take a coordinate from classic and make it definitively in the country category. Some flowery jewelry and a strawberry pendant rounds out the accessories department. Overall a simple collage for an elegant style.

I hope you like this theme! It's a little different from past themes, and I'm sort of running out of good ideas for themes in general. I hope I can think of some good ones in the next two months. If you have any themes you'd like to see, by all means, let me know! I love input from readers!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's Tuesday! Time for a Coordinate!

Well folks, it's Tuesday again. But it's now May, and tea time seems to have ended. This month will be around something I've never done before, it's going to have a theme, but this theme will be lasting throughout the month of June as well. The theme this time is quite broad, country style. Since the theme is so broad and vague, I thought two months would probably be better to work with it. Now I don't have a collage for this one yet, as Polyvore is being extremely slow on my computer. What I do have is a coordinate that I made months and months ago that I'll talk about today. And since there's plenty of time for new coordinates (there are five Tuesdays this month!), I don't feel terribly about pulling something older out.

This is a coordinate I made for my sister, who loves this dress. It's a very popular Bodyline item, called Love Nadia. The dress comes in five different colors, including this lovely shade of light blue. It also comes in a skirt. The print is delicate and shows a scene of a girl wearing a similar dress in the woods. I paired this with a boater hat, a staple of a country wardrobe. Everything but the jewelry, tights, and parasol can be found on the Bodyline website, meaning you can purchase this coordinate for your own closet fairly easily. Since this is a one piece, there's no need for a blouse, bolero, or cutsew. The jewelry is all replaceable. I chose pearls to mimic the dots on the dress, as well as the pearly color of white used in the fabric. The rose is there simply because it reminds me of my uncle's house in the country. He used to grow the most amazing roses, and so now they remind me of being out in the country. Brown shoes pick up the brown border of the dress, and the dots on the parasol. This parasol is one of my favorite items, I wish I owned it. It's fun and yet still soft and delicate looking. The bag reminds me of a straw basket, and the woven look echos the hat's woven texture.

Well, are you super excited about going country with me? I hope to be able to share more recipes, tutorials (tea dyeing is in the works), and all sorts of other things! Please remember to vote in the poll at the top right hand side of the page. There are only a few weeks left to do that! Also, check out the new conventions page for info on all the cons I've been to, and as I confirm new ones, that info as well. Thanks for reading!