Labyrinth Jareth Study: Part 2.2, Cuffs

I can hear it already.  “But, Aria, why are there so many pictures of just cuffs?!”  Well, I can tell you with authoritative certainty that the spot that people are most likely to skimp on is the cuffs because the main focal point is the back and lapels, and this is what drags down an overall look.  If more time will be spent anywhere, it’s usually going to be where you expect the eye to go.  Yet it’s actually the secondary features that need to be more impressive than the primary.  This seems counterintuitive, but bear with me here.

Let us call them Yummy, Chair-dude, Beach Bros, and Street Man.  Let us define primary clothing as that which you would wear to say you’re wearing something.  If you’re wearing a suit, that means the coat and slacks.  If you’re in casual stuff, it’s the stuff won’t take off if you’ve got friends visiting.  So, your top and pants (or skirts, but I’m using the example of men since women are too often used to make positive and negative points).  Everything else are accessories, the things you can change easily and still be dressed.

A suit is typically considered dressy.  Jeans and slacks without blazers are considered casual.  Well, Yummy and Beach Bros are wearing primary clothing that is considered dressy.  But Yummy’s casual undershirt and un-shellacked ponytail and the Beach Bros’ bare feet make them look like they’re dressed down.  They have a casual, laid-back vibe to them.  But Chair-dude and Street Man are wearing primary things considered to be casual, yet are wearing shined shoes, dress socks, a hella nice outer coat and scarf, with nary a hair out of place, and come across as dressed up.  If you have a business meeting, you’d be better off wearing Chair-dude’s or Street Man’s technically casual ensembles than to go in how Yummy or Beach Bros are dressed, even though they’re wearing blazers, and one of the thing making Yummy look casual–the t-shirt–is also on Street Man.

What’s so different here?  Well, the secondary things, also known as accessories, even when necessary (e.g. a shirt under the blazer), are the finishing touches, and those can make or break a look.  A couple common phrases are “the shoes make the man” and “the accessories make the outfit” (I don’t know of any equivalents that are about women in particular, though Coco Chanel is known to have been very much into accessories how how they can make or break the ensemble, regardless of formality).

What all of this means is that the thing you expect to be the main focal point isn’t the thing that will form your opinion on something.  Cuffs that don’t get much time because they aren’t the main focal point will pull down Jareth’s ensemble, but better cuffs with lapels, collar, and upper back that didn’t get as much time will come across as more put together.  The state of what we consciously think of as lesser important affect our subconscious view more than we realize.  Take my word on this–after doing this stuff for almost 20 years now, and fairly consistently being considered among the best, I’ve learned a thing or two, and if you critique my work hard enough, you’ll come to see that that thing you can’t quite put your finger on that makes my work so jaw-dropping (and that makes me cringe and think much of my stuff is so flawed, ironically) is the secondary details that don’t seem to matter, things like the lapels, or the stripes lining up even in the arm pits, even if that are small flaws in the primary parts of something.  If there’s anything to let go of, it’s perfection in the part people already expect see as perfect, and if there’s anything to make sure is perfectly right, it’s the part where people expect to find the flaws.  Since we tend to look for problems where we expect to find them, and don’t bother looking for problems where we don’t expect to find any, when those problems aren’t there, and we aren’t looking for them elsewhere, we see perfection.

It’s psychology, and that’s why cuffs aren’t just cuffs, and now you know my secret to everything.  And now I’m screwed since y’all will be looking for flaws in the primary things. 😀

So there is your answer.  There are so many photos of cuffs because they are more important than the lapels.  They are more important than the collar.  They are more important than the upper back.  This is the detail that will make or break your recreation.

So, to the cuffs.  Scroll four photos down.  Click on it.  Notice how there is a section there that isn’t decorated.  The rest is black lace with a bunch of stuff on it.  That stuff includes plastic green/blue plastic faceted iridescent buttons.


It also includes a bunch of stringy hot glue…

…with chunky glitter and beads tossed on top…

And some teeny tiny black seed beeds, the 16/0 annoying kind, and they’re the only beads that are definitely sewn.  Because of course.  Glue the beads with the big holes, but sew on the painfully tiny things.  What were you thinking, Brian Froud?  Giving the baby beads the power, were you?

I love the lace.  It’s such a lovely lace.  If it didn’t look so pretty with glue and glitter (we’re all familiar with my loathing of the glitter glue on the live action Belle yellow gown, right?), I might want to rip my hair out for it being used on such beautiful lace.  At least there are some teensy short glass tube beads mixed in.  But this is an ensemble where these measures not only make sense considering the quality of film at that time, but it makes sense for the character.

The beads used on the cuffs are the same as on the lapel, collar, and upper back.  Those posts will show a lot more detail about those beads.

Why yes, that is Ludo in the background, next to a Firey.

Glitter.  And beads.  On glue.  Over black tulle.

Now there’s been a question about hot glue and the heat….  Stay tuned for post 2.5, Friday for my public posts, Thursday for the day-early-Patreoners.  I’ve got some ‘sperimentin’ to do.

2 thoughts on “Labyrinth Jareth Study: Part 2.2, Cuffs

  1. Jean

    I love your detailed analyses of these costumes so much. Thanks for all your work on them!
    It does seem strange that they would sew on all the tiny jet beads so precisely and then go sprinkle-crazy over the top of that. Is it possible they started with a lace that was already beaded and then embellished that? The thought of someone working so hard to bead all the lace and then being told, ‘that’s pretty, but let’s really crust it up with glitter and gems’ just makes me clutch at my throat.

    • aria

      Just saw this! It ended up in the wrong filter.

      Some of the beading on the lace looked to be on top of some of the glitter. I speculate that there was someone who decided to do that just to do it, or maybe for enjoyment. It makes as much sense as paying the higher cost of pre-beaded lace when they used literally hot glue on it. I wish I could get in contact with Brian Froud to ask.

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