For being a pretty open person about most things, I am surprisingly protective of my tattoo.
Despite getting it nearly a year ago, I haven't posted many photos of it online anywhere. It's not like the story behind it is bound up in some super-personal trauma, and I'm certainly not embarrassed by it -- it's a stag with oak tree branch antlers, not a portrait of my first love (Brian from the Backstreet Boys) or something.
But I thought about what I wanted for so long that when I actually got it, I realized I didn't really want to show it off. It's like when you get a tiny crush on someone and keep it a secret for no real reason. It's not ever going to be earth-shaking, but it's important to you, and it starts feeling like a flame you have to cup your hands around to keep lit.
The really strange thing is that I'm not even that into deer in real life. Like, I lived in upstate New York and Northern California, I know deer can be dipshits who eat all your flowers and run into your cars. I am way more likely to get all excitable over bats or foxes or wolves, as far as animals native to the U.S. go. Still, though, because I associate deer with both California and Ithaca -- and with the goddess Artemis, and with the boundaries between humans and nature, and all that liminality stuff I love thinking about -- I tend to surround myself with portrayals of does and stags.
I didn't really notice this until I moved into my new place in Chicago. My friend was helping me decorate my room when she stopped, raising an eyebrow at me.
"You kinda got a theme here going, bud," she said.
"What, besides 'human disaster?'"
"Yes, besides that," she said, looking around. "How many pictures of deer do you need?"
"Um," I said. "Apparently at least three."
I guess it's a good thing, right? I mean, you're supposed to like your tattoo. But I have occasionally stopped to think about whether it's tacky to wear patterns that match your body art. My little dude (OK, yes, I think of him as my little dude, though he doesn't have a proper name) isn't especially visible, but you can certainly see his antlers with most of my sleeveless shirts. Considering that fawn print is apparently In this season, I may be getting a lot more opportunities to go from "Man, that girl sure loves nature!" to "I'm, like, 90% sure that girl is two sleeps away from weaving her hair into a hammock and moving to Banff." Particularly since I recently dyed my whole head green.
In anticipation of that inevitability (of my own descent into Nature Girl Style, not a Juniper Tree exodus), here's some of my favorite ways to incorporate deer into your every aesthetic decision. No stag tattoo required.
Unfortunately, a search for "deer shoes" will often turn up "shoes made of deer," which is not so much my scene. You can make Hannah proud, though, by attaching these shoe clips to any of your favorite heels, then pairing them (this might not make her so proud) with some appropriately themed socks, leg warmers or indecently warm-looking leggings. Remember, like Sock Wizard says, "Deer are so beautiful in wild."
ModCloth's "On Antler On" dress was really the beginning of the end for me in terms of deer-themed clothing. I spent way too much money on it and, now that the weather has turned cold, it will probably not come out of closet hibernation until spring. However, though it is tragically out of stock, I can attest that it is incredibly comfortable, has pockets, and, thanks to its handy moose-head inclusion, would come in handy for anyone (me) trying to get a walk-on role of a revival of the long-dead buddy cop sitcom "Due South."
While you wait with bated breath for M.C. to get their inventory up to speed, might I also suggest this Bambi shift by Sugarhill, a reindeer sweater dress, or this very strange but somehow still appealing number, which looks like something I might wear to Greek God '80s prom. Alternatively, if you're desperate to drop a chunk of change to look fancy while hiding from predators in the woods, this fawn print dress by Carven would do just nicely.
Though it is the holiday season, and therefore reindeer sweaters abound, I prefer outerwear that seems a little more deliberately woodsy. (Also, have you noticed that deer on holiday sweaters always look like they've been in some tragically disfiguring oil tanker accident, a la "Once Upon a Forest?") Hence, this deer-on-a-bike cardigan, which combines so many discrete hipster elements that my mouth tastes like craft beer just looking at it. (As does this deer with a mustache and monocle t-shirt.) For a less urban wildlife feel, there's a deer in the forest silhouette screenprint, an Adidas stag-head pullover or a shirt from someone who clearly had the same tree-branch dream that I did when designing my little dude.
(And if you're not picky about what species your antlers belong to, this springbok pullover, gentleman moose t-shirt or moose-wearing-snowshoes hoodie would both be excellent choices for any trip to the Natural History Museum.)
Here's where I start getting into trouble. I could probably get away with wearing a deer sweater, barring surprise nudity. But the chances of me wearing, say, a stag head necklace, adorable cameo doe pendant or antler earrings with a dress that showed off my little dude in all his glory are, well, much higher. Even this super-cute deer print circle scarf is light enough to be paired with a tank top in the summer. I guess at the end of the day, I'll end up attracting a hunting enthusiast or the anthropomorphic personification of the Greek god Pan. I guess it's a good thing I'm not picky.
"But Kate!" I hear you cry. "Though I understand the urge to surround oneself with relics of the forest, I don't actually want to adorn my own body with them!" Fear not, my strangely particular friend. If you want to trick animal-hating people into actually coming into your home before they realize your obsession, might I suggest deer-themed interior decorations? The above print was actually done by my friend Misha Ashton, whom I met while staying in a hostel during my first fortnight in Chicago. She was in town for a few art fairs, and I obsessed over that caribou picture for a full week before finally making it my first official step toward nesting in my new home. (My second step, for the record, was buying a deer antler cast-iron necklace holder in black. I'm telling you, my room has a motif.)
On the off-chance you don't want to replicate my living space entirely (though I can't imagine why not), you can check out this deer pillow cover, a cardboard deer head faux-taxidermy number or even this bizarrely cutesy Artemis-was-here screen print. Fair warning, though -- based on my track record, I can't promise I won't buy these anyway in the near future.
Heaven forbid I ever get a Justin Bieber tattoo.
Kate is being a-deer-able (sorry, she couldn't resist just one pun) at @katchatters.