4 Methods for Redirection, Renewal, and Reinvention

May 12, 2015 | Posted by rissvandal

A few times a year, usually as a new season approaches, I feel an overwhelming desire for change. I start to explore new looks, new hobbies, and new methods of self-expression. One defining thing about me though, is that if I plan to make a change I want it to be big. Most times, however, in order to see big changes you need to make big commitments. A dramatic new haircut or closet spring cleaning is a suggestion I often see in regards to a change you can immediately make. Both of those seem like decent enough ideas, but what if the haircut sucks and you’re left mourning your lost tresses? Or maybe a month later you’ll begin to regret that heavy-handed closet purge. Here I have 4 methods to either reinvent your look or push your life in a new direction that I practice myself. Each one is painless, fairly immediate, and requires little commitment.


Despite the many times I’ve changed my look throughout life, the majority of my look have all been rooted in the same sources. Since my teen years, Siouxsie Sioux, Nana Osaki, and the deadly stylish characters of Tim Burton movies have reigned as my main inspirations. As I age, I’ve begun to crave duality. I’ll never totally abandon black, but in recent years I’ve been admiring sweet lolitahime lolita, and fairy kei looks from afar, though unwilling to actually give these looks a try myself.

blog10That is, until I stumbled across Saaya Hayashida’s Instagram account. Saaya is the creative force behind the sugary sweet Japanese brand, Swankiss. Her look that’s part adorable, part angelic, and part ethereal princess is one of the most striking ones I’ve seen in some time. And after style stalking her long enough on Instagram, it lead me to ponder if I could pull off pinks, pastels, and delicate hues.


Photos via swankiss.net

I’m not abandoning my trademark style, but I’m opening up to the idea of letting more color in. Judging from the responses I received after pulling off this look (i.e. “I think Korea changed you“), colors can clearly be more shocking and subversive than I realized. My initial three style icons now need to make way for a fourth. And I challenge anyone to start exploring styles way out of your comfort zone–it could have some wonderfully dramatic and eye-opening results.

blog-3Flower crown: Claire’s / Hair extensions: Hair Plus Base / Bodysuit: thrift

blog-2blog-1False nails: offbrand, Japanese import / Sailor Moon compact: JBox.com


I totally change my look dozens of times each year, which is only possible because I use temporary methods.  Knowing how brutally long it takes my hair to grow out, haircuts have become a nightmare to me, which is why I own more wigs and hairpieces than I can keep track of.

blog11My latest foray into temporary makeovers involves hair extensions. Unlike my more over-the-top looks (i.e. my rainbow wig collection) these 10 piece human hair extensions from Hair Plus Base add major length while seamlessly blending in with the rest of my hair. The extensions were surprisingly easy to apply and remained snug for a full day of long hair I had no chance of achieving otherwise.


Jacket: H&M / Earrings: GothPunk / Hair extensions: Hair Plus Base

Other suggestions for temporary makeovers include wigs, clip-in bangs, colored contacts, and temporary hair dye. Hair Plus BaseGothic Lolita WigsPinky Paradise, and Manic Panic are a couple of places to begin your search for tools to create a new look.



I’ve always loved fashion and since I was a teen I wanted to write about it, talk about it, and create bold outfits and cosplays to express myself. The problem was, all these ideas were in the mind of a cripplingly shy girl who cared everything about what people thought. As time went by, some of my shyness dissipated, but still never enough for me to seriously pursue my passions. Somewhere down the road I was watched a webinar by burlesque performer, Veronica Varlow, which was about following your dreams. She described something that sounded cheesy, but also made sense. She said if there’s something you want to be, you need to start dressing and acting the part, and if necessary, even create a persona to achieve your goals. Soon after that, Riss Vandal was born. Marissa Phillips was too shy for mostly anything, but Riss Vandal wasn’t afraid of boldly expressing herself, modeling in pictures, creating a personal blog, etc. It might sound weird–having to birth a new version of myself, but it gave me an imagined sense of separation that felt freeing.

Kodona Cosplay

But your new personality doesn’t necessarily need to come in the same form that mine did. There are countless options. Start a blog under a pseudonym. Imagine characters and write stories about experiences much different than your own. Delve into cosplay. Perform with a stage name. Create a bold new look and team up with a photographer for a photo shoot. Basically, find a new project or venue to express yourself in a way in a way you’re not used to, or in a way you’ve never previously allowed yourself. And whatever it is, don’t be afraid to take it seriously–you never know who you’ll find hiding inside you.

946043_697873300224299_600596387_nModel: Arielle Catherine


I believe in magic. That’s a broad statement, I know. What kind do I believe in? I believe in all kinds–good, bad, and everything in between. And I also believe there’s magic you can try and find and there’s magic that can find you. I have respect for full moons and the power they hold. I act with caution when Mercury is retrograding. I’ve mapped out my birth chart and considered the implications of planetary alignments. And recently, I’ve begun studying crystals and their potential energies. I know a lot of this may cause snickers and eye rolls–not all these are everyone’s cup of tea. My point is that there are a lot of opportunities to further expand everyday life and not see everything so concrete or black and white. There are ways to rekindle some of that magic that was so meaningful to many of us in our childhood.


Above are some of my personal magic items. Included are energy candles, a fairy bell, a Victorian guide to flower meanings, paper stars, among other things. While the study of planets and stars was a type of magic I sought out, all these objects above sort of found me. For example, the terrible day after my family dog died I came across that bottle of paper stars in a tiny shop in Chinatown. It’s not like I’ve never seen paper stars before, but something about these spoke to me and lead me to buy them. I can’t entirely explain why, but once I had them in my possession I felt comforted–they reminded me of the cosmos and how there’s much to the world me don’t understand, and how my dog was probably in a better place. From then on, when I have something weighing on my mind, I wish on one of those paper stars. My point, of course, is not that you should put stock in paper stars, but that you can create your own magic. The Danger Dame blog has a lovely post on how to put magic into everyday objects and create your own good luck charms.

magic paper stars

Care to weigh in on any of my suggestions? Do you have any reinvention tips of your own? Feel free to share below!



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