Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I've given this some thought, but the truth is that there is only one thing I could possibly put on a list for December:
I am a complete nerd when it comes to Christmas. My man had to practically hold me down to keep me from putting up the tree early--I don't see anything wrong about a Christmas tree mingled with jack-o-lanterns, do you?--and I was happily able to put up some more decorations this year since we are home for the holiday.
I realize there are lots of haters out there when it comes to Christmas. Yes, it's completely commercialized, yes, it can be a major source of stress, and yes, it can be really expensive. But I love the warmth in winter, the lights, the colors, and the anticipation (which might be my favorite part). My heart still leaps a little when I see presents under the tree on Christmas morning, and not because I got more stuff. My family says I'm impossible to shop for, and generally buy straight off my list or buy gift cards, so there actually aren't many surprises. (It should be noted here that my man is an exceptional gift-giver. His are ALWAYS surprises.) I get excited because somewhere in me there is still a little girl who thinks Santa or a Santa-like entity still exists who wants to give us one day when being thoughtful is celebrated. I love giving presents; my man has to hold me back on that as well. If he didn't, we'd be totally broke. I love the eating, I love the holiday specials and I love the carols.
For the Scrooges out there, I feel badly that Christmas has been lost for them. Christmases for me have been great, but I know that's not the case for everyone, and some people have a long list of reasons why they personally have learned to dislike Christmas. I think that ultimately each of us have our own definition of Christmas, or whatever winter holiday we choose to celebrate. As for me, love and magic are at the core of my Christmas, and I wish you both this year.
(So get off the computer! Go be with people! I'm only online because I'm stuck at work.)
Friday, December 19, 2008
I slipped into my tennis shoes and imagined them waking from an age-old slumber, much like the cartoon bullets that spring to life in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? when Detective Eddie Valiant enlists their help in Toon Town after many years of disuse. These are the same gym shoes I got when I started working my very first retail job in high school, and tennis shoes were a required part of our uniform. I washed my face, filled up my water bottle and went up one floor to the cardio room.
It took some time for me to reacquaint myself with this land of nefarious contraptions designed to inflict non-sexual pain. First, I forgot to be mindful of which treadmill I chose, and didn't take into account what channel was playing on the TV, so I wound up watching ESPN meatheads digest the Sunday football game. I was too embarrassed to move, though, and stuck with it. The first half-mile was hard, not least because I was in front of a mirror and saw how awful I looked as I ran. After a mile, I switched to another machine, and then headed up to the weight room for part two of my workout.
Back in the day, I used to be very enthusiastic about weight lifting. I got a weight bench for my birthday one year, and even brought my barbells with me on family vacations. I credit the weightlifting I did in my years of early puberty as the reason why it's not very difficult for me to get my arms back into shape. But recently, my man was sitting next to me on the couch and said, "You look great in that dress, but you would be devastating with toned arms." At first I was offended, then felt sad because he was right. I had allowed my once-beautiful arms to lose their muscle tone, and was now determined to restore it. This I knew I could do, and was doing some curls on the weight bench when a large man came over to me and asked me if I was okay. I told him I was fine. He asked me again, and I told him I thought I was doing fine, but it seemed like he thought otherwise, so tell me what I'm doing wrong. He showed me the proper way to curl (how could I forget?!?) and then demonstrated to me how some of the machines worked.
Ever since that day, I have been in pain, but the pain feels good. My thighs scream at me when I sit down, and my calves share the sentiment. I went back two days later, and though I'm still sore, I like that I'm getting strong. I can already see a difference.
The thing I realized is that I had let myself go because, in a corset, I look great. I'm not fat, but I have gotten soft, which is not something I see when I'm laced and looking in a mirror. In a corset, my waist looks great and my tummy is flat. The shape of my legs doesn't matter much because my skirts generally fall below the knee, so I don't notice so much if they expand or contract. And I gave up on my butt a long time ago. However, none of this is any excuse for not taking care of my body. Even if I look good, that doesn't mean I have a healthy heart. Flexibility is important, and working out helps me feel less guilty if I eat poorly one meal.
My father was just diagnosed with diabetes, himself having once been a star athlete who later let himself go with the various stresses of life. Now he can't eat the way he'd like to because he's spent the last few years eating whatever he wants with no regard for his health. It's hard on him now having to make sudden, big changes, and it's hard on my mom as well. My corsets are great and I won't stop wearing them, but I also can't let them trick me into thinking I am healthier than I am.
Friday, December 12, 2008
I think she did. One of the great things about Bettie is how natural she looks--no implants, no tanning. Her trademark hairstyle is often a little frizzy, and her locks are never ramrod straight. I imagine she rolled out of bed, showered, and let her hair air-dry as she drove to a shoot. She doesn't wear lots of make-up, and generally isn't dripping in jewels and rhinestones. More or less, she's wearing underwear that happens to match.
Another thing I take from her referring to "nudity in its natural form" is her SM photography, although I am sure that is not what she meant. Nudity inspires different feelings and thoughts for everyone, many of which stem from a culture that treats nudity as taboo. Her work helped to make it okay for people to have their dirty thoughts, partially because she herself was so clean and tasteful. One thing that can be very difficult about enjoying SM play is that most people go through various stages of denial, in much the same way that I imagine gay men and women do as they come to realize their homosexuality. It's hard to admit that you enjoy being spanked or tied up, or to confront an innate desire to inflict pain on someone you love. Bettie helped make SM public, and it became part of the sexual revolution she inadvertently helped launch.
It's my belief that there is still an awful lot of prejudice and misunderstanding about SM and the people who practice it. I myself am extremely private about it, whereas my man is not, because I am very sensitive to the criticism I anticipate from others. But the message Bettie sends has helped me be at ease with my own desires. Sex is fun, and it's fun in a lot of different ways; there's really no right or wrong way to enjoy it and assumptions to the contrary are thrown out when you look at the scope of Bettie's photos. Like Bettie, you can be a good girl in soft lace some of the time and still be the bad girl in leather at other times. Because come on, admit it--you are a little bit of both.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
1. The SaSi
I love vibrators, and as far as I can tell the SaSi may be the cream of the crop (pun intended). What sets the SaSi apart is its use of Sensual Intelligence technology. As you use the SaSi, you tell it what levels and types of stimulation you like best, and can skip over the ones that just don't do it for you. SaSi remembers, and returns to your favorites, and, based on those, throws in some educated guesses about something new for you to try. It's silicone, so it's easy to clean, and it's rechargeable, so you don't have to keep buying batteries. Of course it can't bring you flowers or feed you soup when you're sick, but otherwise, the SaSi might be the ideal partner--does what you like, throws a few curveballs, and isn't offended if you don't like what it's doing. At $175, it's not exactly recession-friendly, but a girl can dream.
2. Fifi and Francoise
I would be happy with just about anything from Agent Provocateur under my tree, but these are a couple of my favorites. I love the lace overlays, and the pink and black combination runs throughout my favorite pieces at home. The bras give my breasts a flattering bullet-shape, and may I point out the Francoise French Thong in particular? Let's also take note of the Fifi slip. That's a gift for me and my man.
3. The Lace-up Girdle from Lace Embrace
Of course I love lacing up in my corset, but there are some days when I want something a little gentler. Maybe I'm cramping, maybe my hips are sore, or maybe I'm just bored wearing the same pair of utility corsets I have, but this girdle would be a great alternative. Not only is it sexy on its own, but it keeps everything smooth, tight and shapely, even if it's not as extreme as a corset. The smoothness in particular is a big draw, since I get very self-conscious about my corset being visible under my clothes. I've also had very pleasant dealings with Lace Embrace in the past, and would be happy to continue supporting their business.
Monday, November 24, 2008
This past weekend I was in Philadelphia, and visited one of the oddest places in my recent memory: The Mutter Museum. It is part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and is a collection of medical artifacts both historical and strange. There is an ovarian cyst that weighed in at 74 pounds, there is a piece of John Wilkes Booth's brain, a colon that contained forty pounds of feces and the twins joined at the head which are pictured here. Believe me when I say that these examples are just scratching the surface of strangeness in this fascinating place.
However, I keep thinking about one piece in particular, which is a turn-of-the-century skeleton of a tightlacer. Her ribcage has been brought in so small that her floating ribs nearly meet in front, and the museum estimates that at the time of her death, her waist measured in the 13-14 inch range. Listening to the audio tour, I learned that one thing scientists can discern from the skeleton is that she was wealthy enough to have a servant that could lace her that tightly, and that her corsets probably used grommets, which also helped her to lace tighter. I never would have thought about grommets as an innovation, but it makes perfect sense.
The audio piece also gives a shout-out to Cathie Jung as a modern tightlacer, notes that tightlacers are rare, and that tightlacing can cause serious damage to your body. This last part annoyed me. It's true that tightlacing can create significant health problems, however, it also worth noting that there are variations to the degree of lacing. I can sustain being laced to 22.5 inches for a day, which is a reduction of 5 or 6 inches. I've been lacing for years, and my doctors have never once expressed concern for my health. People wonder how I can breathe, my father in particular wonders about my organs being displaced, and others are amazed that I can eat in a corset.
The answer? Practice. I didn't always lace so tightly. I started out gradually in the early days of my training, and worked my way down to this size which is both flattering and realistic for me. I could lace tighter, but I wouldn't be able to stay laced so tightly for an extended period of time. Without taking the appropriate amount of time to work down to a smaller size, I would do damage to myself. There is a right way and a wrong way to do anything. A thirteen inch waist is not visually appealing to me, but Cathie seems to be doing just fine, so good for her. And, as for the skeleton, no cause of death was mentioned--not even from tightlacing.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I have a habit of worrying, and my worry now is that I will walk in on my first day of work and someone will decide that I need to dress more conservatively. I've heard of girls being told to lengthen their hems and raise their necklines in offices, and even though I'm not violating any dress code with a knee-length skirt, I wonder how my style will be received. I think it's classy, but others may just find it obnoxious. If I'm asked to change the way I dress, I'll be embarassed and annoyed.
With this in the back of my head, I went yesterday to a theory sample sale. I figure I could probably use a nice suit, and had read good things about theirs. Looking through the racks, I couldn't find anything that felt like myself. Sure, there were some cute blazers that I liked, but the disappointment came when I looked for skirts. Awful! I found high waisted pencil skirts with pleats that seemed strategically placed to add pounds to my appearance, or else run-of-the-mill skirts that bored me to tears just to look at. Even if I added personality to the suit with accessories or a tastefully bold shirt, the bottom part of me would still be a mess.
When I decide that I really can spend the money on a decent suit, I'm sure I'll buy one that is vintage, and I know that there are plenty out there which are both fashion forward and appropriate for a conservative office. That's not the point. But even among the racks of blue, gray and black plainness, I stood out like a sore thumb. It occurred to me that my new office will also be decked in blue, gray and black plainness. When I walk through the door, my new colleagues will have no idea what hit them.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Ah, winter. Holidays, hot chocolate, snuggling by the fire--and fur.
This last is possibly my least favorite part of winter. I am anti-fur, and this can be a problem for someone who a) works in an office located in Manhattan's fur district, and b) rides a train to work that originates in Brighton Beach, a predominately Russian neighborhood where fur is part of the culture. I get great pleasure in both cases walking around with my "no fur" button. The best is when I sit myself down next to a lady covered head to toe in fur with my button front and center. It's worth it to watch her squirm, and to see the looks on the other passenger's faces.
But, being anti-fur can be difficult for a pin-up. Fur is incredibly soft and silky, and associated with sex and luxury, but it is also totally inhumane. My friend at work loves her furs, and the first time she saw me with my no-fur button last winter she asked why I was against fur.
"The animals are dead already," she said.
"Yes," I answered, "because they've been slaughtered, in some cases skinned alive, just to make a coat."
"Really?" she said, her eyes wide as saucers. "I thought they used animals that were already dead."
I further explained to her that no, her coat was not made from roadkill picked up off the highway, and also that there is no reason for wearing fur, as there are plenty of synthetic fabrics available that very closely mimic the look and feel of fur without any of the cruelty. Animals on fur farms are killed using some of the same brutal methods that Michael Vick employed to kill dogs at his Bad Newz Kennelz, including electrocution, drowning and strangulation. No living creature deserves to be treated this way for the sake of a fancy coat. Fundamentally, it's just disrespect for life.
The good news is that the no-fur movement continues to gain ground. Last month, luxury retailer Henri Bendel announced it would no longer sell fur products in its stores, joining fur-free companies like Polo Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, Ann Taylor and others. The celebrity movement against fur is also huge and includes names like Sarah Jessica Parker, Pamela Anderson, Eva Mendes, Christy Turlington and Gisele Bundchen. Each of these women are examples that being a pin-up does not have to include cruelty. (One name I wish I could add to this list is Dita von Teese, who continues to wear furs. I wish she would stop.) If you've got to have the look, go faux. I myself do not, because I believe that faux fur continues to propagate the image of fur as sexy, but I still support faux, as it is still far preferable to the alternative.
There are other materials that are also cited for their cruelty to animals, like leather and some wools. I confess here that I do own and wear both leather and wool garments, but it is a practice I am working to stop for myself. I love feathers, although I don't own any, but was recently pleasantly surprised when I contacted a feather retailer who told me that (at least in the case of peacocks), the feathers are harvested after molting and not forcibly ripped from the bird. I pick on fur because I find it unexcusable. Synthetic leather has never held up for me like real leather, and I am only now finding out about cruel wool practices, but we live, we learn, and we each have the power to change. Be responsible, and check up on the stores where you frequently shop. When shopping for makeup, find out if testing is conducted on animals. Time consuming? Yes. Worth it? Definitely.
Here are some other resources to help quell a habit of animal cruelty products:
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
If you're American (I know not all of you are) and you're registered to vote (you better be) then you absolutely must vote on November 4. Besides the fact that this is a historic election of incredible importance, it's your civic right--and one that we take for granted far too often. The picture here is an aerial shot of voters in the first democratic election held in post-apartheid South Africa in 1994. Most of these people are voting for the very first time, and you and I have had the right to vote without batting an eye. And for all you ladies--know that plenty of women went through 72 years of hell to get us the right to vote, and we throw it back in all of their faces when we don't use it. So go. Vote.
2. Neil at Bloomingdale's.
I imagine that the average shoe salesperson at Bloomingdale's fits an Imelda Marcos-sized closet worth of shoes while on the job, and so I was particularly pleased with myself when I got a compliment on my skills. At my man's insistence, I tried on a pair of very tall L.A.M.B. boots (alas, no picture to be found online!). The stiletto on them was an easy five inches, and it was a skinny one too. I walked around the area, came back and told Neil I couldn't do it today. As he was putting the shoes back in the box, he remarked on how impressed he was with how well I walked in such high heels, and said he doesn't often see women who can pull that off. Which made me, and my man, very happy. By the by: I didn't get the shoes. They were not worth $725, and made my ankles look fat.
3. Betty's dress in the first scene of the season finale of Mad Men.
Every time I watch the show, I identify with Betty's wardrobe--not that I have it, but more that I want it. Her dress in this opening scene is so delicious. She looks like she's floating on the doctor's table, with the skirt so full and perfectly pleated, classy cut and fantastic color. Although, what I really want is for the Mad Men costume designers to start making replicas of the dresses and sell them, so that I too can be a Betty. When can that happen?
4. The Magic Wand
I know it's been featured here before, but seriously, it's awesome. If you don't have one, go get one.
Friday, October 24, 2008
I don't care how cute her face is when she wrinkles her nose, or what you imagine she's thinking when she winks at you while debating foreign policy with an opponent who has 36 years of experience in the United States Senate compared to her 20 months in the Alaska statehouse as governor. I don't care about who made her glasses, or how she does her hair, or what color lipstick a pitbull wears. It has nothing to do with who she is, but unfortunately, the fact that she's pretty almost seems to be bigger news that anything she might do in the White House. And the more people hold her up as a thing of beauty, the sicker it makes me.
How can a woman who, at the very least, supported a local policy that women to pay for their own rape kits be considered beautiful? When a woman's body has been the scene of a crime, she should be able to turn to governing powers to help solve that crime, instead of making it as difficult as possible to even report it. Field dressing a moose is not attractive. Aerial hunting is hideous. Blaming the media for daring to ask her such mind-boggling questions as, "What are some magazines you read?" is an act of cowardice unbecoming of a lady, not to mention a leader. Maligning the community organizers who have made this country great by thinking globally and acting locally is plain ignorant, and the use of her office to pursue a personal vendetta is childish.
Tina Fey? Pin-up. Sarah Palin? Absolutely not. I refuse to accept the perpetuation of a myth that beauty and brains are unrelated or that they cannot coexist. Molding her as an object of sex is nothing but a distraction, and she is only reaffirming the same stereotypes that made it so hard for women to break into national politics in the first place. She has been given every chance to show us her abilities as a politician, but instead all we've seen is a scripted talking head. I understand many people consider having a woman on the Republican ticket to be a step forward. In this case, however, it is a giant leap back.
Friday, October 17, 2008
I'm not looking to be a pin-up on paper (though I wouldn't turn down the offer), but my main goal instead is to be a pin-up in real life. However, it's not enough just to be pretty. My favorite pin-up artist is Gil Elvgren, and one reason I like him is because his girls have so much character. Of course they convey that sense of playful innocence we all love, but when I imagine meeting one of them in person, I think the Elvgren girl would be just as much fun to spend time with as she is to look at. She's well-mannered and treats others the way she wants to be treated. She dresses modestly, with class, but won't shy away from the happy accidents that allow her to show off those gams. She has a range of interests that stretch beyond fashion and domesticity; in fact, part of her power lies in the fact that when you look at her, you might initially write her off. Quickly, though, she proves you wrong--she's witty, interested in art, is an avid reader and also incredibly curious about everyone and everything around her. Even after she greaduated from college, she never stopped learning.
Back in the day when Elvgren was painting, it may not have been socially acceptable for most women to get involved in politics, but I imagine that his ladies are citizens of the world. They take seriously the ongoing fight for women's rights at home and abroad, and don't take for granted the sacrifices others have made before them. They're compassionate with others less fortunate than themselves, and play a role in their community that goes further than local gossip. They vote. They volunteer for charity.
I know perfectly well that back in the America of the 1940s and 1950s, when most of my favorite classic pinup girls were created, things were much different for women. They had a very different relationship with the world than we do, and what was pushing a boundary back then (like going out without a hat and gloves) is not given any thought these days. Relative to their era, I imagine that classic pin-ups were a little rebellious. I imagine a man might have been taken by surprise when he learned that there was so much more to the girl next door than just a pretty face and sense of style. I think it's incredibly important for any aspiring pin-up to remember that, for as much as she might fuss over her outward appearance, a girl's most compelling feature is always her character.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Remember those old oilcloth tablecloths that your grandma used to have? In my memory, the least likable thing about them was the pattern, which was invariably hideous. But they were great for Grandma when she had her three granddaughters in town to visit, because she could wipe up our messes from the oilcloth and be done--the alternative being constantly washing her fabric tablecloths.
Between my pets (who get on the table even though they know they shouldn't) and my man (who virtually needs a blast shield when eating), my tablecloths are a mess. However, I need them to protect our antique dining room table and to maintain my sense of personal pride at keeping a pretty table for my little family and our guests--but other oilcloths I've seen are hideous. I was thrilled, then, to find Repro Depot's selection of oilcloths and vinyls. I have the strawberry pattern for the summer and spring, and just got the apple one for the fall. They're backed with flannel so they're easy on my table, and in the case of these two patterns, wide enough that all I need to do is order two yards and put it on the table. There's no sewing required because the edges of the fabrics are already finished and won't fray. With shipping, they run just under $20, and they're far more unique than what you'd find for that price in most other places. And Repro Depot has lots of other fun fabrics out there for all your other pinup projects, so be sure to check out the rest of the inventory.
As I posted earlier this month, the cooler weather has been fabulous for lacing, and oh, how it blows up my skirts! But, it's so wonderful for other reasons, like that I get to start wearing stockings again. I can also indulge my deep and abiding love for coats and hats, both in the wearing of what I have and in drooling at the shop windows displaying them. As for my makeup, I am back to wearing loose powder, which never survived my perspiration in the summer. With all of these elements, plus the lack of mosquitoes and sweat, cold weather is my favorite. Yet there's one other part that deserves a section all its own...
Ever since I was just a little Kitty, I loved apples. Granny Smiths have always been my favorite, but at the moment I'm a Gala girl. I love their crunch, their sweetness, their juiciness, and I don't have to feel guilty for loving them because they're good for me too. I love apple ciders, apple juice, apple pie, apple crisp, apples in caramel or in peanut butter--okay, now we're starting to get away from the 'good for me' part, but the point is that this is the time for my favorite fruit. An added bonus is that, done correctly, you can look pretty damn foxy eating an apple (as with Ms. Gyllenhaal here). Keep the bites small, and channel the idea that you're eating something that has been frequently associated with sin. Fortunately for pinups, it's our kind of sin.
Friday, September 26, 2008
With the fall in full swing, corset time is back! I am once again cinched up. Just another reason why I love the cooler weather. But with the return comes the return of some of my lacing anxieties--namely, corset care and visibility.
When I took off my corset for the warmer weather, I mentioned that my corsets would be spending their summer in rehab. Stays had popped through casings, and the friction of my clothes against my corsets was taking its toll. What I discovered was that my new best friend is extra-wide grosgrain ribbon. For any of you with corsets needing repairs, this is your quick fix. Grosgrain, also used sometimes as a seam binding, can be folded over the edge of the corset where the stays are coming out, and once carefully stitched into place, it's an effective patch.
Of course I'd rather get a new corset. Okay, I'd really rather get several new corsets. One of my biggest concerns as a tightlacer is people seeing the lines of my corset, and the extra layer of the grosgrain, though slight, doesn't help alleviate my concerns. I hope nobody looks at me and thinks that if they just do enough situps they, too, can achieve a 22.5 inch waist. They'd get frustrated, so I would really prefer if people could put it together and figure it out. But just as I don't want any other pieces of my underwear to show, I don't want my corset to show. And even with new corsets, it can be difficult to find one that is both effective and invisible.
My solution is to wear clothes that already have some weight to them, and that aren't skin tight. Of course I love my pencil skirts and pencil dresses, but I don't like feeling self-conscious either. It's an ongoing battle, which usually means that I end up trying to replace my wardrobe with clothes that I feel are better for keeping my secret.
In the meantime, it's not going to stop me from lacing. My man says it probably doesn't occur to anyone that I would be wearing a full corset, because most people don't think of them as options for everyday wear. I hope so. In the meantime, secret or no, it's great to be me again--laces and all.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
However, when you're down, it's important to try to keep yourself out of a funk. If you're going to find another job you have to project an image of confidence and strength. Even if you have to fake it at first, you might find that paying a little special attention to your appearance will have you on the road to the type of positive thinking that can get results. You might be asking yourself, "How do I do that on a budget?" Well, I've been on a budget all my life, so I've learned a thing or two about beauty on the cheap. Here are some of my favorite tips, and you should also check out my DIY post, which is also about budget-friendly style. Please feel free to share your tips--I'd like to do many more posts on budget beauty!
1. Double up in the shower
Until recently, I would only use shower gel/lotion/whatever as a backup for shaving cream when I was extremely desperate. Shower gel never got foamy enough, and I always felt as though I was shaving bare legs, which hurt. But, as I said, times are tough, so when I was out of both shaving cream and shower gel at the same time I decided to go the double-duty route and tried Aveeno Positively Smooth Shower & Shave Cream. It works well, and I know I saved money buying one thing as opposed to buying two different products. But, the best part came when my man suggested I use his shaving brush to mix up a lather in the palm of my hand. Using a quarter-sized amount, the brush whips up enough soapiness for all my shaving. I used to use that much just to do one leg, so not only did I save money in the first place but I'm also extending the life of the product. The shaving brush trick would probably work wonders with just about any shower gel, so no matter what you've got in your shower right now, it's worth a shot.
2. Maintain your smile
You could have radiant skin, a sharp figure and a gorgeous head of hair, but if your teeth are crooked and rotting, then you might as well forget the rest. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there are no Vargas or Elvgren pinups with sub-par smiles. I know quite well that dental procedures can be costly, and if you're one of the growing numbers of people without health insurance, then it might not even be an option. The best thing to do is take care of what you've got, and minimize damage which will cost you later. Floss your teeth every day; I mean it. I know you're tired from being so pretty all day, but you are not allowed to be lazy and go to bed without brushing your teeth. People (read: my man) make fun of me because I still wear my retainers to bed a few times a week, but I have seen too many veterans of braces who now have crooked teeth as adults. I will never listen to them--and not have to pay to have my teeth realigned.
And while you're at it, use that smile! It will make you feel better, and just might inspire others to do the same.
3. Use palettes
When you've run out of your old stuff and it's time for new makeup, look for palettes and sets. Not only do they save space in your makeup bag, they save money in your wallet. Check out the combination sets available online at sephora.com--many of them are all you need for eyes, face and lips. Those of you who have been reading here for a while should know that my favorite brand of cosmetics is Besame, and it should come as no surprise that my favorite product of theirs (ok, it's tied with the red velvet lipstick is their Vanity Case. It (and my lipstick) is all I use, every day, plus a liquid liner and mascara which doesn't set me back too much. However, they have ignored my plea to keep the Vanity Case and it is now discontinued; they claim they have something else coming, but until I see it I'm not convinced it's better. Until October 31, Besame is having a close-out sale of what's left, and selling each case for only $12. They used to be $90. I don't know about you, but I'm stocking up.
4. Minimize your hair products
I'm a hair product junkie. Even though I know better, I fall for every hair ad I see, and honestly believe that (product name here) is the thing that will give me soft and defined curls, smooth flyaways, add shine, save the whales, whatever. You may know about my man's policy for shoes, and the same holds true for hair products. As far as I'm concerned, there are only three things you absolutely need: a decent hair gel or mousse, decent hairspray, and something for shine. I like Fructis Curl Scrunch Gel, Sebastian Shaper Plus Hair Spray, and MOP Styling Tonic. If you're after straight hair, I like Bumble and bumble Straight. It's a little pricey, but it lasts a while and it beats buying ten other things that don't work.
As far as shampoo and conditioner goes--I've never been a major devotee to any particular product, though I do really like the Neutrogena Triple Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner. Beyond that, try not washing your hair every day. My hair is actually easier to manage when it's a little dirty, and it's easier on my color to wash it only every other day. And, you'll use less of the product, ultimately saving money for the things that really matter--like shoes.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
With my man out last night at a bachelor party, I got to do one of my favorite things: Order Chinese food, watch an old movie, and knit with a kitty in my lap, all with the house to myself. TCM On Demand had The Gay Divorcee to offer, and I made it my choice...and loved it. I have to admit that I haven't seen as many Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers collaborations as I should have. This one is their second, and it doesn't disappoint. Both are in fantastic form, and Rogers has some fantastic dresses and equally fantastic hats. Plus, when watching her feet, you get the dual pleasure of admiring her dancing and admiring her shoes. The Continental number at the end of the movie is representative of the old super-tight dance numbers with probably about a hundred dancers, all in beautiful black and white.
As a bonus, you get to see a young, pre-famous Betty Grable. Robert Osborne explains after the film that her rise to stardom directly coincided with the birth of color cinema, and here she is essentially still working in the trenches as a chorus girl--look for her listed at the very bottom of the intro acting credits, when just a few years later she'd be headlining major films and the most popular World War II pinup.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
- Mad Men
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
It could start cooling down any time now, and I would be happy for it. I don't know about you all, but it's really cramping my pinup style. I don't even bother wearing rollers any more, because my hair frizzes out the second I step outside. And I can't wear corsets in the heat, so I'm not cutting the figure I want. I can't wear powder, because it clogs my pores when combined with massive perspiration. I adore winter coats, which are useless right now.
What's truly dangerous is how the sun threatens my complexion. One man the other day yelled at me from across the train platform, "You're pasty white! You look sick! Go get some sun, you don't look healthy!" I replied, "I am healthy! I don't have melanoma!" To which he said, "Healthy my ass! You look sick!" All this while the guy is smoking a cigarette, digging through trash and grasping a bag of potato chips. But, in an effort to be a lady, I decided not to further exacerbate the situation. Although, it should also be noted that the heat makes me quite cranky. I consider it a small miracle that anyone bothers to try speaking with me when it's over 85 degrees.
I do what I can to make up for the pinup elements that suffer in heat. I've been experimenting with new ways to put up my hair, I work the pencil skirts and I still sport the red lipstick, unless it's likely to melt down my chin. Heels are always in season, and this is perhaps my saving grace.
I wonder if you all are a little tired in the heat as well. I received only one beauty tip in response to my previous post, a gift from the lovely Rapunzel for which I am very grateful. I will leave you now with her insider tip, and the hope that the heat is breaking, wherever you are.
Darn! I knew there was something else I wanted to do in NYC this past weekend! *pout* The Burlesque will have to wait for another time..sigh..
As far as beauty tips, the one day I got to be a pin-up gal I had lots of help from this fabulous lady and her staff:
She made me look gorgeous with liberal use of hairspray, bobby pins, and one perfectly-placed hair net. All day I found myself taking a peek in the mirror, and at my daughters, inquring why we couldn't look like that *every day*? I continue to ask myself that question..sigh...
I look forward to tips & tricks from you & your wise readers.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Last night I went to probably the best burlesque show in New York City, This is Burlesque. I'd seen the performers many times before, not to mention most of the routines they did, but I still had a wonderful time.
The reason I bring up having gone at all is because when I went to the bathroom before the show, I got a slight peek into the dressing room. I saw Angie Pontani chatting with someone while getting ready, Murray Hill joking around pre-polyester, and Melody Sweets popped out of a door too. I didn't bother them, as I don't think they were really wanting to be seen at that point, but what I really wanted to ask them (with the exception of Murray Hill--sorry, buddy) was for beauty tips. Even the house kitten, Little Miss Licks, had enviably perfect hair, and she wasn't performing. I have no idea how burlesque stars manage to get their victory rolls to stay put while twirling or tapping around on a stage, how their curls are so perfect and non-frizzy, or how they manage to do some of the fantastic up-dos they create. I know some of it is done with wigs, but I know some of it is also natural. I suppose that I am now admitting a weakness, which is that I cannot always do my hair as perfectly as I'd like. However, as I was wishing I could have the chance to ask the Pontani Sisters and the rest of the cast for their secrets, I realized I could also just ask you--my readers.
I would like to know your beauty secrets, from hair styling to makeup to skin care and pretty much anything else that helps you turn heads. Send me your tips and tricks, and I'll consolidate them to be shared with everyone else reading Pinup Tales. Don't let me down...it's all for the good cause of helping all women embrace their inner pinup!
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Sunday, August 3, 2008
My man and I are in a dominant/submissive relationship, whereby he is the top and I am the bottom. It's something that has taken us years to work out in all of its particulars, and every day we continue to work on it and make new discoveries together. We can only do this with a great degree of honesty, openness and communication, and at this point we've been at it for over four years so I have to believe we're doing something right. I enjoy taking direction. Not only do I find it freeing, but it also helps me to grow as a person and explore my world and my identity. There are many different types of food that I would not have tried were it not for my man's instructions, and countless erotic scenes and experiences have been enjoyed because of his orchestrations. I do my very best to take an attitude of, "I'll try anything once," and he does his very best to keep talking to me and staying aware of my limits and desires. I enjoy things like spanking, whipping, being tied up and more that others might find appalling. All in all, I happen think that what we have is a beautiful thing.
We do have some friends, however, who are at best a little distracted by some of what they see. One mutual friend once asked my man (in my absence) why it is that he makes me wear corsets. On other occasions, my man has made a decision for me and someone else might say, "Let her make up her own mind." In both of these examples, the outside party is jumping to conclusions in a major way, although in some way they're doing it out of love for both of us. What confounds me is when other people fail to consider that perhaps I wear a corset every day because I want to. It's true I didn't wear them before I met my man, but that doesn't mean I never thought about it. In many ways, he just gave me permission to indulge a curiosity and then I decided how far I would take it. I like it when he makes decisions for me, or when he orders for me at a restaurant, or when I become interested in something because of his suggestion.
One of the interesting things is that none of the people who make these criticisms have the balls to speak with me about it. They assume I am being oppressed or made a puppet, when in fact there is nothing of the kind going on. I've changed since I met my man, but in my opinion, everyone changes when they enter into a serious relationship. When we moved in together, we each had to make compromises of our previous living habits so that we could inhabit the same space. I care about things I didn't used to, and many of his interests have shifted as well. In the end, we're both different people in some ways, but in many others we're each exactly who we've wanted to be for a long time.
The moral of the story here is to think first before judging other relationships. What works for your friend may not be the same thing that works for you. What makes you cringe might make your friend cream. Unless you're looking at a truly abusive situation--and believe me, you'll know it when you see it--stand back and love the fact that two people who want the same thing have actually found one another. It really is a miracle.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
3. My Magic Wand
I suppose it's appropriate that someone who loves all things vintage should favor the most retro vibrator: the Hitachi Magic Wand. It's billed sometimes as a "massager" that "relieves tension," and boy, they aren't lying. When my man was out of town for a bachelor party, the wand was my comfort as I lay by myself in our bed. Although it can't ultimately satisfy me the way my man can, it's a decent substitution. My favorite way to use it, though, is with him, as a buildup to the final thrill of penetration. To boot, it's less expensive than most other vibrators of its size on the market, making it even easier to add to your naughty drawer. In short, if you don't have one, get one. Now.
4. Corsets by Miss Katie
This London designer makes some of the most exquisite corsets I have seen. Fitting for the stage or evening wear, a Miss Katie corset will be top of my list when it comes time for me to buy a new one (once the temperature drops). If any of them were to turn up on my doorstep I wouldn't turn it down, but my favorites are the Parisian corset and the collar corset. Be still, my lace-loving heart!
Sunday, July 6, 2008
It seems to me that somewhere along the line, women forgot how to be ladies. As a New Yorker, I see women every day who would be otherwise beautiful were it not for their piss-poor manners. I grew up in the Midwest, and was raised by the kinds of parents who pretended not to hear me if I a) spoke a sentence using less-than-perfect grammar, or b) dared to ask for or accept anything without saying please or thank you. My impression after several years of living in New York is that one must choose between being a lady or a New Yorker. I choose to be a lady, but there are few of us here.
The standards of etiquette were laid down most famously back in 1922 by Emily Post, pictured here, and the Emily Post Institute has ensured that those standards evolve with time to include manners with regards to mobile phones, online friending, skiing and more. It may seem silly to spend time researching etiquette, but I assure you it is not and I myself intend to devote more web time to refreshing my memory. In my definition, a proper pinup acts like a lady and commands that respect, but this is difficult to do if she appears to have been raised by wolves.
For starters, you should always use "please," "thank you," "you're welcome," and "excuse me." None of these words are difficult to utter, and unless they are spoken with great sarcasm, I cannot think of a situation where they are hurtful. People here are constantly rushing and busting by others, but a simple "excuse me" at least demonstrates a small amount of consideration for other people. I don't think it's fair to take waitstaff and salespeople for granted, or to treat them any differently than you would a dear friend. I spent many years waiting tables and working retail, and was happy to oblige even the most outrageous request if it was clear to me that the other party considered me to be a human being and not a slave.
Be nice at the table. We all get sloppy, including myself, but proper table manners are key in your personal and professional life. It's worth it to watch your language and generally be on good behavior, even though it's difficult sometimes. My man, wonderful as he is, is sometimes lacking in the table manners department, eating off of his knife or performing stunts like pretending to snort his cutlery up his nose. I don't have a problem with it when we're at home--one of the things I love about him is his goofy sense of humor--but when we're in a restaurant I have to say something. There's a time and place for everything.
I could go on, but won't for fear of exhausting you and sounding like too much of a priss. It all really comes down to treating others in a way that you yourself would like to be treated. For example, I don't want to have to listen to your cell phone conversation any more than you want to have to listen to mine, so put the phone away at the table, on a train or in a bus. (I recently spent a weekend with someone who could not stop herself from texting on her phone, no matter where we were or what we were doing. I love her to death but found it rude and annoying nonetheless.)
I'll leave you with this poem, "Time Tested Beauty Tips," often attributed to Audrey Hepburn but in fact written by Sam Levenson for his grandchild. It was, however, one of Audrey's favorite poems, and read at her funeral. I think it does a good job of summing up the importance of manners in beauty:
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; Never throw out anybody.
Remember, If you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Now, let's get started:
I've mentioned before that one of the best things you can do for your skin is stay out of the sun. A pretty parasol probably won't make the difference between skin that is sunburned and blistery versus skin that is soft and smooth, but it adds an element of style that suntan lotion cannot. Plus, suntan lotion doesn't protect your hair color, which fades faster with increased sun exposure. Perhaps equally eye-catching and just as effective for sun protection is a hat with an extra-wide brim. However, the laws of desire being what they are, I already have such a hat, and so it doesn't make the list this month.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
As I said, she was most famous for her water ballets, and the 'aqua musical' subgenre created for her by MGM remains her legacy. She was not the most talented actress, but she was still fun to watch with her light heart, bright smile and statuesque poise. Were it not for her talents as a swimmer, her beauty and her charm, she would have been a one-hit wonder. Instead she had over ten years in the movie business, then finally retired in the 1960s after trying some dramatic roles which were largely unacclaimed. She is the original bathing beauty pin-up, not only because she looked good in a bathing suit, but because she demonstrated the free spirit, athleticism and confidence that makes any beach bunny attractive. There is a large group of women (and men) in the history of show business whose careers have hinged upon their looks. To say that Esther Williams is not one of them is not to insult her appearance, but to praise her work and talents.
I'm still working on watching more of her movies. She made quite a few, so it will probably take me at least the better part of the summer. Meanwhile, in addition to seeing her water ballets and admiring her winning pin-up style which I hope to emulate in daily life, I'm looking forward to spending some more time in my Esther Williams bathing suit. That's right--she now designs bathing suits, all with the vintage flair I so adore. I've gotten more compliments and comments on my one-piece from her than I have on any bikini, and can't recommend her suits highly enough. The next time you're poolside or at the beach, do a favor for yourself and the folks around you by channelling the spirit of the Million Dollar Mermaid.
Monday, June 2, 2008
And, another piece of good news is that gloves need not be a terribly expensive accessory. Those that are pricey are surely wonderful--such as these, which I received as a holiday gift from my sweetheart--but you can almost always find perfectly suitable gloves at your local thrift or vintage store, and I hope you don't require me to tell you about the bottomless well that is ebay. In short, you've got no excuse for going gloveless, so get out there and pretty your paws for your public.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
One thing that can be a little disconcerting about living as a pinup is all the attention one gets. I know what some would say to this--that they wish they got so many looks, or perhaps that this is conceit and vanity on my part--but I'm here to tell you that in any case, it's not easy having a constant audience.
I started modeling my everyday style after 1950s pinups about two or three years ago. At first when people were staring at me, it felt awkward. It feels like a cross between flattery and espionage, and often times I wondered if something hanging from my nose was the reason for the attention. By now, though, I've gotten fairly used to it. Little boys and little girls sometimes snicker at me on the subway, older women lean in and whisper together with their eyes locked on my face, and men's eyes travel me up and down. I imagine that some people like the look, some think it's exhibitionist, and at its worst maybe they think I'm a freak of some kind. Perhaps still others wonder if they're walking by a celebrity--after all, big sunglasses and hats are common props for disguise, and famous people are always so polished, right?
Here I am making guesses at what may be going through the
minds of the onlookers, because only a fraction of them actually say something. When they do, it's often to compliment the look as a whole or in pieces, and there have been some humorous ones too. I was standing on an escalator one day when a woman ran up it with great urgency to tell me that my seamed stockings were crooked. It was as though she thought I should stop right there, hitch up my skirt and adjust my garter among the other morning commuters. Another time, a woman asked me if I just came from one of the theaters, because do I know that I'm dressed entirely in vintage?
Unfortunately, yes, some of the comments are not welcome, but these are few and far between. I think this has to do with the fact that I dress like a lady, and my look commands that I be treated like one. No one has ever said anything so inappropriate to me that I started screaming at them on the street, no one has rubbed up against me or grabbed me. Generally I'm thanking someone who kindly told me that I look nice, or I'm spelling out the name of the website where I got my dress/stockings/makeup for someone scribbling on a piece of paper they dug out of their bag. Oddly enough, the reason I never pursued acting was because I didn't like being watched. Like I said, I'm better with it than I used to be, enjoy it sometimes and tire of it at other times. In the end, I hope that I'm one of many to inspire others to make classic beauty a part of their daily life. You only live once, and there's no reason not to look your best doing it.