Monday, March 31, 2008


All kitties need to take long naps, and this Kitty is no exception.

I've been bad about posting lately. Managing my digital life has become increasingly difficult, as my real life becomes more and more overwhelming. Things have gotten to the point where taking some time out to write about pin-up living is less and less possible, as other more important things campaign for my time. I'm not going to delete Pinup Tales, because I think (hope) that it remains a worthwhile resource of archived articles and links to other folks, but I'll be taking some time off from writing new posts, until the writing can once again feel like an outlet instead of an obligation.

Blowing several kisses in the meantime,


Monday, March 10, 2008

Doing it DIY

I adore luxury. I love pedicures, manicures, facials, getting my hair done and wearing nice clothes. But sometimes, it's true: If you want something done, you've got to do it yourself. I'm on a budget. I don't make lots of money, but that's no reason why I (or anyone else) can't look like a million bucks.

1. Know what you want.
Look for pictures of people whose style you admire, then try to emulate its essence. For example, let's take Grace Kelly. The Princess of Monaco was always elegant, wearing clothes that were tasteful and tailored, often favoring full skirts, fitted tops and flattering drapery. She mostly didn't wear large patterns, her skirts hit at about the knee or lower, and she wasn't spilling out over plunging necklines. So when you go shopping, stick to this criteria and look for clothes that are conservatively but flatteringly cut, choose solid colors or dainty patterns, look for things that are or can be belted--but don't forget the gloves and headscarf. Which brings me to my next point:

2. Accessorize.
You can get a lot of mileage out of a simple, solid dress with the proper accessories, and you'll notice that's what many women in the 40s and 50s did. You won't find sequined shirts, rhinestone-studded skirts or busy prints, but you'll see solid prints in simple lines with bold jewelry, gloves and hats. It makes all the difference. Let's look at Audrey Hepburn in her iconic look from the beginning of Breakfast at Tiffany's as she eyes the pieces in the window. Her dress by Givenchy is beautiful in itself in solid black with clean lines, but what everyone really remembers is the assortment of pearls at her neck, the sunglasses and the gloves. If you can, spend a little more on your accessories, because they are the first thing to make you look cheap (which is different from being on a budget). And besides, you're better of if you...

3. Learn to sew.
When you can sew, you can take almost anything and make it look great. Add trim to a tired skirt, have some fun with buttons, or make the easiest pattern you can find in a crisp, richly-colored fabric. Perhaps most importantly, you should learn to tailor your own clothes so they fit just right. Of course you can take them in to a professional tailor, but that costs money. Still, the tailor will probably cost less than if you shop at a high-end store for the shirt that fits like a glove while you're still in the dressing room.

4. Prioritize.
This is key to any budget. Think about the things that are most important to you and the look you're trying to achieve. How much is it worth to have someone else dye your hair versus doing it yourself? Do you find all mascaras to be pretty much equal, but you're picky about your eyeshadow? Put your money where it matters.

5. Remember that practice makes perfect.
The first time you paint your own nails, they may not be exactly right, but they'll be better the next time, and the time after that, until they're virtually indistinguishable from the manicure you'd get at a spa. The same goes for dying your own hair, maintaining your eyebrows, styling an updo or whatever else you choose to do for yourself. Don't forget that YouTube is not just for stupid cat videos; you can also find some really great tutorials.

Now, off with you! You don't have to wait until you can afford a team of experts to create your perfect look. It'll take some work doing it all on your own, but it's worth it to feel good and take time out for yourself.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How Not To Pay Homage

I wasn't going to write about this--so many others have--but now that the parodies are coming out, it must be done.

For those of you who may have been living under a rock, Lindsay Lohan recently recreated Marilyn Monroe's final photo shoot, known as The Last Sitting, for New York Magazine. She was photographed by Bert Stern, who did the original shoot with Monroe back in 1962, six weeks before she overdosed on barbiturates. The shoot has been gaining a lot of attention--some claiming that it encourages a kind of necrophilia, others wondering why Lohan would do a nude photo shoot just after her third stint in rehab, but for myself, I wonder: Why do it at all?

Let it be known that I am incredibly conservative when it comes to icons. When Natalie Portman wore Audrey Hepburn's dress on the cover of Bazaar, I cringed. Even if it was somehow an improvement on the original, I would never enjoy watching a remake of a classic like Casablanca or Gone With the Wind. In my opinion, there's a conceit in trying to recreate icons which compromises their impact on the pop culture of their time. If that's the point, fine, but I don't believe that Lindsay Lohan or Natalie Portman were trying to imply that Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn weren't all that important. I think they were trying to pay homage to two incredible women who inspired them, but copying an icon is not enough to constitute an homage.

In my opinion, you need to take it further. You need to show me something new about what this person, this ideal means to us decades after he/she/it peaked, and only then is the icon status affirmed. When I saw Anna Kournikova channel, but not precisely copy Marilyn Monroe over a grate in The Seven Year Itch, then I considered how our perceptions of sexuality have changed since my parents were my age, how images can be reappropriated to sell something, and personally I had to consider the fact that I recognized what was being recreated without having ever seen the original creation. For me, that made me imagine what it might have been like that day when Marilyn's skirt blew up around her waist over the Lexington Avenue subway line.

I think the Lindsay Lohan photos are beautiful, but still they irritate me. If she wanted to do a nude photo shoot, why couldn't she just do one of her own? Why did she have to hide behind the auspices 0f homage? And over forty years later, can't Bert Stern be a little more creative about contextualizing troubled tabloid actresses of the past and present? One can only blame Lindsay Lohan so much for jumping at the chance to play a personal hero. Really, it's the folks at New York Magazine and Bert Stern who need to dig a little deeper.
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Pinup Tales by Kitty du Vert is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.