Friday, May 30, 2008

End of the Armor (for now)

I knew it would happen. It was inevitable, and in fact has happened before.
Corset season has ended.
As you may know from previous posts, I don't lace every day of the year. It gets too hot in New York, and the perspiration is good for neither my true skin nor my second skin, and so from about May to September I let it all hang out and give the corsets a break. They need it, too--my two solid standbys will be spending the summer in rehab, as I reinforce their casings which have been worn down by friction.
This time of the year is always bittersweet for me. Although I love lacing, there's a part of my personality that is inherently lazy and doesn't mind not having to perform another step while dressing and choosing an outfit. It's also nice to be able to eat what I want without regard for the constriction of the corset. I don't mean that these months are spent eating fast food every day; there are some foods that are fairly healthy but still make me uncomfortable if I eat them while laced. Sushi is a good example, as is most soup, since both tend to be high in sodium. And then there are times when I'm cramped, and the corset just increases my unease. Don't get me wrong, I understand quite well that discomfort is a big part of lacing, but that's not the reason why I do it.
I do it for the hourglass shape, for the discipline of sitting up straight and eating smarter. It always takes some time for me to get used to how I look when I'm not wearing a corset--it's a little like getting your braces removed in that they were foreign and unnatural at first, but then they became a part of you and something seemed off kilter without all that metal in your mouth.
I also do it because my man really enjoys it, and the end of corset season is hard for him too. He misses the shape, and does his best to understand--since he doesn't wear one himself, and never has worn one, he can't really know the full toils and joys that are involved, but he gets that all the sweating is a bad thing. He does his best to be patient for the weather to cool off again, but in the meantime, my exposed flesh is subject to extra tickling.
I've tried to find a way to wear a corset in heat over about 75 degrees, but nothing has worked. My "summer corset" is made with fabric with breathes, but the liner I wear between my skin and the corset is decidedly hot on its own and so nullifies the benefits of wearing a light corset. I've tried drinking lots of water, lacing a bit more loosely, staying in air conditioning as much as possible...but there's no getting around the fact that seasons change, time marches on, and this, too, will pass.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Having an Audience

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.
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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.