Friday, September 26, 2008

Back in business

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

A Pretty Pauper

Unless you've been living under a rock this week, you've heard about the continuing devastation in the financial markets. Since I work at a bank, this week has been particularly difficult. I consider myself one of the lucky ones because I still have a job, but as someone whose father was frequently between jobs, I have a great deal of sympathy for the vast numbers of people who have found themselves unemployed. There is no question that we are living in difficult times.

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 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

Movie to Watch

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

Favorite Things Roundup: August

Sorry this is late! Computer meltdown and a desire to experience some summer R&R (I keep hearing about it, but haven't had much of it) has prolonged this post. Perhaps more disappointing, I can only come up with one thing worthy this month of going into the Roundup...

  1. Mad Men
I had heard plenty about Mad Men before Season 2 started. It's rare that really good television actually gets made, and even rarer when all the critics seem to agree that the show in question is, in fact, fantastic. I'm here to tell you that it's true, Mad Men is great. If you haven't started watching it yet, get to it. The writing is quick, sharp and subtle, the characters are mesmerizing, and the fashion--well, the fashion is inspiring. It's inspired Michael Kors's fall 2008 line, and I'm expecting more designers to follow suit. Watch this show for ideas about hair, accessories, makeup, and be sure to read the weekly fashion blog written by Fashionista founder Faran Krentcil. Do yourself a favor, however, and ignore the naysayer comments in her every post alleging historical inaccuracies...just enjoy. Drool. Wipe. Repeat.
Creative Commons License
Pinup Tales by Kitty du Vert is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.