Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Favorite Things Roundup: October

Look at me, getting my Favorite Things post in on time! Here we go:

1. Voting
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

Pin-up Palin at your peril

I never intended this to be a place for political rhetoric, but given that a) sex/iness has injected itself into the presidential campaign, and b) I'll be furious if I have to keep paying taxes to a Bush-esque administration, all those intentions are out the window. Ever since John McCain picked her as his running mate, Sarah Palin has been the object of ridicule and/or adoration in America. Love her or hate her, the consensus seems to be that she's newsworthy--and also that she's hot. Fellow pin-ups, this is where I draw the line.

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

Defining the pin-up

As I write here, one thing that question that often comes to me is, "What is a pin-up?" I think that it's easy to define a pin-up as just a pretty girl, and not take it any further than that, but in reality there's so much more.

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

Favorite Things Roundup: September

My apologies that these posts seem to creeping in a little late. Working three jobs is hard! Luckily, I have little things listed below that have helped make my life a little easier...
  1. Repro Depot

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.

2. Cooler Weather

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...

3. Apples

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.

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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.