Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reconstruction of the Female Form

So, my little backseat Betties, it's time for a quick breakdown of lingerie! ONE OF MY FAVORITE TOPICS! Since we already covered stockings in a previous post we're going to stick to more traditional lingerie. :) Specifically reshaping lingerie, I am not including bras or panties or lycra shapewear here.  We can cover those later but these are going to be more fun!

Girdles, Merry Widows, and Corsalettes

What's the difference?

Girdle by Kiss Me Deadly
A Girdle is a form of shapewear used to firm the tummy and buttocks.  It can come in many formats from a roll-on mesh skirt with garters to a more corseted look with boning and zipper or eyehooks.  I have included a photograph of a vintage one that I own (I bought if from SHAG here in Williamsburg) and another photo of my favorite one from Kiss Me Deadly, a UK lingerie company

A Merry Widow by What Katie Did Lingerie
A Merry Widow is not necessarily shapewear. It does mimic a corset in that it shapes the stomach and bust and it covers the torso but only to the waist and may or may not have garters attached.  They do not cover the hips and can be likened to a bustier, they usually zip shut and are not incredibly adjustable.  I have one from Frederick's of Hollywood and it doesn't really shape me all that much. Here is one by What Katie Did LIngerie.
Me wearing a Victoria's Secret Corselette

A Corselette covers the entire torso serving as a bra and usually has garters that are attached.  I wear mine with a wiggle dress that has a completely sheer top and no one's the wiser, plus it's a lot less clothing to have to deal with.  I realize some people would only wear them in the bedroom... but wears the fun in that?(pun intended) It may or may not have eye hooks or a zipper.  Here is me wearing one by Victoria's Secret in a photo shoot. 

Corsets and Waist Cinchers

Waist Cincher by Vamps and Tramps
A Waist Cincher is a corset for your waist.  It may come directly under the bust or merely around the waist and may.  It may or may not lace up, it may or may not have boning, it may or may not have garters BUT they do shape the stomach area. Typically they don't support the bust. If you like the one on the right you can buy it at Vamps and Tramps Clothing.  I personally am seriously digging the models hair.

Dark Garden Corsets
Corsets are one of the oldest forms of shapewear.  Lacing up the front or back or both (usually the back laces up) and having a rigid piece of boning in the front, known as the busk.  They can be decorative as the one I'm wearing is or waist-training meaning that they are worn constantly to shrink the waist and once the waist attains that shape a smaller edition will be sported.  A real corset can shrink the average waist up to 4 inches... some people can only lace it to three others can lace it super tight and lose 5 inches or more off their natural waist.  Everyone is different.  Sizing corset can be difficult and you should check your sizing with the manufacturer/designer. Some of my favorites are Dark Garden Corsetry, Corset StoryOrchard Corset and Etsy.  I personally don't recommend EBay for this adventure... Typically if you have a 30" waist you'd buy a 28" waist corset... so when laced there is space in the lacing (which there should be) and you're waist is 2"- 4" smaller.  BUT ONCE AGAIN, check with the manufacturer- not all corsets can handle that, nor all people for that matter.
Dita Von Teese in a Corset

Lacing them is another huge point of contention, mind you there IS a correct way to do it.  I'm putting Orchard Corset's video regarding lacing yourself into a corset at the end of this post. Also, remember that (especially if you are performing or wearing a corset long-term) only YOU or a PROFESSIONAL should be tight-lacing you - if you are tight-lacing,  other people should not be lacing you into a corset as they may lace you too tightly and tie off the ribbon where you can't untie it.  However, anyone you wish may unlace you...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WWII style Sweetheart Rings Make My Heart Race

WWII Sweetheart Rings by Fancy Sexy Me and I am in serious lust for these bad boys.  They are delicate looking and in my opinion very clever, being able to worn individually (photo to the right) or together (pictured below.)  Stacking so that the heart is protected and encased by the clasped hands... OH SO ROMANTIC.

According to the blurb about them they are sweetheart rings inspired by WWII when soldiers would give these to their girls stateside so that their love could be felt over the vast seas between the two.  I told you it was romantic.  They are available at SHAG in Williamsburg Brooklyn if you are a local and can also be ordered online from SHAG or through the original designer's site fancy sexy me These make me want a Naval Officer- or perhaps just one to kiss in the street...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jean Harlow in Red Headed Woman 1932

Red Headed Woman

First off, I LOVE this movie.  It was made before the MPAA developed decency rules and the rating system so it's chock of full of early and mid 1930's promiscuity, which Jean Harlow was renowned for.  Consequently it is also full of awesome costumes, which I have taken upon myself to share with you.  This movie is rarely shown but so far is my FAVORITE Jean Harlow flick.  You can buy it at Turner Classic Movies website or rent it through netflix as I did on the Forbidden Hollywood Collection.  I'm posting this, not to review the movie, but to show you the look of the 1930's and how it can be translated into everyday wear.

First thing to note is her hair- this is a classic fingerwave and done properly can last for many days sometimes even up to a week.  You tube has videos to assist you, there are books on vintage hair (which I will be reviewing a little later in the week) and many states require this skill to become a hairdresser-  if you feel like spending the cash go get your hair set professionally.  I always suggest the latter to start off with paying close attention, asking questions, inquiring how you can maintain it at home and how to set it yourself.  You'd be amazed at the information hair dressers want to share with you and a good one wants you to be happy with your hair.  Long hair poses a slight issue but at the time the ladies would just pin it up in the back to make it look short.  This was when America was still coming out of the 20's when page boy haircuts and bobs were all the fashion.

Second, I would like to point out the fur trim.  I know, I know, fur is bad!  I don't personally support the fur industry but I do have a fur coat that was my Great Aunt's and have been given vintage furs as gifts.  I don't really want to encourage you to buy real fur trim but to each his own.  Thrift stores, EBay and other furrier's are great places to find both vintage and modern, both fur and faux fur trim for your coats, capes, gloves, etc.  High end fabric stores will also likely have quite a faux fur and real fur selection that you can altar yourself for custom fittings. Your imagination is the limit here.  Every fur piece Jean Harlow wears in this film detaches from the coat or cape or hat that it's attached to, it's rather impressive. If you look at the image to the left you'll notice the very long and fuzzy fur on her hat and cape- well, that fur on her cape is actually attached to the top of her gloves, of which she has on two pairs, one fingerless and opera length and the other pair short day gloves worn over the fingerless ones with the fur attached creating a couture look.

Third, take a look at the structure of her clothes.  Note that they are actually structured and almost mimic an art deco feel- they are a little more angled yet form fitting.  No wonder clothes from this era are hard to find in good condition, I would never have wanted to take any of these OFF!  Quite often recreating this is simply adding some buttons to a pencil skirt and ruffle or a large bow to full sleeved jacket.  Her hats are also well thought out and usually match her outfit completely- along with her gloves- in both textures and structure.  They are angled or have the same fur type and more than likely are the same color as well, though because it's black and white we may never be too certain with that.  What I find so intriguing about these outfits is that this was in the middle of the Great Depression so most of America wasn't wearing these styles, they were wearing cotton gowns and leftover clothes from the late '20's, but these fashions will be more fun to imitate.

The make-up is standard 1930's, a smoky lid with a darker lip and probably false lashes or least plenty of mascara and high thin Vaselined eyebrows.  Here is a web page showing how women wore their make up in the 1930's 1930's Makeup Guide. Jean Harlow was known for her bedroom eyes and her platinum blonde hair as well as her very attractive frame.

Consequently, most of the shots of this film cut off at the legs so you can 't really see her shoes, but whenever they did pop into frame they were lower heeled (maybe 2-3 inches) and usually had straps with a slightly triangular or gently pointed toe. Here is an example of a 1930's shoes. Also, this blog has some great photos from LIFE magazine displaying many 1930's celebrity's shoes.

Jean Harlow was taken from the world too soon at the age of 26 but her memory lives on in her films which, for the era in which they were made, really pushed the envelope regarding women's sexuality. I have to say though, I wish I could have seen what she looked like with red hair, because I'm 72% certain that they dyed it even though the film is in black and white.  If you haven't seen it yet then check it out, she's a diabolical maven of deceit in this film and she's definitely a woman you love to hate.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Your Calling Card

Calling cards were traditionally a way to let people know that you had stopped by their home while they were out.  You had "Payed a Call" and then they could keep track of who had come to visit and reply in kind by visiting you, obviously this was before telephones and answering machines... and text messaging.
  The modern equivalent is the "Business Card" but when you meet a new person- do you really want them to contact you at work? Or even to know where you work? Here is where the calling card comes in handy... it's simply a card with your name and for the modern pinup girl, her email address.  I would leave my telephone number off of it because it's a lot easier to avoid any unwanted attentions via email than a stage 5 stalker blowing your cell phone.  It is a personal as you allow it to be and frees  you up to present  it as many fashions as you can create.  It can be a business contact, a new friend, a potential baby sitter/pet sitter, a hot man that you want to meet up with later or even just a way to network with people who are interested in the same activity as you.  With your calling card your email address provides facebook/myspace lookup information, the proper spelling of your name (and what your name is in case they forget or misheard you) and a way to contact you.   It's also classy, in my opinion.  You don't have to do the awkward number swap- just hand them your card and smile, if you want them to have your number then write it on the card- TRUST ME they will remember you.

Etsy is a great place to find handmade and beautiful cards and at an affordable price.  My roommate recently bought herself a set as she is a freelancer in film and a blogger of fashion/books/and personal style and she loves them (Champagne and Chiffon). My friends and I always talk about getting personal cards- not to promote our business or career ventures- but to promote ourselves.  Here are some links to some of the dealers on etsy. I really like the cards at Paper Chased.  Remember, you can put as little or as much information on your card as you wish- and what a lovely way to create a memory of you to a complete stranger that stays with them.

Pikake Press
Shop Inviting
When It Rains Shop
Paper Chased

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Step Right Up! Come and See the Amazing Sideshow!

Recently I've finished reading American Sideshow by Marc Hartzman. It's a lovely book chronicling the sideshow in it's heyday in the late 1800's through today.  Broken into three sections: The Golden Age, The Silver Age, and the Modern Age of the sideshow.  Sideshows traveled throughout the country with circuses and carnivals showing marvels to the masses that had never before been seen.  The arrival of these performers, animals, and oddities was a treat for the whole community, bringing the rest of the world into their small communities.  There are still traveling sideshows throughout the country the Jim Rose Circus, the Brothers Grim Sideshow, and of course the only remaining stationary sideshow in the United States Coney Island USA's Sideshow by the Seashore
                                                               Brother's Grim Sideshow Photo
Yesterday, I actually attended the Sideshow by the Seashore and was very pleased to watch fire eating, climbing a ladder of swords, the human blockhead, the electric chair, an diminutive escape artist and bevy of other performances in a rotating one hour show along with a museum upstairs.  If one of these comes to your town or you are in New York City and can make it to the Sideshow at Coney Island it is certainly worth the $10.00 entrance fee.  There is also a museum upstairs for an extra dollar and film for an extra four dollars- in true sideshow spirit.  Also, remember to bring some extra cash to tip the performers- this is how they make their living and between rents and NYC living expenses every dollar counts!  Supporting this dying American art form is a real chance to step back into a time when the world was only limited by your imagination and an opportunity to experience the awe and excitement that our grandparents did.

                                                                  Coney Island Circus Sideshow Poster