Monday, June 30, 2014

I'm trying not to try to keep up with the Jones'

People who know me know that I like to buy stuff. I mean, even if you don't know me, the fact that I blog about fashion might be kind of a giveaway. Really, how many times can you talk about the same dress, or pair of shoes, or piece of jewelry? Acquisition is part and parcel of keeping a blog fresh and interesting.
Speaking of fresh, Eddie Munster hair, do or don't?
I make decent money; not enough to go crazy with, but enough to be comfortable and afford some luxuries. I do have to prioritize what I want to spend my money on, though, and lately my priorities have leaned pretty hard towards new clothing. In the past few months I think I've bought three or four dresses, maybe the same number of skirts, a few tops, a new pair of shoes, some jewelry. None of the pieces that I've purchased have been very expensive by themselves, but it all adds up pretty quickly.
I've talked a little bit about blogging and body image, and the way that putting yourself out there on the internet can create pressure to look a certain way, and can also warp the way that you see yourself. Buying new things works in kind of the same way. When I buy stuff, particularly from brands that are popular with other pinup and vintage loving girls, I can write a review and tag the company in it, and the company will then usually promote the post, which gives my blog a boost. I'm always looking for more traffic, so I tend to repeat behaviors that get it for me, which means that I end up buying more new stuff. I'm like Pavlov's dogs, but with printed circle skirts instead of white lab coats.
A skirt that I love and have never worn outside the house. It's not in the best shape, but with a little love it would be a stunner. This photo is one that I took when I was trying out my corset for the first time, which is why it looks so weird.
I wouldn't say that I'm a terribly ambitious person. My goals in life are pretty modest - make enough money to live comfortably and a travel a little bit; find a partner who makes me happy and whom I can make happy in return; do a little good in the world where I can. Of course, I also want to look good doing all of that. But the thing is, I'm kind of competitive, and if I'm doing something I want to do it really well. That means that now that I'm digging into the blogging thing, I'm always pushing myself to promote it in any way that I can, to write the most interesting posts that I can, to get the most eyes on it that I can.
Ideally, it would be nice to make a little money off of it, or maybe parlay it into some kind of paying writing gig. As I've mentioned before, though, it's hard to get paid to write. Lately I've been trying to remind myself that this should be fun, something that I do because I like it, and maybe to hone my writing skills and develop my voice, rather than something that I'm resting all of my hopes for the future on.
Daffny from A Vintage Nerd wrote a great post about not comparing yourself to other bloggers (or other people in general), and it was a good reminder for me to keep things in perspective. Although I would love to be able to spend whatever I want to new clothing, I'm just not one of those women who can afford to pick up the latest from Pinup Girl Clothing every month, and that's ok. It's great for them that they're able to do it, and I'm sure I'll always have a touch of wardrobe envy when I see them showing off their fabulous outfits. Sometimes I just need to give myself a mental slap in the face and tell myself to snap out of it, a la Cher in Moonstruck. I have a lot of nice things, more than most people, in fact. The only thing that I'm going to gain by trying to keep up with other people is a lot of dissatisfaction, with a side of deep-fried credit card debt.
This domino print skirt is a leftover from my lolita days, and it's actually pretty cute! I'm always lusting over the novelty prints that I see other girls wearing, but I have the bad habit of ignoring the ones that I already have.
This weekend I did a boatload of laundry and reorganized my closet and dresser. I did a couple of repairs that I've been putting off, spent some time getting stains out of pieces, and even did a little ironing. Going through my wardrobe and seeing all of the stuff in there that I haven't worn in a while, or particular outfits that I had brainstormed about but had never gotten around to wearing, was surprisingly satisfying. With all of my clothes clean and put away, I also realized that I don't have a whole lot of room for anything else. At the very least, I need to buy more hangers before I buy more clothes.
I also found the dress that I thought was lost for good! It was at the bottom of one of my boyfriend's boxes of clothing, which was only unpacked last week.
I'm also refocusing some of my mental energy on other priorities, like travel. My boyfriend and I have been talking about taking a trip to Europe for a few months now, but with our move a couple of months ago, him starting a business with his brother, and me expanding my vintage wardrobe, we haven't managed to put a whole lot of money aside. However, Google launched their Google Flights feature not too long ago, and one nifty thing about it is that you can view a bar graph showing the average cost of a flight to your destination throughout the year. That means that you can actually see when the cheapest time to fly is, rather than having to guess and check. Having a good idea about what I'm going to have to pay and how long I have to save is making it a lot easier not to order something new just because it happens to be on sale.
Na na na na na na na na Iceland!
Does anyone else struggle with this? How do you keep your blogger envy at bay?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Links to Love

1. Rare shots of New York's 1990s drag scene
It seems appropriate, since I was posting photos of my guy and I in drag yesterday, to post some photos of folks who are actually good at it.

2. The Rules of Being Glamorous
The first thought I had when I saw the title of this post from the awesome British blogger Retrochick was "really? I thought you were cooler than that." And then I read it, and it's way more about how to just have a happy, engaged life. These are good rules to follow, whether you're looking for glamour or not.
Annex - Harlow, Jean (Dinner at Eight)_07
Jean Harlow is always glamorous, even when she's just running lines.

3. Why are we grossed out by women with armpit hair?
Best guess - all of the sexy pheromones hair diffuses makes us think of sex, and since sex is a taboo, we have to get rid of the hair to get rid of all the dirty thoughts it gives us. *shrug* Ok, works for me.
Sophia Loren: Sexy armpit hair having lady.
Also, did anyone else watch Golden Girls? Remember that episode where Rose talks about how she wasn't allowed to shave her legs, and so her classmates came up with the meanest nickname for her? And it was "Rose with the hairy legs"? I think about that every time someone discusses body hair on a woman.
4. Pocahontas: Fantasy and Reality
The divide in interpreting her story is not just between cultures; in academic circles, there are still factions with brittle pride warring over whether Pocahontas really saved John Smith from death, whether he made the story up, or whether the narrative was about a ritual drama John Smith simply didn't understand. Some experts argue about the appropriation of Pocahontas as an American Indian woman that the larger public has reduced to a “Pocahottie” Halloween outfit. None of these tropes is centered within a firm Algonquian indigenous worldview, perhaps an almost impossible task 400 years later. Divergent takes on historical events will not always be reconciled.

5. How the bicycle paved the way for women's rights
I don't bike as much as I would like to (my iron steed needs some maintenance before I start commuting on it again), but I love the sense of freedom and speed that it gives me. The best part might be the illustrations that accompany it, which were taken from an 1897 magazine article about the state of ladies' legs after all of that manly cycling activity.

6. My Imaginary Friends: The Beauty YouTuber Economy
I don't watch a lot of YouTube videos like this, but I love what the writer has to say about the way we relate to bloggers in general. There are some people that I read where I'm like, "I want to be your friend, I think it would be a hoot to stand around with cocktails in our hands pretending like we're famous while people covertly check us out." Glad to know I'm not alone in this.
Talia Castellano was a young beauty blogger who used makeup to keep her spirits up as she fought her battle with cancer.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

How to Train Your Drag Queen

*Note: the title of this post is a play on How to Train Your Dragon. If you have come to this article by searching for drag queen training or any kind of kinky stuff, I'm sorry to have disappointed you.*

My boyfriend and I went to a drag party last night. I don't really make the best guy, although I did my best to swagger and regularly adjust my "balls," but I have to admit, my boyfriend is a hot babe. Seriously, the man looks better in tights and heels than I do. Bitch.

In all seriousness, it took him so long to get ready. I mean, yes, I get that tucking takes some time and effort, but it's amazing what the loss of a couple of pockets does to a man. Of course, for some reason putting on pants meant that every time I put something down, I forgot where I set it.

Brian already owned the dress, heels, and wig, but I loaned him the tights, cardigan, and cocktail hat, and I did his makeup. I also shaved his shoulders, although with the cardigan you couldn't tell.

The makeup was the fun part. First, he gave himself a nice, close shave, and I put on some heavy moisturizer to soften his dry skin. I evened out his skin tone using stick foundation, and blended concealer under his eyes, around his nose, and around his jaw line to help cover his residual stubble.

Using a light powder bronzer, I contoured his cheekbones and around his jaw line a bit. I used a white, shimmery eyeshadow as a highlighter along the top of his cheekbones and continuing into a C shape up his temples and to the peak of his brow. I also highlighted under his brows, to lift them, the center of his forehead, down the center of his nose, and at the cupid's bow of his lips. I'm not very good at contouring, and if you've seen RuPaul's Drag Race, you know you need a heavy hand with it, which I didn't use. Still, I think it helped to soften his face a little bit.

For the eyes, I covered his lids from the lash line to the crease with shimmery, golden brown eyeshadow. I defined his crease with a dark brown shadow, then winged it out. I lined his upper lid with the same dark brown color, given him an open cut crease/cat eye look similar to this one on


He got two coats of mascara (after the first one, I warned him not to blink hard; he stared at me, aghast, and asked "all night?" "I... what? No, you can blink however you want after it dries." "But I need to blink now!" he said, holding his eye half open. "You can blink normally, just don't squeeze your eyes shut tight or your mascara will get all smeared under your eye." This raises a question - does my boyfriend think I don't blink when I'm wearing makeup?), and I defined his brows a little bit with my MAC brow gel.

A little rosy blush and some pinky red lipstick and he was good to go. Of course, the first thing he said when he looked in the mirror was that he looked like he thought he was going to look at his funeral. I don't really know what to think about that.

But seriously, I thought he looked amazing in his heels, and the way a little highlighter in his cupid's bow made his lips look reminded me of what a great trick that is.

I did not realize how invested he was in his "best drag" status until this gorgeous creature showed up. I made an offhand comment that I was sorry, but she clearly won, which really hurt his feelings. I felt really bad that I had made him feel like I wasn't proud of him, because I would bang him like a cheap gong, especially with those heels on.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I'm tired, buy these cheap and pretty skirts

While I try to include plenty of photos with every post, just to provide some visual appeal and break up the blocks of text, I still see this primarily as a writing blog. I mean, yes, I want you to look at my outfits and my makeup and tell me how stylish and pretty I am (validate me!), but I also try to have something to say, and to say it articulately.
Today, though, I got nothing. No ambition, no witty commentary, no inspiration. My alarm went off this morning and I was sorely tempted to just throw my phone across the room. It's kind of weird, because I got a solid 8 hours; I actually felt more awake on Monday, when I only got about 5 because I was out so late seeing the amazing Clairy Browne.
Part of it is that, well, I'm just kind of bored with my job. I am. I've been looking for a new one for a while, and while it would mean less time to write, it would be really great to have a job that engaged me and challenged me. I have degrees in English and Music, but the job that I'm in right now requires little more than the ability to smile at people and sometimes impress them by pronouncing their foreign sounding name correctly, which apparently I have a gift for. What I would really like is a writing gig, although sometimes I think that wanting to make money writing is like wanting to be a unicorn salesman.
Anyway, long story short, buy these. They're pretty. I bought the lemon print one, and I'll tell you all about it once I get it.

Mint Floral Print Midi Skirt, Asos, $53.35
Blue Linen Midi Skirt, Asos $53.35
Black and White Gingham Skirt, Asos $57.16
Floral Watercolor Midi Skirt, Chicwish $36.47
Beach Print Pleated Midi Skirt, Chicwish $45.00
Scenic Print Midi Skirt, Chicwish $43.00
Contrast Stripe Floral Midi Skirt, Chicwish $39.02
Lemon Print Midi Skirt, Choies $45.99
Rose Chess Midi Skirt, Choies $44.99
50s Patio Skirt, HolliePoint via Etsy $44.00
60s Reversible Novelty Print Skirt, Momodeluxevintage via Etsy $35.00
50s Blue Cotton Bandana Print Skirt, OffBroadwayVintage via Etsy $44.00
50s Mexican Patio Skirt, OwlTalk via Etsy $42.00
50s Novelty Print Skirt, shopKLAD via Etsy $42.00

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pinups with Pixies: The Baby Beehive

One of the things that I really struggled with when I was trying to decide how short to take my hair was the fear that if I went all the way to a pixie cut, I wouldn't have any options left for how to style my hair. In the month or so since I got my hair cut, I really haven't done much with it, but that's as much because I'm lazy as it is because it's hard to coax my hair into something resembling a style. And I have to be honest, it is a pain in the ass to get it to do what I want, especially since my hair is fine, abundant, and relatively healthy these days, but with a little bit of effort I managed to create this baby beehive.
As I mentioned yesterday, I went to see Clairy Browne and the Bangin' Rackettes, and they were absolutely amazing. I love their 1960s girl group sound, and in honor of that era, I decided to attempt this style. It's a bit of an exaggeration to call it a beehive - I just don't have enough hair to create the volume needed for the style - but I thought the little bumped up 'do was cute, and presents a nice option for other short haired girls out there who might want to switch it up a bit.
My hair is about two inches long right now, and I don't think you could do this with hair that's any shorter. I'd recommend doing this on pretty dirty hair (I was on day three here), just to give the strands a bit more grip.
First, section off a bit of the front to serve as your bangs. I went maybe half an inch back from my hairline, but you can do more or less depending on what works for you.
Working back from where you sectioned off your "bangs," vigorously tease your hair to create maximum volume. It is difficult to tease hair this short, but it's easier if you use a fine tooth comb, like the cheap kind you can get at the gas station, or one made specifically for teasing. I managed it with a wide tooth comb, although I didn't get quite as much volume as I would have liked.
Using a one inch curling iron, curl hair horizontally back from your face to your crown. Ideally, you want two rows of curls all going the same way. Spray with hairspray to hold.
Grab the back row and roll it forward, pinning it so that it rests just behind the first row of curls. You want it to be secure, but not flat. It's what's going to anchor the "beehive," so you want a bit of height and texture to give volume to the bump.
Roll the first row of curls back and slightly under, and pin it to the teased and curled hair you have pinned underneath. I recommend using professional quality pins; you'll be able to use fewer of them, so they be less visible and the weight will rob less volume from your style.
Smooth down any hairs that are too short to pin using hairspray. You may end up having to bring some pieces of hair to your bangs, but some you may be able to coax into becoming part of the beehive.
Add your favorite hair accessory, like a scarf, headband, or flower. I added a scarf, partly to keep everything in place, and partly because I really need to touch up my roots and that does the best job of disguising them.

I love having easy, wash-and-go hair, but I really enjoyed the challenge of doing something a little different with my hair. I might have to do more short hair tutorials in the future.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Clairy Browne and the Bangin' Rackettes

I am deeply indebted to Kristen of Miss Kristen Darling for not only posting about this amazing group, but following up by letting me know that they were doing a show in my area soon. Just on the strength of the song Love Letters, I bought tickets for my boyfriend and I, and we went and saw them last night.
Best. Decision. Ever. Well, ok, maybe not on par with investing in Microsoft in 1986, but a damn good one all the same. Imagine if Adele had a baby with Little Richard, and they gave it to The Shangri-Las to raise in Australia. A potent blend of R&B, soul, and 50s rock, they not only sound fantastic, they also put on an amazing show.
Coordinated dance moves, slick costumes, and not a beat or note out of place. As great as the backing band and singers are, Clairy is undoubtedly the star of the show. Not only is her voice amazing, she's an incredibly charismatic performer. You really can't take your eyes off of her.
We ended up leaving with their album, Baby Caught the Bus, and I have a feeling I'm going to be listening to it non-stop this summer. If you get a chance, I would definitely recommend seeing them live. Their full US tour schedule is listed here.
I can never pass up a chance to get dressed up, so I decided to go full 1950s with a full black skirt, huge square dancing petticoat, and an electric blue blouse. I felt like an extra from Grease whose scene got cut at the last minute, which was pretty perfect for this show.
Skirt: Handmade by my boyfriend during his sewing phase
Shoes: Seychelles

I hadn't realized until now just how much I enjoy this kind of music. Any recommendations for other bands in this style that I should check out?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pimm's Cup

After work tonight I'm going to hunt down ice cube trays. When I moved almost two months ago, I discovered that my new place didn't have any. Occasionally I'll remember to check for them in whatever random store I happen to be in, but, well, forever21 doesn't carry ice cube trays. WTF, right?
But today is the day. For one thing, the weather is starting to do that thing where you know it's going to be hot as balls in about two weeks, and stay that way until well after you've stopped enjoying it. Personally, I find that the best day to beat the heat is with a nice, cold, adult beverage, like a Dark and Stormy or, one of my personal favorites, the classic Pimm's Cup.
Pimm's No. 1, which created in the mid-1800's, has been a British staple for 150 years. Pimm's Cup is the drink to drink at Wimbledon, and every year about 80,000 cups are sold to spectators. It's light, refreshing, and easy to make, which makes it a win in my book.
Pimm's Cup No. 1 Recipe
In a large pitcher, mix 1 part Pimm's No. 1 with 3 parts lemonade (you can sub in lemon-lime soda or ginger ale if you prefer). Add slices of whatever kind of fruit you prefer - strawberries, apples, oranges, and cucumber is a classic combo - and pour into a Collin's glass over ice. Garnish with mint or other herb of your choice.
It's that simple. All you really need is Pimm's, some kind of fizzy liquid, and whatever kind of fruit you have on hand. And ice.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Domestic Violence Is Not a Thing of the Past

I'm sorry for the abrupt switch from vintage swimwear and how to wear pastels to such a serious issue, but I recently read an article that got me thinking a lot about a very important issue: domestic violence. I should warn you that the post below might be triggering for some people.

Laura Aceves, 2009
I am a feminist, but I am also a person of privilege. I'm white; I have a college degree; I have enough money to be mostly financially secure; I'm cis-gender; I have a partner who would never dream of hurting me. The issues that I have to worry about, like street harassment and micro-aggressions at work, are aggravating and might disadvantage me financially compared to the men in my field, but it's rare that they put me in serious physical danger.
Last night I read an article that was absolutely gut-wrenching. The story of Laura Aceves, a young mother who was murdered by her violent ex-boyfriend, is an all too common one, but what really saddened and enraged me was the response from the authorities that she went to for protection. After being beaten and threatened by her boyfriend, she left him, and after he stalked and attacked her, she filed a restraining order. He violated the restraining order numerous times without consequences, and despite Aceves' frantic attempts to get help, he shot and killed her.
Some select quotes from the sheriff, Bob Grudek:
'“This is a very serious social problem,” he said, speculating that the crime was related to the breakdown of the traditional family structure. “Maybe if our culture goes back to when we had different values ... I don’t remember when I was a kid hearing about any domestic violence.”'
 'Grudek said domestic violence prevention should focus on why women return to their abusers, and that it wasn’t “logical or responsible” to think the criminal justice system could solve the problem.'
There are several things wrong with what Grudek has to say here. For one thing, domestic violence has been on the decline for the past several decades; the reason why he doesn't remember "hearing about any domestic violence" when he was a kid is that people didn't talk about it the way that we do now. It was something that frequently dismissed as distasteful, something that happened to a lot of women, but not something to be discussed in public. Oftentimes, it was something that "women brought on themselves," with their nagging and complaining, and if it was that big of a problem, "why don't they leave?"
That's the response that a lot of people have when they hear tragic stories of domestic violence - "why don't they just leave?" And the fact is, it's not that simple. The women who are the most likely to be abused are also the women who are the least likely to have the resources to get away. They tend to be poorer, with less education. Often they have children, and they don't know how they're going to take care of them alone. Abusers will frequently isolate their victims, and they may feel like they have no place to go and no one to turn to.
My stepmother was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of the man that she was married to before she married my father. I heard stories from her and from her children, and I remember asking her why she didn't leave. This was in the 60s and 70s. She had six young kids, not much money, and a family where violence was the norm, not the exception. In her mind, there were no options. Staying was just what you did; quitting was the weak thing to do.
I'm ashamed, now, that I said that to her, but I think the response that I had was indicative of the way that most people think of violence against women - that it is something that they, somehow, control. You frequently hear the same language used against rape victims as you do against victims of domestic violence. They've "put themselves in a bad situation"; they're "asking for it"; they "should have tried harder to get away."
And many women do try to get away. They leave, the call the cops, they tell their families, they get restraining orders. Like Laura Aceves, they end up getting dragged back in by threats or coercion, or they are assaulted anyway. Statistically speaking, women are the most vulnerable shortly after they've left their partners, because leaving causes the abuser to escalate.
Sheriff Grubek was also wrong that there's nothing the authorities can do to stop it. In the past several years, there have been a lot of tools developed to help victims to domestic violence before they end up like Laura Aceves.
40% of people with no-contact orders violate them, but that number drops to close to zero when the offenders are forced to wear a GPS monitor. Judges in Arkansas, where she was killed, have the power to order offenders to wear them, but only three counties out of 75 there have done so.
Several cities and states have also created assessment programs to try and determine how likely an abuser is to escalate, and will take steps to intervene before the situation can worsen. Maryland, where the first program of this kind was developed, has seen a significant reduction in homicides relating to domestic violence.
There are also things that you can do. Write a letter to your state representative asking them to implement a Lethality Assessment Program in your area. You can also donate to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, or a local domestic violence charity or shelter in your area.
I do want to make a note that domestic violence, intimate partner violence, whatever you want to call it, is not an issue that affects just women. While women are more likely to be victims and are more likely to be killed at the hands of their partners, men can also be victims, and I don't want to diminish or neglect their experiences either.
As much as we may want to view domestic violence as a thing of the past, it is still an issue that affects millions of women every day. The only way that it's ever going to end is if we speak up about it, remove the shame and stigma from those who suffer, and use all of the tools at hand to stop the offenders as soon as we can.