Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Beauty Alphabet - W

"W" is for Waistline

"A slim, willowy waistline is necessary for summer frock and beach fashions.  If you waistline is not wasp-like, you can take inches off it with a few simple measures.

The simple and waist-whittling exercise of touching your toes can be practiced each time you need to stoop to pick up anything, which leaves you no excuses that you haven't time for exercises.  Stand up straight, then pick up the object without bending you knees.  You will find there are innumerable times when you can practice this in your daily round [This seems to go against every OHS recommendation about how to pick things up correctly].

Here is an exercise which is quick and simple and slims both your waist and your hips.  Place your hands on you hips and slowly move your body round from the hips, from right to left.

Your diet is most important of course.  You can't possibly maintain a slender waistline if you insist on eating fattening, starchy foods and sweets.

To sum up, you have three simple rules for waist-slimming:  Watch your diet, hold your tummy in and tuck your tail under, and practice your toe-touching exercises each time you bend down.  You will find your waistline will soon be neat and trim."

(from The Argus, 28 December 1950)

This article from The Australian Women's Weekly in 1962 describes some more waist-slimming exercises.  Click to see it larger.

This article from Life magazine in 1947 laments the return of the corset or 'waspie' that came into vogue with the New Look.  "To the male, who sneaks an arm around an attractive waist, they will present a Maginot Line of elastic and bones of spring steel."  Click to enlarge.

These days there are a nice selection of waist cinchers on the market.  Not as restrictive as a corset, they are generally make of heavy-duty stretch mesh and satin, and take a few inches off the waist for special occasions.  They also reduce the strain on the seams of vintage clothing, or allow you to get into that skirt that is just a little too tight in the waist.

 Shown above is  the Glamour Waist Cincher from What Katy Did.  It comes in black or ivory, has spiral steel boning and six detachable suspender straps, and costs £45.  They also do a Waspie (a shorter version) for £37.50.

Vintage Charm by Kim (one of the ladies from the Lindy Charm School for Girls) makes vintage-style waist cinchers right here in Australia.  They are based on original 1940s-50s cinchers but with hooks and eyes rather than lacing, so they are easier to put on.  The cinchers come in two styles: the Hourglass (shown above) takes 1.5-2.5 inches off your natural waist, and the Dior Wasp Waist takes 2.5-3.5 inches off.

Rago Shapewear also make several different waist cinchers, including this one, made of nylon and lycra and comes in pale pink or mocha, and provides firm shaping.  There is also a nice one in red and black lace, which gives medium shaping, and a very serious extra-firm shaping one.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Illustration Friday - Launch

The topic "Launch" first made me think of rockets and ships, but then I remembered the line, "a face that launched a thousand ships", which of course refers to Helen of Troy. The quote is from Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, written sometime between 1590 and 1604:

Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.

According to legend, Helen was a Spartan princess, who although already married, was abducted or ran off with Paris, a prince from the city of Troy. This started the Trojan War, with Helen's husband, Menelaus, raising a huge fleet of thousands of ships to attack Troy. I decided to show Helen dressed in typical Minoan dress, as this is when the myth dates from. I especially love the hairstyles, shown in a fresco above, from Knossos.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Beauty Alphabet - V

"V" is for Voice

"Perhaps one of the most important attributes of a beautiful woman, and perhaps also one of the most often overlooked, is a pleasant, well-modulated voice.

There is not space here to enlarge upon voice production, but there are a few steps you can take immediately without any expert advice.  The first step is to listen to your voice.  I'm sure if more women took the trouble to listen to their own voices they would never speak the way they do.

A woman with a charming appearance can completely ruin the effect she makes if her speech is slipshod.  Too often in Australia we meet an attractive woman who speaks with an unpleasant nasal "twang" and does not form her words properly.  Nobody likes an affected voice, but this is not the only remedy for the unfortunate Australian accent [my italics].

With a little care you can round your vowels and pitch your voice on a lower key which is more comfortable for you, and pleasanter for the listener.  Your voice can do SO much for your personality.  Become voice conscious, listen to your own voice and other, take note of speech faults and work hard to make your own voice a delight to listen to."

(from The Argus, 28 December 1950)

I guess in the 1950s,a broad Australian accent was considered inferior to a cultivated English one.  I do love a good English accent, but is the Australian accent really "unfortunate"? 

This advertisment, singing the praises of elocution, appeared in the Launceston Examiner in 1931.  According to this, elocution is "the medium whereby you may express your thoughts in clear, concise, and interesting speech.  It enables you to entertain your friends.  It ensures your popularity in social life."  Elocution was obviously more than just how you sounded when you spoke, it was also how you spoke about things, more like a public speaking course today.  Not such a bad idea really.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Illustration Friday - Swept

A bit of a Cinderella one this week, not very original but it was the first thing that came to mind when I though of "swept".

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Dita Watch

I thought it was high time we had a look at one of my favourite celebrities, the ever-impeccable Dita von Teese.  As I mentioned in a previous post, although I adore Dita's red carpet outfits, I am particularly interested in what she wears when she is out and about, shopping, at the supermarket, going to pilates, etc.  How does one translate amazing Old Hollywood glamour into a wearable everyday style?  (Photos almost exclusively from JustJared.)

Firstly, let's look at coats.  At the airport, or on the way to and from pilates classes, Dita often wears an eye-catching coat, which makes her look nicely dressed up.  Here she is at LAX airport in Los Angeles, wearing an iridescent purple trench with a huge fur collar, and leopard print flats.  For all we know, she's wearing leggings and a t-shirt under that!

Another fur-collared coat at the airport.

This time Dita's chosen a very pale grey/off white trench, a pair of snakeskin peeptoe pumps, and a white patent Chanel bag.  As usual, her hair is simply pulled back, and she is wearing big sunglasses.

Again at the airport (this girl flies a lot!) in a lovely fitted sheath dress with a pattern of black roses.  Sensible flats (or very low wedges) with slender ankle straps, and a cardigan to keep off the cold.  Perfect!

Suprisingly, Dita seems to enjoy doing her own grocery shopping, and here she is in a pair of capri pants, and the aptly named "Dita" cardigan from Wheels & Doll Baby.  

It comes in three lovely colourways.  I would love the red one!

I really like the combination of the fresh and pretty striped top with the grey skirt.  Sort of a sexy secretary look.  The pearl necklace has a diamante Vivienne Westwood clasp at the front.

Another secretary look, with a sheer blouse patterned with feathers, and t-bar shoes.  She's got her dachshund Ava with her.

This is one of my favourite off-duty outfits of hers - the full tweedy skirt, simple black top, and that great leather bow belt.  Plus the shoes are to die for, Louboutin spectator pumps.  Kind of wish I couldn't see her bra through her top thought...

Of course the best place to see Dita in her most casual is at the Coachella Festival.  Here she's gone a little nautical, with her high-waisted shorts, striped top with anchor motif, and Moschino jacket.  Nice to see her in flats for a change!

Another nautical look with the sailor's hat, a cute orange flowered dress with a rope belt, and high-heeled espadrilles.  She's so amazingly porcelain that it does rather look like she might burst into flames if hit by direct sunlight.

Finally, this lovely summery outfit, perfect for a spot of flea-market shopping.  I love the appliqued rose stems on the skirt of the dress, but mostly I love that hat!

Look, the brim is all cut out in silhouettes that look kind of like palm tree tops, or starbursts.  How gorgeous.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Beauty Alphabet - U

 (from Sears Fall catalogue, 1950)

"U" is for Undies

"Care of your undies is a priority [in] this hot weather.  The woman who is personally fastidious will be very particular about her underwear, because crisp, fresh undies are the hallmark of a well-groomed woman.

Don't attempt to wear you lingerie for more than one day.  Wash it out at night, or first thing in the morning.  Don't leave it lying around dirty, as this is bad for the fabric.  Dry your underwear indoors for the same reason you dry you stockings that way.  [Why? So people don't steal them?  Look at them? So they don't get bashed around on the line and get damaged?].  And be careful when you are ironing delicate fabrics.  For silks and satins, don't have the iron too hot.  For artificial silk you can have the iron hotter.

Watch for the first signs of wear - a slight tear or a worn patch - and mend it immediately.  This way you will have a repair which is almost invisible, and you will add years to the life of your undies."

(from The Argus, 21 December 1950)

Colette Patterns has a pattern for a loungewear set called Nutmeg, which includes the French knickers shown above, as well as tap pants with a pointed yoke, and a light bralette with ribbon straps and a back tie.

On their site there is a nice tutorial by Rachel, on how to add lace appliques and trim to your French knickers so they look like the ones above.

Come and See the Seitz has a tutorial for making (non-vintage) knickers by taking a pattern from an old pair you like, but which has seen better days.