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Retro Beauty

Retro Beauty

What To Wear, Pencil Skirts

Pencil Me In For One Of Those Nifty Skirts

Love ’em or hate ’em, the Pencil Skirt holds a very special place in history. In my opinion, the Pencil Skirt is one of the most flattering skirts for any shape and figure, other than the circle skirt.

As I always talk about in the Retrocentric Pinup Workshops, WWI and WWII had major influences in fashion, including the creation of modern looks and adaptability. Much of that came out of necessity and modernization, due to new areas women were going to before and after the wars, such as the workplace.

In 1940, Christian Dior presented the Pencil Skirt, taken from the original and impractical Hobble Skirt, popular before WWI. The Pencil Skirt was utility based, more practical, and used less fabric due to the shorter hem line and tighter fit, which was important due to rations and shortages.

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The first Pencil Skirts in the 1940’s were not wiggle skirts, which often get confused with each other. It wasn’t until the late 1950’s that you saw skirts hugging the frame tightly and the hem line rise again. Think of Marilyn Monroe or Jane Mansfield; the types of skirts they wore are more of the wiggle skirt version of a Pencil Skirt.

The popularity of Pencil Skirts lasted into the 1970’s. They would vary from less fitted to wiggle style, depending on what look you were going for. A less fitted Pencil Skirt with a short jacket or blouse was a good office look. A fitted, tight Pencil Skirt with maybe a tight sweater was a little more provocative and may have been worn more in the evening or by the girls who liked fast cars. Woohoo!

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Either way, Pencil Skirts are a must have for a retro wardrobe. They should always be below the knee and high waisted. This elongates the figure and creates a very attractive, curvy silhouette.

One of my favorite places to grab a nifty Pencil Skirt in a range of styles and sizes from XS to XXXL is Mode Merr. Angela sure does know how to craft that beautiful shape! Check her selection out here: www.modemerr.com

Now, what to wear with your Pencil Skirt? Well, there are just so many options! The first choice for me is a button down sweater, either long or short sleeve, fitted and tucked in.

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Another option is a blouse, button down or tied, tucked in, or worn over the top of the skirt and belted with a wide belt in a corresponding color.

Now, pair that Pencil Skirt with your favorite pair of back seamed stockings and your favorite pumps, and you are ready for a night on the town!

Wear it well!

xoxo,
Sailor


Retro Beauty

What To Wear, Red Lipstick

What is the most important accessory for a retro gal?

It’s not her adorable basket purse or her fascinator, nor is it her cat-eye jeweled sunglasses.
It’s her red lipstick!

My grandmother never left the house without her lipstick on. Oftentimes, when we had talked her into going and getting ice cream late at night, she would finally relent and say: “OK, go get ready, and I’ll meet you at the door in five minutes.” We’d race down the hall, throw our clothes and shoes on with lightning speed, and be at the door in four minutes ten seconds flat. She’d arrive a moment later in her bathrobe, zipped up, with slippers on, purse around her shoulder, and lipstick on!!!

We would always laugh and beg her to put clothes on, and she would say: “I’m not getting out of the car! Why should I?” And we would ask, giggling uncontrollably: “Then why do you have lipstick on?” Her answer, well, it was a power answer, putting on a posh tone, was: “Because one never leaves the house without one’s lipstick!”

Hot damn!

It would take me many years to really understand that sentiment and the practice. And it would take me a few more years to experience a similar belief.

Several times during my recent surgeries, I was scheduled for various medical tests and doctor appointments. I felt like crap, I mostly looked like crap, and I probably was crap. However, I would force myself to put on something decent, something that wasn’t pajamas, and if I couldn’t muster a full face of makeup, I would at the very least throw on some mascara, my eyebrows, and, of course, my lipstick. Because then, if I had lipstick on, I was truly put together and I was okay.

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And after a little while, I would feel better. I was teaching myself to fight the feeling that there was nothing more that I could do about my physical situation. But, you see, there was.
My lipstick was healing me. Okay, no, I am kidding, but I’m sure that you can see how important lipstick as an accessory can be.

Now, what lipstick shade should you wear, and when?

The answer? Red, red, RED! Always red! You cannot go wrong with red. It literally goes with every skin tone, every eye color, every outfit, and every shade of eye shadow. Sure, the cosmetics industry wants you to believe that you need thirty lipstick shades in your purse for day or night, the office, the club, a day at the beach, lunch, a pap smear, you know? “You cannot wear the same lipstick for every occasion and at all times of the day,” they say. The hell I can’t!

Should you have other shades of lipstick around as an option, of course, sure, that’s fine. Ladies do love to have options. And, oftentimes, I will throw on a dusty pink shade just for the heck of it, or pull out my amazing 1930’s inspired Tango Red Lipstick when I’m feeling a little wild. Rawr!

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Usually, though, I stick with my tried and true basic retro red. With its blue/purple undertones, it is a perfect middle-of-the-road deep red that goes great with everything.

So here is the lowdown on my personal favorites. Most important, I believe in cruelty free cosmetics. I think it is unjust and utterly disgusting to harm any living thing for vanity or luxury items. It is hard at times to keep up with the changes that cosmetics and personal care companies make to their formulas, meaning that a new ingredient might not be cruelty free, which in turn means that the product itself is no longer cruelty free. So, it is important to stay up-to-date on all ingredient changes.

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*Besame – 1946 Red Velvet, my top choice! The packaging, the commitment to quality, the historical accuracy, Besame has it all!

*Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics – Lip Tar, Stalker Red (be sure to use a lip brush)

*Senna – Venetian Red

*Vapour Organic Beauty – Siren Lipstick, Ravish

*Zuzu Luxe – Starlet

*Urban Decay – Revolution Lipstick, Bang

*Gabriel- Sheer Rose

*Too Faced – La Creme, Stiletto Red

So the next time when you’re wondering what to wear? Start with your red lipstick!

Wear it well- xox Sailor


Retro Beauty

What To Wear, Foundation Garments

A little piece I wrote for Retrocentric…

A few years ago when I was establishing Retrocentric here in Cincinnati, I started the What To Wear Wednesdays blog. It was so much fun to write about the different frocks of each era, to explain foundation garments, and to show off some of the pretty things in the Retrocentric wardrobe stash.

Then it seemed like overnight we were busting at the seams, changing locations with a major renovation, having a fire and moving once again. Somewhere along the way What To Wear Wednesdays took a backseat and sort of fell asleep, Rip Van Winkle style.

Happily WTW is back! Yay.

So let’s circle back to the beginning a bit and discuss foundation garments, crucial to any ensemble.

A foundation garment is what is worn underneath clothing. This typically refers to a girdle, corset, or slip.

Let’s talk girdles. Since the 20th century, the word “girdle” has been used to define an undergarment made of elasticized fabric that was worn by women. It is a form-fitting foundation garment that encircles the lower torso, perhaps extending below the hips, and worn often to shape or for support.

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I am sure you have seen images from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s and said to yourself: “How in the heck did she wriggle into that outfit?” That’s a girdle my dear, a wonderful invention!

A girdle is a nice way to smooth out your shape and to enhance your lovely curves, wherever they may be, or wherever you may want them to be.

I think the best girdle, really, is a full open bottom girdle. It replaces the need for a bra and you can clip your stockings right to it, so there’s no need for a garter belt. A full open bottom is perfect for a wiggle dress or one with very thin and sometimes unforgiving material.

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Now, if you are choosing a pencil skirt with a blouse that is not form fitting, you may want to go with a half open bottom girdle. This way, you can choose your own bra, perhaps in a color better suited for your top while still having the blessing of a girdle for the form fitting skirt. And again, there’s no need for a garter belt as you can just clip your stockings directly to the girdle.

Now, for the gentlemen who enjoy ladies’ clothing, girdles are really an excellent way to create that desired shape. Some choose to wear padded gear to create more curvature in the hips and buttocks, but a girdle for some is just the right measure.

And that brings me to stockings and garter belts. Modern garter belts are really made more for show than for utility, so they are of course prettier. However, they often don’t work well under certain skirts and dresses.
When choosing a garter belt, be sure to think about what you will wear it under. Vintage garter belts are often larger. They are fairly plain and stretch from the natural waist down past the lower pelvis, which gives you a little extra support in the midriff. If your dress or skirt is tight, you don’t want to have bows and such accoutrements, as they will show through the material of your outer garment as bumps and creases. The same goes for very thin material if you choose not to wear a slip over your garter belt and bra, as usually in modern times women often do not.

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So for your arsenal, you should typically have three types of garter belts: a nude or white belt, a very utility-focused garter belt to provide some support, and one that is a little more decorative, perhaps for evenings out or for a little spice in the bedroom.

And last but certainly not least are stockings! Love them or hate them, every gal usually has very strong opinions about stockings. But if you are going for a true retro look, stockings must be part of the package. In days past, stockings were so important and it was such taboo not to wear them that, during the war when there were silk and nylon shortages, women would paint their legs, use eye liner to draw lines up the back, and use all sorts of other tactics to create the look of stockings.

Seamed stockings are really the best way to go if you are recreating a style in the eras of the 1920’s through the mid to late 50’s. Thankfully, these days, seamed stockings are not as exclusive as they were a few years ago and are much easier to find!

A pale nude stocking with either a nude or a black line is best for daytime or light-colored frocks. A black or darker nude with a black seam is best for evening and dark colored frocks. So, it’s best to have a light and a black option in your dresser drawer.

Always be very careful to prevent snags when putting on your stockings. The best way you can do this is to throw on a pair of gloves (not winter gloves of course, but a dainty vintage pair, like church gloves) when putting on your stockings. And be sure to pull down on the clip so you are sure your garter clip has a good bunch of the stocking to stay secure.

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Well, that is all for this edition of What To Wear Wednesdays. Until next time, wear it well and be happy!

xox Sailor