27 January 2013

suck it in

The other day I heard a great description of what I refer to as 'suck-it-in-undies'.  "It's like when you clean your house by shoving all the toys, papers and general crap into a cupboard and shut the door.  The house may look good for a little while, but eventually you're going to have to open that cupboard door and all that stuff is going to come tumbling back out."

Great analogy, right?  Unfortunately, this description was used by a man.  To his wife.  After she had just purchased her first pair of suck-it-ins.  He may as well have said, "Sweetheart, I never want to have sex again."

Euphemistically referred to as 'shapewear', women in the western world have the privilege of being able to wander into any department store and find themselves faced with a mind-boggling range of Spanx, Nancy Ganz and the like to help them in their search for physical perfection - or at least to help them fake it.  Even Big W has their Hold Me Tight range.

I am torn about the entire shapewear debate, although to be perfectly honest, it is possible that I am the only one actually debating what is essentially underwear.

There is a part of me that thinks these sort of products simply promote and capitalise on the pressure many women feel to look like a post-Photoshop image of a fifteen year-old girl.  They continue the harmful legacy of a media which shouts criticisms at every woman from billboards, websites and magazines; "You are not good enough!  Your boobs are too low!  Your thighs are too dimpled!  Your upper arms resemble the pancake I ate this morning!"  I wonder if the women behind these brands have contemplated their role in perpetuating female self-loathing.  Is Nancy Ganz in fact a hater?  Is Sara Blakely, billionaire inventor of Spanx really some evil, malevolent cackling witch playing on the insecurities of women in order to maintain her place on  the Forbes magazine's annual I'm Way, Way, Way Richer Than You List?

sara blakely - inventor of spanx and way, way, way richer than most of you
Then there is a part of me that believes anything that can help me and countless other women feel better about themselves is great.  If I feel more confident because I am donning a garment frighteningly similar to a scuba suit under my pencil skirt then I am going to have a greater chance of success on that day and will simply be in a more positive place.  True, I would be feeling more positive because in my mind at least I am looking more like that perky breasted, flat tummy fifteen-year-old in soft-focus, but the reality is, allowing my flabby gut to hang out won't solve the world's misogyny, so I may as well do what I can to feel good about myself.  Right?

Plus, yay for Sara Blakely.  She found a need and she filled it.  She did not and does not rely on daddy or hubby's moolah; surely that's a reason to wrap her in the feminist flag, isn't it?

The reality is fashion is political.  When you choose to wear something you are proclaiming to the world who you are and some of the beliefs you hold.  I guess that's what I find so engaging about the industry.

And to the hubby who shared his great analogy, don't worry Ms Blakely hasn't forgotten you!  Presenting the 'Game-Changer'.

manx - spanx for men

Perhaps the game is changing.  Perhaps men now have just as much right to feel bad about themselves as women do.

21 January 2013

australia day

At the end of last year, like many of you, I received an invite to an end of year barbecue.  Now, with no dress code anywhere to be seen on the invite, and having never attended this particular annual event before, I assumed it was your traditional Australian summer attire - men in terrible shorts with way too many pockets, a faded Mambo t-shirt or two circa 1993, shiny polyester polo shirts proclaiming the wearers' sporting allegiances, Kmart thongs, Crocs, too tight singlets revealing bra straps and bulges - you know, the usual.  

I arrived at said event wearing what I thought was a rather swish kaftan top and a pair of wide leg summer pants.  Casual but elegant.  Perfect, right?  Wrong.  Entering the room became one of those moments you have nightmares about.  There was no DJ or music of any kind, and yet I swear I heard the screech of a record coming to an abrupt end as heads turned to stare.  It is entirely possible there was even a spotlight to highlight my shame.  You seen, unbeknownst to me the event was actually formal.  We are talking women in cocktail dresses and men in long pants and shirts with collars and cuffs.  We are talking wine glasses and silverware.

The question of in what kind of parallel universe are barbecues formal is only superseded by the question why wasn't this aberration of social convention printed on the invitation?  Or at the very least, why wasn't the new chic warned about this little oddity?  Needless to say, I have just added this wonderful episode to my ever growing list of humiliating moments.

Wanting to spare all others this kind of embarrassment, and with Australia Day - the official day of the barbecue in our great southern land - fast approaching, I thought I would put together a few possible looks to help get you through this patriotic season.

For those of you who have never been brave enough, I highly recommend a trip to Dangerfield.  It can be a bit intimidating to enter this little treasure trove for first time thanks to the ultra-cool vibe and salespeople with rainbow coloured hair, but it is worth it, especially if you're after something a bit quirky or pieces with a vintage edge.  As an added bonus, at the moment Dangerfield is having a minimum 50% off all sale items both online and in store.

I have always been a huge fan of the sun dress, particularly those with a nod to the 1950s.  I purchased this little beauty the other day and I can't wait to wear it with a pair of wedges.  Add a thick black belt around the waist and a pair of kitten heels and you're ready for a day at the office, and don't we all love clothes that do double duty.    

revival bells of st clements dress

Simple, easy but still totally gorgeous, this shift dress comes in two colourways - blue (see picture below) and green.  The little peter-pan collar is totally adorable and a perfect hemline means you shows just enough leg to be a tad flirty.  The lack of defined waistline also means those couple of extra beers will be kept firmly under wraps.  Keep in mind the fit of this one is much smaller, especially around the bust area.

revival sunday shift dress

I am not a huge playsuit/romper fan.  I firmly believe that they are pieces meant for the sandpit, not for grown up women, however I am aware that are those out there that love them.  So for those of you prepared to get fully undressed to sit on a toilet, this is a particularly cute romper, and it's on sale for $44 (originally $88).
revival rosella romper

There is heaps of 'Friends of Couture' items currently on sale at Dangerfield, so if your look is classic with a hint of quirky, check out what's currently available.  I love the nautical theme of this little knitted top.  Mix it with jeans, a cute pair of shorts or even a little flip skirt this Australia Day.

friends of couture manhattan beach rapture top

For those who feel the need to plaster themselves with the Australian flag this year, just promise me you'll avoid those classic t-shirts boldly proclaiming, "Love it or leave it" or anything equally as intellectually complex.  

Oh, and if the event you're holding this Australia Day is going to be formal one, put it on the bloody invitation.



13 January 2013

ponytail perfection

hillary clinton: 67th united states secretary of state and  scrunchie sinner

One of my pet peeves - and I admit, I have a few - is a beautifully made up woman with her hair tied up in an old, scraggy elastic band or god forbid, a scrunchie (gasp!).  On any given day, in any city in the civilised world you will see far too many women in beautifully tailored suits and a gorgeous pair of heels with their hair tied back as if they were about to scrub someone's toilet.  It's all I can do to stop myself grabbing Little Fashionista's Crayola safety scissors and hacking off the offending band and in the process giving the woman in question a quite drastic haircut. Unfortunately, for women who prefer long locks there have been limited options for effective but elegant and affordable solutions... until now!

Now, I know I did a bit of Mecca Cosmetica worship in my last post, but I am so excited about these simple little beauties, I felt it was worth the double-up.  Mecca has brought out a range of hair ties complete with metallic coated cuffs in gold, rose gold and silver.  What's more, they come in cute boxed gift-sets so you can help your more fashion-challenged friends polish their ponytails and create a sleek and sophisticated do!  Plus, at only $32.00 a set, they are a bit of a bargain.

mecca cosmetica ponytail perfector set

mecca cosmetica ponytail perfectors

8 January 2013

a little more naked

This summer I made the conscious choice to spend as many days as I could completely make-up free.  Now, this may not sound like a big deal to some of you, but those like me who have spent years hiding behind a mask of expensive imported cosmetics will understand how facing the big wide world sans 'enhancement' required some serious inner strength and courage.

I'm not sure exactly what brought on my decision to confront the world a bit more naked than I normally do. Perhaps it was a desire to lead a more authentic life of sorts - even if only for a few weeks, perhaps it was wanting to make the whole getting dressed process that little bit simpler and quicker, or perhaps it was the realisation that in 40+ degrees, whatever one slaps on is destined to be sweat off anyway.  Whatever the reason, this little experiment has helped me realise what is vital in my skincare routine.

I have narrowed the absolutely necessities down to four key items, all from one of my favourite places - Mecca Cosmetica.  For those who have not yet experienced Mecca - I highly recommend you do so.  The staff are amazingly knowledgeable about all skincare and cosmetic matters, there is a huge range of brands and products to choose from, and most importantly, because of the range of brands available staff can genuinely recommend what's best for you, your skin and your needs - they are not simply pushing the brand they work for.   

So, what four key items do I want with me on a desert island?

mecca cosmetica to save face spf 30+

dr dennis gross skincare all-in-one facial cleanser with toner

perricone md hypoallergenic firming eye cream

perricone md face finishing moisturizer

And if I was allowed to bring one more thing with me to the island...


6 January 2013

drinking, drugs and dressing rooms

There is an urban legend about women who require a trip to the local bar to face the horror of the yearly swimsuit purchase.  That’s right – otherwise relatively well-adjusted women who require way more than a glass of Dutch courage to get them through the trauma of the bathing suit dressing room.  I have heard tales of teary women collapsing into hysterics when they discover they can no longer squeeze themselves into the size they thought they were; husbands, mothers, sisters and friends having to be called to come and collect those so shaken by the horror which has occurred behind the dressing room curtain, they are no longer capable of driving themselves home.  At the time I thought it was totally ludicrous that grown women – individuals capable of running households, holding down jobs and rearing children could feel such anxiety about trying on a couple of pieces of lycra.  And then I had baby number three.

Little Fashionista is my pride and joy; she truly makes my heart sing.  However, the change my body experienced carrying her is the reason why I now firmly believe that Swimwear Galore should have an open bar. 
Today’s excursion to purchase both LF and myself swimsuits was, in a word, mortifying.  Not so much for her. A cute little pink and white polka dot Speedo one-piece and an adorable Pucci inspired tankini from Funkita, and LF was done.  Then came mummy’s turn.
“You’re quite chesty, aren’t you?  What cup size are you, DD?  E? Oh, none of the ones you’ve chosen will come close to fitting.  (awkward giggle)  What size bottoms?  You used to be an 8?  Not anymore I’m afraid!  More likely a 10, possibly even a 12 with those hips.”  Awesome.  Thank you 18 year-old sales assistant.  If you could just say it a touch louder.  I’m pretty sure there are people shopping in your Fitzroy store that haven’t heard you.
Well-meaning friends have recommended taking ‘selfies’ of myself in various bathers to get a more objective view of how I look in each set.  Bad move.  There is nothing like a photo of yourself under the harsh neon light of a dressing room, sans make-up and hair done, in bathers that don’t really fit you properly to send you running for the Xanax.  Add to this the fact that most of the women surrounding you in the dressing room seem to be about twenty years your junior and a size two, with their most serious swimsuit-related concern being, “Do I get it in the tangerine or the cerulean?”, makes the experience the ultimate confidence destroyer. 
In the end however, thanks to some excellent sales people, I discovered there are in fact some amazingly beautiful bathers available to us “chesty” women.  I walked away with a beautiful set from Jets by Jessika Allen as well as one from Baku. 
What I originally took as offensive was actually a highly trained salesperson being honest about my body and what would best flatter me – something I now greatly appreciate.  A word of advice for shoppers – set aside at least a couple of hours to ensure you don’t feel rushed, go somewhere which specialises in swimwear and has an abundance of knowledgeable and helpful staff to assist you, take a friend whose opinion you trust and be prepared to spend at least $200 a pair.  Like with many other essentials, good, well-fitting bathers don’t come cheap.      
Oh, and skip the open bar.  Leave that for afterwards.  Trust me, you'll need it.