Friday, December 4, 2009

I'd Kill For Her Hair

Kathleen Worell, 20, of Sydney Australia, has admitted to stabbing her 18 year-old sister, Susan, to death over "hair straighteners." Here's the story. The article says the girls' parents have confirmed that their murderous daughter suffered a hormonal condition. I looked it up and found nothing that would indicate it's sufferers are prone to violence. But it's not a stretch to think it could have caused unmanageable hair, and that, I'm sure you'd agree, can make a girl crazy.

I think it's time to revisit one of my favorite auto-beauty-ographies: The Strange Case of Edith Carter.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Everyone Does It

"At a party when a woman tells you where she bought a wonderful pair of shoes, say that you believe shopping for clothes is like masturbation, everyone does it, but it isn’t very interesting and therefore should be done alone, in an embarrassed fashion, and never be the topic of party conversation."

--Lorrie Moore
From "How to Talk to Your Mother," online at Narrative.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

So Much to Learn

Princeton's Comparative Literature department now offers a class on memoirs by models.
(via Jezebel)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Is This a Trap?

So there's this new lipgloss, 2 Love My Lips, that comes with a handy date rape-drug detection kit. Read what Katy over at Jezebel wrote about it. I have to agree that it's a bit odd that the colors are advertised as "seductive."

Years ago my drink was once spiked with GHB at a big Vegas-themed costume party. The perp was a nondescript stranger who helpfully held my drink as I took my turn at the roulette wheel. I very quickly became horrifically ill. Luckily I was there with my sister who got me help. It may have served the would-be rapist right if I had indeed fallen into his hands. As it went, it took a while for the EMTs to believe that I had not brought my condition upon myself. I was costumed in visible garters and kaleidoscopic drag-queen shoes, and my sister pleaded for help wearing a teensy, vintage chain-mail halter and pink leather skirt. "We don't usually dress like this! She didn't take anything!" I vaguely recall her repeating. I was very out of it, and I think my sister ended up more traumatized than me; she still likes to say that the "emblem" of that evening was the image of my false eyelashes, afloat in the ambulance vomit basin.

So as not to end on that note, I'll add that if I had this product-of-the-future, I would be eager to try it out. I would probably make eyes at some creep and then leave him alone with my drink, just to have the pleasure of doing a little science experiment.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ask A Cobbler!

I've just cleaned out my closets. During the purge I came across the thigh-high, pink-suede boots I mentioned in Worst Things I Ever Wore. But somehow I just couldn't let them go. They'd be okay, I reasoned, if the toe wasn't so long and pointy. Can that be changed? I began to google around for an answer and soon came across the informative blog, Ask A Cobbler. Someone had asked my very question and the advising cobbler said yes, it can be done! While there I also learned answers to several other interesting shoe-repair questions (she typed without sarcasm).

So today I took my questionable boots to two of my local cobblers. Candidate one just said no. The look on his face said of course not. So I went up the street and asked a second cobbler.
"Well," he said. "I don't think that will work."
"But there's a lot of room in the toe," I offered. The point is very long and thin-- see? It goes way past my actual toe."
"Yes," he nodded. But if I cut it, there will be a hole." I waited for him to continue. But he did not.
"I was wondering if you could re-sew the hole. Changing the shape of the boot. I don't like long, pointy toes anyway."
"Well, they are pointy," he explained, "because that is how they are shaped."
"And we can't change the shape?" At this point he looked at me with pity.
"If we cut the point off, then there is a hole, and we will see your toes."

On the walk home, under a flawless autumn-blue sky, I came up with Plan B. I will wear the boots with something else I couldn't quite bear to get rid of: my flamingo costume. I made it five years ago. Along with a giant pink-feathered tail supported by wire armature, it includes a pink foam-rubber beak, pink wig, pink-feathered eyelashes, and a pair of sandals I sacrificed to hot glue and more feathers. But with the boots? A Complete Finished Look. Halloween is close.

This all reminds me of a conversation I had with my local wine store owner, Gary, last week. He updated me on the job searches of various neighbors, indicating that the redhead on her way out, with a bottle of something bubbly and celebratory, had just booked her first modeling job in months. "She is, in Japan, a big deal," said Gary. "But times are not so good. People aren't buying new boots; no, they fix their old boots. They don't buy new computer, they fix old computer." His eyes sparkled then, "But people can't fix their old wine, right?"

Friday, October 2, 2009

Gas Mask Bra

Elena Bodnar has just been awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in Public Health for her design of a bra that converts to a pair of gas masks.

Elena lives in Illinois now but was born in the Ukraine, and says she was inspired by the Chernobyl incident. You know who really could have used one of these? This gal.

Thanks for the tip, Cousin Brian!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nora Ephron Understands Auto-Beauty-Ography

Erika Kawalek at DoubleX interviewed Delia and Nora Ephron, about their stage adaptation of Ilene Beckerman's book, Love, Loss and What I Wore. On what first struck her about the book, Nora says, "... that the book is not about fashion at all. It’s about a much deeper question: How much clothes are us, or fail to be us."

I've written about clothes that failed to be me here: The Worst Things I Ever Wore, and here Story of My Bitter Defeat. Nora wrote an auto-beauty-ography of her own, I Feel Bad About My Neck.

And if you're new around here, I coined the term auto-beauty-ography to describe little life stories, told in terms of hair and weight and clothes, often disguised as how-to guides. Here are a few of my favorites: The Strange Case of Edith Carter, World's First Reality Star, and Great Big Beautiful Doll.
Find out more about the showhere. Want to go see it with me?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"The strongest noose is made of silk..."

"I read in SELF that the strongest noose is made of silk. But that was in an article from last year, so here’s what I’m wondering: Does that still “hold up” today?
Donna Doogan, Duluth"

I enjoyed this piece at The Awl, Letters to the Editor of Woman's Magazines, With Edith Zimmerman. Edith also writes a blog full of tiny, peculiar stories, rich with lines like this:

"And I would ask for a simple dress, but I would also ask that every other dress in the world be just a little simpler."

Technicolor Dream Dress

The Lumière brothers hand-painted each frame of this trippy 1899 film:

(via Kottke)

It is very much like this 1894 film, produced by Thomas Edison, and colored by a similar technique:

That film was banned for a while because it, "included titillating glimpses of the female performer's undergarments. But content wasn't the only concern. 'Indeed,' notes Champlin in an article on the film production code for American Film, 'it was the instant and immense popularity of the movies that stirred the first fears of their corrupting and inciting power.'"

Let's watch one more of dancer Annabelle Whitford to fully understand the corrupting power of her undergarments. While not colored, this Butterfly Dance is sweet and simple, school-playish, but haunting. It is so captivating when a dancer becomes another sort of earthling, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Give Green Porno "The Most Passionate 20-Arm Embrace"

Time for a new season of Green Porno, the most important film project of our time. By now, I am sure you're aware that Isabella Rossellini spends much of her time in crafty getups, doing it with various oddball creatures. This season features anchovy orgies, sea lion polygamy and Isabella on squid sex, "... I would give the most passionate twenty-arm embrace. Twenty? Well, eighteen. Two are not arms."

Here, the star poses as a fetching naked shrimp.

The new episodes, broadcast on the Sundance Channel and viewable online, are charming and wacky, but the intense WTF-quality of the first season has been supplanted by more of a narrative, educational framework. Several pieces start with Ms. Rossellini cooking members of the species in question (not the sea lions) on a cute kitchen set. She muses about where her food comes from and this segueways, dream sequence-like into the dress-up skits. Sometimes Isabella speaks with a biologist who answers questions on mating and environmental threats. It all just makes a little more sense, and that makes me a little sad.

The website has some silly new features. The Green Porno name generator assigned me "Bramble Hairstreak", which suits me entirely. And here you can find out what insect-based type of lover you are with a surprisingly dirty quiz:

Here are the other times I've mentioned Green Porno:

Monday, September 21, 2009

The 70s Adult Spotted in the WIld

"I was wearing a brown pleated skirt with a pattern of trees and deer; a cream shirt with a flyaway collar covered in cartoon Bambis; a tan jacket; tan tights; clumpy shoes, and a Dot Cotton coat with a furry collar. People were coming into the office and doubling up and taking pictures. It was bizarre going to meetings, and I got no sympathy at all.

The reason Georgie provoked such amusement was simple: she was dressed, coiffured and made up entirely in the style of 1970."

Georgie and her family are involved in the upcoming BBC series Electric Dreams, and attempted to experience life through the decades of technology. But the clothing is what interests me. A getup like that would garner compliments here in Brooklyn. Though I tend to stick to that classic rule of fashion: one deer-themed article of clothing per outfit. After Labor Day.

Read more about my feelings on the beige-ness of 70s adults here:

Jill Clayburgh in An Unmarried Woman

What to Wear To An Orgy

The Only Bonnie You Need

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I Made a Church of Your Hair-Do

"...When the urban situation causes the distance between us to increase and our interactions to be less frequent we have to use novel means to attract attention: big hair, skimpy clothes and plastic surgery. We become walking billboards."
--David Byrne on his perfect city
(WSJ, via Kottke)

Let's take a look at what else David Byrne has to say about hair:

The Other Side of Life:
"I made a church of your hair-do
And I made a shrine of your legs"

"I got skills and I got secrets, I can part my hair
I feel an empty space where love could be"

"The night is gone
And the day is here
The stupid sun is
The moon reflects
Your hair's a mess
It's lovely imperfections"

"I'm glad
I got hair, glad I got ears
I'm glad I got lungs, I'm glad I got tears
Glad that I never ever know what's real"

From Strange Ritual:
Mmm--I see hairstyles
Scenes of beauty
Scenes that disgust me
I see me --
I felt awe
Felt disgust
I felt bliss
I felt lust
It’s — not unusual"

gettinouta bed
gettin’ herself dressed
combin’ back her hair
dancin’ down the stairs"

Off topic: I think I've
angered the font Gods. Things are screwy. Working on it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cecil Beaton's Sisters

"What is elegance? Soap and water."

As promised, more on Cecil Beaton. The above quote is widely used, but strikes me as an impatient answer to the sort of red carpet questions now popular on the back pages of bad magazines.

Beaton had a long and varied creative career. He took iconic photos of stars like Marilyn and Audrey (and this one). But I most adore dreamy portraits like these of his socialite flapper sisters at fancy dress parties. You must click to enlarge these for full effect.

This one is Cecil's sister Baba, with friends Wanda Ballie Hamilton and Lady Bridget Poulett, at The Living Posters Ball in 1930. They are posing as soapsuds. Doesn't that look like so much fun? Anyone want to be this with me for Halloween?

Here is an earlier one of muse Baba, in 1925's "Symphony in Silver". Use of various sandwich wrapping materials as backdrops seems to be a theme. First we had Saran, and now Reynold's. I just love the headgear in all of these.

This is the other Beaton sister, Nancy, dressed as a Shooting Star in 1929. Stunning in cellophane.

On a hunch, I just looked up the history of this material. Sure enough, it began to be mass produced and in 1924 by DuPont. Aluminum foil was used for candy and such as early as 1913 but took a little while to spread. Cecil apparently delighted in putting these spiffy new materials to exotic use.

Beauty Salon

We've discussed the Hair Emergency Room and the Beauty Hospital. Today, the Beauty Hospice.

Last week, on a walk, I ended up in my favorite neighborhood bookstore, Unnameable Books. Unnameable is perfect: small and clean and perfectly organized, with carts of dollar books out front. (So many of the beauty books in my collection have been bought from such racks; the only people who seem to want them are you and me.) Inside, there is a mix of used and new, and an excellent selection of graphic novels. Often, there is also the owner, Adam, behind the counter and ready to make spot-on recommendations.

As I wandered the stacks, considering an early Ishiguro, something caught my eye from the shelf of staff picks. My head turned with a reptilian click, and I came face to face with this little book, Beauty Salon, by Mario Bellatin.

I have a pink chair just like those on the cover; I'm writing to you from that chair right now! Inside, I was delighted to find an eerie tale of a beautician turned caretaker. In some possibly futuristic city, an unnamed plague has taken hold, and the salon has become a place for the dying. Recently translated from Spanish, the prose is spare and lovely, and the story manages to leave many questions unanswered, but in a satisfying way.

Here's a bit about decorating the salon with tanks of fish:

"... when I first got interested in golden carp, in addition to the tranquility I got from observing them, I would always add something gold to the dresses I wore at night. It could have been a gold belt, gloves or stockings. I believed that wearing something gold would bring me good luck, perhaps save me from bumping into the Goat Killer Gang that operated in the center of the city."

Beauty Salon, from CityLights.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Notes on the Type

As regular readers know, I often quote odd and/or vintage advice books. I've always italicized the quoted material, but I've never been happy with the way my posts look. Just had an idea that I think works better.

Revisit one of our most awe-inspiring and peculiar characters to take a look. Better and easier to read, right?

Feedback by comment or email is welcome. I'll be going through and updating. Stay tuned for more Cecil Beaton, and a haunting beauty novella.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Martha Stewart is dressed and made up all goth for her special Halloween issue. Unless this is a prank?
(via BUST)


Hairdressers in Belfast, Ireland are being trained in basic suicide prevention after 30 people in the community committed suicide in only six week's time.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cecil Beaton and Sharpie Markers

Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) was a British portrait and fashion photographer who is widely known for his set and costume design for the film My Fair Lady.
Later, I'll introduce you to his dreamy, haunting portraits of his sisters and other society girls from the 1930s.

I have a little gingham love seat facing the desk in my home office. My writing partner Molly sits there when we work. Various other friends have sat there to cry and tell me their woes. I like to think of them as "clients," since they are on a couch and I am at a desk, though it is unclear what service I provide.
Anyway, one day I would like to have it recovered, and after much searching, I found the sort of graphic, black and white rose print I longed for. And it was designed by Cecil Beaton! I'd love to get my hands on some of that wallpaper. Those projects await future budget.

Earlier today I read a piece by Nina Carbone at The Frisky about DIY projects involving Sharpies. The designers of Vena Cava told her they use the markers to draw on cotton and silk, so now I've gotten it into my head to draw black roses on a beige or white silk dress. I will use the wallpaper roses in the photo above as inspiration.

Stay tuned for more on Cecil Beaton.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ava Gardner: "Undies, Diamonds, Tiara, Etc."

Earlier, I got this e-mail from my sister, Laura:

"Just finished Ava Gardner: "Love Is Nothing"by Lee Server. Remember how I was saying that other star bios don't have enough dirt? This one paid me back and then some. I swear it was exhausting just reading it. Debauched doesn't even begin to describe! I dared Matt to literally open any page in the book randomly, read it, and not be shocked or surprised. He thought I was exaggerating.
He opened to a page where she went to a premiere and to a club afterward. Proceeded to go in the bathroom, strip off girdle, undies, diamonds, tiara, etc and stuff them in friends purses. Said something like 'I am so glad I am finally able to be myself!' She then took home all four members of the band at the end of the night (sleeping with them is implied).
By that point in the book, the only thing that seemed out of character for her was that she waited until she got to the ladies room to strip off the undergarments! Anyway, thought you or your blog readers might enjoy."

I think I speak for myself and my readers when I say, SOLD. I just checked out some preview pages on Amazon, and indeed, you can find the above incident on page 378. Perhaps even more delightful is page 154, which recounts what Ava was willing to do for the sake of art, after "a steady stream of hot drinks," and provides one of the things I most love to find in a biography: the subject's measurements.

Bust: 35 3/4
Waist: 23 1/4
Hips: 34
Neck: 12 1/2
Thighs: 19
Calves: 13
Ankles: 7 1/2

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Style of Amelia Earhart

"Gravity was uncongenial to her and she made light of even grave things. There was ether in the very sound of her name."

That's from a lovely piece by Judith Thurman in this week's Style issue of The New Yorker. It's well worth a read for excellent biographical detail, and the familiar but effectively spooky hints that our girl landed safely and lived on Blue Lagoon style. But this passage held special interest for me:

"She was lanky and nonchalant, with no hips or breasts-- no visible womanliness-- to speak of... She flew wearing men's underpants (they were apparently superior to a woman's for the purpose of a quick pee). For public appearances-- at White House dinners, in a ticker-tape parade, on the lecture circuit-- her wardrobe was unfrilly but elegant, and for a while she designed and modeled her own fashion label, an undistinguished line of tailored dresses and soft, two-piece ensembles."

Of course I've heard of Amelia Earhart luggage, but I didn't know she actually endorsed the brand until I found info on Couture Allure. I'd love to see those clothes.

Meanwhile, the outfit she wears in the photo above is perfection, no matter who designed it. I'd like to make those tall boots and leather trench my new fall look.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lipstick Couch and Nail-Polish Den

I just read about Earth's cutest couple (besides this one?), Thia Breen and Laura Dowley. President of Estee Lauder North America and the Senior Vice President of Elizabeth Arden respectively, the two are business rivals who live happily together in a colorful apartment. Here's the piece by Nancy Keates.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Delightful: $50 Off Malia Mills

Yesterday I mentioned my love of Malia Mills swimsuits, and today I have exciting news:  the lovely ladies over there have offered us $50 off!  Just e-mail Jen at, and mention Peculiar Beauty to get the coupon.  I suggest you try this stunning Calendar Girl bottom.

And it's not just swimwear.  Malia has expanded her line to include seasonless clothing, shoes, accesories, and my personal favorite, the Naughty Nurse slip.  Inspired by a 1940s military issue slip, it features the most flattering seaming.  Let it peak out under a sundress, or get creative and layer.

Write and tell me what you choose!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Marilyn Monroe and Malia Mills

LIFE just put up dreamy, previously unpublished photos of Marilyn Monroe, frolicking in nature and reading scripts.

It just so happens that I will be spending this upcoming weekend much the same way.  To do so properly, I'll need that top.  Can one of you make something like this for me?  I strongly suspect that if I had a custom-made, fifties bikini, everything else would just fall into place.  

Genius swimsuit designer, Malia Mills makes something quite similar for ladies with E-F cups.  I have Malia's Pamela top, and Love Knot bottom.  I'd love to have the top at left in my size, too.  I think it's perfectly matched with the print, and stunning on this model.  

Monday, June 1, 2009

Beauty Parlor

This is a guest post of sorts.  My dear friend Molly recently went home to visit her family in Cleveland, Ohio and sent me these photos and descriptions.  I asked if I could share them with you.  Enjoy!

Here is the beauty parlor where my Nana has gone every Saturday at noon - for like forty years! - to get her hair set. 


Nana’s hairdresser, Zona, told me she doesn’t like to hire young stylists because they just learn cuts and do them without thinking about the individual. She likes to take face shape and hair texture and any other relevant factors into account when designing a hairdo.  She considers it an art, and important.  
She has even volunteered at mental institutions and old-age homes to give residents a fresh hairdo.  When she’d get there, they would be lolling in their chairs lethargically.  When she’d leave they would be giggling like schoolgirls.

Nana’s Personal Hairdo in process.  Note the scotch tape!

Thanks again, Moll!  I adore everything about these: the pink chairs, the expressions Molly captured, and the humble yet glamorous tradition of going for a roller set each week.  We need an After Photo...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Facials, So To Speak

I just read the latest New York magazine on the subway and came this short piece on Spermine facials.  Though Spermine is said to be an antioxidant isolated from sperm, it seems to be harvested from, yuck, foreskins.  I'm a bit confused but resist further research.  

Even more peculiar is this quote in the magazine by comedian Joy Behar.  In response to, "Are you artistically talented?" Ms. Behar says one of the most eccentric things I've ever read:
"I used to make paper-mache puppets of all my relatives during my first depression-- you know, like when I was first married.  I even put mink stoles on them and everything."

Is she joking?  I truly hope she is not.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Really Makes For A Darling Outfit

In these complex times, us modern gals have two things on our minds: sticking to a strict budget, and finding shorts that don't make us look like sluts. We count on Heloise, "Heroine of the Household," to get us through:

"Some of us who are not 'short-shorts' lovers would like to be able to find a pair that fits us and is cut exactly at the right length. For instance, some of us would wear shorts if we could find them cut just below the knees.
Watch for slacks and pedalpushers on sale. When you find a pair that fits, buy it.
While you are in the store, look for a white blouse. Often there are blouses on sale at the same time.
When you go home, cut the slacks or pedalpushers off to the exact length you desire, leaving about an inch and a half for a good hem. These may either be hemmed by hand or on the sewing machine. And don't throw the leg part away. We are going to use that to make a darling outfit!
Slit open the sides of the part you cut off (where the inseam is) and spread out. Lay the collar of the white shirt that you just bought on this piece of material. Cut exactly around the collar and make your pattern for a new colored collar! Use your iron and turn this new colored collar under one-fourth of an inch all the way around.
Cover the original shirt collar with the extra piece of material you have left from those pedalpushers. Not only does it make a snazzy outfit, but that printed collar won't show soil as much as a white one does!
With the leftover scraps you can make a binding for the top of one pocket or, if the shirt does not have pockets (and I absolutely despise shirts that do not have two pockets), you can make two pockets to match the collar and the shorts.
Another cute idea is to cut out little squares or triangles of this extra material (about an inch square or so) and sew them on the blouse so that it will look like a patched checkerboard. On one set, I saw these little squares and triangles sewn just on the white pockets and the collar itself. Really makes for a darling outfit which costs you practically nothing if you watch for your sales."

The description of this outfit reminds me of Stella and her paper-doll ensembles.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Place An Old Shower Cap Over Your Face

I just picked up a copy of Heloise's 1965 All Around the House, and was delighted to find some beauty tips among the suggestions for stain removal and preventing bacon curl (a surprisingly popular topic). Heloise's column was largely made up of hints sent in by readers, so each one tells a different little story. Let's start with this historical tidbit:

"Did you ever try dropping several pellets of BB shot into your nail polish bottle? Each time you use the polish, shake well and the polish is easily, quickly, and thoroughly mixed. This is especially good for frosted polishes."

As I'm sure you know, pretty much all nail polish has included beads in the bottle for decades now. I never really gave it any thought, but now we know who though it up.

Next, an entirely extraneous project from a self-satisfied crafter:

"Make a hair-do apron from a large bath towel that had become too thin for good drying. Fold in half crosswise, cut out a circle to fit the neck and cut an opening down the front. Bind with bias tape. This also helps use up odds and ends of tape!
Sew a large pocket at the bottom of the apron. It can be made from a washcloth or from the circular piece cut from the neck hole. Make a smaller, narrow pocket on the other side.
In the large pocket, keep rollers or clips. In the small pocket keep your comb. This is easy to work with when putting your hair up, keeps your dress clean, and is easy to launder as it needs no ironing.
I put this hair-do apron on when I take my hair down. I put the curlers in the large pocket, the comb in the narrow pocket and put the apron away. By doing this, everything is ready when I want to 'do up' my hair the next time."

Sometimes the tips are short but evocative, much like haikus. The clever but oddly self-annihilating:
"Before removing dresses, blouses or sweaters over your head, place an old shower cap over your face (underneath your chin and above your forehead), and thus avoid any make-up rubbing into your garments."

The heartbreaking:
"From Maine: 'When my imitation pearl beads and earrings turn yellow from wear, I dye them any color I choose. I just mix dye in a little jar, drop in the jewelry and let it stand-- shaking it once in a while-- until the desired color has been absorbed. Sure is pretty.'"

I'll end with this longer piece, my favorite in the book. What a strange little tale:

"For years I have used rubber powder puffs. I have always carried one in an empty plastic compact while the puff is still damp.
I find if I don't use it often enough, it starts smelling!
Then a few years ago, I found that the puffs won't smell if you carry them in waxed paper sandwich bags. The great thing about this is that the dampness does not come through the lining of your purse, yet the sandwich bag let's just enough of the moisture escape so that the puff doesn't smell.
When my husband saw me take my foam rubber powder puff from my worn, crumpled sandwich bag one day, he said, 'Why don't you wrap it in a piece of foil?' Immediately he returned with a piece of foil, just a little larger than the powder puff itself. Now, after I apply my cake make-up, all I have to do is take the damp sponge, fold it in half, or roll it in the foil. Personally, I like to roll the sponge in the foil because it stays damp longer. Also it doesn't take up as much room in my purse.
Gals, all of you who use cake make-up, skip into that kitchen, unroll that piece of foil, and lay it on your make-up table. In the morning when you do your face-- this is especially for working girls-- roll your sponge-type puff and put in in your little piece of foil and twist both ends.
You will find that this will last at least forty-eight hours. You will have no mess in your purse. It is easily seen for quick make-up jobs. But best of all, it never has an odor."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

You're Invited

My friend Felicia Sullivan, writer and all-around dynamo, organized a brilliant event.  She partnered with social-service organizations in Brooklyn, and with fashion and beauty brands to create a day of boutique-like free shopping for women in need.
Do you have nice clothes to donate?  Tomorrow night is the Fashion for All Donation Pre-Party!
Bring your lovely, gently worn clothes, have a cocktail and a cupcake, and.... shop the MINT by Jodi Arnold collection at wholesale prices.  Plus, hang out with me.

MINT Jodi Arnold Showroom
230 W. 39th St., Floor 2
(b/t 7th and 8th)
6-9 pm
RSVP: Deenie Hartzog

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Almost Considering Going To The Gym

Jane Fonda, 71, got into a leotard to perform a skit at a Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS event.  You look fantastic, lady!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This Summer, Beware The Beach Devil

Jezebel posted an excellent spread of spring fashions from a 1972 Sears catalog.

This acrylic and polyester Hooded Beach Shift brought to mind the 1973 film, Don't Look Now.  Everyone always wants to talk about the graphic and creatively edited scene from that movie, starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, and fine, but I find it difficult to have a serious conversation about the art and the sex because there is also an evil little red troll, following the couple  around Venice, which never gets explained. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Her Trademark Mannerism

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mrs. Betty Calman, an
83 year-old yoga instructor from Australia.
And, a thought on
staying young:

"YOU WILL HAVE A TIMELESS PERSONALITY WHEN YOU HAVE RID YOURSELF OF MANNERISMS BOTH YOUTHFUL OR THOSE OF AGE. The youthful ones do not hurt, except that if you have mannerisms at all, they will gradually change with the years. So the best thing to do is rid yourself of mannerisms, then consciously choose one or two that would become your trademark and set you apart."
--Margery Wilson, You're As Young As You Act (1951)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Worst Things I Ever Wore

I love little clothing memoirs, like Sadie's dress stories, and my friend Elizabeth's book.  When I'm reading old auto-beauty-ographies I relish descriptions of treasured outfits.  Today I decided to go the other way and tell you some of my really bad clothing memories.

Pants: Ugly, but Dry 
My mom was and is a big thrift-shopper, so these navy-blue bell-bottoms with colorful flowers embroidered on the bells were out of style by the time I wore them.  Describing them now, they sound sort of cute, but here's the problem: another girl in my third grade class also had them.  A girl known for wetting her pants.  Those pants.

Tell-Tale Poncho 
Around the same time, my mother forced a blue, knitted poncho upon me.  I considered it my mortal enemy.  I tried to "lose" it in the schoolyard, but my mother helpfully checked the lost and found and got it back for me.  Soon after, I enlisted a friend to help me bury it like a murdered corpse.  I can still hear the beating of its yarny heart.

Strange because I now own an enormous red knitted poncho that I adore.  Anyway, I can't blame my mother for everything.  I grew up into a person perfectly able of making horrible wardrobe choices all on my own.

Anorak of Ennui
In high school, I acquired a dark grey, slouchy, anorak-like garment that reached my knees.  I think I got it in the city, at Canal Jeans Company.  Though it looked like the very costume of depression, it somehow pleased me.  It was like wearing a rainstorm.  Plus, it was useful!  At the end of my brief and ill-fated cheer leading stint, the garment was just the thing to conceal my uniform in one fell swoop.  This came in handy when I made the wise decision to duck out of cheering at homecoming and instead sneak off into the woods with my cool friends, to do other stuff.
I also wore the anorak the first time I met my favorite aunt, Val.  She was the cutest thing ever, petite and blonde, in pink jeans and matching pink leather jacket, and I fell in love at first site.  Inexplicably, she also took to the unruly creature in grey who glowered from across the restaurant table, through poorly applied, electric blue eyeliner.

Elves In Polyester
Speaking of Canal Jeans Company, my friend Jodi and I cut school (again) and went shopping.  We were approached by a scout for Aveda to model in their hair show at the Jacob Javitz convention center that coming weekend.  We both had long, crazy curls and the scout saw much possibility.  We'd be paid in cash and products.  And um, we'd be models!  
The Aveda people dressed us up in green polyester outfits of bermuda shorts and peter-pan collared blouses.  We looked like elves with no sense of style.  They paraded us onstage that way and while hundreds of Japanese men photographed us, my face was covered in orange and black makeup and my curls were brushed to frizz and styled with something the consistency of Elmer's glue.  I couldn't see what was happening to Jodi but when we were reunited she was inconsolable, sobbing that she looked like Judy Jetson.  I couldn't entirely disagree.

Cheerleader, Take Two
I applied as a waitress at a 1950's themed restaurant in Tampa, Florida.  The manager shook my hand, handed me a uniform and said, "Dance practice is on Monday nights.  There's an open bar."  Turns out the waitstaff performed choreographed routines to golden oldies.  I wore a purple cheerleader outfit: short purple skirt over purple "bloomers", white sneakers and something we called The Bib.  It had a B on it (for Blueberry Hill) and was worn over a tight white top.  But it didn't quite... contain me.  When I first put it on my large chest looked cartoonishly obscene.  To look reasonably wholesome, I had to buy a bra that looked like a machine.  No matter how busy we were with tables, when certain songs played, were to drop everything and jump up on either the stage built on two classic Chevys, or onto pedestals placed in every row of booths.  Every weekend night, I shook it to Great Balls of Fire while someone tugged at the edge of my skirt and tried to order a burger and some more beer.   I met two of my very best friends at this job and to this day, when we're together, we sometimes line dance over to each other, doing the steps we learned for The Wanderer.

What I Wore On The Horse
Oh forget it, this one deserves its own post.

Skort of Shame
It was very, very short.  It looked like a cute denim mini skirt, and for years I lived in cute denim minis.  But underneath it had attached denim shorts.  A skort looks like shorts in the back, right?  So this wasn't a skort.  Possibly, it was worse.  Maybe it wouldn't have made the list if I'd only worn it to the beach or on errands.  Reader, I wore it to work at an office.  A casual internet start-up office, but still.  At that time, I was the only female employee. 

Not Fat, Just Fluffy
The thickest, bulkiest, heaviest sweater ever knitted was a Christmas gift from my sister Laura.  She bought one for herself too.  Angora of the palest heavenly blue, which is about the least flattering possible color on me.  It shed like a yak.   When I tried it on, it made me look like Tina Yothers.  I am not at all the allergic type, but even having this thing in the room made it difficult to breathe.  Laura and I looked at each other through a haze of blue floof in the air.  "But look at the designer," she said.  "I got a great deal."  
My sister tried to wear hers a few times and resorted to storing it in the freezer to try to cut down on the shedding.  In her defense, she also gifted me that year with pick cashmere shorts with white piping.  Win some/lose some.

Barbie Dream Boots
Thigh-high, pink suede boots from Nine West.  I gasped at the expanse of pink suede while Christmas shopping with my aunt in a New Jersey mall.  So she bought them for me on the spot as a birthday gift.  (Yes, the pink aunt from the anorak story above.)  The boots have a long, pointed toe, a low heel, and a kind of western feel.  Is there a prize for cramming the highest number of ill-advised trends into one boot?  But... so pink.
I wore them only once, with a short black dress and black tights, to a Flaming Lips concert on a New Year's Eve date. I don't usually do that sort of thing.  My sister's boyfriend had to work so I graciously invited her along with us.  Lucky for me, because my date got so drunk that Laura and I had to carry him out of Madison Square Garden.  I couldn't have done it alone.  It is shocking to me that he did not vomit on those boots, for several reasons.

This list is in no way complete.