Do my boobs look pointy in this? Exploring vintage style bras!

I have a love-hate relationship with bras. Back in pre-child days, with my carefree firm and perky still twenty-something breasts I often scorned bra wearing, even with my not insubstantial 10D or 12C bust… those babies basically defied gravity and my only real issue was whether it was a cold day or not. Fast forward to my early thirties, post pregnancy and breastfeeding my daughter for two ad half years… well, we’re not even talking about the same pair here any more! My comfort zone has become the push up and gel enhanced wonder that takes the deflated balloons and gives them lift and substance. When I’m wearing my bra armour, they still look quite impressive! But basically, I take my boobs off at the end of the night. Or, to be perfectly honest, as soon as I get home… because I’ve always found bras to be quite restricting and uncomfortable.

I love the look of vintage undergarments… AND the sound of a bra that looked pinup and sexy but was also comfortable – as many of the vintage reproduction and bullet bra styles are sans underwire. However the thought of an unpadded and not super lifting bra also terrified me somewhat… I felt a little naked just thinking about loosing my breasts in so brazen a way! So it was with some trepidation that I began my exploration into the vintage repro bra…

First up is the Rago Style 2191 Satin & Lace Fashion Bra, in red and black. I purchased mine here, from Pinup Girl Clothing. I love all of my Rago shapewear, so I was quite optimistic that this was going to be a comfortable, quality and supportive garment.

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And I was not disappointed! I really like this bra. It is very comfortable, gives good support and the black and red is very attractive. Combined with the girdle and stockings it gives a really great sexy retro look. I like how it gives a nice retro shape under clothing without being overly pointy. This is a good every day bra, however I wouldn’t wear it under anything with a lower neckline, as it is full coverage and although supportive, is hardly cleavage enhancing! And I like the girls to have a good boost under anything lower cut 🙂

Secrets and Lace has an amazing range of retro and vintage style lingerie, shapewear and of course – stockings. They also have some exclusive limited edition Rago items that aren’t available anywhere else! I was beyond excited to discover their Bettie Page collection – a glamorous range of vintage inspired lingerie, shapewear, stocking and night wear that you could see Bettie herself wearing! Of course, the collection features a lot of leopard! I decided to try the Bettie Leopard Plunge Bra and the Bettie Bullet Bra. Going by their size charts and self measuring, I would have been a 36D. However converting my size from NZ to US sizing I would go from a 10D/12C (I vary depending on the bra) to a 32D/34C. I decided to stick with the direct conversion my NZ size and ordered the Plunge Bra in a 34C and the Bullet Bra in both a 32D and 34C (in 2 different colours since they were on sale!)

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I LOVE this bra. It is very comfortable, even with the underwire and has soft, wide supportive straps. The style is very low cut, but the peek-a-boo pink covers just enough to not be indecent! Even so, I don’t get a feeling of spilling out of the cups, it feels nice and firm on. For someone not used to wearing a vintage shaped bra yet, this style is the closest looking to a modern bra, especially under clothes, so I have been wearing this almost every day. It is very uplifting (and cleavage enhancing!) and I hardly notice the absence of the extra padding I am used to.

Now, onto the bullet bras. I actually couldn’t see much of a difference in the sizes, both fit well. Which makes sense, because of how bra sizing works, the 32D and 34C are the same cup size. The 34C I had to do up on the tightest hook at the back, the 32D the midde hook. I have seen many pictures of bullet bras on, but wearing one was quite a lot different than I expected. They are really pointy! I kind of expected more of a rounded cone, these really shape the breast into… well a “bullet” shape. Hmm makes sense I guess! There was a little gap where my boob didn’t quite squish into the end… I’m thinking this is where those bullet bra pads would be used. I really like how it looks from the front, the side view from my modern indoctrinated viewpoint is going to take some getting used to. So far, this is a style I would wear for  photoshoot, but I haven’t been brave enough to wear one out under a sweater yet 🙂 I think it’s a style that will definitely grow on me, because the bras are just beautiful to look at as well as being very comfortable and supportive.

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Lastly, I will look at the Dominique 7750 Longline Low Back Bra Bustier from Orchard Corset. This isn’t quite in the same category but since I had recently purchased this I thought I’d throw the review into this post! I have a dread of strapless bras… no matter how excellent they are, they can’t defy gravity. Even if it doesn’t fall “down”… when “up” is somewhere near my waist without the holding power of straps, it’s a little disheartening. I just don’t wear anything that requires a strapless bra, or I wear a bolero to cover my straps! However after reading a review of this bustier on one of my favourite blogs, Pinup Persuasion (link here), I thought this might just be the answer to my strapless woes and decided to give it a whirl.

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I am fairly sure this is the right size for me, as it fits firmly around the back, and although there is a little extra room in the cups I think the smaller cup size would likely dig in to me. It definitely gives good lift and support, more than a strapless bra – although not as much as a bra with straps. I would wear a strapless dress with this – amazing! However I wouldn’t wear this if I had the option of wearing a bra with straps with my dress choice. There is a bit of a gap around the bottom on me, but I am used to the feeling of a firm fitting girdle now. I would wear a panty girdle underneath this for a special occasion. This would also take care of the slight “muffin” created at the bottom between the bustier and the underwear line. I like how the low back and plunge at the front mean it could be worn under a wide variety of different tops and dresses. All in all, I am very happy with this, and keen to once again get to delve into the world of strapless! Who would have thought!?

The girdle I am wearing in all of the above is the Rago longline open bottom girdle and the stocking are What Katy Did, purchased fro Rita Sue Clothing.

Hope you enjoyed this review!

Natalie xx

 

 

Pinup on ANY Budget!

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In this post I’d like to examine the opinion that “dressing pinup/vintage is expensive” or “I love that look but I could never afford that dress”. I come across this idea often, both in real life and seeing comments on social media. And while that certainly COULD be true, it doesn’t have to be. Let me explain!

Apples with apples, and quality over quantity.

I agree, that most vintage and vintage reproduction clothing costs more than your average chain store at the mall. But most women I know who don’t wear pinup or vintage style clothing don’t shop exclusively at lower end shops! They shop at higher end chain stores like Max, Decjuba or Country Road, make the occasional splurge on a NZ or overseas designer item and supplement their wardrobe with basics from cheaper chain stores or fun places like Kmart. And that to me is comparing apples with apples… and I think the cost would be pretty similar, or even less expensive to wear vintage style (especially if you follow my handy tips below!).
There are also the women who fall into another camp and I used to be one of these! The exclusive thrift, budget and sale shopper! Now thrifting is an awesome way to find unique and quality clothing at ridiculously cheap prices. I did find however that with budget and sale shopping I ended up getting caught in a cycle of buying something cheaply (since that was all I could “afford”) that might not be great quality, or wasn’t quite right in fit or otherwise… and either not wearing it or having it fall apart or look tatty after only a few washes or one season. So I’d rinse, and repeat… It took many years for me to develop the self control to be able to resist the sale and save up for a better quality yet more expensive item! And it might not even be that more expensive… but it was still hard to pry those extra few dollars out of my hard core budget minded wallet! There was still that voice in my head “surely I could find this cheaper somewhere else….” But when I gradually changed my habits it was a revelation and I actually spend less rather than more – because I bought things that lasted, and that I really liked to wear! I’ve also discovered that with careful and creative shopping… you don’t have to spend a lot to have a great wardrobe 🙂

Here are some tips, a quide if you like to building a pinup wardrobe… no matter what your budget!

1. Shop smarter when buying new! Join online communities and mailing lists

Love a particular vintage reproduction brand, or have your heart set on a particular dress or fabulous pair of shoes? Make sure you follow brands you like on social media like Instagram and Facebook, and join mailing lists. Most popular brands like Pinup Girl Clothing, Collectif and Wheels and Dollbaby have very good sales a few times a year, even 30 or 50% storewide, as well as individually reduced items. Many brands also offer loyalty discounts to return customers! Shopping on the other side of the world can be an advantage too, since we can exploit the end of season sales being the opposite season 🙂 Warning, all that exposure to all this pinup goodness can be a double edged sword… see Number 5 below!

2. Have fun exploring new sources – genuine vintage, thrifting, swapping, 2nd hand repro and chain stores!

I think one of the most fun things about dressing in vintage style is how many different sources there are out there! And for me, there is something very satisfying about finding something really unique, or nabbing a super bargain. There is great genuine vintage out there, if you can find something in your size! Online, on sites like Etsy, and in vintage stores and boutiques, curated vintage garments are a treasure trove of unique pieces, often at very reasonable prices. Quality of genuine vintage is, of course, often excellent, since the garment has already withstood the test of time! Thrifting is one of my favourite things to do. By thrifting, I mean looking through charity shops and markets, getting a bit down and dirty sometimes… trying to uncover a treasure! Obviously this requires more time, to sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak… but this is one way you can find some true bargain gems. Swapping with friends or online groups is an alternative too, especially if you have items that are too big or small but in good condition. Quality vintage reproduction brands can be bought second-hand online – through facebook groups and sites like Trademe and Ebay. Often, you can pick up something in near new condition, or even with tags, at much less than the cost new. Just be careful to check feedback on sellers… although I have been lucky and never had an issue. Last but not least, keep an eye out for vintage styles in unexpected places! Often chain and department stores have good basics like cropped cardigans and blouses, very cheaply. Malls can be good sources for cheap and cheerful accessories too!

PhotoGrid_1407826471015This is an example of an outfit put together from many different sources! The felted beret is locally made from shop called Wintergarden, and was a deal at $20. The striped top is from Kmart, the pussy bow blouse underneath is from a mall chain store, the white vinyl belt is from Pinup Girl Clothing (I always add a few accessories when I do an order from PUG), the skirt is Rock Steady (and I got it on sale at Rita Sue Clothing) and the shoes are Mi Piaci, bought from their outlet store at DressMart and were 70% off! Most of my outfits are a hodge podge of vintage, vintage repro, chain store and thrifted pieces 🙂

 4. Maximise what you already have

I’ve touched on this in a previous post… but I’ll say it again! Accessories are a pinup girl’s best friend! Instead of buying a new outfit, go “shopping” in your own closet. Try putting together pieces in new ways and colour combos you haven’t tried! Follow fellow vintage lovers on social media for a wealth of inspiration! If you are like me, there are probably things lurking in your wardrobe you haven’t worn in a while and almost forgotten about… all they need is a fresh look 🙂 I am always amazed at how something like a printed skirt can be worn so many ways by changing shoes, belts, cardigans, scarves and jewellery! Try mixing patterns and prints and pairing colours in new ways! If you have items that don’t fit anymore, look at alterations, which can be surprisingly inexpensive. Even if you are not sewing inclined (like myself), outsourcing works too 🙂 If you love the fabric of a dress but it is too small, think outside the box, it might make a nice skirt!

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Here is an outfit based on a dress that I found at a thrift store. I loved the tattoo print, but the bodice was much too small… actually it consisted of 2 triangles that wouldn’t have covered my nipples! So I simply cut off the bodice and… instant skirt! Confession… I didn’t even sew it, I just fold over the top and wear a belt… lazy!

The cardigan I’m wearing I bought on sale at a shop at my local mall, and added the cute iron on pink sequin cherries from a craft store!

 

5. Don’t get carried away (This is a biggie!)… Have a “wish list” and be organised

I think one of the reasons it is so easy to spend a lot of money wearing vintage style is that it’s seriously addicting! There are just so many beautiful vintage brands and designers and I am always discovering something new. And there are so many beautiful pin up loving gals as sources of inspiration, it’s very easy to get caught up in seeing something new and fabulous and “needing” it. I think there is also a feeling that we put on ourselves, that we have to wear something unique and different every day… and if I wore a different dress every day that would get seriously expensive! I got into a very bad shopping habit in this way, and one of the tricks I have learned is to make a “wish list”. Look at what is in your closet. Sell, swap or give to charity what doesn’t fit or you don’t wear. Make a list of items you really want or love… that would either be a super wardrobe staple, or maybe just something beautiful you want for a special occasion. Planning out what I REALLY want instead of impulse buying is something I found really helpful! Just because that dress looks fabulous on someone else, or is on sale/limited edition/don’t have a flamingo print dress in my wardrobe… doesn’t mean I need to buy it. Sounds simple right!? For instance, here are a few things on my wishlist at the moment… and I’m not going to rush out an buy anything (or everything!) on it. BUT I may keep an eye out and use some of the tips I’ve mentioned to get my hands on something on that list – eventually. And if it’s in the budget… which at the moment, means probably not for a long time!

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The items on my wish list aren’t all specific items! Some are basics, some are just things I love! They are – something in harlequin print and/or a Jenny dress from PUG, a black wiggle skirt like the Kinky ruffles skirt by Deadly Dames, a playsuit for summer like this adorable pineapple print on from Glamour Bunny, a novelty print skirt in something cute – love this foxy print from Hell Bunny, a Monica dress from PUG, a summery frock like this Watercolour print swing dress from Stop Staring, a pair of BAIT shoes in coral, a brooch from Luxulite and Modcloth’s cropped cardis, in several colours 🙂 Well a girl can dream right!

6. Be practical… but not too practical!

I just had to pop this one in here! There is definitely something to be said for trying to be practical. Choosing items that will be able to be worn with a maximum number of other pieces in your wardrobe, and that are great foundation pieces is a very good idea. However! I can’t say how many times I’ve ended up with something I liked, rather  than LOVED because I over thought things and bought something I thought would be more practical in my wardrobe… and sure it probably was. I have plenty of lovely things I wear all the time because of this! But there is also a magic in having something in your wardrobe that’t NOT practical. Something special you just absolutely fell in love with… just because… even if it didn’t match anything you already owned. Because you know what? You will probably wear that a lot too… simply because you love it. So be practical… but trust your instinct 😉 Although if you do this too much, you will end up with a shopping problem! Delicate balance…. ah first world problems…

7. Start local, and keep going back!

If you are just starting to build your pinup wardrobe, or want to dabble by just getting something fabulous for a special occasion, I can’t recommend enough going into your local (or nearest) pinup style boutique, if you are lucky enough to have one! This is a great way to try on a variety of brands and styles, see what suits and fits you, and buy something you really love. Living in Auckland we are lucky to have the amazing Rita Sue Clothing, which has recently moved to St Kevin’s Arcade in downtown Auckland. I bought my very first Pinup Girl Clothing dress here, and while shopping online can be great, you can’t beat “real life” shopping… and being able to talk to and have help from ladies who have knowledge and passion for vintage clothing and lifestyle! Often they can order in a size or colour and you never know, you might just make some new friends in the vintage community 🙂

Hope you enjoyed these tips! And if you would like to see my daily outfit posts, follow me on Instagram… I post what I’m wearing and details there most days!

Natalie xxx

An Overload of Outfits

One of the things that gives me a reason to get up in the morning is picking out something nice to wear! Sad but true. That and a yummy hand-pressed espresso… if I’m lucky I might even not have to make it myself!  Due to a bit being a bit of a “collector” (*cough* compulsive shopper) of pretty things I can usually just quickly pull something out that suits my mood, even on the busiest mornings. Even if I don’t get a chance to spend much time on my hair and makeup, it makes me feel good! And to be honest, it doesn’t take any more time to throw on a pretty skirt and top or nice pair of trousers than trackpants or tights. And I’m a sucker for accessories. The ultimate way to exponentially expand your wardrobe… by just changing up the details, you get a whole new look… and I’m a big fan of getting bang for your buck! I love combining genuine and reproduction vintage with thrifting and chain store finds… it’s quite satisfying to find bargains and to put together outfits that are unique and DIY so to speak.

I love getting inspiration from other like minded vintage loving ladies by following fashion and outfits on social media! There are so many creative and fashionable women out there… and you certainly can be on a budget or a time strapped mama and still look great, express yourself and be comfortable everyday! So since I enjoy following other lovely ladies fashion journey’s I thought I’d like to share some of my own 🙂 Unfortunately my photographer is 4 years old. So sometimes she gets it right… and sometimes she would rather play ponies. Hubby-to-be works very long hours… so normally the outfits he sees are me  in are…still sleeping, or in one of my many robes! BUT I have recently been given a new camera for my birthday, which as a complete photography dummy I am having fun learning how to use… so I can take my own shots!

Here is a selection from the past month or so…

Outfits

Putting them all together like that I am starting to see some recurring themes! Clearly, black and red are my go to colour combos! I also love leopard, and pink! And like I’ve mentioned before, hats and head scarves are the ultimate low maintenance hair style…

I’ll just describe a few of my favourites…

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I wear A LOT of Pinup Girl Clothing!

Left -This winter, the black “Buttoned Up and Ready to Go” dress has been a staple. Comfy, stylish and a nice thick stretch fabric – the perfect winter dress. The swallows scarf here is from Sourpuss Clothing, stockings What Katie Did (both purchased from Rita Sue Clothing), the beret is a vintage find from Melbourne and shoes from Mi Piaci.

Middle – Laura Byrnes black high waisted trousers, cherry print Ridley blouse and black bow belt all from Pinup Girl Clothing. Their high-waisted  trousers in this style are by far my most worn item of clothing. I have them in cropped and full length and several colours and patterns. So flattering and comfortable, and easy to co-ordinate! I am so excited about the new limited edition parrot print pair I have recently ordered. The brooch is one of my own creations.

Right – Sweater from Collectif, another favourite of mine! Yellow beaded accessories are thrifting finds, shoes are BAIT and belt and high waisted crop trousers are Pinup Girl Clothing.

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I absolutely LOVE the 40s style trousers from HeyDay Vintage! I have 3 pairs so far – in brown herringbone, white and denim. They are beautiful quality and fit and made with such attention to detail – even the buttons on the side are gorgeous.

Left – Thrifted blouse, Pineapple earrings from local mall, Pineapple cardigan and handbag from Rita Sue Clothing, pants from Heyday and shoes from Mi Piaci

Right – Blue pussy bow blouse from Dangerfield, beaded necklace a gift, pants from Heyday, polka dot heels from Hannahs, sunglasses from Pinup Girl Clothing

I try and post a photo and details of my daily outfits on Instagram each day (if my photographer is cooperative)… so if you like this post check me out there 🙂 If anyone has any interest, I can post here weekly as well as on Instagram!

Natalie xx

 

 

 

 

 

Mini Shoot with Zandy J Photography

Last  month I had the fun opportunity to take part in a mini pinup photoshoot by Zandy J Photography. Zandy does fabulous pinup and portrait work, you can check her out here . My 20 minute photo shoot took place around St Kevin’s Arcade and started off with getting my hair done by the amazing Ella (Miss Victory Violet) and makeup by the very talented Rose of Decadia Vintage, at Rita Sue clothing. They did an incredible job and I felt so pampered and glamourous! I was one of the last out of 8 girls that Zandy was shooting that day and it was starting to get cold and rainy so we didn’t venture far, but there are so many interesting locations around St Kevin’s arcade that made for some very cool backdrops to my photos.

The outfit I chose to wear was my black Alika circle dress by Tatyana Clothing, purchased from Rita Sue. I love the old school glamour of this dress, and the lattice style detail at the neck and sleeves gives it a subtle sexiness while still being very elegant! The full circle skirt looks amazing with a petticoat, and I chose a dark red colour Hellbunny petticoat from Rita Sue to give a pop of colour and bring out the the red in my Cutiepie heels from Pinup Girl Clothing. and red lips and hair flower.

With the detailed neckline I kept the jewellery simple, with just some sparkly red confetti lucite earrings from Pinup Girl Clothing.

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Zandy was great to work with and good at giving directions to someone like me who in’t the most experienced at posing! It was a lot of fun and I was very excited to see the result! And here are  some of my favourite shots 🙂

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Thanks so much to Zandy, Ella and Rose! I have an exciting new project with Zandy coming up, something I bit different, and I can’t wait to share, I’ll keep you posted!

Natalie xxx

Superb Samorga (Taming my handbag habitat Part 2)

A few weeks ago I gave a glimpse into my slightly less than ideal organisational system which I call “organised chaos”. You can view the post here. I decided to start with something small and achievable goal that might make my life a little easier and my marbles a little less lost, and I ordered a felt handbag organiser from Samorga. They come in every conceivable size to fit any handbag (or man purse, don’t want to be sexist here!), including custom sizes and a wide range of lovely colours. I received my orange heather colour organiser today, nicely packaged and wrapped in tissue. The quality looked excellent and the felt thick and soft and I couldn’t wait to try it out!

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I guess-timated a size I thought would fit a range of my handbags and luckily it seemed to fit my favourite red Amoeba handbag from Pinup Girl Clothing as well as several others – N1(W8 H5.9 D4in) / mini. Once again I tipped out my handbag disaster… and got to work.

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And here is my new organised…erm organiser! So tidy! A pocket for everything, and best of all you can actually SEE what’s in the pockets!

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Here is the Samorga organiser in my Amoeba handbag. The size I ordered fits snugly in this handbag, I have to close it firmly due to the shape of the bag since it tapers at the top. It is an odd size bag though, and I am left with the “end bits” of dead space where it curves. But considering the space I am using is now actually useable, I am well pleased. I can also tuck things I am not going to need immediate access to down in the corner, like a pair of gloves, or an apple 😉

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I have also shown it in another handbag from Pinup Girl Clothing, I have this one in both leopard and pineapple print.

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It really makes it so easy to transfer from one bag to another!

And here it is in a larger tote like I might use on the weekend so there is extra room for things like a water bottle and sweater. Or kid crap.

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My verdict is… I love this and it’s fabulous! So practical, and for someone like me, a lifesaver! I’d like to think I won’t ever lose my keys again… but chances are I will find a way. I definitely want a tiny one now for my little handbags 🙂 I just took my new organised handbag on it’s first outing and I had to keep opening it to look at how pretty it is… I even wanted to show the man at the gas station. But I didn’t. He didn’t look like handbag fan.

Hope you enjoyed this review… get yourself a Samorga baby!

Natalie xx

The stars that shine the brightest

Like most of the rest of the world I was deeply saddened by the death of one of the great funny men of our time – Robin Williams. A truly great loss. But I wasn’t shocked. Why? Today I read an excellent article entitled “Why Funny People Kill Themselves” on cracked.com that explains why brilliantly, link here.

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It begins, “You ever have that funny friend, the class-clown type, who one day just stopped being funny around you? Did it make you think they were depressed? Because it’s far more likely that, in reality, that was the first time they were comfortable enough around you to drop the act.”

You see, you could pretty much be describing me here. I don’t consider myself a funny person, but I certainly use humour to cover social anxiety and insecurity. The death of such a brilliant and funny man, who struggled with addiction and depression really struck close to home. Not only have I struggled with depression and addictive tendencies my entire adult life, I also lost a brilliant and talented man, my partner Ben, to the demon of addiction.

It seems to be the ones with the greatest talent, the stars that shine the brightest, that struggle with the greatest burdens.

I think it is so very important that public awareness is raised to the reality of suicide – it’s not weak, or and “easy way out”, or a source of shame. What is shameful is attitudes of those that do not understand, and pass judgement on sufferers of mental illness, depression and addiction. And surrounding the death of such a legendary and high profile man, I am seeing many articles to this effect, which is very positive.

Here in New Zealand we live in a country with a suicide rate among the highest in the world. Nearly double the road toll in the last few years. Why is that? I lost a friend to suicide last year. It’s a terrible thing to have to farewell someone who has a lifetime of living and loving still to do. But until we have walked a mile in their shoes and faced that crippling darkness, where eternal oblivion seems the only way to free yourself of the pain, when you are convinced the world would be better off without you… how can we judge? A very good article by Chris Barton, speaking out about suicide in New Zealand was published in this month’s North & South. The full pdf article is available to download here through mentalhealth.org. A recommended read.

Addiction and depression often go hand in hand. August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day, a day for prevention and remembrance of those that have been lost. The symbol is a silver ribbon.

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Wearing silver can signify the loss of someone cherished or demonstrate support to those bearing a burden of grief.

Wearing silver sends out a message. That message is that the infinite value of each human being nullifies presumption, prejudice and stigma towards people who use drugs.

Wearing silver celebrates life.

If you are anyone you know is suffering from depression or addiction, be a friend they can talk to. Listen, don’t judge.

Here are some links –

Lifeline Suicide Prevention

The Lowdown – depression help

Drug addiction support

Overdose Day website

I’d like to share this touching tribute is from Zelda to her father Robin Williams, the quote is from ‘The Little Prince’.

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Thank you for reading… and I promise I will follow up this rather serious post with a fun one about frocks 😉

Natalie xx

Facing My Fear of Fitness

I was, once upon a time, a bona fide gym bunny. I even went through a mid-20s career crisis in which I decided I was going to be a personal trainer, and completed half of my fitness diploma before accidently getting up the duff… and the rest as they say is history. All for the best, I’m fairly certain I would have been a lousy personal trainer anyway… I really do detest getting up early!

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Mae West

Even after I cashed in my Les Mills membership and moved out to suburbia, I still kept fit and active. Regular yoga, the odd run and gym class and a lot of yard work! The thing I liked most about my body was its strength. I won’t lie, the flat tummy was nice too.  But I liked how my body was strong. I didn’t need to ask a man to lift something heavy in or out of my car. Or mow my steep lawn. I was quite capable of digging drainage ditches, pushing wheelbarrows of concrete and carrying timber for the myriad of DIY projects that came with home ownership. There is something immensely satisfying about a day of hard labour and some nice cold beers afterword, surveying the day’s progress!

18 months ago I slipped a lumbar disc in my back, ironically, doing leg press at the gym. And I happened to be one of the small unlucky minority where such an injury doesn’t heal on its own over time, and doesn’t respond to spinal cortisone injections (yes, that’s the one where they stick a really big needle into your spine!). So I waited for ACC to come to the party, and after a year of excruciating pain, 3 months off work completely and 2 months on high dose morphine – I got my (very simple) surgery in January this year – where they removed the small piece of disc that had dislodged and was crushing the nerves going to my right leg. It was a great success, and I can’t tell you what a relief it is to not be in constant pain!

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Maybe I need one of these?

Which brings me to my current situation. In which I have the fitness level of a 70 year old smoker with emphysema, no core strength, and have been told I should never lift anything heavy again EVER. My energy levels are dire, my mental health has not been great. I told myself I would never join a gym again, instead I would do core strength exercises prescribed by my physio at home, start going to yoga and walking regularly with the dog. Haha! In the 7 months since my surgery I’ve managed about 1 walk every 2 weeks, done no exercises and zero yoga classes. Because frankly, it’s cold outside. And if I have free time I’d rather read a book. Or drink wine. Mmmm wine. Or pretty much anything else. But I know I NEED to do something, and that just makes me feel guilty!

So out of desperation, I recently visited my local gym. I told myself I was not going to join… I was just going to do a trial, or buy one of those concession cards. Of course, I walked out with a 12 month membership. Seriously, those guys could sell ice to eskimoes…

I’m starting slow. And when I say slow, I mean geriatric slow. I always had a secret snigger at people who WALKED on treadmills. I mean seriously, what’s the point in that? Exhibit A – me walking on a treadmill. Slowly. I’ve also been to 2 exercise classes. My class of choice is the stretching one that the nanas go to. And it’s at the very respectable time of 10.30am on a Saturday, so I don’t have any excuses. And it’s hard. The first time I actually felt sick. And I’m the only person in this class under around 60. The 2nd time was easier – just.

I’ve had to readjust my attitude, and completely throw out all the ideas I had on what my body could do. Because when you are starting from scratch, there’s a long way to climb! Not to mention my workout wardrobe needs a complete overhaul. When were crop tops and micro shorts ever a good idea! I’m currently into big undies… not because my derriere is particularly massive, but because they are comfy. And once you go big, you never go back… These guys wouldn’t have a pray hope of fitting under a small pair of shorts.

So I’ve faced my fear, and am slowly beginning my journey back to strength. Like this morning, it might take bribing myself with a maple donut to drag myself to Pilates, and I might only be able to do half of the moves – but I’m going. I won’t post any scary before and after pics (Because I might not look any different!) but I may do any update on my progress in 6 months time. I’m considering trying aqua aerobics. If you know of any other nana-ish exercise classes (not too much sweating or shouting), let me know.

I’ll finish off with some inspiration, and who could be more inspirational that my favourite woman of all time – the one and only Marilyn Monroe. Who jogged in the 50s, before jogging was even a thing, and kept trim by lifting weights!

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Natalie xxx

Forever Young

One of the things that was important to me when starting this blog was honesty… telling things as they are, without the rose tinted glasses! Because (for me anyway)  that’s how life is. And it’s sure not all nice frocks and fun times and life being wonderful. Sometimes, it really is! And sometimes it’s not. But that’s why the good parts are so amazing, because we have something to compare them too. Today is a hard day. But I want this to be a happy post not a sad one. Anyway, today’s outfit is special…

P1000030 This is my 2nd ever dress from Pinup Girl Clothing. My partner Ben bought it for me from Rita Sue as a surprise for Christmas, 4 years ago. A bit of a risk, for a man (and I had to exchange for a smaller size), but I loved it!

I wore this dress 2 years ago to Ben’s funeral, when he left us so suddenly. I know he would have appreciated seeing his girl wearing something beautiful, and not black! And it seemed fitting to wear this dress today, as it’s Ben birthday. He would have been 46 years young 🙂 I know Ben would have been proud of me finally doing some writing about the things I’m passionate about! I’m not going to do a lot of writing today, but I would like to share some pictures, in his memory.

This is Ben and I dressed up as Johnny Cash and June Carter, back when we were first dating. Ben had left his guitar at his friends studio all the way on the North Shore… and I asked him to drive all the way there and go get it so he could wear it and play for our friends party! He must have been trying to impress me still 😉 Because I really was! 20140809_180405

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May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay, forever young
Forever Young Forever Young
May you stay forever young

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you

May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
And may you stay forever young

Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift

May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
And may you stay forever young

Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

-Bob Dylan
Happy Birthday Ben, I miss you still more than words can say.

Natalie xx

 

Getting Lippy

I love wearing bright lipsticks, especially reds of course! However I have always had quite dry lips, which become even more so after a day of wearing lippy. I have tried all manner of lip balms, crèmes and different kinds of lipstick, but by the end of the day my lips are always dry and cracked. This of course also makes bleeding and feathering around the lip line much worse. Mostly I just re-apply and add some balm on top to disguise the dryness. I have been quite keen to try a lip primer for a while now and after doing some reading of reviews online I decided the best idea was just to try a couple! 2 brands which seem to come up again and again are Elizabeth Arden and Mac.

I decided to try the Elizabeth Arden product first, and was all set to purchase the Advanced Lip Fix. However after discussing my needs with the helpful lady at the Elizabeth Arden counter I found out about a similar product, – the Ceramide Plump Perfect Lip Moisture Cream – which might work better for me. The difference is that the Lip Fix is a product that you smooth around the outside of your lips and lip line to stop bleeding and feathering, whereas the Lip Moisture Cream is designed to be smoothed both over and around lips, to plump and smooth as well as prevent vertical lines and feathering. It also has SPF30. To me, it sounded like a more multi-purpose product, that might help improve the condition of my lips even when not wearing lipstick.

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The cream felt very smooth and velvety, and rubbed right in easily without feeling greasy. It gave a nice feeling of having a protective layer on the lip, without feeling like a lip balm. I tried it for a few days without lipstick and I’m definitely a fan, my lips definitely felt smoother and less dry overall. It does have quite a chemically lotion taste to it, so probably best not to apply right before eating! So far so good, so now for the lipstick test!

This morning I applied the Lip Crème after washing my face and putting on my face moisturiser. I chose a lipstick I know to be quite matte and drying on my lips – Lime Crime Velvetine. Here is what my lips looked like after the lip crème, lipstick and a bit of a shiny red Revlon lip crayon to make the look a little less matte. Excuse the relatively inexpert application… normally I go with the idea that viewed from a distance it looks ok… up this close it’s a little scary.

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Morning

I decided to go about my day without re-applying or touching up and see how it looked at the end! Today that included drinking several coffees and glasses of water as well as a lunch of soup and a big buttery bread roll! And this is how it looked 6 hours later…

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Afternoon

And just to make it super clear, here is a very close up shot!

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As you can see there is a small amount of feathering on the top lip and it definitely looks a little drier. But keep in mind I haven’t re-applied gloss either. All in all, on my lips, a definite improvement. Without the crème, my lips would have been very dry looking and with much more noticeable feathering.

I really like this product, to keep my lips in nice condition and protect from the drying effect of lipstick. I wouldn’t say it made my lips “plumper”, but hey it’s not botox right!? I don’t think it makes the lipstick last any longer and there was still some (minor) feathering. I think this is where the Mac lip primer’s strengths lie however, so I would be interested to try that out as well, especially with a less long wearing lipstick.

Overall, I would recommend Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Lip Plumping Crème as a good handbag staple, its SPF30 content and moisturising qualities make it a good all rounder, and an excellent choice under long-wear lipsticks which have good staying power but tend to be drying!

I would love to hear and experiences you have had with lip primers or similar products!

Natalie xx

Non-celebrating my birthday…

I think I’ve reached the point where birthdays really are just marking another year older (and hopefully wiser). I celebrated a big one last year – 30 – and so far being in my 30s is a definite improvement on the previous decade! Anyway I didn’t plan anything this year, but my very good friend flew up from Wellington to spend the weekend, and we had a lovely time catching up and having some girly time! I practiced my vintage hairstyling and did a set with hot sticks on both Grace and myself which worked very well. I also managed to do a serviceable attempt at victory rolls on Grace… was quite proud of my effort! Alas my hair is still quite short and layered so I will have to grow it out a little more before I can do anything much to it.   graceOn Saturday, we drove into the city for a quick spot of vintage shopping at St Kevin’s arcade on K Road. I got a beautiful plum coloured swing skirt on the sale rack and Rita Sue and a matching wool beret at the Wintergarden. Grace found some bargains rummaging around the White Elephant – I love how going here is like looking for treasures in someone’s basement! This was my outfit of the day, I am loving vintage wool capes this winter! The 40s style dress is Hellbunny and was purchased from Rita Sue – I fell in love with the goldfinch print the minute I first saw it!!PhotoGrid_1407019098203 (1)   That evening we were given some tickets to go and see the band called I am Giant at the Powerstation in Auckland. So a suitably rock and roll outfit was required! I decided to go all bad Sandy and wore a pair of my favourite pants – the Disco pants from American Apparel (click for link). It took me a lot of searching to find the perfect pair of highwaisted 50s style shiny stretch pants, and these are AMAZING. They are quite thick which is a must to not look like you are wearing tights 🙂 They suck everything in and are quite a statement. They come in many colours too! I paired them with my leopard peekaboo top and a scarf from Wheels and Dollbaby, and leopard pinup heels and bow belt from Pinup Girl Clothing. And of course, a leather jacket. It was a great concert, and a fun night out! PhotoGrid_1407019539007 Sunday we spent having a lazy day watching Rocky Horror (my daughter loved the lady man!)  and Gentleman Prefer Blondes – 2 of my favourite films. I wish I could own every one of Marilyn’s outfits in that movie!  And of course – building blanket forts. 20140803_151029 Sunday night I was lucky to be invited to see the iconic silent film Prix de Beaute at the Civic Theatre with the  Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, after a friend was unable to attend and a ticket was available! I adore the Civic Theatre and had read about this special New Zealand Film Festival event so I was very excited. The whole experience was quite wonderful, Louise Brooks has a mesmerising on screen beauty and presence and the music brought it it all to life, a stunning performance. I will definitely be attending this yearly event next year! Prix_De_Beaute_(Miss_Europe)_film_poster louise2 louise1             Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

Natalie xx