Make-up Mondays: Besame Lipstick

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Lips. Beautiful things, don’t you think? And they’re not just eye candy, you know. Look at all the great things they do for us: they allow us to form different words and syllables in multiple languages; they serve as a barrier for our teeth and keep us from looking like scary grinning skeletons all the time; they tease and tickle our children with raspberries; and they can encourage, comfort, seduce and tantalize our lovers in a number of ways. Colour preferences in lipstick have bounced around over the years from barely there nudes to vibrant berries… even black sometimes! But of all the shades imaginable, one has had the most “staying power” across the decades. That colour… is red.

Today, red lipstick has pretty much been relegated to black-tie affairs in mainstream beauty. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. Any woman can pull off a red lip, and that’s where Besame Cosmetics reigns supreme.

As I mentioned in a previous article, Besame Cosmetics specializes in bringing vintage colors and packaging back to the make-up scene. They have many products to choose from, but it’s their lipsticks that have made them a name among pin-up and vintage enthusiasts everywhere. Whatever your hair colour or skin tone, they have a red or reddish lipstick that will suit you just fine.

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I have four of their lipsticks (From L to R): Chocolate Kiss, Red Velvet, Cherry Red, and Besame Red. Each lipstick comes in a beautifully illustrated flip-open box, with a red pouch to house the lipstick. Along with making them look extra glamorous, I love these pouches because they help keep my lipstick cap from popping off in my purse as I carry on through my day—much more sanitary and tidy, I must say. Inside the pouch, you will then find the little metal bullet tube holding your shade of awesomeness. Yes, you heard me correctly. BULLET TUBE. Back in the day, that’s how the cases were made – in the same castings used to make bullets for firearms. Talk about multitasking! 😉

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The first thing that struck me with these lipsticks was the scent. Scents are a big thing for me, and if a product reeks, I won’t use it. I can only describe it as something like cocoa butter, and I noticed that the scent coming from the Chocolate Kiss shade was the strongest. And the texture… Ooo, the texture! The glide and feel of these lipsticks is so smooth. My lips felt soft and moisturized, and yet they were perfectly matte without drying out.

Colour-wise, I find I tend to use Chocolate Kiss the most. I like the other shades as well, and am warming up to them gradually. However, when my hair is at its most vibrant reddy-pinkiness, the true red shades are a bit too intense. Per Besame’s recommendations, Chocolate Kiss was designed more for redheads, and gives the illusion of a red lip without being “too red”. I also find this shade is nice for daytime when I want a red look, but am in a more conservative environment and need something lighter.

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Along with their intense collection of red shades, Besame offers several pinks, peaches, beiges and plums to tickle any woman’s fancy. Going for a Great Gatsby look? Try Noir Red circa 1930. Want something pale and delicate? Both Portrait Pink and Debutante Pink will give you some nice options. You really can be any woman you want to be from any era in history with this awesome line of lipsticks.

As always, Besame Cosmetics are available in Alberta at The Drunken Sailor (Lethbridge), Blame Betty (Calgary), and Rowena (Edmonton). To find a retailer near you, or to order from them directly, please visit Besame’s website at www.besamecosmetics.com.

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Frankly, Scarlett, I DO Give A….

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Hello! Let me guess? You thought I was going to add a certain four-letter word that starts with a “D”, didn’t you? 🙂

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Well, Oscar season has come and gone for another year, but the magic lives on in other ways. And if the title of this article gives you any clues, you probably know what gem of Tinsel Town I’m talking about. This year, we get to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the most well-known depiction of the Civil War to date, and one of the most elaborate films ever produced: Gone With The Wind.

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Although not necessarily “pin-up”, you can’t deny that when you think of old Hollywood glamor, Margaret Mitchell’s beloved work brought to life in 1939 certainly comes to mind. The sweeping soundtrack as you pan away from Vivian Leigh’s silhouetted form; Scarlett’s relentless fixation on her brother-in-law Ashley—the one man she COULDN’T have; Rhett Butler’s shocking and controversial declaration at the end of the film… and the costumes! Oh, the costumes!  Don’t even get me started on the whole “Lost Songbird Dress” scandal. It’s a vintage enthusiast’s dream film!

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To celebrate, TV Guide Magazine has released a special edition issue called, Gone With The Wind: 75 Years of the Greatest Movie Ever Made. Within its shiny covers, you’ll find incredible behind-the-scenes photos, interviews with the cast and crew, movie posters from around the world, and of course, a beautiful picture of the woman who made it all possible—Margaret Mitchell herself.

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As an aspiring writer, I find Margaret just as interesting in her own right as the book and the film. She was a woman who wasn’t afraid to break society’s expectations, and that boldness and tenacity eventually won her a Pulitzer Prize. Not bad for a woman who’s only published works before writing Gone With The Wind were articles for an Atlanta newspaper. 😉

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If you’re a fan of the costumes used in Gone With The Wind, please check out GWTW 4 EVER at www.gwtw4ever.com. The team there has made many incredible Antebellum and Civil-War gowns with exquisite detail; both in life-size and doll formats. You can even order life-size gowns for yourself!

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The Gone With The Wind special edition is currently available on newsstands everywhere. Please take advantage of this keepsake of Hollywood history, and share the beauty and important lessons of this film with your children and grandchildren. Frankly, I want them to give a DARN about the past, don’t you? 😉

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Always with love,

Liz

The Canuck Pin-up

What Lies Beneath

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*Author’s note – This post does contain photos of lingerie and women in lingerie. If this is offensive to you, please do not read. Please use your own discretion.

Victoria’s Secret; La Senza; La Vie En Rose. If you live in Canada, you know what these names all have in common: undergarments. Although they offer enough bras, underwear, lingerie and hosiery to last a woman a lifetime, I often find myself very disappointed when I go into these stores.  And why would I feel that way, you ask?

First, they offer very limited sizing options for full-figured and plus-sized women. If you are full-figured, there’s a much larger difference between the size of your rib cage and the size of your bust. Most modern bra designers don’t make bras for these “specialty” sizes—something women who get breast implants sometimes find out the hard way. (And for the record, I have never had breast implants. Just wanted to clarify that.)

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Second, let’s just face it. If stores do offer full-figured or plus-sized options, most of the time they are just plain UGLY. It can begin to feel like all the pretty, dainty things are for thin ladies only, and that you don’t deserve to look pretty unless you look like them. It’s like you’re being punished for not being a certain size. And don’t even get me started on Spanx. Yes, I own quite a bit of the stuff and use it for certain garments, but who wants to jerk and hop around in an awkward dance across the room every day just to suck themselves into something that looks no better than sausage casing?

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And last but not least, what about the glamour? Yes, I enjoy the comfort of cotton just as much as the next person, but what happened to the idea that a woman could look just as glamorous underneath her clothes as she does on top? What about that air of mystery—the very thought that a woman could be all business-like and professional, but be keeping a beautiful secret under her clothes that only SHE knows, and whomever she chooses to share that secret with? 😉

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As I began wearing pin-up and vintage clothing, I found that some garments, like my beloved Admiral dress, didn’t seem to look quite right with my current collection of underclothes. Plus, trying to wiggle out of the vice grip of Spanx in a wiggle dress just to go to the Ladies’ Room was NOT an option. So I wondered what did women wear under these things when they were en vogue? As I looked into the solution, what I found solved more than just a silhouette problem…

Bettina Secrets in Lace

Based out of Virginia, Secrets in Lace has been providing couture leg fashions and vintage-inspired lingerie and support garments since 1984. I first saw them on Bombshell Basics with Bettina May, and then saw her modeling the garments on their website. It was love at first sight.

As I searched the collection, I settled on two bras and one girdle all in black. They didn’t have the exact size I was fitted for professionally for one of the bras, but if you know how to convert band sizes and cup sizes, you CAN find alternative sizes that are basically the same bra.

Gina Balconette Bra

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The first bra was the Gina Balconette Bra. Along with providing an awesome fit, I couldn’t get over how COMFORTABLE this thing was. Everything was lifted and held where it should be, but wasn’t unbearable to function in. I would have liked a thicker strap for shoulder comfort, but nothing’s perfect. And no…. I’m not going to show you how this or the other pieces actually fit on ME. A girl’s got to have some secrets, right?

Intrigue Strapless Bra

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As for the second bra, this one was called the Intrigue Strapless Bra. With the straps in place, this bra did the job for everyday living and was comfortable, but I admit that I wasn’t as happy with this one as with the Gina Balconette. Because it was designed as a strapless bra, the straps tend to unhook very easily—not a fun feature when you’re rushing to get ready for work on time.

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Without the straps, the bra is held in place by “grips” along the top and bottom of the band. These are the same grips used in stay-up stockings. As much as I wanted this bra to be my go-to for single-strapped and strapless gowns, it didn’t create the lift and silhouette I was looking for. Let’s be honest here; what strapless bra can? I’m now convinced that the only way to achieve the right look in less than a two-strap gown is with a corset or bustier. Oh well. Still got a good functional bra out of the deal.

19 Inch Zippered Girdle Rago

And now the best part… The Rago Girdle. Officially called the 19” Zippered Girdle, this piece has been one of Rago’s longest-lasting designs, and that says something. They’ve been creating shapewear for women for over 60 years.

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First, let me say that this is NOT like the garter belts or corsets you can get at one of Canada’s main lingerie stores. Those pieces are only meant to be worn for a few minutes at best, and then taken off (if you know what I mean). 😉 This girdle is meant to be worn and lived in, and there are two features that confirm this:What Lies Beneath Pictures 054

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  1. The clasps are metal, which gives you a much stronger grip.
  2. There are six garter straps instead of four, which reduces the strain on them individually and evens out the support.

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When you unzip it on the side, what you’ll find is a row of hook and eye closures like a bra. This gives you a better fit, but looks nicer because it’s all hidden behind the zipper. Now… getting into the garment. That was an interesting challenge.

Obviously, you’re going to need stockings for this thing. Unless you’re like a circus contortionist or have someone helping you, attaching the stockings and getting the girdle in place can be a bit tricky. However, I found the following steps worked well for me getting everything on while solo:

  1. Secure the stockings to the girdle by the back garter straps ONLY.
  2. Unzip the girdle, and step into it like you would if you were putting on tights or pantyhose, but leave it at your ankles for a moment. Don’t pull it up just yet.
  3. Sit down on a chair or your bed, and slip into the stockings like regular hosiery. Carefully work the stockings up to your mid-thigh area. The girdle will naturally follow suit and inch its way up too.
  4. Carefully pull the girdle up until it is at your waist, and do up the fasteners and zipper.
  5. Hook the other four garter straps in place on the sides and in the fronts of the stockings. They should now be in just the right “taught” position so that it isn’t too hard to secure them.
  6. Pull on the stockings or the girdle where needed to straighten everything out and make sure you have smooth lines all the way through.
  7. Smile and strike a sexy pose in the mirror. (Not critical, but it makes you feel better, doesn’t it?)

Before

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As I had hoped, the girdle created the streamlined silhouette the dress demanded, but still amplified my natural curves beautifully. It’s a snug fit, but I feel relatively comfortable while both standing and sitting compared to Spanx. Plus, it sure does wonders for your posture.

After

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I’ve worn it a few times ALL DAY at work now, and the garter straps have not popped publicly at all. One did pop once, but that was in the Ladies’ Room and was quickly fixed. Ahhh… the Ladies’ Room. That has been fun when dealing with this thing. I have figured out a way to function in today’s modern restroom without taking the whole thing off, but let’s just say that there was a reason why working as a Bathroom Attendant was a more common job at one point in history. 😉

Secrets in Lace Catalogue

Now here comes the sad part: the drawbacks. Currently, the only way I know of for getting Secrets in Lace garments is through their catalogue or through their website at www.secretsinlace.com. I don’t know what kind of distribution agreements they have with retailers, but I have certainly told my vintage supplier about them, and hope that they can get them in. Having said that, because they are in the U.S., you know you’re going to have to pay more for shipping, the exchange rate, etc. Consider it an investment and a real treat if you’re going to buy from them, and be sure to care for them well so that they will last you a long time.

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Another problem is that their selection of plus-sized stockings is very limited. Finding stockings ANYWHERE nowadays is a challenge as it is, but finding nice plus-sized ones can be almost impossible. As I type this, I just ordered a set of the one kind of stockings they have available in a plus size, so we’ll see how that goes. But there is one lingerie company that provides some great options. Though you’ll have to pay shipping and other costs as well, Frederick’s of Hollywood has some beautiful plus-sized stockings, along with dozens of other options available for women of all sizes. You might even be able to buy them in person and save some money if you go to one of their stores in the States, or have a friend there get them for you and send them up. To see their current selection, feel free to check out their website at www.fredericks.com.

When I first mentioned that I was getting the girdle, my mother-in-law’s response was, “… And you actually WANT to wear one?!?” I admit I laughed, but I see her point. Back in the day, women had no choice but to wear these undergarments. There was nothing else available. Modern bras and underwear have certainly made the world a much more comfortable place. But though they come with their own set of challenges, these bras, girdle and stockings are some of the most luxurious items I own, and I feel extremely beautiful when I wear them. When you feel beautiful, you feel confident.  And let’s face it; your lover loves you for the fabulous person you are both inside and out, but can you imagine the expression on their faces when they find these little surprises? 😉

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Now if you’ll excuse me, please, I’m going to go drool over some more dainties that are on their way. Ciao!

Patrice Full-Figure Cup and Garters

Always with love,

Liz

The Canuck Pin-up