Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Link: Esme and the Laneway

I'd like to start a new thing here on this blog, so I thought a blog/link recommendation would be a start. After all, the internet can be a wonderland if you just know how and where to look for the nice things.

Anyway, there is one blog and blogger I'd like to share, and that is: Esme and the Laneway

 I don't know exactly how I got to her blog, but I guess it's because of the hair (yes, I'm still pursuing a pastel hair). Esme has had all kinds of hair colors and she's one of those rare aliens (I refuse to think this is human!) that look good in absolutely ANY hair color.

She's also the owner of a hell of a wardrobe and dresses mainly vintage (or at least I think so). Her pictures are a delight to look at, so if you're feeling down on inspiration you can start by browsing her photos. For those who are a little unsure about how to wear vintage or retro clothing, this could be helpful, as Esme seems to be comfortable and confident in all of her outfits.

 Part of my daily updates (generated by Bloglovin'), Esme and the Laneway is without a doubt one of the blogs that help me not to be afraid to wear anything I feel fine in.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Country Girl

I've never been a fan of country music. Sure, we all like Bob Dylan and appreciate Woodie Guthrie as his influence, but these are considered folk musicians. Now country is something different. Country is about broken hearts and more recently this could also include trucks and beer (this is me being a jerk).

But seriously, I never cared much about it. And I'm talking about american country music scenario, with it's "y'all", blondes and an annoying love for all that's american. It just seems to me that it represents the worst of a society: segregation and blind nationalism (if there's any other kind of nationalism).

That being said, although I still find it all kind of dumb really, I actually started watching the TV show Nashville and love that thing. I'm thinking that's because of my love for musicals and put the blame on it, but who knows. Maybe my fondness for folk music is actually playing a part in all this, as I do like a handful of the songs played in the show.

As everything in life, this also started influencing me in other aspects, such as fashion. I'm absolutely loving cowboy boots inspired. That's right: I'm still not quite there yet, so anything heavily southern still puts me off. Also, those checked shirts are opening up a space in my heart and I event bought this:

Denim was never big on me and I own only a couple of pair of jeans in this material. Loving this so much was kind of strange, but come to think of it not so much as now I know where this love comes from.

I've been loving high waisted shorts for some time and am dying to get to wear more of that combination of a high waisted button up sleeveless shirt. Also: that hat with all those "blankets" (what's the name of it?)... That's love in the shape of clothing, yes it is.

But I think what really struck me is how I love this fashion in men. My style icon right now is the character Gunnar Scott, who's a musician and in love with doe eyed Scarlett. Seriously, I hate when characters are flawless, it's just super annoying. But anyway, we're here to look at Gunnar:

Oh, a few months ago and I wouldn't even bother, but after watching him singing... He's delightful to listen and look at.

What do you think about country? Hate it? Love it? Love some parts of it (like me)?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Classically apologetic

So, if I ever wanted to get this blog some readers, I should have paid more attention to it, especially at such an early stage. Anyway, as a person who's full time busy with things non internet related, I have to make time to create content, which was impossible to do in the past few weeks.

But now I'm back.

Today I have a terrible cold. Apart from sneezing all the time, my head hurts and I wish I could just stay at home under the blankets and watching TV - you know, like in the old days when a headache was enough reason for a person to stay in bed. Modern life doesn't allow us to do so, and so we have to drag ourselves to our jobs and continue living. Damn you, medicine! ;)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book time: "Compacts and Cosmetics" - Inter-war: the rising of Hollywood

This is part of a series of posts on beauty through history, following the book of historian Madeleine Marsh: Compacts and Cosmetics: Beauty from Victorian Times to the Present Day.

  • Introduction and "the long 19th century"
  • Inter-war: the rising of Hollywood
  • War and Post-war: a society in recovery
  • Baby boomers: when teenagers are consumers
  • Capitalism wins: supermodels, super products
Expect to see a new text every tuesday until the end of August.


The 1920's

The Great War represented a big shift in society. Never before had a war caused so many deaths, needed so many men and been so cruel. With fire arms one didn't need to face the enemy anymore, which represented an enormous change on how war was fought.

With men away in the front, women were to take over new tasks and work. The body had to be more free to perform certain movements, and so in the 1920's we see much loser garments that certainly look very different and feel much more comfortable compared to that "S" Edwardian silhouette.

It's interesting to see though how this flat body shape took over and became the idea of beauty (that certainly happens all the time), to the point of actually there being binders to help women compress theirs bodies and achieve the desired boyish look.

In make-up, everything seemed more exaggerated: rouge, dark and bright shades of lipstick and an incredibly thin eyebrow, usually shaved and drawn over with a pencil. By the way, body hair was suddenly of great concern, since dresses were more revealing and more skin was exposed. And so a number of products espefically designed for depilation were suddenly available.

The author draws attention to how products were advertised at this time. Relying on women's insecurity, advertisers asked if you were hairy, smelly or wrinkly to sell razors, deodorants (a brand new product, can you believe it?), Q-tips, mouth washers, powders among other products. 

What I certainly think abhorrent is how these ads paved the way to reinforce women's dissatisfaction with their (actually "our") bodies up to the present time. But even though I find the need we feel even today to be always depilated and smelling like strawberries, I certainly buy the idea that a lot of it is personal hygiene. I know, I'm contradictory.

The 1930's

Now, this is a decade I still don't quite get and plan on researching, but I'll tell the little I understand of it.

As I see it, this is when Hollywood really took off, with sound films increasingly popular and movie stars on the spot. Max Factor, who was already a film industry authority, invented and commercialized the pancake in the late 30s. With colored movies, foundation had to have different colors while still providing a flawless skin to be showcased in close-ups. People were eager to know what stars used and imitate them, so it seems like this decade was when make-up previously designed for performing arts became more readily available to a broad audience.

I can't avoid thinking glamour when talking about the 30s. Wavy hair, bright red lipstick and shiny fabrics. Apparently the new created star system (at first, actors weren't supposed to be famous in order to avoid high salaries) made it for great publicity not only for movies, but brands and style in general. You could copy a look with the right technique and products and actresses even used make-up as a way of distinguishing themselves: Bette Davies applied her lipstick ignoring the cupid's bow, while Joan Crawford went for enlarging it. Eye make-up was also becoming more elaborate with the use of eyeshadows and a lot of mascara.

In conclusion, it seems that the inter-war period was when make-up really secured its place as a contant in women's lives. The beautiful compacts from those decades are also a sign of this change, when painting one's face wasn't a private act and something to hide, but rather to show-off: and Hollywood played a great part in it.


Next up: we'll talk about the war and post-war era: the severity of the early 40s and the soviety in recovery in the 50s.

All images were taken from the book "Compacts and Cosmetics: Beauty from Victorian Times to the Present Day". Except for the picture of the abdominal binder (taken from the private collection of the author, Madeleine Marsh), all other images are in public domain.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (or: The average American and some thoughts on translation)

If there's one thing that can lighten up your heart and restore your faith in humanity that's a Frank Capra movie. I had previously watched You Can't Take it With You and It's a Wonderful Life (a great movie in its simplicity and one of the sweetest ones ever), so it was with great delight that I made myself comfortable one evening and sat through another James Stewart performance.

It's always been clear to me how Mr. Capra worked on that idea of the simple American, the common man with no high ambitions apart from living a quiet and tranquil life with family and friends: the average American. And although this wasn't new to me, watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington bothered me and made me think a little bit more about the subject.

 Now, if you haven't seen the film, basically it's about a group of politicians who have to name a candidate for senator right away, someone they can easily manipulate and popular enough to gather voters. For that, our naïve Mr. Smith (James Stewart) is named: a man loved by children for his work as the head of a group of scouts. That is: an honourable man.

Of course, something goes wrong along the way, Jefferson Smith understands he's in a nest of vipers and is basically the only person who's not comitted to defending private interests. He fights that the way he can, of course using not violence, but speech and a dosis of humor.

He's the man who goes back to the Constitution, to the founding fathers and the so called pillars of the United States. By calling him the average American, the idea emerging from all this is that the common man opposes himself deeply to politicians and to the games of interests. It absolves the people and blames a group for everything that is wrong in a country, creating an idea of the idealistic and yet simple American man.

Of course, we do know that politics are dirty and most have no idea what goes on behind the curtains. For that, the movie has its merits when it apparently seems to want to call everybody and say: "Hey, pay attention! There's some monkey business being made here!". Nevertheless, it separates politics from everyday life and portrays it as something that belongs solely to Washington and some strict social circles outside of it. It is as if participating in neighborhood activities weren't politics at all.

One thing I did like about the movie though was the female character, Clarissa Saunders, played by Jean Arthur. I didn't expect a whole lot of feminism, sure, but it was nice to see a woman taking charge, helping and almost leading the poor new senator. She was the strong character in the movie, the counterpoint to the naïvité of Jeff Smith, the one who held the knowledge and knew how to use it.

On a curiosity note, the title of this movie went through a complete change when being realeased in Brazil. It wasn't a translation at all of the original title, but a rather different one: A Mulher Faz o Homem, which translates to something like "the woman makes the man".

The film was commercialized in Brazil from a totally different perspective. While the original title focused on Mr. Smith and his doings in Washington, in Brazilian portuguese all eyes turned to Miss Saunders and her ability to turn the table and help transform an underdog into a brave and historical figure. And that sure made the experience of seeing this movie different for a number of people, which goes to show how the selection of words we use when talking about anything is not at all random and carries an idea with it: be it the average American or the attention to the woman.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

That's Entertainment

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I'm not a huge fan of soccer, at least not for brazilian standards: I do have a team I root for, watch important games and know what's going on in general, but that's nothing close to a majority that cries, pays a lot of money to get into a stadium and watches at least one of the countless sports news programs that air everyday. (When I say sports I mean soccer, since every sports news is actually about 95% on soccer.)

Rivalry is really bad here, and my rival team played yesterday the final of the most important tournament in Latin America (and sadly won). To escape all this (or at least try, because escaping wasn't really an option and no one in this city slept last night) I decided to watch something fun, and nothing is more fun than musicals.

I decided on That's Etertainment, a 1974 documentary about MGM's musicals, hosted by a number of stars such as Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Mickey Rooney, Liza Minelli, Elizabeth Taylor among others. The piece is actually a compilation of musical numbers and it provided me a delightful evening with nice songs, some awesome tap dancing (I'm not a fan of the ballet numbers, they're boring) and classic actors still really young. Watching Judy Garland at the age of 12 was particularly amusing and made me think even more of Hollywood beauty standards and everything those actresses endured.

It's weird to think that such light hearted movies could actually be so ugly. Sure, That's Entertainment isn't by any means an exact and honest account of MGM studios and production as it highlights the importance of musicals as bringing joy to audiences, but it sure makes up for a nice overview of this particular Hollywood era.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Classically changing: how period movies depict the present

Good morning!

Today it is finally cooler here, which is appropriate since we're supposedly in winter time. Now, when I say "cooler" I mean a can wear a very very thin cardigan (but still wearing a short dress and flats), because apparently that's all we're having this winter. If summer is like last year's, by October I'll have forgotten how it is like not to feelhot all the time.


As a series of posts, Penny Dreadful Vintage is writing this week about Egypt in Vintage Film, and looking at today's pictures portraying Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra I found myself thinking about the use of film as a means of thinking about its time of production.

I see many people going after period movies in an attempt to learn something about history. Now, I'm not saying that's not possible, but of course we have to question ourselves as to why that film was produced in the first place, the interests of those behind it and the moment. In the academic world of Humanities much is said about how a film can say more about its production time that about the era it tries to represent.

That becomes clear when we see the life of the same historical figure, for example Cleopatra, portrayed through different moments of the 20th century. The most iconic and famous is no doubt that of Elizabeth Taylor, released in 1963 (filming began in 1960). If in 1934 Claudette Colbert was pictured with the typical thin penciled eyebrows, dark eyeshadow and that almost heart-shaped mouth, still resembling the classic 1920's fashion (I'm talking about the 20's because, truth be told, the 30's are still quite unknown territory for me), Miss Taylor is the exact image of what we all have in mind when it comes to 60's make-up, with that thick eyeliner, blue eyeshadow and lips in lighter shades.

It is also very interesting to take a look at the silhouette. While in the 1930's a more natural body shape was apparently in, in the 50's (let's remember Elizabeth Taylor was a star in the 50's and things take time to change) curves were all in, emphasizing the female body (or the idea of what it should be).

I'd also mention the colors, but it wouldn't be fair, since the 1934 movie was in black and white. Still, that emerald dress and the lighter shade of lipstick almost erasing the mouth are awesome demonstrations of fashion at the time.

Now, a final confession: I've never seen any of these films! And truth be told, I'm also not exactly looking forward to it because long epic vintage movies are sometimes very boring and lately I've been more into noir and all those 1940's divas, but maybe I'll give it try. And you? Who's your favorite Cleopatra?

Claudette Colbert pictures from the blog and Elizabeth Taylor's found through Google Image.