Friday, September 4, 2015

To be or not to be red-lipped

The most recent denisebrain vintage fashion show called for pictures of people’s favorite red lipsticks. If you wear vintage clothing do you need to wear red lipstick? Some thoughts.

I am a horn player, and my lips—their strength and health—are important to my well-being and survival as a musician. I have even considered insuring my lips.

No one plays a brass instrument with lipstick on, and when not playing, what goes on a brass player’s lips simply has to be good for them. I didn’t wear lipstick for many years, only considering soothing balms. Then, way back in 1999, I started denisebrain vintage, and as I started to shoot photos of vintage clothing on myself I felt the urge to add that authentic detail, a red lip.

It wasn’t particularly easy for me to make the jump to wearing lipstick, even just here and there, given my horn playing. I’m always very conscious of my lips and how they feel. But I found myself really loving the look of tinted balms and lipsticks. Now I feel more myself with some color.

Lips, particularly red lips, say “vintage” of a certain era like little else, for less money and less effort than most things. But again, is it necessary?

I would say never.

Some consider a red lip to be anti-feminist “man bait”...just look at some of the vintage ad campaigns used for red lipstick.

Others know that there are some cosmetics that are tested on animals, or contain unhealthy ingredients. They would rather not risk these things.

For me, colorful lips are simply the most exciting thing you can do with your appearance in mere seconds. Lipstick is well known to experience an uptick in sales during a recession. Why? It is a relatively inexpensive pick-me-up. Likewise, it can signal a vintage look quicker and more easily than even seamed stockings or pin curls. It can make you feel put together, pretty, yourself.

Can it make you look costume-y? Yes, it could be part of a full-blown vintage look that appears to have time-travelled out of the past if that’s what you’re after. Or it could be applied in a modern way, worn with modern clothing like a single vintage accessory. You can mix-and-match eras and lip colors for a fresh perspective.

If you don’t need lipstick, don’t like it or want it, there is not the slightest obligation to wear it! It is 2015 and most of us have options. If you want to try lipstick, please do look for the companies that do no animal testing, use safe ingredients and responsible practices in manufacturing. Find a lipstick that feels comfortable, even beneficial, so that if you decide to play the horn, you’ll be ready to go! Enjoy the ritual of finding a color, putting lipstick on and wearing it for yourself, not anyone else. See if you like the reaction you get, see if you feel put together and more yourself or not.

Lipstick isn’t something women have to wear, it is something we are free to wear—part of the art and poetry of fashion, nothing more, nothing less.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that...

You guessed it—BLING! The good news is that bling-y jewelry is really in for fall. The better news is that vintage bling is the best—at the best price—that you will find!

My September theme is a small tribute:

{click to view, sound up}
Some of the vintage rhinestone pieces in my Etsy shop right now
This September, don’t be afraid to sparkle!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I thank you, the elephants thank you!

This morning I was able to make a donation of $253 to the Elephant Crisis Fund, administered by the World Conservation Network. I could not do that by myself—only with your concern and caring. I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again: Denisebrain has the best customers!!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Get the Look: Katharine Hepburn

Do you ever wear a skirt, by the way? the intrepid young reporter Barbara Walters asked Katharine Hepburn in a 1981 interview. I have one. I’ll wear it to your funeral, came the quip back.

Yes, Hepburn wore trousers, and not just because they looked great on her and she felt comfortable in them.

Photo from “Kit Houghton Hepburn, Her Daughter’s Mother”

Katharine Hepburn was born into a family of progressives. Her mother, Kit Houghton Hepburn, worked tirelessly for women’s rights. The family was devoted and loving, and both parents saw to it that their three sons and three daughters were given equal opportunity, education and independence.

The eldest daughter Katharine was strong in mind and body, a tomboy and excellent athlete. She attended Bryn Mawr, graduating with a degree in history and philosophy. While in school she decided to become an actress, and her talent, intelligence, focus and energy created for her a remarkable 60-year long career. Hepburn “wore the pants” in her life not only in reality but metaphorically, in every matter that required her authority. Like her mother, she was a pioneering modern woman of the 20th century.

In private life Katharine Hepburn chose comfort and quality for her wardrobe. Her signature outfit was a pair of tailored beige trousers and a linen jacket, often paired with a white shirt. She needed to be able to sit on the floor or drape her legs over the arms of a chair. In this outfit she portrayed an effortless elegance as well as a down-to-business attitude.

In the 1930s and 40s, seeing a beautiful A-list Hollywood star frequently wearing trousers was quite unusual. In her early career many considered Katharine Hepburn an anti-style icon. Her studio once tried to hide her slacks from her and she threatened to walk around the studio lot naked. ...She got the slacks back!

She is definitely a style icon. After all, what makes a such an icon besides fame along with an original sense of style? Hepburn certainly had both in spades. As her fame increased and her persona became better appreciated, Hepburn influenced American sportswear design and attitudes about dress.

For her movies, Katharine Hepburn engaged with costume designers to get the right feel for the women she would portray. You can see the influence of her personality and attitudes on the costumes that she wore: Effortlessly glamorous as Tracy Lord in “The Philadelphia Story,” costumed by Adrian; ready to forsake the constraints of high society as Linda Seton in “Holiday,” costumed by Kalloch; sporting as Pat Pemberton in “Pat & Mike,” costumed by Orry-Kelly; chicly eggheaded as Bunny Watson in “The Desk Set,” costumed by Charles Le Maire—and so many more.

She had copies made for herself when she particularly liked a costume. A Norman Hartnell silk dress and coat from “Suddenly, Last Summer” were among the pieces that she had copied.

Upon her death in 2003, 700 pieces of Hepburn’s clothing, including iconic stage and screen costumes, were given to the Kent State University Museum. In 2012, a collection of this clothing was displayed at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts...and a unique style icon finally got her due.

What might be considered the essential Katharine Hepburn wardrobe?

1. Trousers most of all, of course. Not just any will do, but well-tailored wide-legged trousers in good quality fabrics. Some of Hepburn’s slacks were inventively displayed at the 2012 exhibit, paying tribute to her ease of motion.

2. Button-downs, also impeccably constructed.

3. Tailored suits.
4. Jackets, from simple linen to dressier tuxedo in style.
5. A classic briefcase.
6. A comfortable full-length coat with room to move and no worry about rain.
7. When considering prints, make them clean and graphic, like stripes...
...and polka dots.

8. Actual sportswear—and you should actually play sports in them.

9. Some gender-bending pieces, the more iconic the better.

10. By all means, have a drop-dead stunning evening gown, preferably in black—feminine but not frou frou. 

And when the evening is over, make sure you are the one wearing the trousers!


Sunday, August 23, 2015

*Closet* Environmentalist

I sell vintage fashion. And I want to save endangered species and the environment. Unrelated? Nope!

There’s no reason not to bring joy and beauty to ourselves and others through our dress, but there is every reason to make the right choices about what we choose to hang in our closets.

Cute, fashionable, new clothing—cheaply and quickly produced—is known as “fast fashion.” It has become the standard in fashion merchandising. What you will often get with fast fashion:
  •     dangerous and even lethal working conditions for the workers
  •     air and water pollution from its production
  •     enormous waste dumped on the planet when it goes unsold or is discarded

That’s why I want you to become a Closet Environmentalist!

It’s really simple: Fast fashion robs the world. You can help the world with your actions and that includes what you wear.

Vintage fashion is the time-traveling, green, smart and beautiful answer to fast fashion.

It’s because of my great customers that I’ve been able to raise awareness and funds for endangered species and their habitats, most especially Save the Manatee Club and Conservation Northwest.

Lots of you are already passionate about vintage for many good reasons. Looking to your closet to help the environment is yet one more great reason that vintage makes the world a better place!

Don’t forget, through the end of August 30% of your purchase price from the denisebrain web store or Etsy shop will go to a vital cause, the Elephant Crisis Fund.