This was a piece I wrote last year, before I started working at Kiss Me Deadly - I had an excellent holiday, but I wish I'd packed more sparkly underwear. - Lydia
A showgirl’s guide to holiday planning:
Luckily good old Kiss Me Deadly came to my rescue with a range of swimwear aimed at Femmes Fatale such as myself (although I’d probably fit the moniker of ‘Femme Ferale‘ a bit better.) So I dipped into my holiday fund to purchase one of their lovely Teal Bow Deluxe Swimsuits. Here’s what they have to say about it:
This is a fully lined one piece with contrast panels and halter neck sling straps, plus padded underwired cups. This year it comes in a limited edition petrol/teal shade with an attached sash round the waist.
We've changed the cups in the large and extra large sizes to accomodate fuller cupped, rounder bosoms, based on your feedback. Still not recommended for Triathalons, but you shouldn't find yourself spilling out!
Ah! It’s so lovely and that I longed to wear it immediately. My holiday is still a month off, so I engineered a situation in which I would be able to wear it without the neighbours thinking I had prematurely gone on a mental vacation – casually watering the plants, paired with a pair of high-waisted denim Capri pants from Collectif and my fave red heels. Saturday afternoon, standard.
It’s super-comfy, with luxuriously thick and soft fabric, and yes, excellent support in the boobular area. Their swimwear range reflects the KMD lingerie aesthetic, and I was pleased to find similar design touches such as the sling straps which feature on my favourite KMD piece (the gorgeous Sirena bra).
It’s vampy, but not so much so that you’d feel out of place wearing it, y’know, just to go swimming; it’s not just something to be dusted off for a few weeks of every year when beach season comes round, it’s a piece that deserves to be shown off all year round. It’s almost enough to make me want to renew my gym membership…
But for now, back to packing! Maybe just ONE more set of sparkly underwear. I mean, you can never have too many, amirite?
Lulu and Lush, or FairyGothMother as you may know them, are one of our longest standing friends and retailers in the business. Their specialities are corsetry and bridal wear, with a 50's feel. And they are recruiting!
They currently have two positions going in customer service.
One is 5 days a week, Tuesday through Friday plus Sundays. This could potentially be a more senior position if it can be mutually agreed, though due to budgetary constraints it would be more suitable for someone wanting to make the jump to store manager. In that case the job would involve more marketing (especially social media), administration, stock control, and webstore development (they use Shopify). The maximum for this would be £18k p/a.
The other is one day a week, on Sundays, suitable for a student or similar. This will likely rise to 3 days a week in the Autumn.
Both positions are available immediately; application is by email with a CV and covering letter/email. Here are the details:
Sales assistants required for Spitalfields 1950's style bridal and corsetry shop. Hours 11-5
Excellent customer service skills and reliability more important than experience. Email your CV and covering letter.
Bridal appointments, taking orders and order processing
Able to provide customers with a high level of customer service
Ensuring the products are attractively displayed
Steaming and labeling stock
Stock taking and reporting
Handling payments and invoicing
Online order processing
Telephone orders and enquiries
ESSENTIAL SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE
Independent worker - as the shop owner is rarely on site.
Excellent customer service
Good telephone manner
Keen attention to detail
Trustworthy, reliable and flexible
Good with people
Attention to detail
NO CALLS to the shop please
Email email@example.com with any applications or queries.
We love each and every one of our stockists, but it puts a particular smile on our faces when they are clearly as geeky about lingerie as we are. German online retailer www.lyngerie.de is a purely web based lingerie retailer based in Germany, but they are no ordinary online shop; their mission statement is to offer the finest vintage inspired lingerie ranges to their customers, stocking mainly small, independent brands. We approve!
One of the things Lyngerie.de pride themselves on is the quality of their information, and their excellent ‘Lingerie-Wiki’ is a wonderful resource for lingerie enthusiasts (though sadly not available in English) – a lexicon of terms explained in detail, from ‘Accessoir’ to ‘Wonderbra’! (I was trying think to think of a ‘Wunderbar’ pun for this but it’s too early in the day). Click the below link to see the lingerie wiki for yourself.
They also wrote this excellent article on the history of stockings, which is full of fun facts and nerdy knowledge. Did you know that Fully Fashioned stockings are still made today on the same machines as they were in the 1940s? No? Well you do now! Read on to discover the almost-vanished world of stocking production and manufacture.*
The starting material: 100% Nylon
In the mid-thirties, Dr. Wallace Hume Carothers invented nylon as a raw material which would pave the way for the industrial mass production of yarn and stockings. (Unfortunately the brilliant chemist did not live to see the triumph of his invention, as he took his own life in 1937.)
One of the most striking features of these classic nylons is something that only a handful of companies, who are in possession of the original machines today, are able to produce; the starting material, nylon line. This ultra-thin yarn is produced by the polyamide-spinning solution being forced through a spinneret. The viscous thread at the output of these nozzles gets stuck at high temperatures, with regulated air flow thinning and stretching it.
The resulting ultra-thin nylon thread cannot pull in length. It is this characteristic which results in the back seam and the typical characteristics of the nylon stocking such as the formation of wrinkles and the "rattling" handle. (Modern stockings, however, are stretchy due to the additional use of spandex, and fit like a second skin on the leg.)
The creation of the stocking
Below: Seamstress in the 1950's sewing ff stockings
Production of the original seamed stockings on the ‘Cotton machine’ was developed in its basic form by William Cotton in England in 1864.
The German manufacturer Hermann Stärker further developed this technology with the Einfadenwirkwaren-Maschin (a thread hosiery machine). On these machines up to 36 stockings could be made at the same time.
With up to 9 needles per centimeter, the motion of the needle bar pulled the pointed needles through the preformed loops.With up to 400 needles these old machines could produce 100 ‘stitches’ in a minute. This resulted in a flat, shaped nylon fabric, the needles having different widths to ensure the fit of the stocking.
The next step in the production was to sew the nylons. This work is still done by hand and a seamstress must be very skilled to make these seams neatly. The classic triple seam (also called stocking eye) is always at the stocking top (the reinforced toe area) and runs right up to the hole in the welt. Thus, the seam runs on the sole area. (There are also seamed stockings with a seam at the front leg which are today among the absolute rarities.)
The "real" ff stockings which are prepared by this method are recognisable to the trained eye by the small dots to about 10mm on the right and left of the seam – the so-called ‘reduction pattern’.
In addition to the toe and the welt, the area likely to wear most heavily (the heel) is also reinforced. From this sprang various fashions. Today's most famous high heel forms are the Point Heel (pointed to the seam heel) and the Cuban Heel (square heel).
The welt is also made of reinforced material and sewn twice, so it is more stable and can absorb the tensile forces of the garter. Due to the "inflexibility" of real nylon stockings these tensile forces are not to be underestimated. These occur with every move because the nylon stocking does not stretch. Therefore, it is important to choose the appropriate garter girdle when wearing ff stockings. This should not slip at the waist and be better equipped with six instead of four suspenders so the seam does not slip.
Real nylons vs. modern Stockings
Left: Genuine ff stockings on a metal garter clip
Admittedly, it must be said that modern stockings or tights have the addition of elastane for a better fit and greater comfort. Also the non-stretchy nylon stocking is more suited to the "standard leg" – for women with a larger build, there will always be problems with the fit of real nylons. In general, these are there too tight on the thighs. The same is with very slim, tall women, on whom classic nylons will be prone to wrinkles.
And yet the demand for these stockings is unbroken. This is not only for nostalgic value or fans of vintage. The real backseam still exudes a touch of eroticism and feminine sensuality.
Due to the fairly elaborate production, which is still as expensive as the maintenance of the original Cotton machines, the prices for some real nylon stockings with seam have risen to around the 30 euro mark. Manufacturers like Gerbe (Paris) are already charging more than that. Alternatives to the FF stocking with back seam have emerged, where the back seam is purely ornamental. From Cervin, for example, real nylon stockings (ie 100% nylon yarn and non-stretchy) are offered with stylized seam, which should reflect the look and feel of the 50s.
One thing is certain, the genuine ff stockings will stay around for at least few more years ...
... and that's a good thing.
*I painstakingly translated all that from German (well, from Google Translate's version of German to English, which is not far off being in another language), so any inaccuracies or things lost in translation, do let me know!
Why the existence of Anorexia Nervosa is not a good justification for plus size models
I tend to write at length about this sort of issue, because I spent quite a few years both working with people with eating disorders and about 11 years in various forms of academia, which tends to induce you to write things that are at least 1500 words long (about 3 times longer than the recommended blogging length!). I mean, it's hard to play the one-upmanship student game of "how long I had to spend cutting down my essay" otherwise. Also, I'm very much in favour of seeing more diversity in fashion and modelling, and Have Views about eating disorders.
Which means that when Cora (The Lingerie Addict) said to me "what do you think about all these articles about how we need plus size models because only showing the standard catwalk models is causing eating disorders?", we were pretty much both expecting me to produce several pages on the topic, possibly including references.
But actually all I have to say is this;
As close to 100% of us as you can get spend our lives surrounded by pictures of idealised, slender women in western developed countries.
The average rate for Anorexia Nervosa is just under 1%.
Anorexia Nervosa existed before mass media, and even before we idealised slender figures.
Anorexia Nervosa is not caused by pictures of models. That is neither a sufficient nor even a necessary causal factor.
Please continue to suggest, promote, campaign for and request models of different sizes and shapes and colours and abilities and every other factor you can imagine. But do it because shaming people about their bodies by making them invisible doesn't work - not because of a minimal link to anorexia nervosa!
Whose your favourite non-standard model? Who would you like to see in KMD if possible?
We've had a handful of entries so far - I thought I'd put them up as inspiration.
Allusyah, who has the benefit of a professional photographer, Eric LaGuarda.
Ready for Summer? The Delores swimdress works great with a skirt.
Charlotte (that's the Vargas dress worn with a skirt).
And . . . should we allow this? Is it outerwear if you just don't care? :)
Don't forget, you can enter too!
To be in with a chance to win a £400 Kiss Me Deadly voucher to spend on whatever you want on our site, or 3 runners up prizes of a £50 KMD voucher, it's very simple.
Make an outfit that includes some Kiss Me Deadly and is (arguably) suitable as outerwear, even if its only nightclubs.
Take a picture! There are some tips here.
Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or upload it to our site and let me know you're OK for us to post it on our facebook, tumblr and so on.
The deadline is the 30th June - ready, steady, get snapping!
4 things I never see in "photoshop-free" pictures.
In the last year or so I've noticed a bunch of pree releases trumpeting about "photoshop-free" fashion shoots as if this is some sort of fabulous fix for all our body image woes.
In shock news, I get annoyed about this. Fundamentally, photoshop-free is NOT the same as diverse or realistic, but it gets used as code for that.
Many are the sins you can commit with photoshop, but photoshop-free doesn't mean imagery is any less idealised or any closer to what people look like out there in the world. Here's a bunch of things I see everyday that mysteriously never feature in "photoshop-free" shoots. The only body I see everyday is mine, so, like, hi, basically. Scuse the phone cam shots :)
1) Body Hair
Speaking as a hirsute woman (I'm also short and grumpy, so I reckon early exposure to ewoks was possibly a mistake on my parents part), body hair seems to be amazing taboo in every image everywhere, bar a small niche bit of the sex induustry (you can find ANYTHING fetishized somewhere, ironically making the home-grown pornography industry of the UK possibly the only palace you can find true body diversity, in a very peculiar way)
By the way, normally we cover this up for shoots using cream opaque tights(pantyhose) under my stockings. But hey, photoshop-free!
I have a haemophilia-type disorder and generally have a smattering of bruises, though sadly I couldn't get a good shot of any for this. Most of the glamorous cabaret, circus and burlesque performers I know have bruises from practising, stairs (London venues are strangely homicidal in architecture) and lugging large suitcases on and off nightbuses, experiences many models also go through. Yet mysteriously bruises never appear in photoshop-free shoots.
It's marginally possible that lighting, make-up and yes, you guessed it, tights, are involved.
Anyone willing to send me a spectacular bruise picture? Go on, you know you want to :)
Edited to add an exciting picture from Poppy! She says "the bruise is courtesy of daily fragmin (lightweight heparin) jabs into my belly. The belly is courtesy of chocolate ;) "
3) Wibbly fat bits
I refuse to use the word cellulite because I'm not sure it's even an actual thing (from Wikipedia: "Its existence as a real disorder has been challenged, and the prevailing medical opinion is that it is merely the "normal condition of many women".")
But have you noticed how it never appears even in photo-shop free shoots, even with plus size people? For some reason all women in shoots have lovely smooth skin. Now, do I think that's from the moisturising soap they are advertising, or is it more likely that there are other ways to avoid photographing people who have it, or avoid photographing the places they have it, or cover it up without photoshop?
I wish I'd got mine from something cool like Roller Derby or Parkour, but boringly they're just from pre-diagnosis, when I had minor procedures that resulted in infections (welcome to what happens when your blood won't clot). Similarly, skin problems generally don't feature in any photoshop-free shoots. It's considered radical when someone shows a youthful model with folds in her skin that occur naturally in a pose, and crinkles round her eyes when she smiles. I would actually award points for the folds, but seriously, it's not radically different to all the other smiling youthful perfect skinned model pictures out there.
4) Dead eyed tiredness, poor lighting, zero make-up and unstyled hair
OK, so that's 4 things, but I didn't think I needed 4 pictures of my face to illustrate those. And let's face it, I can understand that dead-eye tiredness will never be a seller. But isn't it slightly ridiculous to spend 4 hours carefully doing "just woken up hair", make-up and lighting, and then get excited because there's no photoshop?
I don't find photoshop-free shoots particularly helpful for my mental wellbeing. What I found helpful was:
1) learning about ALL the processes that go into those images. And exactly how boring it is. I have zero desire to be a model.
2) learning that even models don't look like models. Actually, some of them look even better in person, whilst others are barely recognisable. The move from 3D to 2D does unexpected things.
3) why would we even value ourselves based primarily on looks?
4) before photography was economically viable, there were illustrations, and they were just as silly. I mean, no-one has boobs this shape. But the thing is, ALL marketing images are just illustrations. The photos aren't any more real than the drawings, paintings or digital art. It's just pretty pictures. I can't explain why very well, but that shifts things in my head.
How about you? What do you never see in photoshop-free shoots that gets your goat? And what do you find helpful?
Edited to add suggestions in pictoral form!
Esther sent me this photo of what happened when she spent an afternoon in a park. Strangely, no outdoor shoots ever depict insect bites.