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Into The Gloss
Grain de Musc
Drivel About Frivol The Selfish Seamstress
Bois de Jasmin Glossed In Translation
Jak and Jil
Worship at the House of Blues
I Smell Therefore I Am
The Natural Haven
Moving Image Source
The Emperor's Old Clothes
Colin's Beauty Pages
Barney's jewelry department
loodie loodie loodie
The Straight Dope
Sea of Shoes
London Makeup Girl
Sakecat's Scent Project
Tom & Lorenzo: Mad Style
Beauty and the Bullshit
La Garçonne Flame Warriors Everyday Beauty
Fashion Gone Rogue
Now Smell This
A Fevered Dictation
In his Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), Thorstein Veblen - one of my favourite economists, the Sir David Attenborough of the species Homo sapiens sapiens (breed: Capitalist), much beloved by the Institutionalists - wryly observed the inverse relationship between the practicality and comfort of footwear and the wearer's level of (implied) participation in conspicuous consumption:
"Our dress…in order to serve its purpose effectually, should not only be expensive, but it should also make plain to all observers that the wearer is not engaged in any kind of productive labor… A detailed examination of what passes in popular apprehension for elegant apparel will show that it is contrived at every point to convey the impression that the wearer does not habitually put forth any useful effort. […]
"The dress of women goes even farther than that of men in the way of demonstrating the wearer's abstinence from productive employment. It needs no argument to enforce the generalization that the more elegant styles of feminine bonnets go even farther towards making work impossible than does the man's high hat. The woman's shoe adds the so-called French heel to the evidence of enforced leisure afforded by its polish; because this high heel obviously makes any, even the simplest and most necessary manual work extremely difficult. […]
"But the woman's apparel not only goes beyond that of the modern man in the degree in which it argues exemption from labor; it also adds a peculiar and highly characteristic feature which differs in kind from anything habitually practiced by the men. This feature is the class of contrivances of which the corset is the typical example. The corset is, in economic theory, substantially a mutilation, undergone for the purpose of lowering the subject's vitality and rendering her permanently and obviously unfit for work. It is true, the corset impairs the personal attractions of the wearer, but the loss suffered on that score is offset by the gain in reputability which comes of her visibly increased expensiveness and infirmity. It may broadly be set down that the womanliness of woman's apparel resolves itself, in point of substantial fact, into the more effective hindrance to useful exertion offered by the garments peculiar to women" (emphases mine).For those unfamiliar with Veblen's sharp tongue, here it is in 21st century speak, with my own feminist slant added in:
Thankfully, there have been some compromises for the modern-day woman. Flats are generally considered acceptance office wear (although in many industries, heels are still encourage for any engagements with clients). Unisex casual footwear (Converse, Vans, flip-flops) are not thorough objects of scorn and unwomanliness (although they will still get you kicked out of high-end restaurants). Shoemakers have cottoned onto the fact that women would prefer to have the height without sacrificing the ability to still walk (at least, get around a boardroom or a supermarket), and thus come up with such helpful innovations as the platform heel and wedges. Car designers have yet to discover a way for me to drive safely without having to remove my heels, but I expect they will eventually. ("Drives like a woman", oh, ha di-ha-hah.)
We live with these compromises every day. Live in them, literally, when it comes to fashion, every pair of shoes a consideration of the usual parameters: "Do they fit comfortably? What outfit will these go with?" But also some which are particular to women: "How far will I need to walk? Will I have to drive, or be driven? How long will I be able to stand up in them?"
And above all: "How much pain am I willing to tolerate, in this instance, for the sake of beauty?"
In my own personal case, the easy answer to the last is: Not much.
A look over my summer shoe collection here in China - leaving out my many, barely distinguishable pairs of black ballet flats which are worn to work on rotation - finds flats and mid-height heels in strong representation. What heels I do own, however, are all expressly chosen for their comfort. Seeing as I don't drive in China (and barely drive in Australia, either, to be honest), getting around mainly on foot, metro, or taxi, it is crucial that I be able to walk easily, even whilst carrying a handbag, a laptop bag, and a sack of heavy groceries, as it were. The condition of pedestrian spaces in Shanghai present further challenges: frequent roadwork, uneven pavements, slippery surfaces and poorly visible steps (accident liability being an underdeveloped arena in China).
Even my evening and party heels (magenta suede platforms, goes-with-everything black patent pumps, Milana slingbacks) have been altered or selected to accommodate the environment: leather outersoles overlaid with hard rubber to prevent slips and provide some cushioning for the foot, and colours on which cement dust will not show too obviously. I would not go so far as to say that I could run in them, much less harvest a field or do much housework, but I could definitely walk a mile or three without needing a male arm to steady me.
Rebeca Sanver suede & crocodile sandals // BCBGeneration espadrillesPhotos: my Instagram (click to enlarge)
Sheme blush peeptoe heels // Milana for David Jones taupe platform slingbacks
Chloe Chen magenta suede peeptoe platforms // Peeptoe patent heels
My work day make-up, never very adventurous, has attained a new pinnacle of corporate monotony. I won't bored you with the details; suffice it to say that I have lapsed to a ready-in-5 ethos, and can frequently be seen heading out the door without eyeliner. And what is more: I'm okay with that.
And perhaps it is to counterbalance all that unobtrusive naturalism I wear in the office that, when I do get the time and the inclination to play with colour, I tend to go all out.
The incredibly adorable Shokay S/S 2012 Campaign
One of the common questions that beauty bloggers get asked: "How do you do make-up on an Asian eye?"
I have seen lots of very helpful videos on the topic (from Lisa Eldridge, Rae Morris, and others), but without fail, I personally find the question quite annoying and fetishistic. There isn't a one-shape-fits-all, stereotypical "Asian eye", just as there is no such thing as a "standard (i.e. Caucasian) eye". If you have a monolid, or long narrow eyes, or a creaseless lid, my best advice would be to start looking at images of women with monolids, narrow eyes, or creaseless lids. A copy of Vogue China will probably teach you more about make-up that is flattering for your eye shape than I could in a dozen posts.
That, and practice.
Take the above image from the Shokay S/S 2012 campaign, featuring a long, eye-lengthening flick of black liner, orange eyeshadow, and rosebud lips painted not in your typical geisha red, but a glossy tangerine. Since my eyes are more rounded than the model's, recreating the whimsical, wide-eyed look on my features took some adjustment in the width and angle of the flick, but the placement of the coloured pigments is more or less the same.
Full coverage foundation would have been better for this look, to more closely match HD "perfection", but lazy as I was on a Saturday, I opted for the minimal coverage afforded by Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation, with some concealing around the nose, mouth, and under the eyes. Brows were filled in with my current favourite brow product, Cle de Peau Eyebrow Pencil in 101 (a mechanical pencil with built-in brush), and shaped in as much of a rounded arch as I could achieve. My own brows are very straight, nearly-perpendicular to the line down the centre of my nose; to get the same angle in the brows as the model in the photo would have taken more plucking and masking than I was prepared to deal with. (Compromises, compromises…)
To match the eyeshadow, I blended two vivid metallics from Shu Uemura (their names long lost to me, as they were depotted into a palette years ago), for a warm, shimmery orange that stands out just enough from my skin tone. Toward the inner third of the eyelid, I faded the orange slightly with NARS Silk Road, a very glittery pink-nude, and the outer corner was deepened with Kevyn Aucoin Copper, which is more brown and less metallic.
The white under the eyes would have been best achieved with a pencil, but with none in my stash, I made do with a layer of Shu Uemura P42 (matte white with pink undertone), followed by Addiction Cigarette to better catch the light. A hint of Cigarette also went under the brow as a highlight.
The main attraction, the liner, was drawn in with a liquid liner pen, Lancome Liner Definition in 01 (Black). Its soft, flexible felt tip is not as fine as I would like, but it is very easy to work with, even for someone as unused to drawing flicks as I am. It delivers very crisp edges and dark, velvety pigment. NARS Zen beneath cheekbones and a light dusting of Shiseido RD103 Petal on the cheeks finished off the face.
I am less than happy with the lips - not the lipstick, which is a mix of Shiseido Day Lily and Chantecaille Canna - but with the mauve undertone that peeked through despite the foundation and concealer I used to mask the natural colour of my lips. A seam between face and lips destroys the illusion of skin melding invisibly into the sides of the mouth, and draws attention to the unnaturalness of the painted "pout". A peach corrector might have been more effective here to counteract the dark purple.
L-R (click to enlarge):
Image source: Shokay
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