This post could be hard to write – not because I don’t have a lot to say about this delicious dress, but constantly seeing her and her cheesecake pose in the featured image gives me thoughts that distract me from writing and, err, may require me to go ‘deal with it’. So if the tone of the post goes from frenetic to laid back you’ll know I’m basking in the ‘La Petite Mort’ (go look it up, I’ll wait here for you).
Anyway, slightly crude imagery aside, I *love* this dress and look.
But a bit of history before I dive in to the delightful details of waist compression, doing things to my body that no man really should do and other facts about how to pose as a cheesecake retro-model. I have always had a thing for the dresses of the fifties and, to a lesser extent, the sixties. I went through a period of buying frocks for my other half and one of the best places I found was Vivien Of Holloway, a boutique that produces retro-styled clothing. They’re not cheap, but you get what you pay for – the quality is indescribably nice, and the dresses just feel, well, almost unbelievably nice to swish around in. I bought my other half a number of outfits that she always looked so beautiful in, and although I never saw myself in those kind of styles (yeah, I had some surprises as Sarah made her presence known) I always had a thing for the way they made a woman look.
When I first started properly dressing again I did one session with Alison Dale where I purchased a Viv frock, a lovely black and white polkadot number with a petticoat, and I loved wearing it but for some reason it made me uncomfortable. Not physically uncomfortable, but for the first time when I looked in a mirror I didn’t see me as a pastiche of a woman, as a man dressing up for a quick thrill. The girl who looked back at me from the mirror seemed fragile, a little lost, but utterly feminine. And it was one of those slap-in-the-face moments – I’d always persuaded myself that because of a: my size, b: my love of alcohol and c: my collection of hormones and other oddities that I’d always look like a 1970s comedy-show drag number. Seeing myself in a Viv frock was like a punch in the testosterone – I could look like a girl.
Admittedly I was still packing a lot of ‘wine-weight’ and almost completely incapable of relaxing my body (due to nerves and the like) into anything near the shape and pose of a GG, but it was the start of a feeling that yes, I could look nicely convincing, at least to me.
So fast forward a couple of years. In that period Vivien of Holloway had expanded, lots more styles and a much more professional website. And this is where it started to get wonderful – the images of models on the website were beautiful, brilliantly shot and staged, proper retro poses and full-on fifties glamour.
Perhaps it’s something to do with the odd way my brain is (i.e. definitely is) but I love the sight of a 21st century girl frocked-up and made-up in 50s style clothes and cosmetics. There’s something deliciously different about it, especially when the poses are proper 50s pin-up/cheesecake style. And I fell in love, metaphorically, with the looks and styles of the models on the website.
And deep inside I started to wonder whether I could do the same thing. Yeah, it would be a struggle as I’m not whisper thin, my body doesn’t bend in certain ways and I’m missing the voluptuous curvature of a fifties woman, instead having the pseudo-pregnancy of a middle-aged man, but wouldn’t it be nice to just once throw myself fully into it.
So, we come to the present day. I had decided, as part of the latest epic session with Cindy, to go full on in terms of putting together a, if it’s safe to say it, look that could possibly be submitted to the website itself as a customer portrait.
Even the idea was a turn on. The thought that me, grizzled, tubby, cynical middle-aged dude could masquerade well enough to look like a model on a retro-style website aimed at the wonderful set of women who want to explore their femininity through vintage styles was a giggle and a half.
Boy, I didn’t think that one through.
We’ll start with the obvious. Hips, knees and testicles.
As you get older things get kinda rusty. Especially if you are like me, and can’t do ‘medium’ exercise. As part of the process of trying to get my body fitter, primarily to be less of a blob (when talking to my other half) but in actuality trying to lose a dress size or two (and yeah, in the old days that would have filled me with shock and guilt, but now it makes me warm and want to giggle, go figure), I’d really f*cked, if you’ll pardon the phrase, seven colours of you-know-what out of my knees, hips and back. In fact one of my knees now has a tendency to raise it’s hands and say ‘nope, not going to work’ when I stand up after sitting for a while, which has lead to hilarious moments of bouncing on one leg as the other fails to support any weight.
If you look at the poses that a model, especially the ones on the Viv website, puts herself into when wearing retro-clothes it becomes immediately apparent that it is done to attract the man’s eye. Lots of hip swinging, long legs, hands on hips or exquisitely held out at angles that no man would ever try for fear of being called a little fey. It’s all odd angles.
So the set of poses I ended up doing (and a little 1940s inspired dancing which I videoed and you can see on the Flickr site) all really, really tested my poor old male joints.
And as for the little package of masculine joy that hangs precariously between the legs? Well, that has to go away. Cue lots of serious tucking and pulling and a wonderful, feminine, ‘absence of bulge’ was achieved.
Problem is it doesn’t really go away. And when you are doing poses that involve sitting, or even crossing legs, well let’s just say that I don’t have children and it’s highly unlikely I’d be capable of that now. Was the pain worth it? Hell yes, but still, ‘ouch’.
But I haven’t mentioned the best bit yet.
In order to properly wear and show off a Tea Dress you need to have two things – good, solid, child-bearing hips, and a waist that implies you don’t have any internal organs.
Well, the hips are easy. A couple of padded pair of panties and et voila, something to hold onto while you’re trying to inseminate her. But the waist?
I’d been good with food and drink. I’d got my waist down to something just about right for a 47 year old man. But that wasn’t going to work for a 25 year old (*cough*, *cough*) retro-glamour model, so I bought myself a waist cincher from a very good UK company.
It claimed to be for girls with a waistline of 34inches who ‘wanted to reduce and train themselves down by six or more inches’. Sounds easy.
Let’s just say that with Cindy’s enthusiasm we got the corset completely closed. I’ll repeat that, *completely closed*. For a minute or so after she had tied off the laces I couldn’t decide whether to try and breath (it hurt), twist (I couldn’t) or worry about my kidneys and liver (I was sure I could taste them at the back of my throat). All of my organs had shifted, and my waist tapered down beautifully or agonisingly, whichever one you are more comfortable with.
Given I then kept it on for six or so hours, it can’t of been that bad for me. He says in a worried fashion.
So we had a shape, Cindy had done her usual wonderful make-up job and, with the application and brushing of the ‘Marilyn’ wig, we had a fifties style woman-doll to dress up.
And then the dress.
The fabric felt satin-y yet very comfortable, and the length of the dress was perfect, falling to mid-shin. It was actually a little large, so we had to peg it around the waist, pulling it in tight over the almost-hourglass figure I now had.
Adding a pair of comfortable heels (snort, like they actually exist) and we preceded to have thirty or so minutes nailing a number of proper retro poses.
It’s hard to describe how I felt. All of the uncomfort of the body-shaping drifted away, and I could feel the flow of my dress around my legs, the way it pulled in under my bosom. We added the jewellery I had bought from Viv’s as well, a lovely flower necklace, a heavy flower bracelet and a pink-bloom for my hair. If I looked down I could see my hands, made delicate by the addition of long, red nails, my vision slightly shadowed by the long lashes added. A couple of pearl earrings, which were apt for the style and era, and Sarah was properly and fully attired.
It was wonderful. For thirty minutes I was the model for the clothes, posing, smiling. And every smile was utterly genuine, something I can’t seem to do as him.
Of course, Vivien of Holloway don’t have a customer gallery any more, but if they did I’d be just about brave enough to submit a couple. I love the way Sarah looks in the photos and to me we achieved what I was aiming at, getting some pictures of a happy retro-styled girl posing and having fun.
Makes going back to the drab world so, so hard.
If you want to see a very happy Sarah trying to do a 40s style dance, it’s here – https://www.flickr.com/photos/debbie_lewissmith/29435513770/in/dateposted-public/
So there you go, middle-aged cynic realises dream of being a model for a retro 1950s look. Man, that one was so much fun.
Stay beautiful sweeties, and remember that sometimes you can be that piece of cheesecake.
2 thoughts on “A Frock’s Tale (2) – Kitty”
I always look forward to your posts! I absolutely love your fashion sense and your writing style xxx
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Hi Sarah, Like you, I am a massive fan of Vivien of Holloway. I used to have a night job where I could often gaze at the dresses and skirts in the Holloway shop window. Even took a lot of photos of them!
Unlike you, I never had the courage to actually buy one. Well, that and the high expense. However I discovered another website called Black Butterfly who sell lots of 50s style dresses and I have bought a few of them. They are much cheaper and feel wonderful to wear, especially the sateen dresses. In case you’ve not heard of them, their web site is: http://www.blackbutterflyclothing.com
Also, I think you are aware that I have come to your website recently, (just got up to September 20th 2016) so forgive me if you already know that you can join Vivien’s Facebook and post photos of yourself on it. I joined a few weeks ago and I’m pleasantly surprised at how many ladies share our love of 50’s fashions and post their photos on it.
Incidentally, I have also bought a few items from Hell Bunny. I have the same beautiful cherry skirt as you. I just wish I could look as gorgeous as you in it.
Please stay safe in the current awful circumstances. Sisterly love, Sylvie xxx