It’s taken a while to get around to doing this blog post. Not because I haven’t wanted to, far from it, but because I’m so in love with this look that every time I browse the pictures I get obsessed with the girl in them. There’s no way it can be me, she looks happy for a start, and the waist – I’m a pear shaped middle-aged ‘alcohol enthusiast’ (or barely functioning alcoholic as the rest of the world seems to think), my mind is baffled by the way her waist goes in and then flares out with her circle skirt.
And again you see why this was such a hard blog post to get around to. Going to be honest, and if you’re easily shocked/appalled by the quintessential dichotomy of the transgendered psyche you may want to skip down to the next paragraph, but I always find my right hand heading down, you know, and, well, I’ll leave it to your active imagination.
But that’s why this outfit is so damn fun. It ticks literally *all* of my boxes around the retro look – an Audrey Hepburn style blouse, belt, flared circle skirt over a voluminous skirt, nude stockings, black f*ck-me heels, a dainty little fashionable red handbag over her forearm, nails, jewellery, beautiful red hair, pearl earrings….. oh damn, there goes the right hand again.
But seriously (cough, ahem) there’s something about this outfit and the photos that stirs something inside. Something that I recognise from a long, long time ago. And to explain it I’m going to talk about serial killers. Again. Not in depth, don’t worry, this post is *all* about the femm, but it’s something I heard on a fantastic podcast I listen to that applies very much to me as a person.
A lot of serial killers, especially the fetish related ones, talk about getting a ‘funny feeling’ before puberty when confronted with their eventual fetish. In their cases it led to madness and violence. But I felt the same way and sometimes nowadays I feel it to. That wonderful warm sensation in your soul that draws you to a look, a frock, a pair of shoes.
I had it a lot when I was growing up, pre and post puberty. I’d look at a dress, or a girl, and I’d get this feeling inside like someone had just poured a pint of warm water down the inside of my spine. It’s a delicious thrill, a shudder. At first I had no idea what it was about, just that certain feminine garments caused an attraction I couldn’t put my finger on. It wasn’t until I buttoned up my first frock and felt it flow around me that the sensation erupted into hot fire inside, a fire that still pops up and drives me straight onto Amazon/Vivien of Holloway/Lindy Bop and gets me waving my credit card around like a mad stockbroker (in this case, BUY BUY BUY!!!).
But this outfit. Just wow. I’d be thinking about trying separates from Vivien of Holloway for a while – I *love* their frocks and they all feel so well made, and so supportive in all the right places, that you know you’re wearing an article of clothing that was specifically tailored by some kind of fashion Goddess to push all of a girl’s buttons. But I’ve avoided separates for a while – I was very much a blob for a long time during my ‘I’m not a transvestite’ phase (see ‘Denial’ in the Oxford English Dictionary), and when Sarah re-emerged I was still throwing down food and wine like it was going out of fashion, so separates looked a little like a sad overweight girl eating to hide her sadness at eating. Lately I’ve decided my body is a temple, albeit one that has a sh(tload of graffiti on it, and I’ve been shedding the weight by being the frankly irritating idiot you see staring at the vegetables in Waitrose and sniffing as someone buys a piece of steak. Hey, I’m that idiot so I can be insulting to that kind of idiot. Anyway, the weight has started to shift off and I could finally look at separates.
And wow. When I had a peek at the Vivien website this look just jumped out at me, the warm water flowing down the spine and into the groinal region like an excitable flush. I loved the models on the website wearing the combo, they all looked like 1950s starlets. Again, probably down to the (whisper) ‘fetish’ but I love to see a modern woman wearing retro looks. And in yet another post-midnight wine induced spending spree I waved the credit card and ordered the whole look – white Raglan blouse, red and white polkadot circle skirt (taking a chance and ordering a waist size 2inches less than my previous record with a seriously tight corset on) and, as a last minute impulse, clicked on the accessories and chucked in a patent red leather handbag. Just because.
After looking at the total at the checkout and thinking about not buying it for, ooo, all of 30 milliseconds, I hit purchase and, after an oddly exciting/worrying 20 seconds as the online purchasing mechanism sucked the money from my credit card, the resulting ‘here’s your receipt’ page set off the hot flush again.
By the time the package arrived I’d cooled off slightly from the idea. It was mad, separates don’t suit me, I should have stuck to my trusty tea-dresses and 1940s retro frocks, what a waste of money etc etc. I opened the parcel and the clothes as they arrive are not as impressive flatpacked as the frocks. The blouse looked very small, the skirt just a flat piece of fabric. Feeling a little let down I hung them up in the cupboard where Sarah keeps all her finery and literally forgot about them.
Hate to admit it, but this outfit was relegated to the ‘possibly wear in sometime later in the year’ pile. Shock horror.
When packing outfits for the session where these photos were taken I came across the blouse and skirt and thought ‘what the hell, they don’t weigh much compared to the fifteen other outfits I’ve squeezed into this backpack, chuck them in, what’s to lose?’. So in they went.
When I eventually got to Cindy’s for the retro day of my mega-session they came out of the backpack and I felt that rush again. They might actually work as an outfit. We did a couple of other looks with some frocks I was in love with – some worked beautifully and some, well, didn’t click the way I wanted them to but still looked gorgeous. It came towards the end of the day and I was going through the pile of remaining outfits, deciding what to leave until the next day (modern look as opposed to the all out retro makeup I was currently wearing), and I came upon the combo underneath a pile of frocks.
So we tried it.
Oh. My. Goddess. The minute the blouse went on, the skirt went on over the petticoat, the belt was buckled, I looked in the mirror and my knees literally went weak (nothing to do with being in heels for six hours at that point). It was one of those heart-stopping moments – my chest filled with the heat I recognised from my first ever forays into wearing girl’s clothes. Dammit, I was pretty!
So, cue some posing including, gasp, braving the outside patio where the natural light is unflattering to a middle-aged girl. And some of those photos outside were the cutest I’ve seen of me. There’s something about the outfit that makes me totally engage the inner girl, you can see the happiness in my face in a lot of the pictures.
But a quick first world problem whinge. Girls, what is it with handbags?? I loved the look of the red patent leather handbag but they are so hard to pose with, It takes one of your arms out of the equation, and yo have to pose around it. Oh, *now* I sound like a woman as well…..
So, I would completely recommend one of these outfits if you want to recapture that 1950s chic that housewives, in my idealistic view of the era, seemed to have. The petticoat made it so much fun to flounce around in.
This was a lovely outfit for so many reasons. It ticked my inner fetish, almost the ultimate girl-look that encompasses 1950s, retro, housewife. Plus it felt magnificently restrictive on, and the end results seem to flick a lot of switches with my by-now frankly confused drab side. He fancies her something rotten, even though he can remember the feel of the petticoat on her legs, the binding at her waist of the belt, the feel of the collar around her shoulders, the weight of the earrings in her ears. Now that’s a confusing yet utterly delicious thrill.
When we moved from the make-up studio to the area for photos, and to the outside, walking was a joy. The way the skirt moved, the way the handbag hung, it all felt, well, just perfectly girlie. I found myself starting to absorb the mannerisms, the last wall breaking down inside and Sarah taking control of everything. When it came to taking off the outfit it was a genuine pull on the heart strings. I wanted to be her for just a little while longer. Say, the rest of my life for example. The outfit was addictive – I can seriously see myself going to something like the Goodwood Revival and spending all day dressed like this. Except maybe the handbag…
Anyway, enough gushing and squeeeing – I love this outfit, I love Sarah wearing this outfit and I love that the woman I saw in the mirror, utterly happy and delightfully feminine, was actually me.
Stay beautiful and, if you’ve any kind of stirring from reading this, go treat the inner girl to an outfit like this. She’ll thank you.