So, firstly, as per normal, a little apology, although not for not writing anything for months this time. I just went into the draft folder and realised I’d started a fun little joke-filled blog post on my last session of Sarah time, back in 22nd September, and because of the back damage and consequent fun-with-nerves I’d completely forgotten about it. So, I will dig it out and finish it at some point, because it has some amusing stories of shaving and nicking my nostril over a particularly productive blood vessel about five minutes before I was going to get a face-full of makeup.
The reason for the apology is I’ve just got home from a session I had yesterday – the first time I’ve spent time overnight in London since I, pardon the phrase, buggered the back. So I was concerned, which is putting it mildly, that I wouldn’t be up for it.
In fact it’s been on my mind for three or so weeks and I’m proud to say that wanting to be supple enough to pose in some gorgeous retro frocks was the main reason for doing 900 repetitions of a nerve stretching exercise which was like dipping my toe in lava. A day. For three weeks.
A quick note if you’ve got this far – all the piccies are at the end of the blogpost so it’s a bit wordy to begin with. I didn’t want to spoil the looks. Plus, if it works, there’s a video (gasp) of me. So stick with it. Or just scroll to the bottom…..
On the back of that little bout of torture/exercise I was just about healthy enough to carry a big bag of frocks across Tower Bridge for a day of delicious Sarah time.
Well, actually, I got a taxi because, you know, damaged back. Normally I think about what outfit I should wear first, what wigs would go with which of my frocks, you know, normal fifty year old man stuff.
And it struck me that these sessions are me making history. My own history. Or rather, Sarah’s history.
See, as I’ve said before, I’ll never transition. I don’t want to be a woman all the time. I understand the need that some of us have to do it and I don’t have that. It’s not that I’m happy with the toxic masculinity of being male, in fact I despise all the cock-posturing and crap that comes from it, it’s just, well, being a woman seems such damn hard work. I’m happy being me, miserable masculinity as a shell most of the time, adorably feminine for just enough to be an exquisite pleasure.
But back to history; when I say history I don’t mean History, with a capital H. When I dress it’s kind of like art for me – I’ve said before, on many occasions, that I don’t like the process of transformation. I normally go on about how fiddly it is and how long it takes but that’s not the truth. I don’t like seeing him and her in that middle period, when there’s enough him for her to long wrong, and enough her for him to look not him.
When I’m Sarah I obsess about getting it all right – any hint of masculinity and it feels like a failure. Watching the miserable git disappear behind layer after layer of gorgeous cosmetics just feels uncomfortable. I don’t want to associate her with him, not because of any daft guilt, but because I love the way she looks and any sign of him spoils it.
But anyway, history. What I mean by that is every look we try, every style, is different. That Sarah exists only for that tiny piece of time while I am posing in front of a camera, and once the outfit comes off she is consigned to history. I’ve tried to revisit looks and it just feels not quite the same.
It’s a nice thing. I can look back at some of the looks and they are adorable. But it’s also a little sad because if there is an amazing one I know I’ll never recapture that look.
So I said to Cindy when I arrived for the session ‘let’s make some history’. And then had to explain myself badly.
Anyway, I digress, this post was meant to be about fashion, darlings. So I showed up for the session with a little bit of trepidation – not only had I been in pain for five weeks constantly, and even with ample amounts of Codeine and CBD (and I cannot recommend CBD enough – it’s the legal cannaboid and it’s pretty much the only reason I didn’t jump out of the window when the pain was constant and I couldn’t sleep – it calms you to the point that you still feel the pain, but the pain itself is no longer debilitating or causing depression) I was still really uncomfortable and was worried amount my capability to pose. Secondly I’d been unable to exercise for five weeks, off the back of doing the marathon, and with the combination of being stuck at home and really irritable I’d indulged somewhat in sweet treats and copious amounts of good old alcohol to cheer myself up.
I hadn’t put on weight – I was still around the 86-88 kilo mark, but I felt flabby. So, flabby, painful, miserable, all the best ingredients for being a cheerful woman for the day,
But it worked a treat. Minute I got in the makeup chair I relaxed, the discomfort reduced and wow, the corset…… The corset, done up tightly, removed *all* of the back pain. The NHS should prescribe them.
Oh, forgot to mention, the back issue gives enormous pain spikes in the left leg when I bend down, so putting on socks and shoes is an exercise in hilarious contortion and swearing, I knew that putting a pair of stockings on (I always use hold-ups because, well, they feel really fun and it’s one less layer to peel off when I inevitably want to piddle) would be a nightmare, so I ‘preloaded’, so to speak. When I dressed at the hotel in drab gear I pulled on a pair of delightful stockings before I put my socks and jeans on.
Wow, that was an experience. Walking from the hotel room, down the stairs and out to the waiting taxi was gloriously fun. I could feel the delicate fabric of the stockings under my jeans. It was…..nice.
So, makeup done, perfume applied (Chanel No.5, Sarah’s favourite), undergarments and appropriate padding in place for that gorgeous hourglass(ish) figure, a little bit of tape fun to lift the face (well, I am fifty, give me that little modicum of vanity) and it was time to do the looks.
Mildly amusing moment before we got started though – Cindy said ‘what about going out on the street for some shots with Sarah being OUTSIDE’. I looked at Cindy for a second and as I did my fear manifested itself and it literally started pouring down outside. So, it appears my fear can now control the weather.
Actually, wind back a second. I didn’t put the corset on for the first look because, well, I thought the best thing for a bad back was to put a load more weight on it in the shape of a false pregnancy bump. Yeah, I’m that self destructive…..
And following the ‘history’ concept of the blog post, I gave each of the looks a little backstory as well.
1: The Pregnant Pink Lady
“Well, I guess Roger isn’t infertile after all. One drunken night where we couldn’t find the condoms and six months later I look like this. Luckily the morning sickness has worn off, but I am craving red liquorice and Marmite for some unknown reason…..”
2: Vera Grant nèe Lewis
“From Wikipedia – Vera Grant nèe Lewis (born Oct 21st 1922 in Bristol, England, died Jul 2nd 1981 in Malibu, California, aged 59). Vera grew up in Bristol and was discovered in a munitions factory in 1942 by record producer Hal Warren. She rose to fame as singer of patriotic songs, becoming known as the ‘Army’s Songstress’ (citation needed) before emigrating to the US after the war where she starred in a number of films including ‘One Wife, Two Husbands’ with Clark Gable and Cary Grant, whom she married shortly after. They divorced in 1953 after rumours that Vera had an affair with Charlton Heston on the set of their movie ‘The Lady Protests Too Much’. After a number of B movie roles and TV appearances Vera settled into relative obscurity in Malibu with her daughter Sarah before drowning in her pool July 2nd 1981. It has always been rumoured that she actually expired during an intense sexual relationship but that is unverified.”
3: “Hold the bus please sir, I can’t run in these heels!”
Going to be honest, I *absolutely* love this look. It just clicked with the props and dress and I suddenly became Ms.Lewis, waiting for a bus after eight hours at a typewriter in the secretarial pool at Johnson Accounting, 1942. Plus the dress is a lovely satin texture that just feels adorable against your skin. I’m probably going to do a Frock Tale about this one because it was so delightful a fantasy.
4: When Historical articles are surprisingly prescient…
This one made me smile a lot. I have a prop I love to use which is a magazine called ‘What Every Woman Should Know”. It’s a set of reprinted 1950s articles that show just how sexist the times were back then, and I love using it as a prop because it’s almost an instructional book on how a retro-obsessed girl should believe,
I wanted to revisit this dress from a previous session, even though as I said at the start each look seems locked in history, and to differentiate the look I wanted to find an article and show Sarah learning something.
It’s not so much that the article, ‘Show a leg and get your man’ is particularly sexist (it is), it’s the fact the article is printed under the column name ‘She Mail’. Made me laugh……
5: A very cutie dress
This frock has been in my closet for a long time and every time I had a session it *almost* made it into the dresses in the backpack. So this time I thought ‘now or never’. We combined it with the ScarJo style bright red hair and it’s a lovely cute look.
6: The Bank Manager’s Wife….again
To those who read this blog you’ll know I’ve been playing with this little fantasy about a poor man who is blackmailed by an unscrupulous Bank manager whose wife has just left him into assuming the complete role of the wife, including wearing the clothes she has left behind, her wedding ring and having his hair styled identically to her. It’s a fun little idea that allows me to wear some clothes I’d never wear as part of the retro stuff and I found this dress, in silk, online and thought it would work as the kind of mumsy/wifey frock a Bank Manager’s wife would have.
Well actually it’s a really nice dress; to wear as well as look at, so that was a surprise. But I still played the shocked man coming to terms with having to do something drastic to keep his house.
7: Dealer’s Choice(ish) number one – Some Like It Hottish
I’d done the retro stuff I wanted to do and it had been wonderful, so I decided to put myself in the amazing hands of Cindy for the last three looks of the day. However, while Cindy was looking for a size 10 dress to squeeze me into (seriously, I’m a size 18 when I breathe in yet she is still convinced that I won’t look like a very well made up sausage. And always right, bless her) I spotted this frock on the rack.
Now a very good friend of mine has modelled a frock very much like this, and I loved seeing it on her, so I fancied trying it. She wore it better, but I like to think that I almost nailed the Marilyn Monroe-esque wiggle look from Some Like It Hot.
And it was a lovely frock to pose in.
8: Dealer’s Choice 2 – The Return of Svetlana, Russian Mail-Order Bride
I’ve always had a soft spot for Svetlana and I usually portray her with a permanent resting-bitch face but I decided to smile for once and it worked a treat. As I guessed Cindy chose a very sexy LBD that looked like a sequin encrusted black handkerchief when she got it off of the rack but, give her her due, she squeezed me into it.
9: Dealer’s Choice 3 – Olga, Svetlana’s sister
Another sexy black number, this time for Svetlana’s sister, Olga, just arrived from the Ukraine and ready to meetup with the rich businessman who has purchased her for his wife through russianbrides4dollars.com
And she hasn’t been in America long enough to get rid of the resting-bitch face.
And that was it, nine gloriously fun looks, I didn’t damage my back any further than it was already damaged (and I walked from Cindy’s back to the hotel, about a mile or so, with the heavy frock-backpack on my shoulders and my laptop bag on my front, keeping my hands free as I was taught in case anyone did anything, because I’m terrible paranoid.
And, being honest, it was lovely and exactly what I needed. I’d convinced myself, through all those sleepless nights when the back first torn and the pain was too bad to move, sleep or even just exist without feeling terribly miserable, that I’d never get a chance to frock up, put a pair of heels on, and bend the spine in that feminine way for pictures again. This proved I can. I wasn’t 100% – we did one try at a lying down pose and it was exquisitely painful to the point I couldn’t hold any pose – but it was enough for me to have a lot of fun.
Plus I *absolutely* fell in love with the Ms.Lewis, 1940’s secretary look. And when I tweeted how much I loved it with a picture of me posing, the website I got it from, Rock N Romance, retweeted it. That’s a thrill in and of itself……
So stay beautiful and when you’re at your darkest remember the history of who you have been, and who you can be in the future.
Pictured – and to show what I look like with no filters and in real life, a MOVIE!