Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gail Carriger Retro Makeup Routine

So, in the last blog we covered some kinds of retro makeup. This blog will cover my personal routine. I'm including products because I often get asked, and tips for coping with the products. I am in no way affiliated with these and the recommendations come from use, not sponsorship.

I've broken the makeup down by stages, what I do first, and in some cases what I wear daily as well as events. I break out all the stops for events, so when you see me in person Fashionable Reader, I've usually spent an hour or more on my makeup. In my non event life the most I spend is 15 minutes.

Base ~

For daily wear I apply Olay Total Effects Eye Transforming Cream under my eyes, and rub a little red-eye reduction eye drops to the red parts of my face (in my case, the nose). After that is dry, I use Aveda Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15. I believe in being professionally "shaded" and make sure they allow you to go outside into natural light with a mirror to make certain of the match. I apply small amounts with a light hand using a wedge shaped sponge applicator to a clean dry face. All over, including the eye area and the eyelid. Don't forget to blend well at the jaw bone.

For events I use M.A.C. Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation. Again, please try to get professionally "shaded" and make sure they allow you to go outside into natural light with a mirror to make certain of the match. With flash photography I prefer a pressed powder. Again, I find it's best when applied to a clean dry face (no moisturizer and certainly no base, that's what cases caking) all over including eyes and eyelids with a kabuki-style brush. I use a eyeshadow brush to apply to eye area as well, hide those circles. I also apply to neck and a light dusting to the decolletage when wearing a low cut dress. We ladies don't sweat, we glow, but there's not point in letting nature get away with anything she shouldn't.

Cheeks ~

I don't bother with blush on easy days and I've yet to find my favorite color for events. I apply a pressed powder to the hollows of my cheeks as a rule. Still looking for a winner. Because of my face shape and the M.A.C. powder base, I find creams don't work for me.

I do, however, always apply a highlighter. For events, with the M.A.C., I use a white pressed powder eyeshadow on the brow bone, inner corners of the eye and tops of cheekbones. For everyday I use a liquid slightly yellow shine, Stila's All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer in gold works, but isn't my ideal choice. I find I need to let it dry slightly and then kind of pat and smudge it otherwise it streaks.

A word on brushes. I'm not one for saying you have to go out and drop bank. Mine are mostly from a $4.50 eco-friendly gift set. But, I do suggest gettign enough so you can dedicate your brushes. Mine are, in the order picture above, and in order of use . . .
  • Powder
  • Powder touch up
  • Blush
  • Highlight
  • Light shadow
  • Medium shadow
  • Eye liner smudging
  • Extra (in my case for shocking colors)

Eye Liner ~

I don't have a steady enough hand for liquid liner so I use pencil and just sacrifice myself to the more modern smudged look. I love kohl based liners because they are so easy to apply, although they tend to smear. I use Prestige Soft Blend Kohl Eyeliner for everyday. But I use the same technique for either occasion.

For events I line the inner bottom with white liner. Then I do the inside corner and do a cat's eye with black waterproof liner on the upper lid, other corner and inner underside of upper lid (don't forget). I use Rimmel Exaggerate Waterproof in black but others are available.

One trick? I draw the bottom of my line extension for the cat's eye with the white pencil first, that way I can work to get the eyes symmetrical with white instead of black. Then I lay the black in just above the white for a nice clean look.

Eye Shadow ~

I always suggest using a contrasting color on the wheel to bring out the color of ones eyes. (But matching to it will also make them pop.)
  • For blue eyes, a nice bronze (or orange, if you're daring)
  • For caramel and lighter brown eyes, purples are nice
  • For dark brown you can select at will
  • If you're lucky enough to have purple eyes then pale taupes and yellow golds are fabulous
  • I have green eyes. The contrast color is red or pink, but then I look like I have pink eye.

So, I like to use a complimentary color often going for purple (like Urban Decay's Eyeshadow in Asphyxia) if it's an edgy day look, and for events I almost always use an muted orange-gold color. I love LORAC's Eye Shadow in Serenity. I also have a mixed Smokey Eyes pallet for when I feel adventurous.

Lashes ~

There are a lot of products out there claiming various lash lengthening benefits. I tried the "base coat first" and the maximizer and . . . in the end I've settled on two I like. Both are waterproof, because I just don't want to worry about it budging. For daily wear I use Bourjois Pump Up The Volume Mascara in Noir, and for events Rimmel Sexy Curves Waterproof Mascara in Black. But I tend to thing everyone has their favorite. I will say that even on my laziest days, I never leave the house without mascara.

Lipstick ~

I wear pink and neutral lipsticks on my natural lip shape in daily life, and, like mascara, I rarely leave home without it. One or two sticks live in my purse, just in case.The safest color bet for daily wear is to try to match one's natural lip color only a shade or two darker.

For events, I usually do a 1940's ultra red lip, which means I go outside the lines a bit. Done right, this is a great way to make thin lips look a bit larger. I like red, so few people risk it these days. Although one has to be careful, it can age a girl. I recommend using the color wheel in this matter as well. Although I use it to battle my natural complexion, which is slightly sallow, rather than emphasize it. Because I want to avoid anything that makes me look any more yellow, I stay away from its opposite on the color wheel (purple) and instead go for stark true reds, some blue-based pinks, and fuchsias. I avoid coral because I fear the orange, and I just don't like browns or burgundys all that much.

I prefer color-stay (or long-last) lipsticks. I just don't like fussing once it is on, it stays on all day. I've done (too much) research into the competing products. Here's my run down of the brands:

CoverGirl Outlast All Day Lipcolor ~ some of the best colors, but the over gloss is in a separate tube, which is annoying. Also I don't think it holds as long as some of the others.
Revlon Colorstay Overtime Lipcolor ~ the first brand I ever tried, best holding power, but the shine cover is a little drying to the lips.
Maybelline Superstay Stain Gloss ~ (new product) don't bother, it moves around and comes off just as much as regular lipstick. I threw mine away.
Maybelline New York Superstay 24 ~ my favorite at the moment for color and applicator, but the tube is very very badly designed. The topcoat end falls off constantly in the purse with is annoying and unhygienic. I ended up wrapping mine with tape. Since this is a new product I'm hoping they will fix this problem. I do adore the applicator.
Maybelline Super Stay Lipcolor ~ mostly what you will see me wearing, my favorite vintage shade is Flame #725.

Tips for long-last lipsticks ~

Always apply to a clean dry mouth. I suggest wiping with a wet towel and then a dry towel before application. It's vital to get any powder or chapstick product off. You want lips as smooth and exfoliated as possible. Apply the lipstick quickly and carefully in smooth movements and don't apply too many layers, re-application as it drys will lift the first layer off. Then leave lips alone for five minutes until completely dry before applying the top coat.

The best way to remove color-stay lipsticks is with a heavy duty ultra-moisturizer skin cream or waxy chapstick, rub in well, then wipe off with towel or makeup remover towelette.

On the road I keep a touch-up kit of powder and lipstick on me at all times, but I don't bother carrying anything else.

An note on nails. The most vintage looking is an almond shape. It can be hard to explain this to a salon. I've take to carrying a copy of this picture around with me.

And that, my dear Fashionable Reader, is that. If you are interested, I can do other products as well.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

For the Love of a Black Dior Suit by Gail Carriger

Right photo taken by J. Daniel Sawyer

I love this suit, I found it on Haight Street in San Francisco, and it fits without any adjustments ~ yes even over the Rack! I've had to mend it over the years but it holds rand as one of the very first vintage pieces I ever put into my wardrobe. To this day I am mystified that anyone would get rid of it.

From my very first head shot photo shoot (for Soulless) back in 2008 with Robert Andruszko Vanessa Applegate

This style came in with the New Look and hung around for years. Mine is a v neck dress with a little jacket that goes over it. I pars out the jacket on occasion.

Of course, the black suit for formal occasions has been around for a very long time, perhaps best attributed to Coco, who popularized the style.

1927 Coco Chanel The Metropolitan Museum of Art

It persisted into the 30s and 40s.

1949 Charles James “Spiral” via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

But in my world, say its hay-day with Dior's New Look in the 1950s.

1950s dress via Timeless Vixen Vintage; 1952 Jean Dessès dress via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; 1959 Dior’s Spring-Summer

I've worn mine for a number of events and often bring it with me if I have the room simply because it makes a good catch all for an unexpected occasion. And, of course, basic black goes with any accessories I might have.

With Myke Cole at World Fantasy; with Blake Charlton at SF in SF; with J. Daniel Sawyer at Balticon.

Balenciaga and Dior


One for Alexia . . .

1876-1877  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

And what to rad in your little Dior suit? Children of the Night by Mercedes Lackey.

This is the second in her Diana Tregarde series. Lackey was writing Urban Fantasy before we called it that and this is one of her best. You don't need to read the first one before it. This one introduced Andree, sexy French vampire, one of the first hot vampires to enter modern SF/F literature. The romance between him and Diana (a strong and powerful witch) is adult, complex, and deeply moving. Real romance. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gail Carriger's New Wardrobe Additions

Managed to get down to Santa Cruz this weekend. Went down for a little celebration, and stayed for the shopping and some peace and quiet.

Event Outfit

We went to Moon Zoom, one of my favorite places to shop in the Bay Area. It's a store that has multiple buyers with different taste who specialize in different vintage periods. I like Terry who buys a lot of 1950s and 1960s stuff (of course). I really didn't need any new dresses, but I make it back to Santa Cruz so rarely these days I feel like I have to stock up while I am there.

I did need a white vinyl purse.

And I found one! It's not quite as big as I woudl like. I tend to go for day bags that will hole a small pair of flats and a paperback along with the necessities. But this one is in great condition ~ the clasp is strong, the lining undamaged the internal pocket and zipper are sound. It'll hold a paperback in a pinch and at a cool $18 I decided I'd better snap it up.

One of the things to keep in mind when shopping vintage is how many repairs the dress is going to need. As a general rule I don't advise "buying with the intent to modify." One shoudl be able to wear the item right away. But the rain makes me come over all nostalgic abotu hand mending and domestic chores so I picked up a several dresses that are in need of a little love but so cute I couldn't resist. Plust the green one I wore Saturday night got torn.

How to identify a girl who wears vintage?

She stashes safety pins in all purses and every available pocket.

So this Edith Flagg, Califronia beauty ($32) came home with me because it's nice and light weight, and I'm a sucker for a dress top combo. For one thing it goes form day to evening with just a change of accessorizes ~ I'd pair it for day with the flowered top and a red hat and red pumps or tan oxfords and brown, chunky red beads; swap out for evening with red, black, tan, or gold sandals, gold jewelry and a cute little headband. I checked the seams on the under dress and they are fine but I am going to have to move the button on the shirt over quite a bit so it nips in at the waist. East fix, that.

Then I fell for this black and emerald green cocktail I.Magnin $36. It's sublimely well made, unlike some other vintage I could name, of a nice thick material, and the green roses are fuzzy! How could I resist?

It's in perfect condition but I am goigg to have to hunt from some accessories. I wouldn't mind a nice pair of emerald green gloves, shoes, hat, and clutch to go with. I'm not saying I need to go hunting, just that I have my eye out now . . . Of course, it'll do perfectly well with black.

The most practical of my purchases was this Nelly Don seersucker cream with gray stripes, $32.  It's incredibly cool and light, packs without wrinkling, and goes with a million things. The cut is quite flattering but it needs a few adjustments. It's in fine condition, but I want to bring the hem up to above the knee for a less dowdy length, and it'll need extra snaps over the Rack area, of course.

Lastly I had to have this brown check.

It's labelless, and in need of much love. It has a little bow that needs to be attached at the collar, a pull tag put onto zipper, and all of its seams check over. But it's a beautiful ultra-cool lightweight muslin, and its check (I love check) and it;s brown, I don't have any brown dresses in my collection (unless you count the brown plaid which isn't vintage).

Also I can't forget my new cream hat, from (where else) Bon Marche Thrift Store in Sonoma (I was back visting for a bit). So cute, and the lovely lady in charge is always so appologetic that she must charge me $7 for such a lovely little creature. I wore it that day! Bows!

So there you have it, my shopping addiction continues. Moving house and getting rid of half my wardrobe only seems to put a dampener on it.

I'm inordinately proud of myself for buying only dresses that are step into and pull up, rather than over the head. Such dresses allow me to do my makeup before dressing, which I much prefer. Fortunately, I'm flexible enough in the shoulders to do up my own zippers. I do have a few dresses I love but I can't get into without the AB's consummate help (or occasionally a stranger in the hallway of a convention). These get neglected as a result. I will however, be in one of them for the Goodbye Parasol Protectorate Tea in SF at the end of February.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gail Carriger Talks Pretty Shoes

Just because, some images of pretty shoes. First a few vintage stunners.

 1920s shoes via Shoe Icons
 1925-1927 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
 White I Miller 1945
 Jeweled heels ca. 1925 via The Kyoto Costume Institute
Fabulous Flapper Footwear from Tea with the Vinatge Baroness.

Some retro shoes (vintage inspired but modern made).

 These ones from Clockwork Couture

 Marni S/S 2012
 Mona Oxford pumps jcrew.com

And, as lust objects go, how abotu a peek into Dita Von Teese's shoe closet?