Category Archives: Feminine Dress

MS: Glasses

It’s time I did a fashion post again, and what better topic for me to tackle than glasses? Being a bespectacled gal myself, I am often annoyed by the sentiment that glasses make a girl look ugly or unfeminine simply because she wears them.

The fact of the matter is that is far from true. Our perception that women with glasses are ugly ducklings who will transform as soon as they ditch the glasses is mostly created by the media. We see it in movies like the Sabrina remake or the first Princess Diaries movie. We see the male version of this in the Superman franchise. But let’s stop to think about this for a minute, what do those glasses all have in common? Big, thick, dark rims and giant, face-distorting lenses. It’s not the glasses, it is the style of glasses.

Different styles of glasses communicate different things, which again, we mostly get from media. The media gets it from various unconscious associations between shapes and dispositions.

First, my cardinal rule about glasses: Glasses should not distort, disguise, or distract, but should enhance your face.

Second, if you are hoping I will justify women wearing hipster glasses, leave now because I will disappoint you.

With that, we shall now talk about rims.

Particular rims styles carry some specific associations. Obviously ones that were popular in certain times periods will evoke that time period.

Greaseglasses

Only wear these to theme parties. Source: Grease

But what do thick rims, the ones typically shown in these movies evoke? These women are shown as nerdy, unfeminine, clumsy, childish, and potentially as workaholics. Why? Well, think about it, these days the main reason a woman has thick rims on her glasses is because she might break them or is not aware of what looks good on her face. Thick rims disguise and distract from a woman’s face. Especially if they are a bright, garish color. Thick rims add too much weight to the face and can interfere with expressiveness. Note how in the picture above, the girl wearing glasses looks angrier than she is probably meant to, because the rims block her eyebrows and replace them. Thick rims add a lot of harshness to the face, you can’t not notice them. They distract from the wearer’s actual features by painting big windowsills around the person’s eyes, dividing them from the rest of the face. The thicker and more attention grabbing your rims are, the less people will remember your actual face.

Thicker rims can create a sense of childlike curiosity, but this only really works if the lenses also make the wearer’s eyes look larger. However, with that childlike look will come the inevitable assumption that the wearer is clumsy. This is because thick rims help keep glasses from getting broken, which a child is more likely to accidentally do.

Thinner rims are far more suited to the female face, because they contribute a daintier feel and don’t interfere so much with expressions. They direct an onlooker towards the wearer’s eyes without boxing the eyes in. Thinner rims act more like eyeliner, especially when paired with the right color and lens shape,

Lens shape is another important aspect to consider when one selects a pair of glasses.

At one end of the spectrum we have round glasses.

johnlennon

John Lennon in his famous hippie glasses.

Round glasses are closely associated with John Lennon and Harry Potter fans, or Modern architects if they have really thick rims. The circular shape is strongly associated with hippies and pseudo-intellectuals (Ones that are especially large are associated with hapless maids). They will make you seem easygoing and self important all at once. They will also draw attention to (but not exaggerate) any bags you have under your eyes, and may suggest you got them from smoking too much of something. Those with rounder faces may want to avoid them, since they will reinforce the roundness of one’s features. All that said, rounder glasses do add a gentler, more well meaning look, being more feminine of a shape overall.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have square glasses. Okay, rectangular, I don’t think legitimately square glasses have ever been worn by anyone.

Carl from Pixar's Up.

Carl from Pixar’s Up.

Undeniably masculine and very harsh, unless paired with very thin rims or no rims at all, rectangular glasses will not look good on a feminine face. If the wearer has no squareish features, the glasses will clash and stand out too much. If the wearer does have squarish features, such as Carl up there, they will reinforce them, making the wearer look more masculine. Rectangular glasses are usually associated with stricter, more authoritarian intellectuals. They add an air of humorlessness and exactness. This shape is not for the fainthearted, a permanent, cheerful smile is needed to offset the shape.

In the middle is the much easier to wear, squarish oval.

The most common glasses shape.

The one of most common glasses shapes.

This shape looks good on most faces, and manages to cultivate the best aspects of rectangular glasses without so much of the stigma. It still evokes the intelligence and a certain measure of the strictness, but leaves behind the majority of the humorlessness. However, a good smile will still be needed to accompany these, because they still do evoke the slightest hint of annoyance. In anime these are often worn by the studious sidekick of an ever so slightly annoying hero. The annoyance normally coming from the hero not listening to their intelligent suggestions. These glasses will enhance the eyes better than rectangular glasses, being closer to the actual eye shape. They add a little respectability and sophistication to the face and are good for women who look a bit younger than they are.

Towards the more circular side, we have the highly wearable and feminine oval.

An extremely common glasses shape, and for good reason.

An extremely common glasses shape, and for good reason.

A much kinder and gentler shape, these are my personal suggestion for most women (the shape, not the brand). Oval glasses are highly successful due to the fact that they closely mimic the shape of the eye and the eye socket. It makes the glasses seem extremely natural on the face. They add the intelligent look that glasses generally have, and add a friendliness due to the bottom half of the rim being shaped similarly to a smile. The top half of the rims imitate the curve of the resting eyebrow, bringing in that easy-going aspect of the round glasses. Overall they are cheerful and feminine, keep the rims thin and you probably have a winner.

There are also aviator glasses, but unless you have bifocals or trifocals and therefore need them, I would not suggest them. All they do is exaggerate the bags under your eyes and make you look old.

Determining what size your glasses should be is easy. Keep them close to the size of your eye socket and try to avoid having them extend too far beyond the edges of your face.

Color is more difficult and highly subjective. A more neutral, metallic color tends to be the best bet. However, if you wear a particular accent color a lot I would suggest trying to match that.

Chiriko from Anohana. Source: Meganekko Daily.

Tsurumi Chiriko from Anohana.
Source: Meganekko Daily.

This character’s red glasses work because they go with her tie and shoes, otherwise they would be a bit too bright. Bright colors can suggest an outgoing and vivacious personality, or can make it seem like you are trying too hard. Neutral colors are more reserved and serious. Colors of course have their own symbolism, which you need to pay at least a little attention to. Primarily you should consider whether the the color looks good on you personally.

That is my guide for selecting glasses that will look good. If anyone has suggestions I’d be glad to hear them, and if you have questions I’ll be glad to answer them.

Not all men like a woman with glasses, but if anime has taught me anything, it is that there is a subset of men who like glasses very much.

Hasebe from Servant x Service.

Hasebe from Servant x Service.


MS: Notes on Nylons

Since writing my initial post on hosiery I realize that I’ve left out some more specific details about nylons that may be helpful to others.  I come across a lot of product reviews of nylons that indicate that most younger women could use a few tips in their actual use and care.

Tip #1: Consider them to be disposable. There’s a reason that you can buy nylons in basic colors at chain grocery stores. I’ve heard that at best you can expect about 6 months worth of total wear out of any pair of nylons. So when you pay more for a nice pair, understand that you’re paying for a fancy color or design and the higher price won’t guarantee better quality overall.

Tip #2: If you’re going to wash them, there are two things you can do before washing them the first time that may strengthen the fibers. I’ve never done either of these things, so I can’t vouch for whether they work. One suggestion is to soak them in warm salt water, the other is to put them in the freezer. I hear the salt water one more often, so I’d give that one a try.

Tip #3: Actually hand wash them and hang them to dry, don’t put them in the washer or dryer. Just a few drops of detergent or shampoo should do the trick. Some people suggest using conditioner as well. Using fabric softener or vinegar can help preserve the flexibility of the fibers.

Tip #4: Make sure your nails and fingers are free of stuff that will snag your nylons as you put them on. Hangnails, overly rough skin, sharp corners on your nails, chipped nail polish, etc. Put on gloves if necessary to avoid snagging.

Tip #5: Shave your legs before putting them on. It makes them a lot more comfortable.

How to put them on:

Step 1: Sit down. You don’t want to be hopping around on one leg trying to put these on.

Step 2: Take the first leg and gather it up, your thumbs inside the leg and your fingers on the outside. You want to be able to put your toes straight in without wiggling through the leg.

Step 3: Put your toes in while holding your leg close to your body. Slowly move your leg outward, releasing the nylon as you go until you pull it up over your knee. Then stop.

Step 4: Repeat step 2 and 3 with the other leg.

Step 5: Stand up. If they are thigh highs, adjust them to the height you want. If they are full pantyhose, gently pull them the rest of the way up, gently pinching the fabric between your thumb and side of your pointer finger. Never pull with your nails and never pull sharply.

What to do about runs:

Dab both ends of the run with clear nail polish. (This is the standard advice).

Spray the run with hairspray, let dry, repeat. Some  suggest spraying the nylons down with hairspray after putting them on in general.

Dab with anything sticky that will dry clear.

I have no personal experience with any of these on account of never having gotten runs in any of my nylons. So let me know how these work if you try them.

That’s about as much advice as I can give on nylons at this point. Here’s a relevant song to finish off the post:

Sources: http://www.thesimplehomemaker.com/3-tips-on-how-to-stop-a-run-in-nylon-stockings

http://voices.yahoo.com/how-keep-stockings-getting-run-4097469.html


MS: Slips

I’m not sure precisely when I discovered the usefulness of slips, but luckily for me it happened before I started trying to wear skirts and dresses full time. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a few episodes when I wore tights and a full length skirt and was rewarded with being hobbled by said skirt. Being resourceful and pragmatic like I am, I sought some advice and found out about slips.

Now, I’m not lucky enough to own a full slip, so I’ll just direct you over to a wonderful post by BB and carry on telling you about what I do know, half slips and pettipants.

Like last time, some quick picture reference:

Half slip: Basically an underskirt, generally made from an antistatic material. Comes in many lengths, may have lace trim or a slit. Normally comes in white, beige, and black.

Illusion’s Classic 32″ Half-slip

Pettipants: Also called Culottes or Bloomers. Serves the same function as a half slip, but is split down the middle. Normally comes in two lengths, knee length or mid-thigh.

Illusion’s Classic Soft Cotton Pettipants

All forms of slips serve many functions. They keep you modest in sheer dresses by hiding your precise form and by keeping underwear from showing.  They help prevent static cling and snagging on other fabrics. It gives you an extra layer of warmth in winter. It gives you something other than just your underwear to stand in if you should need to hastily wash a stain out of your dress or skirt in a public bathroom.  Also for you married ladies they can count as lingerie.

Truth be told there isn’t a lot more to say about these than that. They go over your tights or underwear and under your skirt. Nothing more complicated than that.  Go grab a couple at a second hand shop or shell out a little more for some new ones. They’re not as common anymore and some dresses and skirts have them built in, but they’re nice to have. Especially when that built in slip isn’t doing it’s job.

I’d also talk about petticoats in this post, but presently I know nothing about those. Maybe someday.


MS: Leggings and Hosiery

I know I said I wouldn’t be around for awhile, but darnit I need something to do and I don’t feel like drawing. So I’m going to write about something generally inoffensive and something even I’ve figured out. Feminine dress. I have tried to keep the pictures in this post as modest as possible, as I don’t wish to lead anyone astray.

So, for those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, cold weather is on its way. So what is a gal who’s dedicated to dressing femininely to do? Skirts and dresses can be rather, er, drafty. The answer to the question of how you keep from freezing to death in the winter seems rather painfully obvious when you hear it, but rest assured I had to ask the same question around a year ago.

Tights.

Before I carry on I’m going to lay out a few definitions, because I don’t want anyone to get confused as they read. I must emphasize that these are the names that I use for these items and are not necessarily what you would call them.

So, some definitions:

Tights: A catch all term for any tight, form-fitting piece of clothing that you wear on your legs, except socks and tight jeans.

Leggings: Tights made of opaque material. Normally leggings cover the hips and legs all the way down to the knee or ankle. May cover the feet or have “stirrups”, but generally don’t. Despite popular opinion they are not a suitable replacement for pants.

Leggings

Black and White Striped Pattern Stretch Leggings from Blue Pearl World.

Nylons: Tights made from predominantly Nylon. A group term for stockings and pantyhose. Generally more formal and/or alluring than leggings.

Pantyhose: Translucent tights made of mostly Nylon. May or may not cover the feet, but do cover the hips.

Pantyhose

Pin-Up to You Tights on Modcloth

Stockings: Translucent tights made of mostly Nylon. However, unlike pantyhose, they extend up from the feet to the mid or upper thigh. They are held in place either by a garter belt or by elastic/silicone bands.

Stockings

Have a Confetti to Make Thigh Highs on Modcloth

Now, on to the actual subject. As I said earlier, one of the first steps for a skirt or dress wearing lady to take towards keeping warm in the winter is to throw some tights on underneath. Not all forms of tights are built with this in mind, but in the age of the internet it’s pretty easy to track down leggings that are made of the right stuff to keep you warm. Especially since there has been a growing trend towards using leggings as pants, but that’s not something I condone unless there is a yoga or dance class involved.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen leggings from time to time in the mall and not been very impressed with the color selection. Lots of black and a few toned down colors. Not to say there’s anything wrong with that, but if you like color and don’t want to put black with everything it can be disappointing. When it comes to all varieties of tights, the internet is going to be where you do most of your shopping. These days you can find tights in all colors, styles, and materials. Just spend awhile looking and pick some out that suit you. There isn’t much specific to say about leggings, so I’m going to spend some time talking about nylons.

These days it’s pretty unusual to see a women wearing nylons of any kind, but not that long ago they were a staple in every lady’s wardrobe. One of my teachers in high school talked about how when he was a bank manager he would have to send women home if they weren’t wearing nylons. Being a history teacher, he also talked about how during the silk shortage of WWII women would take eyeliner pencils and draw seams on the backs of their legs, so as not to look unladylike. The particularly industrious would spend all night drawing fishnets on their legs. While I’m not going to spend time contemplating why they were so quickly tossed aside, I will mention one aspect of them that hasn’t changed. Nylons make a woman look like a lady. While bare legs with healthy skin have a raw allure, nylons give that extra sense of polish. And these days you don’t even have to concern yourself with keeping your seams straight or being limited to black, white, and nude. They still take some gentle handling to avoid runs, but they are almost disposably cheap and the trick of dabbing clear nail polish on the origin of the run is well known.

So, there’s no reason to not have a pair or two in your wardrobe. If you go to a lot of formal events or like me, your legs are you best feature, then these are a necessary staple to your wardrobe. Do understand that regardless of where you get these, you most likely won’t be able to try them on or return them. So make sure to look at a sizing chart, which should fairly accurately tell you what size you wear. Some follow a small, medium, large, etc labeling, but most I’ve encountered use A, B, C, etc. to label the different sizes. The chart should look something like this:

A hosiery sizing chart.

Find where your height and weight intersect and that will tell you what size you should be wearing. Obviously the closer you are to the upper edge of a size means that it will be a tighter squeeze. Given that this is women’s fashion we’re talking about, there will be some variation in what height/weight combos will fit into the sizes. So again, if you’re on the upper edge of a size you should check with different brands.

I’ll be following up on this post with one on slips and another on legwarmers. If you have further questions on this topic I’ll be glad to answer your questions in the comments.