Monday, 26 December 2016

Confidence and Style

I hope those that celebrated the recent holidays have some beautiful memories to take with them into the new year, and I would like to wish everyone a belated Merry Christmas!



With 2016 coming to an end, I wanted to end the year with a reflective post, on a topic that is very close to my heart. Character and confidence.

Body confidence is a beautiful thing, and I love seeing how many lovely pinups advocate for it. I support them whole-heartedly, but it's never been something I myself can speak out for as it is an area I still struggle with sometimes. There is an area of confidence, however, that I can speak out for with all of my being. Character.

In the retro community it is all too common to see women saying that they have been mocked and put down by strangers and even friends and family members. Sometimes these comments run along the lines of "nice costume" or "why are you so dressed up?" accompanied by a sneer. These comments are no doubt painful, and I am sorry to every lady out there who's experienced that nonsense. There are deeper comments that I've seen flung around though, and those are the ones I want to address today.

"Attention-seeking", "slutty", "showy" and "conceited" are all comments that are sometimes hurled your way when you truly make an effort with your appearance every day. It's funny, too, because to me, putting an effort into your appearance is actually a sign of respect. It says, you were worth the extra couple of minutes I took to do my hair and pick out my outfit.

I dress how I dress for me, and it's definitely not for random men or the cashier at the supermarket that I apply my daily swipe of red lipstick for. But I find that dressing well gives you an inner self confidence and is also pleasant to look at, no matter what your style may be, and is therefore respectful to those around you. It's the same reason why we don't show up to the office in flip-flops and why we dress up for special events - respect.

With the pinup style, you will probably find your character questioned often. Everyone takes selfies nowadays, but if you do it with a striking pose and some red lipstick, you must be conceited. If you post daily outfits for inspiration within the retro community, you must be up yourself. If you develop a love of baking and post photos of it, you must be seeking attention. When these comments are made, it is your character that others are calling into question, far beyond your appearance. And it hurts.

I've seen women say that their partners accuse them of trying too hard. That random men come up to them and ask them if they wore what they wore just for them. That women whisper they are trying to tempt their partners (what even is this line of thinking?!).That family members poke fun of them and accuse them of being "up themselves".

Gossip is something I've dealt with since my teenage years. I lacked confidence as a teenager but had a love for theatrical dress. I would dye my hair bright colours and apply deep lipsticks because I loved those things, but had trouble opening up at all with my peers. I also developed curves very early, and found I would end up with cleavage and a shapely rear in most things that I wore. Due to this combination of apparent stand-offishness and unique dress, "slut", "conceited" and other choice words were whispered behind my back and sometimes to my face. Teenagers can be awful. Hell, the parents of other teenagers can be awful too. This even continued into my adult years when I left my country for the man that I love and entered a completely foreign world with even less confidence than before.

You know what I held onto? My character. I aim to be loving, kind. and reliable. I will go out of my way for almost anyone. I love my children unconditionally and I strive to be humble. I put the needs of others before my own. I love science and philosophy. I try to learn something new every day. I question every one of my own actions and ask myself how I can improve and if I am being warm to others. I am the first shoulder to cry on and the last person to leave your side. And of course I mess up - oh do I mess up. Like we all do, because we are all human. But overall those are the characteristics I strive towards and constantly try to improve myself with. And that's something gossip can't touch, even when it tries to.

I grew into myself, because moving away from my family at 18 was hard, and it is through hardship that you grow. I have several beautiful friends whom I can rely on and be myself with, I am confident more days than not, and I know who I am as a person - and I went through a lot of pain and worked damn hard to get here. I am pleased to say I now get gorgeous people coming up to me and kindly complimenting my style. I have an inkling it's because I have children now, and they are able to see me interact with them and are therefore able to see beneath the dressy, high-heeled surface that is my everyday style to the person beneath. I find it humbling when people take the time out of their day to comment on what I thoughtfully put on that morning, and I've always paid these compliments to woman as well. Because we all love a little pick-me-up and every single woman deserves to hear something good about her :)

The fact of the matter is, the style of dress is largely artificial. There is nothing natural about it, and anyone can slap on false eyelashes and fluffy dresses. And I think in the retro community, we are well aware of this.
So I urge you ladies, as we head into a fresh new year - be kind. Be loving. Be true to yourself and let your depth of character shine. Make that your focus and please, don't let others tear you down. Wear your red lipstick. Post photos of the outfits you work so hard on. Go all out with your style whenever you damn well please. And through it all, reach out to others even when they are unkind, because you are an important human being and you are more than a style.
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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Baking With Littles (and other Christmas Inspiration)

I thought I would combine a few Christmas topics into one post, as it is getting so close to Christmas and I will not have time to fit in several posts before Christmas.

So first off - baking!

Every year I bake a massive amount of cookies, and the list of people I give them out to grows annually. There is something soothing about baking with my little ones and imparting my kitchen knowledge onto them. I have the most beautiful memories of baking Christmas cookies with my mother, and one of the hardest parts of moving so far away from her was knowing I would be baking solo. Lucky for me, that only lasted a few years before I was blessed with Selene and now Aurora!

One of my favourite cookie recipes is Eggnog Logs, which my mother found in Taste of Home years ago. My second favourite is classic sugar cookies, as you can cut them out into any shape you prefer. Icing them was one of my favourite Christmas activities every year. This recipe from Deliciously Sprinkled for Eggnog Cut Out Cookies combines both to make something delicious and pretty.



INGREDIENTS

Cookies:
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
Glaze:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract 
  • 3 Tablespoons eggnog
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.  
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt together.
  3. Using an electric or stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add egg and beat until combined.
  5. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture, and mix until combined.
  6. Add eggnog and mix until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX!
  7. Divide dough into 4 pieces, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  8. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and eggnog until smooth. Set aside.
  9. Roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick.
  10. Using a cookie cutter, cut dough into shapes.
  11. Place cookie shapes onto prepared baking pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Let cookies cool completely before icing and decorating.

How to make it kid friendly:
  • Make the dough first, so that the bulk of the work is out of the way.
  • Have the littles help you roll it out, and show them how to use the cookie cutters
  • Let them do the fist few, then give them a little hunk of dough while you do the rest. 
  • Once the cookies are baked and cooled, let them dunk the tops into the glaze and sprinkle.

This worked like a charm with Selene. She would not let go of her little hunk of dough. I think she played with it for four hours, on and off,  before I managed to sneak it away from her. Totally worth it.

Don't sweat the small stuff. Meaning sprinkles. When little ones use sprinkles, they go everywhere. EVERYWHERE. It'll all be ok, I promise. Just vacuum it up afterwards. I don't know about you but when I am on maternity leave like now, I have to vacuum every day anyway.





 Since, as stated above, I don't really dress Christmas-specific and therefore don't have any Christmas outfits to review, I thought I would put together a few other Christmas related topics for you!

Pictures

I think we live in an age where pictures are worth a lot to just about everyone. Half of my pinterest collection is pins with picture inspiration. Here were my favourites for both couples and families for Christmas, as well as some pinups.
Christmas sillouettes are kind of my thing right now, so obviously I had to replicate it like in the first photo above.

 
(tip: cut massive snowflakes out of wrapping paper and stick to the wall for a backdrop)




And if you are looking for some pinup christmas shoot inspo:



Outfits:
Christmas dressing for me is pretty simple - a holiday colour pallette made from clothing I can wear year-round. I don't really do many super Christmas-y outfits. If you live in the US, you still have plenty of time to place orders for kitchy Christmas outfits. Though I don't really do these often, here are some of my favourites:

And here are some you can wear any time!

I saw a Vixen fan (I can't find the photo now, so shoutout to whoever you were, you genius thing!) pair this dress with a red belt and a leopard print santa hat. It was insane, in a good way, and I want to replicate it next year. 



Because it's red and sexy. Nuff said. 




I may break the seasonal clothing rules (as usual) and bust out some plaid next Christmas. It's summer here in Australia during Christmas time, but this dress is too beautiful to pass up. 



Whether you are in sunny Australia or in the wintry Northern Hemisphere, I wish you the happiest of holidays <3

Thanks for reading,
Miss Betty Doll
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Monday, 5 December 2016

Affordable Seperates from Le Bomb Shop - Peasant Tops and Comic Skirts!

Affordable seperates in the retro community aren't always easy to come by. When you do find them, quality can be iffy and, if you are in Australia, paying for expensive shipping to test out those products isn't ideal. Luckily, I have a couple of seperates for you that are affordable, high quality, and feature affordable shipping!

First up is this Picture Perfect Peasant Top. These are available at several retro shops, but my go to site is Le Bomb Shop, so the link featured is from there!




These are a great alternative to similar sillouettes on the market. Those that find the Dolores Top from Collectif too tight in the bust, or experience zipper puckering in the Pinup Girl Clothing Peasant Tops will love this one. Both of those tops are fabulous by the way, they may just not work for hourglass shapes as well as these from Le Bomb Shop do!

First up is fit. I ordered a size small with my measurements of 36-26-36. There is shirring across the back that adds lots of stretch to the waist, so the fit is perfect. It is the tiniest bit tight in the arms, but I have experienced that with every top that has elastic in the arms. It isn't the least bit uncomfortable, I just notice a bit of a red line on my upper arms by the end of the day. It doens't bother me and I actually think these will still work for you if you struggle with tight arm holes. The elastic has a lot of stretch.  Getting this top on is easy and comfortable thanks to the stretch in the elastic of the neckline of the top, and the elastic in the back.

The length of the top surprised me, and it works better with regular cut shorts and pants or with high waisted skirts, as the length would cause it to untuck from most high waisted pants. Just bear that in mind if you are getting these specifically for that purpose.

The quality is seriously fantastic, and I will definitely be purchasing more of these. The material is thick enough to be sturdy without being too hot for summer wear, making it a great trans-seasonal piece. The hues are nice and bright, and the fit is well-constructed. It also now comes in a dress, which I will be adding to my wardrobe as soon as I can!

The second item up for review is the Pop Art Pinup Skirt in Comic Book Print.

This one seriously surprised me. I have quite a few inexpensive pinup skirts in my wardrobe, but none of them can compete with pricier skirts in terms of quality. That's totally ok with me, as you get what you pay for and I love the silhouette a lot of the cheaper skirts provide. However, this skirt is on par with the quality of more expensive brands and has the cutest silhouette ever.

It is made from a thicker sort of fabric that is what you would get if taffeta and canvas made a baby. It's a little hard to describe, but it's fantastic. It holds its shape so nicely that no petticoat is necessary, making this a great grab and go skirt.

The zipper in the back is thick and sturdy to match the material, and the size small that I ordered zipped up easily. I would follow the size chart with these.

Now, unfortunately these are only available in small, medium and large (small and medium are currently sold out) so it's a no go if you fall outside of these ranges. I am sorry about that as I prefer to review things that any size can fit into!

If you do fit into that sizing spectrum, however, there is also a Marilyn print and a Senorita print.

I apologize for the delay between blog posts by the way! I have been over-analyzing my first research report for University all week and it has left little room for anything else.

I've got a blog post on some cute christmas accessories coming up, so keep an eye out!

Thanks for reading!

xo, Miss Betty Doll


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Thursday, 24 November 2016

Pinup Girl Clothing Eva Pants Review

I have a serious dislike for most kinds of pants. I love the look of them, but the comfort level is normally so low, I can't even bring myself to wear them. This is one of the reasons I laugh when friends ask me "But don't you ever feel like just being comfortable in jeans?". What? No!

Enter the Eva Pants by Pinup Girl Clothing, and their shorter Funny Face Pants. The company claims that they will replace your yoga pants, so extreme is their comfort factor.

They are definitely right.

It feels like slipping into pyjamas. When going to my parents-in-law's house and looking for something easy to wear, I have actually put on a comfortable pair of yoga pants and then changed out of them and into the Eva Pants.

First off, let's start with sizing - I am 37-27-37 and am wearing a size small. There is a zipper up the back but I never actually unzip it, because the pants have more than enough stretch in them to just pull up over my hips. So I would order your standard size, but if it's sold out feel free to size down.





Now, there are a couple of hang-ups I have with these pants. First of all, my yoga pants (and every other pair of pants I own) actually flatter my figure more than the Eva Pants. There isn't any elastic in the waistband, which is great for your comfort, but not so great for the appearance of your waistline. These pants actually add lumps and bumps to my figure that I don't have when I'm not wearing anything, which I found odd. I think this is because they are made of a decently thick and high quality fabric, but the huuuuge amount of stretch means that they add bulk without actually tucking you in anywhere! It's fortunate that I took these photos this morning when it was late afternoon and I hadn't actually managed to eat anything yet, because after even a small meal, these pants really don't show off my figure the way I'd like it to be shown!
Don't get my wrong, these pants are still fantastic and have their uses. If you want a pair of pants to throw on with a cute retro t-shirt, get these pants! The seam down the front of the leg adds a tailored look that you won't get with any other pair of relaxed pants.

Also, take it from someone who used to work long hours in the city with an hour long commute each way and hours spent sitting in a desk chair - normal pants can feel very annoying by the end of the day. I look forward to returning to the workforce and having these babies on my bum - I know I will feel comfortable by the end of the day. Which brings me to my next point - I would definitely wear these with peplum tops. Pinup Girl Clothing has several for sale at the moment, including the Essential Peplum Top and the Selina Top . Wearing the Eva Pants with Peplum Tops will help disguise the love handles and tummy that they can accentuate, while still keeping you comfortable in the office.

The third option is to wear them with sweaters that are worn over the pants rather than tucked in - again to hide the bits that pants may accentuate that you don't want attention drawn to.

Now I tend to wear shapewear half the time with pants, so one could say I am self-conscious about how I look in pants to begin with (and btw, the reason I don't recommend shapewear with these is because their sole purpose is to be comfy!). But I suppose it just comes down to what is important to you. To me, wearing things that flatter you is important and can help you to feel confident in your outfit. To others, maybe you feel like body-confidence should trump all, and who cares if these pants show off your love handles?! To me, either school of thought is valid and you should choose your clothing based on what is important to you as an individual.

So, the verdict - while these pants may be unflattering to some when worn with form fitting tops, they are fantastic with peplums, sweaters and t-shirts and are definitely, beyond a reasonable doubt, the comfiest pants you will ever own. So weather they work for you is entirely up to you, and in the mean time I'll be enjoying them for the fashionable, easy-to-wear piece that they are.
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Thursday, 17 November 2016

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

Yes, of all the swimsuits I could have chosen from Red Dolly Swim, I chose the one that would allow me to use lyrics in the blog post title. Sue me!

I discovered Red Dolly Swimwear through an automated Instagram suggestion not long after I had Selene. Melbourne weather being as sporadic as it is, I didn't place an order until two years later as I already had a few swimsuits for Selene and I, and that's all we needed. Seriously, you never know how much sunshine you will get in Melbourne, even in summer.

Red Dolly Swimwear is owned and operated by fellow retro mama Heather, who has the cutest instagram feed and fantastic customer service skills. I have found her to be prompt with responses and quick with shipping and updates. 

I have been wearing one pieces since having Aurora, as a bikini, even high waisted, is daunting to me. Looking at the photos I feel mostly happy with my body since having two children, but body confidence has always, rather openly, been a struggle for me. Many women choose high waisted bikinis because it covers more, but I actually find it more nerve-wracking to wear than a standard, modern bikini. This is because the way a high waisted bikini sits can cause a bit of a pooch, as it takes any fluff you have around the middle and encases it rather than flattens it. This is true of every single high waisted bikini I have tried!

Even with this bit of self-consciousness, looking at these photos I love the bikini! It is actually quite flattering, and even though the photos here are semi-posed because I am obviously aware there is a camera on me, there are a few candid shots in which I am still happy with how my middle looks.






You won me over, Heather ;)

The quality of the swimsuit is good, with high quality print and support in both the top and bottom. I will say that if you are top heavy this may not work for you, the bikini top more comfortable than structured. I ordered a size small in both and found the fit to be perfect for me.

Selene and Aurora's bikinis are the cutest thing ever. I have actually been against baby bikinis in the past, but these changed my mind. I now recommend two pieces for young children - especially babies - as it's easier to get on and off for diaper changes and just easier to put on in general!

Selene is wearing a size 2 and Aurora is wearing a size 2-9 months. Both are a perfect fit, and I wish I had purchased the adorable matching headwraps to go with their swimsuits. It would have been adorable.






The adult yellow polka dot bikini (on sale!) is available here.  There is an option for adding padding to the bust like I did, which I recommend as the swimsuit material is on the thin side and, ya know, cold water, thin fabric... yeah. The baby bikini and toddler bikini are also on sale! There a ton of fabric options to suit your taste if yellow isn't your thing.

Most people aren't obsessed with matching outfits with their littles like I am, but I think anyone can see how cute it is to match swimsuits with the special tiny people in your life. I can't wait to go to the beach with the girls in these :)

Thanks so much for reading!
xo Miss Betty Doll
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Monday, 14 November 2016

Ains and Elke StyleHaus - Trixie Skirt and Matching Littles Skirts Review

I discovered Ains and Elke StyleHaus through Pinup Persuasion over a year ago now. Excited over their fabric choices and willingness to make a matching skirt for Selene (as she was then my only child), I placed an order within a week.

Alixis, the shop owner and maker of Ains and Elke StyleHaus items, was customer service perfection. She replied promptly, asked for thorough measurements and, as a mother of two, was quick to agree to make a matching skirt for Selene.

I went with the standard full skirt for myself, and agreed to have Selene's made with a simple elastic gathered waist. Unfortunately, Alixis (if my memory serves me right) went away shortly after I placed the order, and with her 3-4 week turnaround time combined with the delay of her being away, the skirts didn't arrive for two months. This wasn't a problem, of course, because Alixis is lovely and communicated the time frame before I even placed the order!

Herein lies a story: By the time the skirts arrived, I was pregnant with Aurora! I had actually been pregnant and not known it when I placed the order, so when the package arrived at my doorstep, I was already sporting a tiny little bump and couldn't even zip my skirt up. I'd also made a mistake with the length measurements I gave for Selene's skirt, and it turned out to be even longer than her little legs.This was my fault, of course, and I blame the pregnancy hormones.

The mistake with Selene's skirt length and timing turned out perfectly, however, as my mother in law ended up helping me trim the excess fabric from Selene's skirt to make a tiny skirt for baby Aurora. So, over a year after receiving them, here is my review of the Trixie skirt and matching custom toddler (and baby!) skirts.




 (some behind the scenes cheek for you!)

I ordered according to what my waist measurement was at the time -25". This was one of my first ever custom orders, and I've learned a lot about custom skirts since then. First of all, I can almost always order a standard size small from regular retailers and have it fit. The waist measurements for these are normally 25-26". This, however, is different than placing a custom order and simply going by your waist measurement that you probably took first thing in the morning when your waist is smaller. So whilst my waist may be 25" (it's actually more like 26" now, hehe), this measurement changes as the day wears on and meals are consumed, and also doesn't allow for how your waist changes when you sit and move. 

Alixis was nice and clear about how waist measurements work, and did say to me "so 25" exactly?". It was me and my vanity sizing that gave the go ahead when I should have asked for an inch or two of breathing room -which is what I do now.

In any case, I just had the buttons of my skirt moved over a tad and the skirt fits now regardless :)




 The skirt is of medium fullness and you can fit a medium sized petticoat underneath, which is what I did here. It's a gathered skirt, not a circle skirt, so it's nice and light and won't weigh you down with fabric as some circle skirts can do. The fabric (which I believe is sold out, but there are sooo many other cute prints available!) is lightweight and breezy. It also has pockets!

Packages from Ains and Elke StyleHaus come wrapped with care and are obviously made with love. Knowing that these were made by a mother who who would be balancing the needs of her children with the needs (yes, needs, people!) of our wardrobes makes these pretty skirts all the more precious.

Trixie skirts retail for $65 USD, and the custom skirt I ordered for Selene sells for $30.

Thanks for reading!
xo, Miss Betty Doll

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