With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I am sure I am not the only gal whose mind is on feeling & smelling sexy. Even if I am totally single, don’t have a date and will probably be at home eating pizza in bed and watching youtube in my pjs.
Last year my marriage officially ended after over a decade of feeling unattractive and unwanted. There were lots of reasons (including the fact that it turns out I am a big fat lesbian) it didn’t work. But for so long I had left the control of how I felt about myself in the hands of someone else. If he didn’t want sex, we didn’t have sex. If he didn’t notice what I was wearing, there was no reason for me to wear sexy lingerie. If he didn’t care how I smelt, then what did it matter if I wore perfume…or even showered? I felt unsexy and unfeminine.
It’s been around a year of me being “officially” single and “officially” on the dating market and I am still very much single. But I am determined to not let anyone else be the reason I do something. I wanted to feel sexy. I wanted to feel feminine. And if I don’t have anyone to have sex with, I will use a ridiculously expensive grown up vibrator! (as opposed to the cheap $20 thing I got at a sex shop when we were young and broke and having good sex without needing anything battery operated)
So instead of making new years resolutions to visit places or go to the gym more, I made a list of the things I wanted to make me *feel* sexy. That eventually whittled down to two things: Finding a Signature scent and overhauling my lingerie wardrobe.
“A woman’s age and social position are not of the slightest influence in this particular field. In fact, it is often the most elegantly and expensively attired women who wear the least underclothes, for all of their dresses are lined with silk and many of their gowns have built-in bras. And yet there exist in every price range perfectly charming lingerie ensembles in bright or pastel colours and even in prints, which would make their undressed appearance much more attractive.
Women are making a mistake in neglecting this potential added attraction to their charms.”
– A Guide to Elegance by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux
As a die hard vintage lover, with a fuller figure and a large cup size I found what worked for me to be limited to what could be found in the nana section of the lingerie department. My underwear drawer consisted of rago girdles (the “619 Panty Girdle” and the
“Open Bottom 1359” – the “sexiest” thing I owned), Elila Longline Bras (5415) and the most dismal of all….Bonds Classic Cottontails. While I had them all in Black…I mainly stuck to beige. Yup….beige cottontails. Even my (very volutptuous) gran didn’t stoop that low.
Now I have to admit lingerie has always been tough for me. I went through puberty early and while other girls in year 6 were stuffing their crop tops…I was being custom fitted. You see I was minuscule (a size 4AUD) when talking band size and giant (dd/e) when talking cup size. I was 12 when my grandmother couldn’t stand it anymore and took me to get a properly fitted bra. It had to be ordered in especially for me….and it was beige. There were no florals and lace or fun fluros for me. I had my babies during a time before brands like “Hot Milk” showed up on the market and my cotton waffle weave maternity bra from the twins…well one cup fitted over my head like a swim cap. After that it was sports bras. Then when I was obsessed with filing out my vintage dresses properly I found Elila bras to be the ones that fit the best being a 38F. Beige. Full cup. Thick straps.
“A woman should dress first, and foremost, for her own pleasure. Having grown up in second hand flannels, there is nothing quite so devine as the feel of silk underwear. The touch of soft fox. The slither of a satin skirt. If these things happen to appeal to men…well…that really is a side issue.”
-The Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher
It wasn’t until I was thinking about France and French women that I realised I could not go to France with period stained beige stretched and baggy cottontails. NOPE. But I still had a certain aesthetic I was looking for, and $60 for a pair of knickers wasn’t something I could afford. I needed high waisted knickers. But I wanted them to be pretty. All I wanted was a little bit of lace or a bow. Thankfully I found some in target that were pretty enough and ok…but still not quite right.
“Don’t save your good lingerie for dates, wear it for you.”
-Dita Von Teese
Then I saw a Bra that had me in the changeroom before I knew what hit me.
No it wasn’t the 3 panel super pointy shape I normally wear….but it was sexy and lacy. I definitely couldn’t wear the knickers as they were weirdly cut (and yet I still bought them anyway)….but I felt so goddamn sexy in it, I walked out of the store with it. It had been at least 5 years since I had bought something other than the Elila bra. I was single. I didn’t have any dates planned. I bought it purely for my own indulgence.
When off to visit a friend a few weeks later I donned the bra, my rago open bottom girdle, black fully fashion nylons with cuban heels (at least I always have sexy stockings) and nothing else, bar a black trench coat over the top. Not for anyone else. For me. I felt so goddamn sexy. And no one knew but me.
I have been obsessed with lingerie ever since, and yet have bought nothing else. I don’t want to waste any more money on things that don’t fit or are painful after a while. This year I am working on finding the best vintage and vintage style lingerie that is both sexy and fills out my dresses. Please link me to anything you think would fit this 46-39-44in/38F gal that is vintage-esque. (Though I am saving up for the truly epic “Cassandra” gown by Boudoir by D’lish…even if I can’t afford anything to wear under it!)
“Two principal factors influence a woman in her choice of a perfume. First, the container – which she enjoys displaying on her dressing table if the bottle is elegant, obviously expensive and if it bears a famous label and secondly, the scent itself, if it underlines her personality and adds to her allure. In this regard the only danger to beware of is a chemical incompatibility between certain perfume essences and certain skins. Consequently, the best way to select a perfume is by a method of trial and error; the best way to apply it is with an atomiser;and the height of refinement is to have your toilet water, perfume, hand soap, balth salts, dusting powder, and even sachets for your lingerie drawer, all scented with the same perfume.
An elegant woman usually considered it a point of honor to remain faithful to her perfume, which she considered as a sort of signature.”
– A Guide to Elegance by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux
As a little girl I remember my two grandmothers dressers. My Nana, a single container of a delicate scent…something from Avon. My Grandmother – EVERY DESIGNER SCENT AVAILABLE TO (WO)MAN totally covering the entire dresser top!!!
I can’t remember what my Nana wore, but she always had a soft, sweet scent about her. Quiet and subdued. She was a twinset (acrylic – she is allergic to wool, even cashmere) and pearl (most likely faux, or jewelry from her own wedding day) wearing preschool teacher. She would take us to art galleries and play us piano and read us stories. You couldn’t ever catch a whiff of her perfume unless you were snuggled in close. And even then….was it perfume? Her natural scent? Or flowers lingering from the garden?
My Grandmother mainly wore “Chanel No. 5”. She did own a lot of perfume though. If ebay was around when she passed away we probably would have made over 10k just on seling her perfume!
She wasn’t married to one scent or brand…as long as it was designer, strong and expensive. She sprayed herself when she got out of the shower (and was still wet), then when she was dry. Then after undies went on. Then again over clothes…but the worst was in the car. She would spray and spray and spray until the car was filled with the scent. She owned matching creams and lotions and soaps to all her scents. She was a sequinned wearing, swear like a sailor, comedienne/actress/singer/dancer/circus performer who bought all her jewelry on Oxford street at a place called “The Drag Bag”. While Nana took us to art galleries, my gran snuck me in to clubs that were 18+ to see drag shows and topless cancan dancers.
“I just need to spend a minute on my cologne cloud.”
-Tom Haverford (Parks & Recreations)
When she passed away, Ryan & I were given a lot of her things. We had just moved into our first place together and we had nothing and a baby coming in a month. It was well over a year of use and washing before the towels no longer smelt of perfume. I still get sick when I smell Chanel No. 5.
I am EXTREMELY sensitive to smells. I have never really been a perfume wearer. I have tried a few times over the years…but even in highschool when every girl was emptying a can of impulse on herself, I was using scent free roll on deodorant. When I did wear perfume it was often at my Grandmothers insistence.
The very first perfume I owned (but rarely wore) was Tresor by Lancome (and it was a large bottle of Eau de Parfum…Grandmama never skimped). I loved the bottle…but don’t remember the scent. Probably because I didn’t wear it unless I was made to. I did buy a bottle of perfume for my wedding. It was very light and fruity. And I was the sort that misted it out and walked through it. I couldn’t even bring myself to spray it straight on my skin. I don’t know what perfume that was…I think I got it at the reject shop!
I had all but given up on perfume….when I was photographing a wedding (back when I was gainfully employed…pre complete physical & nervous breakdown) and the bride spritzed her perfume and all of a sudden I was 6 years old and walking up the steps to my great grandparents house. My great grandmother, who had a very green thumb, grew gardenias either side of the stairs. When I smelt the fragrance the bride put on I was whisked away to the heady scent of gardenias…it was green and romantic and floral…but also had that deep, almost rotten, smell gardenias have. It was grown up, but also sexy. It was a weird mix of the two women I idolised. It was something I could wear while snuggling my girls and reading books (though we are more likely to snuggle and watch the try guys on youtube these days) or something that would make a lover swoon as they kissed my neck. It was cashmere twinsets and real pearls…with silk knickers and fully fashioned seamed stockings. It was everything I wanted in a scent.
Sadly…I didn’t ask what perfume it was. I have tried a few Gardenia perfumes without finding “the one”. This year I am going to double down on my efforts. I want to find the perfect fragrance for me. But not only am I sensitive to smells…but somethings smell great in the bottle and then turn rancid on my skin (a bit like every foundation looking pale enough and then oxidising to a charming orange colour).
I will be hounding sales ladies at the Myer counters for samples (I have since learnt I really need to try it on…and a few times…for a few hours…before I can truly judge it), looking into decanting sample services and even visiting a “Master Perfumer” to look into what goes into making a perfume…and maybe even creating something just right.
With those two goals in mind I have started bookmarking things. Contacting smaller lingerie designers asking to have things made in my size. Haunting the perfume counters. Trying things on…even if I don’t think they will suit me (perfume & lingerie).
This year I become my own sexy self. Hopefully I will figure out what that sexy self looks & smells like quickly…as I really have no patience for waiting.
Miss Fairchild xoxo