If all has gone to plan, I am currently sunning myself in the south of France and this has posted in my absence… I was too impatient to wait to share this one!
Over the years, I’ve come to accept that wanting to look the way I do often throws up the same handful of tiny, but nonetheless irritating problems, such as ‘Oh, I’ve drawn my eyeliner wing at an 80 degree angle on one eye, but a 30 degree on the other, making me look like a Picasso’ or ‘Ah, I’ve once again created ‘scraggly birds nest’ and not ‘Veronica Lake’ with my curling tongs’. I’ve come to realise that I’m probably sharing the same frustrations about things just not looking right with many others and while I think there’s probably enough eyeliner and curling tong tutorials in the world out there (that I’m clearly ignoring), I have picked up a few other tricks that I thought might be worth sharing, particularly when dressing vintage.
So here’s some of my favourite vintage style life hacks! Note I hate that term (‘hack’ is such an ugly word and what does ‘life hack’ even mean?), but nothing else seemed as appropriate…
Tame a wayward waist belt with a hair band
Everyone wants an hourglass shape – but I often think none more so than those of us trying to emulate 50s styles. Key to this outline of perfection can be a trusty waist belt, but sometimes they’re not so much trusty, as downright pesky. Particularly if they’re of the hip-or-waist belt variety that a lot of high street shops are trying to convince us are a good idea now. They would be if it wasn’t for the fact if you put something on a tight hole you end up with a lot of belt on the other end of your buckle. And if you don’t have a loop, it’s a lot of belt flapping around and generally looking all untidy and ruining everything. There’s a simple and cheap solution – buy a bag of clear plastic hairbands (‘snaggies’) and use them as a makeshift beltloop. Believe me, taping the underside doesn’t work – it peels right off. But these – these work. From a distance I would bet no one even notices it…
Keep your shoes (and hair!) on with doctored half heel inserts
A little while back, I posted about my annoying feet that slip out of all shoes over on Amber’s Shoeperwoman blog. While my feet are especially narrow, I know even those of us with less troublesome tootsies can have this issue too, particularly if you’re wearing a lot of court shoes or ballet pumps, as us vintage-loving girls often do. I mentioned this idea of cutting up a heel insert in that post and the commenters reacted like it was the best thing they’d ever heard, so here goes nothing… You know those leather inserts that are really sticky and everything, but they’ve got an awkward ridge that just pushes your foot further into a shoe so your heel has even more chance of falling out? Cut them above the ridge (make sure the paper is still on or it will be too sticky and your scissors will get stuck), so the ridge is at the top of the insert and therefore the heel of your shoe when you stick it in. You’ll hopefully find there’s now something raised trying to stop your foot slipping out (just make sure you leave the insert to set as the pack directs). Combine this with half sole inserts and you might find that pair of shoes just about stays on.
Curl your ponytail the easy way
I’ve already mentioned I am useless with curling tongs; I frazzle the ends of my hair and can’t seem to create uniform curls no matter what I do. I’m also baffled by pin curling, sponge rollers or anything else that requires patience and overnight setting. It’s probably partly because I have very long hair which isn’t very well suited to these things as it never. dries. This is a conundrum, as I love the look of a cute, curly ponytail. Eventually, a tool in my beauty arsenal presented a solution – hot rollers! And the trick is to curl the pony once it’s already in place, so you’ve got a nice smooth base on your head and the curl is all in the tail where it’s easier to control. It’s taken me a few goes to get the hang of placing the rollers to get the curl I want, but essentially I roll them in roughly horizontally as per the above, tending to use medium curlers on long strands of hair and big ones on anything that’s shorter (because of layers or where it just happens inexplicably). I avoid the small ones as they give too much curl for this really. You can whack them in in 5 mins, leave them to set for 20, take them out then brush the curls together and voila! A curly ponytail. Tuck any loose bits underneath the pony, spray in place and you’re done. This is so much easier than trying to tong hair that’s all sitting on the back of your head!
Smooth out a wobbly waistline with a long cincher
This tip is especially useful if you wear wiggle styles, separates with fitted waistbands and/or strapless bras with excruciatingly tight bands as per the above example. Unless you’re in the gym most days or are naturally tiny-waisted, chances are that clinging anything to your waist might make you feel self conscious of it not being defined as it could be or the fact it’s attractively spilling over a waistband. I’m a size UK 8-10, which is by most people’s standards pretty slim, and yet I get a sizeable muffin top as I’m demonstrating here (ugh, can’t believe the internet is seeing that!). Step up the most glorious piece of shapewear to ever come into my life: the Rago (Waist Cincher 21). I’ve tried a lot of shapewear to combat this problem and this is so far the only thing I’d rate. They key to its success for me: 1) it’s not too severely tight and uncomfortable, as it will shrink your waist by 1-2 inches max 2) it finishes roughly where your bra band is, skimming over all of the bits where we have excess flesh meaning nothing can spill over the top and 3) it doesn’t move. So the result is a more defined waist, no overspill and a smooth outline that looks great in vintage styles (even with the strapless bra doing its best to push everything south). Added bonus: removable suspenders.
Get a vintage hair roll in a minute
This is slightly cheating as I’ve already posted a whole tutorial on this, but it’s still one of the quickest, easiest things I do that adds a vintage touch to my look without the lengthy faff of victory rolls. It honestly now takes me about a minute to do this. It can also be adapted to create two rolls on either side of your head, using the same basic principles of minimal back combing for hold and shape, then twisting and pinning into position. So please go watch it – if only to validate the hours it took to put it together 😉
So there you have it, some of my favourite style tricks, which while simple, have in some cases saved hours of my life or the life of clothes that would otherwise have ended up in the bin!