Monthly Archives: April 2016

A Brief History of: Lipstick

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“Hand me my purse, darling.  A girl can’t read that sort of thing without her lipstick.”

– Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Since the dawn of civilization (narrated by Morgan Freeman for greater effect), humankind has found ways to distinguish themselves from one another visually.  Clothes, footwear, jewelry and cosmetics have all been used in one way or another, to signal anything from social class to gender.

Naturally, through the rise and fall of civilizations, many things come and go; however, some things seem to withstand the test of time.

In 1988, Stephen Hawking published a landmark volume in science entitled, A Brief History of Time.  In 244 pages, Hawking explored such profound questions as: how did the universe begin? Does time always flow forward?  What will happen when it all ends?

I am not Stephen Hawking, nor will I be exploring such profound questions; however, it did spark an idea and I have decided to steal borrow Hawking’s catchy name for a new series on the blog. Over the coming months, I will explore the history of various fashion and beauty items that, while popular today, are rooted in a rich history.

As you have likely gathered from the title, the first item I will explore is lipstick.  Surprisingly, this cosmetic reaches back to 3000 BCE (and possibly beyond), yet remains one of the most popular beauty products on the market today.

With that said, I give you a brief history of lipstick:

Ancient History

Historical record suggests that Ancient Sumerian men and women were possibly the first to invent and wear lipstick.  According to literature, they would crush gemstones and use them to decorate their faces, mainly their lips, between 3000 and 1000 BCE (Before Chanel Common Era).

Interestingly, ancient Egyptians like Cleopatra (not Liz Taylor, but the real pharaoh), also used lipstick between 2000 BCE and 100 CE.  However, it wasn’t for aesthetic value, but rather a means to identify social status.  Those amazing Egyptians would extract dye from fucus-algin (seaweed), mix that with iodine and add in a little bromine mannite for good measure (a derivative of polyalcohol mannitol found in plants).

Unfortunately, this combination often resulted in serious illness, so they left that seaweed behind and began to use insects to create a stain for the lips.  The ancient Egyptians would crush carmine beetles to produce a red effect and if you think beauty brands like Becca and Hourglass were the inventors of highlight, think again.  These savvy Egyptians would add a pearlescence to their lips by extracting a substance found in fish scales.

Modern History

Fast forward to the middle of the 16th century, where we find lip colouring banned by the Christian church.  At this time, lip colouring was associated with satanic rituals and thus, reserved for the lowest class of people (notice how lipstick evolved from being associated with the highest class in ancient Egypt, to identifying the lowest class several centuries later).

Mind you, by the time Queen Elizabeth I reigned, red lips were back in fashion.  No longer made from beetles, the formula  consisted of beeswax and red plants, and was again worn by women of a higher social standing.

In the 18th century, lipstick fell out of taste (see a pattern here) again amongst the upper eshelant and found its place in the mid-to-low class.  This rise and fall continued throughout most of the 19th century until French perfumers began producing lipstick commercially.

In 1884, the French cosmetic company Guerlain is said to have produced the first commercial lipstick product made from deer tallow, castor oil and beeswax.  This formula was sold covered in silk paper and applied with a brush.

By the early 20th century, women began to accept lipstick as part of their daily attire and by 1921, it would appear lipstick was in widespread use.  In 1930, Elizabeth Arden introduced a wider spectrum of shades, which in turn, inspired other companies to do the same; however, red would reign supreme in the 1950s, popularized by icons like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.

By the end of the century, a rainbow of colours would rise and fall in popularity, with every colour, including black, being on trend at some point or another.

Lipstick in Film

As mentioned above, lipstick has been used for different reasons at different times in history; however, during the latter half of the 20th century to present, lipstick has been predominantly associated with femininity and sexuality.  This is evidenced by the part lipstick has played in film.

One of my favourite references to lipstick has got to be the scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, where Miss Golightly (played by the talented Miss Hepburn) is forced to read a difficult letter and states, “a girl can’t read that sort of thing without her lipstick”.  While that expression seems somewhat silly, it also illustrates that lipstick is a sort of armour for women, a source of protection and strength.

For more iconic lipstick movie moments, click here.

The Power of Lipstick 

Since the age of 23, activist Zainab Salbi has fought for women’s rights.  During the Bosnian War, Zainab learned of the horrific assaults on women throughout this conflict.

A short time later, Zainab entered Sarajevo, and visited shelters for women.  She would regularly ask the women what they wanted her to bring back for them, like vitamins or food.  One day, a woman asked for lipstick and Zainab was shocked!

The woman went on to note that the simplest thing a woman can do everyday to feel beautiful is to put on lipstick and that’s how she was resisting the war.  She went on to say that, “[she] wanted the sniper, before he shoots [her], to know he is killing a beautiful woman.”

I found it fascinating that an item like lipstick, which much of the world sees as a simple commodity, could be used to protest war.  Such power.

To see this and more of Zainab’s story, click here.

From Pharaohs to celebrities, lipstick has certainly had a rich history.  Representing class, gender, femininity, strength and resistance, this little tube has meant many things to many people throughout the ages, and I’m sure will continue to do so for  years to come.

PLG GIVEAWAY **CLOSED**

On April 23, I reached 1000 subscribers on Instagram and each month, more and more readers are visiting the blog.  This is such a personal milestone for me and I am overwhelmed by the encouragement and support I have received.  To thank my followers and readers, I am hosting the first (of many, I hope) PLG Giveaway!

In one of my first blog posts, entitled Lovely Moments, I offered five simple ways to create a lovely moment.  In the spirit of helping someone create a few lovely moments of their own, I have put together a “Lovely Moments Package” for one lucky individual, which includes:

The giveaway is open internationally and will run for one week, beginning May 1, 2016, ending May 8, 2016 (Eastern-Standard Time).

To enter, you must be 18 years of age (or have parental consent), follow Pearls, Lace & Grace on Instagram and complete the necessary questions via the link below.  One winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you again for your support and good luck!

 

Wardrobe Essentials: Spring

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While spring officially arrived in Canada a few weeks ago, I think someone forgot to tell Mother Nature to turn the heat on!  This last week has been anything but spring-like in Southern Ontario – snow instead of tulips, freezing rain instead of spring showers and an overcast haze instead of sunshine.

Although it is grey and cold as I write this, I am not discouraged.  I firmly believe spring weather is just around the corner, and as such, I have started to gather together my spring wardrobe essentials.

The arrival of spring is truly cause for celebration as we are finally able to shed those winter layers and refresh our closets.  I don’t know about you, but it brings me such joy to put my heavier fabrics into storage and make room for my lighter weaves.  It is exciting to move those beautiful pastels to the front of the closet; however, it can be easy to get caught up in all that spring excitement and blow the budget on loads of current, trendy items.

Over the last few years, I have tried my best to avoid this temptation and instead, make a concerted effort to purchase classic items that will not only serve me well this spring, but for many springs to come.

In the first of what I expect will be a reoccurring series on the blog, I offer you five wardrobe essentials for spring:

The Trench Coat 

When I hear the word trench coat, two words immediately come to mind – classic and springtime.  While the trench coat was originally developed as an alternative to the heavy serge greatcoats worn by British and French soldiers during the First World War (you’re welcome for the history lesson), today, the trench is considered a classic wardrobe staple for both men and women.

While Burberry is considered the gold standard in trench coats, they come with a hefty price tag as well, which has lead me on a lengthly search for a substitute.  Well friends, that lengthly search ended last week, when I came across this beauty.  I picked it up in the colour sand; however, I love it so much I may order it in navy as well.  One day, I may finally have my Burberry trench, but until then, I know this one will serve me well.  Here are a few more lovelies for inspiration:

Lyocell Notch Collar Trench Coat – Le Chateau
Icon Trench Coat – J. Crew 
Classic Long Trench – Ann Taylor

The Floral Scarf

While I could live in florals all day everyday (to my husband’s chagrin), I have come to find that a little goes along way.  In spring, I especially love finishing off a neutral outfit with a floral scarf.  Depending on the size and weight, you can dress up a casual outfit by tying a floral scarf around your neck, or elevate an evening look by draping it around your shoulders.  While silk is beautiful, there are a variety of silk-like options that are equally pretty.  Here are a few of my current favourites:

Floral Print Woven Scarf – Le Chateau
Lord & Taylor Watercolour Floral Scarf – Hudson’s Bay
Painterly Floral Scarf – Bindya

The Ballet Flat

Regardless of the season, ballet flats are an essential item in every women’s wardrobe.  These beauties are elegant, feminine and extremely versatile.  While black flats are an excellent choice all year long, I love introducing a neutral or pastel flat to my wardrobe for spring.  Paired with a light, flowing dress, or a cute trouser, these shoes take you from day to evening without missing a step.  Need some inspiration? Check these out:

Brevia Flat – Call it Spring
Loralee Flat – Aldo 
Sedgwick Ballet Flat – Tory Burch

The Ankle Pant

Nothing looks more chic paired with ballet flats than a classic ankle pant.  In hues like khaki, navy, black and white, or even feminine prints, the options are endless.  Pair them with a crisp white shirt and blazer for a fresh work look, or a white scoop tee for a comfortable, on-the-go ensemble.  I recently purchased this chic pair from Zara and cannot wait to work them into my wardrobe.  Here are a few more options:

Straight Crop Pant – White House Black Market
Sloan-Fit Slim Ankle Pant – Banana Republic
Pixie Mid-Rise Ankle Pant – Old Navy

The Rain Boot

If there is one staple any woman needs in spring, it is a pair of rain boots.  Whether you’re walking on slippery sidewalks or jumping puddles, a pair of rain boots keep you dry and stylish simultaneously.

While I prefer the classic Hunter in black, rain boots come in a variety of colours, styles and price-points.  Click on the links below to see a few other chic options:

Original Short Striped Rain Boot – Hunter 
Evedon Rain Boot – Joules 
Talia Rain Boot – Coach 

BONUS – The Umbrella 

While not necessarily a wardrobe essential, I consider a quality umbrella absolutely necessary for spring.  Whether you prefer a walking umbrella or one that is more compact, there are so many great options to choose from.

I always have a classic, black umbrella with a wooden handle on hand; however, a few weeks ago, I passed by this lovely floral option, and for the price, I couldn’t leave it in the store. Here are a few others that you might enjoy:

Check-Lined Folding Umbrella – Burberry
The Petrichor Umbrella – Brelinni
Rain Check? Umbrella – Kate Spade 

The forecast for this week looks promising, so I’m sure it won’t be long before I can begin to wear some of these essentials and I can’t wait!  What are your spring wardrobe essentials?  I would love to hear about them.

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

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