Sublimefemme Tells All, No. 36

A femme can be happy without many things, but lipstick is not one of them.

retro woman

Favorite Makeup Palettes

Happy holidays, kittens!  What’s your favorite palette?  The one you actually use?  Van is waiting for my Christmas wish list, so please share your recommendations!


Sublimefemme Tells All, No. 35

The key to the perfect summer is the perfect swimsuit.  This one from last month’s VF Italy could be it, no?



Keeping Up Appearances

I’ve missed you, my darlings!  I’ve been swamped with work and have a mountain of papers to grade but, thanks to Jane Iredale, at least my makeup looks good.  Have I mentioned that Iredale’s D2O hydration spray is the sweet elixir of life?  Well, now you know.  Go forth and spritz!

Elizabeth Taylor: In Memoriam

I wrote this post to honor the legendary Liz Taylor, my femme style icon.

I think the first time I “got” femme was when I saw Elizabeth Taylor as Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.   Looking drop-dead gorgeous in her clingy slip, Maggie fights with Brick about their living arrangements and hisses, “I’m not living with you. We occupy the same cage that’s all!”   Me-YOW!   La Liz could deliver a line like nobody’s business.

When I was in my twenties I couldn’t imagine ever being as sexy and femme as Elizabeth Taylor–or even on the same planet as her.  (If Kitty Kelley is right that ET is “the last star,” then actually no one is on the same planet as Liz.)   Watching her old films, I was intrigued by her seductive combination of vulnerability and strength–and those legendary violet eyes. (I want violet eyes!!!)   Taylor is iconic for me not only because of her beauty and style, but also because of her resilience and willingness to admit her imperfections. My favorite Elizabeth Taylor quote? “The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.”

Without a doubt, the actress’s most inspiring virtue was her passionate AIDS advocacy, which began in the early days of the pandemic when public figures (including President Reagan) failed to speak out or act to help people who were infected and desperately needed treatments.  (Actually, Reagan did ultimately give one speech about AIDS in 1987, prompted in part by Taylor’s personal plea.)  Deeply compassionate, Taylor fought against discrimination and for the lives and dignity of people with HIV and AIDS.  She was a champion for AIDS research and prevention, becoming the national chair of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and leading a global fundraising effort that has raised more than $233 million.

Here are two great ways to honor Taylor’s legacy of activism and continue the fight against HIV and AIDS:

  • Support the Scientists Fighting HIV: amfAR is one of the world’s largest organizations dedicated to funding the “foot soldiers” on the frontlines of HIV and AIDS research, putting money into finding new and innovative treatments—and an eventual cure—for HIV and AIDS.
  • Help People Living With HIV and AIDS: The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation has donated more than $12 million to organizations helping prevent the spread of the disease. Its grants go to groups working directly to help patients and to those living with HIV and AIDS.

Elizabeth Taylor died on March 23 of congestive heart failure.  She was 79.





Shoe Swoon

As soon as I find the right outfits to go with these beauties, my fall wardrobe will be complete!

Iconic shoe designs by Roger Vivier.

“Beauty is shoe, shoe beauty.”  –Andy Warhol

Hats Off

“I may have to confiscate that brim,” said the stud airport security guard to Van as we traversed the Houston airport.  We were on our way to our vacation spot on the west coast and Van was wearing a very sharp Panama hat that always attracts the attention of hat lovers.  Van is never afraid to wear a hat, a quality I think she gets from her mother, who’s a true hat aficionado.

While I have appreciated Van’s hats (not all of them, I admit), I’ve never been a hat person myself.  That is, until I fell head over heals in love with a large black and white sun hat that I bought on vacation, simply because I could not resist its movie star glamour.  I wore the hat on the beach, where it looked great with my black and white bikini, and out to a very fancy dinner Van planned to celebrate our 15th anniversary. Truthfully, I’ve never felt so transformed by an accessory before.  It was, in a word, sublime!

Sublimefemme Tells All, No. 31

Feeling drab?  Try flaunting your inner bitch goddess!

Photo:  Tangerine Jones, Burlesque Bitch Goddess and Illuminatrix Supreme.  Get the juice on the glamtastic Ms. Jones here!

About Tangerine Jones:

Inspired by the legends of Black Hollywood and the deities of drag, funk and glam rock, Ms. Jones brings her own eclectic blend to the Neo-Burlesque stage.  No stranger to the stage, this voluptuous vixen is a classically trained theatre performer with an affinity for ethnic dance from Senegalese to Samba to Bhangra to Bellydance.  Whether it’s with the writhe and wind of a Santeria priestess, the shake and quake of a samba or down home shimmy of a juke joint singer, Ms. Jones pays tribute to the African Diaspora and the Black Burlesque and Vaudeville performers of yesteryear.  She seeks to establish a new cultural and erotic iconography for women of color and highlight the often-overlooked presence of people of color in our theatrical and cultural history.

Making a Spectacle

I have a fetish for reading glasses.  This penchant developed during my college years when I discovered that the sight of a certain brilliant lesbian professor peering over her readers sent me to the moon. (sigh)  Ever since, I’ve dreamed about the day when I would require reading glasses myself.

I know that most people think that readers just make you look older, but I think they’re sexy.  Maybe this makes me eccentric.  So be it. I see them as a fantastic prop and fashion accessory, like sunglasses.  In fact, I must confess that I purchased a particularly stylish pair of readers a few years back when I had absolutely no need for them. Seriously.  They just sat in my drawer for years.  But I’ve recently noticed that I benefit from a little help when I’m reading the menu in a dimly lit restaurant or bar, so I’ve actually had a legitimate reason to wear my fabulous readers of late!  It’s been a delight to wear them, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Style blogger Cammila Albertson, who knows a thing or two about chic eyewear, has got me thinking about lorgnettes, which are spectacles or looking glasses with a long, decorative handle that doubles as a case.  They were extremely popular in the nineteenth century, when they became a must-have accessory for ladies of fashion. On her blog, Dressed Up Like a Lady, Cammila confesses, “I’m actually kind of obsessed with lorgnettes, and have a small collection of them. Such a pretty way to handle something as mundane as reading glasses. Sadly (or rather, fortunately), I do not require reading glasses, so these are purely decorative.”  There’s a great pic of her wearing lorgnettes here.

Although I agree that lorgnettes are charming, I must admit that my enthusiasm for them has been diminished ever since I saw Sarah Jessica Parker holding a pair in a poster for Sex and the City 2.  (For the record, I haven’t seen the film but just hearing about it makes me nauseous.)  But there’s a silver lining because I’m starting to think that others may share my fetish for sexy spectacles.  Perhaps the time is right to revive the most iconic piece of lesbian eyewear, the monocle. Are you in?

Glitter in Their Eyes

“As far as I’m concerned, being any gender is a drag.”

–Patti Smith

Contrary to popular opinion, glamour isn’t pretty.  It’s not all about glitz and gold lamé, kids.  And although it may be mysterious, there’s really nothing evanescent about glamour.  Glamorous people–and even objects–are unmistakable.  My point here is simple; we all instantly recognize glamour when we see it, even when it takes unpredictable forms.

Case in point, punk icon, writer, and artist Patti Smith, who channels a gritty, bohemian glamour into everything she does.  I love her androgynous “uniform”–the skinny tie, white shirt, and mannish black jacket–which she’s been wearing since the 70s with an anarchistic insouciance that borders on antistyle. What could be more glamorous than that?

PS  “Glitter in Their Eyes” appears on Smith’s album Gung Ho (2000).