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Inner Kitty

I bought my first pair of fishnet stockings when I was fifteen. Carefully I smoothed on a pair of sheer black hose; then the fishnets. It was a little tricky getting them on just right so that one of my toes wasn’t caught in a fishnet hole and strangled. Later, seated at a table, I caressed the fishnet on my outer thigh, and bent my knee to move my fingers across the organized pattern of criss-crossing on my calf.

If you feel sexy, you are sexy. Obvious, perhaps – but it has taken until now for the mass media to fully embrace the implications. Maybe feminism had to become more mainstream before the culture at large could find the subject of women enjoying their sexiness for themselves permissible. In 1996, Whoopi Goldberg, commenting on the movie Showgirls, remarked “I haven’t seen that many poles mistreated since World War II!” Now, women in California are signing up for pole dancing classes; some are even getting sturdy, thin poles installed in their bedrooms.

Usually the first person to present a new trend to any of the millions watching, Oprah recently had a show called “Releasing Your Inner Sexpot”. It starred Mrs. Suburbanite, a cute cardigan wife who owned a themed sweater for every season (pumpkin motif for fall, snowmen for winter, pansies for spring). After receiving a sex kitten makeover and dance lessons for a few afternoons, she appeared on stage in a skimpy top, black tights and stiletto heels sexing up a pole in front of a studio audience. She was hot.

Of course, being as it was Oprah, this wasn’t aimed at men. Mrs. Suburbanite wasn’t performing the “You Can Leave your Hat On” dance in the 1986 movie Nine ½ Weeks for her man. She was releasing the inner kitty for herself.

If your kitty hides under the bed whenever company gets too close, here are some tips on how to do the sex kitten makeover. A pole is great, of course, but what else is on the list of supplies? To find out, I suggest going onto the streets and into the bars. Exotic dancers and prostitutes who for decades have received cynical snickers from other women are radically influencing the new look. Their tools include come-fuck-me-boots on stiletto heels, boudoir gear publicly revealed, and fishnet stockings pulled up in between.

Let’s start from the top and work our way down.

Hair. For the sex kitten look, anything goes. Short or long, softly tousled or teased to the hilt, volume is good but too much product is bad. Hair should be touchable and moveable. Remember, you want to toss your hair back during your pole dance. When you do, your face should reveal…

Red lipstick. Fashion used to dictate the precise shade of lipstick to be worn by all. In the new, customized world, women are recognized as individuals with different tastes. (Imagine!). Know and wear what flatters you; for example, women with olive tones look better in a brownish red. To complete the look, keep the eyes simple with , no kidding, clear lip gloss or gel on the eyelids.

If you like your eyes better than your lips, play those up. Natural colours for eyes are best for the sexpot look. Smoky greys, earthy browns, or black liner and shimmery highlights. A sex kitten’s makeup bag always has black or soft black mascara in it – no matter how fair you might be. When playing up your eyes, go for a nude or soft pink shade of lipstick. In the words of Meryn Cadell’s song “The Sweater”, “definitely wear lip gloss”.

Whether you choose red or pink lips will probably depend on your outfit. As we strolled past Bebe at Robson and Burrard one day, my friend Kendra remarked that it was “the kind of store that has the prom dress your mother never let you buy but you wanted. Your get-laid dress”. Note, though, that Bebe’s sizes are small; a two-piece you put together from a couple of places might be a better bet.

Underwear as outerwear became vogue in the early 1990’s. Back then, the underwear was translated into outerwear by stripping it of frills or lace and making it out of neoprene-like polyester or leather that held no sheen. In the early 21st century, however, no translation is required. Check out lingerie stores and lingerie sections of second-hand stores. Pieces that definitely look like underwear are being worn on top of the bra. Bustiers or camisoles as tops feel especially sexy – as long as they contain a limited amount of boning, if any. The addition of ribbons, bows and lace – especially in contrasting colours such as pale pink silk under black – are a delicious touch that says to the onlooker: I’m a sex kitten and I love the way I look. Remember the feeling when you first slipped on a pair of silk panties? Try to muster that. And flaunt what you’ve got by emphasizing your cleavage. In a recent interview, Dolly Parton described her famous assets as “my weapons of mass distraction”.

On the lower half, try black satin tuxedo pants or your most flattering pair of jeans. And try a skirt – if only for the excuse to wear fishnet stockings. Especially this year, fishnets are sizzling. Women who swore they’d never wear pantyhose again are making an exception for fishnets. Slipping on a pair is just as sexy as pole dancing and certainly more economical than hiring a contractor to insert a pole in your bedroom.

Fortunately, fishnet stockings today come in all shapes and sizes. The classic look is black or beige, but for spring, coloured hose in houndstooth or other designs are in, too. Prices range from $6 – $150, averaging $25 for a quality pair.

Do be aware of wearing fishnets appropriately for work. My rules are: beige or coloured fishnets are de rigeur unless both a) black fishnets are being worn with a skirt that’s below the knee and b) you have plans later.

On your feet it’s sexy stilettos or kitten heels of any kind – whether shoe or boot. That’s the high, narrow heel that makes women feel powerful. Narrow three-inch heels are just high enough; four to five inch heels are better but are really only ideal for short trips to the cab and back. (A note about stilettos: They’re perfect for a quick dance around your new pole. You should gracefully bend to peel them off. Spiked heels in bed can be dangerous.)

Finally, remember: you want to feel sexy, not self-conscious. Don’t push yourself too far. If seeing dark red lipstick on yourself in the mirror makes you gasp audibly, try a lighter shade on top and blend. Similarly, if you find yourself covering your cleavage with your hand because you feel your top’s a bit low, wear something underneath that lets a little lace peek out. Above all, learn to differentiate between your hand self-consciously covering your cleavage and your hand mindlessly caressing the top of your breast.

1174 words, May 28, 2004

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Tanya Paz

Tanya Paz lives in Vancouver and works for the Co-operative Auto Network.

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