Where Lipstick is concerned...

There's a part in Breakfast at Tiffany's where Audrey Hepburn's character, Holly Golightly, asserts that 'a woman can't read that sort of thing without her lipstick'. The 'thing' that she is referring to is a letter from José, her Brazilian lover, telling her that he has returned to his homeland alone and doesn't intend to marry her after all. Before she hears the words of the letter, she insists that Fred wait for her to apply her lipstick. Now I'm not here to gush about how great Breakfast at Tiffany's is, but this particular scene sums up the reason why I and many other women wear lipstick - to feel confident.

Now perhaps this confidence translates as sex appeal, for indeed when you hear the word 'lipstick' you are likely envisage that daring shade of red which hangs tentatively on the border of sophisticated and slutty. Get it right and you'll be another Marilyn, get it wrong and you'll end up looking like a porn star or Miss Hannigan from Annie (or if you're unfortunate, both) In the patriarchal societies of yesteryear, lipstick wearers were prostitutes or at least considered as such. However, as female empowerment has increased attitudes to lip colour have changed. The suffragists and suffragettes are said to have worn lipstick to rebel against convention, the 80s woman is said (according to my quick skim-read of google results) to have considered her Lippenstift as an essential part of her 'power suit' - her weapon against the dense glass ceiling she pushed against on a daily basis. I believe that lipstick has become less about seduction and more about confidence. Fashion magazines allude to the 'boldness' of wearing lipstick, implying that the stark contrast between skin and lip colour that the stuff induces requires a certain amount of intrepidity if it is to be considered a success.

In my generation there is a sense of lipstick being the lip covering of the daring and the sophisticated; the woman who wants to stand out. I have recently become a fan, not necessarily for the reasons stated above, but rather because when I hear the word lipstick it instantly conjures up connotations of Hollywood Glamour, classy, well dressed women, smart outfits and schmaltzy evenings filled with full moons and wafting jazz music - if you like, an amalgamation of Gatsby's cocktail parties and Rosie the Riveter's WW2 posters. Two of my favourite things.

I particularly like the aesthetics of lipstick. I'm not one for shiny things: diamonds are not my best friend. I like pearls, I like my colours matte, I like my printed photos matte and I like my face to be shine-free - hence I was never much of a gloss wearing teenager. I have recently bought possibly my favourite lipstick of ALL time - it's by Aldi's Lacura brand and costs about £1.99. Not only does it act as a lip moisturiser, it also smells divine and the colour reminds me of all the crimson leaves I see around Bristol - so perhaps it's a seasonal look rather than a year in year out investment. But I love how it makes my face feel complete, how the contrast of pale skin, brown eyebrows and pink lips establishes definition and therefore requires a lot less make-up. After application, I feel ready to stroll confidently down the street, swinging my arms and grinning widely with my pained smile. I wear lipstick for confidence.

See? No seduction to be seen.

What do you wear to feel confident?

1 comment :

  1. I like this post, especially the photos! I've thought a little bit about make-up but don't have a full-blown philosophy of it yet. Thanks for contributing to my thinking. You rock and stuff.