Thursday, 20 September 2012

What is a Peignoir?

I have long had a fascination with the origins of lingerie in its various forms.  In fact in my 2nd year of Uni I practically wrote a book on the subject.  We had to write an essay on The History of the Corset.  In typical me styley I got a little carried away and wrote an essay that was around 2" thick when bound.  I felt a little bad for the tutor who had to read it!  So to indulge my inner geek I thought  I would share some knowledge with you about the origins of the Peignoir.

So what exactly is a Peignoir?

The origins of the peignoir come from the French word "peigner" to comb the hair; a garment worn whilst brushing ones hair.  Isn't that just lovely!  A special garment to don just for the few seconds (or hours I suppose if you are brushing out pin curls) that a woman brushes her hair.  They were worn typically whilst women groomed, whether it be brushing their hair, removing or applying make-up, getting ready for bed or to go out somewhere and whilst getting in and out of the bath or shower.  These tasks traditionally take place in the bedroom so the peignoir has quite a romantic or even saucy connotation to them.

Peignoir's are usually an ecompanient to a nightgown, babydoll or negligee.  Some of the designer sets were also sold with matching sheer long elbow length gloves and stockings made of the same fabric.  These sets were intended for occasions where the wearer may be seen in her night clothes, or even just to wear in bed.  Stockings in bed?!?!  I'm not sure how comfortable that would be!

These days the peignoir is synonymous with the pin-up paintings of Gil Elvgren; depicting an outer garment that is usually about knee length, or even longer, has sleeves and is made of a sheer fabric such as chiffon or georgette.

Having researched into the peignoir it has struck me what a great little garment it is.  Do you often drop foundation into your lap when getting ready to get out, or get hair all over the place?  Well you shall no longer have that problem!

The Solution?  I suppose I have already designed a peignoir without realising it - The Nell Robe.  But I'm not sure I would want to drop make-up down mine.  It does fit the description though: a cover up to wear whilst preening, semi sheer fabric (lace sections) and floor length.  But to me a peignoir should be shorter and flirtier, like those of the 50's/60's Gil Elvgren pictures.  So to answer this I designed the Tempest Bed Jacket.

It is technically a peignoir, only bed jacket is easier for people to pronounce ;-).  A cutsie little cover up that is fun and flirty but not as expensive as the Nell, so you can drop hair and make-up down it to your hearts content.  (The Bed Jacket is £45)

This item, along with the accompanying Babydoll and Briefs are now available to Pre Order from my website here.  I am due them in mid October and anticipate to post them out the last weeks of October, all being well.  So go on and treat yourself!!! Once again get yours over on my website.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

My Babies 3rd Birthday

On 16th September my business, Betty Blue's Loungerie, will be 1 years old.  The day before however will be my two sausage dog's 3rd Birthday.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore my two little doggies.  I was even dog owner of the week over on Poodles and Pompadours blog in June of this year.  So I thought (as it's a slow news week) I would introduce you to my babies.

These are my little uns on their first day at my house.  The speckly silvery one on the left is Frank and the black and tan on the right is Tess.  This is when they were all ikkle and cute and had not yet developed their sausage noses.
Before long the had all grown up and we were celebrating their 1st Birthday!  I made them a special doggy cake with all their favourite food in.  They wolfed it down - much better than horrid dry doggie biscuits!
The seasons came and went and they enjoyed dressing up as a little devil (Frank) and a witch (Tessie).  I never thought I would be one of those people who dresses their dog up...........BUT LOOK HOW AWESOME THEY LOOK!!!!!!  Haha.

It hasn't all been plain sailing.  There were a couple of run ins with sleeves.  The two above are both Frank, but Tess did get stuck down a snuggie sleeve but I don't have a pic.  She was so wedged in, for a while we thought we may have to cut her out.  We eventually pulled her out backwards, silly sausage!!!

Most of the time they can be found sitting on my lap.  When I'm answering your emails or on the phone, they are usually on my lap having cuddles.  They regularly have objected to something or someone passing my house whilst I am on the phone and I've had to appologise for the noise!  Hmmmm I wonder how many people think it's weird there's a dog in the office, I do work from home!

Name: Frank
Nicknames: Fronk, Fronkers, Bonkers Fronkers, Sausage, Faufage, Faufage Monster, Frankie, Puppy.
Favourite Food: Bananna (he will literally kill for banannas!) and Chicken
Favourite Person: Betty
Favourite Toy: His critter because it has a squeeker in

Frank is a mammas boy.  He follows me around begging for cuddles.  If I don't notice that he wants a cuddle he barks at me, just one high pitched woof.  It's particularly frightening when I haven't noticed he's in the room and always scares the life out of me.  He is my bestest friend and I love him lots :).

Name: Tess
Nicknames: Tessie, Tessie Pops, Popsie, Tettie, Princess, Princess Tess, Puppy.
Favourite Food: Chicken, anything that's not dog food.
Favourite Person: My Dad
Favourite Toy: Her brother Frank (she likes to beat him up)

Tessie rules the roost.  She can stop my other dogs dead in their track with just one look.  She likes cashmere - in particular my jumpers!  I have often found her curled up asleep in my jumpers!  She prefers my Dad to cuddle her, I think it's because he feeds her ;-).

One of the things I love to do with my puppies is to take pictures of them in funny positions, mainly when they are asleep.  Cracks me up!

So those are my two little babies, I hope you enjoyed learning about them.  I shall leave you with an informal picture of myself and my little uns doing what they do best - giving me kisses.
I shall be celebrating their birthday by again baking them a doggie friendly cake, so you may see some piccies up on twitter/facebook - so if you don't follow me head on over and click 'like' on facebook and follow @bbloungerie.

Lots of Love

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Start Up Hub Finalist 2012 - My first business award

Hello!  Well I have some very exciting news!  A few months ago I entered a competition being run by the Conservative Party (for my foreign readers that is the political party of the UK Prime Minister David Cameron), called the Start Up Hub:

"The Conservative Party is providing entrepreneurs with a unique opportunity to showcase their ideas at the Conservative Party Conference in the 'Start Up Hub'.
The Conservative Party Annual Conference event is one of the largest political gatherings in the UK, with an attendance of nearly 13,500 delegates. The Start Up Hub gives entrepreneurs a chance to market their idea in front of delegates, national press, company representatives and senior Conservative politicians."

I entered for a host of reasons.  Firstly because I thought I could win.  Secondly because if the UK government is really interested in helping small businesses, then they should pick my business to win and lastly because I hope to highlight how fantastic and superior UK design and in particular manufacturing is.  You should all know by now that ALL Betty Blue's Loungerie garments are made right here in the UK.  I even wrote a blog post about it here.

Well I've only gone and won it!!!  Well I haven't won the whole competition.....yet, I am one of 12 UK finalists.  So my prize is to have a space on an exhibition stand at the Conservative Political Conference this October.  It means that not only will senior UK politicians (hopefully Mr Cameron himself and maybe our dear Mayor of London Boris) become aware of my business, but there will be representatives from all sorts of businesses from big corporate companies to retail giants.  I'm hoping to use this opportunity to meet department store big wigs and basically beg them to stock my beautiful garments in their shops.  How could they resist the Black Nell Robe?!

The other upshot of being selected as a finalist is the publicity side.  Nationally distributed press representatives will be in attendance.  And as cameras tend to follow around the main players in the political party, how cool would it be if I could get on the telly by accosting David Cameron, or even better Boris.  I'm certain Boris will love my brand!

I think Dave should buy the Nell Robe for Sam Cam!
I have a horrible feeling that I will be the smallest "small business" of the 12 finalists.  A small business is determined by a few factors, such as number of employees and annual turnover.  According to the tinterweb a small business is a company who has less than 50 employees and an annual turnover of no more than £2.6 million.  By this I have determined my business status; if a small business was an animal it would be an elephant.........I would be an ant.  But from small acorns grow mighty oaks, so I don't plan on staying an ant for very long.

Lovable rogue Boris
So does this mean I can win the overall competition?  Well I have to persuade Conservative delegates that my business should win.  From what I can ascertain they will vote for their favourite business over the three days of the conference.  Each day there are 4 of the 12 finalists on the Start Up Hub stand.  So my plan is to hand out lots of leaflets of scantily clad women to the men, and let the ladies try on my beautiful clothes.  This way they will have to vote for me because the men will be blinded by titties and the women will be blinded with how amazing and gorgeous they feel in my loungerie.  Win win all round I think!  I'm hoping this will be my advantage over the other finalists and their swish corporate talk and huge turnovers. 
Man in charge of the money, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne....I may or may not harrass him

Maria Miller, my local MP and recently promoted to
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
and shes a woman so may very well love my loungerie
I do of course joke with you about fluttering my eyelashes and lowering my neckline.  I do have an important political message for the PM and his delegates.  As part of a generation of University Graduates with 0 job prospects, instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself and claiming from the state, I went out and made my own future by starting up my own business.  Also by manufacturing in the UK, I am helping other small businesses and their team of employees.  If I could start my own business with zero experience in the business world, then anyone can no excuses!!  If you think about some of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in the world many have built their empires with little or no money, so excuses are for losers.

Do you want to help me win this thing then?  Well if you think I should win it for all the 'micro', self funded and god darned determined young entrepreneurs out there then this is what you can do for me.  Head on over to the Conservative Party website and look up your local MP (for those who are based in the UK).  They are listed alphabetically by name rather than region so it may take a while.   Then send them an email saying how much you love Betty Blue's Loungerie and that they should come and visit me on the Start Up Hub stand in the exhibition area.  To help you I have put together a little blurb for you to copy and paste and then fill in:

Dear .................

I thought I would email you to introduce you to Betty Blue's Loungerie - one of the finalists in the Conservative Party run initiative, The Start Up Hub.  The reason I want you to know about Betty and her business is that she is a great ambassador for UK manufacturing and small businesses.  Betty's aim is to provide girls of all shapes and sizes with glamorous and most importantly comfortable loungewear, to rid the world of unsightly sweat pants and hoodies.  All of her garments are made right here in the UK.  I love Betty Blue's Loungerie because.................[enter your thoughts about why you love my business]..............................................  Be sure to visit Betty on the Start Up Hub UK stand in the exhibition area.  She will be on hand to talk to you about her fab business and there will be garments there for you to look at, or even try on!

Thank you for your time, I hope you enjoy discovering all about my favourite brand Betty Blue's Loungerie.  Kind Regards.

.....[put your name here].......

Easy peasy!  I'm not sure what the overall prize is for the winner, but I want to win reguardless just because I'm competative, and the publicity will be great!  To reward you for your hard work in getting me to win, I will make even more delicious loungerie for your lounging needs.  I may even take a few snapshots of some delights I've been working on recently.  You can also send the above email to any local or national newspapers and magazines if you so wish, the more publicity the better.

Thanks in advance ;-)
Lots of Love
Betty xxx

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Dita Von Teese for Art Deco Make-Up

As promised I have tried out all my Art Deco products and taken a few photos for you all to see what it is like.  A few days or so ago I ventured into the Debenhams in Guildford to seek out the Dita Von Teese range of make-up for Art Deco.  As Dita was previously a make-up artiste I was quite keen to try them out as she obviously knows a thing or two about make-up.

My first impression was a little underwhelmed.  Art Deco is one of those brands that isn't the top end designer price point, yet neither is it cheap as chips.  It seemed to me like the Art Deco stand was just shoved in any old place.  There were several staff milling around but no one approached me.  So I looked over all the products carefully to see which ones I might like to buy.  There was quite a choice so I was unsure which colours to go for.  Still not quite knowing what I wanted I asked the shop assistant if she could help me choose.  Now at this point I was expecting a little bit of knowledge from the staff, maybe she could suggest colours that may suit my complexion and help me put together what I wanted.  All she did was look at the back of the compacts and proceed to tell me what I had already read on the back of the packaging.  The compacts are magnetic and depending on the compact you choose, you choose your items according to how many slot in.  As you can see in the above picture, the packaging is pretty self explanatory.  This is of course a Debenhams staff training issue not anything to do with the brand of make-up.  Disappointing though as I probably ended up choosing colours I already know suit me, rather than try anything new.  Anyway customer service aside and on to the products!

The packaging is beautiful, sleek and glossy with cute imagery.  The insides have just as much attention to detail with writing on the mirrors

"Beauty is Art"

It is the little things that count I think, especially when the price point is quite high.  Even the covers over the individual eye colours and blushers are pretty.

The normal Art Deco ranges don't have this cute little detail, it is just Dita's colours :).  So as you can see I bought blusher number 09 and eye shadows numbers 371, 520 and 524,  The lightest is from the shimmery range and the two dark colours are matt.  You can see the sparkles better in the below picture.

Lets now look at what this make up looked like on yours truly.

So how did I get on with the products?  Well let us start with the eyebrows.  I have struggled to find the right product for my eyebrows for ages.  I don't like when my eyebrows are too dark because my eyebrows are naturally quite light, and it looks a little 'heavy' on me.  For this look I used the middle brown (no 520) and I was very impressed.  It gives my eyebrows definition without looking too dark or eveningy, so this gets a big tick from me.  On my eyes I used the light shimmery beige (no 371) and the dark brown (524).  The thing to mention with all three eye colours is that it is very powdery; there is a lot of fall out.  I usually wet my make up brush and make a sort of paste out of my powder shadows as for me it makes the eyeshadow stick on my eyelids better and gives a stronger pigment.  So either mix your powder with water if you have this problem, or tap the brush before applying to get rid of the loose bits.  The result was this lovely subtle day look.  The dark brown was quite dramatic on first application but with a lot of blending it can create a subtle look.  I guess it is just a question of preference or what occasion you are wearing it for.  So ticks all around for the eye shadows!  The blusher, as with the eye shadows, is quite powdery so this time I made sure I tapped the brush before applying.  Number 09 is an utterly gorgeous peachy/apricotty colour and adds a lovely healthy glow to my cheeks.  I am keen to try the pinkier colours that were also in the range, I love this blusher so much.  It's super wearable in the day and can be layered up for a more dramatic evening look.  Now on to the powder.

For what it is I thought it was quite expensive at £29.  The texture is lovely.  As with the other products they are all really finely milled and soft to the touch, so it certainly makes your skin feel silky soft.  The packaging, again is spot on and really well presented.  My only problem was, it is more of a finishing powder than a powder you can substitute for foundation.  The coverage is not all that good on me and didn't cover my freckles or blemishes.  Like I said it is more of a finishing powder.  If I use this again it will be to set my liquid foundation.  Used in this way it gives a nice velvety matt look.  In all reality I probably won't use this again as I am happy with my Clinique face powder, which gives a really good coverage and I use when I just pop out to the post office (instead of using my liquid foundation, which I only use when going out somewhere nice).  My Clinique powder is also cheaper at only £22.  So I was a little disappointed with the Art Deco compact as it was so beautifully packaged and I SO wanted it to be good.  But hey we live, we learn.  I took a slightly better lit photo to show you all my freckly face so you can see the coverage for yourself.

Zoooooom in to see me in all my freckly glory, it's the last time you'll see them ;-).  Oh and the lippy I am wearing is good old Rockalily.  I would have bought an Art Deco Dita lippy, but a) ReeRee would kill me and you gotta support the small indies out there!! and b) don't fix what aint broke.  I am 100% a Rockalily lippy girl as they are better than MAC and the colours suit me and quality is unrivalled.  Anyone who has tried Rockalily lippies will agree with me!  I may try the coraly colours in the Dita range though when I next have a splurge on make-up.

And so, I have saved the best till last.  I had already spent WAY too much on make-up that day, so the nail varnishes actually belong to my mummy.

Again full marks for the packaging.  I applied the dark red colour just as a taster (sorry no pictures).  I didn't put a clear base coat, or a top coat on and I applied two layers.  This nail varnish is amazing!  I was doing it in a hurry and not really taking care, but it lasted AGES without a bottom and top coat with only minimal chipping.  So I'm guessing with both top and bottom coats it will last even longer! The red is also a lovely deep brooding red.  My mummy put the pink colour on.  She experienced the same feelings as me.  She didn't put base or top coat on either (must be something in our genes lol) and said that it was much better than average in it's staying power and the colour was very pretty.  She also said that she likes Rimmel nail varnish as it is really good..............thanks for that tip mum!

So there you have it, my views on the Art Deco - Dita Von Teese range.  I hope it helps you decide which items to get - just don't count on knowledgeable staff if you buy it in store at Debenhams.  All in all I give it a thumbs up with a slight sideways thumb for the face powder.  Do let me know if you get any and how you get on with it.

Lots of love
Betty xxx