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Friday, February 22, 2013

Primed for Impact

“Love was a feeling completely bound up with color, like thousands of rainbows superimposed one on top of the other.” ~ Paolo Coelho

On Oct. 26 I started a 2 part blog on makeup application, and both face and eye shadow primer were included in the process. Here's a tip about eye shadow primer that can help to refine your skills and expand your options. Eye makeup has, in my opinion, some of the biggest potential for expression in your makeup.

Many find that eye shadow tends to settle in the creases of the eyelids within a few hours of application. Eye shadow primer is used to avoid this, hopefully for the entire day. Well worth the expenditure of time and money considering the work you put into putting on the makeup every day, right? There are many brands out there, and they come in either an almost clear or neutral, plain 'non' color, or various colors. So far I'm loving both Urban Decay and Sigma for eye shadow primers, both neutral and colored.

If you like a subtle eyeshadow, or are only interested in preventing your eye makeup from traveling over the course of the day, then go with clear/neutral primer. It's easy and pretty much fool proof.  If your coloring is very subtle, in other words if there's very little contrast in your coloring, then the clear/neutral will help keep your eye makeup on the subtle side. Starting at about age 35 women with high contrast coloring often find their coloring goes a little softer and that the brighter, more intense colors that used to look great now look too harsh on them. Clear/neutral primer gives you the option of a softer application of color along with serious staying power.

Every color I've tried has always been softer, less intense on the eyelid than it looks in the package. When I'm going for subtle that's fine, but when I want drama it's not good.  With a powder eyeshadow you can always try wetting your brush and thus applying the shadow wet, but this requires precision, and blending wet shadow is difficult. Both not exactly my strongpoints in the morning, which is when I put on my makeup. Here's where you can get the most from colored primers.  If you simply want more intensity from a color you're using, use a matching or similarly colored primer and see what happens.  This is great for those of us with muted coloring- you can get the most possible impact from your more subtle, muted color shadow. It just gives you more options. Another great thing to do with your colored primers is to play with the effects you can get with mixing different shadows and primers. A good example is to use one color primer with 2 different shadows to help 'tie'  the two shadows together. Or use a primer color to change your shadow color slightly- make it brighter or more muted. You can also use a neutral or light primer on the mobile lid, then a dark primer in the outer edge of the lid, and create yet another dramatic effect.  In artistic terms the colored primer serves as what's called an 'underpainting-' a color painted underneath your surface color to affect the surface color in some way. 

Here are some examples of shadow alone, and the same shadow over a colored primer. These examples are with my shadows, which are muted as my coloring is muted- I haven't gotten 'creative' with these examples; I just want to give you a very basic idea of how they work.  Imagine what you can do with a bolder mix of color….

Left: Urban Decay shadow in "Hustle." Right: same shadow over Sigma primer in "Pose."

Left:Urban Decay shadow in "Creep." Right: same shadow over Sigma primer in "Sculpt." 

Left: Stilla shadow in "Poise." Right: same shadow over Sigma primer in "Persue."  
My point is you can create lots of interesting effects with the use of colored primers- it gives you so many more options and much more mileage from the shadows you already have. Have fun and play with color!

Happy Dressing!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Like I Really Need Another Book...

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes" - Erasmus 

Because I have sooooo much space for books I just had to get another book on fashion and beauty. I got it at a pre-release price, so how could I resist? And I have to say, it totally lives up to all the hype that got me to buy it. It's called 'The Wow Factor,' by Jaqui Stafford, published by Gotham Books. Jaqui is a global fashion editor, stylist and TV personality, and her work has appeared in Vogue, Marie Clare, Lucky and Cosmopolitan.  She calls this the "non-fashion persons' fashion book," and indeed it is-she gives a true insiders look at this industry.

One of the first things she says is that it doesn't take a fortune to look fabulous. This is a concept close to my heart. It's more about making the right choices-wherever you shop.  She also makes the point to only wear the clothes that love you back, which is something I'm always going on about as well. While it's fine to enjoy a style or color, if it doesn't make you look your most fabulous then it has no place in your closet or dresser. 

Next she breaks womens typical figures into 5 classic body shapes with specific design line recommendations for each type, complete with photo examples using current fashions.  This section is especially good if you're new to this sort of thing- you know, her 'non-fashion persons' fashion book' thing. 

Then she gets into some real goodies- the behind the scenes stuff she's particularly qualified to talk about.  Remember what I talked about a couple of weeks ago- about how careful you have to be not to be seduced by the overall look and style in a store rather than buying according to what looks and will work best for you? This section will make you forever aware of the gimmicks and tricks used to get us to buy whatever is being sold, be it in a store, magazine or tv ad .   And after each myth debunking she then gives us a practical, real world solution to apply to each mythical situation.   

This is just the tip of the iceberg- this book has so much more to offer- choosing the proper underwear, how and when to shop for what, how to turn runway looks into reality for each figure type, age appropriate interpretations of trends, how to dress like you have millions, hair and makeup tips and more. 

I'm sure you can find just a tiny sliver of space in your book case for this very worthy, tiny tome…

Happy Dressing!

Friday, February 8, 2013

With Them There Eyes

There are flowers everywhere, for those who bother to look. 
~Henri Matisse

This morning I got my hair cut and was chatting with the hairdresser. She was saying she wished she had blue or green eyes instead of brown- I said it doesn't matter in the slightest what color your eyes are, what makes someone attractive is making the most of what you've got, and being healthy. She laughed and said yes, it's really a matter of confidence. I hadn't thought of it as being about confidence, but of course that's the basis, isn't it? 

People who have confidence tend to have an easier time expressing themselves aesthetically. They seem to telegraph that confidence- you can sense it without them ever opening up their mouth.  Part of that may be because they don't care as much what others think of what they're wearing- they choose what they wear based on what they like rather than what they think others will like. That kind of confidence in and of itself is attractive. 

The good news is that if you don't have that kind of confidence with clothes, you can develop it. It takes being conscious of your wardrobe, spending time shopping for it and caring for it. It means giving it the respect it deserves- not dismissing it (and yourself, in a way) by telling yourself it's not important, or that you don't want to be vain. It's not about vanity- it's about sending the message that you have self respect and expect others to treat you with respect as well. Its about consciously choosing colors and textures and designs that make you look great and feel happy. As I'm fond of saying, life is hard enough- grab what pleasure you can.  And really- if you feel good about how you look it's going to boost your overall confidence. 

The process isn't complicated. You simply spend the time thinking through what you want to wear- for that morning, the next day or the next week; really consider what you like, what appeals to you. If you find you're uncomfortable with something  you're considering, ask yourself why-  Is it because you feel like it's tacky, not age-appropriate, not your 'style,'  or is it just because it's outside your usual comfort zone? Carefully consider each possibility. If it's just that it's outside your usual comfort zone, I'd suggest you commit to trying it once and see how it goes. Who knows- you might find it's something you like so much that it becomes one of your signature looks. Or it may lead you to something else that makes your life a better place. You may gain some real insight into your weaknesses, strengths and fears. 

My point is simply that in order to visually 'read' as confident you may have to be willing to grow, and usually that means consciously making yourself step out of your current comfort zone. This is a fun area of life to do this in, anyway- it's all about instant gratification. 

Let's see- makes you feel great, doesn't have to cost a lot, has no calories, and it's legal….
Does it get any better?

Happy dressing!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Baa Baa the Shopping Sheep

"Who makes himself a sheep will be eaten by the wolves" ~Proverb 

So you're out and about, and a gorgeous window display catches your eye…you wander in, see all sorts of beautiful clothes that you love. You try on lots of things, find several that you like, and blow up your plastic (and any budget you have) buying them. 

You get home, put the things away (in your already overstuffed closet,) and proceed to never wear them. What just happened?

What happened was the store had a savvy, visually oriented, artistic person (the wolf) do a wonderful job with the displays and atmosphere to entice people (the sheep) to come in and buy- so we buy because it's pretty and we like it and we get swept up in the loveliness of it all, not because we know it looks good on us and will work with other pieces in our wardrobe or- heaven forbid- we actually need it. Ok, the last one is weak, I admit. 'Need' is hard to justify most of the time. Let's replace that with 'want,' and add in the concept that the piece being considered will work very well with what we already have. That makes more sense, really. The long and short of it is, we get easily thrown off kilter (and off budget) if we don't have a clear sense of direction and visual identity.

Let's rewind and see what happens in the same situation if you've done your homework (we'll get to that in a minute.) You wander by the beautiful display. Unable to resist, you go in. You scan the racks for your colors- not a single one there except for black of course, but in this case the black doesn't interest you. It's just that the colors are arranged so attractively. And expensive. It's all very expensive. You look at the various designs- nothing here that really flatters your figure. And the style is most bohemian where your style is, say, firmly vintage rockabilly. Must admit, it's not looking good. But the store looks so pretty, the clothes are all so romantic…ok, so look for something small that you might incorporate- a purse, a scarf, maybe shoes. If it's a purse or shoes you can get away with a color you love that's not one of your best- maybe even one that's downright wrong for you. If it's not right next to your face, and it's only a small portion of the overall outfit, and you can make it work with what you've already got, then go ahead.  Maybe you see some shoes- you think about whether or not you'll actually wear them, what they'd go with, will they be comfortable for you…maybe you buy them, maybe you don't. Either way, you've avoided the disaster in the first scenario.  

The trick is to be aware that you're being seduced by the stores' display and general atmosphere. When you walk into that store you have to exercise some self control. This is where the 'homework' comes in. You've put in the time and picked your 4 or 5 very best colors- and you know just how to combine them. You've learned your design lines and committed to a handful that work well together. You've explored your aesthetics and decided on sticking with certain elements to express your style.  It's fine to look, ooo and ahh over all the pretty things- even try them on. Go ahead- try them all on if you have the time. But when you're done with all your daydreaming and it's time to part with your hard earned bucks, think about whether or not what you're considering buying will work within your existing wardrobe. Is it one of your colors? Is it a flattering design line? Is it your style? Also think about the space it'll take up in your closet or dresser, and the fact that because you don't have other stuff to go with it and it's outside your customary style, you're possibly- even probably not going to wear it.  Unless of course you want to start a whole new wardrobe....

Is it worth it? Hmmmm......

Happy Dressing!