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Friday, July 26, 2013

Dark Shadows

"Glitter is my makeup of choice." ~Kesha

Black eyeshadow is quite the potent little tool in one's makeup kit, yet is so often overlooked. Used in a sheer wash it can be very subtle, or used in a more opaque way it can create much more drama.  Alone it creates big drama, while under other colors makes for less intense, sophisticated drama.

Depending on your eye shape it can create added dimension for your eyes when used in the crease and outer corner. Worn with soft neutrals you'll most likely use a more sheer wash of black, and blend carefully. When using black along with stronger, more intense colors you can go heavier with the black. 

It can also be used layered under other colors- one example is the classic 'smokey' eye. When layering you'll probably have better results if you either use an eyeshadow base, or apply your black powder shadow using water to create a more intense base. A black pencil (or any other color pencil, for that matter) is also very good to use as a base if you don't have a black shadow. Then layer your other color(s) over the black. Again, whenever using black you do have to blend any edges very, very well, or it looks really messy. Either that, or get good at creating a perfect sharp line. 

When you use black in the above methods with other colors you greatly expand your eyeshadow options; in a sense you at least double your entire collection of shadows. Of course many colors can be mixed for unexpected and often beautiful results- but this post is all about black shadow. When you layer a black shadow under another color you are using the black as an 'underpainting.'  This is definitely worth trying when you have a  color that's maybe a bit too bright for your coloring, or that maybe overpowers your eye color, making it go dull; a black shadow underneath, sheer or more intense, may alter the bright color just enough to make it work for you. And, if you do have low contrast, soft coloring and find that black is just too intense for you, you can use brown, taupe or gray in exactly the same ways outlined above.

All black shadows are not created equal, either. There are dense, rich ones, sheer, dusty ones, ones with big silver glitter, little gold glitter, iridescent glitter. Some are black with a purple cast, or green cast, or bronze cast. Some are not quite brown, not quite black- rather somewhere in between. All have their uses. And you can find them at every price level- many of the really inexpensive drug store brands may work perfectly for your needs. If you like working with black shadow you might want to start a collection of different ones- maybe sheerer and/or a brown/black for day, and some with more intensity and glitter for evening.

As mentioned above black shadow must be applied carefully and blended well or it can look messy. Also be aware that there's often a lot of 'fall-out' with black shadow. There are different ways to deal with fall-out- you can do your eye makeup first, before foundation and concealer and simply wipe off the fallout with moisturizer and then apply foundation and concealer and the rest, or if you've already done the rest of your makeup you can put lots of loose, translucent powder beneath your eyes and simply brush off the fallout along with the excess powder when done. Or, when you're done use the brush you applied your foundation with to wipe over and clean up the fallout. Some people like to hold a keenex under the eye while applying shadow….there are probably endless ways of dealing with fallout. 

For ideas on how to work with black shadow, look on Pinterest and youtube. Endless inspiration there!

Happy Dressing!

Friday, July 19, 2013

"The Slobbification of America"

"But if Fashion Were Easy, Wouldn't Everybody Look Great?" ~ Tim Gunn

Tim Gunn coined his famous, pithy phrase 'the slobbification of America' as an articulation of a phenomenon that's been happening over the past 50 years or so. In terms of our personal appearance, we've been 'devolving' into slobb-dom. The reasons, I'm guessing, are the introduction of synthetic fabrics, and advances in technology making clothing manufacture easier and thus cheaper, to name two of the more popular excuses. 

But 'casual' isn't synonymous with sloppy. 

-sloppy: slovenly, careless <a sloppy dresser> <did sloppy work>

-casual: informal, natural <a casual conversation> <casual clothing>

Casual means informal, sloppy means slovenly. So casual doesn't mean throwing on whatever is clean(est) then heading out the door. It does mean clothing that's generally more relaxed and/or comfortable, often with less embellishments or pronounced style. 'Casual' can be considered a 'style' in and of itself- and I'm always a champion for people expressing their own style with their clothing. 

It's not really a fine line, either, so don't go there- casual done well is a million miles away from slovenly. The difference is time, effort and care. If you want to live in jeans and have the lifestyle that allows it, then go for it. But make sure you find jeans that fit and are flattering. And put tops with those jeans that are equally flattering. Yes, it takes more time to find the more flattering options, but it takes the same amount of time in the morning to put the good 'casual' clothes on as it does to put the 'slovenly' stuff on.  It all boils down to how you choose to present yourself to the world. And if you present an image of self respect, you're more likely to be treated with respect. More importantly, it feels good to know you look your best.

So here's a few suggestions to get you started on a successful casual wardrobe- either as your entire wardrobe or as part of your overall wardrobe. 

1. Know your best colors (see Feb 3, 2012, "Color, Glorious Color" for more on choosing your colors

2. Know your proportions (see March 23, 2012   "Derrère Delusions,"
and April 27, 2012 "Smoke and Mirrors" for help in this area)

3. Last, know your style. (See February 24, 2012  "Style Freak" and June 21, 2013 "A Pretty Little Addiction" for ideas.)

These three variables- color, proportion and style- can make or break your 'casual' image. Pay no attention to them and believe me- it shows.

By far the easiest way to maintain a good casual wardrobe is to keep it simple. Choose only a couple of styles for both tops and bottoms (hopefully all pretty much interchangeable) and only in 3 or 4 of your best colors, and stick with that. Beyond that, keep everything in good shape- proper laundering and folding or hanging before those pesky, image-busting wrinkles set in, and replace what needs it, as it needs it. And keep it small- buy less, wear more often, and again, replace as needed. This way you'll not only look better, but also avoid wasting wardrobe space, having a messy closet that's like a black hole, and you can stay in line with current fashion, if that's important to you. If not, then you just give yourself a way to avoid getting bored with your clothes.

The hardest part of this plan? Letting go of that ancient, favorite, sloppy t-shirt….well, maybe keep just that one thing for when you're by yourself at home, not going anywhere at all…

Happy Dressing!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Cheap Chic

“Fashion does not have to prove that it is serious. It is the proof that intelligent frivolity can be something creative and positive” ~ Karl Lagerfeld

A few weeks ago I blogged that part of my plan for this summer was to go through my closet and get rid of the old, and worn out, and everything I was just plain tired of. For the past few days I've been stuck in bed with a nasty little cold/flu combo, so that's just what I did. It was an interesting experience. Maybe because I'd been planning on this for a while I had, in my subconscious mind, been going through everything in the closet and deciding what was to go and what was to stay. It must have been something like that because the moment I started it just flowed- I knew exactly and without hesitation which things were going in the 'out' pile. And may I say, it felt wonderful. 

For the past year or so I've been getting tired of my wardrobe. I knew I wanted a new 'look,' but I wasn't sure what I wanted that to be. The other problem is that now I've got myself on this lovely budget there's just no $$ for an entirely new wardrobe for me. Not even half a new wardrobe. *Sigh* But as I went along I realized that I'd apparently developed a plan for what amounted to a pseudo-new wardrobe, anyway. I say 'apparently' because all this seems to have been going on subconsciously as well.  (I find my subconscious rather frightening sometimes.)

The new plan is based on something I've talked about in this blog in the past- I like to call it the 'European' approach. From what I've seen in Europe, they have tiny closets- compared to ours, anyway. This would logically mean they have fewer clothes as a result. So this 'European' approach of mine is to have a smaller, harder-working wardrobe, and have almost all your wardrobe personality in your accessories. 

For me, this meant paring down. Like most Americans, my wardrobe was entirely too large to begin with, anyway. It was all fairly organized, but still, too much. Truth is I had fallen into the all too common trap of only wearing a small percentage of what I have- not necessarily because I didn't like the things I wasn't wearing, but because I'd simply gotten into a rut, and wasn't using my imagination with how I was dressing. So as a result there's been lots of perfectly well fitting, good clothing, in my best colors, taking up prime real estate in my closet not earning it's keep. And therein lies the secret to my 'new' wardrobe.  

As I have a lot of black clothes (and who doesn't?) I settled on that as my base color. Now the majority of my clothes are black. I have a few dresses, skirts, pants in prints and/or color, (I jettisoned all but my absolute favorites) and as for suits- one print; one neutral, the rest black. These pieces I think of as 'base' pieces- the backdrop for the real personality in my wardrobe- the accessories. I have a few casual jackets that I think of as 'accessory' pieces because they're pretty strong statement pieces by themselves. So my accessories are my casual jackets, shoes, boots, scarves/ruanas, purses and jewelry. I'm also going to think of my makeup as an accessory, too. Why not? I'm a makeup artist after all, and I'm always trying new things- might as well use it as an accessory, right? In any event, I won't look like a Greek widow because of all the color with my accessories. This 'new' wardrobe is much sleeker and maybe more sophisticated than before. Which is just fine by me. 

I reorganized it all too- now I can put together an outfit much more easily because now it all fits in my closet (I knew someday my son would actually want his closet back.) I think it's easier to get out of the using-only-10%-of-your-wardrobe rut if you re-organize; you're forced to 'see' more of what you've got if it's all rearranged. So now when I lay out my outfit the night before, I'll pick my accessories first- jewelry, scarf and/or jacket, shoes and makeup- then decide what 'base' of clothes to put it all together with. Before I'd usually pick the dress or ensemble first- then the jewelry and any other accessories based on the clothes. I think that's what most of us do. But since now my focus will be on the accessories, and the 'base' clothes are there to accommodate them, it's like a new wardrobe…sort of. So far I'm finding I have endless options, and most of them are outfits I've never put together before. And it seems I have quite the range- I can go all minimalist, or totally over-the-top. And all because I had too many clothes, and not enough money for a whole new wardrobe. 

How' THAT for some cheap creativity? I'm calling it 'recession chic.'

Happy Dressing!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Insider Scoop

"I love glamour and artificial beauty. I love the idea of artifice and dressing up and makeup and hair."~ Dita Von Teese

You're putting on your makeup one day and you notice you've used up the very last droplet of your foundation. You trot to the store after work that day to get more only to discover they don't have it. To your horror you discover that it's been discontinued. Nooooooooooo!! It took you 3 years to find a foundation that didn't change color on you or make you break out, and now they discontinue it. How dare they!!

So now what? Do you have to go through another 3 years to find the perfect match? Maybe not. 

I do love the internet. I'm a hermit, so social media is often my entire social life. Not only that, but I can get information without having to actually talk to anyone. Score!!  Ok, that was me showing my antisocial tendencies. Moving on.

When faced with the above situation you can turn to the internet to benefit by the experiences of others. And these others are often total, complete makeup fanatics- they're the friend you turn to when you have a question about make up. They know all about it- they've tried it all and thus know what they're talking about. They're the ones who've been wearing makeup since they put on their first training bra, and wear it every single day, even if they're only going to the mailbox. In short, you can read make up reviews. 

My favorite makeup review site (so far) is Makeup Alley  You sign up, (so far they've never sent me any junk mail- I've been signed up for a year) and then browse reviews to your hearts content.  I like that you can change the way the reviews are presented- you can choose by rating, by how many reviews the products have received (often they're in the thousands) or by how many reviewers would by the product again. You can also go to the left margin and choose 'top picks,' 'most reviewed,' 'most popular,' I also have the option for 'MUA top pics,' but I think that's only available after you're signed up- not if you're a MUA or not. You can also choose to read reviews on a specific brand. They've got it all covered, from every angle. 

The great thing about this site is you'll see high end, 'makeup artistry' brands next to drugstore brands next to high end department store brands. Surprisingly the really, really cheap stuff often wins out over the expensive stuff. You'll quickly learn which products are worth spending the money on and which are just as good in the $5 version. And people are generous with the reviews- the best often include pictures of themselves wearing the product and descriptions of their own skin color, skin type, hair color and such. They'll talk about what they've used in the past and how the product being reviewed compares. Luckily for us, these make up fanatics are SERIOUS about this stuff. Which is great seeing as how this can translate to some big $$ savings.

There's also, though I don't think they have as many reviews. And I'm sure there are lots of others- but I have yet to find one I like better than 

So if your favorite makeup has been discontinued, or you just want something new, or to learn about a certain kind of makeup you don't know much about, go all girly and read some make up reviews.

Happy Dressing!