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Friday, October 17, 2014

Beautiful Lies

"Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are."~Markus Zusak

Why is the tall, thin woman considered to be the pinnacle of beauty?

This has been drilled into our consciousness from the beginning of our lives via advertising and editorial photos and every kind of media imaginable. Why? It's not some genetic pre-set. It's not because tall thin women produce better babies and thus we have the ideal hard-wired in our primitive brain. They're not  necessarily smarter, better at sex, or healthier. None of the above.

The sad truth is that it's because mass manufactured clothes are more likely to fit and look better on a tall thin woman. Or, at least they're more likely to look better in a photograph. Manufacturers hire advertising agencies to sell their products; the advertising agency hires tall, thin women to model those products solely because even if the clothes are complete schlock, it's easier to manipulate those clothes on a tall thin woman and end up with a good photo. Which is what sells clothes. Hence, the last century of the tall, thin woman being idealized.  

As if this weren't bad enough, those photographs are always manipulated, now more than ever via photoshop, so that the already tall thin woman can be stylized into a kind of homogenized, bland 'perfection.'  So at this point even the tall, thin model who posed for the photo probably feels 'imperfect.' 

The point of breaking down this obvious chain of logic is so that the next time you're sat in your comfy pj's and see an ad featuring the standard, impossibly perfect, tall, thin woman you can remember all this and not get sucked into comparing yourself with something that doesn't exist for one thing, but also is an 'ideal' that came into being by default, and has nothing to do with any real aesthetic. It's just about selling clothing, period.

Beauty product manufacturers have a slightly different approach. Paula Begoun, who wrote The Beauty Bible, debunks most of the fairy tales told to sell skincare products at extraordinary prices.  We buy it (they hope) because we're made to feel not good enough as we are. We can be perfect as soon as we purchase x,y, and z…and continue to use it for the rest of our lives, or at least until they come up with the 'new' and 'improved' version, which will also include a price hike that's in accordance with inflation…Most of this stuff contains so little of the 'magical' ingredient(s) that it doesn't really affect the state of your skin. Anyway. You get the idea.  

Next time you're out and about, look at people. Really look. You'll see that what's attractive isn't about a size, shape, skin or eye color; it's not about a brand of clothing or a fancy haircut. What is attractive is good health and attitude radiating from a person. Someone who takes care of themselves- which means self respect. And, as I'm fond of pointing out, we can also enhance how healthy we look by wearing colors that flatter our coloring, and wearing clothing design lines that flatter our specific shape. 

So the takeaway here, hopefully, is a reminder to stay grounded- enjoy the pretty pictures, but remember why they are the way they are, and don't allow it to affect how you perceive, dress, or treat yourself. 

Happy Dressing!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Stylish Debate

"Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and 

not giving a damn." ~Orson Wells

I recently read a very succinct description of the difference between fashion and style: fashion is the relationship to the external, while style is the relationship to the internal. 

The fashion oriented person is more concerned with whether or not the clothing they wear is similar to what they see out in the world. With fashion the emphasis is on the clothing; it distances the individual from themselves; it's perhaps a way of specifically not expressing self. The style oriented person, however, is primarily concerned with what's inside themselves- their sense of self and expressing their personal aesthetic. The style oriented person is more concerned with pleasing themselves than meeting an external standard.

It may be for some that self expression takes too much courage. For some however, not expressing oneself is too confining. (That would be me.) Others just have no desire to express themselves, and enjoy the constant change that fashion provides. I think in the long run style is more personally rewarding. I think the human animal needs to express themselves, to some degree, in some way, even if not via their clothing. Either way, it's important to respect what colors and design lines flatter you- that helps you put your best foot forward in the world, no matter what your position on style or fashion.

Another consideration is cost, obviously. If you're determined to follow fashion you're committing to buying a substantial portion of your wardrobe anew every season. If you can afford that, more power to you. The rest of us need to have more restraint in our choices. Even if I had that kind of money I think I'd rather invest it than blow it on clothing I was going to get rid of every season. But then again, should the fashion-oriented person donate those clothes to various thrift shops, style oriented (and/or less financially endowed) folks like me will happily pick up their cast offs the next season …

Like I said, I think personal expression, i.e. 'style' is more rewarding than following fashion, but I'm always one to champion what makes you happy- so if it makes you happy to follow fashion, then that's exactly what you should do. 

Either way, it's good to be clear on the difference. 

Happy Dressing!

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Fashionable Journey

"You can never be overdressed or overeducated."~ Oscar Wilde

I love looking at fashion shows online ( haute couture for the outrageous, fantastical creations, and the ready-to-wear which most of the time I think most people still find too 'outside the box.'  In the midst of my usual befuddlement at the latest shows, I realized I had the perfect topic for my blog. There's a great lesson in all that wonderful absurdity- it's a great example of how to translate your own aesthetic into a wardrobe you'll love. 

Your personal aesthetic is not a static thing- it evolves.  There'll be things you love for a while then don't anymore, and then decide years later that you love them again. There were most likely things you loved when younger that you cringe at the thought of now. There are fashions yet to come that you'll fall in love with. There are things you've probably loved all along and will continue to love your entire life. This is all just human nature. 

I like to be very inclusive with personal aesthetic- I want to include all the things you love, if possible. From the simpler, obvious things like specific colors, textures, design lines and fashion concepts to the more abstract- a place, an ideal, an object.  To me the job is to figure out how to translate what you love into some aspect of your image. Fashion designers like to play with literal or whimsical interpretations that often end up being great art, but essentially not wearable; you can go this route as much as you're comfortable with, or you can break down what you like about it and find a less literal and perhaps less outlandish way to express it. Take your seemingly too-abstract 'like,' figure out what the specific characteristics that you like about it are, then see if there isn't a 'visual' way to express that that would work within your wardrobe. Sometimes it may not lead to anything, sometimes it may lead you to something totally unexpected that you'll love. The interpretation may be so obscure that only you can see it, but you'll be reminded of the original concept every time you put it on.

Seeing as how personal aesthetic is always evolving, this interpretation is also subject to change over time, of course. Finding new ways to visually interpret your aesthetic for your wardrobe should something you can have fun with all your life. And why not? How many other things in life are we able to only consider our own preferences for?

Happy Dressing!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Get Selfish

“Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.” ~Rumi

Abraham Maslow said "What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization...It refers to the desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming."  

The ongoing process of developing your full potential. A worthy goal indeed. And of course no matter where your path of self actualization leads it's a sure bet that to some degree, in one way or another, your image plays a role.

One of the characteristics of self actualizing people is spontaneity- to be unrestrained and uninhibited. In other words, to do things that please you without worrying what others will think. This characteristic can be reinforced by consciously choosing to wear clothing that pleases you rather than what you feel will is expected of you. Choosing your wardrobe first according to the colors and design lines that make you look your best and beyond that your personal aesthetic, can be a very gratifying form of self expression. It reinforces and respects the 'self,' and therefore also self esteem. 

It may seem like a small, even trivial investment in your self esteem, but done consistently it grows your self esteem considerably, and can pay lovely, lush, sometimes unexpected dividends.

Ha. Never underestimate the power of a great outfit.

Happy Dressing!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tipping Things Over Again...

"Elegance is the Only Beauty That Never Fades" ~Audrey Hepburn

Last week I passed on a tip for a more natural yet effective, DIY eye makeup remover that I recently found; this week I have two more tips to pass on, also more natural and DIY.

The first goodie again uses Thayer's Rose Petal Witch Hazel, which like I said last week, is the only one I've been able to find so far that has no alcohol. All the drug store brands I came across have alcohol in them- read the ingredients list before buying. You don't want alcohol in any skin care product. Or I don't, anyway.

Again, equal parts witch hazel and raw, organic apple cider vinegar- this makes a wonderful toner. I use it at night after washing, and I don't use any moisturizer afterwards as I've read in more than one place that you just don't need it. It felt very, very strange the first time I tried this, but I quickly got used to it, and my skin seems happy. I like this better than any toner I've used. 

The next tip I have is for a hair oil I use pretty much every time I wash my hair- I put it on the night before if I remember, if not then about an hour before I have my shower. I usually only put it on the ends and where my hair seems dry- and I drench the areas that are the driest.

4 parts broccoli seed oil (for shine)
1 part rice bran oil (for softness)
1 part jojoba oil (most like human skin oil)
1 part Morrocan oil (holds moisture in the hair)
And anything else you'd like to add...

I was able to find all these oils online- most of the best deals were on eBay. The only one I had to spend a little more serious money on was the broccoli seed oil- I bought a larger bottle- which is fine, I just keep it in the fridge. In fact, I just make up a small bottle as I need it, and keep all the oils in the fridge so they don't go rancid on me. And BTW- the shampoo I'm using is the Whole Foods brand shampoo, no sulphates or sulphites- and it's about $5 a bottle. Also keep in mind both these recipes can be adjusted to your needs and preferences.

So there you have my current favorite beauty 'products.' I'm no longer using my expensive skin and hair care products. No more $75 bottles of hair cleanser, no more $80 'anti-aging' alpha hydroxy pads. No more $60 on skin exfoliating kits…don't get me wrong- these products are good. That's why I used them. But I've found chemical free, DIY versions that cost a fraction. 

I don't need them anymore. I'm happy, and so is my bank account. :-)

Happy Dressing!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Easy on the Eyes

“For the love of God, unless you’re prepping for Rigoletto at the Met, go easy on the eyeliner.” 
~ Cheryl Cory

Last week I needed to get some eye makeup remover, but it just wasn't gonna happen then. (Single mom thing.) So instead I looked online to see if I could find a good, chemical free, DIY version. I found one, it's uber-easy, and I had the ingredients at home. One part olive oil, one part alcohol-free witch hazel. 

I did not have high expectations here. I expected it to sting and be annoyingly oily; amazingly enough, turns out it does/is neither. I think maybe the reason it doesn't sting is that I used alcohol-free witch hazel. If you read the ingredients list on the witch hazel brands carried at the drugstore you may find as I did that they all contain alcohol. Not something I want on my skin, let alone in my eyes. The only alcohol-free brand I've found so far is the Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel, which I found at Whole Foods. As for why it's not oily? I guess the witch hazel cuts the oil enough-? I can't say I care why it works- just very happy it does. 

I do have to say that I don't use waterproof eye makeup as I find I end up yanking out all my eyelashes when trying to get it off; so I don't know if this will work with waterproof makeup. With non-waterproof makeup I find it works every bit as well and, surprisingly enough, actually leaves my eyes feeling better than after using commercially made makeup remover. In fact, I've used commercially made eye makeup removers that burned my eyes, or left an oily residue. Again, this one did neither. Probably costs 1/10 as much, too.

So not only does it not have any really scary chemicals in it, but it works well, and in some cases better, than the commercially made stuff, and costs a fraction of the cost. What's not to love?

Happy Dressing!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

This week is my son's birthday party, so no time for a blog....but I'll be back Friday the 12th!    

:-) Happy Dressing!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Unhappy Feet

"Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world. "~ Marilyn Monroe

I had a look at the ready to wear that went down the runways for this fall. I rarely do this, and never in great depth. And I'm not always sure I have any understanding of what I'm looking at. But one thing became fairly clear.

Shoes this fall are not leaning toward what I'd call 'pretty.' 

I had a look at the department stores and on line sites where I buy shoes- not as much choice as I'd like, and what was there wasn't really that interesting to me. I think this year may be a bit dry for me where buying shoes are concerned. 

Which shows the advantage of my approach to building a wardrobe- you find your colors and your design lines, and within those guidelines you add in your personal aesthetic; then pick and choose what fashion has to offer that fits within that scheme. And when fashion is favoring something that works particularly well for you, BUY. Buy with the thought in mind that when this goes 'out' of fashion you won't find it, or at least not in the variety and quantity available when it's in fashion. 

I should have taken my own advice- when the shoes I like were in fashion I knew I should have been looking, but you know- life got in the way. And now I think that window may be closed. *Sigh*  I like platform stilettos; but the 'pretty' kind- not the ones I think of as big, chunky 'clubbing' styles. But most of what I saw were the latter. At least since what I want is more 'basic' maybe I'll have a better chance of finding them. At some point, anyway.

Until then, I'll keep taking my old ones to my shoe repair guy…learn from my mistake..
Wish me luck..

Happy Dressing!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lookin' Good, Good Lookin-

"Looking good is the best revenge." ~Ivana Trump

We're a visual species. We notice what a person looks like before anything else. Whether or not they are 'attractive,' whatever that means to each one of us. It seems logical that this was an early, primitive sort of life skill developed to determine if an approaching person was a threat or not, and to determine whether or not someone might be a potential mate. Whether or not I'm right about the origins of our being a visual species, the fact remains that we are.

Nowadays things have changed a little- it's still how we assess a potential mate, and it undoubtedly affects our chances at getting a job. Of course were we more evolved we would only be affected by a person's character, but because of this ancient, ingrained hardwiring, we're first affected by appearance. In that first six seconds we make an amazing amount of assumptions about the person we see in front of us. (Which may not have any basis in reality.) And that first, visual impression stays with us for a very long time. 

The truth is, we can profoundly affect how we're perceived. Yes, it may be so much smoke and mirrors, but it's effective. Being clean, well groomed, wearing colors and design lines that flatter you have a huge impact on how you'll be seen, and more importantly, how you'll be treated. It also affects how you feel about yourself- you feel better about yourself if you feel like you look your best- it's as simple as that.  And that's what you radiate when you interact with others, verbally and non-verbally. 

And the last and most important part of this is- it really doesn't matter that much what you start with- it's what you do with what you've got. Unique and interesting self expression as well as good grooming -as well as good health, of course- are what makes us 'attractive.' 

So think about this when you're tempted to throw on any old thing you can find on a day when you don't have a lot of time.

Because when Murphy's Law is in effect, that's the day you'll wind up meeting someone you want to make a good impression on.

Happy Dressing!

Friday, August 15, 2014

So Bored...

"Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors - it's how you combine them that sets you apart." ~ Wolfgang Puck

This past weekend I sewed some pillows. As usual, I made cording for my pillows, and again as usual, this time I used a contrasting fabric. But unlike what I usually do, both the fabrics were patterned- there's that pattern mixing that I love. I went to Japan a few years back and I was struck by the way they mix pattern and color- we're very restrained by comparison. They'll mix anything they feel like- and it's really interesting, often quite beautiful. I've been hooked on the idea ever since.

As seems to be my standard pattern in the fall, I'm feeling a little bored with my wardrobe. I really felt kinda bored with things last fall, too, so I pared down and used a different approach- I decided my wardrobe would revolve around black; this sort of worked. But now I'm feeling the need for fresh blood in my wardrobe. I need new stuff to get excited about. 

Then I remembered my post week before last about the women who take thrift shop finds and repurpose them into entirely new garments; this could work well for me now, as my current clothing budget is..well…nonexistent. I can carve out $10 or $20 here and there for an item or three from a thrift shop. I'd be more than happy to put a little work into it and have one of a kind goodies. 

I started yesterday- went to one of my favorite thrift shops. All I found was 2 t-shirts...and a great wooden wall hanging.  Sometimes that's how it goes- you find nothing that you're looking for, and everything that you're NOT looking for. But you have to buy it because it's at a price you'd never EVER get otherwise, and it'll be gone if you wait a day. Then one day you find everything you need, all in your size... So I'll have to condition myself to start making weekly foraging trips to my favorite thrift shops. 

I must say, before the recession there was a lot more to chose from at all my thrift shops. Such is life, right? So not only do I have less moola to fund my wardrobe, there's less out there. Again, this is where the need for some serious creativity comes in.

Anyway,  if I'm willing to do some repurposing, do a bit of work, I can put unexpected things together and can mix patterns to my hearts content…..

Happy Dressing!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pretty Sleek

“The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.” ~Yves Saint-Laurent

I would be remiss- downright selfish- if I were not to share my latest 'find.' 

I do like to sit and watch endless youtube makeup tutorials. For me it's sort of like the equivalent of sitting down and eating an entire bag of potato chips. One MUA I'm particularly fond of is Petra Kozina. One of her favorite brands seems to be Sleek Makeup,  a European brand. I watch her videos and lust after all the eyeshadow palettes. So one day I looked it up online and found that indeed not only can I order them here in the states, and they're not expensive, nor is the shipping prohibitive. I ordered some of the eyeshadow palettes- $12 for 12 colors- and some of the blushes- 3 colors per compact, at $14 each. 

The palettes are small and slim. As for the eyeshadows, the texture is smooth, color payoff is good, and I haven't seen much fallout. There's a lot of variety in the colors, from softest pastels to brilliant, rich color. I'm very pleased with these little palettes, especially at that price. So much so that I went back and ordered their latest- 'Arabian Nights.' I've been primarily using my Urban Decay 'naked' palettes, but my new Sleek palettes are proving quite the little obsession. Of course, they can all be used together for infinite variety...

The blushes also have a great color payoff- really, really pigmented. So much so that I find I have to apply very carefully. A nice change from dry, dusty colors that no matter how much you put on they don't show up.  Big variety in the colors too. I like that. Lots of colors that will work for women of color, too- seems to me that's not always easy to find.

Next I'm going to order some of their 3 part contour/bronzing palettes. I can't resist, especially at those prices…and they fit in my pro make up kit soooo well. 

And- in case you're wondering- no, I didn't get paid to promote Sleek makeup- I just like the stuff. 

Happy Dressing!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Individuality Pays

I've gone on before about how great I think thrift shops are for all the standard reasons- 1. if you love clothes but are on a serious budget, thrift shops can be a way to incorporate better quality clothes in your wardrobe. 2. If you want to be 'green,' you're helping cut down on waste by giving clothing a second life instead of buying more new clothing yourself. 3. Maybe like me you just love getting something for (almost) nothing.

But a friend of mine sent me 2 links the other day which redefined how I look at thrift store shopping. I've always been big on the idea of 'reworking' a used garment - take it to the tailors, I say- change the fit, change the hem- make it work for you, I say. 

But there are folks out there doing way, way more creative stuff than I've ever done with my thrift shop treasures. And they post blogs about it, and give explicit directions as to how they did it.  They regularly take sad, dowdy $1 dresses and such that I'd walk by w/out batting an eye and make it into a chic little number. They literally make it into a whole new garment. It's amazing.

If you do any sewing, or have the imagination and a great tailor willing to work with you, take a look at what you can do-

Happy Dressing!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Boring Truth

"I was going to have cosmetic surgery until I noticed that the doctor's office was full of portraits by Picasso" ~Rita Rudner

Last week the outside world sort of poked into my little, hermetic bubble of a world. In a lovely sort of way, that is.  I was interviewed by Marc Tyler Nobleman for his series The Girl in the Video 2: MORE original interviews with icons of 1980s MTV about the MTV video I'd done in 1984 with Night Ranger for their song called Sister Christian, and the interview was posted Monday the 14th. Yahoo Music even did a little article about yours truly, which generated some 650 comments. Some of the comments focused on how I look now. (When I did the interview I didn't think about the fact that I was announcing EXACTLY how old I am. Ta-daaa!!) Most comments were very nice, some were funny, and a few suggested I'd had plastic surgery (I've not) or that my photos are 'air brushed' (they're not.) A few others suggested the 'new' photos aren't recent- the one with me in the strapless black dress, pink pearl earrings and the purple background was taken and posted the Saturday before the interview was posted. Those are my most recent photos. :-)

I was born with a genetic skin disorder and during adolescence found that I can almost control it using diet. So I learned early that it pays to be careful about food; to avoid sugar, coffee, soda, alcohol, white flour and processed foods in general. When I've gone off this diet my skin always becomes a serious problem. And even though my motivation wasn't about how it would affect how I age, it did. In college I developed a lifelong love of running. I've stopped running at times, sometimes for long periods, and my health has always suffered when I have. As I age I'm finding I have less leeway with all of these things; when I go off the proper diet I pay a heavier price and for longer than when I was younger. When I don't exercise it affects me more- my mood is not as good, I don't sleep as well, and my immune system gets weaker. As I get older I notice that it's of primary importance that I take care of my immune system and allow adequate time for sleep- if these two variables aren't in place, nothing else works right. So, if I look 'better than my age' now you know why. 

Also…let's not forget a couple of important points here- I am an image consultant, so I know what colors and clothing design lines flatter me. I'm also a makeup artist, so I not only know which colors and cosmetics to use, I also know how to apply them to best advantage. I also did a (very) little bit of modeling when I was younger, so I know a little about how to 'vogue' for the camera. You can always hire an image consultant and a makeup artist, and look your absolute best, too. For photos and every day.

Of course, truth is that if you haven't been working out regularly and eating well, and you DO start doing the 'right' stuff, you're bound to look better. You don't have to run marathons, either. Whatever your Dr says you can/should do should be the goal. It may take some time, but in the meantime, more important things may start happening- better digestion, better sleep, improved mood, reduction or perhaps even elimination of joint pain, better ability to the time your skin takes on a rosier hue and your eyes get clearer and a bit of a sparkle in them, you'll realize that's really less important than how much better you're feeling. As far as I'm concerned, when you're healthier and happier, you're bound to look your best. 

So there ya have it. There's no magical secret- ya just gotta put in the time on a regular basis, and think about your long term priorities when confronted with those edible temptations...

Happy Dressing!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sister Christian Revisited

It's only Tuesday night and already this has proven to be a most interesting week.

Last year I was contacted by Marc Tylor Nobleman, author and 'pop culture archeologist' extraordinaire for an interview about an MTV video I was in in 1984- 'Sister Christian' by Night Ranger.  Yes, I was Sister Christian.  Depending on your age, you may remember it.  The interview is part of his series The Girl in the Video 2: MORE original interviews with icons of 1980s MTV  (Click here to see part 1.) (An interesting aside; here's a link to Marc's TED talk about the history of Bill Finger, one of the co-creators of Batman. Link to book here.)

Since Monday morning when my interview was posted, USA Today ran an article titled 'Who's That Girl? Writer locates 80's music video stars, with links to several of the interviews, then the Yahoo Music page posted an article called  Tracking Down Sister Christian After All These Years - which is specifically about yours truly; later that day the story was spotted on Yahoo's home page-

That's the story, right smack-dab in the middle.  (I had to scroll through to find it.)


It's fascinating to read the stories of all these women; Marc is the kind of author who's sincerity and respect for his subject give an unusual depth to the interviews. We're given a view into her world as she experienced it, and in her own words, making her most human and in that sense negating the very genre for which she became famous- the objectified, nameless 'girl-in-the-video.'

What's also interesting to me is seeing how very different we all became. We've all bloomed and blossomed into our unique selves. One thing we have in common is that we're all women of, as they say, 'an interesting age' with widely varying experiences- and stories- to back it up.

I always talk about the importance of expressing your own sense of style in my blog and in my business- on many levels these interviews are a beautiful example of respect and appreciation for the individual aesthetic. The woman I've become looks back fondly on the girl I was in the video- I'm proud of my role in this part of this unique and gorgeous part of America's 'pop' culture- and history.

(Happy sigh.)
Happy Dressing!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Catching Fall(ing) Cash

'Money often costs too much.' –Ralph Waldo Emerson

I saw my first email ad for a 'back to school' sale last week. Imagine my shock and feeling of frozen horror at the realization that I've already let half the summer slip by me and I've accomplished pretty much exactly nothing of what I planned. First it was that wonderful feeling of not having to get up before dawn to get my day started, which for some reason seems to mean my day doesn't actually begin to be productive till after about 3, then added to that was the distraction that is The World Cup…Oh well, there's no time like the present to get started, right?

And yes, I guess it's also time to start thinking about getting ready for fall, and back to school, and all that those things entail. Including taking stock of your wardrobe; what you have and what you need. What will you be doing this fall and winter? What parts of your wardrobe need replacing, repair, tailoring, or dry cleaning? Two wee thoughts this week to keep in mind during this process.

Are there pieces that you're just kinda sick of, but still have plenty of life left in them? Depending on how much you initially invested, you might want to think this through fairly carefully.  If you can't afford to replace it you might someday seriously regret having gotten rid of it. It might be good to pack it away for a few seasons. If it doesn't fit or isn't the right color; then by al means either have it fixed or sell/get rid of it. Don't give a non-working item prime real estate in your wardrobe. As far as I'm concerned, that goes for most 'sentimental' pieces, too. The exception might be something like a wedding dress, especially if you plan on passing it on to someone.   

As for planning on what you need to buy- keep in mind the ever helpful 'cost-per-wearing' formula.  Guesstimate how many times a week or month you'll wear an item you're considering. Figure out how long you think it might last. Figure out how many total wearings that would theoretically be, and divide the cost by how many times you'll wear it- that's your 'cost-per-wearing.'  Here's an example:

1. Basic skirt, $150.00; which you’ll wear approx. 2x per week, for 3 years; total of 312 times.

$150 / 312 = .48    

So, it costs $0.48 per wearing.  Wear it for 5 years and it’s $0.29 per wearing.   

2. Unique evening top, $150; which you’ll wear approx. 5x per year for 7 years; total of 35 times.

$150 / 35 = 4.28

Clearly, the skirt is the better investment. Me being me, I'd look at consignment and thrift shops for a unique evening top, and spend as little as possible, but then I don't have a rollicking evening life. If you do, then your cost-per-wearing formula would look much different than this.

In the end, it really depends on your priorities. (And your bank account.)

Happy Dressing!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Beautifully Ugly

"Sweet are the uses of adversity which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head."~ William Shakespeare

There's a French term I love and have used before in this blog- Jolie Laide; it means to be 'pretty' and 'ugly' at the same time. I've got the urge to revisit it. (It's just that kind of concept for me.) It's used to describe someone who though not born with the physical attributes normally considered 'beautiful' is nonetheless attractive because she's not only made the most of what she was born with, but has gone beyond and created her own unapologetic sense of style- one that flatters her in particular, all with a personal sense of confidence and flair. And it may or may not be done with any respect to current fashions or what anyone else might think of her. 

F. Scott Fitzgerald said 'after a certain degree of prettiness, one girl is as pretty as another.' Though I can't say I totally agree, I can see his point- there can be a certain boring blandness to some prettiness.  Someone who is born beautiful doesn't have to work at it; those among us who were born less endowed have to work at it. Perhaps that's part of the reason that a woman who is Jolie Laide seems from first glance to have more and deeper substance than one who is just 'pretty.' Maybe it's the painter in me, but I find the well put together, more unusual people more interesting to look at than the pretty face. I think it's that I'm convinced there's somehow more to 'discover' by looking at them. 

So let's say one considers oneself the perfect candidate to be an enigmatic, fascinating example of jolie laide- how could one go about it? Remember my remark about how there can be a certain blandness to 'pretty'? I have to say for me that's usually true if there's just too much going on- too much makeup, too much with the clothes and hair, etc. Overcomplicated. True 'pretty' can be almost a shock in it's simplicity- and what usually contributes to this simplicity is one commonality between a traditional beauty and the more unconventional jolie laide beauty is good health. (Sorry, here I go again.) I know I harp on this, but it's what makes the 12 yr old models in the fashion mags pretty, and every other example of pretty, beautiful, good looking, gorgeous, sexy, whatever- and at every age, too- that's out there. It's THE foundation of attractiveness. 

The only 2 necessities beyond that would be 1) the deceptively easy task of finding visual proportional balance, both in face and body.  This requires seeing things as they are, without need for any criticism or judgement- just the visual reality, and figuring out what will make it all look 'balanced,' and thus visually pleasing. For this you can work with makeup, haircut, and design lines in your clothes. And 2), bringing out your individual aesthetic. If at all possible, definitely highlight what's unique about you. It'll make you stand out. As always, work with your style. Take from fashion what works for you and your personal aesthetic, and forget the rest. Only wear colors that make you look your absolute best, and styles that make you completely happy. 

Of course, all this is true for the conventionally beautiful OR the Jolie Laide stunner… :-)

Happy Dressing!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Get Naked!

"My wife was afraid of the dark... then she saw me naked and now she's afraid of the light."~ Rodney Dangerfield

Ah, the ever glamourous, iconic, nude lip.  

Some of us love them, some of us look absolutely awful in them (if we don't know how to do them, that is.) I love the concept of nude lipstick, but when I first tried a nude lipstick for myself, I looked hideous. Plain old dead. Call me fussy, but I don't put on makeup to look dead. 

But being a makeup artist, I need to be able to do a nude lip on everyone who sits in my chair as there are only so many options with makeup- light eye and light lips, light eye and dark lips, dark eye and light lips, and dark eye with dark lips. Sometimes that light lip just needs to be a nude. 

So it's good that there's a very effective method to finding a nude lip that works for everyone, and it's surprisingly simple. Just apply your regular foundation on your lips. If you look good, then you can wear a true, beige-y nude color. If you, like me, look like a cadaver when you put foundation on your lips, then you have to cheat your nude a bit, and instead wear a nearly nude pink, nearly nude peach or nearly nude caramel-ish color. There. That's the biggest secret to the nude lip. 

There's another essential for success with a nude lip- a lip pencil. That's because you really don't want it to blend in completely with your skin tone- you want a little differentiation between your lip and your skin. A mostly nude lip pencil will do this for you. You can refine the shape of your lips as well as defining them.  You may have to be quite fussy finding this pencil- it can't be too dark or you'll defeat the whole purpose of the nude lip. My lips are naturally pretty dark, and I've found that my best nude lip liner is a little lighter than the edges of my lips- with this pencil I still get the definition I need, and also a true nude lip. It's closer to the color of my nude lipstick than my lips.

If you find yourself  flummoxed by the whole idea but would like to ease your way into it, or if you just love makeup, here are some links:

Happy Dressing!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Planning for Chaos

"Life is nothing without a little chaos to make it interesting."~ Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Demon in My View

I really hate those days when I'm feeling discombobulated and unable to make up my mind on anything, and those days when my schedule gets so messed up- usually starting right from the get go- that I can't get it back on track. Those are the days that it's all too easy to wind up just throwing something- anything clean- on and heading out the door. Then I feel 'off' all day long. 

Your 'image' on this sort of day can be saved with a little forethought. Important because if you feel good about your appearance it's easier to face all the rest of the chaos. It just is. If you know your colors, or just have a go-to neutral (for lots of us that would be black) then you just pick out a basic silhouette that you know looks good and you feel very comfortable in- in other words, garments with reliably flattering lines; what I like to call 'design lines.'  While you're discombobulated and/or rushed is not the time to try new things. This means you need to make sure you always have a few of these items clean and ready in your wardrobe for said unexpected chaotic days.

Next you'll need to work your best makeup effects. Stick with a neutral palette, or a tried-and-true palette that you know goes with pretty much everything. You may not have time to do as much makeup as you'd like, and if so, pare it down to what gives you the most return for your effort. No matter how much makeup you're doing, only do what you're very skilled at doing. There- that's 2/3 of it taken care of.

Lastly, have a few good hair tricks for when your hair is dirty or you don't have time to style it. The best way find these tricks is to experiment when you DO have time. If your hair is long enough, maybe a neat undo, or pulled back into a ponytail, if that's flattering; for shorter hair, maybe slicked back with some gel. A hat or scarf of some sort is a possibility. Whatever it is it needs to be uncomplicated, fast, and essentially foolproof. I also find that if I have a day when I absolutely have to wash my hair but don't have time to dry it, it helps to have styling options tailored for that.

A huge part of feeling confident when you step out the front door is knowing you're looking your best- and that means making choices that you already know look good on you. So again, no experiments right now, please. The point is to simply give a bit of thought to this before the chaos explodes, so that you'll have a plan, and feel at least that much is under control. Some days that's the only thing that's going to go right. 

On those days, I'll take whatever I can get.

Happy Dressing!

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Rocky Start

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”~ Henry David Thoreau

My son has been watching the Rocky movies for a couple of months now. I got him started- I like Rocky. He got all into the idea of working out the way Rocky does- really loved the running-up-the-Philly-Art-Museum-steps scene, of course.  I run 5 or 6 times a week, but my 'run' is more of a 'plod' -nothing like Rocky's. I am consistent about it, though. A few weeks before school ended he told me he wants to go running with me- Ok, I say, this summer we'll give it a try. 

He's only 9, so you can imagine how this went. On the first part it was 'Ha ha mommy- I'm faster than you!' then later 'mommy- slow down.' By then end of the run he wasn't speaking to me anymore because I wouldn't stop when he wanted. I'd guess that if he kept at it for a while he'd be passing me up in a matter of weeks. No rush- he works out doing his karate and nunchucks every weekday. That's good enough.  I'm glad I've got him on the right track, though. I'm hoping this will influence him for the rest of his life. If he stays active he'll have better health all his life, a better mood, and he'll be more attractive. He'll have better quality of life, and will probably live longer, too.

Speaking of being attractive, this being a blog about self image and all… as I'm always saying, attractiveness isn't about size, or certain facial features, coloring, or anything like that. At all. Attractiveness is the 'it' factor that's a mysterious combination of self confidence and a sort of vitality. I think that vitality is all about good health. I always say if you want to look your best, you have to be healthy. And that means, in part, regular exercise. 

Summer is here- the perfect time to start working out if you aren't already. Doesn't have to be fancy- just has to happen on a regular basis. Doesn't matter if you start out just shuffling around the block- so long as you do it as many times in a week as you can (or as often as your Dr tells you to.) They say it takes 3 weeks to establish a routine; if you can manage to keep it up for that long, it should be smooth sailing from there on out. If your energy level is a problem, take a look at what you're eating- sometimes that has to be addressed before a person has the energy to work out regularly. I found that my energy level went up quite a bit when I started running- and I also had to start eating more, and eating more regularly. 

There are a number of recent reputable studies out (google it) about how working out boosts the immune system. Though it's not fully understood exactly how this works, it's clear there's a connection. 

So get out there while the days are long and warm, and get moving! Everything about life gets better when you do.

Happy Dressing!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Amber Waves of.....Brain Fog?!

"I'm Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired." ~Fannie Lou Hamer

At the beginning of last year I drastically cut down on gluten. Even though I never felt I had any sort of intolerance to wheat since I didn't seem to have any obvious digestive issues after eating it, I knew that gluten is not particularly good for you. 

Then during the last holiday season I expanded my usual dietary fare to include a bit of gluten and sugar here and there. I wanted to enjoy the holidays, not feel deprived. I didn't go overboard, either- not every meal, just a few times a week. This went on for a good 5 weeks or so. Then I paid.

For the next 6 weeks or so I had fairly severe fatigue, and very heavy brain fog. In other words, I couldn't think, and I was constantly tired.  I was able to get through my day, but each day I had to drop things off my 'to do' list as the day wore on because I just couldn't accomplish what I normally would. I was barely able to do the minimum of things I need to do to just to keep up with my life, and was lucky if I managed to stay awake for even a few minutes past putting my son to bed.

So, as of mid January, I quit gluten entirely. No more 'every once in a while,' no more processed foods, etc. I started learning about everything has gluten in it, just as if I had celiac's disease.

Over the following weeks and months a few things happened; my energy level slowly increased, my fatigue started to dissipate, and I had more and more moments of clarity where my brain fog lifted. 6 months after quitting the gluten I no longer feel like I'm going to collapse from exhaustion right after dinner. I don't know how many years it's been since I hadn't felt that way.

One other interesting thing; my skin got nicer. (And here's how this all relates to my image consulting blog.) My skin color got more even, my pores look smaller. Encouraged by this, I tried a little experiment- I replaced most of the chemically based skincare products I have with more natural, less toxic (and less expensive) alternatives. For the past few years I'd been following Paula Begoun's recommendations from her book, 'The Beauty Bible.'  I'd been using alpha hydroxy, and then Retin-A  after washing my face in the evenings, and in the mornings, an inexpensive moisturizer from Trader Joe's after washing. So as of now, in the evenings I wash my face with apricot oil, then using a 1-1 mixture of organic apple cider vinegar and alcohol free witch hazel as a toner, no moisturizer. Then in the morning I wash with a tiny bit of raw, organic honey, use a little freshly squeezed lemon juice as a toner, then my Trader Joe's moisturizer. It's been like magic.

I've noticed that my skin doesn't get oily anymore- either overnight, or during the day. I still need to exfoliate pretty often, but in general, my skin seems happier. It's great when you make improvements in your lifestyle due to necessity, and then have other, unexpected improvements as  a bonus. Not only does my skin look better, I'm also not spending as much on skincare.

I'm always saying in order to look your best, you have to be healthy. I've had a tough little lesson on taking my own advice over the past year- 

Lesson learned.

Happy Dressing!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sexy Closet Beast

"They went into my closets looking for skeletons, but thank God, all they found were shoes, beautiful shoes."~Imelda Marcos

It's gotten to where I can't find what I'm looking for in my closet. That's because closets are sort of 'living' things- they evolve.  Their character changes over time. In some ways they reflect our mental, emotional and physical state. A messy closet looks sick. A clean, well organized and well lit closet is, well, kinda sexy.

As with all living things, they need care- regular upkeep and 'grooming.' And I've been a bit neglectful of late. So, *sigh* that was the obvious choice for my blog this week. (Guess what I'll be doing this weekend?)

During my research I haven't come across any better ways to arrange things than the old standbys;  by color, by type, or by function (work, casual.) If you chose to organize by color, (all items of the same color grouped together) you might chose to further subcategorize all types within that color together as well (all shirts together, all pants, etc.) Or, should you decide to group by type, you can subcategorize by color, etc. Beyond these simple, obvious methods are an infinite number of ways you can customize and tweak things to your specific needs and satisfaction.

The following are tips, reminders and a few helpful links to make your closet the best it can be-

If space is an issue, be sure to use every square inch with hanging shoe racks, hanging shelves, etc. Customize your closet as much as possible.

It's always visually 'neater' to have all one kind and color hanger; or, different color hangers (preferably the same brand) for different type of clothing or for different functions. Remember that slim, flocked hangars take up less space and 'grab' clothes so they don't fall off so easily. 

If you don't have enough space for all your hanging clothes, think about one of those short bars to make a double rod for shirts, skirts and folded pants-

If you live in cramped quarters, consider using a curtain system of some kind, rather than sliding or folding doors. This takes up less space, and allows you to see everything at once when the curtains are open.

Here's an idea I love- use clear plastic drawers to store undies and odds and ends; you can see at a glance where everything is-

While organizing, be conscious of which things you use most often, and give them the most accessible spots in your closet and dresser.

Also don't forget under bed storage bins- good for less used items or out of season things.

Don't forget to install some lighting if needed- you need to be able to see what's in there.

With regular care and upkeep your closet can be a healthy, functional and beautiful beast-
Happy Dressing!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Stuck in a Rut

“The only value of wasted time is knowledge.” ~Monica Drake

There's this thing that happens to some of us. 

We grow up, we get busy, we don't go shopping anymore. 

We start a busy career, we have babies, we don't have time for 'frivolities' like that anymore. We're not about superficial things like 'how we look' anymore- we're about what we can accomplish. 

When we were younger we'd go shopping and look at all the pretty colors, all the different styles, try them on, decide what we liked, buy, and change our minds the next week.  We hadn't yet figured out who we are, didn't have a clue what we liked or what we looked good in. But we explored with great enthusiasm. And we bought clothes, and stuffed our cosets and dressers till they burst, and we couldn't find anything anymore...

Now we're all grown up, and have important priorities, and shopping for clothes just isn't important in a grown up life. 

And that, of course, is totally wrong. Every priority you hold and every goal you move toward is helped or hindered by how you look. Period. Because we are a visual species, within the first 7 seconds of laying eyes on someone we make lots of assumptions about them. How intelligent they are, how much money they make, what their socio-economic background is, their trustworthiness, their level of education….so it pays to present yourself in your best light. Always.

One really great part is that now that you're all grown up you know yourself better, so you know what you want and what you like. And if you don't know what designs flatter your proportions (because it's ALL about balancing your proportions, NOT size) or what colors are the most flattering for your skin tone, then get help from a professional, like me. 

And then you know what happens? Armed with all that knowledge, suddenly it all gets easier. The shopping is a breeze- since being all grown up and knowing what you like you know where to shop; when you walk in, you can scan the racks for your colors; after zeroing in on the color you can look for the design lines you need, or garments that can be altered to be the perfect design lines for you. This reduces the hit or miss aspect of shopping profoundly. 

Getting dressed every morning becomes faster and more rewarding, too- since you've spent a little time putting together a functional wardrobe that you love, you'll probably have gotten rid of all that stuff you never ever wear that takes up soooo much space, so now you know everything that's in your streamlined, efficiently organized closet...

Saving your precious time for all those…more important priorities. :-)

Happy Dressing!

Friday, May 16, 2014


"If something can be said to make an awkward moment even worse, I'm going to say it."~Carrie Underwood

I got caught in an awkward situation the other morning. My son was going to a friends pet rescue/pet supply store to be in a segment a local news channel was doing on them- I got up at my usual time, went for my run, got my son's lunch ready, made our breakfast and as we were out of time, we headed out the door.  

The problem is, I didn't think it through the night before; I laid out clothes to wear, but didn't realize I wouldn't have enough time to shower and wash my hair. When I went for my run I pulled my un-brushed hair into a pony tail…so this is how I arrived for the news segment- sweaty running duds, not-showered and wild, flyaway hair, no makeup. At all. (Oh, the horror.) 

You know where this is going, right?

They were doing a few segments; the first segment I managed to hide in the back. All good. The next segment they filmed at the counter- so I slunk over to the pen where the puppies were and settled in with a couple of sleeping pups on my lap. 

As I should have known would happen, during the filming the camera man came over to the puppy pen, and despite my hiding in the corner, I was confronted with the camera. I saw the footage later, and of course it was worse than I imagined. *Sigh* 

The moral of this sorry little story? Always think through your schedule when planning a day with an unusual schedule like this- and have a backup plan. Actually, one should always have a backup plan anyway. I should have realized the potential there, and combed my hair, washed my face and put on a little lipgloss- would have made us 3 minutes later, at the most. 

Why am I making such a big deal about this? What if this had been a situation where I happened to meet someone who might have been important to my business? What if I met a cute guy? You just never know. The thing is, in the first 7 seconds of meeting someone we make all sorts of assumptions about people subconsciously, based on their appearance. And it may be that none of the assumptions are true…so it always, always pays to be aware of your appearance…

Remember, you never get a second chance to make that first impression.

Happy Dressing!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Hey Good Lookin'

"When you're young and good-looking, you've got to behave. But when you're old, you can get away with murder."~ Julie Newmar

Want to feel great about how you look today? Ok. That's easy. 

Here's the recipe. 3 little steps.

1. Don't compare yourself with anyone else. Ever. There's no point. You're either going to feel 'better than' or 'less than,' and neither one of those perspectives is healthy or, again, has any point.

2. Focus only on your best colors and design lines, and expressing your aesthetic starting with those guidelines. If you do this you'll look your healthiest, your most visually 'balanced,' and you'll KNOW you do- with your aesthetic sensibility respected, you can't help but feel great about how you look. 

3. Never worry about what others think of you. I guess this is a sort of flip side to not comparing yourself to others. It's not your job to 'please' others with your appearance- it's your job to present yourself in what you feel is your best light, and enjoy the potential for self expression. 

That's it. End of thought process. 

We're not 'less' or 'more' than anyone else. Everyone has their own, unique and perfect beauty- inside and out. When we respect that, and find our own, it can't help but show.

Happy Dressing!