I’ve been wearing makeup at the level of your average vaudevillian these days, so I was most intrigued when I saw that Skindinvia had come out with a Post-Makeup Recovery Spray ($26 for 4-ounce bottle shown below). I have been testing it out for a month now, spraying it on my face after removing makeup and cleansing skin.
Verdict: Thumbs up.
Why use it…
If you wear a lot of makeup, layers of the stuff, heavily pigmented makeup—which most makeup is these days—you’re going to see some setback/flashback on your skin.
For starters, pores will have a greater likelihood of being clogged with the stuff, and you might notice that, due to heavy cleansing that heavy levels of makeup require, your skin is more dry and, I’ll say it, stripped than if you were tip toeing through the tulips each day wearing nothing more than a dewy moisturizer with SPF and tinted gloss.
What it does…
The spray aims at ‘replenishing lost nutrients and moisture immediately after removing makeup.’ This is a good thing to aim for, particularly since if you’ve just removed every last smudge of makeup, along with the naturally protective oils that form the acid mantle, and keep the skin looking dewy and naturally glowing.
What’s in it…
The base of Skindinavia Post-Makeup Recovery Spray is witch hazel and water, which holds a blend is a slew of minerals and herbs. Among them: zinc, magnesium, willow bark extract, raspberry leaf and black currant leaf.
Note: I recommend the spray for the fortifying ingredients. Notably, zinc, which is used topically to heal wounds. Also, to prevent and clear acne breakouts due to its anti-bacterial properties.
Keep in mind…
However, this formula has a mild astringent effect (remember the witch hazel base), so if you have dry skin, I suggest using the spray first, then following it up with a moisturizer once the formula has had a chance to be absorbed by the skin.
Paloma Picasso, youngest daughter of artist Pablo Picasso, once said: “To look good and to dress up isn’t just a favor you are doing for yourself – it’s a favor you are doing for the people around you.”
She’s right, right, right. Part of treating yourself, and others, nice, is to look good–or reasonably pulled together. It’s the easiest and most instantly reward-inducing habit to cultivate.
Here’s a simple DIY natural body scrub that’s wonderfully effective at sloughing off dead skin cells from your face and body. Easy, easy, and all you need is two ingredients – olive oil and sugar. Enjoy!
Summer, winter, spring or fall….there’s always the possibility that a non-sultry situation will befall your feet. Dryness, scaliness and so forth.
Advice to combat rough, parched feet and keep your heels and skin soft includes:
regular exfoliation, followed by thick moisturizer
before going to bed, slather on a rich moisturizer and cover feet with thick cotton socks
I would add a few:
regular pedicures, whether they’re the salon or at-home kind
apply sunscreen to exposed feet during daylight hours
up the frequency of your exfoliation + moisturizer routine if you’re subjecting your feet to more exposure to the elements than usual, or more high-heel wearing than usual
You may find that for whatever reason, you have a very dry or rough foot situation that is not responding as effectively as usual to the above steps.
In the case of cracking or scaliness on the soles, it may be due to the popularity of foot scrapers which, if not utilized correctly, exacerbate the problem by creating uneven, jagged surfaces, usually on the heels.
Advice: Cut back on the scraping, and try a more gentle approach. If you do scrape, follow up with a gentle file or scrub to create even-textured surfaces on your feet and heels.
Also, experiment with richer formulations that are created for the feet. I was having an issue due to over-vigorious pedicure-itis, and I tried Callex. Excellent.
The formulation is thickly texture, like dense honey (but no stickiness), so start with a little bit.Let the first round absorb into the skin, and add more in layers as needed.
Bottom Line: The big bonus of Callex over using just a thick moisturizer on feet is that it lasts for a long time. In other words, the dryness goes poof! for a while, days usually, so you are not constantly applying more moisturizer.
And it invisibly exfoliates the skin. It does this via two enzymes in its ingredient list. The first is protease, which helps dissolve dead skin and accelerates cell renewal. The second is aminopeptidase, which also helps dissolve skin by loosening up the cohesion of cells.
In other words, by having this gradual exfoliation of unwanted dead skin happen in tandem with a rich moisturizer, you’re curing the problem instead of just greasing it up for the moment. Dig?
Finally, there’s a dash of natural peppermint oil which feels quite fresh and invigorating. A big Practical Glamour thumbs up all the way around.
A 1.75-ounce jar of Callex costs approximately $15. It lasts forever and can be found at mass-market drugstores like Walgreens. You can read more about Callex here.
What’s one of the best things about having an awesome friend? Someone you’ve known for a while, or forever? No explanations are needed, often. Recently I was talking to one of these friends, telling her a story, and felt the ease in our communication. No windy run-up to laying out the situation was needed. No need to pause and ask:”Do you know what I mean?”
Sure she knows what I mean! We’ve probably logged a million hours of chit-chat with each other during the course of our lives.
In other words, connecting with a dear friend is easy relief because we know each other so well.
This friend in particular and I even have a funny phrase we use when one of us is giving too much detail or information while telling a story: No preface needed! This signals to the other that you can pretty much launch dive into the main event without wasting tons of words on backstory beforehand. (Unless, of course, you feel like it.) Without laying out the cast of characters. Without translations. It’s nice. It’s familiar. It’s comforting in a world that can sometimes feel alien.
But these fit-like-a-glove camaraderies don’t happen overnight.
The reason that the pathway to creating solid new friendships can feel lonely or arduous is due to the required, inevitable investment of time that is needed to sew the bonds of a forever friendship. To get to know one another. To get to the No Preface Needed state.
When you were in school, you were forced to be there every day, for hours and hours. Same with jobs. That’s why so many of our strongest friendships were produced at school or at work, where we put in tons of face time with our new friend. Where we sewed those bonds that are hard to unravel with time or distance.
These are the friendships that stick around, these are the people who spring to mind when you’re feeling horrible or sad, or joyous or are falling in love. Without thinking you reach for your phone and call her, thinking “Please answer, please answer!”
Alternately, it becomes harder to sew fledgling bonds of friendship into full-blown, forever friends if you only see each other periodically. After all, you’ve got work, family, this and that and everything else to deal with. Spending time with new friends gets pushed to the bottom of the heap, and it’s easy for these light bonds to disintegrate.
So—What’s all this got to do with you?
Here are a few tidbits of friendship advice to maintain the bonds of forever friends, and help you solidify new friendships…
❧Think about those with whom you’ve recently established a strong basis of friendship. Check in with them. Spend time with them. Don’t let them go. They’re gold.
❧Exception to the guideline above: Not all friendships are meant to last forever. Bad things happen. Realizations happen. A breakup, though not easy, might be in order.
❧Let’s say you’ve met some great ladies recently. Congratulations! Pinpoint 2-3 of these gals who you think are great candidates for turning into friends of the No Preface Needed type. Prioritize connecting and spending time with them. Forging a full-blown forever friendship requires a certain amount of hours spent together. It’s inescapable. It’s great. You’ll have fun.
❧If you’re a girl reading this, you might be wondering why I keep referring to your friends as Shes. After all, can’t girls be friends with boys? Sure they can. Only boys can’t be friends with girls, unless the boy happens to like boys, or the boy is someone you’ve known since you wore knee socks, and therefore has earned a kind of grand-fathered friendship status. Some other exceptions exist, and I’ve been scribbling them about in a forthcoming book.
❧Finally: Be grateful right now for your No Preface Needed, forever friends. You might have one, you might have a dozen. Congratulations. Tell them what a lucky sob you are to have met them.
Part of the appeal of celebrity magazines and websites is, for the reader, escapism into another life. A life that seemingly has more appeal due to the subjects’ fame, body, address, mate, personal net worth—you name it.
A person may read about the celebrity and think: “That must be amazing. I’d be so happy if I had that [body, bank account, girlfriend, et cetera].”
Another part of the draw of peering into celebrity lives comes from a fascination with how—again and again—these attributes (the looks, money, adulation) fail to shield the person who possesses them from the miseries experienced by everyday folk. Addiction. Depression. Gigantic financial fumblings. Betrayal. Loss of love. Again—you name it.
In short, the things that many people covet, and work hard for each day, are no guarantee against suffering.
But we already know that, right?
Here’s where I usually insert the bright side, the antidote. So here goes: It’s good to aspire, to plan and plot and stretch to those things that we desire.
It’s probably a good idea to examine why you want these things, so you better understand your motivations. For instance, do you want the money for freedom? From what. Security? Again, from what. To buy loads of shiny stuff in the window?
Why do you want a certain physical look? Because it will gather the attention of others? Because it will make you more confident, or give you a pleasurable feeling when you gaze in the mirror?
How about that guy, or girl? What will the presence of that person bring to your life? Everlasting joy and contentment? Pleasant companionship? Some other treasure? If so, for how long do you expect them to supply that feeling?
Again—there is nothing wrong with desires, per se. With stocking your life with enjoyments. However, if you understand clearly what those *things* represent to you personally, how they bring value to you, you will be in a much better position when they come to you.
Because it seems that—like in the case of our dear celebrity studies—when those desired things land in our lives, they often don’t include the long-awaited satisfaction we anticipated. And often they bring uninvited guests, also which we did not anticipate.
So—why not feel happy now? You may have a pretty damn good thing going at present, but it’s hard to see it if you’re playing off today against some shimmery, imagined future.
Parting bright side: Allow yourself to feel satisfied now, instead of holding off until the day you have [fill in the blank].
When I was around 14 I went to a palm reader. The woman, a grandmother-ish type, told me that I should eat better. If I did, she said. I’d live longer.
Though I’ve never forgotten her advice I have a lame record of putting it into practice.
I recall being—at the time of that palm reading—on a pretty strict gummy bear and veggie burger diet. It was the summer and parental supervision was not at a high ebb due to a bunch of reasons that no longer matter.
Point is this: Up to recently I’ve eaten erratically, and in an unbalanced way. Sucking on iced coffee until about 4 pm, then eating a bowl of spaghetti. Or like, two slices of greasy pizza and a big bubbly soda. Bad. Mmm. Just bad.
Is this your idea of dinner, fair maiden?
I’ve changed my ways, and in a here-to-stay way. If you, too, are an erratic or consistent under-eater, and wish to begin a path of reform, first tip is this: It takes more than a desire to eat differently. It takes, as they say, a strategy.
Here are a few guidelines that you may find helpful in your quest to begin eating well.
Just Eat More
I can count on two hands the number of times that, as an adult, I’ve eaten three meals a day. That just seemed like crazy talk to me. Who can eat that much food?
Nowadays, I eat around four. But they’re not meals in the sense of heaping plates of hot stuff that takes five years to finish off. They’re meals in the sense of a hard-boiled egg and a handful of almonds. Or a plate of fabulous garlicky Brussels sprouts and some brown rice.
Pizza? Yes. Only not so often.
Brusssels sprouts and other leafy green things are your friends
Mind Your Ratios
You may be a person who doesn’t eat a lot, but isn’t necessary skinny. Me too. Weight management in the past was dealt with via exercise. As in: Want to lose weight? Okay: Jog more. Or do the stairs. Or buy another 10-pack of yoga classes. And so on.
If someone mentioned diet, I’d whine something along the lines of, “But I don’t eat a lot. That’s not really the problem.”
An informed friend told me about the food ratio concept about 10 times before I finally perked up and listened. In a nutshell it’s this: You might be eating good things, but you might be consuming a totally whacked-out proportion of fats, carbohydrates and protein.
In other words, you might be eating too much of one category, and not enough of the others.
When I started keeping tabs on the situation, I discovered that I was consuming an extreme amount of carbohydrates, but nearly nill in terms of protein. [To read more about this concept, and dial in your ratios, visit dotFIT.]
Adjusting ratios has been the golden ticket for me. I eat more and have trimmed up noticeably, without bumping up the exercise.
Market Your Food…To You
If you are a person who does not eat consistently, you may be a sort of unconscious eater. The type who doesn’t think about food until your starving. Then you scarf down whatever’s within grasp.
My advice: Get into (nice, nutritious) food. There’s never been a time where there’s more of it around. Even if you live in a one-horse town.
“Health food” has come a long, long way. My mother used to buy me carob bars from the health food store in lieu of the real, chocolate deal. Let’s just say that cardboard might have been an upgrade. I recently tried a modern carob bar and found it quite luscious.
To put good food on your dining radar, it needs to be visible and desirable.
To do this: Grocery shop in a more conscious way, and with a list. Type one up, and print out a bunch of copies that you keep in a handy kitchen drawer.
Before shopping, check off the items you need, and off you go.
Me in the neighborhood Trader Joe’s. Shop with a list, and stick to it. Get familiar with ingredients.
When you get home. Arrange your healthy, wonderful food items in a visually pleasing way that encourages you to eat it.
Example: Let’s say you want to eat more fruit. Find the refrigerator shelf that is eye-level to your height.
Clear the shelf and arrange fruits so they are the first things you see when you open the door.
Make sure the fruit is washed, sticker-free and stored it in appealing containers.
You know how there’s ready to wear fashion? Make your kitchen full of ready to eat food.
Well, hello there!
On a related note. When you dine at home, make a special effort to dress your food with nice seasonings. Serve it on nice plates and sit at the table to eat, even if you only have two minutes. Squeeze fresh lime or lemon in your water.
These things make dining more of a ritual. They make eating more conscious, which means you become more aware of what you are eating. Standing at the counter over a bag of cold cuts and a jug of iced tea? Not so much.
In other words, do little things to make eating more of a special ritual. Consider growing some fresh herbs. A pot of fresh basil or mint doesn’t take up a lot of room, and is low maintenance. Fresh herbs are transformative when it comes to cooking, serving and garnishing food.
Don’t Get Too Hangry, My Friend
When you get hungry, you probably get angry. Light headed. You make bad decisions. You want to beat someone’s head in for no good reason.
Hangry is when you find yourself screeching out of the Taco Bell drive-through with a pile of 7 Layer Burritos and a super-sized vat of Cherry Slushy.
If you’re stoned and 16, that might be fun. Not so much if you’re an adult in a suit. For starters, that wily packet of hot sauce will probably end up squirting all over that nice white shirt of yours. The shirt you have to bring to the dry cleaners every time you look at it.
Having those those little handfuls of almonds I spoke about earlier on hand means there’s less chance of such things happening. Not the hot sauce part—the part about getting hangry. “Hangry” being a not-desirable mix of being Hungry and Angry.
Food orgies happen when you get too hungry or there’s a World Cup match on
And the term hangry? Not mine. It’s Kaitlyn’s, a trainer for Venus Lasers who manages to eat incredibly healthy despite having to drive from one end of LA to another on a daily basis.
Tip: To not get hangry, she rolls up slices of turkey and eats them in her car. She also recommends slicing an apple laterally, heaping it with almond butter and stacking another apple slice on top. Pack a few of these and keep them with you if, when hangry, you become tempted to eat an entire chocolate cake while driving home from wherever.
You Can Take It With You
To create the habit of eating well, you may have to pencil in short food breaks at first. You are doing this to consciously embed better eating behaviors into your life.
Also: start toting nice edibles around with you. Before visions of a clunky Thermos or Starsky & Hutch lunch box start dancing in your head, realize that food containers have come a long, sexy way.
I use a skinny, padded wine bag, which is perfect for toting around assorted bags of cherries, almonds and other things, and slips right into my briefcase/purse. There are more high-performance options out there. Ice Mules are soft bags that come in totable sizes, and claim to keep ice intact for 24 hours.
Make it easy to throw a bunch of this nice stuff in a bag, and zoom off
I recently taught a 4-1/2 hour class. That is not so unusual for me, but instead of my usual dining habits—drinking a huge cup of coffee while lecturing, then stuffing my face with a Subway sandwich and chips when it’s over—I ate periodically during breaks.
Peeled a juice tangerine. Ate an apple. Drank water. The results were much better. I had more energy. The steady, clear-headed kind.
Healthy Eating as Gratitude
Your body is the most spectacular machine you will ever own.
It is extraordinary, and a good way to honor and show gratitude for it is by treating it nicely. At least as nicely as your car. Starving it, or making it pull out the stops to keep you going because you’re under-nourishing it or treating it erratically, is not a way to show how much you care.
In other words: Scratch your back nutritionally, and it will scratch yours for a good long time. Or: Don’t be a spoiled brat to your body.
Love it. Be nice to it and feed it steady stores of edible wonderfulness, which we are so insanely and incredibly lucky to have at our fingertips.
Step by step. Start exploring healthy food, plate by plate. You may be surprised by how many “healthy” things you end up loving. Top: Vietnamese pho; Bottom left: Salmon, tuna sushi; Bottom right: Awesome tacos at Fairmont Miramar
It’s never too late to change your eating habits. Once you start eating well—intaking nutritious food consistently and in balanced ratios of protein, fat and carbohydrates—you will feel better, look more beautiful, and, as that palm reader said, live longer.
I have been working on a new book. The writing gods have not been as generous this time around as when I wrote “Practical Glamour.” So when the words start a-flowing, I type and type and don’t stop until the spout is turned off. I seize the moment.
In other words, inspiration comes and goes; it ebbs and flows. So when she or he comes around, it’s important to grab it and run with it – whatever the form! If you hear it knocking, and you know it to be good, stride over to the door and open it with a “Hello!”
Listen to “it” and follow — and see what happens. Maybe you’ll make that phone call you’ve been thinking about making forever.
Seizing the moment comes with the task of discernment. In other words, don’t let an opportunity pass you by, but it’s wise to think before acting.
For instance, if you have doubt as to the goodness (or not) of that knock, call or that instinct, it is advisable to pause before you leap. Pause and become the super-sharp, conscious judge of that instinct.
We all have the inherent judgement of that which is in our rational self-interest – and what is not. There are things that cloud it, whether these things come from our personal psychology, or grasping onto emotions that don’t serve us.
The cliche about searching for the answer within yourself is well-worn but accurate. Perhaps you have to dig a bit harder than most, through your own layers. But it is there, and you will find it.
When you do, it is vital to determine that the answer is a pure one, not clouded by edicts of others. Their desires may or may not be consistent with you having a good and decent life.
How to Say No More Often, with Ease and Compassion
No, Nein, Nej. Have a hard time saying No? Do you feel you need to say “No” more often?
Saying “No” can be excruciating, awkward and uncomfortable and all those things. It can be scary.
Here are ways to make saying “No” much easier. Automatic, even.
To say no with ease, you need to focus on the fundamental issue — not necessarily the words or tactics. These will come much easier once you understand and acknowledge the key issue: That you have the right to say No.
In this short video, I bust out communication tips to help you say No more often — and perhaps even “Hell, No!” — with ease, simplicity and dignity.
Once you get the fundamentals, you will become a pro in this area. And, in the interest of rational self preservation, you must.
The first time I met Jacqueline Cofield I think I complimented her on the silk, patterned scarf around her neck. She shared a great tip about how to pack and carry a scarf. You get one of those mini, structured plastic zip cases at the drugstore to tote it around so it stays unruffled and doesn’t get beat up.
Soon after, I was at a film event with her and she busted out some French with some native speakers at the event. Not a few words, either. But, like, fluent French with no blips or dips. Next I heard she was in Africa. Then in Chicago. Then, somewhere else.
She always handling a bunch of different projects – big ones – yet consistently looks and conducts herself in a very warm, polished way. I admire this and it’s something I’ve been meaning to ask her about for a while.
Below, Jacqueline Cofieldshares a truckload of travel style tips on how to look good, feel solid and confident, and basically have an excellent time the next time you travel. [In some of her answers, bold and other emphasis are mine – we live in the age of scannable text and I don’t want you to miss her gems!]
Constance Dunn: You travel globally, and a lot. And you’re always looking very pulled together—dress, heels, hair. The whole package.
Question: Give us 1 or 2 or your top tips for looking great. I mean, polished formal or professional dress great, when say, you’ve just landed in Timbuktu with 3 hours sleep.
Jacqueline Cofield: First, thank you for the kind words. Over the years, I’ve gotten better with packing more efficiently.
I am pretty meticulous about certain things, like I have a travel kit for while I’m on the plane that includes serums, moisturizers, eye masks and a face spritzer to keep my skin from dehydrating in flight.
I always keep a change of clothes — something light like a wrap dress and heels — in my carry-on in case my luggage doesn’t arrive.
Other staples that I pack are interchangeable classics, like a blazer, pearls, pencil skirts, and at least 2 heels (one solid color and one multicolor).
-I always pack a lightweight formal dress, just in case I go to a special event.
-As for hair, I love Aveda products, and I rarely use shampoo, mostly deep conditioners, so when I’m in countries where the water is dry, my hair isn’t.
–I work out on long flights too, I go to an area where I can stretch, do lunges, squats, and arm circles.
-And, I have to have my daily green drink, so I travel with powdered wheatgrass
Constance Dunn: Okay, so another travel question. It can be lonely, traveling to other continents by oneself. And being a lady traveler has a whole other set of scenarios attached to it. Both of these can be knocks on one’s confidence.
Question: Can you give us 1 or 2 tips on how to not feel alone, or how to increase one’s confidence as a woman traveling solo?
Jacqueline Cofield: That’s actually a great question.
Being a woman is a wonderful thing; femininity is expressed in a myriad of ways internationally, which is stimulating. Without judgment, a globe-trotting woman must do her research and be interested in cultural differences.
Preparation will automatically make you feel more comfortable. Safety is also paramount, so a lady need be mindful of her surroundings and encounters.
I’ve traveled to about 50 countries. To avoid feeling lonely when traveling alone, I have a few strategies:
1) I focus on my purpose for travel. Is it business? Personal development? School? Having a goal will empower and strengthen.
2) I use Skype, Viber and Google Voice (all are free), to stay in touch with friends and family during my travels.
3) I engage my network. Before traveling, I will have already established connections, including introductions from my network who know someone wherever I am traveling. I have found that my social capital is expansive and everywhere I go, I am connected to someone by a first or second degree: those connections enrich my experience tremendously.
Lastly, I am an art lover, so I am always visiting museums, studios and galleries, and going to performances which provides much enjoyment and is a great way to connect as well.
Constance Dunn: You are involved in so many interesting projects, and I know this means meeting lots of different people, in your case internationally.
Question: Do you have a great communication tip – something that is effective to say or do when meeting new people – that you’d like to share?
Jacqueline Cofield: Yes, definitely. Research shows that women’s styles of communication, personally and professionally, are perceived differently than those of men.
Generally, people gravitate towards women who use light humor, appear kind and have a stylish presence.
I love the quote from Tom Ford that, “Dressing well is a kind of good manners.” Manners are very important.
Also, I find that my global travels enable me to connect well with people fast. I’m trilingual, (learning a forth) and can say basic phrases in many languages.
Do research before meeting people. If I am aware of their culture, have visited their country, or can speak their language, for example, people appreciate the interest and perceive me as experienced. Being authentic is important in interpersonal communications and also involves looking people in the eye, appearing intelligently interested in the encounter, and not aggressively pressing an agenda (that’s what following up is for).
Okay, final question. What has you on fire at the moment, project wise?
Jacqueline Cofield: I am really excited about the international projects that my company, J Rêve International, is launching; including a global artist in residency and public art program. You can learn more at www.jreveinternational.com.
I have a fascination of sorts with colored contact lenses. I love the idea of changing up my look, but I don’t like the idea of sitting down to lunch with a friend and being asked when I was abducted by aliens because my eyes look like something from the Syfy channel.
In the past, the challenge of colored contacts has always been how to make them look real.
I learned about the next generation of color contact lenses a bit ago—they are called AIR OPTIX® COLORS contact lenses and you can read what I wrote about them here—in a nutshell, they feel almost like wearing nothing at all on the eyes, and are quite sophisticated in terms of color.
There are 9 colors in all. So you can go bold, like Brilliant Blue, or just tweak an aspect of your existing eye color with say, Pure Hazel or Gray. You can see all the colors at the AIR OPTIX® COLORS contact lenses site.
Alcon AIR OPTIX® COLORS contact lenses come in 9 colors—I selected Honey and Gemstone Green, seen here
The Goal: Subtly + Believability
I thought I’d take 2 colors out for a test drive in broad, unvarnished daylight. I like the idea of using AIR OPTIX® COLORS contact lenses as a fun way to subtly enhance my eye color, just like I might switch up makeup colors from time to time, or bump up the color of my hair.
Disclosure: I received a free eye exam and contact lens fitting from LensCrafters and a 6-month supply of Alcon AIR OPTIX® COLORS contact lenses in exchange for writing a review. However, all opinions are stubbornly my own.
Side Note: Before you even think about ordering contact lenses, colored or otherwise, schedule an eye exam and fitting with an optometrist first. Your eyes are precious and they’re the only two you’ll be getting in this lifetime!
I have fairly dark brown eyes with a tad of green in them, and some light brown also. So I chose Honey, to lighten them, and Gemstone Green, to bring up the green elements.
The goal was to see if, while wearing them, they would look nice but still be undetectable to the naked eye. In other words, “Oh, neat colored contact lenses,” was not the goal.
To see the difference between the two shades, I slipped the Honey in the right eye, and Gemstone Green in the other and snapped this photo in natural sunlight, and with minimal makeup. The camera is a few inches from my face. Yeow!
See? Small, but nice change. Both colors, Honey and Gemstone Green, made my eyes appear lighter and, in a way, brighter. Also, the lenses made me look more awake due to the fact that the pupils—the darker, centermost part of the eye—are fixed in size, and contrast with the lighter color of the iris.
Over the next couple of weeks, I alternated colors, wearing either at different times, and always in broad daylight. Afterwards, when I asked people whom I knew if they noticed anything different, I got variants of, “I thought your eyes were really sparkly [or glowing] today.”
None of these are bad things.
As you can see, the look of these lenses is natural, subtle and believable, even when someone’s standing very close.
AIR OPTIX® COLORS contact lenses definitely have bolder colors, but I chose these because I was specifically looking for a small change to my everyday look.
Here’s another up-close view…
Tips for Buying + Wearing Colored Contact Lenses
If you’re thinking of color contact lenses, I recommend that you don’t skimp. In other words, get the best lenses you can. This has to do with looking out for the health of your eyes, and also, getting the most nuanced and flattering color scheme possible. When you look at an AIR OPTIX® COLORS contact lens, you can see there is a lot of detail in the color design. That has much to do with how real they look while they’re on your eyes. To give you an idea of price, AIR OPTIX® COLORS contact lenses are about $85 for a box of 6 (3 pairs).
Try on a few colors. recommend visiting Visit the AIR OPTIX® COLORS Color Studio at airoptixcolors.com. You can upload a photo of yourself and virtually “try on” any of the 9 shades. Do this before visiting your optometrist, narrowing your Maybes to 2 or 3 colors, so it doesn’t get too confusing at the doctor’s office.
Venture into new territory, color wise. Try every shade they have, even those that might be off the radar for you. You might be thinking Blue or Green, but Grey might look fantastic, too.
Consider your goal. I’ve clearly going for a quiet enhancement, something I can wear while say, running errands or going to a backyard party. But there are bolder choices, such as Brilliant Blue and Green or even Sterling Gray. I’ve seen these colors on other people and they look vivid and really great. No alien eyes in sight!
Whichever shade(s) you choose, you can bring up the color even more with eye makeup. I avoided this in my test because I wanted to show what the contacts look like to the ‘naked eye’—but part of the fun of wearing blue lenses, when your eyes are actually brown, is to experiment with makeup colors that make your eyes pop even more.
Important information for AIR OPTIX® COLORS (lotrafilcon B) contact lenses: For daily wear only for near/far-sightedness. Contact lenses, even if worn for cosmetic reasons, are prescription medical devices that must only be worn under the prescription, direction and supervision of an eye care professional. Serious eye health problems may occur as a result of sharing contact lenses. Although rare, serious eye problems can develop while wearing contact lenses. Side effects like discomfort, mild burning or stinging may occur. To help avoid these problems, follow the wear and replacement schedule and the lens care instructions provided by your eye doctor. Ask your eye care professional for complete wear, care, and safety information.
Disclaimer: AIR OPTIX® COLORS contact lenses are available by prescription only.
Both are drugstore staples and both claim a great hold with a free-flowing feel…
I typically have a travel-sized bottle of Elnett Satin Hairspray by by L’Oréal Paris lying around. It is to hairspray what Maybelline Great Lash is to lashes: a drugstore staple that’s praised by professional hair artists, found on almost every shoot, and also used faithfully by the everyday lass.
I thought I’d challenge the beloved Elnett to a newcomer, at least to me: Freeze It Mega Freeze Hairspray. While there are about 5 million hairsprays out there, Elnett Satin and Freeze It Mega Freeze are both hairsprays available in travel sizes at drugstores, so they occupy the same “totable glamour” category. In other words, if my travel-size Elnett can be beat, I want to know.
Both are extra hold formulas that promise to leave hair free and unfettered. In other words, they are supposed to be sprays that keep your coiffure in place while still allowing you to pull a brush through it, and otherwise not feel like your wearing a helmet. This is the main reason I, and probably legions of other women, avoid hairspray or wear it only when necessary. Like to keep a serpentine updo in place for a friend’s wedding or something.
I wanted these hairspray reviews to be a real-world one, so I styled my hair as usual, which is to say, I did very little beyond wash it, dry it and for this occasion, created a few curls. I sprayed Elnett on one side of my hair, Freeze It on the other, and went out for a spell of vigorous salsa dancing. I didn’t use a comb or otherwise fuss with my hair the whole night.
Here’s before and after…
Keep in mind the After is after a couple of hours of this, which is pretty much the best hairspray testing environment on the planet…
Hairspray Reviews Are In: Results
Both formulas held the hair in place really well. Neither formula ever looked nor felt tacky nor crunchy nor otherwise gross in the hair. There was no feeling of dryness or visual dulling to the hair. In other words, both perform really well and manage to cancel out the main reasons why one would want to avoid hairspray.
There are 3 discernible differences between Elnett Satin Hairspray and Freeze It Mega Freeze Hairspray, and here are 2:
Fragrance: Elnett Satin Hairspray has a medium to strong, classic “hairspray” smell. One of the ingredients is limonene, which carries a lemon-ish scent, so that makes sense. Freeze It Mega Freeze Hairspray has a much lighter aroma, with a scent that reminiscent of coconuts. I happen to prefer the latter, but whatever floats your boat.
Hydration: Both formulas mention shine. Elnett Satin Hairspray lists “a brilliant shine” on its can as one of its virtues, and Freeze It Mega Freeze Hairspray lists that it has “optical brighteners for enhanced shine.”
Both do a great job of keeping the surface of your hair looking fresh and natural. They do it by different sets of ingredients though. Read below if you’re interested in this type of thing.
Nerd Sidebar on Ingredients
In the case of Elnett Satin Hairspray it’s Glycerin and Dimethicone, which is a polymer and acts as a protective barrier too.
In the case of Freeze It Mega Freeze it’s these two ingredients:
AMP-Isostearoyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein. This functions as a hair conditioning agent and a humectant (a substance that helps retain moisture).
Panthenol (B5). This is also a humectant, one that I favor in hair products because it spreads evenly on the surface of the hair, creating an invisible layer of sorts that enhances the reflection of light on the hair, making it look shinier and glossier.
I am a super-novice hobbyist when it comes to cosmetic chemistry, but I prefer Freeze It Mega Freeze’s shine-enhancing ingredients due to my familiarity with them in natural and health-food store formulations.
There’s a Price Difference, Too
Bottom Line: Both of these are effective hairspray formulations offering a strong hold that feels like nothing at all. But Freeze It costs much less than industry favorite Elnett. Even after adjusting for size, Freeze It Mega Freeze is much less in terms of price.
Elnett Satin Hairspray Extra Strong Hold (Travel Size) 2.2 oz $6.99
Freeze It Mega Freeze Hair Spray Aerosol (Travel Size) 1.5 oz $2.25
I gave a personal branding lecture. During the Q&A a student asked me: “Why do people seem to be afraid of me?”
“Oh,” I replied. “Because you’re a huge guy and you have a stern expression on your face.”
It was true. This soft-spoken and serious guy—who’s nature is 80% mild-mannered-intellectual-introvert and 0% bruiser—appears, at first glance, to be someone with whom one shouldn’t mess.
Standing about 6′ 6”, he’s not just tall—he’s big. A solid mass. He is also a serious guy, which translates to a non-smiling guy, at least initially. The combination adds up to a giant who looks kind of mad.
Then you say “Hello” and his warm smile busts out. Poof!—you have a different impression entirely.
If you’re a big dude reading this—and strangers always read you wrong—or if you are a person who knows a big dude who has this problem, read on.
Getting Beyond “The Big Guy” Label. The tall fellow is former NBA player Yao Ming, who is 7 feet, 6 inches.
Help Others See Beyond Your Size
Here are some communication tips for big men who want to communicate their most gentlemanly, I’m Not Going to Kill You selves to the world.
Start with a smile.
Since you know that people are prone to be on guard or even intimated when they meet you, be the ice breaker and walk in with a smile. I say “smile” but what I mean is a nonverbal sign that you are friend, not foe. This can be a kind smile, but can also be a grin and it should always be accompanied byan easygoing, kind look in your eyes.
Keep in mind:
For this to be effective, you must have all this together prior to approaching the person, taking the stage or walking into the room.
Work this expression out in the mirror to find the smile-eye combo that you like best.
People—particularly women—love having big, decent guys around. They add a note of safety to the room.
Check your voice.
Here’s where you move in for the kill, or rather, the message that you are not here to kill.
Do a voice check—record and listen to yourself, and ask others their impression of your voice. Remove any gruffness, hardness or aggressive notes from your vocal quality and speech. You don’t need them and chances are they are working against you.
Since you are a large man, people automatically “hear you” more than they do other people. They see you sooner, and your voice is perceived as louder and stronger than smaller folk.
Use this information to your advantage. Modulate your voice in social situations to engender trust, and wipe out any pause related to your physical size. This might include speaking at a lower volume than usual, choosing milder words or using a calmer or more melodic delivery.
I was sitting at a cafe when I heard a pleasant, “Excuse me.”
I turned around to face one of the hugest people I’ve ever seen. But I had heard the genteel voice and words first, then saw the cheerful grin, so the Massive Stranger thing wasn’t a jolt. He asked to borrow my phone, and peppered the request with so many cordial niceties that I handed it over.
The big guy in the cafe was this guy
This dude, who happened to be a former football player who’s big even by Jolly Green Giant standards, did a great job of using verbal and nonverbal cues to mitigate any unease a woman might feel at being approached by a massive male stranger and asked to hand over her phone.
Use your body language.
Evolutionarily, males and females are engineered to assess strangers on a few levels—the physical one is foremost, since it’s immediately apparent to our eyes, and hard to hide. In other words, if my ancestors were not terribly good at detecting whether or not strangers were a threat—whether they could physically overpower them—said ancestors would probably not have survived very long. And I would not be typing on this laptop and drinking herbal iced tea.
This means that folks are automatically going to be on guard when they meet you. They will clock your movements, maybe not even consciously, until they receive enough data about you that tells them they shouldn’t. By contrast, I, being a smaller Earthling, could start busting out karate moves in the middle of a room and no one would blink. Sure, they would laugh, but that’s another story.
What to do? Endeavor to make your gestures and movements fluid. Not grand or sudden or anything that can be read as aggressive. This does not mean you should crumple your shoulders and mince about. Far from it! An easygoing, natural confidence is the goal. One that communicate safety at every turn—from your kind smile and eyes to smooth walk and talk.
The Benefit to You
Why are you doing all this? Maybe you are sick of people being scared when you come their way, or just seeing you as That Big Guy.
So you are smartly disarming the inherent threat that comes with your size—wiping out any unease others feel when they come in contact with a large man. And you are graciously helping strangers feel more comfortable in your presence.
You are doing this so others might better see and know You.
I think I actually squealed when I came across Happy Hands UV gloves. A lifelong hand-protector who has preached far and wide on the need to keep those dainty nubbins of yours protected from the elements, I regularly shield my hands from the sun by either spraying them with a coating of 1-Million SPF (no, I don’t think that actually exists, but you get the idea) or wearing gloves.
Little white gloves, garden gloves…anything I can get my hands on.
Being an LA-er, I spend a higher-than-average number of hours driving. Which means my hands face the direct sunlight a lot. Hands should remain as lovely as possible–for as long as possible. Baking them in the sun does not help you in that endeavor.
Back to Happy Hands.
Verdict: Excelente! Excellent!
Hat? Check. Happy Hands Sun Gloves. Check. Alhambra here I come!
Why: These are lightweight gloves that are ideal for driving because the fabric is coated with a UV ray inhibitor. They also can be used to shield your hands while they are exposed to artificial UV rays while getting a manicure.
They rock. I wear them nearly all the time when driving. Among their many virtues, they are…
Lightweight, so your hands stay cool
Easy on, easy off. They slip on and off, and can be tucked away in the glove box or in a little purse, like so…
They are yellow, but not glaringly so. In other words, they don’t stand out as much as wearing gloves. That’s nice. Here are Happy Hands sun gloves in action:
A sartorial challenge for the woman who likes to dress on the sexy side? Looking completely appropriate in her professional life while maintaining a shred or two of her individual style.
It’s not easy mainly because it requires beating back your curves when you’re used to showcasing them.
Sound dismal? Perhaps—but it doesn’t have to be. You can retain your authenticity and look excellent even in the most traditional of workplaces, but it requires stylistic creativity on your part.
Here are tips on how to dress beautifully for the office without smothering your individual sass or feeling like you’re in straight-up drag:
Switch Your Approach
When it comes to work clothes, switch your overall style code from “sexy” to “chic.” Chic is smart, self-aware and current—it’s also damn attractive. In the context of your professional life, looking chic carries a ton of positive traits that sexy does not.
You’ll Need New Tactics
Let’s say you typically express yourself via bold silhouettes, and garments described as skimming, body-conscious, slinky, high-cut, low-cut, thigh-high, bandage dress, bustier-top and so forth get your ears perked up fast and your little hands ready to whip out your wallet.
Start looking for different silhouettes, fabrics and
Move the spotlight away from your figure and towards the following: shoes and jackets. Make these the expressive cornerstones of your professional style and don’t skimp on quality. Better three pairs of exquisite hand-made Italian heels than a closet littered with junky pumps from the mall. When it comes to jackets, focus on fit above all.
A well cut jacket or coat transforms a basic ensemble into something quite professional
Have a Pow-Wow With Yourself
Who do you want to be? Your presentation is elastic–meaning what you communicate to others via your style, grooming and manner is completely up to you. But it must reflect an aspect of your true self. (Otherwise your presentation is a charade, and an exhausting one at that.) Consider what you want to say to others whom you interact with professionally. Get specific. Jot down a few adjectives or a phrase that sums up what you want others to think or feel upon meeting you and working with you. This is your Professional Style Brand. Use it as a compass to direct the items you wear in professional settings.
A Few Personal Favorites. I know of what I speak in this department, ladies. I bobble between several worlds, all with different dress codes, and in the interest of avoiding style schizophrenia, I’ve found style shortcuts that strategically enable you to bobble with ease between a world where body skimming silhouettes are welcome, and those where they will earn you a quick (and permanent) scarlet letter.
That said, here are a few indispensables that you might find handy when it comes to dressing in a stylistically satisfying and professionally appropriate way:
Love the Non-Iron Shirt
The best non-iron shirt I’ve come across is by Brooks Brothers which is offered in a few very flattering varieties. Great quality with lots of endurance, meaning you can wash and wear this shirt until the cows come home and it will still look great. Not the most inexpensive in the world, but you won’t need to replace them often.
Shirt + Wrap Dresses: Completely Appropriate
Select a quality one that fits you well and you’re golden. This is the type of garment that’s perfect when you need to get dressed quickly and are in no mood to pull together some high-concept work ensemble. The silhouettes are fairly traditional and quite respectable looking, so you can pair yours with a colorful or print heel for some flair. Don’t go higher than an inch above the knee, hemline wise. Look for those in cotton, linen and other crisp fabrics, and steer clear of slinky fabrics like jersey, which has a way of turning up, rather than beating back, the hot.
Back to Shoes for a Moment…
I really like Tod’s for professional shoes. They’re a luxury brand, and deserving of the title because of the perennial elegance of their designs and bullet-proof quality of their workmanship. For You: Look for 2-3 shoe designers or brands that consistently churn out pairs you love, are of excellent quality and comfortable to wear. Hunt for discounted pairs and, again, get in the habit of buying fewer shoes, but better shoes. Take care of your luxury heels and they’ll last forever. Plus, you might like that you rarely cross paths with another gal wearing the same shoes as you.
Work in a straight-laced place? Let your shoes do the talking…
Let Your Hair Down
Nail down a few hair styles that you can pull together quickly, look good and are consistent with your Professional Style Brand. Think of each hair style as a visual balancing act: In the photo above the model’s bouncy long waves work because the rest of her look is traditional and understated. If you’re going to wear something more edgy, tame your hair accordingly so the overall effect stays within the bounds of good taste for your professional situation.
I actually booked an appointment with my hair stylist, and we came up with three looks that I consistently use to beat back the big hair goodness for different professional scenarios. She showed me the hair accessories I’d need, and walked me through each step so I’d get it right on my own. Voila.
Use your hair style to visually communicate and balance your professional look
This is a portrait of the first self-made woman millionaire in the United States: Madam C. J. Walker. Her bio is a seriously up-from-her-bootstraps story if there ever was one. Her life was dedicated to self-optimization on every front, and along the way, she lifted up thousands of others.
Born Sarah Breedlove in 1867, her parents were former slaves who worked as sharecroppers on a cotton plantation in Delta, Louisiana. Sarah was orphaned as a child, then widowed at age 20 with a small child in tow.
In 1906 she did three important things: she created a line of hair products, re-named herself Madam C. J. Walker and began selling her hair products door to door.
Madam C. J. Walker’s firm, the Walker Company, eventually grew to employ over 20,000 men and women in the U.S., Central America and the Caribbean.
A keen capitalist who created products that women wanted?
Yes. But Madam C. J. Walker also profoundly inspired those who worked for her, and the countless others who heard her words on individual determinism and self-sufficiency.
“I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”
Madam C. J. Walker understood the concept of personal self-improvement. She knew she held it in her hands, this power to utterly transform herself and change how the world saw her.
It makes sense that her first, and most famous, product, Wonderful Hair Grower, sprung from her efforts to improve her own scalp and hair, and a desire she had. For others to look and feel good: “I want the great masses of my people to take a greater pride in their personal appearance and to give their hair proper attention.”
(Side note: Wonderful Hair Grower was formulated with sulphur, which helps moisturize and boost the sheen of black hair.)
As Madam C. J. Walker became more successful, she cultivated an eye for fine things, and employed a tutor to upgrade her grammar and school her in subjects that would help her communicate more effectively.
She smartly invested in real estate, which increased her net worth and helped her advance a myriad of social institutions and causes, from the YMCA and NAACP to ending desegregation and helping women get the vote.
“I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations….I have built my own factory on my own ground.” (Madame C. J. Walker, July 1912)
Madame C. J. Walker passed away in 1919 at her 34-room estate overlooking the Hudson River in New York.
Madam C. J. Walker still inspires many people, myself included, who look at her self-propelled journey from shack to villa, and think, “Maybe I could too…”
You’re a dude. You’re out on the beach, on the streets, in a park or so forth. Maybe you’re with a girl; maybe you’re not.
You spot a stray piece of trash, a stray bottle or runaway plastic bag. Increase your desirability in two seconds by picking it up and tossing it in the trash. If it’s covered with grodiness, look for a leaf or something to cover your hand first, or just pass go on the move for the moment.
This Cool Male Move is effective on so many levels they’re hard to count.
The move publicly communicates that you give a rat’s behind about keeping our fair Earth nice. It demonstrates dignity and a community consciousness. It sets you up as an Independent Man of Action with a certain protectiveness that the ladies are particularly keen on these day. (Scarcity principle, you see.)
I could go on, but you get the message.
Most important, this Cool Male Move will actually make you feel good. Removing a stray eyesore from your path will bring a small boost to your sense of self-efficiacy. Which is to say, it will increase the feeling that you have the power to change something in your life, in your environment. Each positive action you take in your life, no matter how small, contributes to this feeling, which is similarly called (don’t cringe, fellas) empowerment.
Finally, you might have to beat back the ladies after executing this Cool Male Move.
Caveat (I love that word)
This Cool Male Move is not a suggestion that you become the world’s garbage man, or that you pick up after the drunks on the town square every night.
Origin of This Move
I like to run in the evening, usually after the sun has set. I like to run the stairs near where I live. They are typically empty at this time, so I can zip up and down them without maneuvering like I’m on the freeway.
Here’s the thing. Particularly during summer months there are a lot of people who come to the beach, where these stairs are located. Some of these people are straight-up widgets, in that they stuff empty water bottles in the tops of these nice driftwood columns situated at the base of the stairs.
Garbage tossed in nature is downright blasphemous in my book. I used to cringe when I saw those littered driftwood columns. One day I had a brilliant idea: “By George I’ll just get rid of that trash myself.”
Problem solved. The driftwood gets its dignity back, and I can run in the peaceful and civilized oceanfront atmosphere to which I’ve become accustomed.
In short, I started doing this move for me. Okay, and the driftwood, too. Too bad there are never any hot babes around to see it.
Air Optix Colors Event. This very nice man’s eyes matched his shirt…
I got to test drive a pair of Air Optix Colors recently, and might I say I am very impressed. I am a wearer of color contacts from way back, when I had a pair of Fresh Look color contacts that I saved up for and stored lovingly in my medicine cabinet like they were the Crown Jewels.
I wore my precious color contacts faithfully to clubs and parties; they could magically turn the color of my quite-brown eyes to a curious cross between a caramel and a tiger’s. Side Note: The power to transform oneself visually, even subtly, is powerful. Fun, too.
However, after a few hours I found these color contacts not so comfortable, and they never looked quite natural anyway.
During sunlight hours I never wore them. The other-worldly color and fit created a barrier to connecting with others. And, of course, if you took one long look into my eyes…the gig was pretty much up, color wise.
Air Optix Colors are the next generation of color contacts, and they’ve improved significantly, massively, on wearability and believability. Having tried them, I see where they are different:
Comfort: These color contacts are breathable, so you can wear then for a good long while without feeling them.
Virtual Reality: The color design is more nuanced, more intricate, so they look like your real eyes.
Fit: They seem to be engineered more sleekly, so there is no perceptible look of contacts sitting on your eyes. In other words, the communication-barrier thing I spoke about above is gone.
As I walked around the event, held in a room brightly lit by California sunlight, and met other people wearing them, I think I said, “Sooo, your eyes are really brown?” to about a half-dozen people sporting either bright blue or light green eyes. I had to ask because their eye color looked so unmistakably theirs—and I was staring, too. There were no Hulk eyes anywhere.
I tried on a pair of green Air Optix Colors, and they looked very natural. (Note: There is a “Subtle” line of colors and a “Vibrant” line.) After a couple of hours, the contacts came out and my eyes felt great.
You can see for yourself at the Air Optix Colors Studio, where you can upload a photo of yourself and mess around with a pair of these presentation game changers.
I’ve been wanting to write about ties for a while.
They are a fairly vital part of a man’s style arsenal. A tie can pull together a man’s look (or not), plus transmit his personal style sensibility in an instant. The location of the tie, on the heart of the body and close to the face, makes it an accoutrement that every man should put some thought into.
Even the man who purports to hate ties and dressing up and all that stuff should know he’ll be wearing a tie on some fairly key occasions in life…perhaps at his prom, wedding, while doing grown-up work stuff and, um, at a funeral. And that’s the short list of occasions where a man really should sport a tie.
Omar Sayyed, President and COO of Ties.com
Omar Sayyed is President and COO of Ties.com. He spends much of his walking hours curating lines for the upcoming season as well as developing new lines of products, like wood tie bars, which have been a big seller at his company.
He was very kind to offer some serious tie expertise to Practical Glamour. Whether you are a guy (I’m finding there are a lot of you visiting this site these days), or a lady who wants to help her guy look his most excellent, read on for Omar’s advice.
Constance: Skinny, regular or bow-tie. How does a man know which silhouette is best for him?
Omar Sayyed: Generally speaking a more slender guy should wear a skinny tie or bow tie. If you’re a little heavy up top or your have a larger body frame stick to the classic regular tie.
A bow tie is for everyone. We’ve seen a huge resurgence of men buying bow ties. Bow ties have the same popularity has ties in many parts of the country. No one should really limit themselves based on their silhouette, but rather with what looks good with your outfit.
“A bow tie is for everyone.”~Omar Sayyed, Ties.com
Constance: I love that Ties.com offers a cornucopia of ties in nearly any imaginable color, texture and silhouette. And the prices are very modest. What do you say to the guy who is used to spending more on a tie?
In other words, tell me about quality at Ties.com.
Omar Sayyed: We have been in the necktie business for well over 12 years now and we design and manufacture all of our ties in-house. Our quality is the best in the industry.
When we opened our doors, we wanted to offer a simple way for men to shop for neckties, bow ties and other fashion accessories. Along the way, we figured we could manufacture our products ourselves and pass on the savings. If you’re used to paying more, I urge you to at least give us a try once.
If you don’t like our products or think you’re still better off paying $50 – $90 at your local store, we’ll refund you’re money. We spend a great deal of time thinking of our production procedures and we’ve looked at how some name brands produce theirs and I can attest that each time you compare our products to a competitor, you will realize how much better our products, packaging and delivery really is.
Constance: Unlike women, men have a limited repertoire of garments at their style disposal (think slacks, blazer, shirt). I think ties are a great way for a man to bust out some individual style.
Omar Sayyed: I agree. Women are always accessorizing and putting the final touches on their outfits. In the last two years, men have began to do this as well.
Besides a necktie or a bow tie to finish you’re look, you can add a tie bar or a pocket square. Soon we will start carrying lapel flowers which is also a great way to finish off a menswear look.
Constance: What is a safe choice, tie wise, for the traditional office guy who is looking to bring a bit of personality and color to his everyday slacks and button-up combo?
Omar Sayyed: So all men should really carry a black silk tie. I carry one in my car, when I travel, and of course at my desk. The black necktie is to a man as a black dress is to a woman.
I will finish by saying that you can really rock a black tie almost any day of the week with the right blazer. I find that I go to my black skinny silk tie at least twice a month. For a man that has more than 400 ties, that’s saying a lot.
Here are some excellent, down-to-earth tips to help you lose weight, shape up and otherwise keep that fine booty of yours looking nice. They come courtesy of Michael Volkin, or shall I say Sergeant Volkin. An Army veteran and entrepreneur who has authored 3 military books to help recruits prepare for basic training, the man clearly knows of what he speaks.
Michael Volkin, author of 3 fitness books, Army veteran and creator of Weightloss Stack 52
Michael Volkin: Below I explain several myths that you might be doing right now to try and lose weight. If you are, then stop wasting your time and money.
MYTH # 1 – LOSING WEIGHT REQUIRES HUNGER PAINS
The fact is, what you eat is more important than how much you eat.
If you don’t eat enough, your metabolism will slow down, making your body want to store fat. As a result, your initial weight loss will come from water and muscle, instead of fat. You should try to consume healthy food choices and save those foods (and beverages) that are high in fat, sugar and calories for special occasions.
Yes, you can have those unhealthy food choices from time to time, in fact, it’s encouraged. Without a cheat meal or snack every now and then, you will get frustrated and lose sight of your goal. Please note, I said a cheat meal, not a cheat day. I see too many people doing cheat days, which is way too much for your body to overcome on a weight loss plan.
Not all fats are bad, says Michael Volkin
MYTH # 2 – EAT NO FAT WHATSOEVER
This is a very old and popular myth. Your fat intake should be limited to around 15% of your overall daily calorie intake.
Fat is needed in any diet to lubricate your joints, keeps your skin smooth and elastic, provide a source of energy, help your nervous system function properly and more. Olive, flaxseed and fish oils are good sources of fats. Fats to avoid include saturated fats and hydrogenated fats (also known as trans fats).
Clearly, not all carbohydrates are bad. The key, says Michael Volkin, is portion control. Hubba, hubba.
MYTH # 3 – AVOID CARBS
You’ve certainly heard this before, “Carbohydrates are bad for you and should be avoided”. This myth has been trending lately as fad diets like Atkins and its copycats become more and more popular.
The truth is carbohydrates have a moderate amount of calories (about half as many as fat). Simple carbohydrates (sugar) should be limited, but complex carbohydrates: whole grain and starches are high in nutrients.
The problem with carbohydrates is portion control. Too many people eat at restaurants with huge portion sizes loaded with 5 times the amount of carbs needed for a given meal. The best way to control your carb portions is to cook for yourself.
I love a tasty rib from time to time, but meat moderation is a good thing. Michael Volkin says there are other ways to get your protein on.
MYTH # 4 – MEAT IS THE ONLY WAY TO GET ENOUGH PROTEIN
Meat is a great source of protein, but it certainly is not the only source. Meat can also be high in fat and sodium so many people look for alternative sources of protein.
Egg whites are a prime source of protein and so are various vegetables and legumes like peas, spinach, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.
30 minutes of exercise, at least 4 days a week, says Michael Volkin. And you can break up your daily regimen. Tackling tasty waves most definitely counts.
MYTH #5 – EXERCISE AT LEAST 30 CONSECUTIVE MINUTES TO GET AN EFFECTIVE CALORIE BURNING WORKOUT
Adults should engage in a workout regimen for at least 30 minutes a day at least 4 days a week.
Research has shown that the activity does not need to be done all at once. The 30 minute routine can be split into two 15 minute intervals and provide the same health benefits.
Michael Volkin reminds us that sexy and smart vegetarian options abound to keep you looking fine…Yes, this is really a photo of my refrigerator.
MYTH #6 – VEGETARIANS AND VEGANS ARE HEALTHIER EATERS THAN CARNIVORES
Vegetarians on average eat fewer calories and less fat than carnivores (non-vegetarians). However, vegetarians can make eating choices that contribute to weight gain by eating large amounts of high-fat, high-calorie foods as well as food with little nutritional value.
The term vegetarian is not synonymous with health.
The best way to be sure you are getting a well balanced, nutrient rich diet is to eat more whole foods and less processed, pre-packaged foods and to avoid eating out as much as possible. Make eating out an occasional treat, but try to prepare most of your meals yourself and you will be on your way to living a healthier, leaner lifestyle.
With your new found knowledge of weight loss, grab yourself a deck of my new invention, Weight Loss Stack 52, weight loss cards.
Don’t skip breakfast and work out daily…two habits of successful permanent weight loss
Bonus Round. Question:3,000 people who lost more than 30 pounds and kept it off for more than a year were surveyed. Which of the following was not one of the commonly shared behaviors of these participants?
A) Kept a food journal
B) Drank green tea daily
C) Never skipped breakfast
D) Exercised daily
E) Ate a balanced diet of fat, carbs and protein
The National Weight Control Registry tracked these 3,000 participants and found the following four commonly shared traits: Kept a food journal, never skipped breakfast, exercised daily and at a balanced diet of fat, carbs and protein. Drinking green tea daily was not one of the commonly shared behaviors of the participants.
Let’s say you’re headed to a get-together that involves buddies, booze and laughter—but it happens to fall on the eve before something important, like a day in your life.
If you want to join the festivities, drinks wise, without dry heaving your way to work the next day, arm yourself with this little bubbly sangria spritzer recipe. It will help you stay reasonably sober while being darn festive.
It’s very easy to pull together with just a few ingredients from your local grocery store. As in, pick up two, three things tops, and you’re golden.
First Step: Fill 2/3 of a glass or pitcher with pre-made sangria
Second Step: Fill 1/3 of glass or pitcher with bubbles
Either or seltzer or club soda works fine. The difference? Both are carbonated, but club soda has an extra zip in its taste.
If you want to kick up the festivities a notch, go for sparkling wine or champagne. Select the driest type (extra dry or brut) to minimize the sugar hit.
Third Step: Garnish with fruit
Keep it easy. Grab a bunch o’ grapes and toss them in. Pour in a cup or two of frozen blueberries and strawberries to brighten up things up. Frozen pineapple chunks do double duty as ice cubes and future snacks; after your cocktail is kaput, you can fish out those spongy little sangria-soaked chunks of goodness and eat them.
Finally, this tastes best over ice. Since this is warm-weather cocktail is fairly low in alcohol, an added plus of serving over ice is that, as it melts, it will dilute the drink and with it, the liquor content.
Me and Michelle of Catching Couture at LA Fashion Week
I was at Los Angeles Fashion Week and kept seeing this glitterball dressed in creatively eye-catching and very pretty ensembles. I happened to meet her at the closing party for the LA Fashion Council Collections and I found out that she was not only very fashionable, and very sweet, but she has this very snazzy and helpful blog called Catching Couture that’s all about pulling together a high fashion look no matter your budget. This was clearly a woman I had to interview!
Constance:Now, you routinely raid the racks of Ross, Marshalls, and T.J. Maxx for your fabulous finds. What are your two top tips for hunting high-end fashion at discount stores?
Catching Couture: Patience…patience is key. You can’t go there looking for a particular item—instead, you have to stop-in frequently (and with an open mind!) to browse.
It’s also important to know the market. High-end fashion tends to fly off the racks in high-end areas, so if I want to find some designer pieces marked down or on clearance, I go as far away as possible from, say, Beverly Hills. That is how I have had some great success finding $180 jeans marked down to $20!
courtesy of Catching Couture
Constance: Your “personal style brand” seems to be quite sophisticated and high style. Mine is more along the lines of easy, everyday glamour. But I’ve been wanting to perk up my look; add a touch of the au courant or a few couturesque notes without departing from my core style brand. Can you recommend a couple of strategies for achieving this?
Absolutely! There are several ways to easily boost your everyday glamour, but to me, it all comes down to details like the use of color, texture, and shine.
Color can be as simple as applying a lipstick (which can instantly make you appear more “dressed up”) or choosing everyday flats that have a little pop of a bright hue (i.e. Cole Haan’s oxfords for men and women with colorful midsoles). I believe the element of surprise is one of the most important things that keep fashion interesting and fun.
Playing with textures (which is much easier during cold months when thick knits and fuzzy coats are abundant) also naturally catches the eye and keeps an outfit from looking… like a uniform. Whether it’s adding a shaggy coat to your winter wardrobe, or opting for a pullover with a rough/unfinished him, contrasting textures and materials can make even the most basic pieces look more high fashion.
A good piece of jewelry can transform any outfit. Both delicate chain bracelets and blingy statement necklaces can complete an outfit and make it look refined and polished. And to clarify, please don’t mistake the word “good” for “designer/expensive”—I get compliments almost every time I wear this one curb chain ring that was $1.80 from Forever 21!
courtesy of Catching Couture
Constance: You and I chatted about the transformative effect of style and dressing well—and its power to uplift a mood and improve the way we relate to others, among other potent little life nuggets. What are some things that personal style does for you?
Style, like sports, concerts, or book clubs, brings like-minded individuals together. As a naturally introverted person, my personal style (and how others react to it) has greatly enhanced my confidence and made me more comfortable interacting with others. In a nutshell, conjuring up new looks for myself in creative ways has proven to be an exciting and rewarding experience.
My recent canvas of costume stores found an inordinate number of wench, naughty nurse, Daisy Duke and straight-up lady of the evening type costumes for the ladies to wear on All Hallow Even. Now usually, we have the style advantage over the fellows when it comes to garments, particularly since women have more options to begin with…skirts, dresses and pants in all lengths and silhouettes, for starters. And shoes, don’t get me started on shoes.
However, when it comes to Halloween the guys get a broader, more clever range of options. Last year, I remember howling at all the funny and creative costumes that I saw menfolk wearing, from a CHP officer to a lederhosen and feathered cap yodeler. Sherlock Holmes, a werewolf, Axl Rose, Vincent Van Gogh and on.
So I thought of a few Halloween costume ideas that might be a satisfying alternative to dressing up on Halloween as either a a) skank, or a b) super skank. Alternatives that won’t have you donning a thick wolverine outfit, or pulling a sheet over your head and poking out the eyes as a last-minute ghost who couldn’t find anything to wear except for a dusty devil costume in the corner of the store that generously came with a plastic staff, chintzy red lace lingerie and pair of horns.
These are fairly easy Halloween costumes to pull together and they have a bit of sass. And, since the word “Practical” is half of the name of this website, they all include a few garments and accessories that you can use throughout the year for more “Glamour,” (the other half of the equation here) so your Halloween investment is one that will last beyond October 31.
Grecian Goddess. Easy, easy and cute, too. Start with a strategic undergarment, such as a strapless or one-shoulder bodysuit. Fashion a white toga, or your most goddess-looking garment (could be a bridesmaid dress that is dyed, nipped and tucked) around your body and cinch with a wide belt, preferably gold. Since the gladiator sandal has been as commonplace as air during the last few seasons, it shouldn’t be too hard to get a hold of a pair. Arrange your hair in ringlet curls, or employ a wig. Situate a little gold crown in your hair or a gold leaf accessory. For makeup, keep it light and glittery in places. Emphasize your eyes with liner and mascara, and dust highlighter with shimmer across your lids, cheekbones and shoulders.
1920’s Good Time Girl aka Flapper. You get to be sassy and culturally historic at once. You’ll need bobbed hair, or a wig, a cigarette holder and long pearls. Don a beautiful silk slip-dress, t-strap shoes and knee-high stockings, and voila. Don’t forget a smoky eye, thin brows and bee stung dark lips, either. If you have a flask and you’re of drinking age, bring it along as a nice, very useable accessory.
Spanish Dancer. Notice I didn’t write “slutty dancer.” I bust out the Spanish Dancer card on Halloween because I happen to have a few of these costumes on hand. Start with a pair of black heels with ankle laces and pair with a long circle skirt that cinches at the waist. Pair with something white or polka dot and flouncy on top. Pull hair back in a low ponytail and twist into a tight bun. Adorn your head with a big, bright flower. Paint your nails red. For makeup: Foundation, a bit of blush, an exotic cat-eye and deep-red lipstick on the mouth. False lashes and a fan or castanets to click-click-clack are nice extras.
Jacqueline Onassis. Bright pink skirt and blazer with floppy tie blouse or simple sheath top and pearls. Matching pill box hat. Bobbed dark hair. Vintage structured handbag, white gloves and low flats. Light lipstick and dark, but not dramatic, eyes. Fake eyelashes if you have them.
Equestrienne. Do you have an English riding hat? Do you have a friend who has an English riding hat? You’re halfway there. Knee boots, a pair of jodhpurs (use leggings in a pinch), a white button up shirt and a blazer, the tweedier and the brown-er the better. And get a crop; you’ll need a crop. Pick up one at a local feed or tack store that stocks riding accessories. A very helpful item to have in your little hand if you happen to find yourself near a drunken heel on Halloween, by the way. Or anytime.
Chinese Bride. A traditional Chinese wedding dress is a nice thing to have in your closet year-round because the silhouette is so feminine, flattering and crisp. Plus, the shimmery brocade of the cloth adds a nice touch of well-behaved glamour. Buy an authentic one, either online or at a Chinese import-type shop in your city or town. The dress fabric is typically a brocade of red (considered good luck) with gold and silver embroidery. Wear matching red shoes, slippers or even gold mules with a delicate heel, if you have them.
Straighten your hair and pull it back in a sleek bun, adorning it with an ornamental pair of lacquer chopsticks, all the better if beading is attached. Simple red drop earrings. For makeup: Opt for medium- to high-coverage foundation to even the complexion, and use face powder generously to achieve a matte look. Blush the apple of the cheeks, add a non-smoky cat eye and a carefully painted scarlet mouth.
Have a lovely Halloween, ladies. And if you have any dandy ideas for Halloween costumes that are fairly DIY, easy to pull together and wear, feel free to share with the class.
The message of eking out your own happy life in this world was woven into everything Helen Gurley Brown did, it seemed.
As a teenager I collected old books–the campier the better–and at a thrift shop or yard sale I came across a copy of Sex and the Single Girl. I was drawn to the very 1960’s cover and snapped it up. I was slumped in a chair reading it one day and my father happened to see the title on the fuchsia cover. He frowned and said, “That’s a filthy book. You shouldn’t be reading it.”
I laughed, because the book didn’t seem filthy at all, more like a fun peek into the life of a saucy single gal in the 1960’s. I don’t think I read the whole thing, and I scarcely remembered, let along was corrupted by, any sex talk–and I loved Helen Gurley Brown’s style.
She was companionable, conspiratorial in a just between us girls way and real-life practical. I recall the book discussing the importance of being financially responsible and getting to work on time. Something about making sure your fanny was in your desk at 9 am, even if your hair was a mess and you had only guzzled down air for breakfast on your way to the office.
Around the same time I came across The Cosmo Guide’s Girl to the New Etiquette, a hardcover book of Cosmo articles that had been published in the early-1970’s. As editor of the magazine during this time, I’m assuming Helen Gurley Brown had something to do with its great compendium of articles, on everything from clothes to budgeting to gift-giving to being a good houseguest.
Her distinctive voice is all over it…encouraging and optimistic, with lots of clever, budget-neutral tricks for the reader. There is a piece on gifts that a modest-budget girl can get for a big-budget friend (a jar of homemade preserves, a certificate to house-watch or babysit, etc) and even how to transform flying into something fun and sassy (book first class, fly at night, look pretty and don’t be afraid to sit next to a handsome stranger).
I re-read the book as a lonely post-college girl living alone in the city for the first time, and on more than one occasion was buoyed by its cheerleading, its message to go out, dig those self-manicured hands deep into your life and enjoy it, damn it.
Every in memoriam of Helen Gurley Brown I’ve seen in the last couple of days seems to focus on her book Sex and the Single Girl and its go-ahead-and-do-it message to single gals of the 1960’s. In a different time Helen Gurley Brown would have a significant effect on me, but her influence had zero, zilch to do with sex and everything to do with cultivating and celebrating the female spirit…joie de vivre…independence…taking care of your life and your self. In all, she promoted what is the positive soul of individual glamour.
Covering your iPhone is a nice way to add a blip of color to your day, personalize it and, of course, protect and lengthen its life.
And LuxMobile Group makes zingy little cases for mobile devices…and their new mobilexpressions line is at Target for a limited run. Bright, good quality and easy to clean.
I am giving away 3 mobilexpressions iPhone 4 cases.
To enter: Share your coolest etiquette move with the class in the comments below.
Giveaway ends Wednesday August 8, 2012 at Midnight, PST, and is open to US residents, 18 years old or older. I will notify the winners via email, so make sure you leave one where you can be reached in the comments form.
Disclaimer: I received complimentary products by LuxMobile Group for the purpose of hosting a giveaway.
I think there’s some truth to the idea that romantic relationships are living things. Like plants or flowers, they need certain nourishment to not just get by but flourish. And not just the water and sun type either, but creative jolts of air that move a relationship forward. Nice surprises to pop on your mate that communicates that you care about him, you value him and that you know and like certain cool truths about him.
As a woman, some of the best romantic ideas for men are the simplest. Popular his and her psychology has, for a while now, put forth the idea that men tend to demonstrate love with action versus greeting cards, poetry and kittens. Making sure the oil is changed in your car and the tires are rotated before you head out on a solo road trip versus getting on one knee to recite a poem. So start to speak his language. Offer him warm, unexpected acknowledgements of him. In other words, act, don’t say.
Here are a few ideas to file under the romantic ideas or dating and love tips department:
Food, Wine, Love: If you don’t already know, figure out his favorite food. Better if it’s something he doesn’t eat a lot, is exotic or not readily available where he lives. Find a tiny restaurant that specializes in his favorite fare and take him there on a date. PS. And if Berlinersylta makes you gag, cheerfully keep it to yourself and order something you can stomach– food martyrs are not sexy.
If your guy’s not really the culinary type then transfer your detective work to beer, and stock his fridge. Get him a few bottles of wine or a very nice bottle of his favorite spirit. No definitive likes in food or wine? Be a profiler and pull together the traits of what he chooses to eat each day. Then introduce him to something fabulous and new that has all the characteristics that he enjoys. Who knows, you might turn him into a cheese fanatic or make him nuts for Vietnamese pho.
Find His Flattering Colors:If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about style, it’s rare that I can get through a column or article without mentioning color, and how the right shades and intensities can do natural wonders for your hair, skin, and eyes. And, of course, when you’re looking radiant it’s almost impossible to duck feeling pretty darn good also.
I have found in my various travels and adventures that the menfolk are less schooled on color selection then we ladies. (But they are really fast learners, by the way.) So the next time you’re sitting across from him, consider which colors flatter him, and think about those colors that you’ve never seen him in, but would probably look fantastic on him. Get him a scarf or shirt in that color, and when that uncertain look crosses his face while opening it, tell him how you think it will look great on him, and encourage him to try it on to see for himself.
His Health & Wellness: It can be as small an item as a lip balm with sunscreen in mint that is packaged in a masculine shape because you know a.) he likes mint b.) his lips get burned or chapped because he’s outside a lot and c.) and has a thing about putting on tubed lipstuff in public. Other ideas: a natural herbal sleep remedy because you know he’s been stressed lately…a small, no-maintenance chili plant because he loves hot food and this way, he can chop up a fresh chili and sprinkle it on pizza when he feels…herbal or natural skin ointments if he’s prone to oozing, cutting or bruising. (Arnica cream for bruising; for eczema, a chamomile cream; or a witch hazel antiseptic preparation for cleaning wounds) Tip: Avoid the coy Nurse Suzy looks or trying to dominate his health and eating habits unless you want him running for the hills.
Bond in the Great Outdoors: One of the grooviest things about being in a relationship or dating a guy who has a lust for life in him is the excitement of trying out new activities together. Even in the gnarliest of weather or the most one-horse of towns there are fantastic things you can do outdoors. And no, going through a fast food drive-through with the heat cranking is not among them.
Figure out an activity that you think he will really enjoy, then set it up for the both of you. Cross-country skiing…horseback riding…paddle boarding…ice skating…yoga…whale watching…golf…hiking…deep-sea fishing…sledding. Because you know how easy it is for well-intentioned plans for outdoor vigor can dissolve over Saturday morning coffee in an oversized t-shirt, be Captain Stubing: Make the reservations, pick up your guy, drive to the activity and pay for everything. He will not forget it. PS. Did I mention that showing enthusiasm and interest during such dates has the power to make or break them? In other words, if you’re not feeling it, and not a good actress, then pass go.
A fun outdoor adventure will bring you closer…
Personalize It: In the movie The Wedding Singer Drew Barrymore’s character gives her love interest music composition paper stamped with his name. Sweet. Easy.
Does your guy write letters or even to-do lists? Order a high-quality paper item that he’ll actually use with his name or a short quote or saying he’ll like printed on each sheet. It will be hard to not think of you each time he puts pen to paper.
So, back to the original idea of nice things to do for your guy. No matter what date or outing you set up, or what item you get him, remember that doing these things is not really about giving a gift. It’s about engaging in romantic communication. It is nonverbally saying: “Hi, I was thinking of you. I thought you might like this because I am someone who knows you, likes you, values you and likes to increase the amount of pleasure and happiness in your life. So here.”
Kimberly Fisher is an entrepreneur and writer whose ventures, like Jetsetera, tend to have two things in common: travel and glamour. Since, more and more, these concepts seem hard to reconcile (I’m thinking of air travel, for instance, which often feels like the glamour level of journeying on a packed city bus in the middle of July) I asked Ms. Fisher for some tips on looking and feeling calm and attractive while traveling.
You’re a woman who wears many hats and often travels to stylish and luxurious places. There are many rewards that come with looking good, or reasonably put together while traveling. What is the top reason that you like to look lovely while on the road?
The glamorous Kimberly Fisher on traveling beautifully
I think if you look good, you also feel good. If you feel good, others around you tend to feel good also. I try to keep things classic and simplistic. You will usually find me in neutral colors, classic bags and with articles that travel well.
Can you give us your most MacGyver Moment in terms of having to pull together some seriously practical glamour while traveling?
I tend to stick to the basics of my beauty routine and once in awhile I tend to forget to pack…a lot of things. While we were in the Philippines we had to attend a black-tie function and actually sent the hotel concierge out to buy us dresses. Needless to say, we looked like the hired wait staff.
You have great skin, which can be hard to maintain while traveling, particularly to a sunny or tropical locale. Do you have a non-sunscreen tip on how to save your skin and still enjoy the outdoors?
I love the sun and getting doses of Vitamin D. I tend to get a facial once a month to do away with the stress of traveling and different environments.
What is the one item (clothing or accessory) that you currently find indispensable to your personal glamour quotient–but is also totally practical?
A Bvlgari pink scarf. It does a lot of double duty as a scarf, shawl, pillow, blanket, etc. and adds just the right amount of color.
There are women and men who wouldn’t dream of traveling, or even going out to dinner, by themselves. I have the feeling that this is not a problem for you. What tip do you have that might increase the ease and public comfort of a person who is unaccustomed to traveling or going out alone in public?
I spend all of my time in the presence of others- at work, events, trade shows,etc. I absolutely welcome alone time. Sometimes I do end up traveling alone and love exploring new places by myself. The easiest thing to do to increase your own comfort level if you are unaccustomed to traveling alone is have dinner at the bar. The bartender is usually friendly and nearby, plus it opens you up to meeting other people.
Every year the IMATS (International Makeup Artist Trade Show) swings through town. Not just mine, a lot of them, as seen here. I go religiously to check out what is new and exciting and to check in with the fine people at some of my favorite lines, like Youngblood, Napoleon Perdis, MUD and Jane Iredale.
But the biggest draw is always the lineup of makeup artists who do seminars and talks on specialized topics. Men and women from all over the world who have been doing makeup professionally forever, and know of every tip, trick and process when it comes to using makeup to enhance that beautiful and unique face of yours.
And, since my focus is how to use any and all of your assets — skin, hair, figure, manner and movement — to present the most authentic, attractive and optimistic version of yourself to the world — and reap all the benefits that come with this proposition — I am always on the lookout for super-strategic tips to help make this happen.
Here are 5 new tricks picked up at the IMATS that I’d like to share:
Mascara First. Napoleon Perdis was the first one to school me on this, and makeup artist Rae Morris seconded it, and for the following reasons: it defines your eyes, giving you an easier visual blueprint of strategy for applying the rest of your eye makeup. It is an application process that’s best done meticulously, not in a scramble at the end of your makeup regime when you’re thinking about how you have exactly two minutes to get out the door. And, putting on mascara first will make it easier to clean up any stray flakes from your cheeks — easier to do on bare skin versus having to corral them from a freshly made-up face, foundation and powder and all.
Visualize an invisible, parallel between your eyebrows and nostrils–to create the look of a wider nostril span, use your tools to create more open space between your eyebrows, as seen on Ms. Talisa Soto, easily one of the most beautiful women in the history of mankind…
Your Eyebrows, Your Nose. If you desire, visually “cut” the span of your nostrils by using your brow pencil and/or powder to move the your eyebrows closer. In other words, if you feel that you would like the width of your nostrils to appear more slender, move your eyebrows closer together. No unibrows, though! And vice versa. If you would like to give your nostrils a more expansive look, tweeze to create a greater distance between them.
Match your foundation to your shoulder, not your neck. As sort of seen here in this pose…the skyline of that awesome city Dallas seen behind me
Foundation Match Point. Rae Morris recommends matching the color of your foundation to your shoulders — not your neck. One’s neck is usually much paler than the rest of the body, making it a bad proxy for determining one’s perfect foundation shade. This is easy to check in the mirror: Turn to face your side, and dip your chin to meet your bare shoulder. Your face, with foundation, should match the skin tone of your shoulder.
Give Yourself Some Glow. Mix yourself up some fine face glow by mixing Vaseline (or a favorite balm) with pigment to create a custom cheek, eyelid or lip color, says Ms. Sarah Lucero from Stila, which is a true makeup artist’s brand. Don’t limit yourself to pigment designated for ‘cheeks’ or ‘lips’ either. A lot of boundaries have been coming down in makeup in recent years, as women find that some products work fantastically beyond that which they were initially created and marketed.
Wrong, wrong, says makeup artist Rae Morris. The back of your hand is no place to check out a new lipcolor.
A Fingertip Trick. Why do we test lipstick by swiping it on the backs of our hands? Does that area in any way resemble our lips? If your lips are as the same shade as the back of your hand, then you need to increase your iron intake and see a specialist, and stat, young lady. Much better, says Rae Morris, to test a prospective lipstick color is the tip of your finger, which approximates the color and texture of your lips.
So that’s it, folks. In the future I’ll be posting some errant tips and tricks that I pick up from….everywhere. In the meantime, stay authentic and attractive. In other words, Stay Glamorous!
In the early 1960’s American designer Sylvia Pedlar of Iris Lingerie designed a little something to be worn by women who sleep in the altogether, aka, sans clothing. The little something was called a sleep toga, and it became all the rage, winning Ms. Pedlar a Coty Award. Rumor had it that even First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wore one.
The item, described as “A toga to shed when you go to bed,” by Life Magazine, debuted at a fashion industry luncheon in 1961, retailed for $28 and sold briskly. The design was simple–two narrow, floor-length strips of solid fabric that tied at the sides, making it easy to slip on and off when slinking into bed.
Ms. Pedlar’s inspiration was contrarian; a move against the frilly night-things that were everywhere at the time. “Everybody has gooked up lingerie too much,” said the designer. “There just had to be a reaction.” [Quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, Oct, 29, 1962].
Fast forward to you, circa the early 21st century: If you are not already in the habit of wearing pleasing things to bed, might I suggest you give some nice loungewear a chance. And if you prefer nothing at all while sleeping, indulge yourself with a nice robe or even a sleep toga, if you can find one. Single or no, your evenings and mornings should find you feeling luxurious and pretty.
The topic: Getting the 80/20 Rule out of Your Closet. Most of us wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. I share tips with WPLX’s Roxanne Stein on how to shop smarter, more strategically, for your wardrobe. The result: A leaner closet containing only those items that make you look and feel lovely–and no more money or time wasted lugging home bags of stuff you’ll never wear.
Actor Shailene Woodley: Picture of a Dignified Ingenue
Shailene Woodley, The Beautiful Ingenue. I almost fell off my chair when I spotted this 20-year-old while watching this year’s Oscars. (It was homework.) The gown is Valentino Couture, and reminds me of something a young Audrey Hepburn would wear. The rich cream, exceptional detail and quality of this dress was notable. Hair and makeup was kept soft and feminine, with the whole thing adding up to a picture of a elegant young woman, something that is rarely seen amongst the Hollywood crowd.
An assured, sexy woman many leagues away from matronly
On the other hand we have Glenn Close, who is the epitome of evolved sexiness. How she does it: This is a Zac Posen gown cut in a strategic, mermaid silhouette that is glamorous and alluring. The tuxedo jacket helps up the distinction and power of this look–and she is a woman who projects both. Both pieces are very structured and in a sophisticated color that incidentally works beautifully against the wearer’s silver hair. No glitter or sequins, which would not be consistent with her vibe or vintage.
Though the gown was a nice backdrop, what made Ms. Close stand out from the legions of other pretty young things on the red carpet was her confidence, poise and assured sexiness. Side note: I love that this is what 50-something is looking like these days.
I know a man named Greg. He is a man who has been on Earth for a fair number of years; I’ll guess around 50. He is a nice, decent guy who has known his share of women. The best Valentine’s Day he ever had happened when he was a teenager.
Here’s how it goes.
He asked a girl that he really liked out on a date for Valentine’s Day. He saved his money to take her to the grooviest place in San Diego. He got a new suit.
A few hours before their date he was getting swank in said new suit. A bouquet of flowers that he had picked for her were in the refrigerator. Then he got a call.
It was his boss, demanding that he deliver some furniture. At that point in his life Greg was in no position to say no. He got in his work clothes and drove to his date’s house in the company’s work truck with the flowers. His date answered the door. Her name was Debbie and she was dressed to go out. He apologetically told her about his fix. She told him to wait in the truck.
A few minutes later she climbed into the truck’s passenger seat. She was wearing a pair of jeans, a T-shirt and sneakers. “Let’s go,” she said with a smile.
They drove up to Los Angeles and delivered the furniture. During the drive they talked, listened to Led Zeppelin and laughed a bunch.
When they got back to San Diego around two in the morning, they got some fast food and drove out to the beach. They sat on the tailgate, ate their delectable paper-bag feast and talked and laughed some more.
It was, hands down, Greg’s best Valentine’s Day ever. Why? It was an experience. It was a great, romantic experience filled with connection and happiness and laughter. And experienced by two people who enjoyed one another. Oh, and she did think the flowers were nice.
Now, I like a puffy teddy bear as much as the next guy, but would trade a herd of them for five minutes of a Debbie-and-Greg kind of date, the likes of which I truly hope you experience this Valentine’s Day.
Ah, the past year may not have been the thing that fairy tales are made.
Now at the top of a new year, many a show, blog, advice column and so forth are filled with talk of resolutions and end of year assessments and the like. How you should put your attention to what was good, not-so, what you would do differently and what you might want more of in the coming year.
Since the mind is expert at scrambling away from pain and running into the arms of pleasure, such thoughts may want to make you blanch, or feel faint, or want to get incredibly drunk in the middle of the day.
But when it comes to your life, introspection–consciously identifying what works and what doesn’t–is entirely valuable, and doesn’t have to be painful. It can be fun and quick, like this: Mentally comb through the past year hunting only for its sweet and bright, luminant spots, those big and small things that made you extra happy to be alive.
I’m thinking of Jackson Hole, jumping a sweet course on Steely the horse in Palos Verdes, a particularly luscious pair of new suede heels and khaki strapless dress,”Chopin the Patriot,” talking Practical Glamour with lads and ladies, and a host of other things that will make no sense to anyone but me.
Check your bright spots off in your head or write them down. It will make you smile. If you feel it, go further, and think about the details of your favorites, the parts that gave you the most pleasure and where you might find more of the same in the coming year.
How’s that for a painless recap?
To that end, Adieu to this Year and Aloha to the New One. May you have much passion and fortune in the coming year.
Since I’m all for gifting oneself early and often, here are some non-stuff-based items you might want to think about bestowing on ye:
–Up your nutrition. It seems that certain foods suit particular body types or constitutions more than others. This and a lifetime of eating habits that may or may not include Doritos and hybrid cola-wild cherry slushies adds up to the need for some professional dietary input. Book an appointment with a good nutritionist, preferably one whom you’ve heard good things about. Alternately, you can look up a U.S. dietician at Eat Right, the site of the American Dietetic Association.
Another reason to see a nutritionist: food allergies. Marsha McCulloch is a registered and licensed dietitian in the Des Moines area and owner of In The Aisles who has a speciality in this area. An expert is needed to diagnose food allergies, which may be the culprit behind an array of physical issues you experience, because, according to her site: “Identifying which foods are problematic can be challenging since sensitivity reactions may be delayed by hours or even days after consumption.”
A meeting with someone who can customize an ideal eating approach for you will serve your life more fully than any pretty bauble or pair of shoes. (Ah, but you haven’t seen the shoes…)
–Dispose of subpar shoes and garments. Go to your closet and play “These Things Don’t Belong.” Pull out at least three items that have passed their expiration date in terms of fit, style or condition. As in: The item doesn’t convey anything positive about you in its cut or characteristic, or it just looks used and abused. Remove and dispose of the items immediately. You deserve better.
–Step into another language, even a little. You’ve been wanting to learn Italian forever. You want to speak fluent French. Say a few things in Japanese. Book a month of conversational language classes or meet up with a group that gets together to chat in a chosen tongue. The Foreign Service Institute has online language instruction in 40-plus languages, courses that were developed by the U.S. government and are completely complimentary.
–Forgive yourself. Give yourself a nonrefundable, nonretractable pass on something from your past that, up to now, you haven’t quite been able to.
–Eat better, dine in. Get re-acquainted with your kitchen and use it more often. Make it a more welcoming, useful place by cleaning and organizing. Throw out old spices or items that you don’t use. Get rid or stow appliances that you seldom use and are taking up counter space.
Chef Doug Silberberg of Los Angeles does something along these lines that I think is completely useful. He will meet you at your local grocery store or farmer’s market and teach you how to smartly and coherently shop. You will learn how to assess vegetables, differentiate and select cuts of meat and so forth. He also offers a kitchen consult, where he comes to your home to help orient your kitchen for maximum use. I can think of no better gift for certain bachelors and bachelorettes, and a few college types too.
–Do yoga. The most comprehensive path to fitness on Earth, I am convinced. In one shot you tone, stretch and strengthen your body plus calm and discipline your mind. I’m sure there are other virtues involved, but these are personal tops. There’s a yoga style and studio for everyone. Look in your town for one that suits your sensibilities and go.
–Personalize your postage. Upload a favorite personal image onto a U.S. postage stamp and you’ll be more motivated to keep in touch the old fashioned way, with a pen and paper, which happens to remain the most civilized way. The more stamps you order at Stamps.com, the better the price.
–Supplement daily. Find a supplement to fill your nutritional gaps, perhaps with the help of that nutritionist I mentioned earlier, and integrate it into your daily regime. You will feel and look better for it; but daily consistency is key. Supplements don’t necessarily have to be straight vitamins, either. A gal I know, Lynne Reynolds, swears by Juice Plus+, which she described to me as something like a salad bar in a capsule. Judging from the gorgeous glow of her skin and her enviable energy, it works.
–Book a date…with you! Go somewhere local and fantastic by yourself or, if that’s just not your bag, bring along a friend. (Make sure he or shares your idea of fantastic.) One of my memorable recent solo dates was sushi at the Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles followed by a chamber music concert in one of the historic ballrooms. If you happen to love chamber music, historic places and live near Los Angeles might I recommend the excellent series, Chamber Music In Historic Sites.
Dole out these self-gifts on a monthly basis, adding a few of your own to the list. If you’re a planner, map out each month’s gift in advance to make up a year of fine and luxurious gifts that are most certainly not stuff.
If you’re a glamour girl of the makeup-wearing kind, you know that the stuff simply does not last past a certain point. Like a flower, those vibrant lips and eyes and blushed-up cheeks that you create in the morning at your mirror will, depending on the climate and the nature of your skin, dim by lunch, and eventually be history by dinner. And an oily complexion or humid locale speeds up the process.
I’m not one to pack a counter of makeup in my purse, or engage in extensive re-repaint sessions during the day. In other words, if it’s a day for makeup, I like to put the stuff on once and be done. When 18-hour lipstick first came on the scene, I thought that one of Earth’s major problems had been solved. I promptly picked up a couple of tubes but found they had the feel of Wite-Out on the lips and looked just as sensual. I have tried other “marathon” and long wear makeup formulations but have found, overall, that they neither look nor feel quite good on the skin.
Using a finishing spray over your makeup is the best solution to keeping your makeup looking completely fresh and bright for the entire day. This is a growing category that is extending beyond professional makeup artists because it serves a very practical purpose for anyone who wears makeup. I’ve tried and re-tried Skindinavia’s No More Shine Makeup Finish Spray. They have an original version as well, but the “No More Shine” version is genius for oily skin types because it allows your skin to look real, with a bit of glow, while keeping it from getting too oily or slick looking.
The product claims to hold your makeup intact for 16+ hours, and it does. I have used it for shorter spans and it always works beautifully, but I wanted to see if it would hold up to the 16-hour test: I applied it over my makeup on a day that began at 6 am and, with zip-zero touchups save a bit of lip gloss, it absolutely sealed my makeup through 10 pm that night, which was around the tail end of a vigorous 2-hour flamenco dance class.
My Skindinavia 16-hour skin test
This picture was taken around 6 pm, about 12 hours after applying makeup, and in a day that included some lovely LA traffic, an early event, a trade show, work and more traffic. A bit of glow from the highlighter I was wearing on the cheeks and lids, but no grease.
Look. It keeps the natural finish and texture of your makeup intact and lets your skin breathe. In other words, no cakiness or dried-out matte mask looks. For instance, if you’re wearing a matte foundation with a shimmery shadow and rather dewy blush, the finish spray will keep the look of each of these as-is.
Feel. Skindinavia is invisible, with no discernible scent or weight. It didn’t irritate the eyes or cause mascara to smudge, even though it’s a liquid spray. Hours and hours into wearing it, there was no hint that it was on the face. No dryness or gummy, chemical feel on the face whatsoever.
Application. Fast, fast, fast. A few sprays on the face before you walk out the door.
Skindinavia's No More Shine Makeup Finish Spray
It’s worth the investment to have a bottle on hand for when you want your face and makeup to look fresh for a long stretch, and don’t want to think about ducking into the ladies room for a touchup.
Skindinavia’s No More Shine or Original Makeup Finishing Spray (2 oz /$19 ; 4 oz /$29). If you plan to use the product only occasionally, you will probably be fine with the 2-ounce bottle, as very little of the product is used with each application.
To use, shake the bottle well and spray lightly on the face, before and after applying makeup. I have forgotten to spray it on the face before applying makeup though–something I suspect is common–and found that it is just as effective when only sprayed after the fact. A mist of 4-6 pumps is more than sufficient on the face. Hold the pump about 8-10 inches from your skin.
Dramatic makeup is quite the rage these days, particularly bold eyes and scarlet lips. This look is great but tends to have a short shelf life, and looks best, its most vibrant, when freshly applied. Not so good at the tail end of a long night. Use this product over such looks, even if you’re just planning on going out to dinner. The product material states that it holds eye shadow, foundation, blush and concealer, but I have found that it holds lipstick nicely as well.
Given how well Skindinavia holds back shine, I think there could be some excellent applications for men who want to control the look of a shiny face, and women who don’t wear makeup but don’t want their skin to have the look of too much luster.
Richard Torregrossa is a notable journalist and author of many books, one of which is the lovely Cary Grant: A Celebration of Style. He is also a soulmate of sorts, having been writing and speaking about the transformative effect of style for many moons.
Therefore, let’s just say I was more than a little pleased to have the opportunity to interview Mr. Torregrossa on the state of style and man.
The biography you wrote about the style evolution of Cary Grant focuses on how Grant self-optimized himself, how he clearly and consciously articulated what and who he was to the world via his presentation. What is the most important thing that a man, one who is just starting to think about his presentation in these terms, can do to become more aware about the state of his presentation?
Experiment with upgrading. And I’m not talking about spending a lot of money on designer clothes. For instance, switch from a sweatshirt or hoodie to a sports jacket and observe the reaction from others. I did. And it surprised me. I was going to a barbecue, a very informal event, and put on a sports jacket over a plain white V-neck T-shirt purely for utilitarian purposes. A sports jacket to me is like a briefcase. It cleanly holds my keys, cell phone, wallet, and other paraphernalia without any unsightly bulges like the kind you find when you stuff your pants pockets. As I stepped out of the house I ran into a neighbor who said, “Hey, Rich, where you going all dressed up?”
All dressed up? All I did was put on a sports jacket. I mean, I was wearing a T-shirt and jeans. But the sports jacket clearly made a transformative impression and it surprised me. I learned something that day. The slightest upgrade in your wardrobe and personal appearance will be noticed for the better.
Another suggestion is to find a style (or style icon) you like and try to emulate it but not slavishly. Add personal touches to make it your own.
I laud the many benefits of presenting one’s most attractive and authentic self to the world, and on an everyday basis. As a gal I know that the benefits of a lovely presentation are rich, with some of them unique to the female experience, such as the desire to feel beautiful. What benefits of enhancing or optimizing one’s presentation do you think are rather unique or specific to being a man?
Confidence. Being well dressed, especially on bad days, can boost your mood, make you feel your mettle, and psychologically enable you to feel just a bit more prepared to take on the world. Also, it is, at least for me, an exercise in discipline. And the more discipline we have, the greater our chances of success in our personal as well as our business relationships.
Are these unique to men? Probably not. Women know these benefits and get the most out of them. Men just need to catch up.
Lastly, in a piece you wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle you coined the phrase The New Gentleman to denote a “fresh approach to style” for men. Circa 2011, what is the state of The New Gentleman? How do you characterize this concept today, and do you think men in general are moving closer to it, or further away?
There’s a huge polarity. There are guys who are keenly interested in menswear who have mastered all the details such as stitching and fabric and cut and pairing it all with the right accessories. They also experiment with different pieces from different eras in an effort to create a unique style, a presentation that is comfortable, fashionable, and at the same time expresses something about them, a point of view, as it were.
Then you have the other extreme; the Hipster look, for instance. These are guys who think they look smart but are laughable in my estimation. Unmanly even. The most execrable ensemble in sartorial history is cargo pants with a T-shirt and flip flops. Yet, sadly, it is ubiquitous. The reason for its popularity is the comfort factor, a kind of spiritual laziness. And it should be banned along with the three-day growth of beard that to me just looks ratty and unkempt, another sign of sloth and a kind of faux hipness. Follow the pack and you end up looking beastly.
And it’s not fully the guy’s fault. Why aren’t women making them tow the sartorial line? I see couples out and about all the time exhibiting an odd disparity: the woman is beautifully groomed and attired while the guy looks like he just came from a Home Depot workshop. Why is this? Why don’t women put their foot down, demand that their boyfriend or husband show some respect for the event, for the evening, for the romance of going out by insisting that they dress better?
The smarter men are moving towards The New Gentleman way of being for a number of reasons. First, dressing well gives you a competitive edge, especially in this dour economy. It sends a subliminal message to bosses, HR people, and colleagues with whom you network that you’re pulled together, even though you might not be setting the world on fire just yet.
Second, it’s fun. The New Gentlemen are in on this little secret. They know the delight in finding just the right suit, vintage garment, pocket handkerchief, or casual ensemble that makes them stand a little taller, walk a little prouder, and enriches their sense of aesthetic pleasure. And when one New Gentleman encounters another New Gentleman there is an instant bond, a mutual respect that represents an ever-widening circle of networking opportunities.
Third, the ritual of dressing smartly brings order into a world that is chaotic, cold, and entropic. Most of life is out of our control, but dressing well is certainly within our reach, every day, almost under any circumstance, and that in itself is satisfying, a kind of small but important antidote to the sea changes that are roiling the culture right now.
In conclusion, there are certainly more slobs out there than New Gentlemen (and not much in between). But the New Gentlemen, in 2011, stand out in a crowd so there seems to be more of them. When men understand this, perhaps the scales will be tipped in favor of the New Gentleman. But right now, like the Marines, we are the few, the proud.
For me, seeing a genuine bona fide cowboy or girl is along the lines of seeing a Martian. I was raised far from cowboy country and I don’t have a speck of cowgirl DNA in my being. Recently I had the distinct pleasure of being around several, and found that there is a unique and singular glamour about the cowgirl.
For one, they spend time outdoors. A lot of time. So much that every inch of their face, style and body reflects it, cowgirl or boy, whether it’s in the form of deeply tanned skin, dusty boots or strong build. A quick way to tell a real-deal cowgirl or boy from the urban variety is in their movements, strong and purposeful and unhurried all at once. That, and a glance at their hands. The hands of the real deal are muscular and constantly being used to tie something or grasp something or direct something. They are typically thick, strong and sinewy and lined. Like the face, there is a lot of authenticity in the hands of the cowgirl or boy.
The life of the cowboy or cowgirl is not an easy one, nonetheless there is a freshness and satisfaction that I see in their eyes and faces that I don’t see in a lot of other people. Here’s the thing: the cowgirl works her tail off but does not look worn; she looks refreshed and alert. The people I see who look the most worn or fatigued by life are those with deep circles and paunches and unhealthy skin who spend too much time indoors or in cars or staring at computer screens and eating too much sugar.
Cathy, pictured here, is a real cowgirl who is also one of the most beautiful women I’ve seen in a while. She ropes and calves and breaks horses and does many other things along these lines, starting from when the sun is not yet up until it sets, and in places like North Dakota in the snow.
When I asked her for a glamour secret or two that I could share, she blushed and said she doesn’t do anything special on the looks front. She did say that she let her natural hair color come in, a strong silver that goes beautifully with her deeply tanned skin and sparkling blue eyes.
I figured that ultimately it is her projection of strong, physical energy and joie de vivre that really wraps up her lovely figure and face. So, the beauty of the cowgirl essentially has to do with these nuggets:
Be authentic to who you are.
Spend a lot of time outdoors breathing fresh air and engaging in vigorous and purposeful activities.
It seems that, if you are a cowgirl or boy, it is because of a calling and one that rules out the option of doing other, non-cowboy things with your life like sitting in heels and a skirt at a desk, or knotting a tie around your neck in a condo somewhere each morning. A cowboy told me that once he tried to sell cable from an office in San Diego and lasted only a week. Four days, actually.
I’ll save a discussion on cowboy etiquette for another day. Suffice it to say, I’m convinced that all is not lost on the civility front as long as cowboys remain in our great nation.
I have always thought it a loss to artists that the original concept of the Muse had faded, along with its practice and benefits. Alas, writer Bondo Wyszpolski has not forgotten, and puts his Muse to good purpose in the form of a show she inspired, he originated and then curated, “Alone in the Moonlight: Portraits of the Muse.”
Thirty photographers in Los Angeles were called on to interpret her, a local woman Bondo met when he interviewed her for a story on an unrelated matter, and whom he quickly recognized as a Muse. That someone we meet at a certain time and for a certain purpose: to inspire, refill, awaken, rejuvenate…use whichever term best describes that phenomenon of bumping into the soul that urges you to do your best work again, and for its own sake. Your Muse can take the form of many: male, female, youthful or not-so, handsome or no-so, friend or lover or neighbor or none of the above.
Photographer Don Adkins’ interpretation of the Muse
The exhibit is worth seeing, and Wyszpolski’s written piece on the project is required reading before you do so to best understand the ideas behind it. And the ideas. As is the case when the elegant and unconfessional make a public declaration of a private matter, Wyszpolski’s essay on the Muse in general and his in particular (her name is Laura) is potent and sensitive. An excerpt:
Women at the opera and women at art openings are women at their most alluring, but in the two years I’ve known her I’ve never been able to entice Laura to either one. Someday I’ll write the opera, but in the meantime I’ve created an art show around her.
If you’re not in the Los Angeles area, you can view some but not all of the photos here, or see the exhibit in the flesh, which is really the preferred way to go. “Alone in the Moonlight: Portraits of the Muse” can be seen through June 29, 2011 at:
Creative Arts Center
1560 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Manhattan Beach, CA
I happen to love this portrait of Bobby Jones, a man of massive accomplishment and a bit of style, too.
Father’s Day is this Sunday. This means that if you haven’t already, you’ll need to vamoose to get something in the mail or ready to hand off on the big day. Since Father’s Day can cause the big gift screen in the mind to go blank and result in a last-minute scramble to produce a gift, any gift, in order to satisfy the custom of the day, here are a few thoughts on gifts to satisfy not just the custom but the sentiment as well:
Style: Think of some of your father’s most enduring style points or accessories, and add to the collection. Look back at old photos for ideas and inspiration, ignoring the disco shirt phase and the bow-tie phase. Is it cufflinks, Hawaiian shirts, belts or baseball hats? Your contribution should be high-quality and accurate–the exact style, size and shade should be in keeping with what you know he already loves. If you’re only fuzzy on the matter, keep reading.
Leisure: Every father has some activity or leisure pursuit that he loves. Whether it’s golf or gardening or blackjack, don’t just get him some extraneous new gadget that will lie dormant in the trunk of his car. Get him something that either
upgrades something he already owns and uses regularly, or
solves a problem or issue he currently has related to this activity
For the first, this might be something along the lines of a less geeky basketball ensemble or a luxe tackle box. The second might be satisfied by purchasing him a golf swing analysis with a pro at a local facility, getting him a new and improved reading light (they’ve come up since the 1980s) or an item that expedites kitchen duty.
Self Care: It isn’t uncommon for a father to bristle at the thought of his children spending their money on him instead of depositing it into their piggy banks, so go super practical and assemble a line up of personal care products that he’ll use. A few items to include:
multi-vitamin formulated for men
face lotion with SPF
bath bars or gel
after shave or cologne
hair cream or pomade
breath mints or oil
Keep the products as pure and naturally formulated as possible. I recommend buying these items ad hoc at a health food store for the best selection, or buying a kit from a brand that you know he likes. Men’s grooming company Every Man Jack has Starter Kits with packaging that will appeal to even the most product-phobic man. After assembling all of the items, place them neatly in a gorgeous toiletry bag. (Get it monogrammed if it will be ready in time.)
*A Parting Tip: If none of these have adequately stirred a thought in your head on what to get the old man, keep thinking. Reflect on a conversation you’ve had in the last year where he’s expressed some preference, some desire or complaint, small or large. Maybe he regrets that he stopped studying Italian and never learned to surf, or there’s a specific book he’s been meaning to read forever. Or he’s been thinking of getting certified to teach, buying property in Montana or visiting his boyhood home. What can you do to help move his goals forward, even by a tiny bit? It can be along the lines of buying him an audio series or book on the subject, signing him up for a class or buying him a travel voucher with no expiration date. No matter the gift, he will no doubt recognize and appreciate the gesture of a child who wishes to make their father’s life better in some way.
Today is the first day of June and also, if she were alive, the 85th birthday of Marilyn Monroe.
Born in Los Angeles in 1926 and reared in a series of foster homes, Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson, managed to cling to her unique and beautiful spirit, and manifest it outward, in person and on screen.
The young Norma Jean was a master of practical glamour: she studied herself, then optimized her face, figure and movements to realize and communicate the persona of Marilyn, and she did this with few resources. She jogged in the streets to maintain her figure well before it was a trend, she studied anatomy charts and even lobbed off a bit of the heel of one of her pumps to enhance her sensual sway. Good move, for her walk got her a bit part in a Marx Brothers movie (Love Happy) where she was showcased simply walking across the screen, an appearance that got her a mention in Louella Parsons’ high profile gossip column and caught the eye of her future agent.
Much has been written about Marilyn Monroe as a star and a woman, but the most on-target analysis I have ever read comes from Ayn Rand, who wrote the commentary “Marilyn Monroe: Through Your Most Grievous Fault” two weeks after Marilyn’s death on August 5, 1962. Below is an excerpt:
If there ever was a victim of society, Marilyn Monroe was that victim–of a society that professes dedication to the relief of the suffering, but kills the joyous.
None of the objects of the humanitarians’ tender solicitude, the juvenile delinquents, could have had so sordid and horrifying a childhood as did Marilyn Monroe.
To survive it and to preserve the kind of spirit she projected on the screen–the radiantly benevolent sense of life, which cannot be faked–was an almost inconceivable psychological achievement that required a heroism of the highest order. Whatever scars her past had left were insignificant by comparison.
She preserved her vision of life through a nightmare struggle, fighting her way to the top. What broke her was the discovery, at the top, of as sordid an evil as the one she had left behind–worse, perhaps, because incomprehensible. She had expected to reach the sunlight; she found, instead, a limitless swamp of malice.
It was a malice of a very special kind. If you want to see her groping struggle to understand it, read the magnificent article in the August 17, 1962, issue of Life magazine. It is not actually an article, it is a verbatim transcript of her own words–and the most tragically revealing document published in many years. It is a cry for help, which came too late to be answered.
“When you’re famous, you kind of run into human nature in a raw kind of way,” she said. “It stirs up envy, fame does. People you run into feel that, well, who is she–who does she think she is, Marilyn Monroe? They feel fame gives them some kind of privilege to walk up to you and say anything to you, you know, of any kind of nature–and it won’t hurt your feelings–like it’s happening to your clothing. . . . I don’t understand why people aren’t a little more generous with each other. I don’t like to say this, but I’m afraid there is a lot of envy in this business.”
“Envy” is the only name she could find for the monstrous thing she faced, but it was much worse than envy: it was the profound hatred of life, of success and of all human values, felt by a certain kind of mediocrity–the kind who feels pleasure on hearing about a stranger’s misfortune. It was hatred of the good for being the good–hatred of ability, of beauty, of honesty, of earnestness, of achievement and, above all, of human joy.
*More Marilyn can be found here, in a 6-photo slideshow of seldom-seen photos taken by a LIFE photographer. They show a young Marilyn who, despite being in studio starlet training mode, nonetheless appeared to be every bit the blossomed star.
Another reason to not overstuff your closet…
your unwanteds may end up in a landfill
A few months ago I was invited on the radio show Environmental Directions to discuss how one could be glamorous and conservation minded at the same time. In preparation for it, I learned a few things. Though I knew that a tremendous amount of shoes, clothes and accessories end up in landfills–I had no idea the amount was as grand as it is: Did you know that clothes and shoes take up more space than any other non-durable goods in the solid waste stream?
Having a zero-waste wardrobe means that you have less fog clogging up your daily dressing decisions, you don’t waste money on stuff you don’t use and you have a small, targeted wardrobe that reflects you as you wish to be. And bonus: you can reduce the amount of stuff that ends up heaping your local landfill. (If you want to see a truly unglamorous site, take a visit to a local waste facility.)
To that end, here are some ideas on how to smartly dispose of items you no longer desire, want, need or use:
Donate still-nice clothing to a favorite local charity
If an item is too far gone for reuse and made of an absorbent material, such as cotton, cut it up and use it for household cleaning. By the way, few clothes donated to charities find their way to a second-hand rack near you. The bulk are sold to companies who then sell them overseas or turn them into wiping and polishing cloths.
Shoes are particularly tough to break down naturally due to the glue that is used to hold them together at points. You can donate still-wearable shoes to Soles 4 Souls, which collects and distributes them internationally. Sneakers you no longer use can be donated to Reuse-A-Shoe, a program by Nike that grinds down shoes and uses them to produce athletic surfaces.
Hold an informal swap with friends who are like-minded when it comes to garment quality levels and size. Bring only your finest.
Band together with some buddies and have a yard sale. Use the proceeds to further your glamour arsenal or a favorite cause.
Finally, get ultra-disciplined and streamlined when it comes to adding new items to your wardrobe. Read Chapter 5 of Practical Glamour, which zeros in on your personal style brand and Chapter 6, which is a step-by-step roadmap to a ruthless closet overhaul.
Environmental Directions is hosted by the very glamorous and multi-talented Nancy Pearlman, who also produces the EMMY-nominated environmental television series EcoNews. Ms. Pearlman told me that when she spoke at the first Earth Day back in the 1970’s, “recycling” was a brand new word.
Though it may not feel like it in much of the land, spring is a-coming and soon after that, summer. Before the blaring summer sun comes into full view, do your skin a favor and head to your nearest dermatologist or aesthetician to see what treatments are available to remove existing sun damage.
Aesthetician Danielle Paulson recommends that you engage in deep exfoliating treatments such as microdermabrasion, wrinkle or spot laser treatments, deep peels and so forth during the months you face the least exposure to avoid further skin stress and damage.
So, if you never got around to removing the evidence of the days you spent frolicking in last summer’s sun, you still have some time to do so before it returns. Schedule any such treatments in the next few weeks if you can.
*You may also want to get a jump start on any hair removal treatments, such as laser, waxing or electrolysis. Once the weather warms up, the practitioners’ appointment books can become quickly booked. Plus, like treatments aimed at reducing the ill effects of the sun, hair removal treatments are best performed on skin that has not faced recent and extensive exposure.
*And it still goes without saying that, no matter the season, you are covering your face, neck, chest and hands with sunscreen each and every day. The sun can feel glorious but is the arch-enemy of a canvas of skin that is beautiful, firm and unspeckled.
In the 1950’s, Elizabeth Taylor was part of the new type of Hollywood actor, the female parallel of Paul Newman, James Dean and others, who in Suddenly Last Summer, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Butterfield 8, gave us a screen full of vulnerability and grit and beauty all at once. And never was she shy or coy about stating what she wanted.
Among her talents was the ability to present her figure at its most lusciously female while keeping the audience fixed on what she was saying, whether she was crossing the room fully clothed to light a cigarette or simply walking down the street. If you’re not convinced, watch her move about in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or, better, Butterfield 8. She was cute as hell in Giant, and displayed a much softer side in A Place in the Sun, especially in her scenes with Montgomery Clift.
From Butterfield 8:
Laurence Harvey: “You’re all alike, aren’t you? Play tough.
Elizabeth Taylor: I’m not like anyone. I’m me.”
Here Ye, Here Ye, South Florida: This Wednesday at 7:30 pm I will be at the glamorous Books & Books in Bal Harbour discussing the science of impressions and how to optimize yours, plus signing copies of Practical Glamour.