There’s a special evil in the abuse and exploitation of the most innocent and vulnerable. The victims of [the] sex trade see little of life before they see the very worst of life – an underground of brutality and lonely fear. Those who create these victims and profit from their suffering must be severely punished. Those who patronize this industry debase themselves and deepen the misery of others. And governments that tolerate this trade are tolerating a form of slavery.
President George W. Bush
New York, New York
September 23, 2003
If you’ve had your ears on during the last decade, you’ve heard of human trafficking. This particularly horrific crime and scourge on our world has crept to every shore, and there is something that every last one of us can do about it.
Someone who is doing quite a bit about it is Sean Morrison, founder and CEO of Morrison Security, Inc. The national security firm conduct investigations across the U.S., and provides elite bodyguards, canine drug and explosive detection units, armed security guards and more.
Within his 500-plus person security firm, Mr. Morrison has created a pro-bono human trafficking task force (Operation Restoring Innocence) that has been credited with safe rescue and recovery of over 85 victims of human trafficking.
He is here to share tips on how all of us—women and men, no matter our age, location or parental status—can be part of wiping this pox from our planet and our communities.
[Italics mine throughout text.]
Constance Dunn: I understand you are a security expert and in this field, you have a lot of information to share. Can you share the most indispensable top tip or two on how a young girl or woman can avoid being a victim of human trafficking?
Sean Morrison: Yes it is imperative for girls to be extremely aware of their surroundings especially when going into social engagements meaning parties and the like. If you feel like you are in danger you may really be in danger and protect yourself by leaving immediately or don’t communicate with strangers. Our recommendation to all girls is to be careful of whom you are communicating with (i.e. strangers via the Internet or social media) as you never really know who they are or what the real intent is.
They need to never let their guard down, even when with friends and family members in social activities. A very common technique is the drugging/or spiking of a soft drink or alcohol drink. Always tell a family member or friend where you were going to and with whom in case you do become a missing person.
Trust your instincts if you feel nervous about a place or situation and get out.
Constance Dunn: I feel the sisterhood is powerful, and women can be a great resource in protecting other girls and women from these monsters. Your thoughts?
Sean Morrison: Yes that is absolutely correct. It starts at home with mothers and grandmothers and aunts and older sisters, do not be embarrassed to talk about this plight, parents will often talk about drug prevention but fail to protect their children from falling victim to this real threat. We always tell families to talk with their children about the real threat that exists with sex trafficking of minors and explain to them that there are predators out there that will drug them or talk to kidnap them.
Also train your family and friends mentally; tell them that God forbid they should fall victim to this, they should do everything they can to escape and to contact their parents or police. If they only have a few seconds, simply dial 911 on a phone and put it down and it can alert police of their location. If they see a fire alarm, pull it without hesitation.
Those same moms and grandmothers and aunts and sisters need to be aware that this predator danger does exist and our loved ones are all potentially at risk. They need to be on the lookout to make sure that normal activity or behavior doesn’t change with their minor daughter. If your child gets a new iPhone or iPad or gym shoes for example that you didn’t buy, question them, where did the gifts come from? And, be prepared to detect deception and question and respond. Often girls are lured into sex trafficking over a slower period of time and there are often signs along the way.
We have female investigators at work within our company and they are terrific role models. In your conversations with your family, it is critical to point out that there are MANY females in roles such as teachers and doctors and lawyers and police officers, reporters and nurses etc. and that’s what they can aspire to be, no female has to lower their expectations, and get into a bad situation.
Constance Dunn: Good men everywhere are appalled and angry about human trafficking. Do you have any advice for men who want to join the battle against human trafficking? Is there something they can be doing in their everyday lives to protect girls and women, and bring these vermin to justice?
Sean Morrison: The advice for women also applies for men; for fathers, for uncles, and for big brothers. We must be vigilant and we must be on the lookout for signs that something may be awry. Do not be embarrassed to talk to your daughters and even your sons about the potential threat of becoming a victim of a predator unwillingly placed in the trafficking world of child exploitation.
Explain to your sons and your daughters that this is a crime that is blind to race, religion, gender and blind to social status. Every minor is a potential victim of a predator. Also encourage them to tell you about any friends or any other minors they know that may be ensnared in this world. The best way to prevent sex trafficking is to shine a light on it; the general population needs to learn about the real danger. It is vital that we raise the general overall awareness of this danger.
Constance Dunn: Where can I learn more?
Sean Morrison: You can learn more about us and what we do at www.operationrestoringinnocence.org or www.Morrisonsecurity.com.
There is a pursuit and desire to attain (and keep) “balance” in our lives. To keep everything humming along. That’s not a bad thing. But…there’s always that chance it will all come to a halt tomorrow. Or today. Or 5 minutes ago.
A way to make this easier on yourself: Expect the unexpected.
Be sincerely ready with a: “Come on in. Let’s do this.” Or some variant, in your own words.
A friend told me about how a great opportunity came, and then ended. I said, “Aw. I’m sorry that happened.”
He said: “I’m not. I had fun and made money. It was a great experience.”
What a guy. What an attitude.
He told me how, nearly everyday, he thought about how the situation could end. And if it did, he asked himself: “Would I still be happy?”
He made sure the answer was “Yes.” He fortressed himself from attachment to this *thing* so when it went poof! in the night, he was okay. He didn’t love that it went away, but he was just fine—with it or without.
What does this mean for you? Get comfortable with a situation, but know you’ll be comfortable elsewhere, too.
This way, when the unknowable, unforeseen and not-planned-for happens, you’re not thrown off balance.
(I’m trying to do this.)
There is such a need among guys for practical male grooming and presentation advice, so when I heard about the online men’s magazine Male Standard I got in touch with Victor Macias, its founder, to talk….
Constance: What was the personal spark that made you realize that Male Standard had to happen?
Victor Macias: Male Standard actually started while I was in college. I was passionate about business, but I also loved fashion and style. I tend to be an over dresser.
One day, I was searching online, trying to come up with a business idea. I decided to read some male discussion forums. What I saw really surprised me. Guys were asking questions about grooming. These were taboo-type questions that they wouldn’t dare ask each other face to face or to a woman.
They were asking questions like:
– Do women prefer men who are “fully” trimmed?
– Does this hairstyle look good on me?
– What skin care products do you use?
At that point, I decided to tackle these taboo topics in an edgy and humorous way. with the launch of Male Standard. As time passed, our website grew and we continued to expand. The underlying theme of all of our advice is to help men Aspire to Greatness.
Victor Macias, Founder of Male Standard
Constance: Grooming is such a crucial pillar of a guy’s presentation. A man can wear a potato sack, but as long as his grooming is impeccable, he’s in good shape. A man can wear an exquisite suit, on the other hand, perfectly cut to his frame, but if his grooming is poor the whole effect is lost.
What is one of your most reliable, time-tested grooming rituals…and where did you learn it?
Victor Macias: My most reliable, time-testers grooming ritual is to always shave with the grain. Never, ever, shave against the grain. Doing so causes all sorts of issues like: acne, shave bumps and irritation.
I learned this tip from a master barber who sat me down and showed me the right way to shave.
Guys, excellent grooming will get you everywhere…
Constance: Your favorite grooming product right now is…
Victor Macias: My favorite product hands-down is the Gillette Proglide Styler. It’s super compact, portable and very affordable. It also trims very well. It’s comparable to many high-end trimmers I’ve tried and is 1/3 the price.
Gillette Proglide Slider: Comparable to a high-end trimmer, costs about $20
Constance: What man, living or not, embodies the concept of the Gentleman the most?
Victor Macias: George Clooney embodies the concept of ‘gentleman’ to me the most. He’s classic, but always has a modern twist to his style. I also think that his personality embodies this concept. He’s suave but also likes to play practical jokes and have a good time. He doesn’t pretend to be something he’s not.
Have to wear glasses? Congratulations, you have yet another communication tool to help you present your most attractive and authentic self to the world.
There is an art to finding the best glasses for your face, though. Here are the steps to consider when shopping for new glasses. Note that these principles work when you’re buying sunglasses, too.
1. Zero in on shape and size first.
Once you determine the best shape(s) for your face–and the right size of each shape–your eyeglass world will get a lot smaller. Sure, there are a lot of great and groovy frames out there, but only a handful will be really right for you.
Experiment like heck, starting with basic shapes—round, square, oval. From there, experiment with variants of your best shape. Your glasses will either complement (match what already exists) or contrast (offer a contrary note to create visual harmony) with your overall face shape.
Keep in Mind: The best frames will draw others into your face, not obscure or overpower it.
For example, oval frames with a bit of an edge work best for my round-ish face. The big, owl-type of round frame are out, because they exaggerate the roundness of my face. Adding a hint of a cat’s eye, for instance, to an oval frame, breaks up the roundness of my face without looking too incongruous, or unmatched. You dig?
Warby Parker Glasses: Greenleaf Whisky Tortoise
Side Note: All of these eyeglasses are by Warby Parker (they retail for about $95 and up). They use premium Japanese titanium and other impressive materials in their construction. And I am most impressed by the excellent colors they offer, which are nuanced, distinctive and flattering to real people.
2. Next, know your colors.
Yeah, you might know that grey is great against your skin, or that tortoise is a personal favorite. Great. But know there are many variants of these colors, so understand which shades and intensities are best for you.
In the photo below, there are variants of tortoise to suit nearly every skin and hair combo. I happen to be very keen on the Annette Petal Tortoise (upper right) because I cannot believe someone has figured out how to finally marry pink and brown so prettily in a lens.
Warby Parker Glasses
To start, you must determine whether your coloring is cool or warm. From there, experiment to learn which shades of warm or cool work best for you. Intense or mild, or somewhere in between?
Learn by training your eye. Each time you try on a pair that are dead wrong, take a moment to determine what it is that is so off about them. Shape? Shade? Some characteristic they project? A very kindly salesgirl tried like the Dickens to talk me into a pair of groovy oversized glasses that made me look like an insane bug. Another pair made me look like my name should be Madge and I should be wearing a beehive hairdo.
Alternately, when you try on a pair of glasses that look fairly good, but don’t truly nail it, do a drill-down to determine what does work fairly well about them.
Back to color. Knowing your best colors will further cut out many eyeglass contenders. The shape might be perfect but alas, the color is not. That means Pass Go.
Color Tip: Pick out the lightest strands in your hair. Look at them. Visually remember what the color looks like. Match this color to the lightest shades in your frames.
Exception: Let’s say you’re sporting ombre hair, or there is a huge color differential between the lightest and darkest tones in your hair. An extreme example is having blonde at the tips, black at the roots. Pinpoint the mid-range between the lightest and darkest strands, and use it to match the lightest color in the frames.
The idea behind this tip is to creates balance—which is to say, a pleasant visual cohesion between your glasses, face and hair. One big happy family.
Warby Parker Glasses: Hardy Striped Pacific
Color Tip: There are many black frame glasses out there, yet black is ideal for so few people. Sure, it works if you are going for a stark or avant-garde look, but for the majority of people, it’s too harsh a color and puts the emphasis on your glasses—not your fine face, where it bloody well should be.
The model below has dark brown hair and light brown skin that appears to have warm undertones. The tortoise frames, with specks of warm amber, are a nice visual bridge between her hair, skin and eyes. She would also look great in frames that have more amber or other warm tones in them.
Warby Parker Glasses: Durand Whisky Tortoise
You have many beautiful eyeglass colors at your disposal to enhance your unique hair, skin and eye combination. These days, eyeglass designers know they must give consumers more than just black or brown, or something zany like cherry red or school bus yellow, to choose from.
But you must independently discover which colors and shades are best for you, and stick to them.
So what have we learned? Your best glasses must ace the shape and color/shade test.
There is one final hurdle: Quality.
It is important that you invest in the best quality glasses you can afford. The fit will be better, the feel will be less obtrusive and the depth of color in the frames will be finer, more nuanced and elegant. This does not always mean that you must shell out for expensive glasses, just quality ones.
Look, look and look some more, and you will find them. Happy hunting!
No, Nein, Nej. Have a hard time saying “No”? Yes, it can be excruciating and awkward and uncomfortable and all those wonderful things. In this short (2 minutes and change) video, I bust out my communication instructor credentials with tips on how to make saying “No” a much easier affair.
Yes, you can become a pro in this area, and in the interest of rational self-preservation, you must…
It gets easier with practice.
And no, the cameraman wasn’t drunk.
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
That sultry voice, that steady gaze and that confidence. These are photos of Betty Perske, a just-out-of-her-teens cover girl who had been plucked from Brooklyn just a few months earlier and brought to Hollywood to star alongside Humphrey Bogart in her first film, To Have and Have Not (1944).
I have seen all of her early films, and can see why she was such a revelation when she hit the theaters. Lauren Bacall was nearly always shot in close up, and you never get tired to that face. Those saucy, wide-set eyes and downturned mouth set against a voluminous head of hair, with just a touch of wave cascading down those cheekbones.
Of her famous voice, well it didn’t start out that way. Howard Hawks, who discovered her and cast her in To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep, was initially nonplussed by her ‘natural’ voice, which was high-pitched and nasally and very New York. Bette went to work on it and within a short time transformed it, substantially lowering it in pitch and stripping out any regional twang. I always liked how she seemed to melodically stretch out each word of dialogue she spoke in her films, and never came off as stagey or affected. Side note: Here are some tips for optimizing your speaking voice.
Of her famed look Lauren Bacall once said: “I mean, that was what started the look — was nerves — just trying to keep my head steady.”
Here she is on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in 1943, the photo that brought her to the attention of director Howard Hawks,
RIP, Lauren Bacall, who passed away on August 12, 2014 at age 89.
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…”
One of my all-time favorite natural skin tips: ice for acne. It kills the bacteria that causes those sexy zits. This DIY acne cure comes straight from the freezer, and works. (Which I think is nice.)
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.
Your buddy, the aloe plant. Get one. Tomorrow. Yesterday.
Aloe Vera plants are only about $10 and need zero maintenance. They are a lifesaver for repairing sun-busted skin, as seen above. Plus, they make excellent face masks. Tip: If you have sunburn, apply and re-apply fresh aloe as often as you can. Your skin will literally suck up the aloe goodness. Results seen after approximately 36 hours… and the burn was fairly bad.
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.
Since you asked what is an essential tie that will help bring a bit of personality, I would say try the Jefferson Skinny Tie. This tie adds a perfect pinch of color but still has a lot of modesty to it without being extremely loud.
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.
One face was a fawning fan…but her nature was that of a devious understudy. Anne Baxter in All About Eve (1950).
I know a woman. She works in casting. She has a fool-proof way of selecting the right talent for her clients. She poses as the underling whose job it is to sign in the actors and models as they come in the door for their auditions.
This helps her spot the wheat from the chaff personality wise. Behavior wise, really. Her job is all about booking the right talent for her clients. Not just the best actor or model with the best look—but the best person.
The one who will show up on time, with a good attitude and a pleasant vibe. A person who won’t be a pain in the arse, in other words. Bad talent doesn’t make for great shoots. And clients tend to not be fond of casting directors who send them annoying talent.
When actors and models meet the casting director or a decision-maker, they are typically all smiles, all sunlight and rainbows and amiability. This is not always the actor or model’s demeanor when they meet the intern, the assistant or so on.
Stepping back, into a position of perceived lesser status, enables this woman to see the true person, right off the bat.
The etiquette lesson is not to pretend to be nice to everyone at the risk that the coat checker is really the CEO. But to disperse your arsenal of good cheer evenly amongst your fellow Earthlings, regardless of their rank, serial number or how much power you think they happen to possess at the moment.
What can you wear on your face during a no-makeup getaway when you’d like to wear a little hint of something?
Like a beach or resort weekend, when you’ll be wearing a bathing suit from the moment you wake up until dinnertime, and maybe even then. Or on a hiking or surfing trip when the last thing you want to be sporting is a full face of makeup–or even a half- or quarter-face of the stuff. Just a spot of color here and there.
If you have a pot of loose minerals, mix your favorite shade with a bit of moisturizer or sunblock, and apply strategically. Curl your lashes and brush your brows.
Or buy pre-made color, like Pacifica’s Radiant Shimmer Coconut Multiples (approximately $15). I came across this product in a health-food grocery store, and have toted it with me on no-makeup-not-really trips to great effect and satisfaction. It’s essentially natural minerals (mica) in a sunflower seed oil base.
When you feel like sporting a lighter look, makeup wise…
If you’re not completely comfortable with a barefaced, zero-zilch-makeup look, consider this trio of creamy natural minerals to be something along the lines of a training bra, makeup wise. You’ll get the confidence that comes with having a little something on, even if it’s not your usual full-blown repertoire.
The are three shades in this slim compact. Bronzed, the darkest; Island Rose, a medium pink and Moonlit, a pink-tinted shimmer that doesn’t look quite obvious.
The wear is subtle and pretty, and you can mix and match colors to enhance specific points of your face. The feel is nonexistent, with no bumps, icks or bad byproducts to report, even when worn all day on a face full of sunblock. One that’s been from pool to indoors, and spent time lolling in a beach chair, too.
Pacifica’s Radiant Shimmer Coconut Multiples is very portable, and helps to keep your cosmetics bag on the slender side.
A small, strategic cosmetics bag is a nice thing to bring on vacation.
Apply softly, and with clean fingers. There’s something about the warmth of your hands that makes the formulation soft and pliable. Plus, your fingers make the deftest blenders ever.
Cover your bare lips with a high SPF, waterproof sunblock. When it’s dried, look at the natural color of your lips. Touch a bit of color, you choose, to enhance your natural lip silhouette at specific points. A darker shade at the corners creates a full-lip look, so does a dab of shiny Moonlit at the center of the lower lip.
Dab a hint of Bronzed at the top curve of your cheekbones for overall face definition. Blend.
A light wash of Moonlit, the lightest, underneath the brow bone or at the inner corner of your eye to open the eyes.
Here is the list of ingredients for Pacifica’s Radiant Shimmer Coconut Multiples.
No makeup, no phone, no problem.
You have a small closet. You like clothes. Lately, every time you open your closet, your reaction ranges from “So Booor-ing” to straight-up “Ew.”
This could be the case because it’s been eons since you’ve engaged in a ruthless closet cleaning. Or, despite running a tight ship closet-wise (everything fits and is flattering in shade and style) your current number of treasures exceeds your physical closet space.
Here are some novel ways I’ve found to free up space in my seriously small closet.
- Stow seasonal clutter. When summer comes, the parka and wool rap and heavy knit dresses get cleaned and stashed. So do those space-hogging boots.
While doing this, you’ll come across some items that have been worn to death, and look it. Congratulate yourself on getting out there and living—then toss the worn-out stuff. Repeat after me: I am no hobo!
- Think like a retailer. You’ve tucked away the seasonal no-gos, whether it’s stashing the flouncy sun hats and flowing caftans since it’s fall, or tucking away knee boots and knit scarves since summer’s here.
But: your closet still looks like an overstuffed mess.
An over-stuffed closet is an uninspiring closet because each time you fling open your closet, your eyes rest on a big ole’ mess. You feel defeated even before you manage to pull something bland (jeans, again?) from its bloated, confusing jaws.
Plus, everything is smashed together, so your visibility is limited and you have no idea what you own. Just like an artist needs to see all of the colors on their palate, you need to know that you currently have exactly three dresses in your best shade of blue. Or, if you’re a guy, that you have four beautifully cut dress shirts and a blazer that fits so fine you could puke.
It’s called merchandising, and you need to know it in order to optimize your wardrobe.
First step? Thin out this season’s ranks.
- Consider your overall look this season. Anything that does not fit in with this season’s look gets stashed away. Do fine stores hang onto five or six seasons at a time? No. And because you have a tiny closet, neither can you.
All You Small-Closet People in the House: Each season, pick an overall look. Stow away those items that don’t conform to it.
Example. This season I’m feeling rich colors, flowing fabrics and more accessories than usual. This means my leagues of clingy shifts in grey and beige, no matter how groovy, are exiled just like Napoleon was to Elba (joke, joke). And while I really think Brooks Brothers non-iron shirts are handy to have, I happen to have a bunch of them. Blazers, too. (Blazers? Was I drunk?)
These, too, are out of bounds for this season, style wise, so they’ve been neatly shuffled away.
You need to see those shoes…or you’ll never wear them! Tragedy!
You must do this for your shoes and accessories as well. The rest? Since your wardrobe is small, winnow down your shoe collection to the bare essentials, and line them up so you’ll see them clearly each time you open your closet. Or, shall I say, your private boutique?
Promote items you love but seldom wear by putting them up front.
As always, make sure your closet has curb appeal. Vacuum, dust and make sure your items are clean, polished and ship-shape for your most stylish season yet. And make sure you have the right hangers for a limited-space wardrobe.
The upside of having a small closet is this: It forces you to regularly declutter your wardrobe, and forces you to focus on your current style.
Will this take time? Yes. Will your closet look awesome and make you feel good each time you open it? Yes, also. Bonus round: You will look and feel better as a result, since you will dress more sharply, creatively and on-point in terms of who you happen to be at the moment.
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.
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.
Mike Volkin is the inventor of Strength Stack 52, a unique deck of bodyweight fitness cards designed to get you in shape faster than ever before.
I think this blog might be changed to Sweat Solutions or something in the future, since the scientist in me is fascinated by how to stay dainty and fresh while conquering the world. Or functioning in it.
If you are also interested in this concept, here are two products I’ve tried that will help you in this quest.
Soft & Dri Aerosol Antiperspirant Deodorant Long name, no? I’ve never used an aerosol antiperspirant in my life, and clearly didn’t know what I was missing. This product is for big-gun days, where you’ll be sweating up a storm but don’t want to have it show in any way, shape or form.
The mist is light, so you can dress then spray it on without any chalky whiteness happening on your fabric. That is nice. It’s also fast and convenient. The scent is Soft Scent which is something like a light baby powder aroma. Unobtrusive. It’s a 24-hour formula. The longest I tested it for was 16 hours and it passed with flying colors.
Price: approximately $4 for a 6-ounce can
New products in the Practical Glamour Testing Lab, aka my office. Left, Soft & Dri Aluminum Free Deodorant ($2.50) | Right, Soft & Dri Aerosol Antiperspirant Deodorant ($4.00)
Soft & Dri Aluminum Free Deodorant. I was instructed once to never bury the headline, but apparently I haven’t learned very well in that regard. This is the real “Holla” of the two products: A no-aluminum deodorant that does a wonderful job of keeping the underarm area very nice.
Many, nearly all, antiperspirants are so damn effective at fight wetness because they essentially block the sweat pores under the arm with aluminum-based chemicals. This is a problem for those who react unpleasantly to aluminum or don’t want to plug up their pores.
Side bar: Sweat under the arms is typically stress sweat, which is different and more challenging to deal with than plain old exertion sweat. Learn the difference between the type types of sweat here.
Soft & Dri Aluminum Free Deodorant claims to offer odor protection only, since it does not have any aluminum in it. However, I found that it oddly seemed to diminish any wetness, and worked as effectively as a standard antiperspirant. It’s clear, leaving no trace on clothes, and the Sweet Bliss is light and clean in scent.
Bottom Line: This is a great product if you do not like chemical-laden antiperspirants, but find natural alternatives like crystal rock deodorants, fresh lemon or vinegar (two of my favorites) to have their limits on intense days.
Price: approximately $2.50 for a 2.3-ounce stick.
Price: approximately $4 for a 6-ounce can
I’ve finally decided to get with the program a bit and post more videos…I love the camera but I’m a writer by trade, so there’s my bias. But hey, you don’t have all days to read a treatise on how to manage perspiration or how to escort a lady into a room, so here’s a quick (under 2 minutes, can you believe it?) video on the 3Cs of How to Not Waste Your Money at the Mall. Or something really close to that.
In Memory. With Love + Gratitude, Today and Every Day
Have you ever had to leave a nail salon with those flimsy flip flops from the salon attached to your feet? Yeah, me too. Once I went running out onto little Santa Monica Boulevard wearing a hot-pink pair, trying to beat the meter maid to my car. Funny sight it must have been; the flip flops almost dissolved on my feet while I did a queer two-step down the sidewalk.
Nowadays I mostly do my pedicures at home (a bit of practice-what-you-preach). And a very resourceful pedicure tool is Pedi Princess flip flops, (approximately $15-$19), great whether you engage in salon pedicures or the DIY kind. They are your standard cute pair of flip flops with stylish little toe separators built-in.
Here are the Pros:
The design is cute and sturdy; and they come in a handy bag. You can bring Pedi Princess flip flops to the salon and put them on before the manicurist applies polish. Instead of waiting around forever for polish to become bone dry, you can leave the salon minutes after application and do your running around in them them.
Also, they’re a good footwear choice for visits to a day spa where a pedicure is involved.
For at-home pedicures, or if need to touch up polish: Put these flip flops on your feet, slide on a fresh coat of polish and keep doing whatever it is that you were doing. No more sitting around for an hour waiting for polish to dry, or doing the toe-separator hobble around the house.
Need to brighten up your polish before a night out? Apply polish, then go ahead and do your hair and makeup. Heck, you can even drive to the event wearing them, then slip into your real shoes before heading into the restaurant or event.
Unexpected nice touch. The design allows the toes to spread out. After a day spent mincing around in heels, wearing the Pedi Princess flip flops feels good.
Gift idea: If you’re planning a spa day, or a night of champagne and grooming, these make a nice gift for the group. Have fun selecting from the different flip flop designs, guessing which style will suit each of your friends the best.
Read some of my on-the-go nail tips here. And here are some guidelines you may not have thought of when it comes to selecting the best flip flops for you.
I’ve been on something of a new-product tear lately. Why? Maybe because spring is in the air. Maybe because there is just so much great stuff out there. Maybe because it’s my quasi-job.
I have found a new favorite mineral foundation: Priori.
I was introduced to the Priori brand at evolue, an eco-beauty boutique in Beverly Hills. Owner Jean Seo could stock a ton of products at her pretty store on Robertson Boulevard, yet it’s a minimalist space because she is very selective about the items she carries.
So if I see a product at her store, I know there must be something special about it.
I was talking to a girl in the store one evening. Her skin was so damn pretty that I had to ask what she was wearing on it. It happened to be Priori, which is the only loose mineral makeup they carry.
Priori’s mineral makeup is like a siren’s call if you love the ease of application, coverage and no-feel of mineral makeup, but want to venture beyond bareMinerals. That is a brand I wore faithfully for a while, and still like, but over time found that the coverage could make my face look somewhat dry and not quite radiant. You too?
Priori’s Perfecting Foundation comes in Shades 1-6. I chose Shade 2, which works perfectly on my light skin.
If you have used other mineral foundations, you’ll find that application of Priori Foundation is identical. As in, tap some minerals onto the lid, swirl your kabuki brush in it. Tap to remove excess, and apply lightly.
Layer more product in areas where you want extra coverage.
Before + After photos taken in natural sunlight to give you an idea of Priori’s coverage. I applied a small amount of product, just enough to even the skin tone.
The wear is excellent. It’s matte, yes, and the look only seems to get better, meaning more radiant and like real skin, as the hours pass. No blotchiness or patches.
It is comfortable for long-wear. I have applied it early early in the day (like 6 am), and when I’ve gone to wash my face, say, 14 hours later, I have forgotten that I am wearing foundation. It just doesn’t feel like there’s anything on your face, even though your skin will look even and clear.
Not clingy. Washes off easily. And no clogging of colored “stuff” in the pores.
Priori has CoffeeBerry extract, which is apparently an anti-aging botanical that improves your skin. I can’t speak to this because I haven’t worn it regularly (as in every day) or for long enough to notice a significant, “Wow” type of improvement. However, there has been no drawbacks to wearing this makeup. That is high praise for a product that supplies a full day’s coverage, yet leaves nothing behind in the form of bumps, residue or clogged pores. And like other loose mineral makeup, it provides a natural sunscreen, in this case 25 SPF.
Bottom line: Priori Foundation is an ideal product for achieving natural-looking, everyday coverage.
The price is approximately $40 for a 14 gram container. bareMinerals Original Foundation is approximately $30 for an 8 gram container, so Priori is a rather good deal comparatively for what I feel is a better-quality product. Learn more at the Priori site.
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
Pulling together a batch of sangria is hardly rocket science, but hey, this recipe is all about ease. I like Yellow Tail Sangria because the taste is fruit-packed and punchy. Plus it’s pretty, a deep ruby, and easy to find. (A 750-ml bottle is around $5 at grocery store chains and wine shops. I’ve even found it in a drugstore!)
- 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.
So there you have it. Enjoy!
Less time making stuff means more time to mingle!
Want to land with your fine booty still in the saddle? Play pretend.
Horses are sensitive creatures. They are also big and tend to speed off in unexpected and unplanned directions when scared. Therefore, when your 100-plus-pound self is riding on its one-ton frame, it’s imperative to stay calm and controlled and confident. One day I was riding, and feeling squirrelly too, while headed off on a serpentine jumping course.
I did not feel things would end well in my current state. I tried a bunch of pleas with Kate the riding instructor to avoid completing the course. She responded with a “Yeah, you’re not getting off that horse until you finish that course.” She was also holding a riding crop.
I looked up at the empty stands that circled the riding ring. I pretended it was show day. I pretended the stands were filled with supporters and friends, all cheering me on and smiling their familiar smiles. I pretended I was on a winning streak and nothing could go wrong.
I smiled, straightened up on the horse and focused.
Since horses feel everything, my four-hooved buddy took notice and started gliding in a more amenable, attentive way. After all, we had a ribbon to win! We buzzed through the course and by its end, I had actually begun to enjoy myself.
It built a new history of jumping for me. One of exhilaration, not fear. I built on this baseline of confidence in subsequent sessions.
What does this have to do with you?
● Use a bit of pretend the next time you are out and about, and feeling squirmy or dorky or seriously not up to the task at hand.
● Pretend you are calm and confident and completely in control. Feel it and believe it.
● Breathe it in and smile. Lift your shoulders. Your friends are all around you. They love you! They think you’re great! They are cheering you on!
Try this. It works. (At the very worst, it will keep your anxiety from deepening.) At best, well, you’ll fly around the ring with ease and a big ole’ smile on your face.
The other option, of course, is to be hurled into a muddy paddock.
[Related note, kind of: I loved riding the horse that's in the above picture. He was championship-level and smooth as vermouth in the ring. What I call a point-and-click horse.]
Photographer Critsey Rowe has a way with women, making them look beautiful and sensual while wearing little. A boudoir photographer who has a ton of experience helping women present their most sensual, authentic selves to the camera—and has written a book about it, also—Critsey Rowe agreed to share some very Practical Glamour tips on how to prepare for your boudoir photo session, along with DIY tips on lighting and how a boudoir photo session can be the gift that keeps on giving—to you!
Boudoir Photography by Critsey Rowe. Isn’t the cover beautiful?
Constance: What is an effective way(s) for a non-model to feel at ease in front of the camera, particularly when the photographs are of a boudoir variety?
Critsey Rowe: Every woman is usually nervous before their boudoir session. And honestly who wouldn’t be nervous posing in their skivvies. Even as a seasoned boudoir photographer when I had my very own session taken I was super nervous. Luckily for me I had a close friend snapping my pictures so I quickly became at ease.
My best advice would be to hire a photographer you feel comfortable with. Someone you feel you can chat with easily. Wear items you are confident in. There is nothing sexier then confidence. If you are a little unsure about a piece of lingerie you may not feel as confident so be sure to try on outfits prior to your session and be sure you love all the pieces you plan to take to your shoot.
Some clients like to have a glass of champagne or wine before their session, this is perfectly okay. Just be sure to limit to one glass. Bringing a close friend you feel comfy with can also ease your nerves. Your photographer will be there for encouragement and to cheer you on.
Constance: I like your lighting style, which illuminates your subjects while simultaneously making them look natural and real. Do you have an indoor or outdoor lighting tip that is gold, and might be something the non-pro can use to lend a natural luster to her or his subjects?
Critsey Rowe: I love all kinds of lighting so choosing one tip is so hard.
For someone that is just starting out or a non-pro photographer I would recommend shooting early in the day when you have the best natural light. Choose a location with big open windows that allow a lot of natural light to shine through.
Later in the afternoon could be great for dramatic lighting as the sun is lower and is more direct.
The biggest tip I can give however is to experiment with all kinds of light. So many photographers are afraid of trying off camera flash (OCF) or using stones but this is such a great way to control the light on your subject. You can make a setting that has very little available light look warm and inviting by using off camera lighting. If using OCF is still scary then using a constant light source such as a modeling lamp or a video light.
Bonus tip for anyone wanting to do great selfies: again this is best in the early morning light.
Find a nice spot where you are directly facing a window stand or sit two-three feet away and take your photo from there. Using alternate light sources in your home work well too. That lamp in the corner will do nicely too, take the shade off or direct it toward you.
Just be sure not to hold your camera in front of the direction of the light or it will cause a shadow on your face. Take a few practice shots until you find the light you love the most.
Constance: I think we live in rather homogenous times, with much of the mass-produced images of “sexiness” all kind of looking the same.
Yet, every woman (man, too) has their own sensuality, and that is what makes them exciting and unique to others. How do you suss out a client’s personal sexy, then bring it alive on film?
Critsey Rowe: Ah! Good question because I love the uniqueness of every woman (and man too) and I truly wish for each person to discover and see their very own distinctive sensuality. I give my clients the freedom to be uninhibited and share a very intimate and personal side of themselves that is normally only shown to their partner.
This is why I think having a boudoir session can be a empowering experience for a woman. They see a side of themselves outside of their everyday setting and really get to see just how amazing they truly are. I say this a lot and it really is true: most women come to me for a boudoir shoot as a gift for their significant other, only to discover that in the end it was the biggest gift they could have given to themselves.
I am sure there are many ways to discover your own sensuality but I highly recommend having photos taken even if you just do a beauty session which is similar to boudoir but fully clothed. You are still posing in sexy sensual ways but you are showing less skin. This is for the shy or timid girl that just isn’t ready to bare it all. ♣
Photographer Critsey Rowe
About Critsey Rowe: :
Critsey Rowe of Couture Boudoir® has been at the forefront of the growing Boudoir Photography genre for many years. She is the best selling author of Boudoir Photography — The Complete Guide To Shooting Intimate Portraits, available on Amazon and in bookstores.
Critsey teaches boudoir workshops and seminars across the nation and abroad. She has been a guest speaker about her Couture Boudoir® brand on The Wedding Planning Audiocast on iTunes, Guest speaker on MimikaTV, Convention speaker for DWF at Imaging USA, Convention speaker for WPPI’s Road Trip, speaker for Pictage Users Group and has been featured on The Perfect Pose and many other online resources.
Critsey’s work has been published in many popular magazines, including Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, Today’s Bride, Destination Weddings and Honeymoons, You and Your Wedding London, The Bride’s Book, Weddings Unveiled, The Knot, Carolina Bride and Queen City Weddings. She has been a featured photographer on Platinum Weddings and several times on My Fair Wedding with David Tutera on the WE Channel, and featured in Popular Photography Magazine about her Couture Boudoir® brand.
For more of Critsey:
The weather’s warming up, which means no hiding underneath long pants and boots. Here’s a simple recipe for a DIY body scrub that you can whip up and use any time of the year. It smells great, works like a charm and is kind to your skin. It comes courtesy of Josie Feria, who is the Director of Operations at Lapis, The Spa at Fontainebleau.
• ½ cup mineral salts (I use plain Epsom salt, which is essentially magnesium sulfate in crystal form)
• 2 tbsp of any carrier oil such as avocado, jojoba or grapeseed (look for in a health food store)
• 5 drops lemongrass oil (lemongrass has clean, energetic notes, but you can substitute it with any oil that makes you happy)
• In bowl using a metal spoon blend mineral salt with carrier oil – thoroughly mix until it becomes a paste
• Gradually add in lemongrass oil, blending after each drop
• If scrub is too thick, add a few drops of water and remix
• Moisten the body in a warm bath or shower
•Apply scrub to body by hand or using a moist loofah pad in circular motions. Using a loofah pad or other textured body sponge or brush will increase the effects of the exfoliation. Beware of being too energetic as you may scratch the skin.
• Thoroughly rinse skin and apply body lotion
On a related note, if you happen to be swinging through Miami, I recommend stopping into the Fontainebleau for a visit. The place has oodles of history spanning back to the 1950’s and was voted Top Building in Florida by the American Institute of Architects. One of my favorite spots is on the second floor of La Côte: they serve a fine lunch over views of the Atlantic. Go during the week when it’s mellow. Pure Miami.
Ah, the charm of a great conversation. Have you ever spoken to a beautiful shell–someone smartly groomed and dressed to the nines–who you struggled to speak with for longer than a few minutes? Yeah.
Being a good conversationalist is a beauty essential, and has the power to turn even this guy into a charmer. Look, women are chasing him!
In Practical Glamour I go on about how holding your own, conversation wise, is a big part of a woman’s (or man’s) allure.
But being an engaging conversationalist requires you to have a bit or more of knowledge about the world. This will contribute much to your social ease, make your get-togethers more interesting and bump up your beauty and charm quotient considerably.
Do we remember what a person wore, their watch or the color rouge they sported? No. What we remember is how we felt around them.
No doubt, hanging with a sparkling glitterball of a conversationalist is far richer than struggling for words with a blank-faced one, no matter how symmetrical their features.
So,knowledge is the key to powering your social conversations.
Here are 5 easy, painless ways to sneak more of it into your brain, and become more beautiful as a result.
1 – Discs and iPods, too. Sandra Mitchell is a busy woman. She is a journalist and anchor at CBS Los Angeles and does a gazillion other things too. She told me she learned French for a trip to Europe, and did so via language CDs she played in her car during fun LA traffic.
The hours can add up in that metal thing you coast around in. Why not have those hours mean something more than a staring session at brake lights in front of you? Learn a new language or pick up info about an entirely new topic. Download something inspirational on your iPod to stay calm while driving and to keep your mental mind machine humming. And if you commute by foot, train or rickshaw, do the same!
2 – Radio Lives. There’s plenty to learn about in your car, from politics and relationship counselors to sports. I can analyze debates, and tune into sports talk from time to time because it’s interesting to hear others so passionate about something I’ve got no stake, or even strong interest, in. Also, I find Jim Rome and Jay Mohr to be pretty clever.
Public radio arts programming tends to be very well crafted and engaging. Plus it spotlights new works and maybe goings on in your city or town that you’d probably otherwise never know about. How the heck else did I learn that skin master Dr. Murad is also a painter (above, the painting in the photo is his) and was having an exhibit at a local university?
3 – Small Books Make Great Fellow Travelers. To boost your mind salad and improve your conversations, carry a book with you. Yes, that’s a copy of the Constitution and The Declaration of Independence peeking out of my bag.
Your book doesn’t have to be the size of a dictionary, either. Kindles and Nooks qualify.
The problem that some people (me included) have with whipping out a smartphone for learning a go-go is the tendency to stare at stuff that does zero to advance your mind. Or worse, numbs it or puts you in an annoyed mood.
There’s also something to be said for taking a gadget break, and feeling actual paper against your fingers. If you’re incredibly disciplined, though, and can immediately bypass the distractions to dial up the Swedish Word of the Day or something that has intellectual value, go ahead. And congratulations on the discipline part, Missy or Mister.
4 – Food, Too. I was at makup shop MUD in Burbank recently. (Side note: They have complimentary makeup classes in LA and New York.) After walking out the door with yet another tube of Lip Glaze, I realized I was famished.
I ended up wandering into a nearby Korean barbecue place and learning a thing or two about Korean cuisine over a big ole’ bowl of Manduguk. My point? We’ve all got to eat sometime. Why not stir in a bit o’ learning? Find out what distinguishes China’s Szechuan cooking from Hunan. How are Indian dishes from the North different than those in the South?
Becoming a better conversationalist is not about becoming Knowledge Master of the Universe as much as it is about broadening what you already know. Dipping into alien subjects, gathering up a slew of cool facts and becoming more astute about the world around you.
5 – Work Out Your Head. The reality of grasping a new language is that you’ve got to use it. You’ve got to stand in line? Make it Rehearsal Time or List Time. Mentally run through new vocabulary or verb tenses.
Or use the time to ponder something you’ve been studying. If I’ve got a speaking or teaching gig coming up, I’ll rehearse it while taking a walk. Tip: When running lines say them aloud. I think I’m past the point of caring too much if I look kooky to strangers, but here are two ways to practice what you want to on the down-low: Keep lip movements small and your volume nearly imperceptible.
Bonus Learning Move: Make meeting up with a friend more than just a gab session. I have a friend who is at the same level of Spanish proficiency as me. We have Spanish-only conversations over coffee or dinner that have been pretty great for moving my skills forward, mostly because it’s a no-embarrassment environment to try out new tricks, language wise.
My month long vegetarian-fest was a success, I’m happy to report
For each month of this year, and maybe for years after this one, I am engaging in a Something New Everyday. This means that for a month I adhere to a new habit. Last month it was Vegetarianism.
I’m glad I did. Here’s what I found to be the top rewards of going meat-free for the month:
1. Fewer Choices is Sometimes a Good Thing. When shopping or cooking, a few staples are off the table. When eating out, it simplifies ordering, since anything with the headline Steak, Chicken, Carne and so forth, is out.
It forces you to forage in places you might not usually go. This can result in new and unexpected delights. Scrumptious avocado sandwiches. Vegetable bisque. Tofu pad thai, don’t you know, rocks.
2. Culinary Creativity Increased Immediately. On more than one occasion during Vegetarian month I had to hit the books and cooking sites to figure out what I could pull together with a brick of tofu, a bag of brown rice and a heap of vegetables. (You know you want to come over for dinner.)
Who knew that vegan chickpea soup could be so damn creamy and luscious? And Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burgers? Very nice. Meat is an easy standby, but without it you have to get creative and try unexpected things for flavor and density.
A quite nice Bloody Mary. Even my cocktails were vegetarian!
3. Significant Weight Loss. Confession: I have been horrid at working out lately. But the no-meat diet alone trimmed 7 pounds off my frame. That’s a lot in my book. A big reason for this has to do with the fact that not eating meat means no more late-night visits to the drive-through for a burger and french fries. Vegetarian month is over but I don’t miss them.
4. Oily Skin, Begone. I find meat to be dense. It tastes dense. It seems oily, too. Eating as a vegetarian for the month resulted in the feeling that my skin was more balanced. It looked better and pores seemed nicer, less likely to be clogged. After eating, I never felt bogged down or stuffed in body or mind. It was nice.
A satisfying meat-free lunch. Ignore my tablemate’s Eggs Benedict.
5. That Clean Kitchen Feeling. With the exception of ordering a cup of soup with a chicken-stock base, I have not resumed a full-time carnivore diet. I’m not sure I will. I don’t miss anything about it. On the cooking front, there is something about handling and cutting up meat that doesn’t seem quite appealing, either. Handling vegetables, boiling noodles and dicing up stir-frys feels more pleasant overall.
Designer: The Bohemian Society (Spring/Summer 2014)
Now that’s an outfit to keep the sweat away
For many, daily life consists of waking up, running out the door and doing about 500 things before returning home in the evening, or even later. This means your body temperature must rise and fall to accommodate treks up the sidewalk, getting in and out of your car or moving from the warmth of sunlight into the crisp of air conditioning. And so on.
Since you’re made of flesh and blood, you sweat. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. Your sweat glands are like a highly sophisticated internal shower. When your body temperature rises, they kick in to regulate that heat. When you’re under stress, they also get involved.
Two Types of Sweat
There are two types of sweat. The type produced by eccrine glands (aka exertion sweat); and the type produced by apocrine glands (aka stress sweat).
Exertion Sweat. Eccrine glands exist over much of your body and open directly onto the skin’s surface. When your body temperature rises from exertion, your eccrine glands secrete an essentially odorless fluid (made mostly of water and salt) onto your skin.
The sweat evaporates on the skin, and your body is cooled as a result. Side note: If you’ve ever wondered why you sweat more in humid weather, it’s because sweat doesn’t evaporate well in humidity. The evaporation process is crucial to the cooling of your body temperature.
Stress sweat can beat up white clothes!
Stress Sweat. Apocrine glands, on the other hand, start firing when you’re dealing with emotional stress. You feel the feelings, and your nervous system directs the apocrine glands to start releasing fluids.
These glands are located on areas of your body where a lot of hair follicles exist: the underarm area, pelvis and scalp. Unlike those mild little eccrine glands, apocrine glands pump fluid along the hair follicle and, this is key, the composition is different. There’s more than just water and salt coming out; there are proteins and fatty acids in the mix, as well. (This explains why sweat stains on clothes are typically yellowish in color.)
In short, bacteria love it. Plus, stress sweat occurs on balmy and hidden-away areas where it’s less able to evaporate. It simply sits there, where it’s quickly broken down by bacteria.
Our typical response is to tame sweat with deodorant or anti-perspirant. Side note: The difference between the two is this. Deodorants remove the body odor but not the perspiration. You’ll still have moisture, but it will smell like desert rain or new car or whichever variation you selected from the drugstore shelf. Antiperspirants temporarily block the sweat pore, enabling perhaps only a smidgeon of sweat to reach the skin’s surface.
If you read this blog regularly, you know that I’m partial to at-home and natural beauty solutions because, “Hey, why heap on chemicals if you don’t need to?”
Here are two natural deodorant alternatives:
•Plain White Vinegar. Place white vinegar in a spray bottle and dilute with 2-3 parts water. This means that for every 1 ounce of vinegar, you’ll add 2-3 ounces of water; distilled if it’s handy. Spray it under the arms and use a cotton swab to clean the area. Some like to follow up by applying more of the mixture, undiluted, and allowing it to dry.
•Fresh Lemon. Cut into small slices. Squeeze a slice softly to get the juice to the surface. Apply generously to the underarm area. Do not apply on broken irritated or just-shaven skin.
Both of these are good alternatives if you’re avoiding aluminum or if ingredients in traditional deodorants cause irritation.
Lights, camera…being flesh and blood, we sweat
I hardly expect for you to squeeze a lemon on your underarm area and skip off to confidently handle some mind-boggling stressful situation, like arguing a case in front of the Supreme Court or auditioning for a part in a major motion picture.
But these alternatives might be swell for you on a day when you don’t need to call in the big guns, sweat-wise, or don’t feel like plugging up your pores with stuff.
On-the-go Sweat Solutions
You may want to run errands after yoga class, and don’t necessarily feel like swinging by home first for a shower and costume change. Or have just gotten off an endless red-eye flight and feel like a bit of freshening-up is in order before you face humanity.
•Antibacterial cleaning wipes are everywhere, but they tend to be hardcore in terms of chemicals. And we are dealing with porous, delicate areas. A kinder, gentle wipe that I’ve used is Swipe. They are made from tea tree oil, and are neatly and cheerfully packaged, too. You can buy them here.
Another plus: The material of the wipe itself is soft and biodegradable. The formulation is gentle and the scent is fresh and unobtrusive. They are a two-in-one situation, removing any existing issue and imparting deodorant on the area. I was running late to a luncheon and grabbed one off my desk and used it before leaving.
I ran around all day–through fun LA traffic too!–doing a bunch of stuff and by the time I hit the shower that night, things were still alright, if you get my drift.
•Hand sanitizer. If you don’t have any wipes handy, hunt down a bottle of hand sanitizer and as Tim Gunn famously says, “Make it work.” The alcohol in the sanitizer will kill the bacteria that causes odor.
3 More Tips
•Secret Clinical Strength. I don’t go here unless I have to, but this stuff works. It pretty much seals the pores under the arms for the entire day. Go ahead, wear a filmy white silk shirt and deal with supersonic levels of stress. Your underarms will be as dry as the Sahara at the end of of it all.
It’s 20% aluminum, though, so it’s off the table if you’re avoiding such products. I’m sure there are other super-duper strength antiperspirants out there, but this is the one I’m most familiar with and have used to good effect.
•Dress Shields. A good solution if underarm wetness is an issue. Pick up a pair or two at a fabric store. They are usually in-stock at Jo-Ann. Guys, you can use them too.
You can buy the type that are stitched into the seam of the garment, or disposable dress shields that affix to fabric via an adhesive strip. These are ideal for situations where you want to be 100% sure there will be no sign of sweat on your garments.
•Emerging Shapewear. Hit the shapewear section of your local department store to see what’s cooking in terms of sweat management. The photo below shows an under-shirt smoother with cushy underarm pads built in, perfect for capturing stray moisture. There is no end to the creative fixes those designers are coming up with.
Gentlemen, here is the proper way to enter a dining room, ballroom, party or any other social situation where you are escorting a lady.
Question: Who goes first—you or your date?
Answer: If there is a hostess or maître d’ on duty, then he or she leads the way for your date. You follow. If there is no hostess or maitre de on duty, then you act as de facto host. You lead the way. Your date follows.
Sometimes you have to be Captain Stubing
Hey Ladies! If you reading this, it is possible your date will not know this point of etiquette. He may politely usher you past him with his arm and say “After you.” If this happens, smile and stride forward into the room, Miss Captain Stubing.
An alternate scenario. Ladies, let’s say that you arrive later than your date. He is already seated. The restaurant is a fine one. Announce yourself at the front desk. If there is a host or maître d’ on duty, he will probably initiate escorting you to your table. If not, feel free to ask.
The idea behind all of the above is to reduce any social discomfort a lady may feel walking into an unfamiliar room of people solo. And, of course, get you to the right table.
You may love going to the stadium or arena to watch a game or match, or you might find it an activity bordering on torture. Whichever is the case, you should aim to look and feel as optimal as possible. Cute and comfortable is the best way to maximize your enjoyment of any sports event.
To that end, here are some style and beauty tips for watching live sports.
• Stay away from high heels. I can’t believe I just wrote that. But yes, flat shoes are a must. That has to do with the tricky terrain of stadiums, which includes possibly having to navigate steep and windy stairs, tiny bleachers and long walks from the car to your seats.
I like cool motorcycle boots, weather permitting, because they are sturdy and keep you balanced. But in the summer flats work nicely. Avoid open toe anything.
I was at a hockey game where a Lilliputian blond in precipitously high heels had to be practically carried by her date whenever she tried to get up from her seat. Gallant guy that he was, by the third period the whole thing seemed to be getting kind of tedious for both of them.
The strangest sports event I’ve ever been to. Ice hockey in open-air Dodgers Stadium; the LA Kings played the Anaheim Ducks. Kings lost, 3-0. (Hey, the warm weather makes the puck hard to handle!) But there was beach volleyball going on between periods (upper, left), along with yoga (upper, right) and, oh yeah, a KISS performance too.
• Showcase up top. Dress your lower half thoroughly, and in rugged materials. That is because stadium seats, even the good ones, are not the most dainty places on the planet.
Also, you should expect to be reasonably squished together with lots of other people. Mostly men. Crouching your way across a row of oversized dudes to get to your seat, all the while wearing a miniskirt or show-em-all-you’ve-got tight leggings, is not my idea of a good time. Probably not yours, either.
This makes denim or cargo pants a no-brainer, or even thick-ish tights and a cute skirt.
Upper body is for style. Since you might be wearing denims (nice-fitting ones in good condition, lady!) and boots, you might find that the upper half of your body is where you can show some individual style and polish. Wear a cute, fitted top and bring along a smart jacket or sweater to cover up.
Why does beer taste better during a game?
• Some accessory ideas.
A good looking scarf made from nice fabric, and in a beautiful color that flatters your skin, hair and eyes. An instant cleavage-cover, too, if you’re not feeling quite comfortable.
I usually go for a drink and something to eat with friends prior to hitting the stadium. I’ll wear earrings and a bracelet to polish things up. While walking to the sports venue I’ll typically cover up with the jacket or sweater and stow the jewelry in my pocket.
Ah, makeup. Here’s another area where you can bust out the glamour. Makeup your face nicely and use some bright colors.
- A red lip expertly applied adds a look of visual polish, as do nicely flushed (ahem, blushed) cheeks.
- Since you’ll be up close and personal with your date, seating being closely knit and all, keep your hand light and blend, blend and blend to achieve a look of natural beauty.
- Related point: Bring some nice peppermint breath freshener with you; a nice touch for when the kissing camera comes your way. Or when the spirit moves you.
The speed and deftness of players makes ice hockey seem like a ballet on ice…
Until they start beating each other’s heads in
I really like ice hockey, so this post is biased towards matches in nicely chilled indoor stadiums. But it’s entirely possible that you’re getting ready to go to an outdoor arena on a sunbaked summer day.
Some tips for summer sports events:
- Tons of sunblock. Everywhere. The backs of your hands included.
- A hat is not just a handy style note; it’s an awesome sun-buster. I avoid anything with a brim unless it’s a polo match. (It’s the close seating thing again that makes big brims unwieldy.) For baseball, soccer and football, select a baseball hat that flatters your head (a brim that’s not too small or large) and face shape also.
- Remember the covered flesh points above? If the idea of wearing jeans doesn’t feel alluring in 90-degree heat, consider some cute gauzy pants paired with a fitted tank top.
Attitude isn’t everything, it’s the only thing, said famed coach Vince Lombardi. This was meant for his players and it most definitely applies to you, Miss Fetching Spectator. No matter how cute and put-together you look, going to a game is ultimately about having fun with your friends or your guy (hopefully, he’s both!) Parking delays? Lines? Tons of people everywhere? Be flexible and go with the flow. Smile, cheer, laugh. Sing along to the cheesy fun songs blaring out of the speakers.
These things make for the most glamour, really.
Me and Eugenia Weston at the IMATS Los Angeles
If you’re a makeup artist you already know of Eugenia Weston. And if you’re a makeup fanatic you might also. She is a high-profile makeup artist for print, film and TV who has been in the business for four decades and counting.
Eugenia has worked and trained alongside some of the best of the pioneer-class of makeup artists, such as Bob Schiffer, a legendary Hollywood makeup artist who sculpted the on-screen faces of Joan Crawford and Rita Hayworth, for whom he was the exclusive makeup artist at Columbia.
You didn’t think I’d pass up a chance to post a photo of Rita Hayworth, did you?
I had the opportunity to attend her contouring lecture at the IMATS and of course, picked up some tips to share with the class. Here goes:
-Contouring is back. Hallelujah!
-Always remember these two basic principles of contouring:
- Darker colors will recede an area, and are used to visually ‘push back’ an area of the face
- Lighter colors highlight an area, and are used to bring forth or visually enlarge an area of the face
-The point of contouring? Balance.
The Golden Ratio
Before you put a brush or sponge to the skin, take a moment to examine the face. Consider the rule of thirds, which is the idea that ideal facial symmetry resides in the face being distributed in a 1:3 ratio.
This means it is distributed in 3 sections of equal length both vertically (from top to bottom) and horizontally (from side to side).
Test this for fun by taking a ruler and measuring from the top of forehead to brow. Brow to tip of nose. Nose to tip of chin. These three areas should be of equal approximate length. If they are not, some contouring can be done to visually create symmetry.
Contouring under the chin and jaw defines, visually shortens the bottom third of the face
Example. Weston, on measuring a model’s face, found that the top one-third of her face was somewhat shorter in length relative to the bottom third (from nose to tip of chin), which was longer.
To create balance she did the following: visually lengthened the model’s forehead by adding light color at the crown to highlight the area. Next, she added dark color to the chin and below the jaw to visually shorten it. The balancing effect was instant and striking.
The model’s face, beautiful to begin with, just looked better, more visually appealing and somehow right.
Face Contour Kit by SENNA Cosmetics
Eugenia Weston has a contouring kit, a trio of cream to powder colors to highlight and contour, that she created for the artists on TV show Desperate Housewives. The SENNA Face Contour Kit includes a brush and placement instructions.
Whether you use this kit or a different product, consider the following:
- The dark color you use contouring should be a grey brown. This will approximate the look of a real shadow best.
- Weston recommends using creams for contour work because they blend better than powder. Also, cream formulations are easier to touch up and make for a more real-life look on film.
- Shading will give the face a more sophisticated (read: mature) look.
- Utilize reverse contouring on dark skin tones. Instead of adding more dark color to push back an area on a dark complexion, add light color immediately next to the area. This light color will automatically create a dark contour by contrast.
The Triangle of Light
The area within the triangle below is where you want to focus your highlighting efforts. Eugenia’s kit has a pink tone that can be used to add low lights, which are softer than the starker, yellow-ish color that is used for straight contouring and shading work.
The Triangle of Light
Perk up your Triangle of Light by adding high or low-light to the following areas
- around the eye (browbone area and inner corners)
- above the top lip
- below the bottom lip
Contouring VIPs, or Very Important Places
Eugenia Weston and model
Weston worked on a model during the class, demonstrating contouring and highlighting on a model whose skin had moisturizer, primer and foundation applied first, and in that order.
Weston went heavy with the contour (above) to demonstrate key areas to contour: Forehead and cheekbone (left); nose and under the bottom lip (right)
The first step in contouring for many is to hit the cheeks. Weston recommends to place the grey brown contour to hug the cheek, extending only to the outer edge of the eye. Another common area to contour is under the jaw.
If you wish to contour the nose do the following: apply two vertical nose “stripes” that line up with the two natural lines above the top lip.
When contouring, remember to blend, blend and blend.
After placing contour and highlighting, blend to perfection
The finished look, definitely subtle enough for everyday
Here’s the thing about contouring. Many everyday ladies stay the heck away from it, because it seems technical or complicated. When it’s done for print or screen by professionals, it often is. However, you can engage in some simple visual trickery of your own by experimenting with one or two contouring moves of your own.
As your confidence and sleight of hand improves, you may be tempted to create even more beautiful illusions. I’ve been contouring, amateur style, for a while and I really enjoy it. I’ve shared some ideas with friends who have also picked up on and are enjoying it with great satisfaction and effect.
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.
Catch more Michelle at catchingcouture.com
All the good feelings, but without the booze
This is being written in the first week of January, but it could just as well be written after July 4th weekend, or any other holiday stretch that involves partying, socializing and imbibing more than your share of the sweet nectar. Which is to say, you’ve been drinking more beer, wine, martinis, scotch or whatever-else-floats-your-boat than usual. And you’re thinking about embarking on a dry spell.
There is something called “Janopause,” which is a January without alcoholic beverages of any kind. As you can imagine, there are benefits of this: Preliminary research conducted by New Scientist research Andy Coghlan on a small sample found that those who de-boozed for five weeks lost approximately 3 pounds, plus cut cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
Compelling, isn’t it? You no doubt have a mix of personal reasons for putting the break on boozing, whether it’s related to thinking more clearly, not being a public buffoon, drinking and driving, budget reasons or the mere fact that you realize you don’t particularly like the feeling. Or the horrible, day wasting hangovers that ensue.
Even if you’re the lightest of social drinkers, completely abstaining can be tough. Alcohol is often part of our social rituals, whether it’s the camaraderie of an after work get-together or the clinking on high of wine glasses at the start of a meal or to tag a celebration.
Being the dude with the glass of water can be tough. For starters, other people will want you to be drinking alongside them. Not drinking with them lands you in the out-group, to take a page from social psychology.
Of course, you could spend the night listing for others the very responsible, rational reasons you are not drinking, above the music and laughter. This, however, tends to be not very fun and not convincing to someone who’s in full-blown Party Mode. And you’ll land further from the in-group, socially, and more in the group with the teetotaling aunt and the grandpa wearing the button-front cardigan.
Here are strategies to help you stay off the alcohol while still remaining very much in the heart of the festivities:
•Look at the glassware. Is everyone drinking beer out of red plastic cups? Sipping something fizzy from glass flutes? Select the same glass and fill it with something non-alcoholic.
Bonus if your choice visually resembles an alcoholic drink that some or many are consuming. Pour yourself a ginger ale is champagne is what everyone’s drinking, or an ice-filled glass with something that could very well be rum and cola, or a vodka tonic. Complete it with a garnish, like a lemon or lime wedge, for authenticity.
•A glass in hand is worth not having a horrible hangover. Keeping a glass in hand is not just a good visual cue of being part of the ingroup, it is a physiological cue for you that will help keep you in the festive spirit, particularly if you are accustomed to always having a glass in hand at social events.
The glass-full mentality is also a big reason that people end up drinking too much. After a few, they are on auto pilot, and the empty glass is refilled without thinking. If you’re at the party or club long enough, one vodka tonic becomes three, which becomes six.
•To the question: What are you drinking? You can just raise your filled glass and smile. Very different than being the dude with the steamy cup of chamomile tea.
One of the most succinct rebuttals comes from a friend of mine, who happens to be a bodybuilder and a socializer. He trains heavily and has never been a drinker, and when people ask him why, he tells them something along these lines: Drinking usually helps people be more relaxed and social. It does the opposite for me. It makes me want to immediately go to sleep.
It works like a charm. No one wants to put their fellow partygoer to sleep.
If someone is being pushy but otherwise benign, you can say, “Sure, I’ll have a …….. ” Take the drink. Thank them. Don’t drink it. If they get uber-pushy (which they won’t) as in, “I want to see you drink it,” you have a choice. Smile, and dump it over their head.
Or just dump it over their head without the smile.
•Be a fun guy. Sober. Dry. None of those words really help promote the idea that a non-drunk guy is still a fun-as-heck guy!
I have a friend who doesn’t drink a speck. But you’d never know it because she’s always the life of the party. She smiles, chats, giggles, flirts, dances. She’s always having so much fun that no one ever thinks to hassle her about drinking. In their buzzed state, others assume that she’s had a few.
•Get in the habit. The first few times you socialize without booze are going to be tough unless you have some strategies in place. Without getting into why, it is much easier to softly detour an existing habit than dynamite a longstanding ritual and start from scratch. Relying on the force of your iron will and white knuckles to change is hard.
Refining an existing pattern is easier. Let’s say you are meeting friends for drinks after work. Without thinking, you probably are used to heading to the bar or nearest cocktail server and placing your order. You recite one of your usual concoctions or you lean into your closest buddy and ask, “What are you drinking?”
You turn to order and say: “I’ll have that.”
Don’t have that. Have your nonalcoholic drink order on the tip of your tongue when you walk into the place. When you’re finished, reorder it. Just like that.
•What are we here for? Over time, you may notice that it’s the balm of positive social contact that relaxes people more than the booze itself, which is ultimately a prop. You’ll notice it in about 20 minutes, when everyone is finishing their first drink and showing noticeable signs of unwind.
Good luck to you on your no-booze journey. And while you’re at it, lift a glass to you: To better health and a more beautiful body and mind.
Salud, Skål, Santé, Cheers and much more.
It’s entirely possible you don’t have time for weekly facials, yet your pores cry out for de-plugging every few days. Here is a quick ritual for your keeping your pores clear. Whether you’re a man or woman, clear pores = a fresher-looking face. And that’s never a bad thing.
Step 1: Get one of these. It’s called a blackhead remover and Revlon makes a good one that you can find in almost every drugstore in the U.S.
Step 2: Soften sebum.
Sexy, isn’t it? Bring a pot of water to boil, then reduce heat until you have a consistent pillow of rising steam. Ideally, it’s nice to have and use a dedicated face-steaming pot that is not also used to prepare food.
Drape a clean towel over your head and lean into the steam, about a foot from the water. Your skin should be cleansed prior to steaming. The point is to soften the sebum and other cellular debris that’s embedded in your pores. This way, it should glide out once you get down to business.
Steam for 10-12 minutes.
Side Note: This is a great time to meditate. Breath in deeply, then exhale; over and again. Nice.
Another Side Note: If there’s not a snowball’s chance in Hell of you actually doing Step 2, then take a long, hot shower and proceed to Step 3.
Step 3: Liberate Your Pores.
The blackhead remover is a flat, handheld device with a small loop at each end. Place the hole on the loop of the extraction tool over a blocked pore. Apply gentle pressure until it releases the plugged debris.
If the extraction is not successful, attempt to do it twice more, exerting pressure on different sides of the pore. Still no luck? Move to another area.
A magnified mirror will help you spot blocked pores and fit your blackhead remover more precisely over them.
You’ll need to get up close and personal to unplug your pores. Hello!
If you do not have a blackhead remover, or do not feel comfortable using it, you can use your fingers—provided you do the following: cut your nails and wrap your fingertips with facial tissue to keep from gouging delicate facial skin. Press the pads of your fingertips (never the nails) on the sides of the pore, with one finger on each side. Be gentle.
Step 4: Clean it up.
Dip a pure cotton ball in toner and apply to the areas where you extracted. This is most likely the T-zone (chin, nose and forehead). Change cottons until the ball’s surface is still clean after being passed over your skin.
Avoid alcohol-based astringents that strip skin. Indeed, the oiliest skin requires nothing stronger than witch hazel. I also like to mix up a batch of apple cider vinegar toner; 1 part apple cider vinegar (well-shaken) to 1 or 2 parts distilled water. No need to rinse off the toner; simply let it dry on your skin.
Now smile. You’ve just made your skin very happy.
The key to making this habit is by doing it regularly. Your skin will look much better for it.
Side Note: This is a very abbreviated, quickie way to de-clog your pores in between visits to your aesthetician for a deep-cleansing facial. Alternately, a step by step at-home facial is detailed in the first chapter of my book, Practical Glamour.
Let’s say the holiday spirit has hit you later than usual, and you’re thinking: Hey, let’s have a party. Here are tips to help you produce a fantastico groovy holiday get-together in a short period of time.
Q. What’s the best way to invite guests in a time crunch (only 1 or 2 weeks of planning time)?
A. A combination of email and word of mouth. Send an email first, then follow up with a phone call if the size of your guest list allows. You don’t need to make explanations or detail your time crunch, either.
Simply let guests know you are throwing a fabulous little holiday soiree, and their presence will make it that much more wonderful. This added personal touch, particularly in an increasingly arms-reach society, will add a warm, welcome note to your invitation and increase the likelihood of acceptance on short notice.
Since parties are plentiful during the holidays, highlight one or two characteristics that make your party unique or somehow different from other festivities, whether it’s the fact that other attendees will round out a group that is never able to meet up, or you’ll be featuring an offbeat theme or item, like December in the islands or Christmas cuisine from around the world.
Q. What should you have on hand to make guests feel comfortable and welcome?
A. If your party is intimate, say, 20 people or fewer, consider featuring cuisine, beverages or a style of music that you know will be incredibly popular among the majority of the group.
This move is akin to a monogram; a bit of personalization you offer guests to communicate that you considered them and what they enjoy. Let’s say it’s a group of ex-Philadelphians getting together in Los Angeles: Letting them know that cheese steaks, Tasty Cakes and Yuengling lager are on the menu is like dangling catnip in front a cat’s nose. PS. And you can get most of these at Philly’s Best.
Side note: Party essentials: Handling Your Hellos and Goodbyes.
In the end, no matter how the invitations are extended, what you serve or how beautifully you decorate the room—your guests will remember the total experience. Chiefly, how they felt.
So start the experience off on the right note by greeting each one personally, inviting them into the fold with a drink or food item. At the end of the evening, see your guests to the door personally, if possible, and thank them sincerely for attending.
A warm spirit of welcome and belonging will linger in a guest’s mind much longer than their memory of the decorations, or what brand of liquor they drank.
Junior Party Planners Might Like to Be In on the Action…
Q. If you’ve taken on too much, or are running out of time, what is the best way to ask for help and who should you ask?
A. Brainstorm to come up with two or three seriously close friends or family who you’re almost positive have the time and complete interest in lending a hand. It can even be a child who you know would jump at the chance to be part of something cool and grownup like party planning. Contact each person individually, keep tasks small, and tailor each request to a person’s interest or passions.
You may loathe lighting and decoration duty, but have a friend who is super creative and has an eye for such things. Offer a prospective party helper a choice of tasks, and let him or her choose their favorite. This move will increase compliance and follow-through.
Oh, and make it beyond easy for them to say “No” or even “Hell no!”
Think of a creative way to thank those who have helped out, whether it’s a small gift or an outing to their favorite spot for brunch or a night of cocktails and catching up. During the party, make sure you give ample props to helpers by public acknowledging their contributions. Channel any compliments back to those who had a hand in creating the item, whether it was the awesome music playlist, authentic paella or some other aspect of the awesomeness that was your last-minute holiday party.
Follow these table conversation guidelines when it comes to discussing politics or you’ll wish it were here you are dining
Q. Shouldn’t I be free to express my political beliefs at the table with family and relatives?
A. One should be free to express their political beliefs with their relatives and, particularly if you are politically engaged, you might find it impossible not to. Religion and politics are lumped together precisely because, in addition to involving deeply held personal beliefs, they reveal to others who you are right now.
And it’s hard to have a tight relationship with someone who doesn’t know what you think, feel or believe!
The cost of engaging in what is called “cross-cutting political communication” at the dinner table, though, comes with the high probability of egging on conflict and making others uncomfortable in a setting designed for people to come together and enjoy each other’s company.
Japanese friends have introduced me to a great saying, “TPO,” which stands for “time, place and occasion.” This serves as a great social compass, a consciousness of one’s environment that is the soul of etiquette—which is the practice of positive regard for the places you go and the people you encounter.
Q. How do you keep yourself from joining the fracas when you hear something that arouses your political buttons?
A. Remembering my role and goal can keep me from jumping in the fray. Host duties come with the responsibility of being a referee, if not the outright peacemaker, in the interest of captaining an enjoyable event. And being a guest means bringing positivity, or at the very least, not bringing conflict to a party.
This doesn’t mean that you are agreeing or endorsing opposing political views, either, it means you are choosing a higher goal at the moment. The success of the saying, “We’ll have to agree to disagree,” has to do with the fact that it acknowledges that differences do exist while simultaneously conceding to bury the hatchet, at least for the moment.
Though you might not always be successful in keeping the environment as smooth as vermouth, you will have no regrets for having tried. By joining in, not matter how justified or right it might feel at the time, I am simply adding more noise to the conflict. I’m sorry to say I’ve been there, and it never felt good afterward.
Q. What do I do when I’m the odd man out at a table of people who share the same political identity—and my party or candidate is the verbal piñata?
A. If silence in this situation is, for you, suffering then I recommend you suffer no more. You have options, such as politely asking that the subject be changed or even making a joke, perhaps something along the lines of, “Well, I am happy to see diversity is alive and well in our family” or “I see the apple has fallen far from the tree. Okay, it’s in a different orchard.”
If the hint is not taken, and the bashing persists, along with the rise of your inner ire, you can restate your request that the subject be changed or suggest that another time might be more appropriate for the discussion. If you feel the situation is becoming one of harassment or even verbal abuse, you are well within your rights to excuse yourself or leave the situation altogether.
Q. What option do I have if I’m a guest and the host wants to have a spirited political debate at the table?
A. Spirited political debates among folks holding opposing political ideologies are about as common as seeing the Easter Bunny moonwalk down Seventh Avenue. I am thinking you’re referring to those saucy table debates that have little chance of blooming into full-scale fighting words because they occur among those who share political premises, such as collectivism or individualism, but differ on aspects of similar policies or support candidates from the same party.
Assuming that politics does not bore you to spinnakers, there is usually no harm in such debates, because the probability of negative conflict is low. If, on the other hand, your host is fond of seeing his friends brawl, then I suggest a reassessment of the relationship and pressing pause on the acceptance of further invitations.
If you happen to be caught on the sidelines, a silent bystander of a debate that has gone from spirited to mean-spirited, you have the option of excusing yourself from the table. Hopefully by the time you return, the topic will have become more palatable and the room full of good cheer.
An emergency measure remarkably effective at achieving verbal cease-fires is to firmly remind everyone at the table that you care about them more than you will ever care about any politician.
I like to figure out ways to look and feel my best in the shortest amount of time possible, so I can get to the really important things, like staring at palm trees and drinking ice coffee.
I am probably not alone, though, as I suspect most people like to look their best without spending half the day getting there. In other words, does anyone want to spend an hour doing their hair, or 30 minutes buttoning themselves up into some concoction they pulled together from the closet? Yeah, me neither.
That said, whether you’re a lad or lady, consider figuring out your uniform. A personal dressing blueprint that looks good on you, feels comfortable and projects something satisfying about you to the world. A shortcut to pulling yourself together each day, clothing wise.
Having a dress uniform for work makes things incredibly each morning when you’re stumbling around, pre-caffeine. Why invent the sartorial wheel each day? It’s too annoying. Whether a suit is part of the equation or not, determining your desired dress profile for specific roles or scenarios gives you a pre-determined direction when you fling open your closet doors.
Tips to designing your uniform:
●After a certain period of time on Earth, one realizes that certain colors, cuts, silhouettes look better than others. Which look best on you? Figure them out—down to the detail. Acquire a manageable inventory of them, and in the best quality possible.
●Think about this season. What is interesting to you, style or fashion wise? Have you tried on any of these interests and if so, they look good on you? Do they help communicate something positive about you to others?
●First, create your style mission statement for the season. What do you, in general, want to look like? Seasons are an easy way to divvy up the year because they correspond neatly to weather changes. You’re thinking about completely different garments, colors and weights in the summer than the winter, even if you live in a mild climate.
●Translate your profile into a baseline look that you use for your major activity spheres. For many of us, these will include work/professional activities, running around/errands, social activities and so forth.
This is my baseline look for running around this season. It’s cold where I live, kind of, so clingy knit skirts and dresses form the basis of my uniform. They work with my figure, are super comfortable and easy care. They are also more interesting, to me at least, than denim. I’m wearing black leggings under the skirt, which increases warmth without adding bulk. What is the basis of your uniform? It can be as easy as jeans and denim, or mod dress slacks and a spiffy non-iron dress shirt.
I add a warmish neck scarf in a pleasing color, and/or a short jacket as outerwear staples. The grey half-sleeve jacket above is by Valette. It has a throwback design that adds a touch of something, and it’s easy to throw on and off, with no zippers; just a snap or two. If you’re on the petite side, keep jackets either short (waist-length or above), or go full-Monty long and fitted. Read here for tips on selecting a winter coat.
Suede slips-ons or ballet flats are go-to footwear. Ease of use, again, and they impart a certain femininity. No matter your shoe preference this season, please focus on quality. I’ve had the above pair of shoes by Tod’s for eons. They were not the most inexpensive on the block, but I estimate they would have outlasted 3-4 lesser-quality pairs. Tip: Great quality lasts longer and looks better, making it the smarter investment no matter your budget.
Which brings me back to your uniform. Formulate your baseline look by explicitly determining your desired fabrics, main garments, outerwear, accessories and shoes. It will make it easy to dress even if you’re sleepwalking. It will be easier and faster to get ready each day, and you will be more comfortable and pleased with your look. These are all good things.
Shoot me an email at email@example.com if you have a question. In the meantime, girl or guy, go forth and be glamorous!
Some helpful posts:
Going short, this short, after eons with big, bouncy golden hair must have been hard. As in, a brand new identity hard. We are often described, at least superficially, by their hair. The girl with the really long, black straight hair. The chick with the frizzy blond hair. The curly redhead. And so on.
And we get used to our hair. It’s personal. The feel of its weight on our head, brushing through it at night and seeing it in our reflection a gazillion times a day. Getting rid of a few inches is fine. But many, many inches? Now that is an adjustment. I remember waking up the day after getting something of a serious buzz cut, putting my head to my barely there hair and thinking for a full minute that I was still dreaming.
Given that Pamela Anderson’s public brand has been that of the sexpot with the big blond hair for a couple of decades now, this pixie cut move represents a smart re-working of her image. Losing the hair gives her a sharper, more au courant look. Personally, I love it.
Here’s what makes super-short hair work beautifully:
●Like wearing a certain type of hat, super-short hair draws you into a woman’s face. So it helps to have strong, symmetrical features. Pamela Anderson has them in spades, and the spiky element of the cut acts works as a visual contrast that adds angularity and a certain perkiness to her face.
●Short hair can offset super-sexy dressing. You can get away with showing a lot more skin when you sport super-short hair. Long, swirling locks atop a sexy outfit can lead to overkill, since they’re such a strong signifier of the feminine. Halle Berry’s groovy pixie cut atop her fabulous figure has much to do with her brand of modern, respectable sexiness.
●The face again. With super-short hair, makeup becomes a different matter. Long hair, in some ways, is like a beauty crutch. Cutting it off is like removing the thick, decorative frame that surrounds a picture. What do you have left? Mainly the picture.
●I had that buzz-cut short style for a few years, and rarely went without at least a smidgen of makeup. Otherwise, the look was too stark for my liking and I kind of looked like a little dude. Though a bottle of shampoo did last forever and I could stick my tongue out while skipping past the bottles of conditioner that I now worship. Makeup wise, short-hair means you have to be more precise, blend like the Devil, soften up colors for day and also, you can have more fun. A blazing red lip looks chic, never tarty. And big, fabulous cat eyes? Meow. I mean, Yes.
Final note: Pamela Anderson’s pixie cut gives her a look that reminds me of Jean Seberg in Breathless. This is a film from 1960, directed by Jean-Luc Godard, written by François Truffaut and shot in the streets of Paris with a handheld camera. Which means that if you went to film school for even two days, you absolutely saw this film a bunch of times.
My eye caught the images, Before and After. It was Stacy Morris, a woman who battled a demon that had been hanging on her for many years. In 2009, she weighed 345 pounds (25 stone). Now, she doesn’t. She credits a mix of intensive inner work and a fitness system by Diamond Dallas Page as the two major factors that changed everything.
Her story is fascinating—optimistic and motivating, too.
As a woman who has experienced life “from both sides now” in terms of size, Stacy Morris was someone I wanted to talk to. She graciously agreed to a Practical Glamour Q&A. Read on…
Q. I understand that you dropped 180 pounds in just under 2 years, and continue to keep the weight off. What is your top tip for handling cravings?
Stacey Morris: From all my years of dieting and falling off the wagon, I realized that it’s just not realistic to ignore cravings and hope they will go away.
I can usually tell when a craving is biological and my body’s asking for something specific or if it’s a psychological craving and I just want to eat something for a little enjoyment. I’ve learned that it’s not only OK to give myself enjoyment, it’s crucial for long-term success.
Being too strict and denying myself only backfires. So the trick is to make sure I really want a treat, then eat it with awareness and not rush through the experience. This is an entirely different experience from eating as a reaction to stress or boredom. I tell clients it’s a learning curve but if you’re patient, you can teach yourself the difference.
Out & About Glamour
Q. How can a person understand when they are engaging in emotional eating?
Stacey Morris:The best way to describe it is a feeling of non-peacefulness.
A sudden, imperative urge to eat, especially an old binge-food that’s not very nutritious, is my first clue. I’m actually grateful when this happens because it’s important information. It means there’s stress to deal with constructively, or an emotion that needs tending to. That is my first course of action.
It’s part of how I live a more aware and honest life now. It took me decades to finally make the connection, but eating over a problem will not solve it. The distraction emotional eating provides is fleeting. And the problem only gets compounded with the excess weight and feeling of ‘yuck’ from being overstuffed. I’d much rather wade through the uncomfortable emotions and face the issue.
I’m hardly a monk, though, when it comes to emotional eating. Sometimes I allow myself an emotional release through food…but with a makeover of a former binge food, i.e., a gluten-free cupcake, rice crackers and a favorite dip, etc. But, I make sure to eat this with awareness, reminding myself it’s a treat, and quantity indeed matters. I eat till I feel satisfied, not stuffed. That’s key.
Q. Going out, engaging in the world and meeting new people. How are these things different for you now?
“Because all the skinny in the world won’t help if you’re not feeling good about yourself from the inside out.”~Stacey Morris
Stacey Morris: Oh, it’s SO different! Not having to worry about fitting into chairs has been a tremendous burden lifted. My size actually curtailed me from going to movies and plays, as well as traveling on trains and airplanes…it became too embarrassing.
I also love getting dressed in the morning, though it now takes me a little longer because I have a bigger wardrobe to choose from! And I wear colors and patterns of all kind now. Before it was black head-to-toe every single day. Kind of a drag.
Also, in general, people notice me more and make direct eye contact. It’s not really right or fair, but people of size tend to be treated as non-entities. Overall, life is more fun because I have the physical litheness and freedom that I always wanted but thought was forever out of my reach. I’m dedicating the rest of my life to letting others in my situation know there are indeed solutions. There is no magic, only an honest commitment to yourself. ☼
To connect with Stacey Morris…
I don’t need to tell you that there are a-plenty of perverts in this world. But it helps to know that you can do something that’s very simple to keep their hell-bound eyes out of your life: shut down your laptop camera when it’s not in use.
The simplest way to do this is by slapping a colored tab or post-it over the lens, like so:
The stories of victims, mostly women, whose computers have been hacked seem to get more outrageous each day. I don’t need to reiterate them here. The numbers of cases are growing, so does the ease by which these cretins can infiltrate your life, if the amount of step-by-step information available via a Google or YouTube search is any indication.
If such a thing happens to you or someone you know, contact the FBI, and do so stat. This is considered cyberterrorism and they take it seriously.
Not very glamorous stuff, but important to know. So cover up that camera immediately, even if all you have on hand is a piece of tape and a Sharpie to cover that sucker up. Even a lip liner will do. And spread the word to every lad or lass you know with a built-in camera on their computer screen.
How’s this for an easy Before and After?
Nice view, no?
Look, No Chains!
So I have been taking meditation classes. They’re not just meditation though. They are led by a monk who also gives a lecture. Always about something excellent and interesting that lingers in the mind forever. One week’s topic was desirous attachment. Also known as misery.
The best way to define desirous attachment is to say what it isn’t. It is not optimistic yearning or healthy ambition or confident possession.
It is shackles and wanting so desperately for something—and probably not a good something. Drugs come to mind as the easy example, but desirous attachment can also mean being tethered with a big ole’ rusty chain to a guy who is poison, to a friend who is betrayal, to a family member who uses and nothing else. An abusive boss or client or coworker or person who is in some position to lord over your life in a big or small way. You get the picture.
When you are finally ready to leave, shake off that attachment, it can happen in a quick flush and be gone. Like a wave that pounds the sand then retreats, leaving little more than a stain that is dried up by the sun.
Something that meant so much all of the sudden means nothing at all. Or close to it.
It’s surprising how fast it takes. The run up to this moment, though, can take years. And there’s no escaping the work it takes to unwrangle that desirous attachment from your life. When you’re ready to embark, the road out of jail can be populated by a limitless mix of helpers, from a great therapist and kind network of friends and family, to meditation and physical exercise—or whatever mix destiny kindly hands over to help you. When good bonds are strengthened, rotten ones fade away.
But you will be better for having experienced it. You should consider overcoming it a supreme personal achievement.
What does all of this have to do with glamour, with presentation and communication, you might ask? It’s fundamental. If you are not free, with a light and peaceful soul, your true beauty is hindered. And that just won’t do.
To your freedom.
Terrence Davidson, Stylist and Wig Master
Terrence Davidson, aka The Wig Master, is a famed wig and celebrity hairstylist whose client roster includes glamour girls such as Jennifer Hudson, Tyra Banks, Nicki Minaj, Mary J Blige and Iman.
What strikes me as very Practical Glamour about his work is how he creates these edgy and eye-popping looks fit for the stage, then goes ahead and creates very feminine, sensual looks that any woman would feel comfortable sporting in everyday life.
I had the opportunity to ask Terrence for tips on keeping that weave real and selecting your best hair shade:
Q. What is the biggest mistake a gal can make when it comes to maintaining her weave?
Terrence Davidson: The biggest mistake a girl can make when maintaining her weave would be to put too much product in the weave as far as oil or hair sprays!
It makes the hair very very heavy and oily which will cause curls to not hold and look greasy.
Q. Your new hair extension line is called Just My Color.
Speaking of the importance of color, what tip do you have for a lady when it comes to selecting the best shade for her unique eye and skin color?
Terrence Davidson: My idea on a lady chosing the right color for her skin and eyes would be to first make sure the color they chose will always soften them up and still bring out the natural undertone in the skin.
Most people have a yellow and or red undertone to their complexion, so I identity either (black, browns and reds or blondes, auburns and strawberry reds). Most people with a yellow undertone look best with black and or deep brown colors, and people with red undertones look best with blondes and reds.
Terrence Davidson, The Wig Master, Specializes in Melding Edge with Ease. Very Practical Glamour!
Q. Stylistically, I think it can be hard to meld natural allure and edge, but you do an excellent job of it. Your beauty gallery is filled with images of hair styles that are dramatic yet Earth-bound and feminine at the same time. What inspires your vision when it comes to styling a woman?
Terrence Davidson: Usually what inspires my vision when working with a woman would be to look at their skin tone and also their day-to-day life because that too will help me decide on the hair creation and color fit for their lifestyle! But I do try to make my clients stand out but still maintain a soft femininity in the hair.
See more of Terrence Davidson’s work or visit Just My Color.
So a very nice Practical Glamour Facebook follower sent me a nice gift recently. I had been posting about the feminine handiness of the headscarf for a while, so a nice lad took it upon himself to mail me 3 color versions of this vintage headscarf. Thank you to Mr. Bernie Hanssen!
His timing was great. I’ve been wanting to integrate more color and patterns into my attire, and these scarfs fit the bill. So I had a scarf weekend—and have some photos that might inspire some scarf-wearing looks of your own…
Checking the Saturday morning surf…Since I have not yet had coffee, hair is best dealt with via a quick comb-through and, of course, a scarf!
To wear: Comb through your hair and gather it in a loose, low ponytail if it’s long. Place scarf at the crown of the head, letting some hair peek through if it suits you, and tie firmly at the nape of the neck. Release the ponytail. If baby hairs around the face annoy you, spray a dab of hairspray on a spare toothbrush and brush them back.
Below. A vintage scarf like this is a good way to add not only color, but some character and flair to your everyday runaround wear. The only embellishment here is a pair of sunglasses, but you can definitely gypsy up your look by adding some big ole’ hoop earrings and a chain or two.
Shopping can sometimes be boring, so a way I make things a tad more interesting is to dress up a bit. Here, my scarf helps add some practical glamour to a Saturday afternoon Target run.
Tip: The key to making this habit, and not feel like you’re “dressed up” is to feel comfortable. So stock up on those easy clothes that are easy to care for, look nice and feel like nothing at all. This James Perse dress feels as soft as an undershirt and is easy to pull on and off—no zippers or buttons. It’s uncomplicated, and the silhouette of this Malibu designer’s dresses seem to flatter every size.
. Let’s hear it for pho! I am a certified noodle maniac and my current fixation has to do with this incredibly scrumptious, popular Vietnamese soup. My favorite local spot is one of those little stripmall joints that’s nondescript, excellent and plays old big band tunes over the speakers. Pho and Glenn Miller, does it get any better?
I flipped up the scarf for a change of pace on a Sunday afternoon noodle date. This is an incredibly easy look to be had, no matter your hair length…
- twist your hair and pull it into a low bun at the nape of the neck
- center the scarf also at the name of the neck, under the bun
- pull the long ends of the scarf up along the sides of the head, and knot at the crown
- the loose fabric on either side of the head is also pulled up, then flattened to the head with hair pins or tucked into the knot at the crown
To get a freshen-up on what hair shades suit you best, here is a helpful infographic by online beauty retailers Beauty Bridge.
Guy or girl, before you buy another tie, another lip shade or even a T-shirt, take a moment and reflect on what colors work best for your unique hair, skin and eye combination. There are specific colors that will always suit you best, and others that you should pass on by, even if you like them on an aesthetic level.
I love a strong turquoise blue, for instance. There is something about the color that I find uplifting, but I wouldn’t buy personal items in turquoise, because the color is too intense, too yellow-based for my overall coloring.
Note that the infographic above begins by asking whether your skin tone is warm or cool. This is key. If you’ve never been sure, this is fairly easy to do with the following:
- One sheet of plain gold wrapping or wallpaper, and one sheet of plain silver wrapping or wallpaper
- Two towels: One in pure white with no yellow undertones; one in ivory, which is a yellowish-white
Place the paper or towels directly around your face—one first, then the other—and gauge the overall effect of each shade.
- Extreme in contrast: (Left) A deep ivory. (Right) Pure white. Which is best for you?
Determine which is most flattering to your unique hair, skin and eye combo. Pure white looks best? This indicates that your skin tone is on the cooler end of the spectrum. If ivory looks best, this indicates that your skin tone is on the warmer end of the spectrum.
Over time, as you pay close attention to colors, shades and intensities, you will begin to instantly recognize those which flatter you most. This means you’ll make quicker decisions while shopping, and better decisions, with no costly closet mistakes.
Oh, and if you thought you could never wear red, read this.
Any woman—some men, too—who I talk with about style will eventually hear about my love of shapewear.
To me, the stuff is like physical alchemy, where you can enhance your favorite attributes and smudge out those that you’re not too fond of at the moment.
Even if you’ve got an A-1 figure and wouldn’t change a patch of flesh, why not make it even more scrumptious? It’s like not wearing mascara because your lashes are already so long and lush!
Online shapewear shop Hourglass Angel is like a one-stop shop for body morphing: waist cinchers, corsets, body shapers, booty plumpers, leggings that tighten and smooth—you name it and they have it.
I spoke with Ruben Soto from the company who gave me some great advice on how to properly select the best shapewear for your body, plus pointed out some extra benefits that I was not aware of. Read on.
Q. What is your top shopping tip for the gal who is new to shapewear?
A. Shapewear can sometimes be a difficult garment to find. I think it is really important to consider all of the options out there to be able to find the perfect garment, specifically for you.
Which is why I would suggest to consider the following when looking for shapewear:
- What are the areas that you would like to target?
- Would you like a garment that is going to target more than one area, or to specifically target one body part?
- What amount of compression are you most comfortable with?
- What benefits are you seeking to take from shapewear?
Overall, I would suggest getting something that you find yourself being able to wear as suggested. I find myself suggesting to my clients to think long term, and to not restrict themselves with something that they do not see being able to wear for months.
Lastly, make sure to get a garment that fits well, most size charts are composed to produce the desired results according to fit.
Note that wearing shapewear garments that are way too small for your size can be counterproductive. Instead of helping you get in shape, it might create additional rolls and bulges on your form. The garment should fit comfortably conturing your curves.
If more compression is something that you are interested in, I would recommend looking for a garment with a stronge enhancement level control, rather than sizing down.
The Almighty Vest by AMIA
Q. How can a shopper differentiate quality shapewear from the not-so good? In terms of craftsmanship, what are some things we should look out for?
A. The things that I look for when expanding our collection is a garment that is made of a rich material.
By rich material I mean something that is constructed to last, which can be seen in the durability and versatility of the garment. You will see the quality of the garment in its details.
The details that I find most important in a garment are if it is convenient to wear, and its adaptability as you begin to size down.
Q. What is a top-selling item at Hourglass Angel? What do you think makes its so popular?
A. One of the many best selling garments that I would suggest to anyone interested in purchasing shapewear would be the AMIA Almighty Vest.
What is great about this garment is that is sculpts inches from your midsection, as it increases thermal activity in your core and supports long-term slimming. What makes this garment so popular is its effectiveness, and at the same time it is very comfortable to wear.
Best of all is that the garment not only slims you, but reduces back pain by giving your back support.
Q. Off beat style idea: Several of my all-time favorite swimsuits and exercise leggings have actually come from the shapewear department. What do you think of this idea?
A. I am thrilled to hear that you have taken shapewear to the next level, by adding it to your workout routine. E-HealthyDirectory.net conducted research that showed that women who wear a tight girdle-like garment while walking in a treadmill burn more calories than they normally would without wearing it.
In addition to its greater calorie burning capacities, other health benefits that shapewear offers is the improvement of posture and toning of abdominal muscle. We like to promote a healthy diet, and exercise in addition wearing shapewear to increase weight loss. It’s kind of a packaged deal that way!
Busting out my evening jog in a pair of shapewear leggings. They last forever and keep things nicely in place when you’re bouncing around…
Visualize a small, concise collection
Q. Constance, I have a different problem. A large closet…lots of clothes but nothing to wear. And I don’t like to part with things. I have started a get rid of box, consignment, good will, yet the closet is still full. Might need to add I have range of sizes due to my weight fluctuating. Maybe others have my same issue, would love to hear some advice. Although I am certain I know what I should do…lol. Hope all is well with you. Nicole R.
A. I suspect your Get Rid of Box is not full enough! And your fine, non-wasteful blood is not helping things.
A successful closet overhaul always begins in the mind.
The bulk of your existing clothes do you no favors when it comes to you getting out the door each day in a timely manner, and looking your best. That is because they no longer represent who you are today. They are castoffs, leftovers from another time in your life. And if you come across any item that shows it, whether you see faded dye or pilled fabrics or misshapen silhouettes, out they go. I had a hoot not long ago getting rid of a pair of white, sky-high platforms and matching white leather miniskirt, among other dinosaur garb.
Some of us have tendency to hang on to the past, and when we do this we are not treating ourselves quite kindly. Your collection of clothes should be concise and on-point to who you are today. It doesn’t matter if your budget is endless or strict, either.
Back to the mind. A lovely lady wears lovely things. This means you. Once you have accepted this, each of your items should be examined with respect to the 3Cs – Cut, Color, Characteristic. If a piece does not pass all three of these criterion, into the box it goes. Be ruthless.
Pretend you are doing it for someone else, and play Bitchy Personal Shopper if you must, where you imagine you are throwing away closet castoffs for a particularly discriminating client, who happens to look just like you!
Best of luck. And I want pictures!
If you’re in the mood for more closet-cleanout talk, read this, this and this. Or watch this.
Did you know? Schedule your waxing appointments, the salon or at-home kind, every 3-4 weeks. Many people think that they should wait 5-6 weeks, until re-growth is complete for the best hair removal.
Tip. The problem is that it hurts more to remove hair when it’s longer, thicker. All the waxer, or you (if you’re a self-waxer) needs is enough length for the wax to adhere to, which is 1/8 inch long. No more.
A few more waxing tricks:
• If you regularly wax, the new batch of follicles will be slighter in density. This is a good thing, because lightweight hair is easier to remove, and less painful to wax away.
• Exfoliate the area faithfully in between waxes. Not just with a washcloth or loofah, either. You need detailing, so employ a granulated scrub and get down to business.
• Exfoliate a day before you wax. This will remove surface skin cells and prime the area for hair removal.
• Ingrown hair: another reason to exfoliate regularly. As your hair gets thinner, it becomes less able to grow clear of the hair line, particularly if dead skin cells have built up to squash it. This forces hair to bend under the surface of the skin, resulting in ingrown hairs.
• A note on pain. Breathe deeply and evenly while being waxed. Some people hold their breath because the pain can be stunning. But if you focus on your breath, it will keep you body calm and focus your mind as well.
• You can also think about how righteously smooth, hair-free and beautiful your skin is going to be in a matter of minutes. Now that should make you smile.
I typically keep a few on the fly waxing products on hand to deal with rogue hair that pops up in between waxing sessions, and recommend Nad’s Facial Wand and Nad’s Body Wax Strips for very hassle-free defuzzing. I also deal with hair removal pretty thoroughly in my book Practical Glamour.
Wooden hangers are nice, but space gobblers they are for small closets
I have a small closet. This is a good and bad thing. Good because it keeps me disciplined in terms of hauling home and storing tons of junk, which is to say, clothes that do not pass muster when it comes to the three Cs: cut, color and characteristic.
Having a small closet means that you have to go through ruthless closet overhauls every season or so, and bid adieu to those things that no longer fit, are not in great condition or don’t help you communicate your best self to the world.
So in the end you have a nice collection of things you can pull out at any turn and wear, wear, wear. This is a good thing.
The downside of the bad closet is that it’s unforgiving. You have to make choices all the time, and it doesn’t leave you any leeway to store fun stuff, like a florid and heavy collection of flamenco dance outfits, for personal instance.
In a contest, velvet hangers beat wooden ones for space saving
*To ease up more space in your closet, there are many things you can do. One is to replace bulky wooden or, shudder, plastic hangers, with these sleek and skinny velvet ones. I purchased a few packs of velvet hangers (10 for $5.00) at a discount store.
Velvet clothes hangers are very thin—each wood hanger takes up the space of about three—and the material is sticky, in a sense, so clothes adhere to it and there is very little slippage.
I replaced all of my nice-looking but space-gobbling wooden hangers with velvet clothes hangers, and have freed up about 20% more room in my closet. For a small closet, that’s like one acre.
Velvet clothes hangers are rather delicate, so they are ideal for women’s clothes. I don’t think they are sturdy enough to handle men’s jackets and heavier items, so keep your sturdier hangers for those.
If you’re in the mood for more closet wisdom, read this, this and this. Or watch this.
Go forth and be glamorous.