Constance Dunn: I enjoy your site, GoodLooknOut, because it’s filled with a lot of smart content on the 360 of looking and feeling fine. You put out information that a woman can read and immediately put to good – and glamorous – use.
I think, these days, when people say they are “keeping it real” or “just being honest” they use it as a crutch or justification to be crude, coarse or just mean. The increasing number of women and girls who do things like post porno-like snaps of themselves online, or attack other women, is a sign that not all is well with the sisterhood.
Q. What advice do you have for young ladies who want to be themselves, and don’t want to swim with the status quo that increasingly equates personal authenticity with being undignified?
Marie Young: My advice would be to get to really know yourself as thoroughly as possible.
I equate doing so to the intense personal relationship you would share with your supreme higher being. You get into that deeply quiet space where you can be intimate and connect with this higher power to build on the personal relationship you share with this higher being. Well, you have to do the exact same thing with yourself. Be intimate with your self, connect and learn who you really are and what image you want to portray to the world.
Q. Okay, some practical glamour questions. You’ve been sporting natural hair for over one year. What is your top natural hair tip?
Marie Young: My top natural hair tip would be treat your hair as good as you want it to look. This means getting your trims, proper moisture and choosing wisely what products you put in your hair.
Q. And a dressing tip for glamorous and curvy ladies everywhere?
Marie Young: Get to know your body and learn what works best for your shape. If you have a big ‘booty’, own it, yet style appropriately. Meaning not too tight and try to create balance by taking away from your gluteus asset.
I steer clear of buying any jeans with embellishments and every now and then I throw on some heels to accentuate my curves!
Montgomery Clift and Liz Taylor from the very beautiful film, “A Place in the Sun” (1951)
So much pre-prom hype floats around that by the time the big night arrives, it can be swallowed in a blur of overdone ensembles, corsages, overzealous makeup and serpentine hair. The natural enjoyment of the event can get obliterated by an emphasis on prom details and decorations – plus the fact that you may be as nervous as a cat at the prospect of the whole thing. Note for your future: The same thing often happens with weddings.
Maybe you’re not feeling up to the brim with confidence in the area of looks or your figure or dress clothes or dancing or whatever else might be fixed in your mind when it comes to prom. Perhaps the idea of dancing in heels makes you feel seasick, or you’re dealing with a monster zit problem that no triple-coating of foundation is going to camouflage. Or you’re insanely and squeamishly in love with your prom date – or the person who is not your date but somebody else’s.
So here are some across-the-board prom tips to keep the main points of the night – happiness, beauty and laughter – in main view, and keep the other stuff, like crippling self-consciousness, back in the shadows, where it belongs.
You’ve heard it before: Your prom is a once in a lifetime event. No doubt, you’ll want the experience and memories of prom to be wonderful, so here are a few keep in minds:
Bust your fears. Write down your top 5 prom plagues. Sort them from most atrocious to least. Then do something about them. Example: If you are scared of dancing, dedicate 10 minutes a day to building your confidence in this area. Rhythmically challenged? Close your bedroom door, put on your favorite tunes and sway to the music, your eyes closed. (No one is watching.) Gradually add more complex moves using your arms and some footwork. Find some videos and copy what you like – just leave out the sleaze moves, ladies; they’re beneath you.
What’s the look? Before you spend a sou on anything related to prom, spend some time thinking about the big picture: What do you want to look like, overall? Summon a few characteristics that appeal to you and don’t censor yourself while brainstorming: Goddess. Sleek. Regal. Exotic. Firm up a picture in your mind and stick with it. Say it out loud. Your styling ideas, purchases and the like should all conform to this vision. This will save you time and money, and give you clarity and confidence.
A side note on your prom vision. You are a teenager, and no doubt a bee-a-utiful one! So celebrate your natural allure and find ways to project your favorite features and characteristics on prom night. A gorgeous smile…swan-like neck…amazing hair – find your favorite feature(s) and put them in the spotlight. There will be plenty of time in your adult life to play sex kitten or brazen bombshell, so tuck away modern music and film images of soul-less showgirls (that’s saying it nicely) and embrace you as you are right now. It feels wonderful.
Comfort=Ease. Remember this rule before you even think about buying those 6-inch platforms. Or that stiff, complicated dress that makes your most ambitious Halloween costume feel like a plushy track suit. There are plenty of options out there that will satisfy the formality of the night without making you feel and look as carefree as a hyperventilating mummy. Think ease and elegance for prom.
Prom shoe style tip: Those huge platform disasters that everyone has been sporting for the last few years? Ditch them. They are a horror to wear for longer than a few minutes and they don’t look all that jazzy. They almost always give the wearer a Herman Muenster-ish walk, and I don’t think that’s the look you are yearning for on prom night. If you hate all heels and consider them supreme torture devices, consider getting a pair of fabulous, dressy flats for prom. Flats have been hot for a while now, so there are plenty of great designs out there.
Herman Muenster style shoes give one a Herman Muenster walk
There are some fabulous flats out there!
Tip: Tuck a pair of fold-up flats in your bag if you want to wear heels but don’t think you’ll last all night in them. Running around a dance hall barefoot in a formal gown is not a cool look, unless the dance hall is some fabulous lawn party and you can pull it off in style.
Be a great date. Brush up on formal event and prom etiquette and put it into practice. Stand, move and speak like a lady. Be courteous and kind to your date. Don’t spend the night ignoring him while you’re huddled with your girlfriends, or worse, dancing with other guys.
Keep it simple. You will not need an industrial sized purse on prom night. Girl must-haves should be whittled to the essentials, usually a small comb to tame stray hairs, some lip color, money and a phone. And use makeup finishing spray to keep your prom makeup intact for many, many hours. Pack your essentials in the slenderest clutch or bag that you can muster. You will find the lack of baggage liberating on prom night and that you have all you need.
Randoms but important. If fresh breath is a concern, tote a small breath freshener with you. Health food stores have the best. In a pinch, grab a piece of lemon or lime and squeeze the juice on your tongue.
For your best prom photo tips, read this. And if you have a specific prom question or quandary, you can email me here or reach me via Twitter @ConstanceDunn.
It starts with you. Prom night is not about making sure your hair and makeup are picture-perfect each second. Sure, those details are nice to have dialed in, but the best prom night look for you is to be yourself, feel relaxed and have fun. Whenever you are feel tense on prom night, just smile and breathe. And repeat.
Here’s to you. You will have an amazing time at prom.
Arnold Scassi is a legendary American fashion designer, having dressed many a First Lady, movie star and debutante from the 1950′s and beyond. I happened to pick up a copy of his book, “Women I Have Dressed (and Undressed!)” at a library sale at one of my all-time favorite spots, The Society of the Four Arts King Library, located in one of my favorite places on Earth, Palm Beach.
The book was a fun read, and one of the things that stuck to me is this: At the outset of his career, Scassi decided that he would not give away his clothes for free. To anyone. Ever.
So when Jacqueline Onassis came calling, her staff interested in having Scassi dress the First Lady – but for free – Scassi had to refuse. Bear in mind that being a designer whose gowns are worn by a First Lady is like being automatically crowned King of the Design Universe, so it must have been very painfully hard for the young designer to utter, “Pass.”
But here’s the thing – he did – and it was a smart, smart move. If he gave away his designs, he would be perpetually fending off requests for free stuff for the rest of his career. Plus, the rebuffed women would no doubt feel a trace of bitterness as they signed their checks to him, feeling that they did not rate enough for a free Scassi gown. Given the gargantuan egos of the women he dressed (Barbra Streisand and so forth), this would be a problem and dilute his super-luxury brand over the long run. Not to mention be a persistent, Grade-A annoyance.
Putting aside the supreme tackiness of someone asking you to hand over your art, your skill, your work and effort for zip, zero, zilch compensation — financial or otherwise — Arnold Scassi had a tactful way of dealing with those who came asking.
He would explain that his no-free-gowns rule had to do with the fact that he didn’t sing, dance or act. He created clothes. That was his skill and his gift and how he earned his living.
Perhaps Scassi’s standard is a helpful reminder if you are a person who is perpetually being asked to give, give and give your products, work and time. And have a hard or itchy time saying no. It has helped me.
And remember, it is easier if you outline your standards at the outset and stick to them — but it’s never too late to change.
I had the opportunity to meet Jessa Blades, who brought her Brooklyn goodness out to Venice for a showcase of her knowledge of natural beauty and an introduction to some of her top products.
Jessa is a natural beauty expert, makeup artist and founder of Blades Natural Beauty, which is a curated collection of her top picks in natural beauty – spanning skincare, wellness and makeup.
Jessa Blades, left, of Blades Natural Beauty
What I like about her approach is the idea that health and beauty are inseparable. In other words, how great do you look, how much do you glow, when you feel terrible – are stressed, out of balance or are giving your body a beating with not-great lifestyle habits?
So it made sense that at the event, in addition to being introduced to a fantastic organic color that adds a soft veil of blush to the lips or cheeks (RMS’s Sacred), I was also given a sample of Mountain Woman Tea, “blended to help soothe and calm your delicate nervous system, this tea brings your shoulders down from up high around your ears, to their proper resting place, down below your chin.” These and some of her own formulations are found at her Blades Natural Beauty Shop.
Never forgetting the Practical part of the Glamour equation, I have to add that I like that her line of seriously pure skin products is very accessible in terms of price…a Peppermint Clay Skin Mask for $15 and Calendula Cleansing Grains for $20.
I was filing away my Blades Natural Beauty card in the Do Not Lose file when I spotted some of Jessa’s fine natural beauty tips printed across it.
Here are three that I should probably have tattooed somewhere:
-Wash your makeup brushes every one to two weeks.
-Go easy with the soap – it removes dirt and grease from the surface of your skin, but also strips away your body’s natural oils.
-Use a non-petroleum based lip balm with an SPF factor.
Find other great natural beauty tips at Jessa’s blog, as well.
Julie Christie sporting tweed in 1973′s “Don’t Look Now”
It’s March and it’s cold, and maybe you’re getting tired of your winter wardrobe. I know I am. I’ve have been scouting about for something new and interesting to add to the mix when I caught an eyeful of Julie Christie in the 70′s film “Don’t Look Now.” If you love Venice and/or suspense films, I recommend it.
On the style front, the movie’s notable because Julie Christie wears tweed throughout the movie, and looks fabulous doing so, fresh and elegant, even though she’s kind of tormented due to various plot machinations.
That said, if you are thinking of adding some new notes to your cold weather wardrobe, here are some tips on how to successfully select and wear tweed:
-Tweed, distinguished and distinct. Since tweed hasn’t been on any fad or trend radar recently, you’ll strike a singular note sporting it. Technically, tweed is a textured fabric that comes in the plain variety, weaved or patterned.
Whatever type of tweed you select, remember that it’s such an uber-classic and traditional fabric that you can effectively use it to sober up what you feel are the more radical or out-there elements of your ensemble.
-Tweed, the great balancer. Let’s say you’re a guy expanding your wardrobe horizons. You want to wear more mod clothes; this usually means brighter colors and more current silhouettes.
A touch of tweed goes a long way in sobering up an outfit that’s out there for you…
Such as trading in pleated, do-nothing office khakis for sunnier, skimmier slacks that do something for your fine physique without making you look like you’re headed to a disco on your lunch break. However, after years of wearing really safe clothes, you feel a bit odd or obtrusive wearing your new duds. And chances are, if you feel weird or not quite comfortable, you will also look somewhat uncomfortable or stiff or not quite assured in your ensemble.
Solution: Add a tweed vest, scarf or jacket to bring your look back to your comfort level.
Ditto for the ladies.
-The innocence of a miniskirt, in tweed. Wear a piece of tweed, such as a scarf or vest, when you feel like projecting a classic or elegant vibe.
Also, if you are in the mood for a quite short skirt – but are not always comfortable in quite short skirts – then acquire one in tweed. It’s a blameless fabric. After all, how many harlots are known to wear tweed?
Tweed cheats a short skirt. How short is ‘too short’ – the thigh’s the limit in tweed, the blameless fabric!
Which kind of brings me to my next point about selecting tweed. Tweed is typically a heavyweight fabric. This is owing to the fact that it’s a durable fabric and is therefore a perfect choice for using in the construction of outerwear.
-A tweed for all seasons. However, you can find tweed in light and medium weights as well. Silk tweed, for instance, is lightweight and flexible and feels luscious, and can be fashioned without a hint of that shimmery quality that people associate with silk.
And tweed can be patterned in the traditional, think herringbone or houndstooth, or dyed to shades seen along a rainbow. It just might take a bit of looking to find tweed garments in less-traditional weights and prints.
Whatever tweed you choose, please invest in the good stuff. When I say “invest” I don’t necessarily mean spend a ton of dough.I mean take the time to find a quality garment – one that is well-constructed and fits you well.
Classic fabrics are less forgiving when it comes to a poor or clumsy fit. And since tweed is classic, you can wear your tweed items as long as you wish to own them. Therefore, it will pay off in the long run to invest in quality tweed garments. Buy once and well, I say.
There’s this little breakfast and lunch spot in Manhattan Beach, California called Bill’s Pancake House. It’s a great spot that overlooks the Pacific Ocean and on weekend mornings, it tends to be insanely busy. Insanely because I’ve never noticed anything Earth shattering about their pancakes or any other item on the menu, yet the sidewalk is always lined with people on Saturday and Sunday morning. Maybe it’s that thing about a crowd attracting a crowd.
I happened to be among those sidewalk people one morning when I spotted this very cool-looking woman walk by with great individual style. Tip hunter and glamour stalker that I am, I did a little two-step up to her and we had an impromptu sidewalk interview about her personal style. Fashion tips followed.
The vitals: A smart laidback look like this is no accident…items are high quality, in great condition and strategically mussed, cut or sheared. Example: the off-shoulder sweatshirt has colors that work well with her skin tone, and reveal a polka dot bra that’s in pristine condition and looks almost like a tank – a frilly or well-worn bra would have looked cheap.
The tattoos are artistic, and are inked in colors that compliment her skin, which, since she’s showing glimpses of, is in beautiful condition. She told me that her top natural skin tip is the regular use of shea butter to keep her skin in good condition and gleaming.
Because she’s sporting a chic buzz-buzz cut, she can get away with super big hoops, or other dramatic accessorizing, during the daytime. Always think of your personal style in terms of proportions. Notice how Halle Berry can wear super sexy red-carpet ensembles regularly – yet never look anything close to tarty? Her fabulous lithe figure, poise and body confidence have a lot to do with it, and so does her super-short hair, which projects a chic, smart pretty versus the sensual vibe that super-long and flowing locks heap onto a look.
Confidence and happiness. These are two things that she projects, and are what caught my eye. I’ve said it many a time – glamour has zero to do with the price of your clothes and everything to do with your nonverbal communication and the spirit you exude while moving about in the world. A closetful of couture, and a face and figure that have been meticulously arranged fall flat when they’re not accompanied by ease and self assuredness – they are the soul of glamour.
When I landed in Las Vegas I headed to the ladies room to freshen up. I had plenty of time; I was meeting a couple of girlfriends who were arriving in an hour or so. So I did a bit of observing and noticed a thing or two: Folks arriving in Las Vegas look just fine, and those leaving Las Vegas – not so much.
It wasn’t just the eyes, red and blurry, and the faces that were bloated, with dry, blotchy or pimply skin. It was the overall energy of the people who were dragging themselves on planes to head back to wherever that did it; weary and not so bright.
About three days later I had pretty much joined them. On the Vegas scale of carousing, I had barely left the suite. I had even worked out a couple of times in the hotel gym. But I had drank, in three days, what I would normally consume in a month or maybe even two. Eating? Sleeping? Not so much. If you’ve read Practical Glamour, even a page, you know that I’m all about maintaining, guarding your natural assets – skin, figure, hair, nails – so they stay lovely for the long haul.
That said, here are 5 vital beauty tips to keep the party monster from having its way with you when you’re visiting Las Vegas.
Packets of C, and B too
Vitamin C is the queen of all antioxidants, and B is a superb Vegas supplement because alcohol zaps your body’s stores of it, particularly Vitamin B-12. I found that while I might bring along a few multivitamins, it’s rare that I’ll actually take them, and they end up in the trash like discarded M&Ms when I’m packing to leave.
I like Emergen-C mostly because you can find it everywhere, they work and it’s hard to miss the little envelopes, which are easy to pack in your luggage or stow in your purse. They are loaded with C and B, and you can quickly add one to a beverage when you’re sitting on the plane or having lunch. Plus, they taste quite good; fresh and kind of fizzy.
See, this is very basic, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to get a drinkable glass of water, or 20, while in a hotel room in Vegas. Little plastic room service bottles just don’t do the trick to counteract the dehydration that comes with drinking a couple of buckets of vodka.
So make it a point to hit your nearest drugstore and buy an endless supply of water before getting the party started. Your liver will thank you. Your eyes will thank you when they look at your skin in the mirror the morning after. And FYI, there’s a rad, newish Walgreens drugstore, open 24 hours, towards the north end of the Strip, outside the Palazzo and the Venetian.
Get in the habit of ordering a glass of water with every drink. Drink a cocktail, drink a glass of water. Repeat. And if you can find a spare lime in the place, squeeze its juice into your water glass and drink, drink, drink. Limes are fierce little Vitamin C carriers, and they are a naturally potent way to banish booze breath, which is notoriously unglamorous.
Know Your Number
You should have oodles of fun while in Vegas, but you can’t really have an optimal trip if your days are spent puking and sleeping. Or dragging your fading self down the Strip because you’re super-fatigued. Everyone know there’s a line between being buzzed and happy, and being too fogged to function – or care.
Think about your number, the one where, after drinking, you go from category A to category B. Memorize your number and promise yourself that you will not step a foot or take a sip over it. Emblazon that number (3, 8?) in your mind, your soul and scratch it on your drinking-hand wrist with a Sharpie if you think it will keep you from crossing over to the dark side while dancing on a table top at Tao around 2 in the morning. Or 3, who’s counting?
Save Your Skin
No matter how trashed you get, do not – do not – forget to remove your makeup before hitting the hay. It is beauty tip 101, but forgetting to do so does damage too terrible and scientific to get into here, so just trust me on this one. To avoid this sin, leave your face-cleansing stuff near the sink before you go out, and don’t forget to have a ton of cotton swabs on hand to thoroughly remove your eye makeup.
If you know in advance that your usual 20-minute nightly face ritual, complete with toners and serums and eye cream, is not going to happen, invest in some quality makeup removing cloths to at least remove the shellac before going to sleep. PS. Brush your hair, too. This is more of a cosmic tip, but you’ll want to release all that energy and smoke from your follicles so they don’t interfere with your dreamtime.
Preview Your Shoes
If the idea of being caught in flats after the sun sets in Vegas is horrifying, read on. High heel fans note: You’ll be walking a-plenty even if you travel by car, because casino and hotel complexes are huge. Don’t make Vegas your first out-of-town trial for a new pair of fabulous heels unless suffering is your game.
Before leaving on your trip, wear your new heels around the house or promenade around town wearing them to make sure you’ll be able to stand them while carousing in Las Vegas. And not just stand them, but walk and dance and flirt and have an excellent, all-around time in them.
If there is a pair of heels you love but they hurt in spots, identify the issue. Dr. Scholl’s has a good variety of shoe fixits, and their high heel insoles make heel-wearing more comfortable by moving the pressure strictly from the ball of your feet. If these insoles work for you, think about making them standard for all of your high heels over 2″. The insoles cost about $12, which you can figure into the price of any new pair of heels you’re thinking about adding to your collection.
After you say good bye to a girl or woman, make sure they get on their way safely before taking off.
-Don’t just drop them off and roar off – stay around and watch them get in their car, turn on the ignition and head out.
-If you are returning a girl to her home, your relationship status should determine whether or not you accompany her to the door to say good night or good bye.
-Whether you walk her to the door or not, make sure she gets to the front door, unlocks and walks through it.
This is a very thoughtful move. It communicates to a girl, friend or otherwise, that you care about them. That you are a gentleman who was raised well, or smart enough to independently adapt such moves.
One of my guy friends in college did this regularly after dropping me off at my car on campus. He was a great guy, a nice guy whose mother had raised him very right. Side bar: I noticed that a lot of Philadelphia guys of Italian ancestry are A+ in the manners department, and they put the bar high for other guys.
There was nothing between Steven and I on the romance front, but I always held him in high regard because he was always pulling gentlemanly moves like this. Even if I didn’t know it consciously, I knew he was a good guy with positive regard for women, and me in particular.
PS. If I haven’t said it lately: Nice men, we women love you!
A huge star-plus of living in a warmish climate is that you rarely have to get bundled up. In the winter there are many sunny and cool days where you can bust out a warm and agreeable outfit and never feel like a stilted mummy.
I’m very much about easy, simple and super-comfortable ways to cheat glamour. Basically, the test is this: the outfit must feel pretty close to wearing pajamas in terms of comfort — but make you feel lifted, or a bit lifted, in spirit. Pajamas, particularly flannel ones that drape on the ground, can’t do this. But something you find stylish, that gives off a pleasing projection of You when worn, can do this.
So here are some style tips on achieving a certain level of sass and comfort when the weather is cool, or even freezing for that matter.
Try a stretchy dress as a foundation piece. But not the flimsy summer kind. Go for the long sleeve, body conscious kind that range from stretchy ribbed cotton. The one I’m wearing is from BCBG, the Trenna Essential Knit Ribbed Dress — they seem to always carry them online or in their stores, they are great for layering and travel well. They retail for about $60 but can be had for less during sales. They are also warm and incredibly comfortable to wear, kind of like an endless t-shirt. Wear some smart shapewear underneath to contain your assets and present a smooth line (no VPL or bra lines) to the world…
Add cool-weather accessories that add color, personality and luxury. Invest in your accessories. Scarves, gloves, bags and so on. You don’t need to acquire many of these. When you go out a-hunting for them, though, realize that it will benefit you over the long haul to buy the best that you can find and/or your budget will allow. The best is not always the most $$, either. I’m wearing a circle scarf around my neck mostly for a dash of color and for a bit of sun protection on the neck. I purchased it for well under $30 from a groovy little entrepreneur I met at a woman’s show who would find fantastic silks in the garment district and sew them up at home in her spare time.
Tip: Discern high from low and in-between by learning to spot the difference between high-quality fabrics and materials and the not-so. Where do you start? Use the hands-on method, examining and touching accessories that run the gamut in price and quality. Feel the difference in your hands and on your body. After a while your senses will be able to spot the difference quickly.
The Martina Engineer Tall Boot by Frye. At $378, they are not the most inexpensive out there, but they are a staple that you can wear forever…
Find your favorite runaround boot. I have been a fan of semi-clunky knee boots for like, ages, and have been stoked to see them back in force during the last couple of years. Here’s the thing with boots. Some are spindly skinny and a bit dramatic for running around during the everyday, while some are reminiscent of what Fred Gwynne might have sported on The Munsters.
Somewhere between these two extremes is your perfect runaround boot: the pair that flatter your frame, are comfortable as heck and project something of your personal style. In the photo I’m wearing a vintage pair of motorcycle boots that I found in a thrift shop back in college for around $20 and have worn about 5 million times since then. Brown is a nice intermediary color because it’s a neutral that will works with a lot of items in your wardrobe from black. If it was colder I’d be wearing gray or taupe tights, which would work with these boots as well.
Okay, back to you. Before settling on your everyday cold-weather boots, give a thought about what you want to look like before heading to the stores. Here’s why: I have found that having a vision of what you want is a better shopping strategy than merely going blindly from store to store, looking for something kind of acceptable. That type of strategy will leave you with an awful pair of hiking boots made from unpronounceable meshy materials that were cooked up on a lab.
Tip: And if you like an old-fashioned look, check out thrift shops or vintage stores first. If you’re finding boots that are not throwback enough for your tastes (as in, you’re finding stuff from the late-1990′s when your flavor is more like 1960′s or 1970′s), then look at the “revived” lines from longtime boot manufacturers like Frye or, if you’re a guy, Red Wing. They usually won’t be inexpensive but they’ll be top-notch in terms of quality and if you take care of them, you’ll wear them forever.
Top with a Slender Cloak, Mi’Lady: Here’s where winter dressing can go terribly, terribly wrong. The parka or its puffy equivalent is heaped on your lovely frame, cloaking it from existence and and essentially banishing all the delicious by-products of style and glamour from your life. On the other hand, you don’t want to freeze.
Assess your climate and determine the amount of warmth you’ll need in your basic winter coat. Since winter can be dreary, please hunt out a coat in a color that gives you a buzz every time you wear it, and suits your frame and shape. And read this, unless you want to end up feeling like a dancing bear.
In the photo I am wearing a lightweight wool pea coat from Banana Republic. It is the right marriage of warmth and style, and is navy, which is a workable neutral shade. I bought it for a crazy sum, something like $28. I think the price had something major to do with the fact that it was hanging in one of their stores in West Palm Beach Florida during the summer. I tried it on over a white strapless dress and turned to my trusted shopping companion. “It’s about 100 degrees out. So why would I buy this?”
She shrugged and said, “Why wouldn’t you? It looks great. You’ll wear it.”
Falling Out of Love with Fast Food
I was driving down a rural highway near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in the middle of the night. It was rainy and I didn’t know the area well. I did know I was starving so when a spat of highway signs came into view listing a bunch of familiar fast-food havens it was like the clouds had busted open with the promise of a cold fizzy drink, warm nimble french fries and a palm sized hamburger smartly topped with tart pickles and a warm bun dotted with sesame seeds.
I raced for the drive thru of the only open place, which is also my favorite fast-food place, an indulgence from the kid’s menu that I allow every couple of weeks. I’ve had to negotiate this down from more frequent visits since I’ve shaved about 10 pounds from my figure and have managed to keep it this way for about six months. I ordered my most favorite and tasty trifecta and headed back to the highway. So enthralled and thankful for the lusciousness of the Happy Meal was I that I missed my way back to the highway, and looping around the area with the radio cranking, I was in the midst of sucking down the entire contents of that wonderful white paper bag when I hit an unpleasant snag in the proceedings: The sudden and unexpected feeling of dental floss stuck between two teeth, only thinner.
I knew, I knew. I gagged into a fistful of napkins and pulled out the offending particle, which was a hair. An unidentifiable and long hair of a color completely unlike my own. One could not devise a plan for McDonald’s interruptus more complete than this. I drove the rest of the way back to my hotel, gagging at intervals while trying to swish the lingering, spindly sensation of the hair in mouth that was threatening to snake its way down my throat, via the vat of bubbly cola. “Gross,” I repeated over and again.
The lesson goes something like this: I no longer have to wrestle myself from temptation when it comes to trips through the drive thru. I do have to wrestle myself from a small gag when I think of the place and the food that is served there. Those 10 pounds? I think they’re going to be staying away for good.
Tips for Diet Success
- Identify your main diet downfall. For some it’s sweets, like chocolate or baked goods, while for others it’s fast food stuff like triple-layer hamburgers smothered in cheese.
- You don’t have to slay all of your eating pleasures, just the big one. The one that is principally responsible for adding or keeping the pounds that you want out of your life. For instance, I may have nixed a certain fast food jones but am still very much a fan of a sometimes bag of glorious Lay’s potato chips and occasional Slushie.
- If you are not lucky enough to unexpectedly discover a hair in your principal easting downfall, then figure out a way to mentally turn-off the charm of the food item you love. Remember the time you drank too much of a certain sweet nectar, then spent the rest of the night and maybe the next day vomiting? Then never, ever drank Midori, or tequila, or whatever made you hurl, again? It’s like that. Link the item with something that, for you, is utterly distasteful, and do it consistently. Maybe there is something you don’t love about the way this food makes you feel after you eat it, or something involved with how it’s made, or one of its ingredients.
- Let the images and the thoughts follow one another—thoughts of the item you love, followed by the turn off—until they are automatic. I heard of a man whose yearning for greasy meat sandwiches was strong and persistent, while his desire for vegetables, particularly broccoli, was non-existent. He even found them gross. With the help of a hypnotist he swapped his mental conceptions of each item. The greasy meat became gross while vegetables, particularly broccoli, assumed most-favored food status in his life.
Find your mate’s favorite childhood comfort food, and learn how to cook—and serve—it the way he or she likes. Tomato soup and grill cheese delivered on a tray in bed, accompanied by a gazillion smooches on his face and head, when he is sick. Strawberry pancakes loaded with fresh whipped cream on your girl’s birthday, because that’s what her mother did for her every year. A homemade milk shake made with chunky ice cream served to him in an oversized mug. Home-cooked chicken soup made with the tiny, star-shaped pasta.
This domestic glamour move will make your mate happy. It will make him or her feel like you care about them. This in turn will make you feel happy. Good ole’ rational self-interest at work.
Tip 1: To learn about your mate’s favorite comfort food, be crafty. First, speak naturally and enthusiastically about yours. They will most likely offer up theirs as part of the conversation. If not, oh-so casually ask them outright. Casually. Listen carefully to their answer.
Tip 2: This domestic glamour move works best on somewhat established relationships. By somewhat established I don’t mean the 2nd or 3rd date. There should be a basis of friendship, romance and intimacy involved, lest the move come off as contrived, or worse, as an unwelcome push towards an intimacy that is premature or not desired.
Much gratitude, much love is felt on Veterans Day for all Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, and the endless freedoms they make possible each day.
A lost-luggage ensemble, purchased mostly at a drugstore
Arriving in Philadelphia airport a day or so ahead of the storm was a good idea. What was not a good idea on the part of the airline was not having my luggage arrive.
For the last three days I have been sans luggage, cobbling together ensembles fit for a storm and one of my favorite hotels in Center City. A landmark property with beautiful detailing everywhere—a rotunda ceiling with ornate carving, window panes with that delicate and rugged look to them, and dinner by a fireplace with big, soaring windows of a storming city.
I arrived wearing a standard airplane get-up: jeans, a pair of suede slip on flats, a fairly sassy shirt and leather jacket. One of the best things about arriving at a destination after a long flight is immediately changing your clothes, which of course I couldn’t do unless I wanted to wear a bed-sheet.
I managed to find an open drugstore where I bought a pair of black leggings and a stretchy shirt. A friend gave me a gift, a beautiful ivory scarf with fluttery trim.
And I purchased a heap of toiletries and makeup. Having no cosmetics on hand, by the way, helps you determine your face and hair essentials pretty quickly. I discovered mine have to do with lip stuff and eyebrows, and that drugstore brand Milani makes a pretty good eyebrow pencil. And the Milani Brow Fix brow kit is compact and smart. A mini tweezer, brow brush and applicator; a powder highlighter and two brow colors. Pretty nifty.
Other new drugstore finds: L’Oreal EverCreme Nourishing Leave-in Spray for hair, about $8; and Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Gloss #952 in Sand Glow, a light neutral pinkish shade with a smidgeon o’ shimmer.
Tomorrow’s another day, which means another ensemble. Which means I’ll be looking for an open gift shop or drugstore for some fine lost-luggage fashion.
I think white teeth are a glamorous thing to possess, but don’t think it’s a great idea to douse teeth too often with high-powered whiteners in order to maintain this state. Compounding the matter is the fact that I consider iced coffee to be a special brand of life force, I laugh a lot and have a smile that one might describe as broad.
So, to keep a satisfying bright tooth landscape I have adopted a bare-minimum bleaching routine, pulling out the overnight trays and 20% formulas only when needed. And the rest of the time, relying on tricks and milder formulas:
For touch ups, I use on-the-go formulas; the easier to apply and not think about, the better. My current favorite is Smile Sciences Teeth Whitening Pen, which I recently tested and liked on many Practical Glamour levels. About the size of a slender Sharpie or a fat lip pencil, the whitening pen is a sassy looking silver item loaded with an effective teeth whitener.
Very likable is the fact that it’s very easy to apply, convenient and is a sensitive tooth formulation, so it doesn’t hurt, burn or even tingle teeth or gums. It’s also very totable, and can be stored in a purse or bag and applied on the down-low while en route to an event or even on a plane.
Hey, I just whitened my teeth!
Before applying, make sure the surface of teeth are clean and reasonable dry. Turn the dial at the base of the Smile Sciences Teeth Whitening Pen until you see a bit of the whitening gel on the brush.
The application brush has the look and size of a lip brush. It also gives a lot of control, so the gel doesn’t end up lodged in the sensitive gum area. Brush the product on your teeth vertically, then let it air dry on the surface of the teeth. Inhaling and exhaling a few times through the mouth, slightly parted, will makes this happen quickly. Or if you’re in a car, smile and lean your head out the window to air dry!
The brightening of the teeth is noticeable, without the feeling of increasing sensitivity or porousness of the teeth and gum area. Developed by dentists and seen on CBS’ “The Doctors,” the pen can be used twice daily to whiten teeth by several shades in a week.
The fine Smile Sciences people have given me a 50% off coupon code for the Smile Sciences Teeth Whitening Pen, which is: pglamour. The product is $78 ($39 with discount) and can be ordered here. Input the code on the checkout page, and calculate shipping price to see discount.
While we’re at it, here are some other tips for a brighter smile:
- After brushing your teeth pass an extra soft toothbrush along your gums, gently. Brushing the gums promotes blood circulation to the area, often making the area appear more red and, by contrast, making teeth appear more bright. Being a devout tooth flosser will also keep teeth looking clean and healthy.
- Blue-based lipsticks. This is a well-known trick whereby blue enhances the white tint of one’s teeth, whereas yellow-based lipsticks (think warm corals, rusts or straight-up orange-looking lip colors) will highlight any yellow tones in teeth.
- Experiment with your smile. Smile while looking in the mirror. Do you like the look of your mouth and teeth? If yes, good for you. Keep in mind that a smile is projected primarily by the eyes. I used to smile mostly by scrunching up around the eye area, which really wasn’t effective since it reduced my eyes to slits. If you don’t love the look of your smile, experiment with different lip and mouth poses; arrange your lips to cover more of your teeth, for instance, if you wish to have a less ‘toothy’ smile, and vice versa. Drop your chin higher and lower to see the effect. The goal is to have a smile that pleases and represents you beautifully.
I like Raquel Welch for many reasons…among them her smarts, wit and her very practical dedication to maintaining and optimizing that face and figure. Here’s a tidbit from an interview in some lad-mag or other, where she talks about that curious male-female connection.
Her observation is a very female one. Men seem to be more lured by looks alone, at least initially. Women factor in a lot more variables, different variables, than just the physical…not that a nicely scrubbed, sparkling lad in a collared shirt doesn’t lend something irreplaceable to the equation.
“Sex appeal is such a subjective thing. When you meet somebody that you know mostly from photos or movies, it’s not really the same as meeting them in person, when you can connect with them as a human being. In my career I’ve met so many men who were supposed to be the sexiest men on the planet, and I’m standing right next to them, thinking, “Hmm. Really?” And then there’s just the opposite. You meet people who are super- attractive in real life but it’s never translated to the big screen. It’s just such a weird, subjective thing.”
My recent canvas of costume stores found an inordinate number of wench, naughty nurse, Daisy Duke and straight-up lady of the evening type costumes for the ladies to wear on All Hallow Even. Now usually, we have the style advantage over the fellows when it comes to garments, particularly since women have more options to begin with…skirts, dresses and pants in all lengths and silhouettes, for starters. And shoes, don’t get me started on shoes.
However, when it comes to Halloween the guys get a broader, more clever range of options. Last year, I remember howling at all the funny and creative costumes that I saw menfolk wearing, from a CHP officer to a lederhosen and feathered cap yodeler. Sherlock Holmes, a werewolf, Axl Rose, Vincent Van Gogh and on.
So I thought of a few Halloween costume ideas that might be a satisfying alternative to dressing up on Halloween as either a a) skank, or a b) super skank. Alternatives that won’t have you donning a thick wolverine outfit, or pulling a sheet over your head and poking out the eyes as a last-minute ghost who couldn’t find anything to wear except for a dusty devil costume in the corner of the store that generously came with a plastic staff, chintzy red lace lingerie and pair of horns.
These are fairly easy Halloween costumes to pull together and they have a bit of sass. And, since the word “Practical” is half of the name of this website, they all include a few garments and accessories that you can use throughout the year for more “Glamour,” (the other half of the equation here) so your Halloween investment is one that will last beyond October 31.
Grecian Goddess. Easy, easy and cute, too. Start with a strategic undergarment, such as a strapless or one-shoulder bodysuit. Fashion a white toga, or your most goddess-looking garment (could be a bridesmaid dress that is dyed, nipped and tucked) around your body and cinch with a wide belt, preferably gold. Since the gladiator sandal has been as commonplace as air during the last few seasons, it shouldn’t be too hard to get a hold of a pair. Arrange your hair in ringlet curls, or employ a wig. Situate a little gold crown in your hair or a gold leaf accessory. For makeup, keep it light and glittery in places. Emphasize your eyes with liner and mascara, and dust highlighter with shimmer across your lids, cheekbones and shoulders.
1920′s Good Time Girl aka Flapper. You get to be sassy and culturally historic at once. You’ll need bobbed hair, or a wig, a cigarette holder and long pearls. Don a beautiful silk slip-dress, t-strap shoes and knee-high stockings, and voila. Don’t forget a smoky eye, thin brows and bee stung dark lips, either. If you have a flask and you’re of drinking age, bring it along as a nice, very useable accessory.
Spanish Dancer. Notice I didn’t write “slutty dancer.” I bust out the Spanish Dancer card on Halloween because I happen to have a few of these costumes on hand. Start with a pair of black heels with ankle laces and pair with a long circle skirt that cinches at the waist. Pair with something white or polka dot and flouncy on top. Pull hair back in a low ponytail and twist into a tight bun. Adorn your head with a big, bright flower. Paint your nails red. For makeup: Foundation, a bit of blush, an exotic cat-eye and deep-red lipstick on the mouth. False lashes and a fan or castanets to click-click-clack are nice extras.
Jacqueline Onassis. Bright pink skirt and blazer with floppy tie blouse or simple sheath top and pearls. Matching pill box hat. Bobbed dark hair. Vintage structured handbag, white gloves and low flats. Light lipstick and dark, but not dramatic, eyes. Fake eyelashes if you have them.
Equestrienne. Do you have an English riding hat? Do you have a friend who has an English riding hat? You’re halfway there. Knee boots, a pair of jodhpurs (use leggings in a pinch), a white button up shirt and a blazer, the tweedier and the brown-er the better. And get a crop; you’ll need a crop. Pick up one at a local feed or tack store that stocks riding accessories. A very helpful item to have in your little hand if you happen to find yourself near a drunken heel on Halloween, by the way. Or anytime.
Chinese Bride. A traditional Chinese wedding dress is a nice thing to have in your closet year-round because the silhouette is so feminine, flattering and crisp. Plus, the shimmery brocade of the cloth adds a nice touch of well-behaved glamour. Buy an authentic one, either online or at a Chinese import-type shop in your city or town. The dress fabric is typically a brocade of red (considered good luck) with gold and silver embroidery. Wear matching red shoes, slippers or even gold mules with a delicate heel, if you have them.
Straighten your hair and pull it back in a sleek bun, adorning it with an ornamental pair of lacquer chopsticks, all the better if beading is attached. Simple red drop earrings. For makeup: Opt for medium- to high-coverage foundation to even the complexion, and use face powder generously to achieve a matte look. Blush the apple of the cheeks, add a non-smoky cat eye and a carefully painted scarlet mouth.
Have a lovely Halloween, ladies. And if you have any dandy ideas for Halloween costumes that are fairly DIY, easy to pull together and wear, feel free to share with the class.
There a bit of retail trickery that I like to apply to my closet. And it always works. I simply move stuff around to see it new eyes.
With this little trick I discover treasures that were hidden from sight, or just see ordinary objects that have been hanging around forever in a new light. I recently became acquainted with a fabulous violet BCBG dress with strategic ruching on the side—don’t they all seem to have this lately?—that can be rolled up in a weekend bag and unfurled for an Olympic night of dancing and champagne drinking. It was hidden in the closet between two other dresses. A pair of chinos that were hemmed the perfect length—above the ankles and worn with flats—but forgotten because they were camoflouged in the closet among other ligh-colored pants. I could go on but you get the picture.
When I worked at a very cool boutique eons ago we used this strategy on items that were not selling well. We simply moved them from their back shelves to better real estate out front. Assuming that flowery frock that fit like a dream was priced correctly, in no time we would sell out. Even regular customers would comment on how great some item was after it was put in the front of the store. It had been hanging around forever, but no one ever noticed it.
You wearing something fabulous that you forget you owned
So back to you and your clothes. The problem is not that you have nothing to wear. It’s probably an issue of having more than you know. Which is really not a bad problem to have. I don’t even think it qualifies as a problem, come to think of it.
I’m confident that it’s high time you went through your closet and conducted a merciless removal of items that are dead weight, meaning items that should not be hanging around you due to their color, cut, characteristic or quality. (For more on the subject, watch this or read this or this.) However, you probably own many more perfectly usable, workable or even wonderful clothes than you think.
Even if your closet is supremely health, meaning everything fits you, looks great, is in good condition, makes you feel great and helps you say something to others about who you are (aka, your personal style brand), some of your clothes, shoes and accessories might not be getting enough prime time.
They are not being enjoyed by you, meaning, worn by you, because you forget they exist.
- If you organize your items by type (slacks, shirts, jackets, skirts, etc) then reverse or mix up their order. Put your shirts on the left side of the closet if they are usually on the right, for instance. And if you organize by color, do the same.
- If you want to go further, play stylist and put together two to three fabulous ensembles made up of items you usually do not wear together. Go beyond basic color matching and mix textures and prints. Go high-low by pairing an alluring t-shirt (you know, one that looks particularly fetching on you) with a smart little jacket. Throw in a scarf.
I’ll stop here and advise you to go do something radical: move your clothes around to see them with new eyes. It’s like getting new clothes without leaving the house. So happy shopping!
Public speaking, not always fun had by all…
I had the TV on some sweet C-SPAN over the weekend, watching these super-bright college kids giving speeches at a DC conference. Aside from reflecting that zero of my college weekends were spent giving sophisticated talks on the U.S. Constitution, I noticed that some of the speakers spoke in conspicuously breathy tones, their voices a little unsteady and sometimes quavering.
Ah, I though, speaking in public. In front of a TV camera, no less. Before one of the first speeches I ever gave, I remember fighting to keep my voice from busting into an outright squeak. I had downed two cappuccinos mindlessly, thinking the caffeine would give me a certain energy. It did. I had buggy eyes, sweated and probably set a record for saying the word “Like.”
When nerves start permeating your speech, the effect can be distracting. Even the message of the most brilliant speech can be lost if all the audience hears is anxiety. Here are some public speaking tips to keep your voice smooth:
Practice. Basic but true. The more familiar you are with your material, the more secure you will feel. You will be less anxious, more calm and natural when delivering your speech, and it will show in your voice.
Sing. When I began to do public speaking on a semi-regular basis, I borrowed some choral tricks to keep the quaver out of my voice. One was to join the words of the speech at points. The effect is that your voice will sound smoother. Just remember to enunciate the words to avoid Mumbleville.
Deep Breathe. Also called diaphragm breathing, deep breathing is marked by expansion of the abdomen (rather than the chest) when inhaling and exhaling. To get into diaphragm breathing put one hand on your chest and one on your stomach. Slowly inhale though your nose or pursed lips. As you do, push your belly/ stomach out and feel your stomach expand with your hand. Try singing “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha” while exhaling air from the diaphragm. Your shoulders should stay put when you diaphragm breathe.
Acknowledge it. Evading or pushing away the fact that you are nervous unfortunately won’t quench it, or keep its effects from your body. Consciously identify your anxiety and where it hits you the most in your body. Remind yourself that you are nervous but are prepared, and that you and the world will go on as always before, after and during your speech! Try to channel the nervous energy into excited, motivated and fun energy instead.
Keep your fire. In an effort to control my voice, I used to push the tone low and space out my words. The effect was a Lauren Bacall-ish robot with little to no spirit. And I still said “like” way too much. Evolve your speech so it sounds mellifluous, but not overly mellow. And, of course, still authentic to you. Spend a few moments thinking about how you’d like your voice to sound. What characteristics do you wish to project? How do you want others to feel when they hear you speak?
Adopt a ritual. Pinpoint some little ritual or exercise or habit that will calm and connect you to the room, the audience and the material beforehand. If pre-speech makeup or hair is involved, use the time to breathe and smile.
Makeup and hair…an ideal place for you to de-edge before public speaking
The message of eking out your own happy life in this world was woven into everything Helen Gurley Brown did, it seemed.
As a teenager I collected old books–the campier the better–and at a thrift shop or yard sale I came across a copy of Sex and the Single Girl. I was drawn to the very 1960′s cover and snapped it up. I was slumped in a chair reading it one day and my father happened to see the title on the fuchsia cover. He frowned and said, “That’s a filthy book. You shouldn’t be reading it.”
I laughed, because the book didn’t seem filthy at all, more like a fun peek into the life of a saucy single gal in the 1960′s. I don’t think I read the whole thing, and I scarcely remembered, let along was corrupted by, any sex talk–and I loved Helen Gurley Brown’s style.
She was companionable, conspiratorial in a just between us girls way and real-life practical. I recall the book discussing the importance of being financially responsible and getting to work on time. Something about making sure your fanny was in your desk at 9 am, even if your hair was a mess and you had only guzzled down air for breakfast on your way to the office.
Around the same time I came across The Cosmo Guide’s Girl to the New Etiquette, a hardcover book of Cosmo articles that had been published in the early-1970′s. As editor of the magazine during this time, I’m assuming Helen Gurley Brown had something to do with its great compendium of articles, on everything from clothes to budgeting to gift-giving to being a good houseguest.
Her distinctive voice is all over it…encouraging and optimistic, with lots of clever, budget-neutral tricks for the reader. There is a piece on gifts that a modest-budget girl can get for a big-budget friend (a jar of homemade preserves, a certificate to house-watch or babysit, etc) and even how to transform flying into something fun and sassy (book first class, fly at night, look pretty and don’t be afraid to sit next to a handsome stranger).
I re-read the book as a lonely post-college girl living alone in the city for the first time, and on more than one occasion was buoyed by its cheerleading, its message to go out, dig those self-manicured hands deep into your life and enjoy it, damn it.
Every in memoriam of Helen Gurley Brown I’ve seen in the last couple of days seems to focus on her book Sex and the Single Girl and its go-ahead-and-do-it message to single gals of the 1960′s. In a different time Helen Gurley Brown would have a significant effect on me, but her influence had zero, zilch to do with sex and everything to do with cultivating and celebrating the female spirit…joie de vivre…independence…taking care of your life and your self. In all, she promoted what is the positive soul of individual glamour.
RIP and Many Thanks, Mouseburger.
A week or so ago I made the bold move that I had been contemplating for a while: I got rid of TV for good.
I had just told someone how I was “going to get rid of my TV.” I looked at the TV. It was still there.
I realized I had said this before—but had not yet done it. I seized the moment. I quickly stood up, strode to the TV, unplugged it and carted it to recycling. I moved some furniture around to make the place more open, more of a space where you would be inclined to grab a book or a magazine, pull out the Monopoly board, stare out the window at the trees and ocean, or do some impromptu yoga. Anything but slump on a couch and engage in passive hours of something that adds nothing, really, to your life.
I have had one foot out the TV door for a while. I have not had cable in many moons, and kept a TV around because of a love for watching classic Hollywood movies (1930′s-40′s) and European police shows. If you haven’t seen them, Italian shows Detective Montalbano and La Piovra (featuring the quiet and oh-so alluring angst of Mob-slayer Corrado Cattani) are pretty compelling reasons to keep a TV on the premises.
In the last week, I’ve moved from TV agnostic (a little TV doesn’t hurt) to straight-up TV atheist (no TV is better than a little TV). If you are considering such a move, here are some values and virtues to look forward to in a TV-free home:
More Space. A TV and all its accompaniments (DVDs, cords, stands, etc) take up room. Not just physical space. It becomes the focus of the room. What direction does the furniture face? A hundred years ago it all would have faced the fireplace. So, a room that has a TV often becomes a “TV room.” A place to watch TV. Delete the TV, and the place reverts back to a room.
More Time, Better Time. My off-time is better spent with no more defaulting to TV. I put a magazine or book on a table, and when I sit down I automatically reach for one. Do you have a stack of publications that you have been meaning to read? Watch it dwindle fast when there’s no TV around.
Energy Purge. The place just feels better, cleaner without a TV. Even though I was pretty selective with what I watched, having this conduit of violence and sleaze piped into the living room was not a positive thing. Now it’s gone.
Two more notes:
Know when you’re ready. Going TV-free is tough before its time. That moment of strength, when you truly feel that your life would be better spent without a TV in the house, is the time to act. Grab the TV and run out of the house as fast as you can. (If I was an artist I would draw an image of this…)
-Less TV means more glamour. What the heck does living without TV have to do with glamour or looking/feeling your best? A sparkling, knowledgeable and alive spirit is the soul of glamour, whether you’re a girl or guy. Anything that detracts from your life reduces this glamour. And anything that promotes a greater, more active immersion in your own life will do the opposite.
¡Viva la liberación!
Covering your iPhone is a nice way to add a blip of color to your day, personalize it and, of course, protect and lengthen its life.
And LuxMobile Group makes zingy little cases for mobile devices…and their new mobilexpressions line is at Target for a limited run. Bright, good quality and easy to clean.
I am giving away 3 mobilexpressions iPhone 4 cases.
To enter: Share your coolest etiquette move with the class in the comments below.
Giveaway ends Wednesday August 8, 2012 at Midnight, PST, and is open to US residents, 18 years old or older. I will notify the winners via email, so make sure you leave one where you can be reached in the comments form.
Disclaimer: I received complimentary products by LuxMobile Group for the purpose of hosting a giveaway.
I think there’s some truth to the idea that romantic relationships are living things. Like plants or flowers, they need certain nourishment to not just get by but flourish. And not just the water and sun type either, but creative jolts of air that move a relationship forward. Nice surprises to pop on your mate that communicates that you care about him, you value him and that you know and like certain cool truths about him.
As a woman, some of the best romantic ideas for men are the simplest. Popular his and her psychology has, for a while now, put forth the idea that men tend to demonstrate love with action versus greeting cards, poetry and kittens. Making sure the oil is changed in your car and the tires are rotated before you head out on a solo road trip versus getting on one knee to recite a poem. So start to speak his language. Offer him warm, unexpected acknowledgements of him. In other words, act, don’t say.
Here are a few ideas to file under the romantic ideas or dating and love tips department:
Food, Wine, Love: If you don’t already know, figure out his favorite food. Better if it’s something he doesn’t eat a lot, is exotic or not readily available where he lives. Find a tiny restaurant that specializes in his favorite fare and take him there on a date. PS. And if Berlinersylta makes you gag, cheerfully keep it to yourself and order something you can stomach– food martyrs are not sexy.
If your guy’s not really the culinary type then transfer your detective work to beer, and stock his fridge. Get him a few bottles of wine or a very nice bottle of his favorite spirit. No definitive likes in food or wine? Be a profiler and pull together the traits of what he chooses to eat each day. Then introduce him to something fabulous and new that has all the characteristics that he enjoys. Who knows, you might turn him into a cheese fanatic or make him nuts for Vietnamese pho.
Find His Flattering Colors: If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about style, it’s rare that I can get through a column or article without mentioning color, and how the right shades and intensities can do natural wonders for your hair, skin, and eyes. And, of course, when you’re looking radiant it’s almost impossible to duck feeling pretty darn good also.
I have found in my various travels and adventures that the menfolk are less schooled on color selection then we ladies. (But they are really fast learners, by the way.) So the next time you’re sitting across from him, consider which colors flatter him, and think about those colors that you’ve never seen him in, but would probably look fantastic on him. Get him a scarf or shirt in that color, and when that uncertain look crosses his face while opening it, tell him how you think it will look great on him, and encourage him to try it on to see for himself.
His Health & Wellness: It can be as small an item as a lip balm with sunscreen in mint that is packaged in a masculine shape because you know a.) he likes mint b.) his lips get burned or chapped because he’s outside a lot and c.) and has a thing about putting on tubed lipstuff in public. Other ideas: a natural herbal sleep remedy because you know he’s been stressed lately…a small, no-maintenance chili plant because he loves hot food and this way, he can chop up a fresh chili and sprinkle it on pizza when he feels…herbal or natural skin ointments if he’s prone to oozing, cutting or bruising. (Arnica cream for bruising; for eczema, a chamomile cream; or a witch hazel antiseptic preparation for cleaning wounds) Tip: Avoid the coy Nurse Suzy looks or trying to dominate his health and eating habits unless you want him running for the hills.
Bond in the Great Outdoors: One of the grooviest things about being in a relationship or dating a guy who has a lust for life in him is the excitement of trying out new activities together. Even in the gnarliest of weather or the most one-horse of towns there are fantastic things you can do outdoors. And no, going through a fast food drive-through with the heat cranking is not among them.
Figure out an activity that you think he will really enjoy, then set it up for the both of you. Cross-country skiing…horseback riding…paddle boarding…ice skating…yoga…whale watching…golf…hiking…deep-sea fishing…sledding. Because you know how easy it is for well-intentioned plans for outdoor vigor can dissolve over Saturday morning coffee in an oversized t-shirt, be Captain Stubing: Make the reservations, pick up your guy, drive to the activity and pay for everything. He will not forget it. PS. Did I mention that showing enthusiasm and interest during such dates has the power to make or break them? In other words, if you’re not feeling it, and not a good actress, then pass go.
A fun outdoor adventure will bring you closer…
Personalize It: In the movie The Wedding Singer Drew Barrymore’s character gives her love interest music composition paper stamped with his name. Sweet. Easy.
Does your guy write letters or even to-do lists? Order a high-quality paper item that he’ll actually use with his name or a short quote or saying he’ll like printed on each sheet. It will be hard to not think of you each time he puts pen to paper.
So, back to the original idea of nice things to do for your guy. No matter what date or outing you set up, or what item you get him, remember that doing these things is not really about giving a gift. It’s about engaging in romantic communication. It is nonverbally saying: “Hi, I was thinking of you. I thought you might like this because I am someone who knows you, likes you, values you and likes to increase the amount of pleasure and happiness in your life. So here.”
Go forth and be romantic, ladies.
Kimberly Fisher is an entrepreneur and writer whose ventures, like Jetsetera, tend to have two things in common: travel and glamour. Since, more and more, these concepts seem hard to reconcile (I’m thinking of air travel, for instance, which often feels like the glamour level of journeying on a packed city bus in the middle of July) I asked Ms. Fisher for some tips on looking and feeling calm and attractive while traveling.
You’re a woman who wears many hats and often travels to stylish and luxurious places. There are many rewards that come with looking good, or reasonably put together while traveling. What is the top reason that you like to look lovely while on the road?
The glamorous Kimberly Fisher on traveling beautifully
I think if you look good, you also feel good. If you feel good, others around you tend to feel good also. I try to keep things classic and simplistic. You will usually find me in neutral colors, classic bags and with articles that travel well.
Can you give us your most MacGyver Moment in terms of having to pull together some seriously practical glamour while traveling?
I tend to stick to the basics of my beauty routine and once in awhile I tend to forget to pack…a lot of things. While we were in the Philippines we had to attend a black-tie function and actually sent the hotel concierge out to buy us dresses. Needless to say, we looked like the hired wait staff.
You have great skin, which can be hard to maintain while traveling, particularly to a sunny or tropical locale. Do you have a non-sunscreen tip on how to save your skin and still enjoy the outdoors?
I love the sun and getting doses of Vitamin D. I tend to get a facial once a month to do away with the stress of traveling and different environments.
What is the one item (clothing or accessory) that you currently find indispensable to your personal glamour quotient–but is also totally practical?
A Bvlgari pink scarf. It does a lot of double duty as a scarf, shawl, pillow, blanket, etc. and adds just the right amount of color.
There are women and men who wouldn’t dream of traveling, or even going out to dinner, by themselves. I have the feeling that this is not a problem for you. What tip do you have that might increase the ease and public comfort of a person who is unaccustomed to traveling or going out alone in public?
I spend all of my time in the presence of others- at work, events, trade shows,etc. I absolutely welcome alone time. Sometimes I do end up traveling alone and love exploring new places by myself. The easiest thing to do to increase your own comfort level if you are unaccustomed to traveling alone is have dinner at the bar. The bartender is usually friendly and nearby, plus it opens you up to meeting other people.
Connect with Kimberly on Twitter: @kimberlyfisher1
I get a little bit of anxiety when I go away for vacation due to a little grooming issue having to do with hair. I’m an avid multi-method body hair slayer. I do laser, I pluck and wax. Despite my multi-pronged approach to dealing with hair removal, there is still the issue of those stray hairs that come back in full form overnight.
I loathe stray hairs for the usual reasons. I also loathe stray hairs for their notorious element of surprise. One day you look in the mirror and there’s not a follicle in sight. The next hour it could be a completely different scene, with one–or two or a whole army–fully developed black hairs resting against the pale of your upper lip or browbone. Or chin. Or jawline. Nice.
There is a question that is sometimes asked in beauty newsstand magazines, something about being stranded on a desert island and what beauty item you would not be able to live without. My answer is always tweezers. Two little pieces of metal fashioned into a point at one end. Beyond the combustable engine or the microprocessor or air, if a more genius piece of machinery has been created I’d like to know about it.
Playing Whac-A-Mole, hairwise, with tweezers can be annoying though, and painful in a way that guarantees a wave of mild annoyance. Plus, re-growth tends to be quick.
Shaving is also out of the question, though it’s quick. I’m not interested in having a five o’clock shadow to deal with each day.
I have in the past succumbed to a few of the late-night scams: a straight-edge blade tucked into a plastic pink handle. (It’s called a razor.) A little mechanism that ran on batteries, which featured a rotating head that would grab hairs and pull them out. (Essentially a pair of motorized tweezers that were even more annoying than the regular kind.) And, since cream depilatories basically dissolve hair at the skin level, not the root, you are basically coating chemicals on your face, waiting for a few minutes and rinsing for a day or two of hair removal.
If you have not self-waxed before, might I recommend it for a few reasons. I cover it step by step in Practical Glamour, but the idea is that it’s in your interest to be able to whip out a relatively lasting method of removing hair at home. It’s a nice option to have if you’re not up for going to a salon for waxing. A particularly nice option if the bikini area is involved and you are not feeling up for the equivalent of a gynecologist visit. This do-it-yourself hair slaying is pretty empowering, as well. The more you do it, the easier it becomes and the better the results. I’ve been doing it so long that the only reason I’ll go in for a salon wax is if I’m doing the entire leg and I am short on time. Then it’s no sacrifice to waltz in with Wildebeest limbs, chat about something inane with the practitioner while sucking down an iced coffee — then walk about 20 minutes later with gleaming smooth legs.
As for vanquishing stray hairs, or small patches of them, and doing so in a highly portable way, I highly recommend a little item from Nad’s which is the best way that I’ve ever come across to quickly and cleanly remove hair from the face: the Nad’s Facial Wand Eyebrow Shaper. It costs approximately $8-10. The wand is about 4.5 inches long, so a bit smaller than a Sharpie marker. It comes with a few packaged wipes to clean the skin prior to waxing, and some small strips.
- Tiny and portable
- Zero mess
- No heating
- Totally works
The beauty of the item is that it does not require heating up anything. The shaper is incredibly easy to manage. You essentially dial up a small amount of the product, apply slowly in the direction of hair growth, then cover the area with one of the strips. Apply some pressure to the area then rip off the strip.
In each area the hair came off in one swoop. See the oh-so sexy before and after photos. Less painful than tweezing or even traditional heat waxing. There were no remaining clumps of product on my face and the pen application was incredibly neat, with no stray drops falling anywhere. When finished, I re-capped and dropped it in a drawer. The look of the skin afterwards was kosher, with only a bit of redness and no feel of sting whatsoever.
The package says the item is for up to 24 treatments and is for the eyebrows. I used it elsewhere and it worked just as well. Also, you are not bound to use the strips that come with the product, as I experimented with muslin and fabric strips which worked just as well. In the end, this is a stellar product that will be accompanying me everywhere I go away for more than a couple days, and I am more than stoked to try other Nad’s products based on the sheer Practical Glamour of this item.
Every year the IMATS (International Makeup Artist Trade Show) swings through town. Not just mine, a lot of them, as seen here. I go religiously to check out what is new and exciting and to check in with the fine people at some of my favorite lines, like Youngblood, Napoleon Perdis, MUD and Jane Iredale.
But the biggest draw is always the lineup of makeup artists who do seminars and talks on specialized topics. Men and women from all over the world who have been doing makeup professionally forever, and know of every tip, trick and process when it comes to using makeup to enhance that beautiful and unique face of yours.
And, since my focus is how to use any and all of your assets — skin, hair, figure, manner and movement — to present the most authentic, attractive and optimistic version of yourself to the world — and reap all the benefits that come with this proposition — I am always on the lookout for super-strategic tips to help make this happen.
Here are 5 new tricks picked up at the IMATS that I’d like to share:
Mascara First. Napoleon Perdis was the first one to school me on this, and makeup artist Rae Morris seconded it, and for the following reasons: it defines your eyes, giving you an easier visual blueprint of strategy for applying the rest of your eye makeup. It is an application process that’s best done meticulously, not in a scramble at the end of your makeup regime when you’re thinking about how you have exactly two minutes to get out the door. And, putting on mascara first will make it easier to clean up any stray flakes from your cheeks — easier to do on bare skin versus having to corral them from a freshly made-up face, foundation and powder and all.
Visualize an invisible, parallel between your eyebrows and nostrils–to create the look of a wider nostril span, use your tools to create more open space between your eyebrows, as seen on Ms. Talisa Soto, easily one of the most beautiful women in the history of mankind…
Your Eyebrows, Your Nose. If you desire, visually “cut” the span of your nostrils by using your brow pencil and/or powder to move the your eyebrows closer. In other words, if you feel that you would like the width of your nostrils to appear more slender, move your eyebrows closer together. No unibrows, though! And vice versa. If you would like to give your nostrils a more expansive look, tweeze to create a greater distance between them.
Match your foundation to your shoulder, not your neck. As sort of seen here in this pose…the skyline of that awesome city Dallas seen behind me
Foundation Match Point. Rae Morris recommends matching the color of your foundation to your shoulders — not your neck. One’s neck is usually much paler than the rest of the body, making it a bad proxy for determining one’s perfect foundation shade. This is easy to check in the mirror: Turn to face your side, and dip your chin to meet your bare shoulder. Your face, with foundation, should match the skin tone of your shoulder.
Give Yourself Some Glow. Mix yourself up some fine face glow by mixing Vaseline (or a favorite balm) with pigment to create a custom cheek, eyelid or lip color, says Ms. Sarah Lucero from Stila, which is a true makeup artist’s brand. Don’t limit yourself to pigment designated for ‘cheeks’ or ‘lips’ either. A lot of boundaries have been coming down in makeup in recent years, as women find that some products work fantastically beyond that which they were initially created and marketed.
Wrong, wrong, says makeup artist Rae Morris. The back of your hand is no place to check out a new lipcolor.
A Fingertip Trick. Why do we test lipstick by swiping it on the backs of our hands? Does that area in any way resemble our lips? If your lips are as the same shade as the back of your hand, then you need to increase your iron intake and see a specialist, and stat, young lady. Much better, says Rae Morris, to test a prospective lipstick color is the tip of your finger, which approximates the color and texture of your lips.
So that’s it, folks. In the future I’ll be posting some errant tips and tricks that I pick up from….everywhere. In the meantime, stay authentic and attractive. In other words, Stay Glamorous!
A few years ago, Hayden was doing what millions of other twenty-something Millennials are doing: Scraping by on a series of minimum wage jobs and wanting more.
With no shop or office space, he learned how to fix iPhones and started making house calls, ending up at construction sites and doctors’ offices where he’d fix customers’ phones on the fly while they kept working.
With an innate entrepreneurial fire stoked, Hayden continued to grow his business (myibroke.com), which led him to start another business centered on websites and online marketing.
The confidence of achievement, particularly one that’s on your own terms, has a certain affect on a man or woman. A good one.
Dawes, who previously felt the nerves while in plush, traditional office quarters, has altered little of his personal style in the face of his growing success. It’s a brand of uncontrived hipness telegraphed with a steady gaze, polished, mostly denim ensembles, and unhurried speaking style tinged with pure Virginian, despite his time in South Florida.
So I grilled him for some tips on how to keep one’s personal presentation its most authentic and attractive no matter what rung you might be on your personal success ladder.
In his earliest days: “It was nerve wracking. I had never worked in any kind of setting as a professional. I did not have nice dress clothes. I was showing up at big, baller executive suites. They would be standing over my shoulder watching me do something I had done for, maybe, the third time in my life.”
“I don’t feel uncomfortable around ‘professionals’ anymore. I don’t look like your typical business executive. I have a beard and a laidback wardrobe. In the past I felt uncomfortable but now I’m okay with this because it’s working for me.”
His ‘work uniform’: ”A collared shirt and denims. A collared shirt projects professionalism.”
Dressing up: ”I’ll add a seersucker suit jacket over a collared shirt if I feel like peacocking. I love seersucker.”
Favorite jeans: ”Levi red tag, button-fly 501s. Original cut.”
Beard maintenance: ”People think beards are this low-maintenance look. Actually, you have to take care of your beard. They are high-maintenance. I use Pantene Pro-V Brunette Expressions to shampoo it, and Herbal Essence conditioner.”
On cultivating individual style: ”When people try to look hip they often end up looking weird. Don’t go out and buy jeans that look worn. Buy a pair of jeans and wear them.”
Shopping tips: ”Flea markets, consignment and thrift shops. I like clothes that have a classic or older-era look to them, so these are good places for me. Even if you have the cash for it, a man doesn’t need to spend a ton of cash to have great clothes. I recently scored an Oscar de la Renta sport jacket at a thrift shop that fits me perfectly.”
Motivation tip: ”Take $300 dollars out of your account, put it in your wallet–and leave it there. It will motivate you and you will carry yourself differently.”
The best part of success so far….“Not living for other people. Not living in fear.”
We carry our mobile devices with us everywhere, so it makes sense that some sunny accessorizing might be in order for the summer. Covering your mobile device is a nice way to add a blip of color to your day, personalize it, help it stand out and, of course, protect and lengthen its life.
LuxMobile Group makes zingy little cases for mobile devices…and their new mobilexpressions line is at Target for a limited run. Bright, groovy, good quality and easy to clean.
I am giving away the following iPad case (fits the New iPad and iPad2).
To enter: Share your leading summer style or grooming tip in the comments section.
Giveaway ends Sunday June 10th, 2012 at Midnight, PST, and is open to US residents, 18 years old or older. I will notify the winners via email, so make sure you leave one where you can be reached in the comments form.
Disclaimer: I received complimentary products by LuxMobile Group for the purpose of hosting a giveaway.
Who is AJ Colby? Why, he’s the on-air meteorologist for FOX 8 in Cleveland, Ohio, and someone who knows something about the weather weather and personal presentation. I recently got to ask Mr. Colby some questions about the sun, looking nice in the heat and staying cool when the cameras are a-rolling.
Meteorologist AJ Colby
The sun can be really detrimental to one’s skin, so I always advise men and women to be sunscreen addicts, and apply the stuff daily. Is there any truth to the rumor that you don’t need to wear sunscreen on overcast days or during the winter?
There is no such thing as a “sunless day”. UVA and UVB rays still penetrate clouds and can damage the skin. On cloudy days, although you may not burn as quickly per se, applying the sunscreen anyway would be a good idea if your aim is to prevent skin aging! The sun, not time, is our skin’s greatest adversary. While time causes chronological aging, the sun causes “photo-aging”.
In the winter, especially over a snow-packed surface, the high reflection properties of the snow (also know as “albedo”) can absolutely lead to a sunburn. Just ask any avid winter-weather enthusiast what happens if they “play outside” on a sunny day over a fresh snowpack. Sunscreen is essential anytime you’re outside during the day, especially between 10 am and 3 pm. This is when the sun’s energy is at its strongest here on earth.
What is a good weather style tip for men when it comes to looking collected and put-together in hot or humid weather?
There’s nothing more annoying than sweating like a pig on a hot, humid, sunny summer day, especially prevalent during the “Dog Days” of summer! That’s the period from July through early August where heat and humidity are at their peak across the United States. Honestly, I use a highly effective product called “Certain Dry” antiperspirant. I would start there, especially if you’re a sweat-aholic like me!
In terms of fashion, if you don’t want those “pit stains” which can be rather unattractive, wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing! Cotton is usually the best, but ironing is no fun for many, so a cotton-poly blend of some kind would be a good runner-up. I like wearing shorts, but I have several friends who do not, so a good pair of Dockers always wears well in sizzling summer heat.
If you stick to light colors, it helps to REFLECT solar energy instead of dark colors, especially black, which actually ABSORB the energy…causing you to cook. That’s no fun.
You’re in front of television cameras daily, and your fans point to your down-to-earth delivery as something they really like about you. What is a good tip for staying relaxed and natural in front of the camera or when talking in front of an audience?
There’s little question that live TV can cause you to “tense up” a little. Frankly, I have a tougher time with live and in-person audiences because at least I can PRETEND that no one is watching and that takes some of the pressure off.
When I do public appearances, I usually like to bring a big bottle of cold water. That helps to hydrate the vocal chords, not to mention hydrating the body. I sweat so much when I get nervous, so I try to meditate and pray before the event if I have time. I noticed that helps.
Trying to keep my energy level fairly constant and trying to relax while speaking is a wonderful tip. Knowing your material certainly helps. I always try to ask the organizer about the “lay of the land” if I can, so that I can get a better idea of what to expect in the room. Also, I try to know my audience (with whom I’ll be speaking). Anything I can do to alleviate some of the pressure. In my experience, the very BEST thing to do when talking in front of an audience is try to BE MYSELF! There’s nothing more liberating than that. I strive for that everyday.
More of Mr. Colby can be found at AJ Colby.com
In Memory and with Gratitude, Today and Always
I’m as guilty as the next gal, or guy, when it comes to wearing the heck out of a lovable new item or ensemble. So much so that, a month or so later, the item has been used and abused…and looks it. And if you’ve ever heard me preach my fire and brimstone lecture on how you’re too good to be prancing around in used and abused clothes–well, just know that there is no excuse for wearing stained, ribbed, pilled or misshapen clothes unless you are trying out for a local production of Les Misérables.
Here are some ways to put the brakes on the wear of your wardrobe, shoes included:
- Think of your closet as a revolving workspace. Items check-in and check-out. Few, if any, will stay forever.
- Regularly comb through your closet with the eye of a bitchy personal stylist and purge, purge, purge those items that are no longer up to snuff. Cart them out of your house immediately. (Putting them in a bag “for later” doesn’t count.)
- Buy fewer clothes, and buy better clothes. Better does not always mean more expensive. Better means higher quality. Why? Quality=lasts longer.
- There is something that saps the life from a bag, pair or shoes or clothing item when it’s worn heavily. Jeans excluded. Resist the urge to wash and re-wear–the repeat–that fantastic new tunic that wears as comfortably as a sweatshirt and looks and feels as chic as the French Riviera. Let the item rest in-between wearings, and lean on the rest of your wardrobe in the meantime.
- Know how much cleaning is just the right amount. There are some items that will need cleaning more than others. A lady whose ship I passed in the night told me that she loved black dresses and cocktail parties equally. She did both a lot and, since going to a innocent cocktail party for a couple of hours is hardly the equivalent of mud wrestling, she would mini-dry clean her dress in between light wearings by letting it hang aloft in her hotel room near an open window or balcony, and place it in the bathroom when she was taking a shower for a little steam cleaning.
- See your closet with new eyes. There are many self-evident reasons for cleaning out your closet. A few of them are psychological. One is that you will re-discover items that you like and look good on you. Another is that, with these new eyes, you will contemplate new concoctions, new ways to put together clothes and accessories so that they look like something else entirely. Something groovy.
In the early 1960′s American designer Sylvia Pedlar of Iris Lingerie designed a little something to be worn by women who sleep in the altogether, aka, sans clothing. The little something was called a sleep toga, and it became all the rage, winning Ms. Pedlar a Coty Award. Rumor had it that even First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wore one.
The item, described as “A toga to shed when you go to bed,” by Life Magazine, debuted at a fashion industry luncheon in 1961, retailed for $28 and sold briskly. The design was simple–two narrow, floor-length strips of solid fabric that tied at the sides, making it easy to slip on and off when slinking into bed.
Ms. Pedlar’s inspiration was contrarian; a move against the frilly night-things that were everywhere at the time. “Everybody has gooked up lingerie too much,” said the designer. “There just had to be a reaction.” [Quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, Oct, 29, 1962].
Fast forward to you, circa the early 21st century: If you are not already in the habit of wearing pleasing things to bed, might I suggest you give some nice loungewear a chance. And if you prefer nothing at all while sleeping, indulge yourself with a nice robe or even a sleep toga, if you can find one. Single or no, your evenings and mornings should find you feeling luxurious and pretty.
If you have read Practical Glamour or you read this tip log with any regularity, you know that I’m a booster for DIY, at-home and mostly natural grooming concoctions. However, there are some solid grooming and beauty products to be had at your local drugstore. Here is one: Vaseline Total Moisture Body Lotion (approximately $4 for a 10-ounce bottle).
First, a disclosure: I evaluated this product for the company and was paid to do so. However, I have not been paid or asked to promote the product. I tested it and happened to find it surprisingly good. A good pick for when you might be on the road or on vacation, away from your favorite hand or body moisturizer, and scouting for one in the aisles of a local supermarket or drugstore.
When I first tried the product, which was shipped to me in an unmarked bottle, its identity unknown, I thought that it was a health-food store brand because the scent had an essential-oil aroma about it. Light and pure. Also, the lotion absorbs quickly into the skin, which is another hallmark of a quality, natural-sourced, moisturizer. (Chemical-based lubricants tend to sit on the surface of the skin and feel greasy.)
Also, the consistency is nice; it’s a lotion but feels rich, almost like a cream without the attendant heaviness. Vaseline Total Moisture Body Lotion is a blend of glycerin along with HEU (Hydroxyethyl Urea) and oat extract.
Bottom line: This is an effective, drugstore body moisturizer that can be kept in the house as a go-to hand or body cream for anyone in the house. The aroma is light and gender-neutral so the lady and men-folk will find it pleasant. It’s an easy to find product and price-wise, a fair value.
Vaseline Total Moisture Body Lotion.
This is Christy Roberts, an artist I recently met at a good friend’s MFA thesis show in Claremont, California. I was in a crowded gallery when I spotted her glancing over her shoulder, and I instantly thought of a movie still from the 1940′s or 1950′s. The angle of her face, and combination of rosy skin, Kewpie-ish red lips, and almond eyes has a sharpness and elegance that was commonly seen in film actresses of that time. And it didn’t hurt that such a look translated so seamlessly to the black and white film of the day.
We were introduced, so I had to launch into a discussion of glamour, the satisfaction of personal style and her cool red clutch, which happened to match her lipstick. Here are some takeaways:
- Careful, bold touches of makeup on the face is visually softened by a bun with loose strands. Think about ways you can try out this yin-yang approach in your style, contrasting a neatly coiffed head of hair with a light, almost invisible, touch of makeup on the face. Or a bit of strategic tousle in the hair and wardrobe to relax an artfully made up face.
- Good style is essentially the sum of a bunch of little details and notes, all balanced and blended. See above, the streak of mermaid green in her hair that gives a mod, au courant shot to other classic female details (red lipstick, neck-tie blouse, clutch, etc).
- Translate everyday inspirations to your figure and personal style. Christy mentioned she had recently seen a German movie where the female lead wore a tie-neck blouse, and she liked the look. She said, however, that she would normally never wear a tie-neck blouse because it adds too much bulk at the neckline and by, extension, the upper body, for her liking. But this particular one works because the fabric is super thin, and the gauzy and sheer-ishnesh of the blouse creates a light look.
- The clutch used to belong to her mother, and its nice color match with her lipstick was very much by design. (The style is in the details, remember.) The clutch is vintage, made by some fantastic 1970′s designer like Halston, though I had a glass or three of wine, so I can’t be certain. I do recall that the total cost of her ensemble, there was a leather jacket involved, was about $100, which makes it even more practical glamour.
- I think being a trained artist gives one distinct style advantages, like an understanding of color and a tune-in to visual details. These are essentials when thinking about and constructing one’s presentation (which is clothes, yes—but also cosmetics, grooming, accessories and, of course, movement, manner and communication).
End note: Christy Roberts’ artwork can be found on Tumblr here. And there is ice involved.
The topic: Getting the 80/20 Rule out of Your Closet. Most of us wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. I share tips with WPLX’s Roxanne Stein on how to shop smarter, more strategically, for your wardrobe. The result: A leaner closet containing only those items that make you look and feel lovely–and no more money or time wasted lugging home bags of stuff you’ll never wear.
Ms. Tara Brooke recently penned Beautiful Ambition, a feel-good book of life shortcuts on topics like men, money and health culled from her life and work experiences, with input on using visualization and managing your moods and mindset.
Since self-knowledge, positivity and smart life management are the foundations, really, of person’s glamour, I thought I’d get Ms. Brooke’s input on a few things.
Your book, Beautiful Ambition, has a section dealing with decisions. What is one of your favorite “power tricks” to making a good one?
It sounds cliché but I have learned that usually my first instinct on something is correct. I always ask myself why do I want this and try to figure out if I am making a decision based on what’s best for me or am I making it on something I want.
There is a huge difference and learning what makes it different is critical. Once you begin to understand yourself more clearly you can trust your inner gut feelings and they normally are right on!
When sad, angry or depressed it’s not easy for a woman or man to exude their personal glamour–that unique “radiance of being” found in each person. As someone who specializes in positive advice for women, what is one of your favorite, on-the-spot strategies for turning around a rotten mood?
The first thing I always do when I am having a bad day or something is upsetting me is I try to change my feelings. First you have to allow yourself to be upset but keep it short, the best way to do that is to be thankful and start counting your blessings. We all will have challenging days, period, but we also have many things to be thankful for. I have found that when I decide to have a heart of gratitude then my feelings change very quickly!
Tara Brooke’s site is http://tarabrooke.com/
You might be in the market for a new voicemail greeting, but are not into the many, many minutes that it might take to get yours just-so. Before jumping into the rabbit hole of your phone’s voicemail system, getting mired in take after take, hitting delete and record, then delete and record, here are some tips to shorten the process and get to a really pleasing message in the shortest time possible:
- Write out the message, saying it out loud as you do
- Keep it simple, cordial and un-cutesy
- If you’re stuck, here is a sample script: Hello, this is Nancy Jones. Please leave a message and I’ll return your call as soon as possible. Thank you.
- Think nice thoughts and smile while you record — pretend you are speaking with a friend
- Exhale while you say your name
- Enunciate, speaking each word clearly
When walking on the street, the man always walks on the side closest to the street and its traffic. I believe the origins of this have something to do with shielding a lady’s skirts from mud kicked up by passing carriages, and that it makes the linking of arms easier. There are no more carriages around, but the protocol remains, and it’s a male-female nicety that works no matter your relationship.
Many males know about this arrangement, either by instruction or instinct, and will automatically take this position when walking with a woman–or make the switch to reverse places.
I’ve become so used to walking this way, on the inside, that if I happen to be waltzing down the street with a guy it will automatically not feel right if I’m on the outside. To correct positions I’ll usually do a little two-step to switch positions and not say a word.
Actor Shailene Woodley: Picture of a Dignified Ingenue
Shailene Woodley, The Beautiful Ingenue. I almost fell off my chair when I spotted this 20-year-old while watching this year’s Oscars. (It was homework.) The gown is Valentino Couture, and reminds me of something a young Audrey Hepburn would wear. The rich cream, exceptional detail and quality of this dress was notable. Hair and makeup was kept soft and feminine, with the whole thing adding up to a picture of a elegant young woman, something that is rarely seen amongst the Hollywood crowd.
An assured, sexy woman many leagues away from matronly
On the other hand we have Glenn Close, who is the epitome of evolved sexiness. How she does it: This is a Zac Posen gown cut in a strategic, mermaid silhouette that is glamorous and alluring. The tuxedo jacket helps up the distinction and power of this look–and she is a woman who projects both. Both pieces are very structured and in a sophisticated color that incidentally works beautifully against the wearer’s silver hair. No glitter or sequins, which would not be consistent with her vibe or vintage.
Though the gown was a nice backdrop, what made Ms. Close stand out from the legions of other pretty young things on the red carpet was her confidence, poise and assured sexiness. Side note: I love that this is what 50-something is looking like these days.
Stefano Pilati is the head of Yves Saint Laurent with some wise words on elegance and how it can be cultivated:
My idea of elegance—and this refers to women as well as men—is that someone is elegant when he or she shows a good knowledge of what fits them, where you can find naturalness and self-esteem. Not showing off. Elegance is the idea of showing an optimistic depiction of oneself, and to lose oneself in the frivolity of style and fashion.
Read his entire interview with Vibe Magazine at http://www.vice.com/read/the-end-of-elegance-0000150-v19n2
On another note, the above image is a still from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Ms. Audrey Hepburn is known for her style, which always seemed so simple. And it was. The ballet dancer knew how to dress her body, with uncomplicated silhouettes. Here she is wearing a simple boatneck top, denim pants and a turban.
Whether wearing this, or something more dressed, her style always came from her manner, which was graceful and demure. An elegant, uncluttered voice. A girlish, slightly mysterious smile. And the way she walked–proud and strong, and a bit like a cat. There is a reason that Breakfast at Tiffany’s is filled with long- and medium-shots of her walking in the streets.
I came across a quote from Britney Spears, something about how she felt that she was Audrey Hepburn in a past life. Blasphemy, I thought.
You want, particularly on Valentine’s Day, the holidays’ ode to love, to communicate something along the lines of: You are special to me. I am glad that I have met you. I hope to keep you in my life. I honor that which is uniquely you, and oh-so female (or male).
A Valentine’s Day gift can be a nice, and even fantastic, accompaniment to the message of the day, but it can’t, by itself, be the mouthpiece. Something must already exist between two people. Even the start of something is fine. While a gift can pretty up the melody, the tune, or even the whisper of one, must already be in place. Otherwise, the gesture of a gift becomes pretty meaningless.
My bias against standard Valentine’s Day gifts, bears and chocolates and so forth, is not that they’re pedestrian–it’s that they’re sometimes called in as surrogates, props for emotions that one is supposed to feel when what one wants is the real deal.
I know a man named Greg. He is a man who has been on Earth for a fair number of years; I’ll guess around 50. He is a nice, decent guy who has known his share of gals. The best Valentine’s Day date he’s had goes like this:
He asked a girl that he really liked out on a date for Valentine’s Day. He saved his money to take her to the grooviest place in San Diego. He got a new suit.
A few hours before their date he was getting swank in said new suit. A bouquet of flowers that he had picked for her were in the refrigerator. He got a call. It was his boss, demanding that he go deliver some furniture. At that point in his life Greg was in no position to say no. He got in his work clothes and drove to his date’s house in the company’s work truck with the flowers. His date answered the door. Her name was Debbie and she was dressed to go out. He apologetically told her his fix. She told him to go wait in the truck.
A few minutes later she got into the truck’s passenger seat wearing a pair of jeans, T-shirt and sneakers. “Let’s go,” she said.
They drove up to Los Angeles together and delivered the furniture. On the trip they talked, listened to music and laughed a lot. They got back to San Diego around two in the morning, got some fast food and drove out to the beach. They sat on the back of the truck, ate their delectable paper-bag feast and talked and laughed some more.
It was, hands down, Greg’s best Valentine’s Day ever. Why? It was an experience. It was a great, romantic experience filled with connection and happiness and laughter. And experienced by two people who enjoyed one another. Oh, and she thought the flowers were nice.
Now, I like a puffy, soft teddy bear as much as the next practical adult, and would trade a herd of them in a heartbeat for five minutes of a Debbie-and-Greg kind of date, the likes of which I hope you experience this Valentine’s Day.
I’m a huge fan of door-holding for a few reasons. It’s a potent and quick way to lift the civility of a place. It’s a fine way to communicate who you are (a lady or gentleman), and it bestows a nice and immediate positive feeling to both holder and recipient. There’s really no reason to not hold doors, and often.
*If someone in front of you stops to hold open the door for you before entering an establishment, do pause once inside to give them the opportunity to step ahead and get in line. In other words, do not take this opportunity to get in line in front of the person who was in front of you, but stepped aside to open the door.
*Be democratic in your door holding. I hold open the doors for young and old, women or men. Probably pets, too.
*Holding doors, on top of their above-mentioned rewards, is an investment in your community. It is one of those public customs that is excellent to establish because it quickly gives others a sense of the place. I may be passing through, but if I happen to be in an area where I observe a lot of door holding, I know it’s a place that I’d probably like to visit again. Like attracts like. Conversely, mean or crass people are less likely to feel comfortable and stick around a community of nice, civil folks.
So go forth and hold doors, civility crusader. And don’t be discouraged if some recipients are oblivious to your nice gesture. Unfortunately, in some corners door-holding is so foreign that people just don’t know what to do.
Jon Gordon is an author, consultant and speaker who does some very good work, helping individuals and organizations become more positive and productive. I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions on how one can extinguish the unbecoming and not glamorous habit of complaining. (I am not immune.)
Here I ask some questions, and he offers some succinct, to the point solutions:
One of your many books, The No Complaining Rule, deals with ways that readers can “battle against individual and organizational negativity.” I’ve noticed that incessant complaining, the type that comes off like a lifestyle rather than a sometimes airing of grievances, doesn’t seem to serve the complainer on any psychological level, nor does it present that person in their most attractive light to others.
There is something magnetic, ebullient even, about a positive person, so leading a complaining “lifestyle” can really hurt a guy or girl when it comes to the quality of his or her social, professional and romantic life. What is one of your favorite, most useful strategies when it comes to helping a man or woman wean themselves from a complaining habit or “lifestyle”?
JG: My favorite strategy is the “get to” instead of “have to” technique. Instead of focusing on what you have to do focus on what you get to do. When you change have to to get to you change a complaining voice into an appreciative heart.
Much of your work seems to focus on how people and organizations can be more productive and fulfilled as a result of positive energy. To what extent do you think positive energy can be instilled in an individual? Do you think some people are “born with it” while, for others, it must be consciously cultivated?
JG: Yes some people are born naturally more positive. Research shows this. But the research also shows that we can become more positive by cultivating it.
Okay, personal trivia time. Is there anything in particular that gives Jon Gordon a lift in those moments when your cup of positive energy does not feel as full as usual?
JG: Yes. A Thank You walk. While I’m walking I practice gratitude and pray. Instead of worrying I let go and let God energize me.
Jon Gordon’s website is jongordon.com.
When weather gets cold in places where it usually does not, such as tropical islands, the desert in daytime and so forth, what usually follows is a style scramble. A mishmash of grabbing whatever one might have in the house in order to be reasonably warm.
The result on the street is some pragmatic ensembles that are not quite flattering. In Southern California, when unexpected cold recently hit, I observed a certain style plague come over the womenfolk. I’m sure the men were not so innocent, but since female style is so flip-flop-and-tank-focused they just seemed to stand out more in their Wow, it’s freezing I’ll just grab anything approach.
And a garment seen often in this mishmash? The sweatshirt. The puffy, pull it over your head, might or might not have the name of a sports team or trucking company printed on its front or back. Usually black, but could very well be the color of a pumpkin, or a Crayon of forest green or purple.The kind of sweatshirt to amplify the upper body. (Along the lines of the Hulk, mind you, not Jayne Mansfield.) And if you’re looking Hulkish, you might be tempted to move, act and even speak like him. The Hulk, that is, not the kindly, soft-spoken scientist Bruce Banner.
Things to avoid in cold weather and life in general
What I’m trying to say, ladies, is this: The puffy sweatshirt is not your friend. And, since there is a host of cold weather wear that can be had at a fair price at a local mall that will make you look and feel nice, there is really no excuse to dress like a hobo when a cold front moves into town.
I’m not suggesting you get done up, catwalk style, each time you walk out the door for a quart of milk. What I am recommending is that you find your personal shortcuts to looking good, which, once habit, are as easy as looking not-so good. And the rewards of looking good, which is to say feeling good, are many.
A warm-climate version of cool-weather dressing, as spotted on this cute as a button walker of pugs told me she wants to feel good while working, and wearing UGGs and droopy sweatpants makes her feel slobby and unenergized. Her runaround ensemble consists of a knit hat, big sunglasses, a basic v-neck T-shirt, leggings and suede fuchsia flats. Effortless to pull together and sassy.
So, what can you do when seeking the rewards that come with being comfortable, warm and stylish? Here are a few ideas:
Shelter key spots. Don a hat, scarf, cute gloves, tights and boots to cover heavy heat-loss areas and maintain your overall body temperature. Buy these in your most flattering colors and go a bit brighter than usual. Keep the rest of your body lightly covered.
Strategic layering…is not just for hair anymore. Use layers of body conscious wraps, jackets and cloaks made from durable, condensed fabrics to warm your body. Bonus: These can be worn a la carte during warmer months, to drape over a bikini when the wind picks up, or on a sunset hike.
I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: Buy fewer items; buy better items. This means investing in quality fabrics and items of solid craftsmanship and a refined silhouette. The best way to know the difference is by comparing clothes of different manufacturers and studying their details. This knowledge will help you spot the truly great deals versus the so-so ones.
Balance your silhouette. You don’t want to layer the top half of your body so much that you look like a barrel balancing on sticks, or vice versa. If you’re wearing heavy boots, for instance, make sure you offer a visual parallel on your upper half, such as with a fluffy hat and scarf set.
Here I am on a brisk California day quite warm in jeans, a long-sleeve T-shirt, fitted jacket and knit circle scar
For more reading on cold weather style strategies, read the related post: How To Stay Warm Without Looking Like a Dancing Bear.
Ah, the past year may not have been the thing that fairy tales are made.
Now at the top of a new year, many a show, blog, advice column and so forth are filled with talk of resolutions and end of year assessments and the like. How you should put your attention to what was good, not-so, what you would do differently and what you might want more of in the coming year.
Since the mind is expert at scrambling away from pain and running into the arms of pleasure, such thoughts may want to make you blanch, or feel faint, or want to get incredibly drunk in the middle of the day.
But when it comes to your life, introspection–consciously identifying what works and what doesn’t–is entirely valuable, and doesn’t have to be painful. It can be fun and quick, like this: Mentally comb through the past year hunting only for its sweet and bright, luminant spots, those big and small things that made you extra happy to be alive.
I’m thinking of Jackson Hole, jumping a sweet course on Steely the horse in Palos Verdes, a particularly luscious pair of new suede heels and khaki strapless dress,”Chopin the Patriot,” talking Practical Glamour with lads and ladies, and a host of other things that will make no sense to anyone but me.
Check your bright spots off in your head or write them down. It will make you smile. If you feel it, go further, and think about the details of your favorites, the parts that gave you the most pleasure and where you might find more of the same in the coming year.
How’s that for a painless recap?
To that end, Adieu 2011 and Aloha 2012. May you have much passion and fortune in the coming year.
Since I’m all for gifting oneself early and often, here are some non-stuff-based items you might want to think about bestowing on ye:
-Up your nutrition. It seems that certain foods suit particular body types or constitutions more than others. This and a lifetime of eating habits that may or may not include Doritos and hybrid cola-wild cherry slushies adds up to the need for some professional dietary input. Book an appointment with a good nutritionist, preferably one whom you’ve heard good things about. Alternately, you can look up a U.S. dietician at Eat Right, the site of the American Dietetic Association.
Another reason to see a nutritionist: food allergies. Marsha McCulloch is a registered and licensed dietitian in the Des Moines area and owner of In The Aisles who has a speciality in this area. An expert is needed to diagnose food allergies, which may be the culprit behind an array of physical issues you experience, because, according to her site: “Identifying which foods are problematic can be challenging since sensitivity reactions may be delayed by hours or even days after consumption.”
A meeting with someone who can customize an ideal eating approach for you will serve your life more fully than any pretty bauble or pair of shoes. (Ah, but you haven’t seen the shoes…)
-Dispose of subpar shoes and garments. Go to your closet and play “These Things Don’t Belong.” Pull out at least three items that have passed their expiration date in terms of fit, style or condition. As in: The item doesn’t convey anything positive about you in its cut or characteristic, or it just looks used and abused. Remove and dispose of the items immediately. You deserve better.
-Step into another language, even a little. You’ve been wanting to learn Italian forever. You want to speak fluent French. Say a few things in Japanese. Book a month of conversational language classes or meet up with a group that gets together to chat in a chosen tongue. The Foreign Service Institute has online language instruction in 40-plus languages, courses that were developed by the U.S. government and are completely complimentary.
-Forgive yourself. Give yourself a nonrefundable, nonretractable pass on something from your past that, up to now, you haven’t quite been able to.
-Eat better, dine in. Get re-acquainted with your kitchen and use it more often. Make it a more welcoming, useful place by cleaning and organizing. Throw out old spices or items that you don’t use. Get rid or stow appliances that you seldom use and are taking up counter space.
Chef Doug Silberberg of Los Angeles does something along these lines that I think is completely useful. He will meet you at your local grocery store or farmer’s market and teach you how to smartly and coherently shop. You will learn how to assess vegetables, differentiate and select cuts of meat and so forth. He also offers a kitchen consult, where he comes to your home to help orient your kitchen for maximum use. I can think of no better gift for certain bachelors and bachelorettes, and a few college types too.
-Do yoga. The most comprehensive path to fitness on Earth, I am convinced. In one shot you tone, stretch and strengthen your body plus calm and discipline your mind. I’m sure there are other virtues involved, but these are personal tops. There’s a yoga style and studio for everyone. Look in your town for one that suits your sensibilities and go.
-Personalize your postage. Upload a favorite personal image onto a U.S. postage stamp and you’ll be more motivated to keep in touch the old fashioned way, with a pen and paper, which happens to remain the most civilized way. The more stamps you order at Stamps.com, the better the price.
-Supplement daily. Find a supplement to fill your nutritional gaps, perhaps with the help of that nutritionist I mentioned earlier, and integrate it into your daily regime. You will feel and look better for it; but daily consistency is key. Supplements don’t necessarily have to be straight vitamins, either. A gal I know, Lynne Reynolds, swears by Juice Plus+, which she described to me as something like a salad bar in a capsule. Judging from the gorgeous glow of her skin and her enviable energy, it works.
-Book a date…with you! Go somewhere local and fantastic by yourself or, if that’s just not your bag, bring along a friend. (Make sure he or shares your idea of fantastic.) One of my memorable recent solo dates was sushi at the Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles followed by a chamber music concert in one of the historic ballrooms. If you happen to love chamber music, historic places and live near Los Angeles might I recommend the excellent series, Chamber Music In Historic Sites.
Dole out these self-gifts on a monthly basis, adding a few of your own to the list. If you’re a planner, map out each month’s gift in advance to make up a year of fine and luxurious gifts that are most certainly not stuff.
An adaptation to the "psychological tic in their machinery."
A big difference between the girls and the guys, responsible for many an awkward, uncomfortable (or worse) moment among strangers in public, has to do with what a female does–and what a male thinks she means when she does.
You the girl, you the woman, are in public. You happen to gaze somewhere, thinking of nothing in particular. You may or may not have a pleasant look on your face, or even a full-blown smile. Alas, you happened to look in the direction of a stranger who happens to be male. You look away, quickly. The next thing you know, you are being cruised, heavily. The stranger is staring at you with saucy, hopeful eyes.
“Oh no,” you think. “I didn’t mean that.”
Variants of this scenario happen all over the place, and the one mentioned above happens to be one of the more benign variety. Maybe you politely responded to a stranger’s “hello” in a line at a coffee shop, or his request for directions or the time or whatever. The next thing you know, the dude has pulled up a chair, is telling you the story of his life, asking for your phone number. In short, a stranger is imposing an awkward social burden on you that you neither asked for nor want.
If you are a woman, this has most likely happened to you on more than one occasion, prompting you to ask yourself or others: “How does that mean I’m interested?”
"It's obvious, she totally wants me." (Sexual overperception bias in action.)
Sexual overperception bias
Pulling from evolutionary theory gives us a possible explanation on this, something called sexual overperception bias, or why, way too often, guys think that a woman is hitting on them when she is merely being friendly, or even quasi-cordial. Or human. Or just looking in their general direction at nothing and no one in particular. Or breathing.
Evolutionary psychologist David Buss explains that men are more likely to infer sexual interest when there is none due to “the costs of failing to pick up on a potential mating opportunity.”¹ Today’s men, the descendants of men who successfully picked up on a mating opportunity, have a hardwired desire, evolved over time, to do the same, resulting in a higher likelihood of assuming much about nothing at all.
According to Buss: “For males it is better to err on the side of over-inferring sexual interest, even if you’re going to be wrong some time, then in under-inferring it and missing out on potential sexual opportunities.”² These men will make mistakes, but they will also maximize successfully acting on sexual opportunities that do exist.
According to Buss, this is not a conscious calculation in the male mind. Rather, he describes it as “a psychological tic in their machinery.”³ A tic that has settled in over deep evolutionary time.
Men: Evolving past the tic
This explanation for why men are prone to making this social miscalculation does not let guys off the hook.
Knowing about this tic means that a male can pause and use reason to override it as needed. In other words, an awareness of this aspect of your mating psychology gives you an advantage, to change behavior that doesn’t serve your life and might be annoying as hell to others.
You want your mating efforts to be directed at women who are interested. And an innate tendency to over-perceive sexual interest when none exists means that you are going to be off sometimes. Okay, some of you will be off more than some of the time. Thinking a gal has designs on you when she really just asked you the time because she forgot her watch and you happen to be standing next to her on the street. Thinking that a casual smile means “Let’s hit the hay.” And so forth.
Battle the tic by trying, to the best of your ability, to objectively assess a male-female scenario for what it is. If it helps, imagine watching the situation as a detached observer and decode it to the best of your ability. If you feel your social judgement in this area is wanting, improve it by seeking the advice of women and men whose judgement and insight you think is solid.
I’d hate for this to be construed to mean that a man should not make any social overtures toward the opposite sex whatsoever, particularly since several fine gentlemen friends have informed me that uncertainty about a woman’s interest, or the threat of appearing foolish or embarrassing or offensive has kept them from striking up or continuing conversations, or even approaching a woman who they thought was interested. My advice is that such a social miscalculation will never be a big deal provided the approach is polite and low-key.
Women: Adapting to the tic
Women, knowing that sexual overperception bias exists, must unfortunately adapt to the fact that males may misinterpret mere politeness or civility. (I don’t think I actually had to tell you that.)
I fought against this reality for many moons. I’m inclined, with some editing, to look at a room full of strangers as a room full of friendly acquaintances whom I haven’t met, and by default am as friendly to male strangers as female strangers. Or, I was. I insisted on my gender-neutral social ways for too long, much to my own discomfort and detriment, time and again.
On the eve of lifting my white flag to reality, a male friend whose judgement I trust said one of those things that sticks with you because it squares so perfectly with a fresh mental verdict on an issue you’ve been wrestling with forever: “Constance, if you speak to a man you don’t know he will most likely think you are interested in him.”
Ding, ding. Lesson finally learned. These days, if I feel like beaming at a random stranger (not a bad practice to make viral) or engaging in a spot of conversation while waiting in a line, chances are the stranger will be a fellow member of the fairer sex.
At the heart of evolutionary theory is the idea of adaptation. That humans will continue to evolve, to change, in ways that bring them closer to pleasure and further from pain. Males adapting to the tic means relying on reason to suss out bonafide female interest. Women adapting to the tic means always negotiating that line between civility and a warding off of the social burden mentioned earlier.
¹²³Source: Psych Files. “Episode 98: Evolutionary Psychology – An Interview with Dr. David Buss” June 20th, 2009.
A few years ago I happened to catch a doctor on the radio who was railing passionately about the evils of wearing outdoor shoes in the home. By traipsing through your home in fresh-from-the-street shoes, you were effectively transferring any and all types of filth–gum, dirt, oil, spit, other things I can’t bring myself to type–from the street into your personal space, which really should really be kept as pure as possible, dirtwise and vibewise.
He convinced me. I’ve been a practitioner of the no-shoe domicile for a while and wouldn’t dream of going back to having that level of grossness imported inside again. Levels of grossness of course, being relative to where you live. Cape Cod; not so bad, maybe some sand or a spot of soil. Manhattan or downtown Los Angeles; unprintable.
I’ve noticed that in the U.S. it is increasingly common to visit homes that are no-shoe homes. That is, you leave your shoes at the door for all the reasons your hosts might desire: the basic hygiene argument outlined above, heels carving up a soft wood floor, an addiction to white shag carpets, and so forth.
Here are a few ways to gracefully adapt to or advocate a no-shoe house, either as a guest or host:
-Ask. After stepping into the entrance or foyer of someone’s home, ask if they prefer for you to remove your shoes. If they run a no-shoe house, they’ll love you. On a related note, recently I’ve had the fortune of befriending several lovely women of Japanese descent, who tell me that in Japan it is standard for a guest to remove his or her shoes before stepping into the main area of the house. Always.
-Offer house shoes. As host of a no-shoe house, it is wise to keep a few pairs of house shoes, slides or slippers on hand to offer guests who might not want to walk around barefoot or in their socks. Keep at least two sizes on hand, one that will fit men and one for females. A great bachelor buddy of mine offers female visitors their choice from a basket filled with new, silken mules in a range of sizes, a gift to take home if they wish. I’ve never seen the basket he offers males, but I’m sure it’s equally as class. If you’re interested in this route, you can get house slippers in small lots, in an array of sizes, on ebay or even at discount and stores specializing in imported goods.
-BYOS, or Bring Your Own Slippers. Particularly if you’re going to be staying overnight or longer at someone’s home, and don’t feel comfortable mincing around the dining room in your bunny ear slippers (please don’t), bring a pair of grown up house shoes, flip-flops or slides to wear around the house. I have a totable pair that fit in almost any purse, take up nearly nil room in luggage and work with almost any ensemble, stylewise. Personalize yours if you wish by wearing an exotic or monogrammed pair.
For women. I love dainty leather Khussa slippers and shoes, which are easy to slide in your overnight bag, ornate and pretty. They are easy to carry with you and can be slipped on quickly. They are typically hand made, leather and beaded, with flat leather soles that are easy on any floor. You can also wear them on the plane if you wish. And when you tire of them, they can become street shoes, though I’d slip an insole in them for comfort.
Alternately, indulge in the totable or roll-up flat phenomenon that has made its way into the market the last few seasons and buy a pair of these sassy, take-it-with-you shoes, which have practical glamour implications far beyond the home, such as at the office or in the car. Though I have not personally tried any of these, I am aware of Fast Flats by Dr. Scholl’s (approximately $8-10), Delicate Soles (about $16) and Rollasole (about $20), though there are many other makers of these.
For men. Offer the menfolk a pair of cool indoor footwear that won’t embarrass them, either in the form of slides or house slippers. Admittedly this is a taller order than finding indoor footwear for women, since there are fewer options for men. You might want to offer something with a cool motif or keep it basic with a few pairs of rubber Adidas slides, which you can get for about $20 a pair and are easy to wash and reuse for other guests.
The elegant and sassy Myrna Loy
“I admire some of the people on the screen today, but most of them look like everybody else. In our day we had individuality. Pictures were more sophisticated. All this nudity is too excessive and it is getting very boring. It will be a shame if it upsets people so much that it brings on the need for censorship. I hate censorship. In the cinema there’s no mystery. No privacy. And no sex, either. Most of the sex I’ve seen on the screen looks like an expression of hostility towards sex.” –Myrna Loy (1905-1993), speaking in the late 1960′s
She’s right. Still. About everything.
PS. If you’re looking for a nice film, might I recommend The Thin Man (1934), starring Myrna Loy and William Powell. One of the most refreshing things about this and other movies from that time, something that has been nearly extinguished from the popular culture scene since about the mid-1960′s, is the display of a relationship dynamic between a man and a woman that is filled with romance, dignity and positive regard.