Planning a Holiday Party in a Crunch

christmas wreath party

 

Let’s say the holiday spirit has hit you later than usual, and you’re thinking: Hey, let’s have a party. Here are tips to help you produce a fantastico groovy holiday get-together in a short period of time.

Q. What’s the best way to invite guests in a time crunch (only 1 or 2 weeks of planning time)?

A. A combination of email and word of mouth. Send an email first, then follow up with a phone call if the size of your guest list allows. You don’t need to make explanations or detail your time crunch, either.

Simply let guests know you are throwing a fabulous little holiday soiree, and their presence will make it that much more wonderful. This added personal touch, particularly in an increasingly arms-reach society, will add a warm, welcome note to your invitation and increase the likelihood of acceptance on short notice.

Since parties are plentiful during the holidays, highlight one or two characteristics that make your party unique or somehow different from other festivities, whether it’s the fact that other attendees will round out a group that is never able to meet up, or you’ll be featuring an offbeat theme or item, like December in the islands or Christmas cuisine from around the world.

 

holiday party tips

Q. What should you have on hand to make guests feel comfortable and welcome?

A. If your party is intimate, say, 20 people or fewer, consider featuring cuisine, beverages or a style of music that you know will be incredibly popular among the majority of the group.

This move is akin to a monogram; a bit of personalization you offer guests to communicate that you considered them and what they enjoy. Let’s say it’s a group of ex-Philadelphians getting together in Los Angeles: Letting them know that cheese steaks, Tasty Cakes and Yuengling lager are on the menu is like dangling catnip in front a cat’s nose. PS. And you can get most of these at Philly’s Best.

 

greeting your guests

Side note: Party essentials: Handling Your Hellos and Goodbyes.

In the end, no matter how the invitations are extended, what you serve or how beautifully you decorate the room—your guests will remember the total experience. Chiefly, how they felt.

So start the experience off on the right note by greeting each one personally, inviting them into the fold with a drink or food item. At the end of the evening, see your guests to the door personally, if possible, and thank them sincerely for attending.

A warm spirit of welcome and belonging will linger in a guest’s mind much longer than their memory of the decorations, or what brand of liquor they drank.

 

 

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Junior Party Planners Might Like to Be In on the Action…

Q. If you’ve taken on too much, or are running out of time, what is the best way to ask for help and who should you ask?

A. Brainstorm to come up with two or three seriously close friends or family who you’re almost positive have the time and complete interest in lending a hand. It can even be a child who you know would jump at the chance to be part of something cool and grownup like party planning. Contact each person individually, keep tasks small, and tailor each request to a person’s interest or passions.

You may loathe lighting and decoration duty, but have a friend who is super creative and has an eye for such things. Offer a prospective party helper a choice of tasks, and let him or her choose their favorite. This move will increase compliance and follow-through.

Oh, and make it beyond easy for them to say “No” or even “Hell no!”

Think of a creative way to thank those who have helped out, whether it’s a small gift or an outing to their favorite spot for brunch or a night of cocktails and catching up. During the party, make sure you give ample props to helpers by public acknowledging their contributions. Channel any compliments back to those who had a hand in creating the item, whether it was the awesome music playlist, authentic paella or some other aspect of the awesomeness that was your last-minute holiday party.

 

 

Bottoms Up: How to Make a Dignified and Memorable Toast


Ideas for Toasting — powered by ehow

Because Conversation is Fun, But Fistfights Are Not…Keeping It Cool at the Table

Follow these table conversation guidelines when it comes to discussing politics and you won't wish you were dining here

Follow these table conversation guidelines when it comes to discussing politics or you’ll wish it were here you are dining

 

Q. Shouldn’t I be free to express my political beliefs at the table with family and relatives?

A. One should be free to express their political beliefs with their relatives and, particularly if you are politically engaged, you might find it impossible not to. Religion and politics are lumped together precisely because, in addition to involving deeply held personal beliefs, they reveal to others who you are right now.

And it’s hard to have a tight relationship with someone who doesn’t know what you think, feel or believe!

The cost of engaging in what is called “cross-cutting political communication” at the dinner table, though, comes with the high probability of egging on conflict and making others uncomfortable in a setting designed for people to come together and enjoy each other’s company.

Japanese friends have introduced me to a great saying, “TPO,” which stands for “time, place and occasion.” This serves as a great social compass, a consciousness of one’s environment that is the soul of etiquette—which is the practice of positive regard for the places you go and the people you encounter.

Q. How do you keep yourself from joining the fracas when you hear something that arouses your political buttons?

A. Remembering my role and goal can keep me from jumping in the fray. Host duties come with the responsibility of being a referee, if not the outright peacemaker, in the interest of captaining an enjoyable event. And being a guest means bringing positivity, or at the very least, not bringing conflict to a party.

This doesn’t mean that you are agreeing or endorsing opposing political views, either, it means you are choosing a higher goal at the moment. The success of the saying, “We’ll have to agree to disagree,” has to do with the fact that it acknowledges that differences do exist while simultaneously conceding to bury the hatchet, at least for the moment.

Though you might not always be successful in keeping the environment as smooth as vermouth, you will have no regrets for having tried. By joining in, not matter how justified or right it might feel at the time, I am simply adding more noise to the conflict. I’m sorry to say I’ve been there, and it never felt good afterward.

Q. What do I do when I’m the odd man out at a table of people who share the same political identity—and my party or candidate is the verbal piñata?

A. If silence in this situation is, for you, suffering then I recommend you suffer no more. You have options, such as politely asking that the subject be changed or even making a joke, perhaps something along the lines of, “Well, I am happy to see diversity is alive and well in our family” or “I see the apple has fallen far from the tree. Okay, it’s in a different orchard.”

If the hint is not taken, and the bashing persists, along with the rise of your inner ire, you can restate your request that the subject be changed or suggest that another time might be more appropriate for the discussion. If you feel the situation is becoming one of harassment or even verbal abuse, you are well within your rights to excuse yourself or leave the situation altogether.

 

political fights at the dinner table

Q. What option do I have if I’m a guest and the host wants to have a spirited political debate at the table?

A. Spirited political debates among folks holding opposing political ideologies are about as common as seeing the Easter Bunny moonwalk down Seventh Avenue. I am thinking you’re referring to those saucy table debates that have little chance of blooming into full-scale fighting words because they occur among those who share political premises, such as collectivism or individualism, but differ on aspects of similar policies or support candidates from the same party.

Assuming that politics does not bore you to spinnakers, there is usually no harm in such debates, because the probability of negative conflict is low. If, on the other hand, your host is fond of seeing his friends brawl, then I suggest a reassessment of the relationship and pressing pause on the acceptance of further invitations.

If you happen to be caught on the sidelines, a silent bystander of a debate that has gone from spirited to mean-spirited, you have the option of excusing yourself from the table. Hopefully by the time you return, the topic will have become more palatable and the room full of good cheer.

An emergency measure remarkably effective at achieving verbal cease-fires is to firmly remind everyone at the table that you care about them more than you will ever care about any politician.

 

 

In Praise of the Uniform. Pulling Together an Easy, Everyday Dressing Formula

I like to figure out ways to look and feel my best in the shortest amount of time possible, so I can get to the really important things, like staring at palm trees and drinking ice coffee.

I am probably not alone, though, as I suspect most people like to look their best without spending half the day getting there. In other words, does anyone want to spend an hour doing their hair, or 30 minutes buttoning themselves up into some concoction they pulled together from the closet? Yeah, me neither.

That said, whether you’re a lad or lady, consider figuring out your uniform. A personal dressing blueprint that looks good on you, feels comfortable and projects something satisfying about you to the world. A shortcut to pulling yourself together each day, clothing wise.

Having a dress uniform for work makes things incredibly each morning when you’re stumbling around, pre-caffeine. Why invent the sartorial wheel each day? It’s too annoying. Whether a suit is part of the equation or not, determining your desired dress profile for specific roles or scenarios gives you a pre-determined direction when you fling open your closet doors.

Tips to designing your uniform: 

●After a certain period of time on Earth, one realizes that certain colors, cuts, silhouettes look better than others. Which look best on you? Figure them out—down to the detail. Acquire a manageable inventory of them, and in the best quality possible.

●Think about this season. What is interesting to you, style or fashion wise? Have you tried on any of these interests and if so, they look good on you? Do they help communicate something positive about you to others?

●First, create your style mission statement for the season. What do you, in general, want to look like? Seasons are an easy way to divvy up the year because they correspond neatly to weather changes. You’re thinking about completely different garments, colors and weights in the summer than the winter, even if you live in a mild climate.

●Translate your profile into a baseline look that you use for your major activity spheres. For many of us, these will include work/professional activities, running around/errands, social activities and so forth.

 

 cold winter uniform_style constance dunn

This is my baseline look for running around this season. It’s cold where I live, kind of, so clingy knit skirts and dresses form the basis of my uniform. They work with my figure, are super comfortable and easy care. They are also more interesting, to me at least, than denim. I’m wearing black leggings under the skirt, which increases warmth without adding bulk. What is the basis of your uniform? It can be as easy as jeans and denim, or mod dress slacks and a spiffy non-iron dress shirt.

I add a warmish neck scarf in a pleasing color, and/or a short jacket as outerwear staples. The grey half-sleeve jacket above is by Valette. It has a throwback design that adds a touch of something, and it’s easy to throw on and off, with no zippers; just a snap or two. If you’re on the petite side, keep jackets either short (waist-length or above), or go full-Monty long and fitted. Read here for tips on selecting a winter coat.

Suede slips-ons or ballet flats are go-to footwear. Ease of use, again, and they impart a certain femininity. No matter your shoe preference this season, please focus on quality. I’ve had the above pair of shoes by Tod’s for eons. They were not the most inexpensive on the block, but I estimate they would have outlasted 3-4 lesser-quality pairs. Tip: Great quality lasts longer and looks better, making it the smarter investment no matter your budget.

Which brings me back to your uniform. Formulate your baseline look by explicitly determining your desired fabrics, main garments, outerwear, accessories and shoes. It will make it easy to dress even if you’re sleepwalking. It will be easier and faster to get ready each day, and you will be more comfortable and pleased with your look. These are all good things.

Shoot me an email at constance@practicalglamour.org if you have a question. In the meantime, girl or guy, go forth and be glamorous!

Some helpful posts:

 

 

 

Why This Was an Excellent Idea — The Beauty of Super-Short Hair

Going short, this short, after eons with big, bouncy golden hair must have been hard. As in, a brand new identity hard. We are often described, at least superficially, by their hair. The girl with the really long, black straight hair. The chick with the frizzy blond hair. The curly redhead. And so on.

And we get used to our hair. It’s personal. The feel of its weight on our head, brushing through it at night and seeing it in our reflection a gazillion times a day. Getting rid of a few inches is fine. But many, many inches? Now that is an adjustment. I remember waking up the day after getting something of a serious buzz cut, putting my head to my barely there hair and thinking for a full minute that I was still dreaming.

 

pam_hair

Given that Pamela Anderson’s public brand has been that of the sexpot with the big blond hair for a couple of decades now, this pixie cut move represents a smart re-working of her image. Losing the hair gives her a sharper, more au courant look. Personally, I love it.

Here’s what makes super-short hair work beautifully:

●Like wearing a certain type of hat, super-short hair draws you into a woman’s face. So it helps to have strong, symmetrical features. Pamela Anderson has them in spades, and the spiky element of the cut acts works as a visual contrast that adds angularity and a certain perkiness to her face.

●Short hair can offset super-sexy dressing. You can get away with showing a lot more skin when you sport super-short hair. Long, swirling locks atop a sexy outfit can lead to overkill, since they’re such a strong signifier of the feminine. Halle Berry’s groovy pixie cut atop her fabulous figure has much to do with her brand of modern, respectable sexiness.

●The face again. With super-short hair, makeup becomes a different matter. Long hair, in some ways, is like a beauty crutch. Cutting it off is like removing the thick, decorative frame that surrounds a picture. What do you have left? Mainly the picture.

●I had that buzz-cut short style for a few years, and rarely went without at least a smidgen of makeup. Otherwise, the look was too stark for my liking and I kind of looked like a little dude. Though a bottle of shampoo did last forever and I could stick my tongue out while skipping past the bottles of conditioner that I now worship. Makeup wise, short-hair means you have to be more precise, blend like the Devil, soften up colors for day and also, you can have more fun. A blazing red lip looks chic, never tarty. And big, fabulous cat eyes? Meow. I mean, Yes.

 

Pam Anderson Looks Like Jean Sebring

Final note: Pamela Anderson’s pixie cut gives her a look that reminds me of Jean Seberg in Breathless. This is a film from 1960, directed by Jean-Luc Godard, written by François Truffaut and shot in the streets of Paris with a handheld camera. Which means that if you went to film school for even two days, you absolutely saw this film a bunch of times.

 

Non-Peaceful Eating and Being a Non-Entity: Q&A with Stacey Morris

My eye caught the images, Before and After. It was Stacy Morris, a woman who battled a demon that had been hanging on her for many years. In 2009, she weighed 345 pounds (25 stone). Now, she doesn’t. She credits a mix of intensive inner work and a fitness system by Diamond Dallas Page as the two major factors that changed everything.

 

stacy morris_diet tips_1

 

Her story is fascinating—optimistic and motivating, too.

As a woman who has experienced life “from both sides now” in terms of size, Stacy Morris was someone I wanted to talk to. She graciously agreed to a Practical Glamour Q&A. Read on…

Q. I understand that you dropped 180 pounds in just under 2 years, and continue to keep the weight off. What is your top tip for handling cravings?

Stacey Morris: From all my years of dieting and falling off the wagon, I realized that it’s just not realistic to ignore cravings and hope they will go away.

I can usually tell when a craving is biological and my body’s asking for something specific or if it’s a psychological craving and I just want to eat something for a little enjoyment. I’ve learned that it’s not only OK to give myself enjoyment, it’s crucial for long-term success.

Being too strict and denying myself only backfires. So the trick is to make sure I really want a treat, then eat it with awareness and not rush through the experience. This is an entirely different experience from eating as a reaction to stress or boredom. I tell clients it’s a learning curve but if you’re patient, you can teach yourself the difference.

stacey morris diet fitness tips

Out & About Glamour 

Q. How can a person understand when they are engaging in emotional eating?

Stacey Morris:The best way to describe it is a feeling of non-peacefulness.

A sudden, imperative urge to eat, especially an old binge-food that’s not very nutritious, is my first clue. I’m actually grateful when this happens because it’s important information. It means there’s stress to deal with constructively, or an emotion that needs tending to. That is my first course of action.

It’s part of how I live a more aware and honest life now. It took me decades to finally make the connection, but eating over a problem will not solve it. The distraction emotional eating provides is fleeting. And the problem only gets compounded with the excess weight and feeling of ‘yuck’ from being overstuffed. I’d much rather wade through the uncomfortable emotions and face the issue.

I’m hardly a monk, though, when it comes to emotional eating. Sometimes I allow myself an emotional release through food…but with a makeover of a former binge food, i.e., a gluten-free cupcake, rice crackers and a favorite dip, etc. But, I make sure to eat this with awareness, reminding myself it’s a treat, and quantity indeed matters. I eat till I feel satisfied, not stuffed. That’s key.

"Because all the skinny in the world won’t help if you’re not feeling good about yourself from the inside out."~Stacey Morris

“Because all the skinny in the world won’t help if you’re not feeling good about yourself from the inside out.”~Stacey Morris

Q. Going out, engaging in the world and meeting new people. How are these things different for you now?

Stacey Morris: Oh, it’s SO different! Not having to worry about fitting into chairs has been a tremendous burden lifted. My size actually curtailed me from going to movies and plays, as well as traveling on trains and airplanes…it became too embarrassing.

I also love getting dressed in the morning, though it now takes me a little longer because I have a bigger wardrobe to choose from! And I wear colors and patterns of all kind now. Before it was black head-to-toe every single day. Kind of a drag.

Also, in general, people notice me more and make direct eye contact. It’s not really right or fair, but people of size tend to be treated as non-entities. Overall, life is more fun because I have the physical litheness and freedom that I always wanted but thought was forever out of my reach. I’m dedicating the rest of my life to letting others in my situation know there are indeed solutions. There is no magic, only an honest commitment to yourself. ☼

To connect with Stacey Morris…

 

 

The Easiest Online Privacy Trick in the Book

I don’t need to tell you that there are a-plenty of perverts in this world. But it helps to know that you can do something that’s very simple to keep their hell-bound eyes out of your life: shut down your laptop camera when it’s not in use.

The simplest way to do this is by slapping a colored tab or post-it over the lens, like so:


computer camera privacy

The stories of victims, mostly women, whose computers have been hacked seem to get more outrageous each day.  I don’t need to reiterate them here. The numbers of cases are growing, so does the ease by which these cretins can infiltrate your life, if the amount of step-by-step information available via a Google or YouTube search is any indication.

If such a thing happens to you or someone you know, contact the FBI, and do so stat. This is considered cyberterrorism and they take it seriously.

Not very glamorous stuff, but important to know. So cover up that camera immediately, even if all you have on hand is a piece of tape and a Sharpie to cover that sucker up. Even a lip liner will do. And spread the word to every lad or lass you know with a built-in camera on their computer screen.

How’s this for an easy Before and After?

 

Before Tape

internet safety tip

After Tape

4-up on 10-15-13 at 3.01 AM (compiled)

Nice view, no?

Desirous Attachment…Ooh, It’s A Beauty Killer

 

desirous attachment

Look, No Chains!

 

So I have been taking meditation classes. They’re not just meditation though. They are led by a monk who also gives a lecture. Always about something excellent and interesting that lingers in the mind forever. One week’s topic was desirous attachment. Also known as misery.

The best way to define desirous attachment is to say what it isn’t. It is not optimistic yearning or healthy ambition or confident possession.

It is shackles and wanting so desperately for something—and probably not a good something. Drugs come to mind as the easy example, but desirous attachment can also mean being tethered with a big ole’ rusty chain to a guy who is poison, to a friend who is betrayal, to a family member who uses and nothing else. An abusive boss or client or coworker or person who is in some position to lord over your life in a big or small way. You get the picture.

When you are finally ready to leave, shake off that attachment, it can happen in a quick flush and be gone. Like a wave that pounds the sand then retreats, leaving little more than a stain that is dried up by the sun.

Something that meant so much all of the sudden means nothing at all. Or close to it.

It’s surprising how fast it takes. The run up to this moment, though, can take years. And there’s no escaping the work it takes to unwrangle that desirous attachment from your life. When you’re ready to embark, the road out of jail can be populated by a limitless mix of helpers, from a great therapist and kind network of friends and family, to meditation and physical exercise—or whatever mix destiny kindly hands over to help you. When good bonds are strengthened, rotten ones fade away.

But you will be better for having experienced it. You should consider overcoming it a supreme personal achievement.

What does all of this have to do with glamour, with presentation and communication, you might ask? It’s fundamental. If you are not free, with a light and peaceful soul, your true beauty is hindered. And that just won’t do.

To your freedom.

 

Standing Out, Softly — Q&A With Terrence Davidson, The Wig Master

 

terrence davidson wigs

Terrence Davidson, Stylist and Wig Master

 

Terrence Davidson, aka The Wig Master, is a famed wig and celebrity hairstylist whose client roster includes glamour girls such as Jennifer Hudson, Tyra Banks, Nicki Minaj, Mary J Blige and Iman.

What strikes me as very Practical Glamour about his work is how he creates these edgy and eye-popping looks fit for the stage, then goes ahead and creates very feminine, sensual looks that any woman would feel comfortable sporting in everyday life.

I had the opportunity to ask Terrence for tips on keeping that weave real and selecting your best hair shade:

tyra banks wig tips

Q. What is the biggest mistake a gal can make when it comes to maintaining her weave?

Terrence Davidson: The biggest mistake a girl can make when maintaining her weave would be to put too much product in the weave as far as oil or hair sprays!

It makes the hair very very heavy and oily which will cause curls to not hold and look greasy.

Q. Your new hair extension line is called Just My Color.

Speaking of the importance of color, what tip do you have for a lady when it comes to selecting the best shade for her unique eye and skin color?

Terrence Davidson: My idea on a lady chosing the right color for her skin and eyes would be to first make sure the color they chose will always soften them up and still bring out the natural undertone in the skin.

Most people have a yellow and or red undertone to their complexion, so I identity either (black, browns and reds or blondes, auburns and strawberry reds). Most people with a yellow undertone look best with black and or deep brown colors, and people with red undertones look best with blondes and reds.

 


Terrence Davidson, The Wig Master

 Terrence Davidson, The Wig Master, Specializes in Melding Edge with Ease. Very Practical Glamour!

Q. Stylistically, I think it can be hard to meld natural allure and edge, but you do an excellent job of it. Your beauty gallery is filled with images of hair styles that are dramatic yet Earth-bound and feminine at the same time. What inspires your vision when it comes to styling a woman?

Terrence Davidson: Usually what inspires my vision when working with a woman would be to look at their skin tone and also their day-to-day life because that too will help me decide on the hair creation and color fit for their lifestyle! But I do try to make my clients stand out but still maintain a soft femininity in the hair.

See more of Terrence Davidson’s work or visit Just My Color.

 

A Very Scarf Weekend

So a very nice Practical Glamour Facebook follower sent me a nice gift recently. I had been posting about the feminine handiness of the headscarf for a while, so a nice lad took it upon himself to mail me 3 color versions of this vintage headscarf. Thank you to Mr. Bernie Hanssen!

His timing was great. I’ve been wanting to integrate more color and patterns into my attire, and these scarfs fit the bill. So I had a scarf weekend—and have some photos that might inspire some scarf-wearing looks of your own…

constance dunn style tips

 Checking the Saturday morning surf…Since I have not yet had coffee, hair is best dealt with via a quick comb-through and, of course, a scarf!

 

constance dunn style expert

To wear: Comb through your hair and gather it in a loose, low ponytail if it’s long. Place scarf at the crown of the head, letting some hair peek through if it suits you, and tie firmly at the nape of the neck. Release the ponytail. If baby hairs around the face annoy you, spray a dab of hairspray on a spare toothbrush and brush them back.

 
 Below. A vintage scarf like this is a good way to add not only color, but some character and flair to your everyday runaround wear. The only embellishment here is a pair of sunglasses, but you can definitely gypsy up your look by adding some big ole’ hoop earrings and a chain or two.

scarf 1

Shopping can sometimes be boring, so a way I make things a tad more interesting is to dress up a bit. Here, my scarf helps add some practical glamour to a Saturday afternoon Target run.

Tip: The key to making this habit, and not feel like you’re “dressed up” is to feel comfortable. So stock up on those easy clothes that are easy to care for, look nice and feel like nothing at all.  This James Perse dress feels as soft as an undershirt and is easy to pull on and off—no zippers or buttons. It’s uncomplicated, and the silhouette of this Malibu designer’s dresses seem to flatter every size.

 

Below. Let’s hear it for pho! I am a certified noodle maniac and my current fixation has to do with this incredibly scrumptious, popular Vietnamese soup. My favorite local spot is one of those little stripmall joints that’s nondescript, excellent and plays old big band tunes over the speakers. Pho and Glenn Miller, does it get any better?

I flipped up the scarf for a change of pace on a Sunday afternoon noodle date. This is an incredibly easy look to be had, no matter your hair length…

scarf tips constance dunn practical glamour

To wear:

  • twist your hair and pull it into a low bun at the nape of the neck
  • center the scarf also at the name of the neck, under the bun
  • pull the long ends of the scarf up along the sides of the head, and knot at the crown
  • the loose fabric on either side of the head is also pulled up, then flattened to the head with hair pins or tucked into the knot at the crown

 

Warm or Cool? Which Colors Are Best for Your Skin Color?

To get a freshen-up on what hair shades suit you best, here is a helpful infographic by online beauty retailers Beauty Bridge.


 

Guy or girl, before you buy another tie, another lip shade or even a T-shirt, take a moment and reflect on what colors work best for your unique hair, skin and eye combination. There are specific colors that will always suit you best, and others that you should pass on by, even if you like them on an aesthetic level.

I love a strong turquoise blue, for instance. There is something about the color that I find uplifting, but I wouldn’t buy personal items in turquoise, because the color is too intense, too yellow-based for my overall coloring.

Note that the infographic above begins by asking whether your skin tone is warm or cool. This is key. If you’ve never been sure, this is fairly easy to do with the following:

  • One sheet of plain gold wrapping or wallpaper, and one sheet of plain silver wrapping or wallpaper

Or

  • Two towels: One in pure white with no yellow undertones; one in ivory, which is a yellowish-white

Place the paper or towels directly around your face—one first, then the other—and gauge the overall effect of each shade.

white versus ivory
Extreme in contrast: (Left) A deep ivory. (Right) Pure white. Which is best for you?

Determine which is most flattering to your unique hair, skin and eye combo. Pure white looks best? This indicates that your skin tone is on the cooler end of the spectrum. If ivory looks best, this indicates that your skin tone is on the warmer end of the spectrum.

Over time, as you pay close attention to colors, shades and intensities, you will begin to instantly recognize those which flatter you most. This means you’ll make quicker decisions while shopping, and better decisions, with no costly closet mistakes.

Oh, and if you thought you could never wear red, read this.

 

Q & A: What You Need to Know Before Buying Shapewear

shapewear tipsAny woman—some men, too—who I talk with about style will eventually hear about my love of shapewear.

To me, the stuff is like physical alchemy, where you can enhance your favorite attributes and smudge out those that you’re not too fond of at the moment.

Even if you’ve got an A-1 figure and wouldn’t change a patch of flesh, why not make it even more scrumptious? It’s like not wearing mascara because your lashes are already so long and lush!

Online shapewear shop Hourglass Angel is like a one-stop shop for body morphing: waist cinchers, corsets, body shapers, booty plumpers, leggings that tighten and smooth—you name it and they have it.

I spoke with Ruben Soto from the company who gave me some great advice on how to properly select the best shapewear for your body, plus pointed out some extra benefits that I was not aware of. Read on.

Q. What is your top shopping tip for the gal who is new to shapewear?

hourglass angel review

A. Shapewear can sometimes be a difficult garment to find. I think it is really important to consider all of the options out there to be able to find the perfect garment, specifically for you.

 

Which is why I would suggest to consider the following when looking for shapewear:

  • What are the areas that you would like to target?
  • Would you like a garment that is going to target more than one area, or to specifically target one body part?
  • What amount of compression are you most comfortable with?
  • What benefits are you seeking to take from shapewear?

Overall, I would suggest getting something that you find yourself being able to wear as suggested. I find myself suggesting to my clients to think long term, and to not restrict themselves with something that they do not see being able to wear for months.

Lastly, make sure to get a garment that fits well, most size charts are composed to produce the desired results according to fit.

Note that wearing shapewear garments that are way too small for your size can be counterproductive. Instead of helping you get in shape, it might create additional rolls and bulges on your form. The garment should fit comfortably conturing your curves.

If more compression is something that you are interested in, I would recommend looking for a garment with a stronge enhancement level control, rather than sizing down.

 

almia mighty

The Almighty Vest by AMIA

Q. How can a shopper differentiate quality shapewear from the not-so good? In terms of craftsmanship, what are some things we should look out for?

A. The things that I look for when expanding our collection is a garment that is made of a rich material.

By rich material I mean something that is constructed to last, which can be seen in the durability and versatility of the garment. You will see the quality of the garment in its details.

The details that I find most important in a garment are if it is convenient to wear, and its adaptability as you begin to size down.

Q. What is a top-selling item at Hourglass Angel? What do you think makes its so popular?

A. One of the many best selling garments that I would suggest to anyone interested in purchasing shapewear would be the AMIA Almighty Vest.

What is great about this garment is that is sculpts inches from your midsection, as it increases thermal activity in your core and supports long-term slimming. What makes this garment so popular is its effectiveness, and at the same time it is very comfortable to wear.

Best of all is that the garment not only slims you, but reduces back pain by giving your back support.

Q. Off beat style idea: Several of my all-time favorite swimsuits and exercise leggings have actually come from the shapewear department. What do you think of this idea?

A. I am thrilled to hear that you have taken shapewear to the next level, by adding it to your workout routine. E-HealthyDirectory.net conducted research that showed that women who wear a tight girdle-like garment while walking in a treadmill burn more calories than they normally would without wearing it.

In addition to its greater calorie burning capacities, other health benefits that shapewear offers is the improvement of posture and toning of abdominal muscle. We like to promote a healthy diet, and exercise in addition wearing shapewear to increase weight loss. It’s kind of a packaged deal that way!

Busting out my evening jog in a pair of shapewear leggings. They last forever and keep things nicely in place when you're bouncing around...

Busting out my evening jog in a pair of shapewear leggings. They last forever and keep things nicely in place when you’re bouncing around…

 

Q & A: Lots of Clothes, Nothing to Wear

neat closet

Visualize a small, concise collection

Q. Constance, I have a different problem. A large closet…lots of clothes but nothing to wear. And I don’t like to part with things. I have started a get rid of box, consignment, good will, yet the closet is still full. Might need to add I have range of sizes due to my weight fluctuating. Maybe others have my same issue, would love to hear some advice. Although I am certain I know what I should do…lol. Hope all is well with you. Nicole R.

A. I suspect your Get Rid of Box is not full enough! And your fine, non-wasteful blood is not helping things.

A successful closet overhaul always begins in the mind.

The bulk of your existing clothes do you no favors when it comes to you getting out the door each day in a timely manner, and looking your best. That is because they no longer represent who you are today. They are castoffs, leftovers from another time in your life. And if you come across any item that shows it, whether you see faded dye or pilled fabrics or misshapen silhouettes, out they go. I had a hoot not long ago getting rid of a pair of white, sky-high platforms and matching white leather miniskirt, among other dinosaur garb.

Some of us have tendency to hang on to the past, and when we do this we are not treating ourselves quite kindly. Your collection of clothes should be concise and on-point to who you are today. It doesn’t matter if your budget is endless or strict, either.

Back to the mind. A lovely lady wears lovely things. This means you. Once you have accepted this, each of your items should be examined with respect to the 3Cs – Cut, Color, Characteristic. If a piece does not pass all three of these criterion, into the box it goes. Be ruthless.

Pretend you are doing it for someone else, and play Bitchy Personal Shopper if you must, where you imagine you are throwing away closet castoffs for a particularly discriminating client, who happens to look just like you!

Best of luck. And I want pictures!

If you’re in the mood for more closet-cleanout talk, read thisthis and this. Or watch this.

 

Quick Waxing Tips

hair removal waxing tips

 

Did you know? Schedule your waxing appointments, the salon or at-home kind, every 3-4 weeks. Many people think that they should wait 5-6 weeks, until re-growth is complete for the best hair removal.

Tip. The problem is that it hurts more to remove hair when it’s longer, thicker. All the waxer, or you (if you’re a self-waxer) needs is enough length for the wax to adhere to, which is 1/8 inch long. No more.

A few more waxing tricks:

• If you regularly wax, the new batch of follicles will be slighter in density. This is a good thing, because lightweight hair is easier to remove, and less painful to wax away.

• Exfoliate the area faithfully in between waxes. Not just with a washcloth or loofah, either. You need detailing, so employ a granulated scrub and get down to business.

• Exfoliate a day before you wax. This will remove surface skin cells and prime the area for hair removal.

• Ingrown hair: another reason to exfoliate regularly. As your hair gets thinner, it becomes less able to grow clear of the hair line, particularly if dead skin cells have built up to squash it. This forces hair to bend under the surface of the skin, resulting in ingrown hairs.

• A note on pain. Breathe deeply and evenly while being waxed. Some people hold their breath because the pain can be stunning. But if you focus on your breath, it will keep you body calm and focus your mind as well.

• You can also think about how righteously smooth, hair-free and beautiful your skin is going to be in a matter of minutes. Now that should make you smile.

I typically keep a few on the fly waxing products on hand to deal with rogue hair that pops up in between waxing sessions, and recommend Nad’s Facial Wand and Nad’s Body Wax Strips for very hassle-free defuzzing. I also deal with hair removal pretty thoroughly in my book Practical Glamour.

 

 

Small Closet Salvation

small closet tips

Wooden hangers are nice, but space gobblers they are for small closets

I have a small closet. This is a good and bad thing. Good because it keeps me disciplined in terms of hauling home and storing tons of junk, which is to say, clothes that do not pass muster when it comes to the three Cs: cut, color and characteristic.

Having a small closet means that you have to go through ruthless closet overhauls every season or so, and bid adieu to those things that no longer fit, are not in great condition or don’t help you communicate your best self to the world.

So in the end you have a nice collection of things you can pull out at any turn and wear, wear, wear. This is a good thing.

The downside of the bad closet is that it’s unforgiving. You have to make choices all the time, and it doesn’t leave you any leeway to store fun stuff, like a florid and heavy collection of flamenco dance outfits, for personal instance.

 


In a contest, velvet hangers beat wooden ones for space saving

In a contest, velvet hangers beat wooden ones for space saving

 

*To ease up more space in your closet, there are many things you can do. One is to replace bulky wooden or, shudder, plastic hangers, with these sleek and skinny velvet ones. I purchased a few packs of velvet hangers (10 for $5.00) at a discount store.

Velvet clothes hangers are very thin—each wood hanger takes up the space of about three—and the material is sticky, in a sense, so clothes adhere to it and there is very little slippage.

I replaced all of my nice-looking but space-gobbling wooden hangers with velvet clothes hangers, and have freed up about 20% more room in my closet. For a small closet, that’s like one acre.

Velvet clothes hangers are rather delicate, so they are ideal for women’s clothes. I don’t think they are sturdy enough to handle men’s jackets and heavier items, so keep your sturdier hangers for those.

If you’re in the mood for more closet wisdom, read this, this and this. Or watch this.

Go forth and be glamorous.

 

Why This is 10 Shades of Wrong for a Funeral

 

 


blog wrong

What Not to Wear to a Funeral

blog_funeral wrong

I can’t say I had an expectation that this individual would act with decorum at any occasion, but this image of Kim Kardashian attending a funeral almost made my eyes pop out of my head. Given the current state of popular culture, this is not an easy feat.

A funeral is an occasion where one gathers with others to remember and honor the life of someone dear to them. This means someone other than oneself.

I point out this super-basic detail to illustrate that when one is commemorating another, the most basic commandment is to keep the spotlight on the person in question. The keyword here is respect. Particularly at funerals, this means that party garb, hot date garb, Vegas garb and circus levels of makeup are out. This is because funerals are somber and serious events—someone has died—not time to show everyone how incredibly hot you are and how much everyone should pay attention to you.

That said, here are some traditional funeral dos, along with some serious don’ts, as highlighted by our model and prominent touchstone of cultural decay:

  • Attire should consist of black attire, made from dull and matte fabrics. No sequins, glitters, rhinestones or “Hey, look at me” nonsense like mesh-covered arms, as charmingly sported in the photo.
  • The cut of the clothes should be traditional, modest and clearly of the formal variety. This is done to project awareness and respect, two good things to communicate at someone’s funeral.
  • A man’s suit should not be too slick, and a woman’s body should be well covered.
  • Ladies, wear a skirt or dress if you can, not pants. Don’t even think about wearing shorts, even the civilized kind.
  • Keep jewelry to a minimum, and avoid big, showy or clanky pieces. A ring, solitary bangle or unfussy necklace, such as basic pearls or a simple gold strand, are traditional pieces.
  • Skirt and dress length—nothing above the knee, and I’d shoot for three-quarter lengths to be safe. In the photo, Kim Kardashian’s skirt length here can best be described as somewhere in the lower-crotch area.
  • Add black tights or hose, weather permitting.
  • Not a speck of cleavage. Cover it up. All of it. No spaghetti straps or showy necklines, either.
  • Shoes. For men, wear your best. Ladies, avoid open-toed shoes or anything that brings to mind words like spindly, spiky, stiletto, sexy. The ankle-strap gold-and-shell spiked heels seen in the photo above, for instance, may be groovy to hit the clubs with but are wrong on all counts as funeral footwear.
  • In many cases, black flats, straightforward pumps or boots with a minor heel are the best bet, particularly if you are going to be standing at cemetery grounds. Do not wear flip flops. I am personally begging you.
  • Makeup. Keep makeup simple and understated. Avoid bright or trendy cosmetics on the face or nails. No sexpot, mussed or pageant hairdos.

A note on manner: Funerals are somber events, therefore this is not the time for big smiles, bubbling laughter and loud behavior. Pay your respects to the deceased person’s family with sincerity and sobriety. Keep conversations focused on the person and their life, and in a positive way.

On the other hand, dressing like Kim Kardashian at a wedding could be a good ploy to bring someone back from the beyond. For I am pretty certain that if anyone attended my funeral in a getup like this I would pop out of my casket to personally boot them the hell out.

 

Easy Saturday Morning Scarf Style

 


hair scarf ideas
 

Being an evangelist for easy glamour means that whenever I find a quick way to get out of the front door while looking reasonably pulled together, I like to pass it along. I like wearing scarves because they are a simple way to contain hair and show some individuality while doing so. They are also eternally feminine and always available at better consignment shops and flea markets, no matter if you are in Rome or Rochester, New York.

It usually takes some experimenting to find your best scarf style, meaning the way to arrange a scarf in your hair so it’s not annoying and looks quite nice.

 

Pantech 2013 June 1521

 

The steps to a Simple Saturday Scarf Updo, as seen in the photo above:

  • pull hair back in a high ponytail
  • smooth back stray hairs around the face
  • place a non-slip hairband around head; what you want is a band with nubs or sticky material to grip the scarf material and keep it from slipping oh-so annoyingly off your head
  • cover with a fabulous scarf; bet on a silk vintage scarf
  • knot firmly, arrange tail of scarf attractively on neck
  • arrange bun as you wish, neat or mussed

Read more on easy hair scarf style here and here.

 

 

Cool Male Move #5,003

male etiquette tip
 

A little while ago I was visiting a friend’s house for the day. I rung the bell. He answered it. We said our hellos and within a step or two of walking onto his property he had smoothly slid his hand in the handles of my large, beach-ish bag and said with a smile, “Let me get that for you.”

“Why, thank you,” said I.

Why is this a Cool Male Move? It is courteous, yes. It is also friendly and thoughtful—and it clearly distinguishes the move-maker as a man and a gentleman at that. One who wants to make his lady visitor feel comfortable and at home. And guys, there is no muscle minimum needed to make this move.

A few pointers:

  • Smoothness is key. Unhand the lady’s bag naturally, and without tugging, like you’ve done this a million times. The best etiquette moves are those that appear as they are second nature to you.
  • Even if the bag contains a ton of bricks, don’t appear like it’s a hardship for you physically or that you are put out in anyway.
  • Do so with a friendly smile and lock eyes at the same time with a “Hello” in your heart.
  • This move is relationship-neutral, and can be used with charming effect on any lady from your grandmother to your buddy’s wife or to a girl whom you’d like to have spend the night in your very bedchamber, sire!

 

A Working Style, With Individuality

template

Hey! Just because you’ve got a grown-up job doesn’t mean you have to give up glamour, individuality and all of those things that give you the pleasure of projecting your most attractive and authentic self to the world. A week or so ago I walked out on the sidewalk and there was this gal there. She looked great and so out I tumbled with: “Well, don’t you look great!”

I asked for a photo so I could share with the class on how to meld your individuality with even the most straight-laced jobs. She mentioned she worked for a local cable and phone company and her job had to do with checking in with new residential customers to find out how their service was going. So, it’s hardly the most jet-set type, wild and crazy gig.

But I loved how she looked so polished and comfortable and distinctive while doing it. If you’ve checked in here before, you know that I can go on endlessly how when you look good, you feel good and when you feel good, you perform even better. If you’ve never tested the concept, I urge you to deck yourself out in something that you love and go traipsing down the street, or to the office or a party or wherever you’d like. And feel the wonderful difference. Hallelujah!

A few parting tips on selecting your professional wardrobe:

  • Quality. Cheaply made clothes give themselves away with a poor fit. Only buy items that fit you well. If an item needs a nip or tuck, enlist a competent tailor whose work you trust. If it needs more than that, bypass the item entirely.
  • Color. Opt for solids, which are versatile and often a safe bet for traditional workplaces. Also, solids are a great backdrop for going off the grid in terms of unique or distinctive looks. In the photo above, for instance, cool sunglasses, an arm tattoo and print flats look not at all jarring when nestled next to traditional professional clothes worn in the most solid color of them all—black.
  •  Fit. A well-fitting jacket is the professional attire touchstone to end all others. That said, invest in 2-3 quality ones as the backbone of your work wardrobe. The nice thing about a great jacket is that you can wear more comfortable, relaxed pieces beneath it, and no one will notice. In the photo above, for instance, the gal could lose the jacket after work and be completely comfortable going for a walk with a friend or hitting a cafe.

 

A Manner of Speaking: Former Versus Ex

 

former versus ex english usage
 

Former girlfriend. Ex-girlfriend. They both mean the same, but do they? Well, they pack a different punch, emotionally, so use former or ex based on what you wish to communicate about the subject and his or her relationship or standing to the thing in question.

For instance, you would use “former” to indicate a relationship that is in the past but where there is no animosity, loss of position or negative reserves to communicate. And where a relationship, in the sense of still possessing the skills or honor of the position once held, continues. You are a former scientist, or he is a former Marine, for instance, since once a Marine, always a Marine.

“He is a former boyfriend” or “She is my former spouse” is suitable to suggest a person whom you have no hard feelings towards. Or when you want to be Switzerland about the situation, and don’t want to let on how you feel about the person or relationship one way or another.

Ex on the other hand, sounds closely like “axe,” which is precisely the instrument that you may have thought about employing in relation to this person on more than one occasion. If that’s the case, he is indeed an ex-boyfriend, she is most certainly an ex-roommate, and that gnome is an ex-employee.

In other words, axe the ex is a good way to remember this rule, and refer to any ex-person, place or thing that is nicely tucked in the rearview mirror of your life. Or, you could always just say, moodily and mysteriously while gazing into the distance, “He is someone from the past.” Ah.


when to use former instead of ex?
 

 

Your Skin — Preservation is Everything

 

tamara eccleston skin suntan

This is a scared-straight sample of what happens when you leave your wares out in the sun for too long, unprotected. Mottled, thickened and uneven skin tone. This is damage that no amount of self care, salon or plastic surgery office visits can completely undo.

 

youthful skin young

 

Angela Bassett and Bernadette Peters, on the other hand are shining, A+ examples of what happens when you preserve your assets.

Look at the near-pristine condition of their complexions, their unlined neck and soft décolletage. Gorgeous. And they are also both 50+ in years.

Tamara Ecclestone (top photo) has considerably fewer candles on her birthday cake, but is sporting some overly sun-seasoned skin forecasting that her skin is headed for Leathered Damageville unless she shapes up, sunwise, and stat.

I’ve said it before, save your body baring, fresh-faced grooming and dress habits looks for the sunset hours and beyond. Employ massive doses of sunblock, umbrellas and big glamorous hats during the daylight hours. Do this consistently and you will be a happy camper when you look into the mirror for years to come.

Related:  Read meteorologist AJ Colby on the myth of sunless days, and a sassy way to wear a cleavage saving scarf.

A Winning Sex-ish Strategy

You, Man. Me, Woman.

You, Man. Me, Woman. Hallelujah!

I had a funny experience last week. I was a guest on a radio show, which is an experience I always enjoy. Quick, spirited and accomplished in my living room. It was something of a last-minute booking, so I didn’t do much research on the show, and received something of a curve ball when the very charming host opened up the segment, post-intro, by asking me for sex tips. That was, after all, the theme of the show.

“Sure,” said I, who does not actually specialize in sex advice, per se. I then launched into something along the lines of sex-ish tips. The host seemed to like this, and the rest of the segment whirled into a great exchange on ways to up your mate game, including tips on improving your conversations (be learned about various topics, be passionate about something and don’t kvetch no matter what) and some non-cheesy ways to charm your date.

 

Don't give it all away, ladies and lads

Don’t give it all away, lad or lady

The Art of the Tease, Generally

Okay, back to the sex-ish tips. My top tip was about how important it is to understand and practice the art of the tease. If you’ve been dating someone for about two minutes, or have been married for about a gazillion, it is up to you to understand the importance of and the art of keeping desire intact. (I’m assuming here that you want to be in a romantic relationship with the person to begin with.)

Desire, lust and attraction is not some nebulous thing that just “goes away” on some random day. It is a living, breathing organism of sorts that needs tending.

And you, madam, are the gardener. Sure, it takes two, and I’m a firm believer that these things are contagious. That, as keeper of the flame, you will inspire your mate, if he is not as dedicated—or simply does not know how to do this tending—to follow suit.

Two broad strategies to become keeper of the flame include:

Don’t Overshare: Sure, compatibility is a necessity in relationships. After all, you must have something in common with and admire your mate. However, I caution against the “my best friend” mentality when it comes to romance because the best friend designation is a different dynamic than the intimately close, man and woman one. Best friends engage in a complete and utter spilling in a manner that doesn’t seem to jive with romance, at least to me. In other words, a woman should have her secrets.

Keep a Veil, Smartly: Speaking of secrets, if you wish to be treasured, desired and admired, practice a certain type of restraint. This means, essentially, don’t let it all hang out in everyday living. For example, prancing around the house in the buff everyday, no matter how fantastic your figure, will become visually old hat at some point.

That and other activities that one usually engages in private should not be shared with your mate if you want him to continue treating you like his luscious little temptress. Why would I want to see a guy floss his teeth? Flex his biceps, yes. Walk around in a nicely fitted pair of boxer briefs, yes also.

Before I veer too off the subject, I’ll conclude with this nugget of truth to guide your keeping of the flame: Allure requires exclusivity.

 

 

Quote O’ The Day

Constance Dunn
 

Thought of the Day: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin

 

Fun Guy Book Buy: The MANual by Keith Riegert and Sam Kaplan

The MANual book_riegert_kaplan

 

I’ve noticed that there seems to be a rise in the number of new titles out there dealing with masculinity, including how to be a guy type books. The reason for this makes sense to me, since there seems to be something along the lines of a crisis breaching in Guyville.

Since I’m in the tortured process of writing a book for women that brushes up against this subject, I’ll skip the topic here. But if you’re interested in the matter, might I point you in the direction of this easy, breezy TED video by notable psychologist Philip Zimbardo on the overriding causes and byproducts of this.

Okay, back to how to be a guy books. I had the pleasure of reviewing one that is funny, great fun to read and surprisingly information packed.

I say surprising because some dude books I’ve perused (usually pickup books) are downright cliche, with lots of women-bashing and promotion of the idea that proper manhood means staying in a state of smirking juvenility and making it apparent that you still hate your mother and have no idea who your dad is. (See the male crisis issue above.)

Books that make me wonder if the authors are secret man-haters out to sabotage fellow dudes.

Not this book. The MANual ($14.95, Ulysses Press) has wit throughout, is intelligent and laugh-inducing funny at points. And the authors, Keith Riegert and Sam Kaplan, are wonderfully un-cheesy. There is a delightful lack of perverted guy talk…no 1970’s-era pickup lines…no jokes about women drivers. In fact, there is no mention of women anywhere in its pages, which may be a nice thing for many readers.

In short, this book will not neither disappoint nor insult the man in your life whom you buy it for.

The book offers a good-hearted, respectable brand of masculinity and a great mix of information that would behoove any dude to know — from the ins and outs of boats and the origins of beer, to knowing the difference between cuts of beef and even a fascinating chapter on boxing. There are also some well-told tales of male heroism in The MANual, spanning from Hannibal’s Roman campaign to a section on the Medal of Honor, America’s highest.

The topics of the book are far-reaching, and presented so well that I found myself moving through it at quick clip, always entertained. The wit is perfect, too, added in just the right dose and always of the smart, never smarmy, variety.

Did you know? The Irish Stand Down is a type of bare-knuckle fighting that was popular in Irish ghettos, and involved standing still and simply punching one another, since it didn’t allow the fighters to move. Did you know? Theodore Roosevelt is the only American president to have received it. He was awarded it in 2001 for his run on San Juan Ridge during the Spanish-American War.

Though the The MANual may cover some grim topics in spots, I’m thinking the stuff about flesh-eating parasites and the Black Plague, the authors do so with a certain style that does not render the book depressing or even gloomy. Here, the authors recount the actions of Master Sargeant Roy P. Benavidez, a Medal of Honor recipient, during a horrific firefight in Vietnam:

Did he cry? No. Where any normal superhuman being would have given up, Sgt. Benavidez was just getting started. The sarge got up, tucked his organs back into his shirt, ran back to the downed chopper, gathered up whatever souls in the wreckage were still breathing, and positioned them in a defensive perimeter until another helicopter could arrive. He then cranked up the radio, called in some air strikes, and ran around handing out water and ammo to the wounded soldiers (what, no moist towelettes?). Oh, and then he got shot again.

 

Bottom Line:  Authors Keith Riegert and Sam Kaplan give us an entertaining and very smart read in The MANual ($14.95, Ulysses Press). The variety of information is cleverly unexpected and useful, and the writing is concise, easygoing and completely companionable. I would not hesitate to buy this book for any guy in my life, from my teenage nephew all the way to my father, who is a pretty learned guy. Anyone who reads it is bound to learn something new and have some great laughs along the way.

 

Review: Nad’s Body Wax Strips

My verdict? Excellent, excellent and excellent. Okay, where to start. If you find random hair patches on your body as non-sexy as I do, then you know how compelling and satisfying it is to hunt them down and delete them from your sight. I am a hair vanquisher in the first degree, and use everything from laser hair removal, waxes and tweezers to capture and dispose of my prey.

Sometimes, however, a patch crops up unexpectantly, and when you don’t have the time or will to launch a full frontal assault on it. I’m thinking of last Saturday night, when I was running kind of short on time during the put-on-makeup-and-get -out-of-the-door-five-minutes-ago period before an event where, incidentally, I was scheduled to speak and even lead the audience in a rendition of America the Beautiful. Okay, I had not practiced the song at all and was fuzzy on the verses after the part about for spacious skies and amber waves of grain.

What Nad’s Body Wax Strips has to do with any of this is that I happened to catch sight of some hair along my jawline. And there was no way I had time to whip out the old beeswax, heat it up and slather it along my face before ripping it off with a muslin strip. No time. I was also dressed, and wearing a white dress that would not look so great with drops of wax dotted on it.

I did, however, happen to have a fresh box of Nad’s Body Wax Strips in ye olde cupboard, and this seemed like the perfect time to test them. And they passed with flying colors.

Nad's Body Wax Strips

Nad’s Body Wax Strips

 

Each strip is about 5.5 inches long by 2 inches wide, so it can tackle a pretty good-sized area of the body. However, you can also cut them if you’d like to use them on smaller areas. (Indeed!)

  • To use, you can use one of the pre-wax Kava wipes to remove oil from the skin.
  • Then, rub the strip between your palm to warm it up and separate, as there are two strips connected as one.
  • Place the strip firmly over the area to be waxed, smoothing your hand 3-4 times over the area in the direction that your hair grows.
  • Hold skin taut and pull the strip away quickly.

I was initially hesitant about how much hair would be removed since no heat was involved, but was pleased as punch to see that with the first pass, the Nad’s Body Wax Strip removed almost every single hair from the area.

A quick second pass picked up the strays. So fast, so effective and so easy! And no cleanup. Ooh, another plus: These are very ideal for packing in your luggage and using for on-the-road touchups, particularly if you’re in between waxing visits…I’m thinking bikini area and legs.

  • Follow your waxing with the calming oil wipes that are included, if you like. I found the wipe to be quite oily, so it was not ideal for the face, but it did have calming property that reduced redness and sting quite quickly, so I could blaze off to my event without looking like I was sporting a red beard.

Bottom line: This is just a fantastic product to have on-hand for quickie waxing sessions. It retails for about $6 and the box includes 24 strips.

I have also reviewed Nad’s Facial Wand Eyebrow Shaper; another great and portable hair removal product from this company that seems to have really nailed easy hair removal for women and men. Yes, they have men’s products, too.

 

Roadside Review: Yes To Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15

 


yes to carrots daily moisturizer review
 

Have you ever been on the road and realized that your toiletries decided not to come with you? Yeah, that has been happening a lot to me lately. But on the bright side I’ve been able to road-test some good products from random drugstores along the highway.

A bright spot in my curation is Yes To Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15, which I found at a Walmart somewhere in South Carolina. I realized that I could not go another day barefaced in the sun, so I detoured off the highway looking for a kindly CVS or Walgreen’s. After landing in a Walmart parking lot I figured I’d make it an expedition and roamed the massive store until I stumbled across the beauty and personal care section, and in it, a small section devoted to natural products.

The Yes To Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15 costs around $15, comes in a nicely shaped small tubular bottle and has an impressive ingredient list, with carrot extract, aloe vera, pumpkin seed oil, vitamin E and melon extract in a base that includes sea water and shea butter. The sunscreen is suppled by a 5% concentration of zinc oxide, which is a mineral that provides broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection.

Okay, so the texture of Yes To Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15 is that of a thick lotion. It feels clean and light, absorbs quickly and has an herbal scent that is slight. I have been using it as my daily moisturizer for about one week and have not experienced clogged pores or other irritation as a result.

Bottom Line: Thumbs up for quality, value and overall practical glamour. A great roadside beauty product that you can find in many mainstream drugstores.

 

 

It’s Summer Hair Scarf Time!

 

Helena Bergström sporting a sassy summer scarf in the film, Under the Sun

Helena Bergström sporting a sassy summer scarf in the film, Under the Sun

I have been getting summer scarf inspiration from a few corners. The first from the fine Swedish film Under the Sun (Under Solen), a beautiful love tale that features an actor I really like, Rolf Lassgård, and the stunning Helena Bergström. A solid actress, her strong, exotic face is more than capable of handling the long closeups the director has her filmed in, and she can project these small emotional turns and nuances so perfectly I felt like I was watching an actress from another time.

Okay, which eventually brings me to scarves, and how extra-gorgeous Helena Bergström looks wearing them in the film, particularly in those scenes set against the golden Swedish countryside, like Exhibit A.

 

hair scarf

 

To emulate the look above, do the following:

  • Gather your hair in a high bun. To determine the optimum height, check your profile. Some ladies look better with their bun affixed close to the top of their head, as it can accentuate or lend you a sort of regal, Nefertiti look. Experiment raising or lowering yours until you find the spot that optimizes your profile.

 

Check your profile to find your ideal scarf silhouette

Check your profile to find your ideal scarf silhouette

 

  • Place a no-slide headband, such as the Goody StayPut, towards the crown of your hair. This item has a and will help keep your scarf in place nicely.
  • Wrap the scarf around your head and knot firmly at the base of your neck. You can also pile the knot at the top of your head, to get this vintage-ish look. This will usually result a wider band of fabric across the head, which can also be a nice hair rescue if you’re roots are looking slick, let’s say.

 

scarf idea

 

  • Arrange the tail of the scarf over your shoulder or wrap it around the knot, tucking it out of sight. Experiment with how the scarf looks when placed very close to your forehead versus an inch or two back in your hair. Each head is different, and variables such as forehead span, overall face shape and so forth will help determine the best placement.
  • Lastly, keep your bun sleek or pull out select strands to give it that strategically mussed look. Employ some bobby pins to help you secure strands around your head.

Hair Tip: Make a mental note of what works for you when it comes to tying and otherwise arranging a scarf in your hair. It will make it much faster to realize your scarf do’ when you have a clear idea of what look you ultimately want to achieve, and the steps to go about making it happen.

Lastly, I couldn’t let you go without seeing a photo of the lovely Concha Buika, a Spanish singer of beautiful songs who also happens to wear a scarf very well.

 

concha buika

 

And if you’re in the mood, read about how to place flowers in your hair.

A Conversation With Marie Young, Founder of GoodLooknOut

good look in out

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!


simona marie young

Prom Time: Stay Relaxed and Look Beautiful

 

 

prom night tips

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.

 

prom relaxation tips
 

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.

 

prom style tips

Left: Savoy Dress Right: Indigo Mist Dress | Find Both at Urban Outfitters’ online wedding shop, BHLDN.

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

Herman Muenster style shoes give one a Herman Muenster walk

dressy flat shoes

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.

 

formal prom tips

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’s Smart Standard: No Free Frocks

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.”

 

scassi_fashion-business-tips

 

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.

scassi

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.

 

Natural Glamour Alert: Jessa Blades of Blades Natural Beauty

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, Blades Natural Beauty

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.

 

An Ode to Tweed

 

Julie Christie sporting tweed in 1973's "Don't Look Now"

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 will go a long way in sobering up an outfit that's out there for you...

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.

 

 

 

Street Style Tips: Miss Individuality in Manhattan Beach

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.

 

glamour street style tips

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.

 

 

How to Be Festive and Stay Beautiful While in Vegas

 

las vegas travel beauty tips

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.

Water

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?

 

vegas trio

 

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.

 

Cool Male Move #5,301

After you say good bye to a girl or woman, make sure they get on their way safely before taking off.

etiquette tip

-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!

Boots, Jacket, Dress — A Feminine Formula for Cool Weather Style

knee high boots constance dunn

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.

Frye boots martina engineer tall boot

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.”

 

Why Finding an Unidentifiable Hair in Your Food is the Best Diet on Earth

 

fast food diet tips

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.

 

Domestic Glamour Tip #547: Cook to Intimacy

how to make your mate happy

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.

 

Veterans Day 2012

veterans day 2012

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.

Lost Luggage Glamour In the Midst of Hurricane Sandy

hurricane-sandy-fashion-philadelphia-center-city

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.

milani eye pencil - milani Brow Fix brow kit

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.

Arrive with Whiter Teeth: Smile Sciences Teeth Whitening Pen and Other Teeth Tips To-Go

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.

 

smile sciences teeth whitening pen discount code

 

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.

smile sciences teeth whitening pen

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.

Ask a Master: Raquel Welch on Sex Appeal

Raquel Welch quote men

 

I like Raquel Welch for many reasons…her smarts, wit and the way she’s maintained that face and figure. Here’s a jewel of a Raquel Welch quote from some lad mag interview:

“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.”

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.

Research: Ask a conventionally handsome guy how many not-hot women he’s dated. Yeah, zero. Ask a hot chick how many so-so looking guys she’s dated. Yeah, way more than zero.

 

6 Non-Slutty Halloween Costumes

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.

 

goddess-costume-greek

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.

clara_bow_lips

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-costume

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.

 

jackie-kennedy-outfit-pink

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-outfit

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.

traditional-chinese-wedding-dress

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.

 

How To Go Shopping in Your Closet

 

makeover tips_closet

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.

closet_makeover_tips

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!

Steady Now…Vocal Tips For Public Speaking

public_speaking_tips

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.

public speaking tips

Makeup and hair…an ideal place for you to de-edge before public speaking

 

A Few New Tricks With Helen Gurley Brown

 

helen gurley brown-the cosmo girls guide to the new etiquette

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.

 

TV Liberation

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:

Less TV, More Life!

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!

 

Mobilexpressions Glamour Giveaway: Your Top Etiquette Tip

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.

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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.

 

Random Acts of Glamour

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5 Nice Things to Do Now for the Man in Your Life

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:

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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.

style tip color

 

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.

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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.