A Globe-Trotting Gal on MacGyver Glamour: Q&A with Kimberly Fisher

Kimberly Fisher is an entrepreneur and writer whose ventures, like Jetsetera, tend to have two things in common: travel and glamour. Since, more and more, these concepts seem hard to reconcile (I’m thinking of air travel, for instance, which often feels like the glamour level of journeying on a packed city bus in the middle of July) I asked Ms. Fisher for some tips on looking and feeling calm and attractive while traveling.

You’re a woman who wears many hats and often travels to stylish and luxurious places. There are many rewards that come with looking good, or reasonably put together while traveling. What is the top reason that you like to look lovely while on the road?

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The glamorous Kimberly Fisher on traveling beautifully

I think if you look good, you also feel good. If you feel good, others around you tend to feel good also. I try to keep things classic and simplistic. You will usually find me in neutral colors, classic bags and with articles that travel well.

Can you give us your most MacGyver Moment in terms of having to pull together some seriously practical glamour while traveling?

I tend to stick to the basics of my beauty routine and once in awhile I tend to forget to pack…a lot of things. While we were in the Philippines we had to attend a black-tie function and actually sent the hotel concierge out to buy us dresses. Needless to say, we looked like the hired wait staff.

You have great skin, which can be hard to maintain while traveling, particularly to a sunny or tropical locale. Do you have a non-sunscreen tip on how to save your skin and still enjoy the outdoors?

I love the sun and getting doses of Vitamin D. I tend to get a facial once a month to do away with the stress of traveling and different environments.

What is the one item (clothing or accessory) that you currently find indispensable to your personal glamour quotient–but is also totally practical?

A Bvlgari pink scarf. It does a lot of double duty as a scarf, shawl, pillow, blanket, etc. and adds just the right amount of color.

There are women and men who wouldn’t dream of traveling, or even going out to dinner, by themselves. I have the feeling that this is not a problem for you. What tip do you have that might increase the ease and public comfort of a person who is unaccustomed to traveling or going out alone in public?

I spend all of my time in the presence of others- at work, events, trade shows,etc. I absolutely welcome alone time. Sometimes I do end up traveling alone and love exploring new places by myself. The easiest thing to do to increase your own comfort level if you are unaccustomed to traveling alone is have dinner at the bar. The bartender is usually friendly and nearby, plus it opens you up to meeting other people.

Connect with Kimberly on Twitter: @kimberlyfisher1

 

Errant Hair Alert & Nad’s Facial Wand Hair Removal Review

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I get a little bit of anxiety when I go away for vacation due to a little grooming issue having to do with hair. I’m an avid multi-method body hair slayer. I do laser, I pluck and wax. Despite my multi-pronged approach to dealing with hair removal, there is still the issue of those stray hairs that come back in full form overnight.

I loathe stray hairs for the usual reasons. I also loathe stray hairs for their notorious element of surprise. One day you look in the mirror and there’s not a follicle in sight. The next hour it could be a completely different scene, with one–or two or a whole army–fully developed black hairs resting against the pale of your upper lip or browbone. Or chin. Or jawline. Nice.

There is a question that is sometimes asked in beauty newsstand magazines, something about being stranded on a desert island and what beauty item you would not be able to live without. My answer is always tweezers. Two little pieces of metal fashioned into a point at one end. Beyond the combustable engine or the microprocessor or air, if a more genius piece of machinery has been created I’d like to know about it.

Playing Whac-A-Mole, hairwise, with tweezers can be annoying though, and painful in a way that guarantees a wave of mild annoyance. Plus, re-growth tends to be quick.

Shaving is also out of the question, though it’s quick. I’m not interested in having a five o’clock shadow to deal with each day.

I have in the past succumbed to a few of the late-night scams: a straight-edge blade tucked into a plastic pink handle. (It’s called a razor.) A little mechanism that ran on batteries, which featured a rotating head that would grab hairs and pull them out. (Essentially a pair of motorized tweezers that were even more annoying than the regular kind.) And, since cream depilatories basically dissolve hair at the skin level, not the root, you are basically coating chemicals on your face, waiting for a few minutes and rinsing for a day or two of hair removal.

If you have not self-waxed before, might I recommend it for a few reasons. I cover it step by step in Practical Glamour, but the idea is that it’s in your interest to be able to whip out a relatively lasting method of removing hair at home. It’s a nice option to have if you’re not up for going to a salon for waxing. A particularly nice option if the bikini area is involved and you are not feeling up for the equivalent of a gynecologist visit.

This do-it-yourself hair slaying is pretty empowering, as well. The more you do it, the easier it becomes and the better the results. I’ve been doing it so long that the only reason I’ll go in for a salon wax is if I’m doing the entire leg and I am short on time. Then it’s no sacrifice to waltz in with Wildebeest limbs, chat about something inane with the practitioner while sucking down an iced coffee—then walk about 20 minutes later with gleaming smooth legs.

 

Nad's Facial Wand Eyebrow Shaper

As for vanquishing stray hairs, or small patches of them, and doing so in a highly portable way, I highly recommend a little item from Nad’s which is the best way that I’ve ever come across to quickly and cleanly remove hair from the face: the Nad’s Facial Wand Eyebrow Shaper. It costs approximately $8-10. The wand is about 4.5 inches long, so a bit smaller than a Sharpie marker. It comes with a few packaged wipes to clean the skin prior to waxing, and some small strips.

Pros

  • Tiny and portable
  • Zero mess
  • No heating
  • Fast
  • Totally works

The beauty of the Nad’s Facial Wand Eyebrow Shaper is that it does not require heating up anything. The shaper is incredibly easy to manage. You essentially dial up a small amount of the product, apply slowly in the direction of hair growth, then cover the area with one of the strips. Apply some pressure to the area then rip off the strip.

   lips_Nad's Facial Wand Eyebrow Shaper

In each area the hair came off in one swoop. See the oh-so sexy before and after photos. Less painful than tweezing or even traditional heat waxing. There were no remaining clumps of product on my face and the pen application was incredibly neat, with no stray drops falling anywhere. When finished, I re-capped and dropped it in a drawer. The look of the skin afterwards was kosher, with only a bit of redness and no feel of sting whatsoever.

The Nad’s Facial Wand Eyebrow Shaper package says the item can be used for up to 24 treatments and is for the eyebrows. I used it elsewhere and it worked just as well. Also, you are not bound to use the strips that come with the product, as I experimented with muslin and fabric strips which worked just as well. In the end, this is a stellar product that will be accompanying me everywhere I go away for more than a couple days, and I am more than stoked to try other Nad’s products based on the sheer Practical Glamour of this item.

 

IMATS: My Top 5 Tips from the Trade

Every year the IMATS (International Makeup Artist Trade Show) swings through town. Not just mine, a lot of them, as seen here. I go religiously to check out what is new and exciting and to check in with the fine people at some of my favorite lines, like Youngblood, Napoleon Perdis, MUD and Jane Iredale.

But the biggest draw is always the lineup of makeup artists who do seminars and talks on specialized topics. Men and women from all over the world who have been doing makeup professionally forever, and know of every tip, trick and process when it comes to using makeup to enhance that beautiful and unique face of yours.

And, since my focus is how to use any and all of your assets — skin, hair, figure, manner and movement — to present the most authentic, attractive and optimistic version of yourself to the world — and reap all the benefits that come with this proposition — I am always on the lookout for super-strategic tips to help make this happen.

Here are 5 new tricks picked up at the IMATS that I’d like to share:

Mascara First. Napoleon Perdis was the first one to school me on this, and makeup artist Rae Morris seconded it, and for the following reasons: it defines your eyes, giving you an easier visual blueprint of strategy for applying the rest of your eye makeup. It is an application process that’s best done meticulously, not in a scramble at the end of your makeup regime when you’re thinking about how you have exactly two minutes to get out the door. And, putting on mascara first will make it easier to clean up any stray flakes from your cheeks — easier to do on bare skin versus having to corral them from a freshly made-up face, foundation and powder and all.

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Visualize an invisible, parallel between your eyebrows and nostrils–to create the look of a wider nostril span, use your tools to create more open space between your eyebrows, as seen on Ms. Talisa Soto, easily one of the most beautiful women in the history of mankind…

 

 

 

Your Eyebrows, Your Nose. If you desire, visually “cut” the span of your nostrils by using your brow pencil and/or powder to move the your eyebrows closer. In other words, if you feel that you would like the width of your nostrils to appear more slender, move your eyebrows closer together. No unibrows, though! And vice versa. If you would like to give your nostrils a more expansive look, tweeze to create a greater distance between them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Match your foundation to your shoulder, not your neck. As sort of seen here in this pose…the skyline of that awesome city Dallas seen behind me

 

 

 

Foundation Match Point. Rae Morris recommends matching the color of your foundation to your shoulders — not your neck. One’s neck is usually much paler than the rest of the body, making it a bad proxy for determining one’s perfect foundation shade. This is easy to check in the mirror: Turn to face your side, and dip your chin to meet your bare shoulder. Your face, with foundation, should match the skin tone of your shoulder.

 

 

 

 

 

Give Yourself Some Glow. Mix yourself up some fine face glow by mixing Vaseline (or a favorite balm) with pigment to create a custom cheek, eyelid or lip color, says Ms. Sarah Lucero from Stila, which is a true makeup artist’s brand. Don’t limit yourself to pigment designated for ‘cheeks’ or ‘lips’ either. A lot of boundaries have been coming down in makeup in recent years, as women find that some products work fantastically beyond that which they were initially created and marketed.

 

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Wrong, wrong, says makeup artist Rae Morris. The back of your hand is no place to check out a new lipcolor.

 

 

 

 

A Fingertip Trick. Why do we test lipstick by swiping it on the backs of our hands? Does that area in any way resemble our lips? If your lips are as the same shade as the back of your hand, then you need to increase your iron intake and see a specialist, and stat, young lady. Much better, says Rae Morris, to test a prospective lipstick color is the tip of your finger, which approximates the color and texture of your lips.

 

 

 

So that’s it, folks. In the future I’ll be posting some errant tips and tricks that I pick up from….everywhere. In the meantime, stay authentic and attractive. In other words, Stay Glamorous!

 

Easy Male Style Tips: Q&A with Hayden the Entrepreneur

A few years ago, Hayden was doing what millions of other twenty-something Millennials are doing: Scraping by on a series of minimum wage jobs and wanting more.

With no shop or office space, he learned how to fix iPhones and started making house calls, ending up at construction sites and doctors’ offices where he’d fix customers’ phones on the fly while they kept working.

With an innate entrepreneurial fire stoked, Hayden continued to grow his business (myibroke.com), which led him to start another business centered on websites and online marketing.

The confidence of achievement, particularly one that’s on your own terms, has a certain affect on a man or woman. A good one.

Dawes, who previously felt the nerves while in plush, traditional office quarters, has altered little of his personal style in the face of his growing success. It’s a brand of uncontrived hipness telegraphed with a steady gaze, polished, mostly denim ensembles, and unhurried speaking style tinged with pure Virginian, despite his time in South Florida.

So I grilled him for some tips on how to keep one’s personal presentation its most authentic and attractive no matter what rung you might be on your personal success ladder.

In his earliest days: “It was nerve wracking. I had never worked in any kind of setting as a professional. I did not have nice dress clothes. I was showing up at big, baller executive suites. They would be standing over my shoulder watching me do something I had done for, maybe, the third time in my life.”

“I don’t feel uncomfortable around ‘professionals’ anymore. I don’t look like your typical business executive. I have a beard and a laidback wardrobe. In the past I felt uncomfortable but now I’m okay with this because it’s working for me.”

His ‘work uniform’: “A collared shirt and denims. A collared shirt projects professionalism.”

Dressing up: “I’ll add a seersucker suit jacket over a collared shirt if I feel like peacocking. I love seersucker.”

Favorite jeans: “Levi red tag, button-fly 501s. Original cut.”

Beard maintenance: “People think beards are this low-maintenance look. Actually, you have to take care of your beard. They are high-maintenance. I use Pantene Pro-V Brunette Expressions to shampoo it, and Herbal Essence conditioner.”

On cultivating individual style: “When people try to look hip they often end up looking weird. Don’t go out and buy jeans that look worn. Buy a pair of jeans and wear them.”

Shopping tips: “Flea markets, consignment and thrift shops. I like clothes that have a classic or older-era look to them, so these are good places for me. Even if you have the cash for it, a man doesn’t need to spend a ton of cash to have great clothes. I recently scored an Oscar de la Renta sport jacket at a thrift shop that fits me perfectly.”

Motivation tip: “Take $300 dollars out of your account, put it in your wallet–and leave it there. It will motivate you and you will carry yourself differently.”

The best part of success so far….“Not living for other people. Not living in fear.”

 

 

Looking Cool In Hot Weather, Being Yourself And Albedo! Q&A with Meteorologist AJ Colby

Who is AJ Colby? Why, he’s the on-air meteorologist for FOX 8 in Cleveland, Ohio, and someone who knows something about the weather and personal presentation. I recently got to ask Mr. Colby some questions about the sun, looking nice in the heat and staying cool when the cameras are a-rolling.

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Meteorologist AJ Colby

The sun can be really detrimental to one’s skin, so I always advise men and women to be sunscreen addicts, and apply the stuff daily. Is there any truth to the rumor that you don’t need to wear sunscreen on overcast days or during the winter? 

There is no such thing as a “sunless day”. UVA and UVB rays still penetrate clouds and can damage the skin. On cloudy days, although you may not burn as quickly per se, applying the sunscreen anyway would be a good idea if your aim is to prevent skin aging! The sun, not time, is our skin’s greatest adversary. While time causes chronological aging, the sun causes “photo-aging”.

In the winter, especially over a snow-packed surface, the high reflection properties of the snow (also know as “albedo”) can absolutely lead to a sunburn. Just ask any avid winter-weather enthusiast what happens if they “play outside” on a sunny day over a fresh snowpack. Sunscreen is essential anytime you’re outside during the day, especially between 10 am and 3 pm. This is when the sun’s energy is at its strongest here on earth.

What is a good weather style tip for men when it comes to looking collected and put-together in hot or humid weather? 

There’s nothing more annoying than sweating like a pig on a hot, humid, sunny summer day, especially prevalent during the “Dog Days” of summer! That’s the period from July through early August where heat and humidity are at their peak across the United States. Honestly, I use a highly effective product called “Certain Dry” antiperspirant. I would start there, especially if you’re a sweat-aholic like me!

In terms of fashion, if you don’t want those “pit stains” which can be rather unattractive, wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing! Cotton is usually the best, but ironing is no fun for many, so a cotton-poly blend of some kind would be a good runner-up. I like wearing shorts, but I have several friends who do not, so a good pair of Dockers always wears well in sizzling summer heat.

If you stick to light colors, it helps to REFLECT solar energy instead of dark colors, especially black, which actually ABSORB the energy…causing you to cook. That’s no fun.

You’re in front of television cameras daily, and your fans point to your down-to-earth delivery as something they really like about you. What is a good tip for staying relaxed and natural in front of the camera or when talking in front of an audience?  

There’s little question that live TV can cause you to “tense up” a little. Frankly, I have a tougher time with live and in-person audiences because at least I can PRETEND that no one is watching and that takes some of the pressure off.

When I do public appearances, I usually like to bring a big bottle of cold water. That helps to hydrate the vocal chords, not to mention hydrating the body. I sweat so much when I get nervous, so I try to meditate and pray before the event if I have time. I noticed that helps.

Trying to keep my energy level fairly constant and trying to relax while speaking is a wonderful tip. Knowing your material certainly helps. I always try to ask the organizer about the “lay of the land” if I can, so that I can get a better idea of what to expect in the room. Also, I try to know my audience (with whom I’ll be speaking). Anything I can do to alleviate some of the pressure. In my experience, the very BEST thing to do when talking in front of an audience is try to BE MYSELF! There’s nothing more liberating than that. I strive for that everyday.

More of Mr. Colby can be found at AJ Colby.com

 

Memorial Day 2012

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In Memory and with Gratitude, Today and Always

Wardrobe Management: Keeping Your Clothes on Steady Rotation

 

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I’m as guilty as the next gal, or guy, when it comes to wearing the heck out of a lovable new item or ensemble. So much so that, a month or so later, the item has been used and abused…and looks it. And if you’ve ever heard me preach my fire and brimstone lecture on how you’re too good to be prancing around in used and abused clothes–well, just know that there is no excuse for wearing stained, ribbed, pilled or misshapen clothes unless you are trying out for a local production of Les Misérables.

Here are some ways to put the brakes on the wear of your wardrobe, shoes included:

  • Think of your closet as a revolving workspace. Items check-in and check-out. Few, if any, will stay forever.
  • Regularly comb through your closet with the eye of a bitchy personal stylist and purge, purge, purge those items that are no longer up to snuff. Cart them out of your house immediately. (Putting them in a bag “for later” doesn’t count.)
  • Buy fewer clothes, and buy better clothes. Better does not always mean more expensive. Better means higher quality. Why? Quality=lasts longer.
  • There is something that saps the life from a bag, pair or shoes or clothing item when it’s worn heavily. Jeans excluded. Resist the urge to wash and re-wear–the repeat–that fantastic new tunic that wears as comfortably as a sweatshirt and looks and feels as chic as the French Riviera. Let the item rest in-between wearings, and lean on the rest of your wardrobe in the meantime.
  • Know how much cleaning is just the right amount. There are some items that will need cleaning more than others. A lady whose ship I passed in the night told me that she loved black dresses and cocktail parties equally. She did both a lot and, since going to a innocent cocktail party for a couple of hours is hardly the equivalent of mud wrestling, she would mini-dry clean her dress in between light wearings by letting it hang aloft in her hotel room near an open window or balcony, and place it in the bathroom when she was taking a shower for a little steam cleaning.
  • See your closet with new eyes. There are many self-evident reasons for cleaning out your closet. A few of them are psychological. One is that you will re-discover items that you like and look good on you. Another is that, with these new eyes, you will contemplate new concoctions, new ways to put together clothes and accessories so that they look like something else entirely. Something groovy.
Stay Glamorous!

 

 

Fashion Flashback: The Sleep Toga of the Early 1960’s

 

sylvia pedlar sleep togaIn the early 1960’s American designer Sylvia Pedlar of Iris Lingerie designed a little something to be worn by women who sleep in the altogether, aka, sans clothing. The little something was called a sleep toga, and it became all the rage, winning Ms. Pedlar a Coty Award. Rumor had it that even First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wore one.

The item, described as “A toga to shed when you go to bed,” by Life Magazine, debuted at a fashion industry luncheon in 1961, retailed for $28 and sold briskly. The design was simple–two narrow, floor-length strips of solid fabric that tied at the sides, making it easy to slip on and off when slinking into bed.

Ms. Pedlar’s inspiration was contrarian; a move against the frilly night-things that were everywhere at the time. “Everybody has gooked up lingerie too much,” said the designer. “There just had to be a reaction.” [Quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, Oct, 29, 1962].

Fast forward to you, circa the early 21st century: If you are not already in the habit of wearing pleasing things to bed, might I suggest you give some nice loungewear a chance. And if you prefer nothing at all while sleeping, indulge yourself with a nice robe or even a sleep toga, if you can find one. Single or no, your evenings and mornings should find you feeling luxurious and pretty.

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Drive-By Drugstore Buy: Vaseline Total Moisture Body Lotion

If you have read Practical Glamour or you read this tip log with any regularity, you know that I’m a booster for DIY, at-home and mostly natural grooming concoctions. However, there are some solid grooming and beauty products to be had at your local drugstore. Here is one: Vaseline Total Moisture Body Lotion (approximately $4 for a 10-ounce bottle).

First, a disclosure: I evaluated this product for the company and was paid to do so. However, I have not been paid or asked to promote the product. I tested it and happened to find it surprisingly good. A good pick for when you might be on the road or on vacation, away from your favorite hand or body moisturizer, and scouting for one in the aisles of a local supermarket or drugstore.

Vaseline Total Moisture ReviewWhen I first tried the product, which was shipped to me in an unmarked bottle, its identity unknown, I thought that it was a health-food store brand because the scent had an essential-oil aroma about it. Light and pure. Also, the lotion absorbs quickly into the skin, which is another hallmark of a quality, natural-sourced, moisturizer. (Chemical-based lubricants tend to sit on the surface of the skin and feel greasy.)

Also, the consistency is nice; it’s a lotion but feels rich, almost like a cream without the attendant heaviness. Vaseline Total Moisture Body Lotion is a blend of glycerin along with HEU (Hydroxyethyl Urea) and oat extract.

Bottom line: This is an effective, drugstore body moisturizer that can be kept in the house as a go-to hand or body cream for anyone in the house. The aroma is light and gender-neutral so the lady and men-folk will find it pleasant. It’s an easy to find product and price-wise, a fair value.

Vaseline Total Moisture Body Lotion.

Finding Balance in Your Style: Q&A with Artist Christy Roberts

 

christy roberts artist california

This is Christy Roberts, an artist I recently met at a good friend’s MFA thesis show in Claremont, California. I was in a crowded gallery when I spotted her glancing over her shoulder, and I instantly thought of a movie still from the 1940’s or 1950’s. The angle of her face, and combination of rosy skin, Kewpie-ish red lips, and almond eyes has a sharpness and elegance that was commonly seen in film actresses of that time. And it didn’t hurt that such a look translated so seamlessly to the black and white film of the day.

We were introduced, so I had to launch into a discussion of glamour, the satisfaction of personal style and her cool red clutch, which happened to match her lipstick. Here are some takeaways:

  • Careful, bold touches of makeup on the face is visually softened by a bun with loose strands. Think about ways you can try out this yin-yang approach in your style, contrasting a neatly coiffed head of hair with a light, almost invisible, touch of makeup on the face. Or a bit of strategic tousle in the hair and wardrobe to relax an artfully made up face.
  • Good style is essentially the sum of a bunch of little details and notes, all balanced and blended. See above, the streak of mermaid green in her hair that gives a mod, au courant shot to other classic female details (red lipstick, neck-tie blouse, clutch, etc).
  • Translate everyday inspirations to your figure and personal style. Christy mentioned she had recently seen a German movie where the female lead wore a tie-neck blouse, and she liked the look. She said, however, that she would normally never wear a tie-neck blouse because it adds too much bulk at the neckline and by, extension, the upper body, for her liking. But this particular one works because the fabric is super thin, and the gauzy and sheer-ishnesh of the blouse creates a light look.
  • The clutch used to belong to her mother, and its nice color match with her lipstick was very much by design. (The style is in the details, remember.) The clutch is vintage, made by some fantastic 1970’s designer like Halston, though I had a glass or three of wine, so I can’t be certain. I do recall that the total cost of her ensemble, there was a leather jacket involved, was about $100, which makes it even more practical glamour.
  • I think being a trained artist gives one distinct style advantages, like an understanding of color and a tune-in to visual details. These are essentials when thinking about and constructing one’s presentation (which is clothes, yes—but also cosmetics, grooming, accessories and, of course, movement, manner and communication).

End note: Christy Roberts’ artwork can be found on Tumblr here. And there is ice involved.

Get the 80/20 Rule Out of Your Closet


The topic: Getting the 80/20 Rule out of Your Closet. Most of us wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. I share tips with WPLX’s Roxanne Stein on how to shop smarter, more strategically, for your wardrobe. The result: A leaner closet containing only those items that make you look and feel lovely–and no more money or time wasted lugging home bags of stuff you’ll never wear.

Q&A with Model Tara Brooke: Beautiful Ambition & Turning Around a Rotten Day

Ms. Tara Brooke recently penned Beautiful Ambitiona feel-good book of life shortcuts on topics like men, money and health culled from her life and work experiences, with input on using visualization and managing your moods and mindset.

Since self-knowledge, positivity and smart life management are the foundations, really, of person’s glamour, I thought I’d get Ms. Brooke’s input on a few things.

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Your book, Beautiful Ambition, has a section dealing with decisions. What is one of your favorite “power tricks” to making a good one?

It sounds cliché but I have learned that usually my first instinct on something is correct. I always ask myself why do I want this and try to figure out if I am making a decision based on what’s best for me or am I making it on something I want.

There is a huge difference and learning what makes it different is critical. Once you begin to understand yourself more clearly you can trust your inner gut feelings and they normally are right on!

When sad, angry or depressed it’s not easy for a woman or man to exude their personal glamour–that unique “radiance of being” found in each person. As someone who specializes in positive advice for women, what is one of your favorite, on-the-spot strategies for turning around a rotten mood?

The first thing I always do when I am having a bad day or something is upsetting me is I try to change my feelings. First you have to allow yourself to be upset but keep it short, the best way to do that is to be thankful and start counting your blessings. We all will have challenging days, period, but we also have many things to be thankful for. I have found that when I decide to have a heart of gratitude then my feelings change very quickly!

Tara Brooke’s site is http://tarabrooke.com/

Recording a Pleasing Voicemail Greeting in a Short Amount of Time

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You might be in the market for a new voicemail greeting, but are not into the many, many minutes that it might take to get yours just-so. Before jumping into the rabbit hole of your phone’s voicemail system, getting mired in take after take, hitting delete and record, then delete and record, here are some tips to shorten the process and get to a really pleasing message in the shortest time possible:

  • Write out the message, saying it out loud as you do
  • Keep it simple, cordial and un-cutesy
  •  If you’re stuck, here is a sample script: Hello, this is Nancy Jones. Please leave a message and I’ll return your call as soon as possible. Thank you.
  • Think nice thoughts and smile while you record — pretend you are speaking with a friend
  • Exhale while you say your name
  • Enunciate, speaking each word clearly

Cool Male Move: When Walking, Know Your Place

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When walking on the street, the man always walks on the side closest to the street and its traffic. I believe the origins of this have something to do with shielding a lady’s skirts from mud kicked up by passing carriages, and that it makes the linking of arms easier. There are no more carriages around, but the protocol remains, and it’s a male-female nicety that works no matter your relationship.

Many males know about this arrangement, either by instruction or instinct, and will automatically take this position when walking with a woman–or make the switch to reverse places.

I’ve become so used to walking this way, on the inside, that if I happen to be waltzing down the street with a guy it will automatically not feel right if I’m on the outside. To correct positions I’ll usually do a little two-step to switch positions and not say a word.

Oscar Breakdown: The Ingenue & The Self-Assured Woman

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Actor Shailene Woodley: Picture of a Dignified Ingenue

Shailene Woodley, The Beautiful Ingenue. I almost fell off my chair when I spotted this 20-year-old while watching this year’s Oscars. (It was homework.) The gown is Valentino Couture, and reminds me of something a young Audrey Hepburn would wear. The rich cream, exceptional detail and quality of this dress was notable. Hair and makeup was kept soft and feminine, with the whole thing adding up to a picture of a elegant young woman, something that is rarely seen amongst the Hollywood crowd.

 

glenn-close-2012-oscars

An assured, sexy woman many leagues away from matronly

On the other hand we have Glenn Close, who is the epitome of evolved sexiness. How she does it: This is a Zac Posen gown cut in a strategic, mermaid silhouette that is glamorous and alluring. The tuxedo jacket helps up the distinction and power of this look–and she is a woman who projects both. Both pieces are very structured and in a sophisticated color that incidentally works beautifully against the wearer’s silver hair. No glitter or sequins, which would not be consistent with her vibe or vintage.

Though the gown was a nice backdrop, what made Ms. Close stand out from the legions of other pretty young things on the red carpet was her confidence, poise and assured sexiness. Side note: I love that this is what 50-something is looking like these days.

Practical Advice: Stefano Pilati on Elegance

Breakfast at Tiffany picture

Stefano Pilati is the head of Yves Saint Laurent with some wise words on elegance and how it can be cultivated:

My idea of elegance—and this refers to women as well as men—is that someone is elegant when he or she shows a good knowledge of what fits them, where you can find naturalness and self-esteem. Not showing off. Elegance is the idea of showing an optimistic depiction of oneself, and to lose oneself in the frivolity of style and fashion. 

Read his entire interview with Vibe Magazine at http://www.vice.com/read/the-end-of-elegance-0000150-v19n2

On another note, the above image is a still from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Ms. Audrey Hepburn is known for her style, which always seemed so simple. And it was. The ballet dancer knew how to dress her body, with uncomplicated silhouettes. Here she is wearing a simple boatneck top, denim pants and a turban.

Whether wearing this, or something more dressed, her style always came from her manner, which was graceful and demure. An elegant, uncluttered voice. A girlish, slightly mysterious smile. And the way she walked–proud and strong, and a bit like a cat. There is a reason that Breakfast at Tiffany’s is filled with long- and medium-shots of her walking in the streets.

I came across a quote from Britney Spears, something about how she felt that she was Audrey Hepburn in a past life. Blasphemy, I thought.

Greg’s Best Valentine’s Day Ever

boring valentine's day gifts

 

I know a man named Greg. He is a man who has been on Earth for a fair number of years; I’ll guess around 50. He is a nice, decent guy who has known his share of women. The best Valentine’s Day he ever had happened when he was a teenager.

Here’s how it goes.

He asked a girl that he really liked out on a date for Valentine’s Day. He saved his money to take her to the grooviest place in San Diego. He got a new suit.

A few hours before their date he was getting swank in said new suit. A bouquet of flowers that he had picked for her were in the refrigerator. Then he got a call.

It was his boss, demanding that he deliver some furniture. At that point in his life Greg was in no position to say no. He got in his work clothes and drove to his date’s house in the company’s work truck with the flowers. His date answered the door. Her name was Debbie and she was dressed to go out. He apologetically told her about his fix. She told him to wait in the truck.

A few minutes later she climbed into the truck’s passenger seat. She was wearing a pair of jeans, a T-shirt and sneakers. “Let’s go,” she said with a smile.

They drove up to Los Angeles and delivered the furniture. During the drive they talked, listened to Led Zeppelin and laughed a bunch.

When they got back to San Diego around two in the morning, they got some fast food and drove out to the beach. They sat on the tailgate, ate their delectable paper-bag feast and talked and laughed some more.

It was, hands down, Greg’s best Valentine’s Day ever. Why? It was an experience. It was a great, romantic experience filled with connection and happiness and laughter. And experienced by two people who enjoyed one another. Oh, and she did think the flowers were nice.

Now, I like a puffy teddy bear as much as the next guy, but would trade a herd of them for five minutes of a Debbie-and-Greg kind of date, the likes of which I truly hope you experience this Valentine’s Day.

The Fine Habit of Holding Doors

I’m a huge fan of door-holding for a few reasons. It’s a potent and quick way to lift the civility of a place. It’s a fine way to communicate who you are (a lady or gentleman), and it bestows a nice and immediate positive feeling to both holder and recipient. There’s really no reason to not hold doors, and often.

holdingdoor2

*If someone in front of you stops to hold open the door for you before entering an establishment, do pause once inside to give them the opportunity to step ahead and get in line. In other words, do not take this opportunity to get in line in front of the person who was in front of you, but stepped aside to open the door.

*Be democratic in your door holding. I hold open the doors for young and old, women or men. Probably pets, too.

*Holding doors, on top of their above-mentioned rewards, is an investment in your community. It  is one of those public customs that is excellent to establish because it quickly gives others a sense of the place. I may be passing through, but if I happen to be in an area where I observe a lot of door holding, I know it’s a place that I’d probably like to visit again. Like attracts like. Conversely, mean or crass people are less likely to feel comfortable and stick around a community of nice, civil folks.

So go forth and hold doors, civility crusader. And don’t be discouraged if some recipients are oblivious to your nice gesture. Unfortunately, in some corners door-holding is so foreign that people just don’t know what to do.

Q&A with Jon Gordon: Gratitude is Glamorous

Jon Gordon is an author, consultant and speaker who does some very good work, helping individuals and organizations become more positive and productive. I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions on how one can extinguish the unbecoming and not glamorous habit of complaining. (I am not immune.)

Here I ask some questions, and he offers some succinct, to the point solutions:

One of your many books, The No Complaining Rule, deals with ways that readers can “battle against individual and organizational negativity.” I’ve noticed that incessant complaining, the type that comes off like a lifestyle rather than a sometimes airing of grievances, doesn’t seem to serve the complainer on any psychological level, nor does it present that person in their most attractive light to others.

There is something magnetic, ebullient even, about a positive person, so leading a complaining “lifestyle” can really hurt a guy or girl when it comes to the quality of his or her social, professional and romantic life. What is one of your favorite, most useful strategies when it comes to helping a man or woman wean themselves from a complaining habit or “lifestyle”?

JG: My favorite strategy is the “get to” instead of “have to” technique. Instead of focusing on what you have to do focus on what you get to do. When you change have to to get to you change a complaining voice into an appreciative heart.

Much of your work seems to focus on how people and organizations can be more productive and fulfilled as a result of positive energy. To what extent do you think positive energy can be instilled in an individual? Do you think some people are “born with it” while, for others, it must be consciously cultivated?

JG: Yes some people are born naturally more positive. Research shows this. But the research also shows that we can become more positive by cultivating it.

Okay, personal trivia time. Is there anything in particular that gives Jon Gordon a lift in those moments when your cup of positive energy does not feel as full as usual?

JG: Yes. A Thank You walk. While I’m walking I practice gratitude and pray. Instead of worrying I let go and let God energize me.

 

Jon Gordon’s website is jongordon.com.

When Warm Places Get Cool: Look & Feel Good When Temperatures Drop

When weather gets cold in places where it usually does not, such as tropical islands, the desert in daytime and so forth, what usually follows is a style scramble. A mishmash of grabbing whatever one might have in the house in order to be reasonably warm.

The result on the street is some pragmatic ensembles that are not quite flattering. In Southern California, when unexpected cold recently hit, I observed a certain style plague come over the womenfolk. I’m sure the men were not so innocent, but since female style is so flip-flop-and-tank-focused they just seemed to stand out more in their Wow, it’s freezing I’ll just grab anything approach.

And a garment seen often in this mishmash? The sweatshirt. The puffy, pull it over your head, might or might not have the name of a sports team or trucking company printed on its front or back. Usually black, but could very well be the color of a pumpkin, or a Crayon of forest green or purple.The kind of sweatshirt to amplify the upper body. (Along the lines of the Hulk, mind you, not Jayne Mansfield.) And if you’re looking Hulkish, you might be tempted to move, act and even speak like him. The Hulk, that is, not the kindly, soft-spoken scientist Bruce Banner.

Things to avoid in cold weather and life in general

 

 

What I’m trying to say, ladies, is this: The puffy sweatshirt is not your friend. And, since there is a host of cold weather wear that can be had at a fair price at a local mall that will make you look and feel nice, there is really no excuse to dress like a hobo when a cold front moves into town.

 

 

I’m not suggesting you get done up, catwalk style, each time you walk out the door for a quart of milk. What I am recommending is that you find your personal shortcuts to looking good, which, once habit, are as easy as looking not-so good. And the rewards of looking good, which is to say feeling good, are many.

cold weather dressing

 

 

 

 

A warm-climate version of cool-weather dressing, as spotted on this cute as a button walker of pugs told me she wants to feel good while working, and wearing UGGs and droopy sweatpants makes her feel slobby and unenergized. Her runaround ensemble consists of a knit hat, big sunglasses, a basic v-neck T-shirt, leggings and suede fuchsia flats. Effortless to pull together and sassy.

 

 

 

 

 

So, what can you do when seeking the rewards that come with being comfortable, warm and stylish? Here are a few ideas:

dressing_warm_looking_stylish_sexyShelter key spots. Don a hat, scarf, cute gloves, tights and boots to cover heavy heat-loss areas and maintain your overall body temperature. Buy these in your most flattering colors and go a bit brighter than usual. Keep the rest of your body lightly covered.

Strategic layering…is not just for hair anymore. Use layers of body conscious wraps, jackets and cloaks made from durable, condensed fabrics to warm your body. Bonus: These can be worn a la carte during warmer months, to drape over a bikini when the wind picks up, or on a sunset hike.

I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: Buy fewer items; buy better items. This means investing in quality fabrics and items of solid craftsmanship and a refined silhouette. The best way to know the difference is by comparing clothes of different manufacturers and studying their details. This knowledge will help you spot the truly great deals versus the so-so ones.

Balance your silhouette. You don’t want to layer the top half of your body so much that you look like a barrel balancing on sticks, or vice versa. If you’re wearing heavy boots, for instance, make sure you offer a visual parallel on your upper half, such as with a fluffy hat and scarf set.

 

 

 

Here I am on a brisk California day quite warm in jeans, a long-sleeve T-shirt, fitted jacket and knit circle scar

 

 

 

For more reading on cold weather style strategies, read the related post: How To Stay Warm Without Looking Like a Dancing Bear.

A Painless Introspection at the Year’s End

practical_glamour_2012

Ah, the past year may not have been the thing that fairy tales are made.

Now at the top of a new year, many a show, blog, advice column and so forth are filled with talk of resolutions and end of year assessments and the like. How you should put your attention to what was good, not-so, what you would do differently and what you might want more of in the coming year.

Since the mind is expert at scrambling away from pain and running into the arms of pleasure, such thoughts may want to make you blanch, or feel faint, or want to get incredibly drunk in the middle of the day.

But when it comes to your life, introspection–consciously identifying what works and what doesn’t–is entirely valuable, and doesn’t have to be painful. It can be fun and quick, like this: Mentally comb through the past year hunting only for its sweet and bright, luminant spots, those big and small things that made you extra happy to be alive.

I’m thinking of Jackson Hole, jumping a sweet course on Steely the horse in Palos Verdes, a particularly luscious pair of new suede heels and khaki strapless dress,”Chopin the Patriot,” talking Practical Glamour with lads and ladies, and a host of other things that will make no sense to anyone but me.

Check your bright spots off in your head or write them down. It will make you smile. If you feel it, go further, and think about the details of your favorites, the parts that gave you the most pleasure and where you might find more of the same in the coming year.

How’s that for a painless recap?

To that end, Adieu to this Year and Aloha to the New One. May you have much passion and fortune in the coming year.

 

9 Nice Non-Gifts to Give Yourself

gifts for you

Since I’m all for gifting oneself early and often, here are some non-stuff-based items you might want to think about bestowing on ye:

Up your nutrition. It seems that certain foods suit particular body types or constitutions more than others. This and a lifetime of eating habits that may or may not include Doritos and hybrid cola-wild cherry slushies adds up to the need for some professional dietary input. Book an appointment with a good nutritionist, preferably one whom you’ve heard good things about. Alternately, you can look up a U.S. dietician at Eat Right, the site of the American Dietetic Association.

Another reason to see a nutritionist: food allergies. Marsha McCulloch is a registered and licensed dietitian in the Des Moines area and owner of In The Aisles who has a speciality in this area. An expert is needed to diagnose food allergies, which may be the culprit behind an array of physical issues you experience, because, according to her site: “Identifying which foods are problematic can be challenging since sensitivity reactions may be delayed by hours or even days after consumption.”

A meeting with someone who can customize an ideal eating approach for you will serve your life more fully than any pretty bauble or pair of shoes. (Ah, but you haven’t seen the shoes…)

Dispose of subpar shoes and garments. Go to your closet and play “These Things Don’t Belong.” Pull out at least three items that have passed their expiration date in terms of fit, style or condition. As in: The item doesn’t convey anything positive about you in its cut or characteristic, or it just looks used and abused. Remove and dispose of the items immediately. You deserve better.

Step into another language, even a little. You’ve been wanting to learn Italian forever. You want to speak fluent French. Say a few things in Japanese. Book a month of conversational language classes or meet up with a group that gets together to chat in a chosen tongue. The Foreign Service Institute has online language instruction in 40-plus languages, courses that were developed by the U.S. government and are completely complimentary.

Forgive yourself. Give yourself a nonrefundable, nonretractable pass on something from your past that, up to now, you haven’t quite been able to.

Eat better, dine in. Get re-acquainted with your kitchen and use it more often. Make it a more welcoming, useful place by cleaning and organizing. Throw out old spices or items that you don’t use. Get rid or stow appliances that you seldom use and are taking up counter space.

Chef Doug Silberberg of Los Angeles does something along these lines that I think is completely useful. He will meet you at your local grocery store or farmer’s market and teach you how to smartly and coherently shop. You will learn how to assess vegetables, differentiate and select cuts of meat and so forth. He also offers a kitchen consult, where he comes to your home to help orient your kitchen for maximum use. I can think of no better gift for certain bachelors and bachelorettes, and a few college types too.

Do yoga. The most comprehensive path to fitness on Earth, I am convinced. In one shot you tone, stretch and strengthen your body plus calm and discipline your mind. I’m sure there are other virtues involved, but these are personal tops. There’s a yoga style and studio for everyone. Look in your town for one that suits your sensibilities and go.

Stamps.com personalized stamp

Personalize your postage. Upload a favorite personal image onto a U.S. postage stamp and you’ll be more motivated to keep in touch the old fashioned way, with a pen and paper, which happens to remain the most civilized way. The more stamps you order at Stamps.com, the better the price.

Supplement daily. Find a supplement to fill your nutritional gaps, perhaps with the help of that nutritionist I mentioned earlier, and integrate it into your daily regime. You will feel and look better for it; but daily consistency is key. Supplements don’t necessarily have to be straight vitamins, either. A gal I know, Lynne Reynolds, swears by Juice Plus+, which she described to me as something like a salad bar in a capsule. Judging from the gorgeous glow of her skin and her enviable energy, it works.

Book a date…with you! Go somewhere local and fantastic by yourself or, if that’s just not your bag, bring along a friend. (Make sure he or shares your idea of fantastic.) One of my memorable recent solo dates was sushi at the Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles followed by a chamber music concert in one of the historic ballrooms. If you happen to love chamber music, historic places and live near Los Angeles might I recommend the excellent series, Chamber Music In Historic Sites.

Dole out these self-gifts on a monthly basis, adding a few of your own to the list. If you’re a planner, map out each month’s gift in advance to make up a year of fine and luxurious gifts that are most certainly not stuff.

Darn that Sexual Overperception Bias

An adaptation to the "psychological tic in their machinery."

A big difference between the girls and the guys, responsible for many an awkward, uncomfortable (or worse) moment among strangers in public, has to do with what a female does–and what a male thinks she means when she does.

You the girl, you the woman, are in public. You happen to gaze somewhere, thinking of nothing in particular. You may or may not have a pleasant look on your face, or even a full-blown smile. Alas, you happened to look in the direction of a stranger who happens to be male. You look away, quickly. The next thing you know, you are being cruised, heavily. The stranger is staring at you with saucy, hopeful eyes.

“Oh no,” you think. “I didn’t mean that.”

Variants of this scenario happen all over the place, and the one mentioned above happens to be one of the more benign variety. Maybe you politely responded to a stranger’s “helloin a line at a coffee shop, or his request for directions or the time or whatever. The next thing you know, the dude has pulled up a chair, is telling you the story of his life, asking for your phone number. In short, a stranger is imposing an awkward social burden on you that you neither asked for nor want.

If you are a woman, this has most likely happened to you on more than one occasion, prompting you to ask yourself or others: “How does that mean I’m interested?”

"It's obvious, she totally wants me." (Sexual overperception bias in action.)

Sexual overperception bias

Pulling from evolutionary theory gives us a possible explanation on this, something called sexual overperception bias, or why, way too often, guys think that a woman is hitting on them when she is merely being friendly, or even quasi-cordial. Or human. Or just looking in their general direction at nothing and no one in particular. Or breathing.

Evolutionary psychologist David Buss explains that men are more likely to infer sexual interest when there is none due to “the costs of failing to pick up on a potential mating opportunity.”¹ Today’s men, the descendants of men who successfully picked up on a mating opportunity, have a hardwired desire, evolved over time, to do the same, resulting in a higher likelihood of assuming much about nothing at all.

According to Buss: “For males it is better to err on the side of over-inferring sexual interest, even if you’re going to be wrong some time, then in under-inferring it and missing out on potential sexual opportunities.”² These men will make mistakes, but they will also maximize successfully acting on sexual opportunities that do exist.

According to Buss, this is not a conscious calculation in the male mind. Rather, he describes it as “a psychological tic in their machinery.”³ A tic that has settled in over deep evolutionary time.

Men: Evolving past the tic

This explanation for why men are prone to making this social miscalculation does not let guys off the hook.

Knowing about this tic means that a male can pause and use reason to override it as needed. In other words, an awareness of this aspect of your mating psychology gives you an advantage, to change behavior that doesn’t serve your life and might be annoying as hell to others.

You want your mating efforts to be directed at women who are interested. And an innate tendency to over-perceive sexual interest when none exists means that you are going to be off sometimes. Okay, some of you will be off more than some of the time. Thinking a gal has designs on you when she really just asked you the time because she forgot her watch and you happen to be standing next to her on the street. Thinking that a casual smile means “Let’s hit the hay.” And so forth.

Battle the tic by trying, to the best of your ability, to objectively assess a male-female scenario for what it is. If it helps, imagine watching the situation as a detached observer and decode it to the best of your ability. If you feel your social judgement in this area is wanting, improve it by seeking the advice of women and men whose judgement and insight you think is solid.

I’d hate for this to be construed to mean that a man should not make any social overtures toward the opposite sex whatsoever, particularly since several fine gentlemen friends have informed me that uncertainty about a woman’s interest, or the threat of appearing foolish or embarrassing or offensive has kept them from striking up or continuing conversations, or even approaching a woman who they thought was interested. My advice is that such a social miscalculation will never be a big deal provided the approach is polite and low-key.

Women: Adapting to the tic

Women, knowing that sexual overperception bias exists, must unfortunately adapt to the fact that males may misinterpret mere politeness or civility. (I don’t think I actually had to tell you that.)

I fought against this reality for many moons. I’m inclined, with some editing, to look at a room full of strangers as a room full of friendly acquaintances whom I haven’t met, and by default am as friendly to male strangers as female strangers. Or, I was. I insisted on my gender-neutral social ways for too long, much to my own discomfort and detriment, time and again.

On the eve of lifting my white flag to reality, a male friend whose judgement I trust said one of those things that sticks with you because it squares so perfectly with a fresh mental verdict on an issue you’ve been wrestling with forever: “Constance, if you speak to a man you don’t know he will most likely think you are interested in him.”

Ding, ding. Lesson finally learned. These days, if I feel like beaming at a random stranger (not a bad practice to make viral) or engaging in a spot of conversation while waiting in a line, chances are the stranger will be a fellow member of the fairer sex.

At the heart of evolutionary theory is the idea of adaptation. That humans will continue to evolve, to change, in ways that bring them closer to pleasure and further from pain. Males adapting to the tic means relying on reason to suss out bonafide female interest. Women adapting to the tic means always negotiating that line between civility and a warding off of the social burden mentioned earlier.

Ah, adaptation.

¹²³Source: Psych Files. “Episode 98: Evolutionary Psychology – An Interview with Dr. David Buss” June 20th, 2009.

 

The Art & Style of the No-Shoe Home

no shoe house slippersA few years ago I happened to catch a doctor on the radio who was railing passionately about the evils of wearing outdoor shoes in the home. By traipsing through your home in fresh-from-the-street shoes, you were effectively transferring any and all types of filth—gum, dirt, oil, spit, other things—from the street into your personal space, which really should really be kept as pure as possible, dirtwise and vibewise.

He convinced me. I’ve been a practitioner of the no-shoe domicile for a while and wouldn’t dream of going back to having that level of grossness imported inside again. Levels of grossness of course, being relative to where you live. Cape Cod; not so bad, maybe some sand or a spot of soil. Manhattan or Downtown Los Angeles; unprintable.

I’ve noticed that in the U.S. it is increasingly common to visit homes that are no-shoe homes. That is, you leave your shoes at the door for all the reasons your hosts might desire: the basic hygiene argument outlined above, heels carving up a soft wood floor, an addiction to white shag carpets, and so forth.

Here are a few ways to gracefully adapt to or advocate a no-shoe house, either as a guest or host:

-Ask. After stepping into the entrance or foyer of someone’s home, ask if they prefer for you to remove your shoes. If they run a no-shoe house, they’ll love you. On a related note, recently I’ve had the fortune of befriending several lovely women of Japanese descent, who tell me that in Japan it is standard for a guest to remove his or her shoes before stepping into the main area of the house. Always.

-Offer House Shoes. As host of a no-shoe house, it is wise to keep a few pairs of house shoes, slides or slippers on hand to offer guests who might not want to walk around barefoot or in their socks. Keep at least two sizes on hand, one that will fit men and one for females. A great bachelor buddy of mine offers female visitors their choice from a basket filled with new, silken mules in a range of sizes, a gift to take home if they wish. I’ve never seen the basket he offers males, but I’m sure it’s equally as class. If you’re interested in this route, you can get house slippers in small lots, in an array of sizes, on ebay or even at discount and stores specializing in imported goods.

 

khussa slippers

Khussa Shoes


 

 

 

 

 

 

-BYOS, or Bring Your Own Slippers. Particularly if you’re going to be staying overnight or longer at someone’s home, and don’t feel comfortable mincing around the dining room in your bunny ear slippers (please don’t), bring a pair of grown up house shoes, flip-flops or slides to wear around the house. I have a totable pair that fit in almost any purse, take up nearly nil room in luggage and work with almost any ensemble, stylewise. Personalize yours if you wish by wearing an exotic or monogrammed pair.

For women. I love dainty leather Khussa slippers and shoes, which are easy to slide in your overnight bag, ornate and pretty. They are easy to carry with you and can be slipped on quickly. They are typically hand made, leather and beaded, with flat leather soles that are easy on any floor. You can also wear them on the plane if you wish. And when you tire of them, they can become street shoes, though I’d slip an insole in them for comfort.

 delicate soles

 Alternately, indulge in the totable or roll-up flat phenomenon that has made its way into the market the last few seasons and buy a pair of these sassy, take-it-with-you shoes, which have practical glamour implications far beyond the home, such as at the office or in the car. Though I have not personally tried any of these, I am aware of Fast Flats by Dr. Scholl’s (approximately $8-10), Delicate Soles (about $16) and Rollasole (about $20), though there are many other makers of these.

For men. Offer the menfolk a pair of cool indoor footwear that won’t embarrass them, either in the form of slides or house slippers. Admittedly this is a taller order than finding indoor footwear for women, since there are fewer options for men. You might want to offer something with a cool motif or keep it basic with a few pairs of rubber Adidas slides, which you can get for about $20 a pair and are easy to wash and reuse for other guests.

Adidas slides

 

Lastly, the interesting blog Shoes Off at the Door Please lists the plusses of the no-shoe house. I happen to like #25: “Psychologically, removing your shoes helps you to enter a frame of mind where you keep your everyday troubles outside your home.” Hear, hear.

Hear, Hear: Myrna Loy On Individuality & The State of Screen Sex

Myrna Loy

The elegant and sassy Myrna Loy

 

“I admire some of the people on the screen today, but most of them look like everybody else. In our day we had individuality. Pictures were more sophisticated. All this nudity is too excessive and it is getting very boring. It will be a shame if it upsets people so much that it brings on the need for censorship. I hate censorship. In the cinema there’s no mystery. No privacy. And no sex, either. Most of the sex I’ve seen on the screen looks like an expression of hostility towards sex.”  –Myrna Loy (1905-1993), speaking in the late 1960’s

She’s right. Still. About everything.

PS. If you’re looking for a nice film, might I recommend The Thin Man (1934), starring Myrna Loy and William Powell. One of the most refreshing things about this and other movies from that time, something that has been nearly extinguished from the popular culture scene since about the mid-1960’s, is the display of a relationship dynamic between a man and a woman that is filled with romance, dignity and positive regard.

Cold-Weather Moisture Moves For The Months Ahead

winter_skin_tips

Trips away from home, cold weather and dry skin are mainstays of the cooler months. Hidden under layers of wool or corduroy or denim, winter skin makes its way through different climates and conditions, exposed to a fireside one moment, then snow and wind the next. The result is often less than swell skin, patched with dryness or discomfort.

Keeping your skin smooth and soft during cold-weather months comes down to keeping it consistently hydrated. Here are some ways to do so, particularly while traveling:

Stock up. I don’t know about you, but those dollop-size bottles of cream in hotel rooms don’t come anywhere near to cutting the mustard when it comes to de-winterizing my skin. Stock up on moisturizer in a consistency that meets your needs (lotion, cream, balm, butter or so on) and draw from your “master stock” to fill and refill your travel bottles as needed. There is something about a bathroom cabinet of creams, lotions and balms that is just reassuring. And a purse is not really a purse in my book unless it has at least one tiny tube of fragrant hand cream.

Weleda-SkinFood

Weleda’s Skin Food. The 2.5 ounce tube (approximately $18 ) is dense and airport friendly, small enough to avoid the airport screener’s gloved grasp of anything over 3 ounces.

Think one product, multiple uses. Think of a single product that can perform many moisturizing duties, eliminating the need to pack a cluster of cosmetics when you travel. Look for one with natural ingredients and an agreeable aroma that you can use all over, absorbs quickly and is of a weight and consistency that meshes with other products you already have, like and use. For instance, you may prefer a light lotion over a heavier body butter or balm.

Weleda’s Skin Food is a superb all in one moisturizer that I use in lieu of several different products when traveling. On the face, as an undereye moisturizer, for hands or any area in need of an infiltration of moisture. Cuticles and nail bed, for instance. Lips. Elbows. Ankles.

The base of the formula contains sunflower oil, sweet almond oil and beeswax, and is very emollient, so a small amount goes a long way. It seems to melt in the fingers while being applied, so I can even work the remnants into dry or split ends. The aroma is wintertime festive, scented by rosemary, chamomile, calendula and other essential oils. The packaging and scent are marvelously unisex, which can be very handy if you’re packing for two, particularly since my extensive field research has concluded that “no dude wants to walk around smelling like a chick.”

Make custom skin oil. Alternately, if you’re the crafty sort, you can make a custom natural body oil at home by blending, in a clean saucepan, ideally one not used in food preparation, one or more pure natural oils at low temperature. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oils. Store the blend in a pump bottle. After getting after the shower, while your skin is still moist and warm, apply the mixture sparingly to the skin.

moisture_body_oil_homemade

Some excellent base oils: avocado, sesame, olive, jojoba, coconut. As for aromatics, fitting for this time of year are earthy aromas like eucalyptus, sandalwood, cedar wood, bergamot or cinnamon cut with a bit of citrus, such as orange, grapefruit or peppermint. Psst. A custom bottle of natural skin oil makes an excellent gift.

Mind your internal moisture. A doctor I know tells me that one of the tip-offs to knowing whether a patient is following a super low-fat diet is found by looking at their hair, skin and nails. Dry, dry and dry. If you imagine that your holiday or travel diet will be subpar in terms of your intake of natural fat, make a plan to regularly integrate more omega fatty acids (aka “beauty fat”) into your diet. You will see the difference in your skin, hair and nails.

Omega fatty acids are found in fish oil, flax seed oil, evening primrose oil and borage seed oil. If interested in learning more, read the Harvard School of Public Health’s short, informative brief on omega fatty acids.

And, finally, don’t skimp on the water, even though it won’t seem like the most festive thing to be drinking during the holidays.

 

*For other winter skin tips, peruse this slideshow of 10 tips (mine is number 5), found at MSN’s lifestyle site, glo.

Veterans Day 2011


Much gratitude, much love is felt today on Veterans Day for all Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, and the endless freedoms they make possible each and every day. 

veterans_day_poster

Saloon Etiquette & Alone At A Bar

 

joe brooke_next door lounge

Joe Brooke from Next Door Lounge in Hollywood. Photo by Rachel Burkons

The following guidelines come from an insider, Joe Brooke, who is the head bartender at Next Door Lounge in Hollywood. Interviewed in September 2011’s issue of beverage journal The Tasting Panel, Joe shared some of his on-the-job pet peeves.

I thought I’d share three of them, chosen because I presume they are universal don’ts among bar staff, and because they underscore some basic do’s of bar and lounge etiquette:

– People who take it upon themselves to pick their own garnish out of my trays. It’s rude.

– Impatient people. The worst is when we’re super busy and they see how hard I’m working–and they’re impatient anyway. 

– Guests who leave bags on the bar. You’re taking up precious space. 

On a different but related note, I’ve long cautioned the lone gal against sitting at a bar by herself, my reasoning being a mix of tradition and pragmatism: A woman sitting at a bar alone makes her prey, a green light, for the worst kind of pests imaginable, even if the place is super class. And there are few of us who want to be pestered or annoyed or insulted when we go out. I recommend toting along one, or, better yet, two friends to act as pest buffers if you’re truly yearning to sit at the bar.

There are a few women I’ve known who can pull it off, sitting at a bar alone, and they tend to be gals with strong, pest-repellant personalities who become fast pals with the bartender. Such a woman, a buddy of mine, who travels a lot for business says she hates to be holed up in her hotel room each night, so she will go to the hotel lounge to dine at the bar when she feels like it, but makes sure she clears out by early evening. She adds that she does this only at hotels where there is the assumption that the menfolk will not act like outrageous gnomes. (I had heard a rumor that a hotel chain, popular with business travelers, was toying with the idea of establishing a ladies-only lounge to accommodate female business travelers. Smart.)

Bottom line: As a woman you enjoy every last right as a man when it comes to sitting at a bar and spacing out with your thoughts and a glass of good scotch, but you’ll have a much better time of it, trust me, if you take a seat at a nearby table instead.

Some San Francisco Style

brooks_brothers_male_style

What I love about this San Franciscan’s ensemble is how smartly he keeps his individuality front and center while staying in the parameters of the classic gent signifier, the suit. Here, the man clearly makes the suit and not vice versa.

Breakdown: The narrow silhouette of the suit plus the fabric selection (great sheen and shade) are to-date and flattering on the wearer’s lean physique. Notice: No pleats! Anywhere! The square-toe loafers, pocket square, bow tie and glasses give you clues to the person.

Make Your Makeup Last With A Finishing Spray

If you’re a glamour girl of the makeup-wearing kind, you know that the stuff simply does not last past a certain point. Like a flower, those vibrant lips and eyes and blushed-up cheeks that you create in the morning at your mirror will, depending on the climate and the nature of your skin, dim by lunch, and eventually be history by dinner. And an oily complexion or humid locale speeds up the process.

I’m not one to pack a counter of makeup in my purse, or engage in extensive re-repaint sessions during the day. In other words, if it’s a day for makeup, I like to put the stuff on once and be done. When 18-hour lipstick first came on the scene, I thought that one of Earth’s major problems had been solved. I promptly picked up a couple of tubes but found they had the feel of Wite-Out on the lips and looked just as sensual. I have tried other “marathon” and long wear makeup formulations but have found, overall, that they neither look nor feel quite good on the skin.

Using a finishing spray over your makeup is the best solution to keeping your makeup looking completely fresh and bright for the entire day. This is a growing category that is extending beyond professional makeup artists because it serves a very practical purpose for anyone who wears makeup. I’ve tried and re-tried Skindinavia’s No More Shine Makeup Finish Spray. They have an original version as well, but the “No More Shine” version is genius for oily skin types because it allows your skin to look real, with a bit of glow, while keeping it from getting too oily or slick looking.

Verdict 

The product claims to hold your makeup intact for 16+ hours, and it does. I have used it for shorter spans and it always works beautifully, but I wanted to see if it would hold up to the 16-hour test: I applied it over my makeup on a day that began at 6 am and, with zip-zero touchups save a bit of lip gloss, it absolutely sealed my makeup through 10 pm that night, which was around the tail end of a vigorous 2-hour flamenco dance class.

My Skindinavia 16-hour skin test

This picture was taken around 6 pm, about 12 hours after applying makeup, and in a day that included some lovely LA traffic, an early event, a trade show, work and more traffic. A bit of glow from the highlighter I was wearing on the cheeks and lids, but no grease.

Highlights 

Look. It keeps the natural finish and texture of your makeup intact and lets your skin breathe. In other words, no cakiness or dried-out matte mask looks. For instance, if you’re wearing a matte foundation with a shimmery shadow and rather dewy blush, the finish spray will keep the look of each of these as-is.

Feel.  Skindinavia is invisible, with no discernible scent or weight. It didn’t irritate the eyes or cause mascara to smudge, even though it’s a liquid spray.  Hours and hours into wearing it, there was no hint that it was on the face. No dryness or gummy, chemical feel on the face whatsoever.

Application. Fast, fast, fast. A few sprays on the face before you walk out the door.

skindinavia

Skindinavia's No More Shine Makeup Finish Spray

It’s worth the investment to have a bottle on hand for when you want your face and makeup to look fresh for a long stretch, and don’t want to think about ducking into the ladies room for a touchup.

Details

Skindinavia’s No More Shine or Original Makeup Finishing Spray (2 oz /$19 ; 4 oz /$29). If you plan to use the product only occasionally, you will probably be fine with the 2-ounce bottle, as very little of the product is used with each application.

To use, shake the bottle well and spray lightly on the face, before and after applying makeup. I have forgotten to spray it on the face before applying makeup though–something I suspect is common–and found that it is just as effective when only sprayed after the fact. A mist of 4-6 pumps is more than sufficient on the face. Hold the pump about 8-10 inches from your skin.

Tips

Dramatic makeup is quite the rage these days, particularly bold eyes and scarlet lips. This look is great but tends to have a short shelf life, and looks best, its most vibrant, when freshly applied. Not so good at the tail end of a long night. Use this product over such looks, even if you’re just planning on going out to dinner. The product material states that it holds eye shadow, foundation, blush and concealer, but I have found that it holds lipstick nicely as well.

Given how well Skindinavia holds back shine, I think there could be some excellent applications for men who want to control the look of a shiny face, and women who don’t wear makeup but don’t want their skin to have the look of too much luster.

Q&A with Style Author Richard Torregrossa: The New Gentleman

richard torregrossa

Richard Torregrossa is a notable journalist and author of many books, one of which is the lovely Cary Grant: A Celebration of Style. He is also a soulmate of sorts, having been writing and speaking about the transformative effect of style for many moons.

Therefore, let’s just say I was more than a little pleased to have the opportunity to interview Mr. Torregrossa on the state of style and man.

The biography you wrote about the style evolution of Cary Grant focuses on how Grant self-optimized himself, how he clearly and consciously articulated what and who he was to the world via his presentation. What is the most important thing that a man, one who is just starting to think about his presentation in these terms, can do to become more aware about the state of his presentation?

Experiment with upgrading. And I’m not talking about spending a lot of money on designer clothes. For instance, switch from a sweatshirt or hoodie to a sports jacket and observe the reaction from others. I did. And it surprised me. I was going to a barbecue, a very informal event, and put on a sports jacket over a plain white V-neck T-shirt purely for utilitarian purposes. A sports jacket to me is like a briefcase. It cleanly holds my keys, cell phone, wallet, and other paraphernalia without any unsightly bulges like the kind you find when you stuff your pants pockets. As I stepped out of the house I ran into a neighbor who said, “Hey, Rich, where you going all dressed up?”

All dressed up? All I did was put on a sports jacket. I mean, I was wearing a T-shirt and jeans. But the sports jacket clearly made a transformative impression and it surprised me. I learned something that day. The slightest upgrade in your wardrobe and personal appearance will be noticed for the better.

Another suggestion is to find a style (or style icon) you like and try to emulate it but not slavishly. Add personal touches to make it your own.

I laud the many benefits of presenting one’s most attractive and authentic self to the world, and on an everyday basis. As a gal I know that the benefits of a lovely presentation are rich, with some of them unique to the female experience, such as the desire to feel beautiful. What benefits of enhancing or optimizing one’s presentation do you think are rather unique or specific to being a man?

Confidence. Being well dressed, especially on bad days, can boost your mood, make you feel your mettle, and psychologically enable you to feel just a bit more prepared to take on the world. Also, it is, at least for me, an exercise in discipline. And the more discipline we have, the greater our chances of success in our personal as well as our business relationships.

Are these unique to men? Probably not. Women know these benefits and get the most out of them. Men just need to catch up.

Lastly, in a piece you wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle you coined the phrase The New Gentleman to denote a “fresh approach to style” for men. Circa 2011, what is the state of The New Gentleman? How do you characterize this concept today, and do you think men in general are moving closer to it, or further away?

Richard Torregrossa There’s a huge polarity. There are guys who are keenly interested in menswear who have mastered all the details such as stitching and fabric and cut and pairing it all with the right accessories. They also experiment with different pieces from different eras in an effort to create a unique style, a presentation that is comfortable, fashionable, and at the same time expresses something about them, a point of view, as it were.

Then you have the other extreme; the Hipster look, for instance. These are guys who think they look smart but are laughable in my estimation. Unmanly even. The most execrable ensemble in sartorial history is cargo pants with a T-shirt and flip flops. Yet, sadly, it is ubiquitous. The reason for its popularity is the comfort factor, a kind of spiritual laziness. And it should be banned along with the three-day growth of beard that to me just looks ratty and unkempt, another sign of sloth and a kind of faux hipness. Follow the pack and you end up looking beastly.

And it’s not fully the guy’s fault. Why aren’t women making them tow the sartorial line? I see couples out and about all the time exhibiting an odd disparity: the woman is beautifully groomed and attired while the guy looks like he just came from a Home Depot workshop. Why is this? Why don’t women put their foot down, demand that their boyfriend or husband show some respect for the event, for the evening, for the romance of going out by insisting that they dress better?

The smarter men are moving towards The New Gentleman way of being for a number of reasons. First, dressing well gives you a competitive edge, especially in this dour economy. It sends a subliminal message to bosses, HR people, and colleagues with whom you network that you’re pulled together, even though you might not be setting the world on fire just yet.

Second, it’s fun. The New Gentlemen are in on this little secret. They know the delight in finding just the right suit, vintage garment, pocket handkerchief, or casual ensemble that makes them stand a little taller, walk a little prouder, and enriches their sense of aesthetic pleasure. And when one New Gentleman encounters another New Gentleman there is an instant bond, a mutual respect that represents an ever-widening circle of networking opportunities.

Third, the ritual of dressing smartly brings order into a world that is chaotic, cold, and entropic. Most of life is out of our control, but dressing well is certainly within our reach, every day, almost under any circumstance, and that in itself is satisfying, a kind of small but important antidote to the sea changes that are roiling the culture right now.

In conclusion, there are certainly more slobs out there than New Gentlemen (and not much in between). But the New Gentlemen, in 2011, stand out in a crowd so there seems to be more of them. When men understand this, perhaps the scales will be tipped in favor of the New Gentleman. But right now, like the Marines, we are the few, the proud.

 

cary grant a celebration of styleCary Grant: A Celebration of Style   Richard Torregrossa (Author), Giorgio Armani (Foreword) Michael Kors (Afterword)

“Consider this book a must-have for the style-conscious guy in your life–or the guy who needs a few tips.” — Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 3, 2006

Mr. Torregrossa is currently working on a line of apparel and a new book, this one on George Clooney. His website is richardtorregrossa.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Fast & Feasible Ways To Feed Your Glamour

fast healthy snack eggs

In a documentary I saw recently by Lauren Greenfield there is a segment about a girl who starved herself to increase her chances of success in modeling. The catch is that, once she started to book jobs, she found herself in front of the camera with “nothing to give.” The punishment she had given her body resulted in a denial of an essential for a model–the ability to project some sort of life, of spirit, for the camera lens to capture. No nourishment, no spirit.

Which brings me to you. Just as you need sleep to adequately power the projection of your personal energy, aka your glamour, you also need food. Quality food that you regularly dose yourself with.

I, like many, many other women, am notoriously uneven in this regard. In many cases, a gal will put herself dead last in line when it comes to nourishing herself. A coworker or boss with an unanticipated, last minute demand voids her lunch, for instance. Or the rush of daily life juts itself in the way of feeding herself consistently. We fuel our vehicles more diligently than our bodies, because they don’t take no for an answer. How about instilling a personal eating policy that’s at least as strict as your the one that your car enjoys?

To that end, here are some tips on how to keep your glamour going by feeding the fire that fuels it.

Morning Eating. The thought of ingesting anything but a luscious ice coffee in the morning might be gag-inducing. But in order to function you must eat. Do I sound like your mother yet? Since I would rather sleep than face a steaming plate of eggs and whatever the heck else people eat in the morning, a fast way to fuel in the morning can consist of:

Eating one or two hard boiled eggs. Boil a dozen eggs at a time, then store them in your refrigerator. Crack one or two open and season with pepper to eat in the morning. Add some fresh lox as a nice side addition.

Cereal. I used to think of cereal as a sort of morning candy, so sugar drenched and colorful were most of the varieties in the grocery store aisles. It’s come a long way. There are many healthy versions now available in stores. For the truly interested, here is a brief by General Mills on the merits of cereal. Select a whole grain version with minimal sugar. If you are not close to a health food store, Cascadian Farms, an organic brand that is owned by General Mills, is quite widely distributed in grocery stores.

Sprinkle with fresh berries or raisins, which are a nice source of iron. Use soy milk instead of milk if you’re worried about calories. Vanilla soy milk adds a nice richness to no-sugar cereals.

Fruit. Keep a heap of fruit handy and grab two or three pieces on your way out the door. One of my favorite things about fruit is the fact that its designer packaged it so ingeniously. Have you ever inspected a banana peel or orange casing. Genius!

A Daily Multivitamin Situation. Find a multivitamin that suits you, buy it in bulk and take it daily. This is an easy thing to make a lifelong habit. Figure out a time that works for you and make your multivitamin habit like brushing your teeth. Look for a formulation that you can take on a empty stomach without having it make you sick.

Look for a formulation in a size and quantity that works for you. Having to take 6 horse-size pills a day just doesn’t work for most of us. Might I suggest a formulation with a lot of the vitamin Bs, as they are excellent in helping the body deal with stress. Vitamin C is a basic, and a formula that contains iron is a plus as many women are anemic, or somewhere darn close.

Do you take medications? Learn what, if any, vitamins and minerals that you may need more of due to your medications, and make sure your multivitamin has them in spades.

Purse Food. Here’s another glamour-promoting habit for you: Keep a cache of nutrition bars or dried fruit in your glove compartment or bag. While fresh fruit is preferable, I know how easy it is for it to rot and get banged up and otherwise be rendered inedible.

The stow-away kind can last forever and save your life when you are lagging in the nutrition department. There are some bars out there that are really just candy bars wrapped in a faux-healthy wrapper–chocolate chips are a dead giveaway–so check ingredients for a whole grain version with zero to little sugar. Mothers tend to be fantastic in this department, as they are used to keeping food handy for their small fry.

Dignity + Wearability: Fall & Beyond

fall 2011

Having been out and about and having seen the new fall and winter fashions on runways and racks and real people, I can say that things are fairly bright in the style stratosphere. Many of-the-moment style trends are quite practical glamour–wearable, strategically cut and with silhouettes that flatter almost every figure. And, drum roll, there is more than a bit of dignity to be found for fall and winter, which I hope heralds an everlasting trend.

fall_2011_mens 

This goes for women and men. Men’s styles are significantly more cleaned up, albeit still relaxed, with an emphasis on colors, cut and overall neatness of presentation.

fall2011

I think the effect of the economy on the style and fashion world has been a force of focus on the realities and desires of the consumer, with the result an output of garments and accessories that the greatest number of people can easily adopt, and look and feel lovely while wearing.

fall 2011_women

A few of my favorites, seen at this year’s Fashion’s Night Out at Westfield Century City in Los Angeles: tuxedo jackets for women, neck-scarf blouses, wide trousers, knit swing coats, pencil skirts, lace detailing, deep and sophisticated colors. Now if I could only figure out the mystery of the extreme platform heel, which is not seen above but has lingered far too long on the trend radar, methinks.

*As for color, I recommend reading this great run-down on Fall 2011 colors at TypeF.com, which I had the pleasure of opining in and clearly discusses how you can integrate flattering and rich new colors into your everyday makeup and clothing repertoire.

 

 

 

Forever And Always

september 11 forever and always

On The Mood-Manner-Glamour Connection: Sophia Loren


sophia loren picture

As you may have suspected, Ms. Loren’s longevity and master glamour status are due to elements beyond her sculpture of a face and figure. Yes, she is disciplined and smart in maintaining her presentation and dressing her body to its best–but it’s really her attitude and spirit that tie up the package so beautifully.

“I always wake up early and jump out of bed – sometimes not wanting to, because one can always find an alibi not to exercise – and then I take a walk for an hour. And as I walk round the park I always think, “Maybe round the corner I am going to find something beautiful.” I always think positively. It is very rare that you find me in a mood that is sad or melancholic.’” –Sophia Loren, quoted in the U.K.’s Daily Mail

Practical Glamour Productivity Tip #504

 

face_mask_at_homeWhen you have to complete some monotonous household task, such as dusting or rearranging your bookshelf or something along those lines, advance your skin maintenance by masking at the same time.

Pile your hair up and away from your face and wear a shirt that exposes your neck and upper chest, such as a bustier or strapless something or other. I refuse to officially recommend in print that you wear a “tube top,” but you get the idea. Cleanse your face and apply your favorite mask, including your neck and upper chest in the application. Let it dry thoroughly while you go about your task.

For the males in the audience: Face masks offer great benefits to all skin, regardless of sex. As a man you will benefit from a mask just as much as a female, and you don’t even have to tell anyone. In particular, if you are a male with oily skin, a dedicated weekly masking will deep cleanse and refine the look of your pores significantly. Just ignore the tube top part of the instructions. Great skin is such an asset to a man’s presentation, particularly since he cannot duck under a veil of cosmetics like the fairer sex.

6 Sassy Late-Summer Dates To Go On Now

picnic on a hill

Not so fast. Summer is not over. Not yet. However, if you think of Summer in terms of a June-July-August trio, we are fast approaching the end of the ball. To that end, I know there are some things that you want to do, some things you planned to do, but have not done, because you kept saying to yourself: Hey, Summer just got here! I’ve got plenty to time. 

Indeed, in an eyeblink you will be saying: What the heck happened to Summer? Where did the Summer go? What happened? Resist the sleepwalk through the remains of the season, and go out there and grab some summer pleasure, and stat.

Here are some sassy seasonal dates you may not have thought of. The nice thing about them is they don’t necessarily require a girlfriend or boyfriend or spouse by your side. You can engage in any of these six outings solo or with a friend or acquaintance or person who is, as of yet, completely undefinable:

  • An afternoon or evening of skating. The ice or roller type. Fall down laughing and dine at the luxurious snack bar. A Slushie and a hot dog. Nachos, milady?
  • A university or college arts event. If there’s even so much as a community college in your area, discover their areas of strengths and tune in to their calendar of events. The final summer concerts, outdoor film series, plays or events will all be happening during the next couple of weeks–and sometimes they are the highlight of the season.
  • A shaker of martinis and it’s cocktail hour aux deux. Sit on the porch, walk to a nearby park or watch the stars from up on the roof.
  • A night at the museum. There are few cities, towns or hamlets that don’t have at least one museum. Typically there is one night that the museum stays open later than usual. Find that night. Park your car a handful of blocks away and stroll to the museum. Find a cafe or wine bar to go to afterwards, and have a bit of whatever floats your boat. The weirder or more obscure the museum, the better.
  • An exotic dining outing. Go to your town’s Ethiopian Row or Thai Town or Chinatown or Little Tokyo or Little Italy and dig in. In college my buddies and I would regularly go our favorite Indian restaurant in West Philadelphia where we would eat delightful samosas and chicken tikka masala and engage in marathon debates.
  • A picnic on a hill somewhere. Last week I was at a place that looked like the picture above. Actually it was the place exactly. An absolutely civilized and wholesome looking young man drove up in his car. He got out and opened the door for his lady friend, a demure doll in a white sundress who was the spitting image of a young Natalie Wood. She had a picnic basket in her hand. He got his guitar out of the back seat, and they set up on a grassy patch under a tree and overlooking the ocean, all smiles. It was as if someone was shooting a video for young men on how to plan a creative date and how to behave while on one.

The Great Voice & Looks Mismatch

Voice and looks don't match

Have you ever met a voice that didn’t fit? You didn’t know what the man or woman looked like since you only spoke on the phone, but you sure liked what you heard. And your mental image of who they were, or hoped that they were, was greatly imagined by that lovely, resonant voice of theirs. And you expected, assumed or hoped there’d be a match in terms of appearance.

And there wasn’t. Not by a long shot. That Lauren Bacall voice belonged to a gal whose appearance was anything but. And that clear, assured male voice that made you want to do a little jig in your living room belonged to a scraggly prepubescent in his 30’s with a grubby baseball hat on backwards for extra measure.

So, what happens when there is a gap in one’s physical and vocal attractiveness? A study in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, which is truly a hot read, finds that when a person has an attractive voice and a not-so attractive physical appearance, this discrepancy creates disappointment in the person beholding the physically unattractive person with the hot voice.

Not just your basic disappointment, either. Pairing an attractive channel (voice) next to an unattractive one (appearance) moved the impression of the person in a more negative direction than if the person simply had a voice and appearance that were equally matched in terms of attractiveness.

Sidebar: A good friend “fell in love on the phone” with a guy. Never saw a picture of him. When she went to meet him for the first time, all jittery and happy with the prospect of standing face to face with her phone-line dreamboat, she said that she almost uttered, “Oh, no” out loud, so much did he look like a hobo. She, being a girl, had spent about two hours getting ready and looked like anything but. He was thrilled, she was not. They stayed friends.

Since I’m known to dispel information on how to make your impression its most optimum, I say do a little information-gathering on the extent that your voice matches your physical appearance. And where there are gaps, close them tight.

  • Beautiful voice? Good for you. Make sure your appearance is just as pleasing. And if you don’t think it is, then get Practical Glamour and read it from cover to cover and follow all of the instructions and it will be. (That was easy.)
  • Attractive appearance and not-so-much in the voice category? Change it. This is one of the easiest areas to change and its impact on your life will be significant. I am tempted to write a volume right here and now on the matter. I do touch on the basics in my book, but if you are interested in a major vocal redo I recommend casting around for information from a speech therapist, vocal coach or the like.

Source: Zuckerman, Mirion and Sinicropi, Veronica (2011). When Physical and Vocal Attractiveness Differ: Effects on Favorability of Interpersonal Impressions. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 35(2): 75-86.

Flashback Glamour Friday: Miss Linda Darnell & Flowers In Your Hair

Linda Darnell

In my humble opinion, it does not get a lot more glamorous than the lovely Linda Darnell, a screen beauty and quite fine actress who starred in a string of movies, principally in the 1940’s. I watched a good one recently, “Fallen Angel,” where she plays a life-hardened beauty grasping for a better life. Often described as the girl “with the perfect face,” it makes sense that in almost every scene of the movie she is shot in close-up, and with a white flower in her hair to accent that face.

This is a nice look that you might want to adopt, particularly in the summer.

flower in hair

  • Start with a small flower, fresh or silk. Select a flower that looks elegant and of an excellent quality.
  • Find one that accompanies and advances the overall look you are going for. Florid and dramatic, earthy and feminine, super-elegant and so forth.

rose_in_hair

  • Select a color that contrasts with the color of your hair. If your hair is light, go with a darker flower. Dark hair? Go with a bright or light flower. Think about matching the lightest tones in your hair to the flower.
  • Secure it to a hairpin and experiment placing it around your face at different points. Start behind the ear at its most center point.

hairstyle_with_flower

  • A flower around the face will accent the face and draw others into it, so make sure your complexion and makeup looks as you wish it to look.
  • If you’re shy or very low-key in terms of your style, you might want to start by selecting a very small flower or, alternately, affix your flower to the base of your bun or ponytail.

Lastly, a flower in your hair will keep you from frowning. Because there is no way that you can wear a frown with a flower in your hair!

A Thought For Today: Your State Of Mind On Your Body, Face

“If you would perfect your body, guard your mind. If you would renew your body, beautiful your mind. Thoughts of malice, envy, disappointment, despondency, rob the body of its health and grace. A sour face does not come by chance; it is made by sour thoughts. Wrinkles that mar are drawn by folly, passion, and pride.

I know a woman of ninety-six who has the bright, innocent face of a girl. I know a man well under middle age whose face is drawn into inharmonious contours. The one is the result of a  sweet and sunny disposition; the other is the outcome of passion and discontent.”

–From James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh (1902) a concise and highly recommended read.

 

 

Your Mate Disabling You In Weight Loss, Working Out & Looking Fine?

working out with a partner

I can’t imagine being anything short of stoked if I learned that my significant other or even sometimes other was going to embark on an earnest campaign of healthy eating and exercise. After all, this means that I would be the recipient of these changes in the form of a more happy and energized mate with an even more beguiling body. And I would also be less tempted to go out with them to eat truffle oil french fries and drink a gallon of champagne. So win. And win.

However, in certain relationships, even platonic ones, one person’s plans to change for the better may set the stage for discord or even an unraveling of the way things were.

A middle-aged friend was overweight, out of shape and sluggish, the product of night after night spent with his other plump and prosperous peers at popular Manhattan restaurants, eating lavish course after course, downing bottles of expensive wine and smoking cigars. He envisioned himself as a thinner, more energetic and youthful-looking dude, and made a quick change to a vegetarian diet with little-to-no-alcohol that included daily workouts and early nights.

En route he discovered that most of his tablemates were not truly his friends. They were more like fellow members of a club where admittance was based on mirroring each others’ dining and socializing habits. Ordering vegetable plates and salads and eschewing cigars and wine made him frequently the butt of the night’s jokes. He found that, fully sober, he had little to say to them.

Though he remained friends with one or two in the group, he eventually found a new set whose lifestyles were more in line with his. And now, 55 pounds lighter and toned, he is a much happier and satisfied man who also looks completely different.

So, making major positive changes in the realm of your diet, health or figure can be a litmus test of sorts to see just how much your guy or girl is on Your Team. Assuming you haven’t shaved your head, gotten impossible levels of plastic surgery or taken up a heroin diet, if someone you’re dating or married to or otherwise entangled with is trying to scuttle your plans to look and feel more lovely, I believe you should say adieau to them, and stat.

However, if you feel the relationship warrants it, you may first want to determine what the issue is really about: Does your friend fear losing you as someone she can always kvetch to about how models are spaghetti-slim and dress sizes are ridiculously small? Your boyfriend fear that with your alluringly upgraded figure you’ll be tempted to seek out greener pastures?

By the way, they might not even know themselves, so you might have to play some guesswork to figure it out. Have a word with the person to reaffirm that, though you are seeking personal changes, the essence of your relationship will not.

And if your diet or nutrition or workout scuttler is someone you simply can’t divorce, like an in-law or co-worker or something like that, when they dangle something Achilles Heel-like in your direction like a Choco Taco or a wedge of Humboldt Fog, do the following: Keep the image of you at your desired goal fixed firmly and with great detail in your mind, all the way down to how taut your future waist looks. And your arms! They will be the essence of shapely!

Whenever someone floats a platter of some fattening whatever under your nose, or insists you go to the mall with them during your dedicated running hour, flash back to this image. Then ask yourself which you want more: The momentary and hollow pleasure in front of you, or the long-term joy and satisfaction of achieving and getting to live with the You that you desire.

*I offer a couple more tips on making weight loss a more palatable affair for couples in Sheba Wheeler’s interesting piece in the Denver Post, “Weight Loss Shouldn’t Threaten Well-Adjusted Couples.”

101 Ways to Wear a Scarf: Wrist Glamour

wrist_scarf_way to wear a scarf

I think this is a particularly sassy and innovative way to wear a scarf. Make sure yours is on the small side and in crisp shape. Fold it neatly into a narrow strip before wrapping it around the wrist and knotting tightly. This look can be appropriated by men as well as women, and doubles as an on-the-go way to tote a headscarf. Imagine if she received an emergency invitation to board a yacht on a particularly windy day, for instance.

 

 

The Beauty of the Cowgirl

For me, seeing a genuine bona fide cowboy or girl is along the lines of seeing a Martian. I was raised far from cowboy country and I don’t have a speck of cowgirl DNA in my being. Recently I had the distinct pleasure of being around several, and found that there is a unique and singular glamour about the cowgirl.

For one, they spend time outdoors. A lot of time. So much that every inch of their face, style and body reflects it, cowgirl or boy, whether it’s in the form of deeply tanned skin, dusty boots or strong build. A quick way to tell a real-deal cowgirl or boy from the urban variety is in their movements, strong and purposeful and unhurried all at once. That, and a glance at their hands. The hands of the real deal are muscular and constantly being used to tie something or grasp something or direct something. They are typically thick, strong and sinewy and lined. Like the face, there is a lot of authenticity in the hands of the cowgirl or boy.

The life of the cowboy or cowgirl is not an easy one, nonetheless there is a freshness and satisfaction that I see in their eyes and faces that I don’t see in a lot of other people. Here’s the thing: the cowgirl works her tail off but does not look worn; she looks refreshed and alert. The people I see who look the most worn or fatigued by life are those with deep circles and paunches and unhealthy skin who spend too much time indoors or in cars or staring at computer screens and eating too much sugar.

cowgirl_beauty_natural_jackson hole

Cathy, pictured here, is a real cowgirl who is also one of the most beautiful women I’ve seen in a while. She ropes and calves and breaks horses and does many other things along these lines, starting from when the sun is not yet up until it sets, and in places like North Dakota in the snow.

When I asked her for a glamour secret or two that I could share, she blushed and said she doesn’t do anything special on the looks front. She did say that she let her natural hair color come in, a strong silver that goes beautifully with her deeply tanned skin and sparkling blue eyes.

I figured that ultimately it is her projection of strong, physical energy and joie de vivre that really wraps up her lovely figure and face. So, the beauty of the cowgirl essentially has to do with these nuggets:

  • Be authentic to who you are.
  • Spend a lot of time outdoors breathing fresh air and engaging in vigorous and purposeful activities.

It seems that, if you are a cowgirl or boy, it is because of a calling and one that rules out the option of doing other, non-cowboy things with your life like sitting in heels and a skirt at a desk, or knotting a tie around your neck in a condo somewhere each morning. A cowboy told me that once he tried to sell cable from an office in San Diego and lasted only a week. Four days, actually.

I’ll save a discussion on cowboy etiquette for another day. Suffice it to say, I’m convinced that all is not lost on the civility front as long as cowboys remain in our great nation.

When It Comes To Applying Makeup, The Brush Is The Thing

An image I happen to like from brushmaker's Royal & Langnickel. Talk about blending!

Soon after I started wearing makeup on a regular basis I realized that the brushes from art supply stores beat the heck out of the synthetic wispy things that were sold in drugstores or, worse, the little plastic apparatuses that came with the makeup itself.

Art supply stores tend to carry tons of beautiful natural bristle brushes in almost any dimension you can imaginable. They last forever and typically cost not much more than the ones made for makeup. Alas, the art supply type are made expressly for an artist painting a canvas, so they don’t always work exactly as planned when applying makeup to the face.

However, the key here is that you must have high-quality brushes if you’re going to wear makeup. Buy less makeup if it means you are going to buy better brushes.

Good brushes will overcome most of the easy to make blunders that happen during rushed or not-so-pro makeup jobs, such as the harsh breaks between blush and the real you, or the visible streaks of shadow on the lids. The key to “no-makeup” makeup has everything to do with blending and blending and more of it. Great brushes will blend colors better and faster; they will feel better, more gentle, on your skin, and; if taken care of, they will last forever, making the initial investment worth it.

May I suggest an assessment of your current brush situation and a tossing of those you have outgrown? I think it’s crazy to invest in high-end or professional makeup and not have the right tools to apply it.  Until recently I too have sometimes been guilty of this. I didn’t think much of brushes, and in my makeup box alongside great brushes I had some cheesy or broken-down brushes, and would be trying to apply some fantastic Chanel shadow with a clumsy synthetic brush I’ve had since high school, for instance, its plastic pink swirl handle chipped and faded.

I have since mended my ways and can recommend the following:

  • When it comes to brushes go as pro as possible, and get them in a kit version, since buying them separately is not as good a value.
  • Brush sets typically come in a roll case, which is where you should keep them so they stay clean and are in one place when you need them.
  • I have noticed that there are many brush kits out there, and many of them have a professional or sleek “look,” but are really subpar when it comes to quality. Beware the more-than-you’ll-ever-need huge collection of brushes with pretty shiny handles offered at some low price. When buying new brushes, look for quality in the brush hair (natural hair is best), density of the brush hair, shape of the brush and overall construction and durability. Include in your inspection the handle, and note how different types of brushes feel in your hand.

*I really like Royal & Langnickel, mostly because they started in business forever ago by making art brushes–and they also make beauty brushes. (Before I learned that they also made beauty brushes, I had been using some of their art brushes for makeup duty; two indestructible fan brushes for contouring and a couple of thin detail brushes that made excellent eyeliner brushes.) Their consumer-oriented beauty brush line, here, has some excellent values, like the 12 piece set that, at $35, comes out to about $3 a brush. And you’ll use every one of them.

royal and langnickel brush set

Tip: Wash your brushes regularly with super-mild soap and handle them with care. Keep the brush hair in the same direction while cleansing it, and keep water out of the ferrule (the black part of the upper handle seen in the brushes above that separates the brush hair from the handle). Water can get trapped in here and cause mold to grow, which is not something you want happening near your eyes and face.

On a clean towel, dry your brushes flat to keep the brush hair intact and to avoid moisture seeping into the ferrule. Rotate them on the dry part of the towel until they are completely dry.

You Never Promised Me An Herb Garden, But You Really Should Have One Anyway

at home herb garden

Have you thought about instilling a mini herb-garden in your home or apartment? Even if your place is the size of a Q-tip, the benefits of even a small window-sill type of operation with one or two key plants are many. Let’s say you’re a sassy single type who rarely opens anything other than take-out containers of shrimp lo-mein or, when you’re feeling fancy, a can of soup.

Even so, you must, must have at least one garnish on hand. It makes cuisine and cocktails and even a glass of water more flavorful and nutritious. (Did you know that a mere 50 grams of oregano contains 225% the daily recommended daily allowance of iron?)

And, of utmost importance when it comes to your life, it makes for a more glamorous at-home experience overall. Once you get used to having fresh herbs on hand, you will find that it’s hard to drink a glass of water without fresh mint leaves in it, that a plate always looks better with a dab of green garnish and that a few leaves of basil snapped from your plant makes a fine walk-by snack. Takeout pizza with a fist of fresh basil and oregano strewn over it, a tray of gin and tonics with a lavender leaf in each, I could go on.

The key to having this at-home type of herbery is to keep it simple at first (no more than 3 plants), watering the plants regularly and getting in the habit of using them.

Here are my top picks. They can be picked up for a few bucks each at a nearby nursery or home-hardware type store, and they qualify because they can be used in a ton of dishes and beverages, they are hearty plants and they are beautiful: Italian parsley (the flat kind, not the curly kind used for garnish), basil, mint, lemongrass, oregano, rosemary.

A Flip-Flop Tip Or Two

 

how to buy the right flip flop for you

‘Tis clearly the season of the flip flop, this was made clear to me at a recent party where I, the designated driver, walked around a packed house with a bottle of Italian soda in my hand for what seemed like hours and avoided the cup cake table, which looked like it was going to collapse in a heap of bright frosting, sugar and flour. Since much of what I do in life is observe, I noted that every single person at the gather was wearing some version of the flip-flop. Every single person. And child. There were a lot of kids there, running around and around.

The point here is that there are ways to select and wear flip-flops that enhance the look of your feet, legs and overall walk–and those that don’t. Here are two tips on selecting your best flip-flop:

Your skin tone. Is your skin warm or cool? In other words, are the undertones closer to blue or orange?

platform flip-flops

Exhibit A: Avoid any flip-flops with Frankenstein overtones

This is actually of some importance when selecting flip-flops, because the shade of the sole and band can either flatter the look of your foot or make it look sallow and pale and not in a good way.

Few deviate from the beige, black or brown flip flop. With the exception of black flip-flops–which I don’t recommend to anyone except those whose skin is a deep shade with cool undertones, and which make light-toned skin with warm undertones look particularly pasty–within the flip-flop world there are enough shade variations to flatter every skin tone. Try a few on in your chosen principal color to see just how much different shades can impact the look of your foot.

 

Size and shape. Aren’t there some particularly horrible-looking flip-flops out there?  Conversely there are some attractive and classic ones on the market. Hunt this type down. All flip-flops are not equal in construction or style or how they will make you look and feel while wearing them.

classic dr. scholl's sandals in red

The Classic Dr. Scholl's Sandal (approximately $50)

For women: Avoid big and clunky unless…just avoid this type of flip flop. Select a flip-flop style that matches the overall proportion of your feet, ankles and legs. One of the reasons to avoid big and clunky is that they make the girl with the sparrow limbs look like she’s balancing on two flotation devices. Conversely, larger-sized limbs seem amplified by the sheer mass of these flip-flops.

To help support the foot when you walk and add a comely shape to the leg, select flip-flops that offer some support. I am partial to the classic Dr. Scholl’s sandal, which comes in a variety of colors and designs. The mid-range proportion of this sandal, along with its sculpted one-inch heel, falls in-line nicely with almost any leg silhouette. Plus, they last forever.

Alternately, the thin-slip type can look very elegant provided their narrow silhouette does not contrast too much with your foot and leg silhouette. In other words, their spare design looks best on small to medium-sized limbs that have some curve to them. The brand Tkees, seen below, which calls their version “Wearable Cosmetics For Your Feet,” makes these in almost every shade imaginable, which means you can find the shade to flatter your skin tone and make your feet look their most lovely.

 

Tkees flip flops

For the males in the audience: Heed the above advice, and don’t buy cheap-looking flip flops. Those with some arch support will help display the nice masculine profile of the male leg, whereas the flat-soled kind tend to flatten any of the muscular curves in a man’s leg. And a flip-flop made from quality construction and fine fabrics (leather, suede, canvas) will help announce to others that you are indeed a grown up and not a stray neighborhood kid who has wandered in. I did a canvas of flip-flops for men, labeled “sandals” in the more class outfits, and found that the price difference between a civilized male flip-flop and the kiddie type is pretty slim. The pair below, for instance, are completely casual yet completely grown up and cost approximately $40. (Model: Sperry Top-Sider Santa Cruz)

sperry top-sider santa cruz

I’d like to close out with a cautionary footwear tale: A friend of mine, a marine biologist, says that when his department colleagues want to really dress up, like for a Christmas party or the like, they wear thick socks with their  Teva sandals. Where in blazes would such an idea come from? Not just the idea of Tevas, mind you, but the idea of layering yet another level of horror on them. If you have any ideas, let me know.

And finally, one of my all-time favorite passages on the flip-flop, excerpted from a July 2005 piece by Richard Brookhiser in National Review:

One of the most demanding jobs for women is sexuality, for which the proper footwear is high heels. The informal summertime substitutes for these are flip-flops. Some women may believe that high heels and flip-flops are functionally equivalent, since they both show skin. Flip-flops may even seem more effective, because they alone show toenail polish. This belief is deeply mistaken. High heels give you legs like Angelina Jolie in the “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” poster. Flip-flops give you legs like a Steinway. High heels make the compelling, aggressive tattoo of castanets. Flip-flops sound like water belching from a fire hydrant. Following a woman in high heels up out of the subway is like discovering America. Following a woman in flip-flops up out of the subway is like riding the subway.

 

Portraits Of The Muse

I have always thought it a loss to artists that the original concept of the Muse had faded, along with its practice and benefits. Alas, writer Bondo Wyszpolski has not forgotten, and puts his Muse to good purpose in the form of a show she inspired, he originated and then curated, “Alone in the Moonlight: Portraits of the Muse.”

Thirty photographers in Los Angeles were called on to interpret her, a local woman Bondo met when he interviewed her for a story on an unrelated matter, and whom he quickly recognized as a Muse. That someone we meet at a certain time and for a certain purpose: to inspire, refill, awaken, rejuvenate…use whichever term best describes that phenomenon of bumping into the soul that urges you to do your best work again, and for its own sake. Your Muse can take the form of many: male, female, youthful or not-so, handsome or no-so, friend or lover or neighbor or none of the above.

 

Don Adkins_photographer_Laura_Muse

Photographer Don Adkins’ interpretation of the Muse

 

The exhibit is worth seeing, and Wyszpolski’s written piece on the project is required reading before you do so to best understand the ideas behind it. And the ideas. As is the case when the elegant and unconfessional make a public declaration of a private matter, Wyszpolski’s essay on the Muse in general and his in particular (her name is Laura) is potent and sensitive. An excerpt:

Women at the opera and women at art openings are women at their most alluring, but in the two years I’ve known her I’ve never been able to entice Laura to either one. Someday I’ll write the opera, but in the meantime I’ve created an art show around her.

Read the full piece here.

If you’re not in the Los Angeles area, you can view some but not all of the photos here, or see the exhibit in the flesh, which is really the preferred way to go. “Alone in the Moonlight: Portraits of the Muse” can be seen through June 29, 2011 at:

Creative Arts Center
1560 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Manhattan Beach, CA
310.802.5440
www.citymb.info

Three Thoughts On A Fine Father’s Day Gift

bobby_jones_fathers_day_gift_ideas
 
I happen to love this portrait of Bobby Jones,
a man of massive accomplishment and a bit of style, too.

Father’s Day is this Sunday. This means that if you haven’t already, you’ll need to vamoose to get something in the mail or ready to hand off on the big day. Since Father’s Day can cause the big gift screen in the mind to go blank and result in a last-minute scramble to produce a gift, any gift, in order to satisfy the custom of the day, here are a few thoughts on gifts to satisfy not just the custom but the sentiment as well:

Style: Think of some of your father’s most enduring style points or accessories, and add to the collection. Look back at old photos for ideas and inspiration, ignoring the disco shirt phase and the bow-tie phase. Is it cufflinks, Hawaiian shirts, belts or baseball hats? Your contribution should be high-quality and accurate–the exact style, size and shade should be in keeping with what you know he already loves. If you’re only fuzzy on the matter, keep reading.

Leisure: Every father has some activity or leisure pursuit that he loves. Whether it’s golf or gardening or blackjack, don’t just get him some extraneous new gadget that will lie dormant in the trunk of his car. Get him something that either

  • upgrades something he already owns and uses regularly, or
  • solves a problem or issue he currently has related to this activity

For the first, this might be something along the lines of a less geeky basketball ensemble or a luxe tackle box. The second might be satisfied by purchasing him a golf swing analysis with a pro at a local facility, getting him a new and improved reading light (they’ve come up since the 1980s) or an item that expedites kitchen duty.

Self Care: It isn’t uncommon for a father to bristle at the thought of his children spending their money on him instead of depositing it into their piggy banks, so go super practical and assemble a line up of personal care products that he’ll use. A few items to include:

  • multi-vitamin formulated for men
  • shave gel
  • face lotion with SPF
  • lip balm
  • bath bars or gel
  • after shave or cologne
  • hair cream or pomade
  • breath mints or oil

Keep the products as pure and naturally formulated as possible. I recommend buying these items ad hoc at a health food store for the best selection, or buying a kit from a brand that you know he likes. Men’s grooming company Every Man Jack has Starter Kits with packaging that will appeal to even the most product-phobic man. After assembling all of the items, place them neatly in a gorgeous toiletry bag. (Get it monogrammed if it will be ready in time.)

*A Parting Tip: If none of these have adequately stirred a thought in your head on what to get the old man, keep thinking. Reflect on a conversation you’ve had in the last year where he’s expressed some preference, some desire or complaint, small or large. Maybe he regrets that he stopped studying Italian and never learned to surf, or there’s a specific book he’s been meaning to read forever. Or he’s been thinking of getting certified to teach, buying property in Montana or visiting his boyhood home. What can you do to help move his goals forward, even by a tiny bit? It can be along the lines of buying him an audio series or book on the subject, signing him up for a class or buying him a travel voucher with no expiration date. No matter the gift, he will no doubt recognize and appreciate the gesture of a child who wishes to make their father’s life better in some way.

Practical Presentation: Recast Your Emotions

stage_audience_fright_managing

My input on cultivating star-like confidence appeared in a recent issue of Woman’s World Magazine. The piece “Turn on Your Confidence and Be the Star of Your Own Life” by Alison Bell contains some great nuggets like:

  • Re-write your mental lines. Author Mick Berry says that performers who manage stage fright well do the following: Before heading onstage, instead of telling themselves, ‘I must do well,’ they said, ‘I want to do well.’ This simple change in wording takes off a lot of pressure, so ‘you’ll feel and perform better,’ he explains.
  • My tip on using your emotional energy: “Actors know that some of our most basic emotional responses can be turned into solid gold onstage. Marilyn Monroe reported that one of her directors helped her with performance anxiety by telling her to use it!”  To translate your tension into positive energy, tell yourself “I will use this nervousness to give my speech or presentation extra energy.”

oprah_cover_womans_world_constance_dunn

I’ve liked Woman’s World Magazine forever. Though probably not considered the most chic or glossy book on the block, it’s a great grocery line weekly that imparts a heap of practical and usable information each week, and is beautifully devoid of celebrities bending over in their swimsuits.

Happy Birthday, Miss Monroe

Today is the first day of June and also, if she were alive, the 85th birthday of Marilyn Monroe.

marilyn monroe with horseBorn in Los Angeles in 1926 and reared in a series of foster homes, Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson, managed to cling to her unique and beautiful spirit, and manifest it outward, in person and on screen.

The young Norma Jean was a master of practical glamour: she studied herself, then optimized her face, figure and movements to realize and communicate the persona of Marilyn, and she did this with few resources. She jogged in the streets to maintain her figure well before it was a trend, she studied anatomy charts and even lobbed off a bit of the heel of one of her pumps to enhance her sensual sway. Good move, for her walk got her a bit part in a Marx Brothers movie (Love Happy) where she was showcased simply walking across the screen, an appearance that got her a mention in Louella Parsons’ high profile gossip column and caught the eye of her future agent.

Much has been written about Marilyn Monroe as a star and a woman, but the most on-target analysis I have ever read comes from Ayn Rand, who wrote the commentary “Marilyn Monroe: Through Your Most Grievous Fault” two weeks after Marilyn’s death on August 5, 1962. Below is an excerpt:

If there ever was a victim of society, Marilyn Monroe was that victim–of a society that professes dedication to the relief of the suffering, but kills the joyous.

None of the objects of the humanitarians’ tender solicitude, the juvenile delinquents, could have had so sordid and horrifying a childhood as did Marilyn Monroe.

To survive it and to preserve the kind of spirit she projected on the screen–the radiantly benevolent sense of life, which cannot be faked–was an almost inconceivable psychological achievement that required a heroism of the highest order. Whatever scars her past had left were insignificant by comparison.

She preserved her vision of life through a nightmare struggle, fighting her way to the top. What broke her was the discovery, at the top, of as sordid an evil as the one she had left behind–worse, perhaps, because incomprehensible. She had expected to reach the sunlight; she found, instead, a limitless swamp of malice.

It was a malice of a very special kind. If you want to see her groping struggle to understand it, read the magnificent article in the August 17, 1962, issue of Life magazine. It is not actually an article, it is a verbatim transcript of her own words–and the most tragically revealing document published in many years. It is a cry for help, which came too late to be answered.

“When you’re famous, you kind of run into human nature in a raw kind of way,” she said. “It stirs up envy, fame does. People you run into feel that, well, who is she–who does she think she is, Marilyn Monroe? They feel fame gives them some kind of privilege to walk up to you and say anything to you, you know, of any kind of nature–and it won’t hurt your feelings–like it’s happening to your clothing. . . . I don’t understand why people aren’t a little more generous with each other. I don’t like to say this, but I’m afraid there is a lot of envy in this business.”

“Envy” is the only name she could find for the monstrous thing she faced, but it was much worse than envy: it was the profound hatred of life, of success and of all human values, felt by a certain kind of mediocrity–the kind who feels pleasure on hearing about a stranger’s misfortune. It was hatred of the good for being the good–hatred of ability, of beauty, of honesty, of earnestness, of achievement and, above all, of human joy.

Read the entire piece here.

*More Marilyn can be found here, in a 6-photo slideshow of seldom-seen photos taken by a LIFE photographer. They show a young Marilyn who, despite being in studio starlet training mode, nonetheless appeared to be every bit the blossomed star.