Saturday, November 11, 2006

Coats, Massages, Manicures, Pedicures, and Perfume

I've been in Washington, D.C., one of my favorite cities and one of the most beautiful American cities. It also boasts some fabulous shopping and services. I made sure that I did sample some of them.First, I found the coat I needed, but on the day before I left. And instead of buying the perfect Burberry, I found it down the block at the Filene's Basement (again). I tried on every Burberry that I thought might remotely fit me or look good - nothing worked. On a whim, I tried Filene's and voila, found a Tahari coat in black that looks almost identical to the one in the picture of my last post. And as luck would have it, it was far, far less than the Burberry I was going to buy. Saving money meant that I had more to spend, of course, so I treated myself at the nearest Hermes store to a turquoise Hermes scarf (I'd been wanting one with turquoise). I found Les Jardins d'Andalousie (I'm too lazy to get up to check to see if I got the prepostition right, but it means The Gardens of Andalucia - perfect since I love Andalucia!)
In Georgetown, at the Georgetown Mall, there is a little perfume shop that I've been going to since 1992 that has wonderful fragrances, including those that are often hard to find. I had to pay a visit, and though I wanted to walk away with most of the stock, I limited myself to one small, but incredibly potent, bottle of Fracas. It's a fragrance that isn't for everyone, but I adore it and wearing it makes me feel sexy and a b
it decadent (not to mention very floral) so I tried to spray a little of it as possible when riding in the car with others.
One of the first things I did was go to the Ballston Mall in Arlington, Virginia (courtesy of my lovely, lovely daughter-in-law) and sign up for some badly needed beauty treatments. A Swedish massage by Misty (whose gifted hands would have made her a high priestess in the Ancient World) made by body feel better than it had for some time, and her sinus massage did the same thing for my head. A manicure and pedicure improved the appearance of my awful hands and feet by 100% and felt as marvelous as a massage. I also left with products, namely soap and a shea butter based creme with a "Pink Champagne" scent that is heavenly (Natural Body Day Spa). My sister-in-law and daughter-in-law opted for facials as well. At the risk of sounding terribly pampered and spoiled (and I was for that day, anyway), it was a day well-spent.
I found Cole-Haans (my favorite style, too) for half price at
Bloomingdale's, a pair of boots that make walking easy (difficult for boots to do) and at least 4 pairs of black slacks (when I travel, I think I keep leaving them places) and probably a lot more items that I shouldn't have bought. (Beware of shopping with your sister-in-law and daughter-in-law!) But every purchase fit properly, was a good or good price, and, after all, I will wear everything!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Buying a Coat

It's that time again for me: I need to buy a winter coat. I have a full length mink with a sable collar that I don't wear anymore because of guilt. I also, regretably have a long lightweight cashmere camel coat that I adore, but the moths have gotten to it (I bought it back in 1993, I think, at Filene's in Washington D.C., but it is still ultra chic) so it's time now to get a new coat. Coats are like cars for me: I get one I like and I keep it as long as I can until it wears out (my 1998 Mercedes 300 diesel is still going strong and looks great - I hope I have it for another 8 years - but that's another story). I've decided that I will probably buy a Burberry trenchcoat when I go to Washington in early November. Why? It's a classic (ooo, one of my favorite words); it will work as a raincoat as well as a warm coat (it gets cold here in northern Arkansas, for a few days every year maybe even down to 0 degrees F, but boots, scarves, shawls, and good gloves keep me sufficiently warm - and it's not as if I hang around outside here. The Burberry should be great to wear in Seattle at Christmas and most places in Europe. If I go skiing, I'll probably borrow someone's down jacket since that isn't something I would wear where I live. So, here is my wise advice about buying a coat.
If you live in the northern US, you should consider a coat a major expenditure and budget accordingly. I suggest that the colour of the coat should be camel or navy or black or taupe -whichever is most becoming on you. Some people can get away with a red coat if they have dark hair and complexions and most of their wardrobe is based on neutral colours.
In the southern US, a coat is still important, but if you live in Florida, southern Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, make sure that your coat is a lightweight one. I suggest a very lightweight cashmere for Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and northern Florida where it can get cold (suddenly, and with wind, too). In southern Florida, try a lightweight raincoat - the trench, of course, is the classic.
You will have to take into account the time that you spend outdoors, and I don't mean engaging in winter sports which require different coats altogether. If you live in New York or Chicago and take the bus or subway and walking several blocks is a part of your day, get a heavy coat. If you take taxis or own a car, lightweight cashmere or a Burberry with a warm liner, and great shawls will suffice.
Shop carefully for a coat, and buy one that you plan to keep for several seasons. Cheap coats will not look good after one season, and a coat is something that in some climes people will see you wearing almost every day. If you knew that you had to wear a dress everyday or several times a week, you'd go for a real knockout, wouldn't you? So think of your coat the same way.
Make sure that your coat fits!
If you're buying it while wearing lightweight clothes, get a larger size than usual. If you wear business suits or jackets regularly, be certain that your coat will fit over your suit jacket (you don't want to have to carry your suit jacket to work while you're wearing your coat).

Be prepared to spend more than you think you can: you are not buying a dress or suit! Amortize the wearing of your coat and see how much it will cost per wear. For example, if you wear it 150 days per year for (a very conservative) 3 years, a $1000 coat will cost approximately 2.20 per wear. Compare that with the amount of times you wear a favorite outfit and you may be surprised at the cost. The longer you keep the coat, the less it costs!
Shop judiciously, and prepare to shop for some time. The biggest mistake most women make is buying the first coat that fits and is in their price range. Find one that makes you feel chic, sexy, stylish, elegant, any or all of the above, because you are going to be wearing it often!

If you are unsure about style, go to websites such as Saks and Neimans, Bloomingdale's and other upscale stores online to find a great style.
For unique handcrafted fashionable jewelry, see Cluny Grey Jewelry with pieces from the new Fall Collection.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New Products for Hair and Skin

I love trying new (and not so new) products. Two that I've found lately are "Big Sexy Hair" and Aveeno's Continuous Radiance lotion that adds colour to your skin. I have no idea how long "Big Sexy Hair" has been around, but since Clinique stopped selling the styling spritz I've used ever since I found it in Spain 3 or 4 years ago, I've been looking for a volumizing replacement. While strolling through a mall in St. Louis about 2 weeks ago, I found the bright red can and was intrigued by the title. Guess what? It works. And that's saying something for me now that my hair has grown past the middle of my back. It's hard to make hair that long "big", but the product added the volume I need - especially around my face - and built great body. I'm just hoping I'll be able to find it locally.
I bought the Aveeno lotion just to try another of their products. At a Saks recently as I looked through all the wonderful and wonderfully expensive cosmetics at the counter, a saleswoman came up and said, "You have the most beautiful complexion! [I loved that she didn't even add 'for your age']. Whatever you're using, keep on using it."

I smiled and said, "Thank you." I really wanted to tell her, but didn't, that for the last 15 years at least, I have used nothing on my face but Purpose soap and Aveeno lotion (the first Aveeno lotion before anyone knew it existed). My super-dry skin all over my body has responded very well to the Aveeno, but it has kept my super-sensitive face from breaking out and me from repeated visits to the dermatologist for rashes.
So I tried the Aveeno Continuous Radiance without realizing that it is basically a tanning lotion. I love it though. I do not have rust coloured hands (I do put regular lotion on them first) or heels and my legs have a nice, well, radiance, that surprised me. This is definitely one product that I will keep around - especially when I get that mid-winter lackluster skin on my body which has been covered too long by several layers of clothes.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tights Are Back!

Not that I ever stopped wearing what is one of the best fashion essentials ever, but it's nice to know that tights are big on the Fall fashion scene.
Tights have the virtue of being classic fashion: they look good on almost everyone (so slimming a pair of matte black opaque tights); they are extremely functional (if you live where the temperature goes below 45 degrees in the winter, you know how comfortable tights can be - there's a big difference between thin hose and a pair of tights!); they come in a variety of price ranges; they come in a variety of colours and patterns - from plain to herringbone to wild stripes, there's something for everyone; and finally, they last an unbelievably long time when compared to ordinary pantyhose. I've worn the same tights for over 3 years without a rip, run, or tear anywhere.
And, oh, yes, a black mini-skirt with black tights and little heels -demure, yet very sexy!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Cosmetics and Animal Testing

I know many of you will groan when you see the title of this entry, but I do want to touch base and say that things are better than they used to be where using animals for testing cosmetics is concerned. I was very glad to see that, among others, 2 of my favorite cosmetic companies, Estee Lauder and Clarins, do not use animal testing. As I grow older, I seem to be realizing that most of the cruelty in the world is really needless - and that includes animal testing. I do believe in serious research to discover cures for horrible diseases - and I know that sometimes means animal testing. But to treat animals cruelly so that I can have a longer lasting eye shadow is just silly and wasteful. Does your favorite cosmetic company use animal testing? Go to the Peta website or Google for a list of cosmetic companies that eschew animal testing. No one should have to suffer to be beautiful - including animals.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Listen! How Are Your Ears?'s difficult for women; we have to try to make sure that every part of our bodies are attractive...and that includes ears!
Ears are ears you say, what can you do besides keep them clean?
  • First: Moisturize your ears, especially your earlobs. Women frequently have very dry skin here, especially as we get older. Even some of that great eye cream that you use that is so rich would be great here. But don't forget to moisturize the tops of your ears either, especially if you've been out in the sun all summer.
  • Second: Use a sunscreen on your ears when you're out in the sun. Now most women don't want to do this - the cream or lotion or oil ends up in our hair and feels greasy, or we just forget to do this because except for the times when we are changing our earrings, we don't think much about our ears. They do burn however as well as tan, and since they do both, they will show age - quickly if you forget the sunscreen.
  • Third: How long have your ears been pierced? Check out the piercings. Do you still have nice round holes for earwires to go through or have they grown into slits? Are the holes unsightly? Do they look as though they've been stretched or mangled somehow? (And if you lived through those huge, heavy earrings of the 1980's, chances are they do). Wear earrings that have posts with a front element that covers your piercings. Don't wear earwires that pull your earlobes down or that look as though someone has almost ripped the earring from your ear so that there is only a millimeter of skin showing below the wire.
  • Fourth: If you must wear earwires, get a second set of piercings. One woman did this because she found that she always wanted to wear some fabulous real diamond studs that her husband had gotten her. Now she wear the diamonds and another pair to match her clothing.
  • Fifth: While our ears are a different colour than the skin on our faces, do lightly brush some blusher in a light colour over your ears - not just when you're going out in the evening, but also before you go to work under those fluorescent lights in your office. A bit of blush or very light bronzer will prevent your ears looking as though they belong on an alien being.
  • Donnachloe
Check out pretty dangle earrings at Cluny Grey Jewelry

Friday, August 04, 2006

Bare Powder Makeup

I love trying new makeup (if I think there's a chance it won't break out my sensitive skin)although I've been wearing a lot less since I work at home now.
I've been watching those Bare Mineral commercials on televsion, very curious about their foundation that goes on like a loose powder that you use with a brush - but I am not one to order from the television. So when I found myself stuck in a Walgreen's in Memphis yesterday (there are no German car dealerships in our town, so we have to take our cars to Memphis even for an oil change) I was interested to see a new product by L'Oreal that was called Bare Naturale, evidently a take-off on the popular tv product.
Of course, I bought it. I need something on my very sensitive face even when I'm indoors, and I'm tired of doing the EsteeLauder liquid foundation when I know I'm not going anywhere. I am not going to wear a sunscreen product in the house, so I figured this was worth a try.
I like it. I couldn't believe the coverage that a powder could give and that it could actually look as good or better than many liquid foundations. I have never liked those powder foundations that come in a compact, wet or dry, so I was extremely surprised. It's gives a nice fairly matte (not shiny at all) finish with just enough dewiness to look natural.
The packaging leaves a lot to be desired. The top covering the brush is too deep for you to put powder in and then use the brush. I did get powder on my bathroom countertop. But it takes less than 20 seconds to put on (and I use a generous helping) and my fingers weren't coloured with foundation, nor was foundation stuck under my fingernails. Hurrah! No more scaring the postman when she brings a package to the door.
I'll still wear my Estee Lauder for dinner out, but I have a feeling that the L'Oreal is going to become my daily makeup. A couple of other pluses: it has a 15 spf sunscreen (which I need since I break out from the sun)and it is very cool (with my full coverage from EL, sweat often beads on my face - it doesn't take that makeup off, but it is hot!
I wonder if I'm the only Baby Boomer who is changing the way she looks at makeup after all these years (I wore a lot everyday, and now I'm tired of it! But I still want to look good.)
I give L'Oreal Bare Naturale an A-.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Have a Pedicure

Just a word to the wise: if you are over 40 and wear sandals, toeless shoes, or go to the beach or pool, make sure you get a pedicure. But more importantly, paint your toenails! They don't have to be bright red, in fact, they probably shouldn't be unless your feet are very attractive. They do need to have a light polish with just a bit of colour - one of the translucent shades with a pink glow to it should be perfect! Your feet will look years younger!

Handmade Necklaces

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Okay, I'm not going to debate the existence of cellulite (properly pronounced cell-u-leet); I've seen my thighs; there's something there, and I'm going to call it cellulite and it exists because I can see it! So many rumours - so little real information about "orange-peel" skin.
I don't know that it gets rid of cellulite, but I do love this gel by Clarins - very refreshing although expensive.
  • Cellulite is the result of toxins under the skin. Maybe, maybe not - how in the world are you going to find out?
  • Cellulite is genetic. Maybe, I do know this: I've seen really fat people with no cellulite whatsover - even in women overweight and well over 30. I've seen thin twenty-two year olds with cellulite. I had it when I was very thin (one could even say skinny - I used to drink milk shakes in an attempt to gain weight - yeah, I'm paying for it now!)
  • Creams and gels will fix cellulite. Well, they may help your skin to look better, but if you think that it will really get rid of cellulite, you also believe that there are lotions that will increase your cup size from an A to a C.
  • Bubbly drinks (carbonated) including sparkling water will cause cellulite. Who knows? Who cares?
I have found that there is only one thing that improves cellulite, and that is exercise - both aerobic and directed at the legs. One summer I read an article that advocated sitting on the floor and slamming your legs up and down against the (carpeted) floor - repeatedly (about 300 times). I did it, drank a lot of water, cut down on junk, and yes, I cut down on either the cellulite I had or the way it looked. I'm not sure which, but my legs were substantially improved. It was also quite a bit cheaper than all the Elancyl and Clarins products I 'd spent money on. So, cellulite: there's no easy answer. If you're serious about improving skin texture then:
  • Eat a well-balanced, junk-free diet
  • Exercise
The old stand-bys. Too bad eating chocolate in some form every day didn't seem to reduce my cellulite. But that's me - maybe the chocolate thing will work for you!

ADDED NOTE: I received a comment about cellulite from the New York Day Spa, and checked out their very nice blog. I believe that there is a link to it in the comment - I recommend it. Donnachloe

Beautiful, handcrafted jewelry: Cluny Grey Jewelry

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Summer in the Sun

Okay, I won't even get into how horrible tanning beds are for your skin.
But it is summer, so I have to say a word or two about getting a tan.
You shouldn't tan. That' what they tell us.
But telling pale American women that they shouldn't get a tan is a bit like telling American teenagers not to have sex. Who's listening?
So, if you're going to tan (and yes, I am, not in a bed, but in the sun, and following these rules) try to do the following.
First, don't burn. We're not talking about looking old here - we're talking about skin cancer. So don't burn.
There are only 2 ways to avoid burning: stay out of the sun or use protection.
We know that you (and I) are not going to stay out of the sun. So use protection.
Get a good sunscreen - or really - get 2 good sunscreens - one for your body and a stronger one for your face. Get a hat or a visor and use it.
I haven't had the sun on my face since I was in my early twenties: you should see the difference between the skin on the back of my hand and that on my face (I'm 55 years old). I swear that the skin on my face looks like it did when I was 30 years old. The skin on the back of my hands makes me wince- I think it looks a good 10 years older than my age (at least).
Just don't tan your face. If you wear make-up, it's the easiest thing in the world to use a powder bronzer (get one that doesn't look orange), make sure to apply your powder blush - and no one will know. There are even some good self-tanners now for your face - Clarins makes a decent one. (I for one though get tired of having an uneven colour because part of it always washes off before some of the other parts - and my skin is way too delicate to exfoliate). But this one by Clarins (unlike many of the others) has a 15 protection rating as well.
About 3 years ago, I spent the summer beside my son's pool in Brazil and got the greatest tan (as safely as one can) except for my face. The bronzer worked fine and took less time to use than my foundation! (By the way, if you are in Brazil or Portugal, I highly recommend the sunscreens put out by O Boticario -a chain of perfume boutiques; they protect from burning, moisturize, and didn't break out my highly sensitive skin.)
Use the hat, but if it's too difficult to keep on, opt for the visor because you can wear it while you're in the water. This does not excuse you from using sunscreen however. You can and will get sunburned on the face (not to mention the unwanted tanning) on your face by the sun's reflection off the sand and water.
Have fun and relax in the sun!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Almost Summer...Update Your Perfume!

While it's great to have a signature scent that smells great on you, and that people come to associate with you, you really should have more than one. Some people have a "day" fragrance that is light and fresh (within their "type" or signature) and switch to a heavier, sexier fragrance for evening.
I think that everyone should have at least 2 signature scents - one for winter, and one for summer (you can also do the day to evening thing with these usually, too).
If you favor Oriental fragrances such as Boucheron, Opium, these are really too heavier for daytime in the summer. Switch to something lighter. (What fun, deciding on a new perfume!) Keep in your signature family, but perhaps a bit more floral or green.
My 2 favorite fragrances are Sung by Alfred Sung (the classic Sung) and Escada (the classic Escada). Both are florals, but I tend to wear more of the Escada in the winter, even though it does remind me of summer (it has a lot of jasmine). The Sung is a good everyday fragrance, but it is lighter and perfect for summer. I also love Boucheron, but only wear it in the winter since it is a heavier floral Oriental.
You change your clothes in the summer, putting away your heavier things for winter; do the same with your fragrance to feel refreshed and cool all summer long.

Cluny Grey Jewelry

Friday, April 28, 2006

12 Huge Beauty Faux Pas

Are you guilty of any of the following? These are real beauty faux pas, not just because they affect the way you look, but also because they can cause people to form a bad impression of you.
  • Chipped fingernail polish. This says that you do not pay attention to details and think that others don't either. Chipped polish can spoil the effect of the most expensive clothing.
  • Chewing gum. Have you ever noticed that when an actor wants to portray someone as stupid or ignorant, lower-class or just plain "trashy", she will chew gum to get the point across. Do you chew gum? Enough said.
  • Cutting your own hair. No, you can't, even if you cut other people's for a living.
  • Not getting your long hair trimmed regularly. Can you say split ends? Do you realize how they look?
  • Wearing too much mascara. You'll look messy and as though you have spiders sitting on your eyes. It will rub or flake off if you put enough on, no matter how good the product is.
  • Wearing inappropriate shoes. Sure, they're sexy, but if you're prissing down the street in 4 inch heels with snow and ice, you will look silly.
  • Not wearing lipstick (or something on your lips). Everyone needs some colour, even in their twenties. If you're over 35, you really need it, and if you're over 50, you should be shot for going out of the house without it.
  • Ignoring your eyebrows. Okay, if tweezing hurts, have them waxed; they really are like frames for the face. Long unruly brows can make you look unkempt, and if you're getting older, you may need to fill in if they are thinning or some have turned grey or white.
  • Dyeing your hair one too-dark colour. Natural hair is not one colour. Maybe you want to be a brunette, but ask yourself if black is the right colour. Dark brown is usually enough.
  • Bleaching your hair all one colour. See item immediately above.
  • Covering all your hair with colour every time you colour your grey hair. You only need to do the roots most of the time. Covering all your hair to the ends will make the lower part of your hair hold more colour and look different from the rest of your hair. It will also cause your ends to become dry and brittle.
  • Ignoring the way your voice sounds. Too harsh? Too screechy? Bad, bad grammar? Do you associate any of those with being pretty or sexy? How you sound when you speak to people does matter. Pay attention to your own voice.
If you don't care how people see you or if it isn't important in your business, fine. But if you want people to think the best of you, you're going to have to pay attention to these problems!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Yukky Feet? Two Products That Work

Do you have dry, cracked heels and ugly feet? I do; my heels are so dry that I sometimes get deep fissures and have to use a sealing product (I find it in the local drugstore's footcare department) to keep the fissure (crack) closed. My dry, cracked heels have been the bane of my existence for many years, and the truth is, they only seem to get worse. The vaseline and socks overnight works, but I need to do that almost every other night! Not very practical!
Luckily there are some new products on the market for people with this problem. I recommend their use highly, especially because summer and pooltime will be here before you know it. If you're like me, you like to go barefoot, and dry, cracked heels aren't only ugly, they can be a source of infection.
Two new products have come to my rescue: one is Aveeno, a lotion I regularly use on my face and body. They have a special footcare cream that is great!
The second is called "Miracle Foot Repair", and I bought it at a Bed, Bath, and Beyond store. It is produced by Ontel Products Corp, and you can visit their website at Ontel Products . It also contains an analgesic. Great news, because if you have really dry, cracked heels, you know that they can be painful as well as ugly.
Neither product works overnight, but with regular use, you can see a definite change within a week or two.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Fat Closet? Lose That Weight!

Is your closet fat? No, not you, but your closet? Can you really find what you need or want to wear in it when you are looking for something? If the answer takes you a minute to think about, or if the answer is a resounding "NO", then you need to lose some closet weight.
You've seen these articles before about how you need to clean out your closet, throw away things that you haven't worn for a year, two years, three years (depending on whom you're reading). That is so very difficult to do, isn't it? First, you don't really want to throw things away, right? Never know when you may need to use them or want them again? So don't throw them away.
My suggestions do require some purchases. First, buy some plastic bags that you can seal to put clothes in: space bags may work for some people; personally, I cannot keep them with the vacuum seal. I have found some plastic containers (bags that are supple, not hard containers) at Sears that have good heavy zippers and that are made of heavy plastic. Use these bags for those clothes that you know are not likely to be wearing, but cannot bring yourself to throw away. I have clothes that I cannot throw away or give away because: I bought them in a foreign country and they are unique; they have sentimental associations for me; I loved the way they look so much that I want to keep a reminder of the style; they are not worn out, in fact, are almost new and I just can't get rid of them for that reason.
Now, if you're like me, these clothes are crowding your closet - and they are also preventing you from cleaning or organizing it. Store them in the bags, and store the bags - in the attic, under the guest room beds - wherever. You won't be wearing these clothes, so you can store them in an incovenient place. The important thing is to
just get them out of your closet! You'll be glad that you did.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

When You Can, Buy the Best!

Bargains are super! I’ll be writing about bargains constantly, but remember that a bargain is not necessarily something that is low cost on the surface. You’ll read about it again and again in fashion magazines and books, but you need to think about cost per wear of what you buy. A blouse that you pay $20.00 for that you wear once is expensive, while a blouse that you pay $200.00 for that you wear 20 times costs 10.00 per wear; wear it 40 times and it is $5.00 per wear, and if it is a blouse that you wear regularly over several years time, it can end up costing pennies each time that you wear it. Now, if you don’t have the $200.00 to begin with, this is moot. But if you wear the $200.00 piece (blouse, pants, whatever) to work often, it suits you, you feel good wearing it, it fits well, you’re better off buying that one instead of 5 cheaper ones. What you can afford depends on how you decide to look at your wardrobe.
You see a $400.00 blazer, and you fall in love with it. Ask yourself these questions:
  • Does this fit well? (This means at your normal weight, not that it’s a little tight and you’ll lose some. It also means that it will still fit if you gain 5 pounds.) Is it a good colour? Does this colour compliment your complexion? Is the colour slimming (if you need that)? Is the colour too trendy – will it look dated in 2 years? Does the colour complement other pieces already in your closet? Does it have details that will date it? Again, this has to do with trends. Does it have a trim that is terribly in style this year, but won’t be the next? How is it cut? Some styles, while they may reappear, can look very dated. Think of the extremely boxy large cut blazers of the ‘eighties. Is this cut in a classic style? How versatile is this piece? Can I wear it to work, to the theatre, on a date, over jeans? Ideally, it should go more than one place (and by the way, if it is something that you can wear while traveling that is really an extra plus). How well made is this blazer? Check the seams to make sure that they are ample and well-sewn; that the lining doesn’t wrinkle and bunch, that it doesn’t hang down too low in the back.
When thinking about accessories that can be expensive, the same rules basically apply. For handbags,
Versatile? Handbags should be able to go to work and out to casual affairs. Colour? How often can you carry this bag? Does it go with many of the clothes that you already own?
Do you look good carrying this bag? People forget that you wear bags also. Does this bag “fit” you or does it hang awkwardly when you try to walk and carry it? Does it add unnecessary bulk to your overall profile? How many seasons can you carry this bag? Remember that if it is white, for instance, you can carry it from Memorial Day to Labor Day – about 3 months a year. This is fine if you’ll be carrying it for several years. What is the design of the bag? Is it too trendy? Will it look dated in 3 years? Will you grow tired of it or is the design a classic shape? How well made is it? Check the straps for stray threads, the inside lining, the zippers to make sure that they slide smoothly. Is it a brand name that you can get repaired? Most brand names such as Vuitton, Dooney, Coach, Prada will guarantee their bags, and if you have a problem will repair them free or for a low charge. Some also will refurbish it when it starts to look “tired.” Does it hold everything that you need to carry with you? If it doesn’t, no matter how inexpensive, how much you love it, how beautiful it is, you won’t carry it often, and it will end up being a very expensive bag indeed.
Rethink what you mean by “expensive.” You may be spending money on that closet full of “nothing to wear” that could instead have gotten you a few designer pieces that you wear constantly and feel good in.
This Gucci bag will last a long time! Above is a drawstring Dooney that holds everything and is a real classic.
Very top is the great Coach Station Bag - it's been around for years and will be. I have one in my closet in navy that I've used since 1990 - and it still looks great!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Dress Slimmer!

Everyone knows that certain clothes can make her look slimmer - but of course you have to find out just what clothes will do the trick for you. There are certain guidelines that you should pay attention to, but one thing that you must must remember is that none of these rules is correct 100% of the time. Case in point: double-breasted jackets usually aren't the most slimming that you can wear; however, when shopping with a friend's daughter (she was chubby) I had her try on blazers because they can hide a lot of body flaws. I would've bet against it, but the double-breasted style actually made her look much slimmer than the single-breasted style. It may have been the cut of these blazers, I don't know. But the major point is that although you need to know certain rules, you need to remember that sometimes they won't necessarily hold true. So, to look slim:

  • Wear jackets or blazers, not too short, not too long. A too-short blazer will actually accentuate a poochy tummy and a big rear; usually the longer the better although it you go too long, a jacket that curves under your bottom is not attractive or slimming. Usually single-breasted is the way to go (but read the caveat above) and dark colours, black, navy, very dark brown are best. In the summer, buy these colours in (unlined) linen and pair them with white or cream clothes or very bright colours if you're tempted to wear bright.
  • Wear a jacket that skims the body - not one that is a box. Ideally, it should be cut so that it curves in at the waist.
  • Do not wear your clothes too tight or too loose. Too tight, and rolls are going to show; too loose, and you'll be giving the impression that you're bigger than you really are. (Also, wearing clothes that are too tight will cheapen even a very expensive outfit).
  • Wear a bra that fits. Most women, oddly enough, wear bras that are too little. Get fitted for a bra; don't keep wearing the size that you wore in high school or college. Make sure that your breasts fit in the cups and do not bulge outside them, especially on the underarms sides.
  • Wear clothes that look longer or make your body parts look longer. If you are overweight, wear long pants or shorts, but not capris. Wear V-neck tops, tees, sweaters, or buy blouses where the top button can be unbuttoned to create a V.
  • Wear all one colour. Match a black top with black pants, red top with red - although usually the darker colours will make you look slimmer. If you have a colour that is a bright or pastel though that is your colour, and by that I mean that when you wear it, you always get very positive comments, by all means wear that colour even if it is bright or pastel. The good it does your hair, complexion, or eyes will offset the weight factor.
  • When you wear skirts or dresses, put a jacket over them if the style is right; then, wear hose and shoes the same colour if navy, black or brown is the colour of the outfit. If not, then wear matte natural coloured hose with a beige coloured shoe that is about the same colour of the hose. Do not wear shoes with ankle straps or sling backs where your heel hangs over or the straps digs into your skin creating unsightly bulges.
  • Unless you find a case that goes against the rule (and this will be rare), just say no to belts if you are quite overweight.
  • Wear the right panties for your outfit. You never want panty lines, but you especially do not want them if you are overweight. Buy seamless panties that fit correctly instead of gouging into your skin (in back and front).
Obviously, since all body types are different (you could be overweight with long legs, or short-waisted, long-waisted, etc.) you need to get to know yours well. There are many books out there that use body "types" and give examples of flattering ways to dress. Find your body "type" and dress accordingly! You'll feel better and look better.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Foundation For Beauty

What is one factor that can make a big difference in the way you look? Your foundation!
There are women who don’t wear foundation. They are making a big mistake! Why?
First, because foundation protects the skin. It’s difficult to find a foundation today that doesn’t protect the skin from the sun – and just because you don’t have a bathing suit on, or because it is 35 degrees outside – doesn’t mean that skin can not be damaged by the sun. Most of the sunscreens found in good foundations are not going to break you out, so you can use them without worry. Note that while you may assiduously apply sunscreen while sunbathing, if you don’t wear sunscreen on your face the other 6 – 9 months of the year sun damage can occur – while you’re driving, walking around town, exercising, chasing after the children . . . These may seem as though they are short intervals of sun exposure, but they will add up – and where the results end up is on your face!
Second, only foundation will give your face the chic, neat polished look that you need to make any outfit look good – and conversely, if your face looks good, it can make up for what you are wearing! Foundation evens skin tone, and almost all of us can benefit from that. It provides a base (or canvas as you so often read) that will help your blush and other makeup adhere to your face.
The foundation you wear should be a quality one and by that I mean you should probably buy it at a department store. There are some less expensive foundations, L’Oreal makes one for example, that you can buy at a drug store, but make sure that their coverage is good and the ingredients don’t break you out (of course this goes for the higher end foundations, too; I think it’s just more likely to happen with cheaper cosmetics). I do not subscribe to the school of thought that says that cheaper products are just as good per se; some may be, but they may not go through the same processes and have the same elements necessary to make a quality product. More expensive products have plenty of propylene glycol which gives the foundation “slip” making it easier to apply.
Unless you are prone to breakouts, you need to have at least one foundation that has lasting coverage, especially for travel. I use Estee Lauder’s Double Wear, a fantastic makeup that lasted through a flight (actually 3 flights) to India. It has a great finish, and once in India, in the summer, it was all I wore on my face getting in and out of auto-rickshaws in that very hot sun. I didn’t burn; I didn’t even tan! And it stayed on despite swear running down my face at times.
  • Using foundation that is too pink (go with a neutral colour unless you are very, very sallow).
  • Leaving a line around your neck or chin so that it looks as though you are wearing a mask (blend, blend, blend).
  • Wearing makeup that is the wrong formulation for your skin: if it's oily, you've got to go with water-based, dry, try a moisturizing base.
Experiment; don't expect to find the right makeup overnight. And ask for samples at department stores; if they don't have pre-made ones, most salespeople will make a sample of a colour or type for you. Usually, you can get enough for a couple of days so that you can see how it "wears". Foundation is expensive, but it's well worth the price when you think not only of how much better you'll look wearing it, but it's worth in practical terms.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Instant Status

Okay, this whole column is about snobbery, so if that totally turns you off, move on now. However, it is something that we all have to deal with, and some of us more than others. If we are older, overweight, have a certain accent perhaps, or are traveling out of our element, there are some fashion elements and purchases that can confer status (a higher status that is) just by our wearing them.
1. A Hermes scarf:
I always take one with me when I travel; the scarf is not only versatile (you can cover your head in a mosque or church or just when it is more seemly) but it seems to be recognized almost wherever I go. It can instantly make a black t-shirt and jeans or black twills look more polished and put-together, making you look more polished and put together. If you are scruffy from traveling, wearing one while shopping seems to mean that I am treated better by salespeople.
Buy one with a black border if that’s your basic, with cream inside, or a navy border if that’s your basic. I have one of each as well as one that is very, very light so that it looks more summery. And please, please, buy a genuine Hermes from a Hermes store – do NOT buy a fake. You can usually spot these easily, they will not last, and you will not have the same mental boost of confidence that you get from having a real one. If you care for a Hermes, you’ll be passing it on to your daughter and grandchildren. Buy a used one, if need be, but make sure that it is authentic first.
2. A good versatile bag:
Of course, one universal bag that always confers status is the Vuitton bag, but again, you have to make sure that it is a real one. The best thing about a Vuitton is that you can carry it with anything; the worst thing, of course, is the price. But once again, these last for a very long time. You can buy a Vuitton bag used, also, but make sure it is genuine. Some real Vuitton bags are made in the USA, so that does not mean that it is a fake. Look for the trademarks on the bag, the hardware, and especially look for the tag inside the bag, usually at the bottom side sewn into the seam with the number on it. Counterfeiters are getting smarter though, so buy from a reputable source.
Other good bags are high quality Gucci, Fendi, and also Longchamp and Prada (Prada is great). If you travel abroad, I do not recommend carrying Coach or Dooney bags as their status is not as readily recognizable and they may mark you as American (in some places, I’d just as soon people not know my nationality). Obviously, the more expensive the bag, the higher the status.
3. Shoes:
They need to be real leather or suede and they need to be well-kept even if they are worn. I’d suggest that you have at least 2 pairs of expensive shoes that fit you well in your basic colour (mine are black). One pair should be heels that are plain enough that you could wear them everyday (but you don’t necessarily), but in a style that could be dressed up. The other pair should be flats – a comfortable walking shoe.
When traveling, please don’t wear high, high heels in an airport; they look silly and so will you. People will think that you are an inexperienced traveler or that your taste is inappropriate.
And if you travel out of the country, please, please don’t wear white tennis shoes unless you are actually playing tennis. In fact, don’t wear tennis shoes to travel in – wear your good walking shoes that should be just as comfortable (my loafers are actually more comfortable than tennis shoes and they are easy to slip off and on).

Thursday, March 09, 2006

New Hair Product I Recommend

Okay, I have to admit it: I have grey in my hair - much more than I want. And it isn't a lovely silver grey; it is what I call an iron battle ship grey and does not blend well with my reddish-brown hair. I do have it coloured regularly, close to my natural colour (only better) by a wonderful hairdresser. However, I travel often and usually out of the country. I have tried to carry my hair colour with me that I got from my hairdresser, but it is a pain, and when I was in India once for 6 weeks, even using Lisa's haircolour, I ended up with some very different results (was it the way they applied the colour? was it just the "Indian atmosphere"?).
I'd seen the Nice 'n Easy root touch colour advertised on television, and when I was suddenly called out of town for a week at a really crucial point in my hair's growth (one inch roots; I'd put off going to have it done), I knew it was time to give it a try. The result: it is wonderful! I went from looking like some kind of strangely coloured skunk to my usual hair. I wasn't sure what colour to get; my hair is a reddish-brown colour, but I was afraid the light red colour might have too much red, so I settled for the dark blonde. I remembered from long ago days that a blond "rinse" as we called them then always made my hair look red. The dark blonde worked! It blended beautifully, and the whole process took less than 25 minutes from reading the instructions to rinsing and then washing my hair. The only caveat: if you have a lot of hair as I do, then you may want to buy more than one. I have long hair and needed to do not just my center and side parts and around my temples, but underneath as well because I wear my hair up and in a ponytail and I didn't want the dark roots showing around the nape of my neck.
The upshot is that I can't wait to travel with this! If I'd had these when I was driving around Spain and Portugal for over a month, I would have felt a lot better about the way my hair looked!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Don't Go To Bed with Your Make-Up On

Okay, this is a "Do as I say, not as I do" post. I am terrible about going to bed with my makeup on; yes, it is terrible, even at my age when I am not really prone to acne (although anyone is suseptible). Do I really even have to go into how bad it is for your face to go to bed with all the dirt and grime and pollution of the day on your face? I thought not. But more importantly, you also miss the chance to let your skin breathe, and get moisturized.
I had a friend who hated to wake up in the morning and see her face"naked"; she left her makeup on at night because she really thought that she looked better the next morning with the residue of last night's makeup. If you feel this way, wash your face, then put your eye makeup on and some lipstick, too (a good moisturizing one-maybe slick some vaseline over it). You won't have that blank look that many of us with pale faces have in the morning, but you won't have harmed your skin.
If you hate to wash your face with soap and water because you splash it on your clothes or pajamas then you need to buy those wonderful face-wipes (I think Oil of Olay makes some and maybe Pond's); be sure to get the ones that do NOT require you to rinse your face with water afterward. These are so wonderful; they are quick, neat, and disposable; they are not very expensive, and they are also wonderful if you travel much.
Clean your face at night; it will love you for it!

Cluny Grey Jewelry

Thursday, February 09, 2006

One of the Best Beauty Products (Cheap, Too!)

What is one of the beauty products that you cannot afford to be without?
Petroleum jelly (I guess I shouldn't use the trade name) can be used for many things, for quick fixes and for beauty treatments.
  • Use pj on eyebrows to tame those unruly hairs that stick up and make you look like an old man.
  • See below for using pj to pamper your feet and your hands to make them soft and smooth.
  • Use pj for your lips; keep a small jar on your desk. Everyone can use this; there are no added ingredients that irritate some people's lips. It keeps lips soft and instantly makes them look smooth.
  • To do a good job exfoliating your hands and have them feel soft and silky, coat them with pj first, then cover them with an exfoliating cream and rub. Rinse off and wash your hands with a mild soap and them use hand lotion. Your hands will feel wonderful.
Buy some pj (petroleum jelly); it's especially good to use in cold weather!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Wake Up Your Eyes!

Uh, oh, did you stay out too late last night? Did you stay up too late last night? What can you do to help those bloodshot eyes and dark circles?
First, use one of the products, of course, that is supposed to help with bloodshot eyes. If you don't have one of those, you should use some regular eyedrops (you need to have these on hand anyway) to hydrate your eyes. Don't forego your eye make-up. Use a dark blue liner, especially on the lower eyelid; this will make the whites of your eyes look whiter. Use a softer eye shadow colour than you usually use, and it is very important not to use too much.
For those undereye circles, please don't make the mistake of putting a white coloured cream underneath so that you end up having white circles under your eyes instead of dark ones. Instead, use a concealer only one or two shades lighter than your usual foundation, or unless you are very sallow, use a yellow concealer. The yellow concealer works best on most fair skin that is not yellow based (I love it!), and I recommend its use as a daily concealer also.
Take the eyedrops to work with you and use them anytime your eyes start to feel "scratchy."
Try to drink decaf coffee or decaf soft drinks if you regularly drink either, since caffeine dehydrates and you need all the moisture you can get!