Tag Archives: appearance

Through the Looking Glass

I’m just putting away my power drill after installing a full length mirror inside the closet door of my guest room.  It occurred to me that when someone stays with us the only mirror is over the sink in the bathroom which makes it near impossible to check one’s total look.  And let’s face it; the world sees you from head to toe, not just waist up.  Whenever I go out of town to direct a production, one of the first things I do, if the place I’m staying in doesn’t already provide it, is to run down to the local Target and buy a long mirror.  They’re usually only about six dollars and then I just leave it for the next occupant.  I find this is essential, not just from a fashion standpoint but from a practical one as well.  It’s pretty difficult to see what’s hanging down in the back without a full length mirror.  Any singer or director who has arrived at a corporate apartment and seen a long mirror propped up against the wall very likely has gotten a little gift from yours truly.

I’m reminded of the time, many years ago, when I was in an awful production of “Antigone.”  I was playing the role of the Queen Eurydice and, unbeknownst to me, I made my entrance on stage with a bra hooked onto the back of my gown.  You heard me.  Clearly I had neglected to look in the full length mirror before going on.  The only positive thing I can say about this experience is that it provided my colleagues with plenty of backstage hysterics in an otherwise tedious and regrettable show.  Moral of that story; not only GET a look but TAKE a look.  Yikes.

I was incredulous to learn the other day that one of my better dressed friends only installed a full length mirror in her home for the first time this week!  “How the heck do you see the full view,” I asked her.

“I stand on the edge of the tub and then I crouch to see myself in the little mirror over the sink.”

Are you kidding me?  This would be dangerous under any circumstances but forget about being dressed up and in high heels.  Good lord, that’s a disaster waiting to happen.  Not to mention the fact that all your clothes look like they were tailored for Quasimodo.

You get my point.

I find I need to see the whole outfit.  Many times I’ve taken off an unneeded bracelet, snipped a thread hanging from a hem, changed my underwear (visible panty line, you know—I could write a whole column on undergarments) or simply decided something was too short/young/dated/worn out/out of season, just by taking that last look in the full length.  Think of the long mirror as your cheerleader, your rescuer from embarrassment, your editor, your friend.

It can be an eye opener.

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“My Queen, why are you crying?”
“I didn’t look in the long mirror and I have a bra hanging off the back of my dress!!!!”

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The New Math: +30=-10

Remember new math?  Don’t ask me how it was any different from old math.  2+2 still equaled 4.  Of course those were the days when the only calculator you carried to school was between your ears.  I think it had more to do with language than numbers.  Phrases like “take away” and “carry over to the…” fell out of fashion.  If you are old enough to remember New Math then I’m proposing a simple equation. And if you are not old enough to remember New Math you can keep reading and save this article because in twenty years you’ll thank me.

I’m finding that two things that age me quicker than you can say “Fallout Shelter” are my eyebrows and teeth.  You thought I was going to say those flappy pieces of skin under the arms.  No.  It’s my eyebrows and teeth.  But I’m finding that in thirty minutes it’s possible to look ten years younger.  All right, maybe not ten.  But at least three.

You may have noticed that as we age our teeth start to yellow.  Take a look at your kids’ teeth.  Unless they haven’t been brushing properly their teeth probably look pretty white and the brightness of their teeth really contributes to that youthful glow.  Now if you’re not smiling you don’t have to bother but at this stage of the game I’d rather keep the laughs coming, wouldn’t you?

And while my teeth are getting yellowish, my eyebrows are getting thinner.  I can remember a time when I looked like a direct descendant of Groucho.  No more.  They’ve definitely thinned out and somehow the tail ends have all but disappeared.  Eyebrows can really make a difference in how your eyes look.  Even more than mascara or eyeliner.  Really.

So with a box of tooth whitening strips and an eyebrow pencil I’ve been brightening my face bing bang boom.  You don’t have to go to the dentist to whiten your teeth.  I love my dentist, but I got just as good results from the drugstore-variety strips.  Crest makes several; “Premium,” “Vivid,” “Advanced Vivid,” “Professional,” “Sensitive.”  I buy the least expensive set of strips, usually 14 in a pack.  Target carries their own brand “Up & Up” and it’s just as good and cheaper.  I stay away from the ones that promise to lighten your teeth in just two days.  The potency in those can be harsh on sensitive teeth and if you’re like me, more than a few days at regular strength and your teeth have more edge than an episode of “The Killing.”  Just thirty minutes for a couple of days can make a difference.  The key is to be sure teeth are dry before putting on the strips.  I take a bath towel and run it over the surface (backside too) and apply.

Then while I’m waiting for the magic to happen, with my handy dandy eyebrow pencil, looking in a magnifying mirror of course, I gently fill in the scribbles on my forehead that used to be eyebrows.  The trick here is to choose a pencil a shade lighter than your actual brows.  MAC makes a really nice self-sharpening one that lasts all day, and for a less expensive option, to keep in my travel kit, I use Maybelline’s Define-A-Brow.  A light touch.  Gentle, gentle feathery strokes will do it and voila!  Hair where there was bare!

By the time the teeth are cooked and my brows are on, I swipe on a little lipstick and I’m good to go.  Easiest math homework ever.

http://www.amazon.com/Crest-Premium-White-Strips-Count/dp/B0001WXTPA

http://www.maccosmetics.com/product/shaded/149/263/Products/Eyes/Brow/Eye-Brows/index.tmpl

*New Math was a brief, dramatic change in the way mathematics was taught in American grade schools, and to a lesser extent in European countries, during the 1960s. The name is commonly given to a set of teaching practices introduced in the U.S. shortly after the Sputnik crisis in order to boost science education and mathematical skill in the population so that the perceived intellectual threat of Soviet engineers, reputedly highly skilled mathematicians, could be met.  -Wikipedia

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Working It Out

I’m often asked if I work out.  “Do you work out?”  “Where do you work out?”  “What do you do to work out?”  To me “work out” is something you do with a math problem.  I just don’t like to exercise.  In fact I hate it.  I’ve tried the treadmill, the stationary bike, the machines, Jazzercise, step class, yoga, Pilates, you-name-it.  I’ve tried them all and I’ve never enjoyed any of it.  I’ve never even liked any of it.  In fact, I’ve hated it.  That’s not to say keeping in shape isn’t important to me.  It’s VERY important to me and I would even have to say a bit of an obsession.  Quite a number of years ago when I was living in Washington, D.C. I looked in the mirror, and seeing the downward mobility that was reflected back at me (I swear those scars used to be up here) I decided it was time to do something.  But since I’m a stage director and often must travel to direct a show I was in a quandary how to address the problem.  When you’re on the road for weeks at a time it’s tough to get a routine going and much easier to let things slide.  Frankly, it’s pretty easy to let ‘em slide at home too.  When you’re on the road there are usually fitness rooms available or gyms nearby of course, but for the reason I’ve already stated I hate to go to them.  What to do? 

My friend Merrill recommended a personal trainer that she said was totally on board with the exercise minimalist so I made an appointment.  Here’s what I said:  “I’m a director, I’m on the road, sometimes for several weeks, I need a fitness routine I can do in my hotel room or apartment that doesn’t take too long and, oh yeah, I hate to exercise.”

“No problem,” says she, “this routine will take you 5 minutes.”

“Wow,” I said, “that sounds perfecto.”  And she proceeded to show me six exercises comprised of squats, lunges, bounces in a lunge, push-ups (did you know that you don’t need to go all the way to the floor to reap the full benefit of a push-up?  Me neither), the plank, and crunches (hands behind the head, elbow to opposite knee).  She told me that these are all a woman needs to do to address every important part of her body.  She was totally validated when I saw an article in the New York Times Magazine in May about a seven minute routine that author Gretchen Reynolds says is all you need to do to stay fit.  There are skeptics out there, I know, but I do see results when I do it consistently and more importantly, I FEEL BETTER.

Now I’m not saying that if you do more you won’t see more results in different areas.  But if you’re like me and the countdown of each exercise is one second less of torture, this is the plan for you.  Mind you, it doesn’t include aerobic exercise which is important for one’s heart and for burning those calories, but I walk in the morning for thirty minutes, briskly to my iPod Shuffle (I find Harry Belafonte singing “Man Smart, Woman Smarter” is great for getting me out of the gate) and the scenery and fresh air are so wonderful here in Vermont it’s not even like exercise.  So it all works out.

p.s.  Someone commented on my last post “Going Undercover” that in my discussion of slips I made no mention of the silk, bias-cut variety or silk charmeuse as it may be called.  Indeed, this is the most luxurious and can be expected to hang well, look great, and feel wonderful.  However, a slip of this sort, though it can be machine washed on the delicate cycle, will require some ironing to maintain its shape.  And I don’t have the time.  I have to do my five minute workout!

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-minute-workout/

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Going Undercover

Can I just say I’ve been seeing far too many bra straps lately.  Lingerie straps would be the correct terminology but let’s face it, most of them are bra, B-R-A, bra straps.  Who needs to see that?  I was standing in line at the post office yesterday and a lovely young woman, I’d say in her twenties, came in to mail a package.  She had on a black tank top and black athletic shorts, but that’s a whole other blog post.  Sticking out on both sides of her shoulders were white bra straps.  Now I know this was a look several years ago for about a minute.  But really?  To me this is the easiest way to go from classy to trashy in two seconds.  Or two straps, if you will.  There are so many bra/camisole options out there; racer-back, T-back, convertible strap, Y-back, there is no reason why anyone’s straps need to show.  No one wants to see that, except maybe a Significant Other and that’s private.  There is a reason they call it UNDERwear.

This brings me to the matter of the slip.  Yes, as in “Your slip is showing.”  Or more to the point, “Are you wearing a slip?”  This little garment can make such a difference in one’s look and it seems to have gone out of use lately.  Why?  Skirts and dresses all hang better with a slip.  Even those that are lined benefit from a slip.  It keeps garments cleaner, less wrinkled and protected from mishaps (use your imagination here).  But here’s the key.  If you’re thinking of those horrible tricot nylon deals that ride up in about two seconds so that you have a bunch of hot synthetic around your middle the minute you start walking, you can forget that.  I’m talking about a slip made of a non-cling fabric.  A satin or taffeta-like garment that hangs free, because if it’s going to wind up in a bunch around your middle what’s the point, no?  Such a free-wheeling item can be found.  Farr West makes one and it’s available through Nordstrom’s on line.  Free shipping and free returns so you can hardly go wrong.  And you only need one in a nude shade which I believe they call “Mink.”  If you want to splurge you could get one in Black as well.  They’re not cheap but trust me, these things last a life time.  And you don’t have to wash it after every wearing.  It’s underwear, but not THAT far under.

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Dress by Rachel Kurland of Foxglove, slip by Helena Binder

This is your mission, should you choose to accept it.  Go undercover.

http://shop.nordstrom.com/sr?origin=keywordsearch&contextualcategoryid=2375500&keyword=farr+west

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Got A Look?

Welcome to my first blog post and gotalook.com! The great opera singer Maria Callas said that everyone needs to have a “look.”  Here I hope to explore, discuss, relate, vent and generally comment on all matters associated with one’s look.  But not just your look.  Your image.  Because as an image consultant that’s what I do best.  So what’s the difference between an image consultant and a stylist?  A stylist deals strictly with your look; clothes, make-up, hair.  Basically the outside.  An image consultant is called on to address not only how you look but how  you sound, behave, your speech patterns, mannerisms, language,  attire,  posture,  etiquette, interviewing skills and how you FEEL about the way you look.  In other words all things that affect the image you present to the world.  Want some help in this area?  Take a look at my web site http://www.gotalook.com and find out how I can help you feel better about yourself.

Do you have a look?  Get one!

In the meantime, Can I Just Say…

What is it with the cropped pants?  Two words I hate to hear in the same sentence are “cropped” and “pants.”  Really.  Is this a look that’s flattering?  Who came up with this?  No one who has calves, I can tell you that.  It must have been someone whose pants shrank in the wash and instead of sending them to Good Will said “I know.  I’ll wear them anyway and start a new trend that looks really hideous and unflattering.  Oh.  And then, I’ll pair them with some horrible, big round-toed sneakers so that even if I have thin enough legs to maybe pull this off, they’ll look like two toothpicks stuck into a couple of marshmallows.”

Six more inches of pant leg could do so much!  They don’t have to be sitting on the tops of your shoes.  How about stopping at the ankle, which in most cases (not all, unfortunately, but most) is the narrowest part of one’s leg.  Wouldn’t that look great?  Wouldn’t that look chic?  Yes!  Is it so hot out that having six more inches of bare leg is going to keep you cool?  Here’s an idea.  Wear shorts!  Or better yet, a skirt!  Then one has a clear shot of air conditioning all the way up to the hot seat.  And it feels good.  Granted, not everyone has the legs for shorts and it’s true  they won’t be able to stop at a moment’s notice and pull up the stray weeds in the garden, but guaranteed they’ll feel differently.   Walk differently.

And once we’ve ditched those cropped pants (ugh) we can still wear comfortable shoes.  Flats look great with a skirt.

We might even be motivated to put on a pair of…dare I say it…heels!  But that’s for another time.

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