So, having acknowledged, however reluctantly, the benefit to spending two seconds a day caring for ourselves in pursuing putting our own best-shod feet forward, we then need to come up with a way of accomplishing this in a foll-proof, fuss-proof manner. The basis of the No-fuss Totally Together plan is to simplify to the point of creating a standard “uniform.” (If I were uber cheesy I’d call it a “you-niform”). It helps to know yourself well--what styles, colors, and shapes are flattering on you and, more importantly, make you feel attractive and comfortable, knowing what actually works as your standard uniform, what you’re likely to maintain, what will undoubtedly fall by the wayside in the first half-second after leaving the store or salon You know, embracing and enhancing your own truest self. As we discussed in the previous article, some women’s true selves do depend on elaborate, labor intensive coifs, do’s, and dresses. This article is aimed at those of us who would, utterly without shame, luxuriate in secondhand scrubs, though we’ve no association with the medical profession, or sweats, though the closest we’ll come to athletics is chasing down our kid’s bus in the morning.
The trick to doing something for yourself without cutting into your crazy-nuts routine revolving around others is to strategically hit those areas that draw attention and can add to a general impression of shabbiness if neglected. Using just a few fool-proof products and focusing on a few key areas, we develop routines that allow for five minutes tops in front of a mirror. (Or maybe not tops. This time limit can be altered to three minutes or 10, depending on our needs and wants). These hot spots are Hair, Eyes, lips, hands, and Fatigues.
Of course there are many other items we may use that I encourage you to look at and play with. Beginning with foundation and adding blush is good for most women, though you may have such dewy-perfect skin you don’t need it. I’m just hitting the hot ones here.
- Hair-- our crowning glory. That tiara can become a bit tarnished if we wear the same “do” to our kids’ high school graduations that we wore to our own. Yes, the dreaded “Mom jeans” may give us away too, but nothing is more aging, or age-revealing as fossil hair. Recall our need to create a uniform, which includes flattering, easy hair care. To this end, let’s sidestep the issue of gray and color--that deserves an article of its own--and deal only with cut and style.
First know your face-shape-- Round, oval, square, heart, or long. (Or others prefer triangular, rectangular, etc.) This is critical to choosing a look that flatters, and, woman, know thyself--as fun as it might be to switch it up now and then, is there a particular length or other characteristic you are consistently drawn to? I am hardly the hair guru of all Mommydom, so I’ll suggest some independent research, but at least avoid styles that require a lot of equipment and products. If you can scrunch some stuff into it when it’s damp and then dash sans hairdryer, you’re good in my book.
Here’s the rest of that book. I have a decidedly round face, alas. I have thick hair that I’ve almost always kept at a length others would describe as “looong.” Now, I’ve never gone for the down-to-the-butt do, but my length alternates somewhere between mid-shoulder blade and waist. Every year or so I flip through magazines to ensure that my style is not becoming stale. To accommodate the round face I know it is important to minimize volume around my cheeks in particular. Therefore, my uniform’s helmet (or tiara), my go-to look, consists of long layers, the shortest of which fall below my jaw line, allowing my curls or waves to begin between lips and chin. This creates a style for me that helps elongate my face (ha! as if that were really possible), creates movement and form, and fits my personality as well. (Plus the whole thing about damp scrunching.) Though we aren’t going into color much here, I prefer to deal with my gray issue with highlights that those sneaky, colorless strands blend into. Highlights also make me feel sparkly and alluring and aren’t as scary as a full-on commitment to an alternate color.
- Eyes--They may have it, but who can tell under that bushy unibrow? A good shaping will open them up and do wonders. I highly recommend having it professionally done at least once, at a cost of around 10-20$, then keeping up with a decent pair of tweezers and a magnification mirror on your own. Each night before bed, or in the morning after your shower pull out that magnifier and tweezers and nip any strays that are growing in that lovely arch. Perhaps more than any other step on our road to Zen-like hotness, a good brow shape will transform.
After the brows are seen to, if you only use one eye product I recommend mascara and an eyelash curler. Beyond that, as far as eye shadows and liners go, it’s fun to play around with different looks--the “smoky eye,” shimmery light-catching pastels, a “natural look etc, but if you’re uncertain as to which colors are yours
DO THIS: go to your drugstore or grocery store and grab the eye shadow meant for a specific eye color (um, yours, of course). There are a few to choose from--Almay, Cover Girl, etc. and in each eye color various feelings to choose from--intense, playful, etc. If this still feels too iffy, opt for a totally neutral palette--earth tones or grays-- that you feel comfy with. On the back of the compact will be a little diagram of an eye and instructions on where to apply the colors within. The instructions will have you use the lightest color right under that perfectly-plucked brow, and in the inside corner of the eye; the medium shade over the rest of the lid; and the darkest in the crease. Use just the two lightest or heck, all three, Smudge ‘em a bit to blend, then curl and mascara those lashes. Eye liners may be boldly used on both upper and lower lids, or smudged into the lash line for a softer look, or omitted all together. As long as you hit the lashes last you’re good.
So, for my eye norm: neutral shadow shades, rarely use liner, and apply mascara only to the upper lashes after curling. (Undereye concealer on really groggy days after really sleepless nights!)
- Lips--To look together, even when chewing, jabbering, or parted in a thoughtful reverie, they oughta be smooth and shiny. For us low-maintenance gals a nice gloss seems to be in order, however, I find it annoying to have to re-apply every ten minutes. One solution is the all day lip stains that come with both color and gloss. Handy, yes, but they also tend to emphasize lines and cracks and make lips look smaller. My lips are thin as it is. So a choice, then--lips that are shiny for a few minutes, or colored, though thin, all day long.
DO THIS: Try both, then keep what works.
- Hands--Those nails are a scraggly give-away when jagged, dirty, and hidden under overgrown cuticles. Fortunately it isn’t difficult to keep them pretty. First, before you run out to get acrylic or gel cemented onto your nail beds, be aware that these fakeys only look good if kept up and filled in regularly. It is true that natural nails don’t look nice for nearly as long when polished, but I prefer to save the cost of fills and do what’s needed to keep them healthy and minimally done. (Also, be aware that if you have acrylics or gels and later want them removed it will be several months before the severely damaged nail underneath grows out and looks decent again.)
- Every time you wash your hands clean under your nails.
- In winter keep lotion in your bathrooms, kitchen, bedroom, car, and purse. Presumably this will encourage you to use it, preventing your skin drying.
- If your cuticles are overgrown use cuticle oil or cream before your shower for a couple of weeks. After showers gently press them back.
- Once they’ve been tamed it’s important to keep them supple as well, plain old lip balm rubbed into them (perhaps after applying to your lips) will work for this purpose.
- Get one of those giant, multi-colored, seven-sided nail boards from the store. Shorten and shape the nails, with the grit, then use the other sides to buff and shine the tops. A quick once-over each morning or evening (after checking brows) may do just fine.
- If you want more shine, use a clear or pale pink polish. These bare colors hide chips well and withstand trends.
- Fatigues (Or ABU’s for we Air Force folk)--You’re never fully dressed without clothes, and you aren't "in uniform" without an appropraitely-lined "gig" and a spit-shine. Whatever your cammoes look like, make them versatile and complimentary. Mine consist of jeans, pretty Tee shirts, somewhat tailored button-downs, often either solid-colored or vertical-striped, and slip-on shoes. I have a friend who sticks with skirts and blouses and another who insists on workout clothes, but the sleeker, cuter, celebrity-endorsed version. As with each of our other Battle-Dress elements, what’s important is that we can grab any top, bottom, accessory, and shoe and know that they’ll go with each other. So, let’s not have the hair and the eyes and the lips all dolled up in vain because we slap a stained, holy tee shirt and cut-offs from 1996 that wouldn’t fit you anyway, because ya got them at DI and they were originally made for someone four times your size. So please,
- Purchase clothing, but especially pants, that fit. And that flatter your own shape. Jeans should be snug, but not tight. No pocket decorations if you’re blessed with my missing butt. If you have my non-butt’s clone, then feel free. High-waisted tapered-leg looks good on NO ONE.
- When you prowl those thrift stores and clearance racks, and I know you do, hold out for pieces that are still current, in good condition, and look good on YOU.
- Launder carefully. Your clothes will last so much longer if you follow the care instructions and don’t dry them until the stains are OUT.
There you are sweet sisters! May you feel sparkly, not gray, and decked in your finest fatigues!
Read the preceeding article Look As Beautiful As You Are