Friday, January 29, 2010

Glossing Over Things

I was waiting patiently to take my turn here on TCL, but frankly, waiting is overrated. I won't be writing much about clothing, as my personal sense of style is just that, deeply personal, and more a reflection of what I have not accomplished in life (those childhood dreams of rock stardom) and less about who I'm supposed to be (Librarian, Webmistress) on a daily basis.

What I will write about and with zeal - products. I love those annual magazine lists of "Bests," love the sidebar looks into celebrities' handbags and medicine cabinets. So tody I'm writing about glossiness and how to attain it.

I've been coloring my dark brown hair for - gulp - 30 years now. It began as a summer lark. My family moved to a new town right before I began high school so I spent one blissful summer vacation in a strange place with no friends, no social obligations. I did what any teenage girl in 1980 would do, turned up my Walkman and laid out in the sun, liberally spritzing my hair with "Sun-In." I don't tan very well, turning at worst beet red, at best beige, but my hair soaks up the sun quite well. By September, the dark roots were growing in and Mom agreed to let me start coloring. Probably Clairol Balsam color from the local Walgreen's.

I have gone red, back to brown, and back to blonde again, with a long period of peroxide-induced Gwen Stefani platinum. My highlights are now professionally done but it is a challenge to keep my hair healthy while beating it into submission. Here's what I've found that I think works best, imparting a soft, glossy finish to my hair with a minimal amount of goop.
  • Shampoo - when celebutantes sing the praises of the Kerastase family of products, they are not being elitist. This stuff feels different from anything you've ever used and is wonderfully gentle and helpful to your hair. I use the Bain Satin line, alternating between Shampoos 2 & 3. Yes, paying $32-45 for a bottle of shampoo breaks my heart every time. One could argue that healthy hair after 30 years of abuse is "priceless." I buy Kerastase online directly from the manufacturer.

  • Conditioner - For a daily, quick conditioning, I am really loving KMS California ColorVitality. Gets rid of the snarls and tangles, does not weigh my hair down, and infused with lilac and ginger for a lovely scent. KMS is available at stores like Ulta. For deep conditioning, a recent discovery at a great price is Umberto Beverly Hills Repair Treatment Masque. Easily the best deep conditioner I have ever used. Don't use more than a fingertip-ful, work it gently through your hair, and if possible wrap your head in a warm towel for 20 minutes and let it soak in. Rinse and you'll be glowing. Umberto BH is available at Target.

  • Treatment - the "Cellophanes" salon treatment has been around forever but I am a recent convert. Right before my high school reunion last fall (that's a photo up above, I'm on the right, pictured with my friend of many years, Lauren), my salon was offering a deal: give them your cell phone # to receive text messages and they'd give you a free Cellophanes treatment. Hard to express what a difference it made to my hair, lending not only a delicate shine but also boosting volume, which has always been a struggle for me. Mario Tricoci charges $30 a pop for Cellophanes.I'm cheating right now: a friend in the hair biz bought me a bottle of it for $20 (4-5 applications) at the beauty supply store, so I'm DIYing and very happy with the results, for a fraction of the price.

  • Styling - Don't forget to use a heat protecting spray if you blow-dry your colored hair. I like Nexxus Heat Protexx, doesn't make my hair feel dirty or heavy and available just about everywhere. A new discovery - David Babaii for Wildaid Bohemian Beach Spray. I spray it just on my roots for extra lift without any stickiness or dullness. Eco-friendly, it contains "sea salt from the Dead Sea in Israel for naturally enhanced texture; mineral rich Volcanic Ash from the Vanauatu Islands of the South Pacific for increased volume; a trio of Blue Algae, Mango and Kiwi that keep hair thoroughly hydrated." Also contains Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Hemp Oil and Cupuacu Butter. WHEW. All this and it smells like yummy coconut tanning oil. I bought it at Ulta.
So if you feel a need to gloss over something, feel free to use my suggestions. Got a favorite hair care product?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Measuring Success

I figure, if I get one or more compliments on an outfit, it's a keeper. If I'm in doubt (which I am much of the time), a compliment can sway me, and the lack of one can convince me that I must never wear those items together again. I got four compliments on today's outfit, so here it is. I'll get better at picture taking, I promise.

Mostly, I think people liked the purple tights. The only tights I wear are DKNY comfort waist tights (the name explains why), and I own them in every color ever made. Luckily they also seem to last forever, but I'm still hoarding unwrapped pairs under my bed. Just in case there is a DKNY apocalypse.

Heather is my go-to girl for accessories, and she points out that this could use something shiny on the lapel. I spent many years wearing only really big jewelry (also known as the 80s), and then turned around and went the tiny and tasteful route. I'm trying to wear more bling, but I always hear Coco Chanel in my head, "Before you leave the house, take one thing off."

The point of this post, and I do have one, is that for someone like me, who has no innate sense of style, some external measure of success is essential. Luckily, I work with a group of people who notice clothes and are generous with compliments.

How do you know when you've got a great outfit?

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Tale of Two Shoes

A colleague came to me with a demure smile on her face. "I want to show you something funny." She looked down and I looked down as well. And snickered.

Now, Cathy is someone I consider elegant. Her disposition goes a long way in influencing me, true, but she has a certain style. Generally in solid colors like black, or camel, or dove gray, her sleek figure wears simple clothes well. I know she doesn't enjoy shopping - I accept this, even if I don't get it - but she nevertheless knows what looks great on her. She once grumbled mildly that she "had" to get a pair of shoes for an event, which killed me, and then we talked flats for a while. She eventually bought a pair of one brand I recommended, Riekers, and that happy event led to this:

Which one of these things doesn't belong? She said she had stepped into two of the many black loafers in her closet and headed out the door. It took about an hour for to notice that something . . . didn't feel quite right.

This will never happen to me. For all of the things we have in common: we work together, we're both librarians, we have similar haircuts, we're about the same age, both moms to college students, I have no two pairs of shoes that look remotely alike. But I often want to look like Cathy. When I read the fascinating discussion on an Already Pretty post on "spicing up a twinset", I immediately thought of her. She isn't "camouflaging herself" or "hiding from the world". She just looks LOVELY every day, and she is a perfect example of what inspired this blog: A beautiful, stylish librarian. Welcome to our world.