Thursday, August 19, 2010

100 Free Ways to Add a little style to your life....

66. Have efficient routines for getting ready and out the door; also for shopping and tending to details of life; know what looks good on you so you can spot it in an instant -- whether it's in your closet or in a store. It's fun to play with our looks and also to learn what we can about taking care of ourselves as we move through the stages of life. We also like to take extra time getting ready for special occasions. However, for daily life, we need routines and organizations that can help us present ourselves well quickly and, then, to get on with the more important things of life.

67. The signature -- one way of thinking about style is to have a signature. This can be a signature scent, a signature fashion silhouette a signature fashion personality (ladylike, romantic, boho, sporty, dramatic, etc.) a signature piece or type of jewelry; a favorite flower; a stamp that you use on notes; personal stationary. Some women don't like signature statements because they enjoy change too much to settle on one thing. Others, however, enjoy developing signature style. As long as you don't let your signature become a rut, have fun with it. You can keep a signature fresh by thinking about what the essence of your signature is and choosing new things that have that same essence once in a while. For example, if your signature is beautiful long hair, update the way it's cut now and again.

58. Set out to really love at least 12 close people in your life, including your spouse and children and a few close friends of different ages. Enjoy spontaneous moments with them, but also be intentional. Pray and think about these people and what they need.

68. If you get the sudden urge to make a drastic change to your hair, wait for a few days before acting on it. The great thing about hair is that whatever you do to it, it will grow back. However, the process may take a while. Make sure it's what you really want to do and not a whim.

69. Think doubly hard before cutting your hair short. We women are conditioned to believe that after a certain age, even as young as twenty-one, we should cut our hair short. We also think that short hair will be easier to keep when we enter the years of child-rearing and other responsibilities. Men do not think this way, however. Many a man is disappointed when his wife cuts her hair right after marriage or right after having a first child.

If we think about it, that's not so strange. After all, our hair is one of the most powerful symbols of our femininity. In earlier eras, it was considered a woman's crowning glory. It was not until the 1920's, when film stars cut their hair to look more youthful under the harsh lights of that era's movie sets, that short hair fads began.

After you give it some thought, you may still opt for a short do. However, at least consider the possibility of having longer and softer looking hair.

70. Fast from media images for a time -- say a month or so. You'll be more comfortable in your own skin if you are not comparing yourself to the images that the media present. It's fine to tune in just long enough to know what's in style, but it's not helpful to imbibe a steady diet of what Madison Avenue and Hollywood deem to be beautiful.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

100 Free Ways to Add a little style to your life....

Fashion is in the clothes; Style is in the wearer.
Hara Estoff Marano

Fashions fade; style lasts forever.
Yves St. Laurent

61. note to self: Acquire temperance: This quality allows you to enjoy pleasures, such as eating, without being done in by them. The person who is temperate in eating will not have to try a myriad of diets or cut out certain foods altogether, because they will moderate their intake.

Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.
Mother Teresa

62. Take an afternoon once in a while to have fun with your looks. Try new hairstyles. Sort through your closet and combine clothes in new ways.

“If you haven't cried, your eyes can't be beautiful.”
Sophia Loren

63. Review clear ways of speaking and writing. All of our tools for instant communication are wonderful. However, in habitually using the informal lingo of Twitter and email, we can become sloppy in our grammar, spelling, and choice of words. We need to keep our language skills in shape in order to communicate effectively in personal conversation and in written letters or documents.

64. Dress so as to highlight you and not your clothes.

65. Be authentic and humble, not pretentious.


100 Free Ways to Add a little style to your life....

Life has loveliness to sell, all beautiful and splendid things, blue waves whitened on a cliff, soaring fire that sways and sings, and children's faces looking up, holding wonder like a cup. Sara Teasdale

56. Organize from the inside out -- first, the heart and mind, then bedroom, bath, and closet, and then desk and calendar, and so forth. Keep the spaces nearest to you tidy and pleasant. Also, pay attention to your "command centers", the places from which you operate your life. A desk, a kitchen, or even your car could be your "command center", depending on the flow of your daily life.

57. For an instant fashion pick-me-up, polish shoes and purses.

58. Gently use a toothbrush and a bit of mild soap (like Woolite) to whiten lace, lingerie straps, etc.

59. Remember, a stitch in time really does save nine. Tend to spots, loose or broken stitches, loose buttons, pilling as soon as you possibly can.

60. Remember, the bed-head look is hard to pull off, unless you have a perfect and young face and have an entourage of make-up pros and hair stylists following you around. Most of us look better with a neat hair-do. Wavy-haired girls can get away with a little more tousled look, but even that must be artfully done.

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art. Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, August 9, 2010

100 Free Ways to Add a little style to your life....

51. Learn the forgotten art of saying no to oneself. We're not talking about self-denial for self-denial's sake, but the ability to deny oneself for a greater good. A life well lived takes discipline, of which is judicious self-denial.

I am a spiritual being... After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ.
Max Lucado

52. Make it a practice to be punctual. It's hard to look and feel elegant when you are rushing in at the last moment. Also, if you make the effort, others will appreciate the fact that you respect their time.

53. Clean out your purse and other bags, briefcases, totes, etc., often. I know from not-so- stylish experience that nothing spoils a look like having to dig in a crammed bag for something.

54. Keep your car reasonably neat and clean. This is another lesson from my own experience!

55. Take 1 or 2 minute stretch breaks now and again throughout the day. This is in addition to your usual stretching routine. Short breaks will help your circulation, keep your muscles from knotting up, and, perhaps, keep your spirits high.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

100 Free Ways to Add a little style to your life....

42. Create a play list or CD of music that you find to be romantic or that creates a particular ambiance that you want to create. Better yet, create different ones for different moods.
43. Be secure enough to hold firmly to your convictions against pressure, yet do so with gentleness. There are occasions that demand a little righteous indignation, but make sure that your indignation is truly righteous and not selfish or petty. Let any righteous indignation spur you to do what you can to make things better.
44. Be well-mannered and considerate of others. The goal of being well-mannered is to be considerate of others. Manners are like an oil that can be applied in everyday situations to prevent unnecessary friction. Every person of principle will face times of necessary friction, when one must hold to an unpopular conviction. However, there is no virtue in making sparks by being thoughtlessly rude. Most of us need to spruce up our knowledge of etiquette every now and again. It's great to read a book about manners and etiquette that was written sometime between the 1930's to 60's and one that is up-to-date, with guidelines for twittering, texting, and the like. Between two such tomes, you should glean enough about etiquette to handle the daily events of life with tact. Again, manners stand out in today's world.
45. If you are married and have small children, do your best to make time for your marriage. Children benefit when a husband and wife keep their relationship happy and loving. Also, children will grow up, while you and your husband will continue to live together and build on the relationship you created during the years your children were in the home. It may seem impossible to balance being a wife and being a mother. You may be so exhausted you can't even think of keeping your friendship with your husband alive, much less taking time for romance. But, if you find creative ways to make time just for you and hubby, you'll be a happier mother.
46. Pick your battles wisely. The woman who gets upset over every little thing only makes herself and those around her unhappy. The woman who lets her anger fly without judgment wounds herself and her family. The woman who nags about petty things again makes herself and others around her unhappy. Nagging, snapping, and carrying a chip on your shoulder are ineffective ways to deal with others. When an issue arises, ask yourself if this is something that is really worth confronting someone about. It might be or it might not be. At least ask yourself the question. If you find yourself becoming contentious over a great number of things, ask yourself why. Chances are, you are not at peace within yourself and need to deal with your own heart.
47. Find what is good in others and learn how to draw out another's best qualities.
48. Be warm and open.
49. Live in the moment.
50. Don't forget to have fun. Being a woman, wife, and mother in today's world can be stressful. Sometimes, women lose their sense of humor under pressure, and they also feel that they shouldn't take time to play. If their husband or children suggest fun times, they may even put down their ideas. Yet, it's healthy to include fun times in your life. If you are too busy to enjoy life with your loved ones, you are probably too busy period.


Friday, July 23, 2010

100 Free Ways to Add a little style to your life....

31) bien dans sa ame -- Be well in your soul; attend to your soul's well-being. It's the only way you can truly be bien dans sa peau, that quality of well-being and feeling at ease in one's skin that is b beauty secret prized by French and Italian women.

32) bien dans sa peau -- French and Italian women rate feeling at home in one's skin, or being poised, or having a sense of well-being and confidence as one of their greatest beauty secrets. See above.

33) Prize skin care over makeup -- A little makeup does wonders, but it works best if your skin is radiant and you apply your makeup sparingly. Take the time to put on your sunscreen, clean and moisturize your face before bed at night. Since we're talking about the intangibles of beauty here, don't forget that you probably have some of the best skin aids on hand in your kitchen. Olive oil and coconut oil, for examples, are two powerhouses for the skin. Also, learn how to give yourself a home facial. When it is time to spend money, search out reviews for skin creams, cleansers, etc. Price and hype are not the best indicators of which skin care items are best. Study and spend your money wisely. Also, for me at least, pretty cosmetics are more tempting to buy than the skin care basics, but, again, cosmetics are best used only as slight enhancers to beautiful skin. Also, if you notice anything concerning about your skin or you are past a certain age, don't forget to visit a dermatologist. Make sure that you get a check-up once in a while to catch any little skin cancers or pre-cancers that might be forming.

34) Deep condition your hair with olive oil or coconut oil. Shampoo hair. Towel dry gently. Apply the oil to damp hair. Be careful not to apply too much. With a little experimentation, you should be able to tell how much to put on your hair. Tuck hair into a plastic shower cap so that the cap will retain the heat from your scalp. Wear at least an hour. Rinse the oil clean.

35) Use olive oil or coconut oil as a cuticle softener.

36) If you have an oily scalp or flat hair near the scalp, apply any conditioner that you use from the ears down only. Concentrate most of the conditioner near the ends, which are the most damaged part of your hair.

37) Dry scalp? Condition scalp as well as hair.

38) If you have very long hair, coat your palms with an oil, such as olive, and gently pat the ends of your hair. Don't use too much. This is a leave-in treatment for your ends. Use just enough to protect the damaged ends without the oil being really visible.

39) Another way to apply oil as a deep conditioner is to mix it with water in a spray bottle. Spray it on and leave it in overnight. Shampoo and style as usual in the morning.

40) Learn something new now and again. Learn something that is interesting to you. This adds to loveliness in many ways. It helps to keep your brain healthy as you move through the ages and stages of life. The excitement gives you a bit of a glow. It helps you from falling into a dull rut. With all the access we have to information in our day, we have no excuse not to keep developing our interests.

41) Keep up with a few topics that are good for conversation. You don't have to become an expert unless you want to. Just learn enough to ask some informed questions or to make a comment or two. Learn enough that you can share in the interests of others in your life. For example, even if you don't like sports, chances are your dear hubby does, and there are likely others in your life who like sports, as well. You don't have to turn into a sports fanatic, but you can learn enough to at least keep up with major happenings. In fact, those who enjoy sports will enjoy sharing their knowledge with you if you learn enough to know some questions to ask. Taking an interest in topics that others like not only helps you to relate to other people, but you just might find a topic that interests you more than you thought it did.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

100 Free Ways to Add a little style to your life....

21) Edit. -- The lovely woman knows how to edit her thoughts, her words, her wardrobe, and the things in her surroundings. Choose a little of what is best over a lot of things that are "Ok". Go for quality over quantity. De-clutter. Neaten. Don't forget to be creative. If you have a skillful eye, you might notice quality where others overlook it. For example, you might realize that the worn piece of furniture that was donated to a thrift shop has better basic quality than a brand new item from a discount store. With a little know-how and elbow grease, you might be able to restore the thrift store item to a piece of real beauty.

22) Cook with love. Learn to cook well. Ideally, the keeper of the home prepares most meals herself. However, if you don't have much time in your life to cook or you don't especially enjoy cooking, at least learn to cook a few signature dishes. Also, learn how to combine fresh ingredients with commercially prepared foods to increase taste and health. If you cook most of the time, have a plan for putting together an improvised meal in an emergency. Also, if you are already an accomplished cook, you can still learn something new to take your ability to an even higher level. When you do cook, put love into it.

Cooking is pleasure and an integral part of what is called l’√©quilibre alimentaire, a balanced approach to eating. Mireille Guiliano

Cooking is conviviality and sharing, especially when cooking with others—a spouse, a friend, or children. Mireille Guiliano

Love is patient and kind, Love is not jealous, conceited, proud or boastful, it is not arrogant, selfish, irritable or rude. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth, Love never gives up, and its faith, hope and patience never fail. Love is eternal.''

- 1 corinthians 13

23) Write thank you notes and attend to invitations with R.S.V.P. written on them. Old-fashioned courtesy stands out in today's world.

24) Practice five new ways to do your hair with the cut that you currently have.

25) Review your days, weeks, months. Are there things you did and wished you didn't do? Are there things that you need to make right? Are there things you left undone? Are little urgent things pushing you along, while you don't make time for the things that really matter to you? Are you living according to your purpose? What can you do to make time for loved ones? The goal is not to beat yourself up, but to keep yourself on track.

26) Don't fret about the past or worry about tomorrow. Live today well.

27) Take time out to have fun. Take time to relax. Take time to enjoy your loved ones. If you are the type of person who lives at high speed and who stays ultra-busy, you may have to schedule this on the calendar.

28) Celebrate being a woman.

29) Accept your age and stage in life and physical features that you cannot change. Forgive others and seek and accept forgiveness for yourself. To paraphrase the "Serenity Prayer", accept the things you cannot change and change the things you can and want to change and ask God for wisdom to help you know the difference. Don't envy others or wish to be someone other than who you are. This will help you to be mentally poised and comfortable in your own skin.

30) Notice and nurture children. Do this for your own children and for the children of others.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

100 Free Ways to Add a little style to your life....

16) Value God over style. Value people over style. Value substance over style. Have a grand passion in life, preferably loving God. Style comes across as fake and self-centered if it's not founded on substance and genuine caring for others. Yes, we have to work at the externals in order to be lovely. However, style is often a by-product in our lives, rather than a means to its own end. Style is a little bit like happiness in that the more you pursue it for its own sake, the further away you get from truly having it. But, if you pursue a purpose that is greater than you are and if you put others first, you will likely naturally develop your own particular style.

The great value of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.

- James Truslow Adams

17) Make a list of fun free things to do in your area. Knowing how to get up a fun event is always an asset to style. Since we're keeping this on the cheap, search out fun and free things that you and your certain someone or you and your friends or you and your family can do together. Every place has some things to do that are free and fun, even if it's only a particularly pretty spot for a picnic.

18) Exercise. You knew this was going to be on the list, didn't you? We all know about the health, beauty, and mood-enhancing benefits of exercise. The trick is to do it consistently. Many methods of exercise don't cost anything.

19) Stretch. Stretch keeps you lithe, and it helps you move in a way that is youthful. The older you are, the more you need to stretch. Also, stretching can help reverse today's postural problems that result from hunching over computers and phones and the like. It's also beneficial when you travel, because sitting too long without stretching can actually be harmful to the body. Taking a break now and again to do subtle little stretches will help your health, beauty, and state of mind on a long trip, especially if you are flying.

20) Linger over your meals and chew your food thoroughly. Eating on the run means that you consume your food so quickly that your body doesn't have time to register that it is satisfied. Thus, you are likely to eat too much. If you eat more slowly, however, you will probably consume less food as you will be better able to sense when your body has had enough food. Chewing food thoroughly also helps your digestion and your nutrition. Some of the process of extracting nutrients from your food happens in your mouth. Also, your esophagus and stomach are better able to handle well-chewed food. Eating slowly is more attractive than shoveling in food anyway. Plus, you will have time to enjoy your meals. Because of the pace of our modern life, finding time to eat slowly is difficult. However, even if eating more slowly means that you can only have a few nibbles before heading off for your child's soccer game, you'll be better off than gobbling larger amounts. You can always enjoy a leisurely snack later on.


Friday, July 16, 2010

100 Free Ways to Add a little style to your life....

60 something Catherine Deneuve

11) Keep a little mystery about yourself. Open communication is healthy! However, there are some things that don't need to be mentioned either in public or to a belove aged, ed spouse. When asked by a reporter her tips for staying beautiful as she aged, French grandmother responded, "I never talk about such things in front of my husband." If beauty tips are better left to the imagination, so are the nitty-gritty details of many an ailment.

12) Every day, find one thing for which to be grateful. Another bit of advice from a French mother -- or, at least, it was allegedly said by a medeival French woman to her daughter on her wedding day -- "Always find at least one thing in your day about which to be happy." This is similar to some of the tips posted yesterday, but it implies the effort of really looking for the blessings in your day. Some days in life are hard, but there is usually at least one thing for which we can be grateful. Learning how to find these jewels in our days goes a long way toward creating in us a beautiful attidue.

13) Use up all those jars of lotions, potions, and cosmetics. Some women buy a cosmetic or skincare product and use that one product until they run out. Others of us buy too many. If you find yourself in the latter categroy, determine to use up what you have before you bring anything else in. Also check use-by dates and throw away anything that is old and, thus, possibly contaminated. (Mascara, in particular, is one cosmetic item with a short shelf life.) Using what you have before buying more will de-clutter your dressing space and make it look prettier. It will also be good for your budget.

14) Keep a spray bottle of chilled water in your fridge. You can use this to freshen up on a hot day. You can even spray a slight mist over your face without ruining your makeup, if you are careful. Don't forget to re-apply sunscreen if needed.

15) Learn to mend and alter. Many a skillful woman throughout the ages has extended the life of her wardrobe with careful mending and alteration.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blah to Fab for Free: 100 No-Cost Ways to Put a Little Style in Your Life...

When we want to spruce up our wardrobes or or homes, we have lots of resources to guide us. For example, there is Nina Garcia's popular list of one hundred clothing pieces and other items she considers essential to creating personal style.

For me, an attack of the frumps often has as much to do with my mindset and habits as it does what is actually hanging in my closet. Or, when looked at from another angle, a dowdy wardrobe is an outworking of my inner being.

So, I thought it might be fun to come up with a list of 100 intangibles of loveliness. After all, what woman couldn't use some no-cost tools in her beauty kit? Besides, the outer wrapping doesn't wear well until the inner foundation is in place.

Here are my first ten choices, in no particular order of importance.

1) Posture. Sit, move, and stand in a way that is not only graceful, but also promotes health. This is a weakness of mine, so I'm focusing here, first.

2) Smiles. Cultivating a generally pleasant expression not only preserves the face, but also makes us seem friendlier and more approachable.

Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important. ~Janet Lane

3) Tears. While it's important to smile, there are also occasions for compassionate tears. It's good to know how to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. It's also healing on occasion just to sit down and have a good cry.

"There is a sacredness in tears...They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love."
Washington Irving.

4) Words. Speaking words that meet the need of the moment is a great skill. Speaking kindly, gently, and directly is a great art. Knowing how to say only that which builds others up takes loving insight.

5) Ears. Great listeners make the most fascinating conversationalists.

6) Eyes. Eyes to notice others. Self-centeredness is anything but appealing.

7) The cultivated eye. The cultivated eye knows how to arrange the elements in a room in a pleasing manner. The cultivated eye also knows how to dress to best advantage. The cultivated eye understands line, color, space, symmetry, visual balance, and light. The cultivated eye can arrange a pleasing table. The cultivated eye knows how to take a room from being cluttered to calm by carefully editing and organizing. I'm not referring to someone who likes or understands "high style", but someone who can take every-day elements and create from them a space that is warm, cozy, and welcoming. Some of us are born with a talent for such things. Others of us have to learn by careful observation and practice. We may need to enlist the help of a friend whom we know has a good eye for arranging things. One caveat: In cultivating our eye to see how to create loveliness out of the ordinary, we need to guard against becoming discontent with what we have or critical of others who might do things differently than we do. We're not aiming for artistic snobbery here, but we're simply doing the best we can with what we have at our finger tips.

8) Dress in good deeds. Care for those in need. Love the unlovely.

9) Watch your thoughts. Think about things that are pure, true, lovely, admirable, noble, righteous. Set your mind on things that will last for eternity. Then, the passing of time will be glorious to you and not a reason to mourn.

There is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness. ~Lady Blessington

10) Get the big picture, but attend to the details. When we take a first look at some beautiful spot in nature, we see that the whole vista is beautiful. Yet, when we take a closer look, we find that the scene is made up of a myriad of details. Just examining the many little details that comprise one lovely flower can keep us busy for a while. Even the lowly dirt is comprised of many elements and is home to many creatures. In fact, our whole world is made up of tiny, tiny details that we can't even see with the naked eye, such as the parts of atoms. God created things that are beautiful and good and functional, and He placed structure and order and detail and pattern into the universe.

If a woman is to create a lovely, organized, efficient space around her, as well as present herself well and do her work to her greatest satisfaction, she will need to attend to the details. (Not my strong suit!). Yet, at the same time, she needs to keep an eye on the big picture so that she doesn't get lost in the details and miss the overall significance of what she is doing. This is a delicate balance.

Attention to details is necessary in loving a husband, caring for children, cooking, sewing, laundering and ironing, mending, arranging rooms, setting tables, organizing one's self, cleaning, completing one's work for an employer, organizing a wedding or other social or family event, taking care of your grooming, and in being charitable and hospitable to others. In fact, it's hard to find any aspect of life in which taking care of the little things well doesn't add to the success of the whole endeavor.

If we are a big picture type of woman, we can train our eye to notice details and train ourselves to take care of the behind the scenes work. If we are detail oriented to the point that we spend a whole day taking care of dust bunnies and leave more important things undone, we can train ourselves to have a better grasp of the larger picture. So much of our happiness and effectiveness in life comes from knowing how to best spend the moments of our days. There is a time to be exquisite in our attention to detail and a time to do our best on a project and let it go. There's a time to make and ice a cake from scratch, for example, and there's a time to run to the bakery and buy one ready-made.

Attending to the details of life doesn't win us any glory. In fact, we may work hard to do a task well, only to feel that our husband, children, boss, friend -- whomever -- doesn't even have a clue how painstaking our work was. If we want to do our work well, we can't base our entire happiness on whether or not another person understands how hard we worked. We must get some satisfaction simply by knowing in ourselves that we poured our hearts into it.

In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little, smallest human detail can be a Lietmotiv.
Henri Cartier-Bresson

So, these are the first ten in my list of "the intangibles of beauty and style". Next time, we'll explore items 10 through 20.

What about you? What's on your list of 100 Free Ways to Add Beauty and Style to Your Life?


Friday, June 25, 2010

Five Ways to Create Lasting Inner Beauty

In my previous two posts, I talked about the futility of depending on physical perfection lasting forever. However, inner beauty really does add to physical beauty, and even an old woman with great inner beauty usually has an outward radiance to match it. There is something about inner beauty -- true inner beauty -- that often preserves the face and body and enhances outer beauty to a degree that might not be expected. I can think of godly senior citizens who are lovely!

Likewise, inner sin and distress mars our face and body and can often rob us of our beauty at an early age. Bitterness, worry, hedonism and over-indulgence in food or drink are just a few of the sins that write themselves across our faces and bodies.

Were it not true that inner beauty does enhance our physical beauty even into old age, it would still be worth pursuing because it pleases God. In fact, true inner beauty happens when we pursue it not out of selfishness, but because we do love God and want to please Him and we love the other people in our lives well enough to be good stewards of our appearance and health.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. I Peter 3

This is a quaint cliche, but there is a grain of truth to it: At twenty, you have the face that God gave you. At forty, you are developing your face to be what it will be. At sixty, you have the face you deserve.

Thank the Lord for grace and mercy!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

When beauty fades -- beauty without idolatry Part II

Yesterday, I mentioned reading two articles about personal style. While researching a totally different topic, I came across this article by Ellen Wurtzel entitled, "When Beauty Fades." In the article, 41-year-old Wurtzel writes of her attempts to reconcile herself to her fading beauty. She also is open about the fact that she indulged in many relationships with men, yet, so far, has failed to establish a lasting, committed relationship. Now, she feels that her days of choice are behind her.

This is her conclusion: But eventually, at some somber and sobering calendar date, most of us lose our looks and likewise one of our charms—and I will lose mine. At which time, for me at least, there won’t be much point to life anymore at all.

I don’t want to look back at what was, tell stories of once upon a long time ago, of what I used to do, of the men I once knew way back when, of 1,001 rapturous nights that were and are no more—I don’t want my life to be the trashy and tragic remains of a really great party, lipstick traces on a burned-out cigarette at the bottom of a near-empty champagne goblet. Sex and sexuality, at least for me, are not some segment of life; they are the force majeure, the flood and storm and act of God that overtakes the rest. Without that part of me, I’d rather be dead. And I know all I can do right now is hold on tight to the little bit of life that’s left, cling to the edge of the skyscraper I’m slipping off of, feel my fingers slowly giving way, knowing I’m going to free-fall to a sorrowful demise.

Maybe I would not have to hold on with such tough white knuckles if I’d done things right when I was still young.

My heart goes out to Ellen Wurtzel. As the author of Prozac Nation, she discussed her suffering caused by a form of depression that I assume is partly genetic in origin. Such depression is tough to cope with. Genetics aside, however, might her outlook brighten if she traded in the idols of beauty and sex in favor of finding peace in the arms of the true God?

Ellen is not alone in her struggle. At some point, we all look in the mirror and realize that we are, in terms of sheer physical allure, losing ground. It occurs to us that there is not enough botox in the world to halt the process of aging or, more importantly, to cancel our appointment with death. What's more, we sense, even if only dimly, that we will somehow have to give an accounting for how we have lived our life. We take stock ourselves and realize that we have often missed the mark of a life that is loving and true. We wish to have spent our quick trips around the sun on the things that really matter in the end. More than anything, we do not want to wind up with eternal regret.

How we deal with the realization of both our mortality and our fallibility depends on where we place our hope. Do we value youthful beauty for what it is, a treasure to be enjoyed within godly, protective boundaries? Are we willing to let youth pass when its time to move on to the next stages of life? Are we holding on to fleeting idols with tough white knuckles, as Ellen so eloquently put it, or do we eagerly press forward to take hold of that which is eternal? Do we understand what wonderful redemption Christ has brought through the cross?

Sex, beauty, food, nature, and all the good gifts of God were meant to be our servants, and not our masters. Sadly, we often confuse the gifts with the Giver, sometimes to the point of even refusing to believe that the Giver exists. Even those of us who do walk with our Lord sometimes are tempted to take our eyes off of Him for a moment. We are tempted to turn to the things of this world for comfort and direction. At some point, we have all mixed up our priorities and have valued the created over the Creator.

To do so is to invite peril. There are so many things in the world that promise truth and deliver falsehood, that start with pleasure and become a burden, and that pretend to give life but end in death. Sex and beauty are just two of the things in which we might place false confidence. Others are science, intellect, money, politics, food, saving the planet, our families, our homes, career success, being physically fit, any of the many "isms" such as feminism...You name it and souls can make an idol of it. The problem is that many of these things make wonderful servants, but all of them are terrible masters.

The root of all idolatry is in self, in the mistaken idea that we can create a god for ourselves according to our wishes or even to be our own god. The problem is that self is healthy only when rightly related to self's true Creator. Self, surrendered and disciplined, is a great gift. Self, when bowed down to and worshiped, becomes a monstrous ruler.

The irony is that unredeemed self always bows down to things of lesser place in the order of things, thus diminishing the very thing that self most loves -- which of course is self. If beauty and sex are our gods, for example, we have forgotten that we have souls of infinitely more value than our outward appearance. We do not know that we are created for a purpose that is grander and more satisfying than our fleeting pleasures. Sex and beauty within God's boundaries enrich us. When lifted up as idols, they cease to satisfy us and begin to control us.

This world and the things of it are destined to perish. The man or woman who puts false hope in the things of this world will perish along with it, but the man who does the will of God will live forever. John 3:15-26. Though our bodies are marvelous creations, they remind us of this truth. We all want to have the wisdom of fifty or sixty or seventy in a body that's twenty, but, instead, we must accept some wrinkles and some frailty along with lessons learned.

The good news is that it's never too late to let go of the tense, white-knuckled grip on whatever idols we have formed in life. God can free us from even the most tenacious idol, which is self. When we die to self and look up to worship Him in the beauty of his holiness, we find freedom and life. To worship Him elevates us.

No matter how we spent our pasts, we can come to God for a new birth. He has lifted up our eyes to a hope that does not fade with age or death.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. I Peter 1:18-19

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, I Peter 1:3-4

What greater news could there be?

I say this as much to myself as to anyone: Never spend your life on things that eternity can take away from you. Invest in the treasure that will last beyond wrinkles, beyond failing strength; beyond fading desire; even beyond death. Seek the Lord with all of your heart. He will never fail you. John 14:6 And, when it comes to beauty, go after the inward beauty that never, ever fades. I Peter 3.


When Beauty fades...Beauty without idolatry. (Not for young readers)

Part I

What woman doesn't enjoy tending to a neat and lovely appearance, creating a pretty haven around her, and enjoying the breathtaking beauties that God has painted into nature? Our creator has surrounded us with beauty in such quantities we can scarcely take it all in: sunrises and sunsets, oceans, beaches, mountains, birds, flowers, fruit, smiles, children, the love between a man and wife, the wonders of God's word; hands that evidence a lifetime of productive work....the list goes on endlessly. And, that is only in our temporal world. We cannot fathom the beauties that await the faithful in heaven.

I occasionally like to read articles about style, fashion, decorating, crafts, and cooking -- things that will help me to put loveliness and love into the things that I do. (Or, at least these things would if I always put the good advice into practice!) Obviously, I blog about those things as well, for taking care of our and our families' health, appearance, and clothing is part of keeping a home.

Recently, however, I read excerpts from two writings about finding your own personal style that left me feeling cold. I wasn't sure why at first. Then, I realized that the intent of these writings went beyond fashion help. The authors presented style as something by which you can create your entire world as you wish it to be, if only you have enough self-understanding. They intimated that style was the heart of everything we do and the reason for doing it. They also suggested that our self as expressed by our style is our guide to every area of life, including relationships.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that if you make style your platform on which to stand in life, the ever-shifting planks will eventually collapse and you will fall. Learning and expressing our style is fine as far as it goes. However, if we ask style to be more than it is -- if we ask it to be the standard by which we live our lives and the idol for which we live -- it will crumple under the weight of so much false hope. Style means nothing in the face of tragedy and death, and it adds nothing of substance to the greatest of our joys. We do best to let it be what it is -- the glitter, the wrapping paper, and the icing of life.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fashion: What he thinks; what she thinks...It may be two different things

We either dress and groom ourselves as if we care about others, or we don't, and whether we do or not sends a message to the people in our lives. We can also become way too absorbed with how we look, or we can go to the opposite extreme and become sloppy, or we can find a healthy balance between presenting ourselves pleasantly and yet not putting undue emphasis on our looks. Again, which of these choices we make communicates to others where they fit in our priorities.

As women, we dress the way we do for many reasons. We may choose comfort. We may dress appropriately for a career. We may select clothes that are suitable for an occasion. We may dress in a way that our children can be proud of. We may have fun with fashion and dress in a way that makes us feel happy and/or pretty. If we love God, we place first emphasis on dressing according to His standards.

Let's be honest, though. At least part of the way we dress and groom ourselves has to do with the opposite sex. We do want to be pleasing to our spouse (or a potential one). Lest we think that is sexist, don't we also enjoy it when the men in our lives present themselves in a way that is attractive to us?

The funny thing is that men and women often see women's clothing in different ways. Women tend to take their cues from what is currently in fashion and what other women are wearing. Yet, what is in fashion for women doesn't always communicate attractiveness to men.

I know this after being married for nearly 30 years and having had some discussions on the subject. Yet, I've been amused and even a little surprised lately after reading several current lists of men's dislikes and likes.

Keep in mind that your man is an individual, and if you want to know which items of clothing that you wear appeal to him, you'll have to communicate with him. Also, keep in mind that certain things are generational, and younger men and older men do not always think the same way about certain fashions. Finally, keep in mind that both your and your spouse's tastes will change through the years. (That gives rise to a side thought: Be wary -- very wary -- of following a fashion trend that requires a permanent alteration to your body. You will live to regret it!)

Though men are individuals, here are some items that have been cropping up in general lists of women's fashions that men don't like. These lists are based on interviews with young and youngish men.

1) Crocs and Uggs. I think most of us could have figured out that these are not the most attractive or feminine foot gear. Perhaps, they can serve a utilitarian function now and again, but we probably should save the crocs for gardening or working in a hospital and the Uggs for the days when we are coming down with the flu and don't care what we look like.
2) Designer shoes. On the other hand, while men do appreciate a feminine shoe, they are unlikely to know if you are wearing Manolo Blahniks or not. They simply don't see what the designer fuss is all about. Enjoy wearing lovely shoes, but save your pennies and skip the exclusive labels. Just buy ones that are cute and well-made and that fit in your budget.
3) The ballet flat. I love ballet flats and don't intend on giving them up. However, we should be aware that to some men, these shoes look as if we just threw them on without giving any thought to how they look.
4) Huge sunglasses. I didn't see this one coming, though I should have. We all feel glamorous in the right pair of sunglasses. The problem is that some recent fashion cycles have tended toward the over-sized look. Yet many men are uncomfortable when they cannot see your face or expression because they are covered by large, dark shades. We can still enjoy great sunglasses. We just need to make sure that they fit our faces correctly and that we take them off once in a while so that our men can see the lovely smile in our eyes.
5) Heavy makeup, "costumey" makeup, overdone makeup. This is no surprise. We have long known that many, if not most, men prefer a more natural makeup look. A little makeup can go a long way to make our faces look more radiant; just be sure that you wear colod ors that are right for you and apply them with a light hand. Note that some men specifically singleut red lipstick as a turn-off, particularly if the woman does not have the coloring to carry it off well. Others also mentioned disliking purple shades of lipstick.
6) Some lists include capris as a style that men dislike. I personally think that this might be because capris have become associated with women who are middle-aged and older, as we post-thirty-fives tend to find capris an easy style to wear. Also, some capri looks are both sloppy and dowdy, not to mention the fact that some capri lengths are flattering to the leg and some are not. However, there's no doubt that a sharp pair of capris can be a great summer staple. Keep them neat and crisp and pair them with great tops and accessories so that you don't look outdated in them. Also, be sure the length of the capris suits your leg. Men also mentioned a dislike of the very long shorts that are so popular right now. These, like capris, are flattering to some women and not to others.
7) Fashions that are too overtly sexy. Of course, we know that men who are trying to stay pure according to God's standards appreciate it when women attend to modesty. However, it may surprise you to know that I found this on a list of men who are not necessarily trying to remain pure in their relationships with women. Some of the reasons men gave for their dislike of things that are too revealing should give us some insight into why modesty is so important: 1) Showing too much takes away any mystery about the woman and dampens any interest in pursuing a relationship with her. 2) It takes attention off the woman as a person and puts the attention solely on her body parts. 3) It takes away from that classy quality that so many men admire. 4) It makes a woman appear as if she's insecure and trying too hard.
8) Trying too hard to emulate a celebrity, a fashion trend, or to impress other women that you are a fashionista. It's fine to take fashion inspiration from these things. Men do appreciate it when we don't look too old-fashioned, dowdy, or out of touch. However, they don't feel comfortable if we turn ourselves into "fashion clones", either.
9) Menswear items used as women's wear. That's not hard to understand, is it?
10) Neon colors.
11) Here's one that surprised me: Fringe on clothing and accessories.
12) Here's the one that surprised me the most: pink. Many men do not like the color pink. As this is both my favorite color and the color that is most flattering to me, that causes me to sigh. My husband is fine with pink, however, so it won't be disappearing from my wardrobe.

As I said in the beginning, clothing serves many purposes, not the least of which is to wear something that we personally enjoy. The goal of this article is not to encourage women to dress solely for what men think. However, if we do care about our spouses, we will want to give great consideration to presenting ourselves in a manner that conveys how much we care about them. We will want to dress in manner that they find to be pleasant and attractive manner. It's only considerate to learn something about our husbands' taste in clothing. This will not only help us when we plan our wardrobes, but will also deepen our understanding of how our mates thinks.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beauty and Focus...

She selects wool and flax...
She considers a field and buys it...
Proverbs 31

Have you ever thought how much of the Proverb 31 woman's inner beauty was due to her focus? She was able to select the best materials. She chose activities that fit with her role in life and managed her time well. She knew what was going on in her household.

The ability to focus and to select has so much to do with both our inner and outer beauty. As a person who can be scatter brained, I am trying to cultivate this quality within myself.

If we are Christians, we don't have to wonder what our focus should be. Jesus tells us to seek God's kingdom and his righteousness first. Matthew 6:33. He tells us to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love others as He loved us. He have us the mission of making disciples from all nations. Matthew 28:18-20. The word gives us many specific instructions about how to focus on God in the activities of our lives.

There are many lovely things to do in life. However, if we are to keep our ultimate focus on the Lord and enjoy our relationship with Him, we must choose what is pleasing to the Lord and helpful to our purpose in life. That involves saying no to some things, even things that might be fine in and of themselves, and saying yes to the things that are best.

As far as our health and beauty are concerned, here are some ways that focusing and choosing only the best can help us.

Here are some examples:

1) Love: Is loving God, your spouse, your family, and others important to you? You can experience the joy of loving God and others more fully if you make it the focus of your schedule. Likewise, you can make choices to be loving and Christ-like, rather than to react to others with impatience, selfishness, or indifference. If you schedule, plan, and discipline yourself, you will be prepared in heart and character to take advantage of spontaneous activities to love others.
2) Romance: If you want to encourage more romance in your marriage, you can make choices that foster a romantic atmosphere in your marriage. Of course, we want to be open and transparent with our spouse. However, that does not mean that we should not also focus on being lovely for our husbands. Some choices to consider: How is my attire? What about my nightwear? Without going overboard, do I spend a reasonable amount of time on taking care of my health and appearance? Am I encouraging? Do I make time for romance with my husband. (If you are busy, especially with small children, you can't always depend on the time just magically appearing.) Are you fun to be with? Do you take an interest in your husband's interests? Do you listen enough to know him as he changes and grows throughout life? Are you an interesting person in your own right?
3) Food: If you are fighting the battle of the bulge or if you need to eat for better health, choose quality food over quantity. Savor your food. Focus on what you eat. Do not eat mindlessly.
4) Home: Eliminate clutter by learning how to select only those things to keep that you really need or that really add beauty to your home. Eliminating clutter can add peace to your home.
5) Clothing/Grooming: Learn what works for your figure and skin type. Buy the best quality you can for your budget. Remember that it's better to have a few well-made garments than to stuff your closet with things that will easily wear out, fade, or go out of fashion. Likewise, pare down your skincare and makeup routine and stick to it. Add new products to your collection slowly.
6) Finances: Determine your priorities and stick to them, allowing for a splurge now and again. Give from your gross, rather than from your adjusted income.
7) Chores: Learn to choose what most needs doing at the moment. Put your focus where it is most appropriate and most needed at the time. Do not fret about what you aren't doing at the moment. Do the best you can in this moment and, then, move on to the next. Avoid being harried or frazzled.
8) Mood: There is a time to acknowledge sadness and pain. But, once you've dealt with the tough emotions of the moment, change your focus. Choose thoughts that lift you up rather than tear you down. Often, we depress ourselves needlessly by focusing again and again on the negative or by fretting about something that may not even happen.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What's your style? The classic woman

What's your style profile?

Today's style: The Classic Woman.

Do you relate to any of these style buzzwords? Elegant? Tasteful? Refined? Understated? Tailored? Polished? Neat? Well-dressed? Appropriately dressed? Pulled together? Ladylike? Traditional?

While some of those buzzwords overlap with other style profiles, they do, when taken together, give a picture of classic style. Classic style is timeless. It is not extremely trendy or faddish. It evokes the image of good manners, excellence, and poise. The classic woman is always perfectly and appropriately dressed without looking as if she tried too hard. Classic style also is associated with with great posture and dignified, effortless grace in movement.

Classic style emphasizes quality over quantity, good lines and fabric over fussy detailing, and simplicity over splash. Classic style showcases the person wearing the clothing.

Classic clothes do not shout so loudly that they drown out the person wearing them. When a woman wearing classic style walks into a room, you notice her first of all. Only later do you realize that she was exquisitely dressed. Also, classic style (done well) expresses the womanly nature without flaunting it. This faintly echoes the Christian idea that we should stand out not for wearing fancy or expensive clothing, but with the adornment of a faithful, quiet, and gentle spirit and with good deeds. (I Peter 3; I Timothy 2:9-10). Thus, in creating a modest, feminine, and God-honoring look, women of faith can easily make use of some aspects of classic style.

Since classic styles are so timeless and easy for designers to work with, some version of the classic look is always in style. This is particularly true in the American South and, perhaps, the northeast. However, though classic is always around, it goes through periods when its popularity rises to the forefront. Right now, a retro style of classic is popular. This is due in some small part to the popularity of the show Mad Men, as well as it being the natural next step in the whole retro fashion craze.

Every woman, no matter what her style inclinations are, would do well to have classic pieces in her wardrobe. Since classic styles evolve more slowly than other fashion trends, they can be worn year after year and are a good investment. Classic lines and classic fabrics tend to hold style and shape better longer, any way.

Also, no matter what else we have in our closets, we can reach for classic pieces when we need to look pulled together in a flash. Classic style is perfect for job interviews, weddings, funerals, meeting future in-laws, and any other time when you especially want to be appropriately dressed for the occasion.

Classic style is one style that spans all the stages of our lives. When properly adapted, classic style is flattering to the young girl. However, it is also flattering to the maturing woman, as well. In fact, as a woman ages, she would do well to incorporate more classic elements into her look. Classic style has a dignity about it that complements mature beauty. The classic woman ages gracefully.

The classic style can intersect at some points with the romantic style, the All-American girl-next-door look, and sporty style. To help us picture that, we might think in terms of style continuum. For example, we might have pure classic/romantic classic/pure romantic or pure sporty/sporty classic/pure classic.

Two sub-sets of classic style are preppy and traditional. While classic can be either dressy or casual, preppy is generally a more casual style. Preppy can either be "cute" preppy or the true preppy look of the Atlantic coastline, which consists of classic clothing for sailing and other outdoor wear. While some elements of preppy can safely be worn over a lifetime, other elements of preppy style can look too girlish on a mature woman. Preppy often contains references to the college you attended, but that is not necessarily so. Preppy overlaps with casual and sporty styles.

The traditional woman is often classic in style because she absorbed it from the examples of her mother, grandmother, and other women around her. She is probably conservative in her tastes. She probably values home and family greatly. She may favor certain pieces of jewelry and clothing because they have sentimental value to her. If you peek into her jewelry box, you might find a broach that her great-aunt wore, the charm bracelet she had as a child, and a pair of earrings that her husband gave her ten years ago. She may or may not wear these bits of jewelry. Even if she hasn't worn them in years, however, she cannot think of letting them go. While the purely classic woman has no trouble keeping her wardrobe stripped down to only the most essential pieces, the traditional woman may let sentiment get in the way of simplicity. The traditional woman wears softer classic styles, and might combine her classic pieces with feminine/romantic style or even girlish touches. She may use daintier accessories than some purely classic woman do.

Since classic was one of the dominant styles from the 1940's through early sixties, some of the women we most associate with classic style are from that era. Most women of today immediately think of Audrey Hepburn as being the epitome of the classic style from that era. She did, indeed, have classic taste, but she combined her classic taste with other styles -- such as gamine. Thus, Grace Kelly might be a purer example of the classic style. Jackie Kennedy also wore a classic style.

A few of today's classic style examples might be Stacy London, Diane Sawyer, and Laura Bush. Michelle Obama has put her own fresh stamp on classic style. Reese Witherspoon and Kate Winslet both are on the line between classic and feminine/romantic., sometimes dressing more on the classic side and sometimes dressing more on the romantic side. For Reese, a thread that ties together her romantic and her classic styles is "ladylike". I personally do not care for the show "Mad Men", but publicity shots for the character that actress January Jones demonstrate a classic style from the early 60's that can easily be updated for today. In some cases, Gwyneth Paltrow wears classic style.

Of course, you don't have to be a celebrity to wear classic style. We can usually find the most beautiful examples of classic style among the women we know.

You can hardly ever go wrong wearing classic style. However, if you love classic style, you should remember to avoid two pitfalls.

1) Classic done wrong can look dowdy or severe or intimidating. It can also look plain or even mannish. You can overcome this by taking a few simple steps: Understand your body shape and coloring. Choose classic styles that flatter your particular features. Choose flattering colors. Make sure that some of your fabric choices are soft and feminine. Update your wardrobe as is appropriate. You can easily freshen and/or soften classic style by adding a few wonderful accessories. Remember, classic done right is flattering and feminine. Think Grace Kelly rather than Miss Marple.
2) With classic style, you can fall into a style rut (Actually, you can fall into a style rut with any fashion type, but classics are very prone to it). Again, update your wardrobe as is appropriate. Look for ways to keep your classic style fresh and modern.

Here are some tips for achieving a classic style:

1) Remember that classic style should look effortless. It's charm comes from careful preparation behind the scenes. The classic woman chooses her clothing well. She organizes her life well. She keeps her purse neatly organized and her shoes polished. She keeps her car clean. She takes good care of her clothing. Because she prepares ahead, she is able to get dressed in a hurry. Everything in her closet is clean, mended if need-be, and ready to go. She is not the woman who (like me:)) runs out of the house with her jacket half-buttoned, two curlers still in her hair, a run in her stocking, a stain on her blouse, and with items trailing out of an overstuffed purse. She is the woman who is ready on time and arrives at her destination looking serene and prepared.
2) Classic style has a patrician background. However, you can achieve classic style on a budget. Look for the best quality you can afford. Choose quality over quantity. Mend items if need be and have them altered to fit you well. Learn at least a little bit about sewing so that you can recognize things like well-sewn seams and quality fabrics. It's handy if you know how to mend and alter your own clothing, as well. If you, like many bloggers, are into thrift store shopping, pieces with classic styling will probably be your best finds.
3) Choose a hairstyle that is medium to shoulder-length. Classic women typically settle in on one style that works for them, and they tend to wear that style most of their life. That's OK, provided that you update it just enough to keep yourself looking current rather than dated. You are probably better off understanding what works for you than chasing trends, anyway. Make sure that your hair is polished, neat, and refined. There are a variety of styles that you can choose and still achieve a classic style. For example, you can have a straight bob, a style with neat waves in it, an up do, etc. The main thing you are going for is a polished look, rather than a tousled style. Many women might wear the exact same hairstyle. One will wear it with a polished, classic look; another will push it to look more dramatic; another will want it to look soft and romantic; still another will look playfully sport in it. If you are going for a classic look, go for a polished style and keep your hair clean, shiny, and as healthy as possible.
4) Know the power of a flattering neutral. Choose key pieces in neutral colors. Add other colors in tops, accessories, etc. When it comes to makeup, keep it understated, with the possible exception of a red lipstick. When emphasizing your lips, choose the red that is most flattering to you.
5) Choose a stylish coat. A camel trench coat might be one of your best allies, for example.
6) Know your body type. Do you look best in empire styles? In A-line skirts? In a sheath dress or a skirt and top?
7) Go for a balanced look. Avoid extremes. Keep makeup understated. If you do emphasize your lips, as some classic women do, choose a lipstick shade that flatters your coloring.
8) Create a good foundation using great undergarments.
9) Contrary to our culture's belief, clothing doesn't really make the woman. You can emulate classic or any other outward style and, yet, not feel or be beautiful where it counts -- on the inside. On the other hand, classic style can be a great frame for a noble character. If this is your aim, do the best you can with your clothing and appearance. Check yourself in the mirror before you leave the house to make sure that you look neatly put together. Then, forget yourself, other than to do a spot check throughout the day to make sure that you still look fresh and neat. Focus on other people. Smile. Ask questions. Be kind and generous. Get on with the more important things in life. Because the classic woman does her preparation behind the scenes and because she does not wear fussy styles that need constant attention, she is able to concentrate on loving and giving to other people.

Here are some classic thoughts from Audrey Hepburn:

"It's that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second. This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up. Others matter more than you do, so 'don't fuss, dear; get on with it'."

" The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It's the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years. ~"

Here is a poem that Audrey Hepburn did not write, but loved. It, too, speaks of a classic attitude.

"For attractive lips, speak words of kindness; for lovely eyes, seek out the good in people; for a slim figure, share your food with the hungry; for beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day; for poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Never throw out anyone."

Be lovely!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How to oil your hair; using hair as a leave-in conditioner

We all have oil glands in our scalps (and other areas of skin) that produce natural sebum. As far as the scalp goes, sebum helps make our scalps and hair more waterproof and keeps our skin and hair from drying out. It also helps make our hair more flexible and less susceptible to breakage. While most scientists and cosmeticians have long held that sebum is a natural lubricant, there is a school of thought that it is actually a form of body waste.

The amount of sebum a particular scalp produces varies with age, hormonal changes, and heredity. Also, using certain shampoos can trigger your glands to produce more or less sebum.

Dealing with an oily or dry scalp is a whole subject in itself. I'm focusing in this article on the hair -- particularly for those with longish hair. I will describe a way to use a drop or two of a natural oil to add shine to your hair, cut down on any tendency toward frizz, to possibly strengthen the hair shaft, and to seal moisture into the hair shaft.

Until the twentieth century, most women in most cultures had long hair. In many cultures, fragrant oils were added to the hair to perfume it and to keep it moist and flexible.

In most cultures, people did not wash their hair as often as twenty-first century Americans are used to doing. In some countries, women adopted the practice of daily brushing their hair with many strokes. This moved the scalp oils from the scalp down the shaft of the hair. Thus, this cleaned the scalp of excess sebum, as well as provided the hair with the body's own natural lubricant. While some people still believe in the old "100 strokes a day", most women find that brushing their hair this much actually breaks and damages the hair. Many feel that this technique of moving the natural oil down the hair shaft is not necessary today given our ability to shampoo and condition our hair more frequently and the fact that we do not tend to grow our hair as long as women used to. If you do want to try brushing to see how it works for you, try using a brush made of natural hair, such as boar bristle. Brush gently. Start with ten or twenty strokes and build up to 100. After a month or two, check your hair to see whether the effeccts are beneficial or deterimental for you.

Today, many people still use added oils to keep their hair moist and flexible, particularly if their hair is long or if they belong to an ethnic group which tends toward dry hair. If your hair is on the short side, you probably don't need to add any oiling to your routine, other than to wash and condition as is suitable. However, if you struggle with dry hair or dry ends to your hair, particularly on any length that extends below the bottom of your ear or your shoulders, you might want to consider what adding a drop or two of oil might do for your hair.

Which oils should you use to protect your hair? One scientific study tested the following: avocado oil, meadowfoam seed oil, sunflower oil, and jojoba oil. Their findings were that straight chain glycerides, such as olive oil, coconut oil, and avacao oil, actually penetrate the hair shaft. Other types of oil, including the famous jojoba oil, do not penetrate the hair shaft and remain on the surface.

The oils that will strenghten your hair the most are the ones that do penetrate the hair shaft. So, if you would like to try adding a bit of shine, moisture, and strength to your hair, coconut oil or olive oil would be a good choice. This is particularly true if you have hair strands that are medium to coarse in texture. If your hair is very fine, you might find after experimenting that coconut oil and even olive oil might be too greasy or heavy for your hair's texture. In that case, you might choose a lighter oil, such as almond oil.

Almond oil and other oils, such as jojoba oil, that do not penetrate the hair shaft can still have their place in a hair care routine. They can be used to seal in moisture. In this sense, they act as a conditioner but remain on the surface of the hair shaft.

Whichever oil you choose, here is how to apply it. (If you are using the oil to seal in moisture, apply to slightly damp hair.) If your hair is very thick and heavy or coarse in texture, divide it into sections using clips and apply the following method section by section. Otherwise, you can cover all of your hair simply by moving your hands around.

Place one or two small drops in your palm. Rub your hands together. There should be only enough oil in your palms to make your palms shine a bit, so dab off any excess. Now, gently pat the ends of your hair with your palms or gently slide the palms of your hair down the ends. Next, bring your hands up to no higher than ear length and gently slide your hands down the strands of your hair.

The reason you do not want to apply the oil above chin length is that the hair nearest your scalp is probably already well protected by the scalp's own oil. Adding more oil might weigh down your roots and cause your hair to look dirty. Adding oil here might also interfere with your body's own natural balance of oil production. Some people will find value in oiling the scalp and the hair nearest the scalp as a deep conditioning process, but that's not what we're trying to accomplish with this particular technique.

If you have applied the right amount of oil for your hair's thickness and texture, your hair will shine, look less frizzy, and still have a healthy, clean glow. If you have used too much, the hair will look oilier and will get dirty faster. If you have used too little, you may not see a healthy shine. Experiment until you know the right amount to use.

Oil can also be used as a deep conditioner, rather than as a leave-in conditioner. That's the subject of another article, however!

Be lovely!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Revlon Illuminance Creme Shadows

Revlon Illuminance Creme Shadows

This is going to sound as if I'm a curmundgeon, but here goes: Generally, I'm not in favor of highly saturated eye shadows or shimmery shadows for either young women or for women of a certain age -- as I have reached. Sometimes, shimmery shadows can look lovely on a young woman, as long as it's a hint of shimmer and not overdone. Otherwise, highly saturated colors and heavy glitter can hide the precious beauty of youth. (My father used to tell me, "Why guild the lily?" Now, I know what he means!)

For those of us who are past our first youth (and maybe even our second or third youths!), very shimmery shadows or highly saturated colors can look unflattering with our softening skin and hair tones. They can also settle in wrinkles, which does not for loveliness make.

In my case, I love a romantic makeup look, rather than a dramatic one. That's just my style preference. I also have fair skin, which means that certain colors easily make me look drained. Anything too light just blends into my skin and anything too saturated comes into view before the rest of my face does! So, I generally stick to soft, pretty, shadows.

However, I've found some shadows with a bit nore shimmer and color saturation that I think do look flattering on my skin. I have two sets of Revlon's Illuminance Creme Shadows: Pink Petals and Precious Metals. The shadows come in quads and in several color choices. I've needed to update my makeup look to something more modern, yet still in line with the soft look I like. These fit just the bill. Since the shadows are creme, they do not look as crepe-y on the lids as dry shadows might. The shimmer is subtle. The colors are saturated, but not so much that they overwhelm my fair skin.

I would also like to try this in Seashells. There are other color selections, but they are more intense and would probably not work for my ultra fair skin. They might be delightful on someone who can carry them off, however.

The Revlon Illuminance shadows also have the benefit of staying put on my fair skin. Those of you with fair skin know how easily our makeup can wear off or fade.

Speaking of makeup, when doing a little research toward updating my makeup look, I discovered that there are many girls and women who are collecting huge selections of makeups -- with MAC and Coastal Scents being favorites. I know that makeup artists need quite a few selections when working with their clients. However, I am concenred that many women who collect makeup do not realize that makeup does have expiration dates. If you keep it on hand for too long, the makeup can become contaminated with bacteria. This can wreak havoc on skin and cause eye infections, as well. Plus, if you should get an eye infection, which is not that uncommon is you wear contacts or have allergies, your doctor will tell you to throw all of your makeup away. This is not as painful if you have a small collection. But, if you have quite a lot of money invested in makeup, it would be quite difficult indeed.