Saturday, September 7, 2013

Frumps to Pumps, Week 1: Using what I learned from Stacy & Clinton

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Uncle. I call uncle.

 Do you ever get to where you just are sick and tired of being sick and tired -- or at least looking sick and tired?  I'm so there.  Last Monday, Caroline at Modest Mom Blog announced she was hosting a new series.  Perfect timing. I'm not a vain person. Truly.  I'm very much a "This is me, like me or not, I am what I am," when it comes to my appearance.  Sure, I like dressing up, but for day to day, "not naked or in jammies" is what I settled for.  Between school (regular and home), doctors, therapists, and gathering groceries, "looking better" was something I wanted to do but just didn't have in me.  But the stakes just got raised.  The little boys' therapists are now in Bryn Mawr, PA.  On the "Main Line."  As in "Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco grew up here Main Line." We will probably be eating lunch at local caf├ęs, or picnicking in local parks.  In other words, I will be seen "in public in an area known for put-together-ed-ness."  Yeep.


I had a zillion reasons and scheduling conflicts for why I hadn't got my roots done.  Please don't judge.  I have my father's hair -- he had a house full of teenagers and a full head of white hair by my age.  I have a teen and two tweens, but I also have a fledgling preschooler.  I'm not going gray without a fight.  Maybe in ten years, if it looks evenly white like my father's hair.  Right now? No.  But that means upkeep.  It's too thick to really do myself and have it come out right, and to be truthful, I like the three hours of peace I get at the hairdresser's.  It's worth the money to me. 

However, by August,  after going at least 2 months between re-touches, this is what I looked like.

My hair is lifelessly scraped back. Believe it or not, I had already upgraded from a rubber-band ponytail to  Lilla Rose Flexi-clips with my hair twisted up flat.  A ponytail was too heavy, hurting my head, and breaking my hair.  A flexi allowed me to keep it flat against my head so it didn't hang.  It was an improvement physically and style-wise, but it didn't solve the "the only thing I can do is pull it up out of my face" issue, plus I still had almost an inch and a half of gray roots.

By the end of August, it was a different story.  Pushing two inches of regrowth, I now really needed help.  After this series was announced, I tried to exert a little more daily effort.  I actually put on makeup each morning.  Surprisingly, I'm a makeup junkie. I hardly wear it, but I'm always trying new products.  I think these past 2 weeks are the first time in almost 16 years (since I traded being a secretary for a mom) that I've worn makeup more than two days in a row.   But after a few days of makep, I realized that if I was going to do this right and truly put forth a better appearance, the roots had to go.  By now, I looked like this.

 It's a terrible picture, but it's honest.  (Mostly.  The ceiling of the car camouflages some of the roots, but you can see now brassy and shaggy the ends were.)  I pulled my hair down and took this "Before" picture on my way to the hair salon. I had decided that I was going to cut it into a whole new style - I had even pinned a few pictures of some cuts I thought might suit.  As I reflected on starting this series, I decided it was time to just go already.  I was running hither, thither, and yon all week, but by Thursday realized it was the "open late night" at the salon I usually go to.  They will take walk-ins, so I called to see if anything was open.  Luke was willing to babysit, so I called the salon, asked if they had an opening for that afternoon.  They did (bonus points for my usual colorist being available), so I went.  Looking like this.  Hey, I had lipstick on.  That counts, right?

I told Donelle (the colorist) that I wanted to stay in the reds (my hair was red as a child) but go a little browner, less brassy and orange.  Not necessarily "mahogany" and it's purple undertones, but deep and rich like that.  Then I met Alex, a new-to-me stylist, and explained I wanted my hair long enough to pull up (so I can wear my Flexis)  but no longer than that.  I wanted long bangs (long enough to tuck back) and short enough that I could do something other than stuff it all up because it was too much effort to do anything else.  And not too short.  A hard look in the mirror showed that I did not have the face or body type to pull off a pixie.  We compared the pictues of what I liked with my hair and features, and she started cutting.

I couldn't look.  I knew it had to go, and once it was done, felt much more free. But it's hard to watch six inches of hair fall to the ground.  I shouldn't be so vain, because two winters ago, I went shopping with my mom for her "new hair" -- wigs to cover the hair loss from chemo for lymphoma -- and have been blessed to watch her be well and her hair grow back.   But I still had the "I hope this turns out ok" butterflies as Alex cut and layered my hair.

In the end, this is what my hair looked like.

  Luke took this for me.  I decided since I finally had good hair, I needed a new headshot.  This is my last one. 

Not that I thought I looked spectacular or anything before, but even objectively, the new photo is nicer -- better and softer lighting, truer colors.    Here's a secret - Picmonkey is AWESOME for editing out grey hair and replacing it with color.  You can still see a difference in color, but it's not too terrible.  Totally post-processing wizardry.  Again - I had said to myself I had too much going on to make my appearance a priority. 

And no, I haven't lost any weight since March when this was taken.  I weigh exactly the same.  But what a difference hair makes.  I was afraid of going shorter - because I thought I'd look even rounder.   But instead of dragging my face down inside all that hair, or being pulled back and my entire face bare, my face is now framed by my hair.  Which it should be. Bonus: This 'do pictured isn't the salon blowout.  This is all me.  I would never blow my hair out myself.  Too much of it -- after 20 minutes of pulling and drying, my arms were shaking; at the 30 minute mark, I'd admit defeat.  This time?  TEN minutes.  Ten.  One-zero.  No frizz from giving up half way, and no rubber arms.

And, except for today when I clipped the front up with a Flexi while I was teaching Jude, I have worn my hair completely down for 8 days. I don't think I've ever worn it down this much since I've known Neal - not counting when it was too short to put up.  (Life lesson learned: Do not cut your hair short when you are pregnant.  It is NOT easier.)  I'm actually enjoying wearing it down, at least for now. 

Now, like I said, I don't need to keep up with the Grace Kellys or Coco Chanels, but any woman in clothes that are purchased with the only consideration of  "Does this camouflage snot and/or ketchup stains?" is not doing herself a favor.  I have watched enough of Stacy (London) and Clinton (Kelly) to know this.  (Yes, I watch What Not To Wear. Admit it, so do you. And you know the rules, but you ignore them, just like me.) I know that if I were to run into them on the street, I would be mortified and they would be appalled.  I will miss the show terribly, but I must confess that at least I don't have to worry about anybody secretly taping me and my awful wardrobe.  They have RULES, and I'm breaking most of them.

7 Things I learned from Stacy London and Clinton Kelly

I tried this summer to get a few new things (mainly because what I had wasn't hiding the stains any more, or was older than one of my not-youngest children), and I think I did OK.  Not great, but better than I was doing.  But I'm not a "summer color" person.  I am a Fall.  I know I look best in the aubergines and crimsons and sapphires of fall.   So while I was out getting my hair done, I went shopping.

My friend Cristi blogs at Through the Calm and Through the Storm.  She's doing a 33-33 Challenge.

Basically, she was paring her closet down to 33 items, and seeing what she could make do without for 33 days.  I thought this was a great idea a for trying to clean out my closet.  Until I started laying out everything.  Once I set  aside the clothes that didn't fit, were stained beyond repair, or inappropriate for the season, I was left with two pairs of jeans, two sort-of-dressy tees, two blouses, and a Red Sox T-shirt.  I needed to shop if I was even going to have 33 items to "pare up" to.  Heck, I needed to shop if I was going to own a week's worth of clothing!  I'll share more of what I got to wear next week, but I was extremely mindful as I tried things on - what was most versatile, and what looked great.  I was not buying anything that was "just OK" or I felt "Meh. It'll do."  I wanted to look nice, not just "not naked."

And I've invested in a few pairs of earrings. Ok, more than a few. I've kind of turned into a magpie.  The earrings in the picture above are new -- and were less than five bucks at Target.  And these came in the Amazon shipment that came yesterday.  Even my 11-year-old thinks they are pretty.  


Although they were a little pricey, they were such a gorgeous color that I couldn't resist.  Plus they upgrade a casual outfit, or go with a dressy one, so they're versatile. 

So that's Week 1.  Baby steps, and I'm a work in progress.  I started to read Frumps to Pumps, an eBook by Sarah Mae, and am slowly getting through it.  I've started a new Pin Board and am adding helpful hints - some jewelery that I like and gives me some color palette ideas, videos from Clinton Kelly on how to dress "properly," and how to dress for my body type.  I'm becoming more mindful of my appearance, and trying to get a little more polish.   And yes, I have a little more confidence.  That's a good start.  But if Clinton or Stacy is reading this and wants to help me find my stylish self, I won't say no! 

Life in a Break Down

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  1. I'd recommend reading The No Brainer Wardrobe. I think it's part of the Omnibus you have. I'm in the middle of a second or third time through, and I'm picking up more good hints.

  2. I really love your new look! Very inspiring!

  3. I love your new do!

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