Beauty is a passion of mine. It doesn’t matter if it’s au naturale or spackled on, when a woman believes she looks good there is no stopping her. I love exploring beauty trends, both past and present, because so often the trends that shaped our yesterdays resurface to shape our tomorrows. I’ve noticed that there are some absolutes to fashion, rules that are ageless and remain firm regardless if you apply it today’s trends or the trends women succumbed to in 1832. Those rules are:
1. Friends don’t let friends look like hoochie mamas. Only a true friend will tell you when you look ridiculous, especially if you are both single. A frenemy will let you walk out of the house looking like Bozo the Clown after he’s been worked on by Mickey Rourke’s plastic surgeon. Why? Easy, she wants to be the belle of the ball. You probably think I’m crazy, but bear with me. If you are currently single, think about the last time you went on a date. Sure, you looked smokin’ hot. I don’t doubt that for a second. However, now think of the last time you went out with your girlfriends, and I mean OUT out, like a bar or club or anyplace that could have members of the opposite sex on display, regardless if you are hungrily looking or happily taken. How did you look then? See, I told you! Looking better than the women surrounding us is an art that we women have practiced from the moment there was more than one female on our planet. It’s in our nature. It’s in our blood. Frenemies put more effort into making you look like some horrible fool instead of making themselves look better. Besides, they know they are only going to be in your life for a short amount of time anyway, so why should they bother with petty things like making sure you don’t walk out of your house looking like a moron? True friends want you to look good for a few reasons:
- They know they are going to be around for a while and they don’t know whose body is going to deteriorate first, yours or theirs. Everyone knows it is best NOT to end up in some nursing home eating and peeing through a tube if somebody has a score to settle with you. Especially when our children think putting us in a nursing home chock full of our bestest friends is a great idea. When there is a revenge debt on your head that needs to be paid, you run the risk of finding yourself peeing through your eating tube and eating through your pee tube. It’s just not worth it.
- True friends are aware that it is a field full of flowers that attract the most bees, and not the lone dandelion that managed to take root in a crack on the pavement. If she needs to know that she is the fairest maid in all the land, but unfortunately left her mirror at home, all she needs are a few guys drooling over her while they drop at her feet. The number of guys isn’t all that important, provided she has at least one more dude than you do. The easiest way to reach those numbers is to have as many men as possible flocking around the two of you. It’s nothing more than psychological supply and demand on a mating/club level. Not to mention the fact that men, while complex, are still somewhat easy to figure out. Although they can flourish in solo situations, their preferred method of hunting women is the wingman method. Although this method implies that one of them is going to have to “take one for the team”, even wingmen have a standard. It’s doubtful that standard includes occupying a woman who resembles the love child of Mr. Ed and Steve Buscemi wearing an outfit that looks like it was lifted from a dumpster full of old kids clothes.
- This can be in addition to any of the above or on its own. True friends want you to look good because they love you. Well, that and the fact it doesn’t really matter how fantastic you look. She already knows she looks better than you regardless of how amazing you look. This trait usually goes by the name “confidence”.
2. Just because a store or brand sells something in your size, that alone should not compel you to buy it or wear it. This rule is for those times when you are flying solo. If you are shopping/dressing/whatever with a girlfriend, then please refer to rule #1. We’ve all broken this rule a time or two, so I’ll tread lightly. Let’s face it, fashion can be ridiculous. I don’t mean runway fashion on the backs of 7 feet tall, 12 ½ pound models, or the swan and meat dresses worn by celebrity media whores. I’m talking about the hideous things readily available to you and me. Not every color looks good on every one, and not every trend works for every body, so know your body and look for trends that fit you, both in body and in personality. It doesn’t matter how “in” the look is. Looking amazing in dated clothes is better than looking like an idiot in something new.
3. Don’t let your clothes decide your curves, let your curves decide your clothes. First of all, let me say that I hate this rule. Not because I like wearing clothes that don’t fit, but because of how it makes me sound. So let me explain just a bit. I love all types of people: tall, short, thin, heavy, sane, insane, all of them. I abhor Mike Jeffries, Chief Executive Ogre, I mean Officer, of Abercrombie & Fitch for his idiotic belief that ugly, overweight and uncool people should not wear the Abercrombie brand, and I’m not one of those, “Oh my gawd, Becky! Look at her butt. That has to be the biggest butt in here” kind of people. This rule actually applies to anyone regardless of the number the scale shows. Just because you have a body that society has deemed “kick ass”, you aren’t exempted from looking like a dumb ass. Case in point in only two words: Camel toe. Make sure your clothes fit, if for no other reason so we never have to hear the phrase “camel toe” again. Avoid clothes that are too loose or too tight, and for God sake, PLEASE learn that tights are made to go under longer tunics, dresses, skirts, or anything else that is long enough to cover your booty. They aren’t pants, or even leggings, which is why they are found with the rest of the hosiery in stores. I don’t care how “tight dat ass” is, I don’t want to see it, and I hardly doubt I am alone in feeling that way.
4. When choosing an outfit, pick one that makes you feel as good as you look. I believe every individual is beautiful in their own special way, but at the same time what fashion giveth, fashion can taketh away. Translation: If you can look amazingly beautiful (and you CAN), you also can look amazingly ludicrous. It’s just as important to feel beautiful as it is to look beautiful. If you are constantly pulling, tugging, arranging your clothes, or if you catch sight of yourself in a window or mirror and wonder how you’ve made it this long in this outfit without getting a ticket for indecent exposure, then you probably may need to start shopping in a different area of the store, or maybe even a different store entirely. And there is NO WAY you are comfortable if you are trying to juggle your purse, your cell phone, your on-the-go-lunch, etc. while yanking on your clothes in a vain effort to keep your naughty bits out of the spotlight. There are better ways to advertise your beauty, like using color and/or the cut of an outfit. Be sexy, be flamboyant, be daring, be whatever it is you want to be, just do it in clothes that you can put on and forget. I guarantee that will make you look sexy in the way you want to look sexy.
5. Choose outfits and accessories that are practical. I am a klutz. I’ve always been a klutz. I’ll probably always be a klutz, and I’ve made my peace with that. However, I wasn’t always so mature about my shortcomings. I had to learn the hard and painful way, many, many times. It’s also how I came to realize that one cannot really say they’ve “accepted” something if their life does not reflect that acceptance. Pretty deep, I know, but this is serious stuff. It isn’t just about looking like a goon, that’s mortifying enough. This rule goes beyond the embarrassment of how you look and threatens your physical well being. It’s easy to think, “That can never happen to me! We are talking about fashion, not blockade running!” That may be, but regardless if you are talking about fashion or blockade running, you still have to be practical about how you approach things in life. Take me, for example. As a young girl I would sit glued to the TV whenever a beauty pageant, awards show, or any other red carpet event was on. I would sit in awe at the beauty these women seemed to ooze out of every pore. Women like Lynda Carter, Jacqueline Smith, Farrah Fawcet, Brooke Shields, and Tawny Kitaen were my idols and I adored everything about them from their beautifully coiffed poufs of big hair, their flawless blue eye makeup and pink slippery lipsticks to their sky-high stiletto heels that literally put them on a pedestal. Oh, those heels! I more than lusted after their shoes, I was obsessed with them. I HAD TO HAVE THEM! I’m one of those people who are a teensy bit vertically challenged (OK, OK! Short! I’m short, alright! The only time I ever measured 5’4” was in 1991 when mall bangs were in fashion and the nurse that measured me threw me a bone and included my bangs in her measurements. There! Are you happy now?). I saw those shoes as the only thing between me and fame. Well, not really fame, but those shoes would show me as I knew I was meant to be seen, instead of the short and pudgy nerd girl that was always there when I looked into a mirror. Those heels would transform me from being a Bosley and I would turn into one of Charlie’s Angels at last. It was more than just wishful thinking, my soul was speaking to me and I knew it.
What my soul refused to factor into the equation was my propensity to wind up stumbling, tripping or falling over absolutely nothing on a regular (read: daily) basis. I don’t think the running backs, receivers and quarterbacks in the entire history of the Ludlow Panther Varsity Football team found themselves on the ground as often as I did during my 4 year stint at Ludlow High School, and that was while I was wearing gym shoes or Mary Janes. Yet, still I believed sky high heels would be my ticket to awesomeness. Hard to believe I was considered one of the smart kids. I think you can see how this story is going to end.
Needless to say, I got my heels and on the first day I wore them I was walking home from school with my friend and classmate Marie* to help her decorate for her 16th birthday. My feet were killing me! To this very day it was one of the most painful days I’ve ever had, and I’ve birthed two children and countless kidney stones. If only that were where my story ended. If only I could tell you the worst thing about me wearing those shoes is the fact that I’m still trying to sand off the calluses that day of high heels caused me (although that would be true). No, the Fashion Goddess had a much more painful lesson for me. Maybe it was just because I’m a klutz, or maybe it was because my feet were revolting against me for the pain I inflicted on them. I’m not sure WHAT it was, but at 3:00pm as I stepped off of a 2 inch curb right in front of the Huntington Bank in Ludlow, my ankle gave way like it was a tree in Paul Bunyan’s forest. I was on the ground before I even knew what happened, and although I was used to that I was not used to my ankle swelling rapidly and burning like someone had set fire to it. At first I thought my shoes were so hot, my feet were aflame, but that thought left my head almost as fast as it had entered it. My first day in heels and I was getting noticed, alright, but not in the way I had envisioned. I earned trip to the hospital in an ambulance and a two hour wait for the doctor the hospital had to fly in from Cleveland to “fix” me. The doctor arrived in a tuxedo, I kid you not. I watched my dad’s eyes roll back into his head when he saw that doctor saunter in. I’m positive he was calculating what this was going to cost him, and wondering if he could get that amount back if he sold me on the black market. It seems the good doctor was in Cleveland because he was receiving an award for his contributions to medicine. The irony of it all did not escape me. I was injured because of shoes I pictured would pave my way to an awards show/gala and that injury interrupted a doctor who was at an awards gala. Fate is one twisted bitch, and I kind of love her for it. Doc told me that my ankle wasn’t broken, but it would have been better if it had been. I hadn’t just pulled tendons and ligaments, I ripped them to pieces like I was making some kind of shredded ankle barbeque. It was a mess, and surgery wasn’t an option. I spent the next 4 months solidly in a cast, and the next 2 years off and on in a cast. My ankle will never be the same. Ever. There are things I cannot do because of that – any kind of skating, skiing, or anything that requires even a tiny amount of ankle strength. A poorly timed sneeze can have me back in a cast in the blink of an eye, and all of this could have been prevented if I just had been practical. I didn’t need stiletto heels in high school. WTF was I thinking? And even if I DID have an occasion to wear heels like those, the fact that I was a clod on two legs should have clued me in on the fact that maybe heels weren’t the best shoe choice for me. Where was my practicality? As soon as I saw those shoes my practicality took a vacation. All I managed to do was prove the saying “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” is pretty damn accurate. I gave in to shoepidity; I let a pretty little pair of heels override the importance of comfort, and I paid for it. I’m STILL paying for it. I don’t wear shoes like that anymore, but I still do fall from time to time. My daughter tells me she thinks it’s because my tiny feet are too small to hold up my big body. I’m so happy she has more sense at age 7 than I did at 16. My point: be practical about what you have on. If it’s freezing outside, make sure you’re dressed warm. If it’s hot, dress cool. Don’t wear heels if you have trouble staying on your feet. Don’t have fingernails so sharp and long you run the risk of giving yourself a hysterectomy every time you have to pee. Common sense stuff, all of which seems to elude us where fashion is concerned.
6. Finally, and this is the most important rule of all: Don’t listen to rules that limit who you are or who you want to be. That’s right, I listed 5 rules before telling you to chuck ‘em all and forget them. Who am I to tell you what is right for you? I’m nobody, and if you love a look then rock it. It doesn’t matter what size you are or what anyone else thinks would look good on you. The only person on earth who needs to be happy with your style is you. The rest of us should love you for that, not because of it. Be true to yourself. You already are beautiful, no matter what you are wearing. If someone doesn’t like you because of what you are (or aren’t) wearing, send them a thank you card for showing you their true colors up front and making it easier for you to walk away. Not every person on this planet is that thoughtful, and there will be times you will be fooled about who your true friends are. Don’t waste your time on people who don’t think you are worth theirs, because THEY are the ones not worth it.
* Names have been changed to protect the victims…I mean innocents.