Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How To Stop Feeling Old: A Makover Plus ????

At the beginning of January I got a phone call from my friend Cathy. She was calling to say she was in town and would be here for a few weeks. We met a little over 13 years ago and saw each other for a few days each month back then. But, in the last nine years we had only seen each other once for a brief half hour when her and her husband were passing through the city I lived in. Cathy and her husband live in another state and drive truck so it is seldom we get to actually spend time together, although we have kept in touch over the years. In recent years, Cathy has been feeling very old and unattractive. I totally understand where she is coming from. I too felt that very same way for many years. As a matter of fact I felt that way about myself when we first met and I was only in my early 40's.

My style back when I met Cathy
Back when we were able to see each other often I prescribed to the crazy philosophy that once a woman reaches a certain age (mid 30's) she needs to take on a more mature style. Oh boy! What a load of crap! I actually followed that philosophy into my late 40's. I'm sure you have heard the philosophy; 1) Women in their mid 30's shouldn't buy clothing from fashion stores that cater to teen's and twenty-somethings, and for heaven's sake avoid the Junior section in department stores like the plague, those clothing styles are for teenagers and young women in their twenties. Instead they should buy clothing for mature woman from the misses & women's sections of the department store or from a store that caters to the mature style. 2) A mature woman should keep her hair short or no longer than shoulder length with lots of short layers. And oh don't forget if a mature woman wants to dye her hair it should only be a shade or two darker or lighter than her natural color. Or worse yet, she shouldn't dye her hair at all because then she is not accepting who she is. Thankfully nine years ago, around my 48th birthday, I woke up! 

Out went all the stuffy mature styled clothing. I let my hair grow long and cut it in a style that I feel compliments my facial features, and gives me back that youthful feeling. I went straight to the store and bought a vibrant auburn hair dye. Then I started buying most of my clothing from the junior section of the department store, or from some of my favorite trendy fashion shops; Rue 21, Vanity and Charlotte Russe just to name a few. If you are on a tight budget like I am you will appreciate their clearance racks!

Now back to Cathy. The first day of her recent visit my new style wasn't all that evident as I invited her over and I was, as my youngest daughter calls it, dressed in my lazy around home grunge look. A pair of baggy lounge pants, and a comfy sweat-shirt with no make up and my hair a bit on the wild side. We had a wonderful visit, catching up on everything that was going on in each others lives. I showed her some of my recent portrait work and talked about my belief that every woman age 18 to 100 should have a glamour or boudoir portrait session every few years. Cathy was very skeptical of that idea. She thought it was great for younger women that were beautiful and didn't have a face full of wrinkles and creepy old skin. Plus what if they didn't have a significant other what was the point to have those types of portraits. And even if they did have a significant other she was sure that their significant other would not care to see boudoir portraits with wrinkles and creepy skin. I told her that I believe they should do them for themselves, because when done properly the portraits and the portrait session is a great way to boost their self esteem and show them that they are beautiful.  We then moved on to other topics and made arrangements to go out the next afternoon. 

When she showed up I was all ready to go out of the house. I wasn't dressed fancy, I had on a cute top with a pair of skinny jeans and boots, a few accessories and a fashion coat. And of course my hair and makeup were done. Cathy took one look at me and said "You look so cute!, I wish I could dress like that, but I don't have a reason to." I was like "Woa, wait a minute, you do have a reason." she quickly responded saying something to the effect that she couldn't dress like that in the semi-truck and that is where she is most of the time. Plus she said she was too old to dress that way as it would look silly, She is 55 so it would look like she was trying to be a 20 year old or something. I stopped her right there. 

Cathy before gastric bypass
I asked if she liked the style, and her reply was absolutely yes. Then she went on to tell me that she had always wanted to dress like I was dressed at that moment. But in her younger years she was too overweight to fit into any of the cute clothes. Then after she had gastric bypass and lost a ton of weight the creepy skin and the fact she was in the truck all the time meant she couldn't wear those styles and that she really had no reason to dress like I was dressed. My response was to say before I was convinced by others that I needed to dress mature I dressed like I was at that very moment all the time, even when riding along with my husband in the semi.

I immediately told her that she had the best reason in the world to dress up, that reason was because it would make her feel good about herself. Over the past few years I had noticed how down on herself she had gotten, and if I could play a part in lifting her spirits and view of herself I was going to do it. I then followed it up by revealing to her that I was older than she is by a whole two years. So if she didn't think I looked silly why would she look silly. Then I had a great idea. I told her I had the coming weekend clear and if she was game I would absolutely love to do a makeover on her. Although she was surprised at the suggestion she loved the idea and said "YES!". We were heading out to the local thrift stores because she wanted to pick up an electric skillet so she could cook in her hotel room, so we decided to get a head start on the make over and look to see what clothing we might find. Before we left the house she said if we were going to do a make over she should get her hair cut and asked if we knew a good hair dresser. Well, my oldest daughter blurted out "have mom cut your hair, she's the only one I trust". I am by no means a hair dresser, but I became the family hair dresser many years ago, and must do a fair job as they keep coming back, and I even cut my own hair. So Cathy turned to me and said will you do mine? I want to keep the length but need layers or something so it has body. I agreed and off we went on our shopping spree. I told her if she wanted to do a portrait session on Saturday after we had finished the make-over I could make her a special offer but it was entirely up to her, either way we were doing the make-over. I don't think I have ever seen someone as excited as she was at that moment.  She had remembered my philosophy and said she was excited to give it a try and see if I was right. 

That next day she began documenting the make-over by taking these before selfies.

Over the next few days we had a couple of pointer sessions. First I took her into my walk-in closet to show her that not every piece of clothing had to be super feminine or fancy. I picked out a couple of outfits that I knew contained items she would never think she was able to wear because of her (as she calls it) creepy skin. Like a pair of pleather leggings, and a fancy sleeveless top. At first she was reluctant to put them on but she did and was very surprised that the leggings looked really good on her. Then after she put the blouse on and said oh no, this won't work just look at my arms. I smiled and said it will be okay because you are going to add this, as I handed her a cute little cover. She added the cover and was floored by how she looked. The outfit was stunning on her and the glow it put on her face dropped a good five years from her looks. We hadn't talked about accessories, hair and makeup or why one should own camisoles in every shade imaginable. Those pointer sessions came later.  

After all the pointer sessions it was time to find her an outfit that would embrace her new style, not mine but her very own. A style that she was developing using the pointers I had given her combined with my one rule about fashion for women over 35. A rule that will stop a woman from feeling old. That rule is; You have to be true to who you are, if you like a style, and it looks good on you (to look good it must fit your proportions properly) without making you look and feel older than you are and you feel good in it then it doesn't matter if it is a 20 something fashion or a mature fashion because it is YOUR fashion! I do however recommend avoiding too much paisley or large floral prints as they tend to scream old on most women over 40.

Then my oldest daughter and I took her to the mall to pick out a few outfits. She made it easier than it might have been when we asked what she had in mind. Her reply was "I am in your hands, I love everything the two of you wear so lets find some clothes." She did say she definitely wanted some skinny jeggins because although she thought she couldn't wear them she had tried on a pair of mine and loved the way they fit. After a very successful shopping trip, in which we got her to try on a green blouse that she wound up loving and buying even though she had never worn green before thinking it wasn't a good color for her. It looks amazing on her and is the top she decided to wear for the casual portion of her photo session. 

Although the makeover wouldn't be official until Saturday we had a great jump start on it. I asked her to come over Friday evening for me to do her hair, that way Saturday would be more of the finalization of the make over with make up and then portraits. We had told another one of our friends about the make over and she asked if we wanted her to come over to do make up as she has been learning how to do make up for portrait photography. Cathy and I were both happy to have Jill on board.

Saturday morning Jill took Cathy to get her nails done. Which I thought was a fantastic idea, because lets face it, beautiful nails make a woman feel special. And Cathy is most definitely special.

New clothes, a fresh new hair style and lovely nails, all that was left was make-up and of course to document her transformation with gorgeous portraits.  Cathy and Jill arrived mid day. Jill has done make up for a few other clients of mine but this was to be her first time working with a client over 50. So I went over the difference in application techniques and suggested colors to use and to avoid, as certain styles and colors will make one look older especially through the camera lens and under the studio lights. 

 Now for the sneak peek of Cathy's Make Over Portraits!

 We started with the casual natural look.

Next came a Grease inspired glamour naughty girl theme.

And we finished up the night with a few nostalgic formal shots. This beautiful dress has very sentimental meaning for Cathy and she looks awesome and vibrant.

Cathy's husband had no clue what we were doing. Oh he knew we had gone clothes shopping and that I was going to cut Cathy's hair. Sneaky gal that she is, she even told him Friday night that the split ends and poor cut she had gotten a while back made it impossible to keep the length and that I had to cut her hair 'pixie short'. Then she told him she was going to "help me" with a photo session I had on Saturday but he had no idea about the make over or that she was the client for the photo session. When he got into town on Sunday he was so surprised and from what she tells me it was a great type of surprised. They are both so happy with her new look. Her husband was so pleased he even called me to thank me for helping Cathy feel good about herself again, and to tell me he loves her new style. As for Cathy, she is very happy with her new look and now understands exactly what I meant when I said the best way to stop feeling old is to get rid of the idea that you have to conform to what other people say is appropriate clothing and hairstyles for women of a certain age. She is also looking forward to her husband's reaction when he sees this post, because this post is how he will find out about the portraits. 

A Happy Early Valentine's from Cathy to her Superman! 

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