Thursday, November 5, 2009

Groucho Brows, No Brows, and Other Crimes

By far, the biggest mistake I saw people making when I was working for Lancôme involved eyebrows. You might think they aren’t very important, but they frame your entire face. They create a mood as well as an expression. And very very few women get them right.

The following is a list of don’ts I encountered while working as a makeup artist:
“Fishhooks” – what should have been the arch was a fishhook shape starting at the front of the eyebrow and looping under. Extremely weird. I don’t know what this person was thinking. Whose eyebrows grow like that? Seriously, you had to see it.
Hard, drawn-on lines. You know what I’m talking about. Instead of feathering the pencil strokes, you simply draw in a shape and fill in the entire area with the pencil. This is great if you are in a play and need to be seen in the last row of the balcony. This is also good if your name is Groucho. Otherwise, not so good.

Shaving off the eyebrow. Unless you have alopecia, this should never happen. I don’t get why Whoopi Goldberg does this. It does nothing for you. Even worse, shaving it off and penciling in a skinny skinny teeny weeny line. Like the old 30’s and 40’s movie stars. It’s very harsh. It also ages you. Don’t do the Pam Anderson thing. Please.
Pay no attention to that brow behind the curtain. Covering the brow with foundation and drawing another brow way over the top of that. Need I say more?
Doing nothing. This results in blobs of hair that resemble caterpillars or simply a shapeless blob over each eye. It is not attractive. It does nothing for anyone. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are personally bringing back the “strong brow” look from the 80’s. Believe me, you aren’t.
The McDonald’s Arches. The really big round arch directly over the pupil. No. No. No. Do you want to look perennially surprised?
The Ava Gardner. The hard arch. Really sharp. Like a 50’s movie star. It looks hard. It makes you look mean and uptight. Is this what you want to say about yourself?
Now, onto how it should look. Start by taking a pencil and lining it up from the outside corner of your nostril upward to the inside corner of the eye. This is where your brow should start. Take the pencil and angle it to the outer corner. This is where the brow should stop. It’s that simple.
As for products, I prefer to use a powder/gel/brush combo on my clients as well as on myself. There are a number of products on the market, and they come with instructions that are simple to follow. Usually you brush on the powder, follow with the gel, and then simply brush with short strokes. For those of you who simply don’t want to invest the time or money there are other options. You can use a powder, either a brow or even an eye shadow powder with a liner brush. Dip the brush in the powder, blow off the excess, and feather the shape in. You can also do this with a pencil. You want to sketch in with short strokes, as though you were mimicking the way hair looks and grows. A light hand is better than a heavy hand, as it is easier to fill in than to correct a mistake. The arch should be just to the outside of the pupil, or black part of the eye. Take time to look at magazines, and silly as it sounds, copy what you see and like, with an eye toward what most resembles your own facial features. Keep the color as close to your hair color as possible. You can go a shade or two darker, if you wish, but no more than that. As for those of us with white, silver, or grey hair, if you are not into doing grey brows, then I suggest going with a shade darker than you had before you hair turned. If you were a blonde, go for an ashy medium tone. Brunettes have more wiggle room here, and can even go black. Redheads should go with an ash blonde if they cannot find a natural looking red.
As I said, the eyebrows create a mood as well as a look. And if you study the pictures in magazines, you will easily see the difference between a casual, natural look and a glam evening out kind of thing. Have fun, because that is what all this girly stuff is about now isn’t it?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Size doesn’t matter but fit does

Take your measurements. I know how traumatic this is unless you have had major cosmetic surgery. But you have to take your measurements. Otherwise you have no way of knowing what size you are. This is not a guessing game. Don’t hold clothes up to yourself in the store unless you are planning to have them stapled to the outside front of whatever you are currently wearing.

Here’s the deal: everyone sizes differently. What is a size 8 in one line may be a 6 in another and a 10 in still another and oh my God a 12 in another line. Who the heck cares as long as it fits? I have clothes in 3 different sizes. No, not my “fat” clothes vs. my “skinny” clothes. 3 different sizes that actually fit correctly.

Correct fit is key to looking your best. You simply can’t look good if your clothes are too tight or too big.

I don’t care how tiny you are. If it’s too tight then don’t wear it. You may be able to squeeze into a size 2 but you should never have to squeeze into anything! There should be a little play in the waistband, in the seat, in the bust…Tight looks cheap. I don’t care how much you paid for your clothes. If they are tight, you look cheap. And if it’s tight it is not the right size. You are not a size 2 if it looks painted on. Buy the 4 and get over yourself.

If you are self-conscious about your weight or size for any reason you need to make sure your clothes are not baggy or too big. Don’t do the giant sweatshirt over leggings thing. You end up looking like a globe on stilts. This look is flattering to no one. If you are wearing a jacket, button it. Leaving it open makes it hang from the fullest part of your bustline and causes you to look even bigger. Find your right size and wear it. Too big looks sloppy. Forgo turtlenecks for v-necklines to create length. But don’t wear your clothes baggy in a misbegotten attempt to look thinner.

If you are petite you may not be limited to the petite department. I have long legs even though I am only 5”2”. Most petite pants are too short for me. Sometimes the arms and shoulders on shirts and blouses don’t work as I have broad shoulders. So I try things on in all departments. If it looks good, it’s a keeper. The only time I say stick “your” department is regarding coats. I know someone who insists on buying trench coats in the regular Misses department even though she is only 5’2” like myself. The shoulders of the coat fly out like shoulder pads on a line-backer. The hem is down at her ankles. She looks not only shorter but just plain silly.

Pants hems should hit at the back of the shoe, slightly above the heel. Try pants on with a couple of different pairs of shoes. I know it’s a hassle but it needs to be done to be well-dressed at all times. Different heel heights call for different inseams. What looks good with a 3” heel looks sloppy with flats and what looks good with flats looks goofy with a heel. You don’t want to be the one in the “high water” pants. Neither do you want those jeans dragging on the ground and going all threadbare at the hem.

Skirt hems are a matter of personal taste but again, some rules still apply. A universally flattering look is just at the middle of the knee, just at the bottom or just above. Don’t do the stiff A-line to the middle of the calf or below the knee. It throws your proportions off. If you are opting for a cocktail dress make sure it doesn’t go to the matronly mid-calf length. Unless you want to look like Queen Elizabeth. At the knee is best. If you are wearing a long skirt either casually (like those pretty gauze or flowered ones) or formally (like the sleek knit ones), make sure it hits just above the ankle or at the ankle depending again upon the shoe. If you are short you are better off not wearing a floor length skirt unless you are comfortable wearing 2 ½ to 3” heels. Otherwise you look like you’re standing in a ditch.

When you need to, get things tailored. A lot of times we can buy things off the rack and they fit perfectly and that is great. Less work for everyone. Some of the time there is some tweaking to be done. I have a dress I bought at the local Goodwill. Gorgeous basic black, square neckline tank dress. But I have a short waist and needed to have that altered slightly as well as having the straps shortened. It hardly cost anything. Even if it had cost me $20.00, the dress still would have been a steal. Find a good tailor or seamstress and have your clothes altered to your proportions. It is worth every penny. Take in the waist or let it out, hem the trousers and skirts, alter the straps, bring the cuffs up a bit. You will look like a million bucks and will have only spent a few dollars.

Elizabeth Sutor is a Makeup Artist and Wardrobe Consultant. She can be reached at or 302.312.9241. Her website is

Rules and how to break them

There are some rules that can’t be broken: visible panty lines or bra straps showing, for example. And there are “rules” that can. These are what I call “old school” rules. The kind your mother and grandmother may have adhered because “they” said so. While the rules concerning good taste always apply, certain others can be tossed aside. Especially if you have decided to own your style, your way.

Rule #1: Never wear white before Labor Day.

Who says? Why not? Does white look good on you? Does it work with your total outfit? Is it fall or winter weight? Then forget about “winter “ white. Wear whatever white you like. Some people look dreadful in winter white, or ivory. If it doesn’t look good then don’t wear it! But to suggest that white after Labor Day is somehow incorrect is ridiculous. White with black always looks correct, and white with a great color is a real attention-grabber. (Just try not to look like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.) A jewel-colored cashmere sweater with white pants in winter is classic and lovely. Beige with white looks great in the fall when you pair it with smoky quartz or amber accessories or pop it with turquoise. So wear white after Labor Day. (By the way, what did this “rule” have to do with anyone who lived in the southwest or the Deep South?)

Rule #2: Always cut your hair short once you are past 40.

In my case, yes. I look awful with long hair. This has nothing to do with an arbitrary number and everything to do with one’s features. If you have the beginning of jowls, or droopy eyelids, the hair should be cut shorter and layered to bring your attention upwards. In this way the haircut acts like a facelift. If you are lucky enough to still have a nice neck and jaw line, no drooping in the eyelids then wear your hair longer. The one rule I would abide by here is to not go for the curtain of hair with the bangs. It makes you look like a Springer Spaniel. And it is aging. So get the long hair, but with some layering for interest. And of course, style.

Rule #3: Match your shoes with your bag.

Well, yeah, if you want to look like my 94 year old Aunt Ella. Aunt Ella is adorable. But she is 94. Are you 94? If not, mix it up. Black dress, black shoes, pink bag. Beige outfit, brown heels, blue bag. Jeans, red heels, zebra-print bag. You get the idea. Have some fun with this. You’ll get more wear out of your bags and shoes this way and add interest to an outfit that was becoming boring.

Rule #4: Match your lipstick with your blush.

Only if the blush is the right color for you. Blush should look natural. Unless you are posing for a black and white photo-shoot you do not need to contour and certainly contouring should not be done with pink or coral. Wear what flatters you skin-tone and is in the same color family. Having trouble here? Lean over for a minute. When you come back up you will see not only where to apply blush but what color is right for you. And lose the idea that the lipstick and blush have to match unless you are Hell-bent on looking older than your years.

Rule #5: What worked in your prime is your best look always.

No. It is not. What worked in your prime worked then. If you get stuck in a time-warp, wearing what looked good on you in high school or college or whenever you thought you looked your best in the past then you end up actually looking older. (Men, this also applies to you. I wish I had a dollar for every man I see over 50 who is sportin’ the “Modified Beatle” do, or worse yet, a Mullet.) Just remember to be age-appropriate. It’s a fine line and a good hairdresser will let you know if you’re going in the wrong direction. If you don’t believe me on this point then think back to the lady in your neighborhood who still has the Farrah wings or the one you just saw at the mall with the cut-out sides-shaved back-perm on top thing. Did you say “Man!" I wish I looked like that!” I didn’t think so.

Elizabeth Sutor is a Makeup Artist and Wardrobe Consultant. She can be reached at or 302.312.9241. Her website is


Now that we have you covered on top, let’s get to the bottom of things.

Panties. Personally, I hate the term “Panties”. I am not a five-year old child. Grown women wear underpants. They wear lingerie. Just as I have a stomach and not a “tummy”, I have lingerie and not “panties”, thank you very much.

High-cut briefs, thongs, hipsters, bikinis – what to wear?

Easy. Try them on with your outfit, and look in the mirror. If you see lines, something’s wrong.

The new microfiber “no show” pants are great at disappearing under clothing. Just make sure you can’t see the color through your clothes. Nude is the color you should choose for wearing with white trousers and skirts, as white lingerie actually shows through. If you are a woman of color, then match your skin tone with a darker skin-tone, either a tan or mocha. Even black if you are very dark-skinned. You don’t want the underwear to show, either in line or in color.

Thongs are usually great at not showing but I see an awful lot of women missing the boat on this one. The thong needs to fit you properly. And please, do not wear your outerwear so darned tight that we can all clearly see the thong through the skirt. The point of the thong is to be invisible under clothing. Do not wear your pants so low (this look has been out for about 5 years anyway) that we see the thong from the back. Again: thong= undetectable.

If you are a fan of hipsters or bikinis, make sure they fit you properly and are not too tight. These are really best left to be worn under jeans. It is almost impossible to achieve the “no visible line” look otherwise. Unless your jeans are too tight, these items will not show through. (I will be addressing wearing the proper size in another article.)

I can’t emphasize fit enough. Too tight looks cheap. It also makes you look heavy and lumpy. Take the time to take your measurements and find the proper size for those measurements. The payoff is not just in the way you look but in the comfort level. Better to wear a “large” and look great than squeeze yourself into a “medium” and display major muffin top.

While we are discussing comfort, there are a whole slew of “shapers” out there that are infinitely wearable. They roll up much like pantyhose do and stay in place like nobody’s business. They do not cut or bind. If you have a dress or outfit that is a tad too tight or maybe is “unforgiving” and shows bumps and bulges, these are your “go-to” staple. (I had a customer who needed to wear a to-die for Japanese dress to an art museum opening. You know the kind of dress I mean. The high collar. The slit at the side of the leg. We could not get this thing to zip for love or money. I put her in one of the high-waisted shapers and we zipped the dress with some room to spare.) Get a couple of these in nude and in black. The ones that roll up to the bottom band of your bra are the best as there is no question of you looking smooth and sleek.

Regarding stockings. Buy the best you can afford. Match black stockings to black shoes. Anything else, wear as sheer a nude as you can find. Cheap pantyhose look like cheap pantyhose. End of story. Never wear pantyhose with sandals. You wouldn’t wear socks with sandals (at least I hope you wouldn’t) so don’t do this with pantyhose. And unless you’re a nurse, do not wear white pantyhose with anything for any reason.

Where possible and if you are comfortable doing this go without. This is key in the summertime. Use one of those gradual tanning lotions. Don’t overdo this. You want to go for a nice glow and a light color. It will cover flaws nicely and detract from any spider veins or ripples. Your legs will appear slimmer.

Elizabeth Sutor is a Makeup Artist and Wardrobe Consultant. She can be reached at or 302.312.9241. Her website is

Room at the top?

Before you can look good on the outside, you have to have a good foundation. Literally. In other words, if your underwear does not fit properly (and most people’s do not), your clothes won’t look right. I’ll put it another way: you cannot look your best if your undies don’t fit.

A few years ago, I worked at a high-end lingerie boutique and was trained in bra-fitting. So many women are wearing the wrong size that it makes your head spin. I and my co-workers became so good at fittings that we could tell just by looking at someone on the street that they were wearing the wrong bra size.

It stands to reason that if you have gained or lost 5 lbs, you need to change your bra size. I saw women who had not changed sizes in 25 years or more. These women insisted that they wore the same size they always had. Now how could that be?

Most of the stores and manufacturers would have you believe that you measure your ribcage and add 4 inches to that to get your band size. This makes no more sense than if you measured your waist and added 4 inches to get your pants size. No one in her right mind would do this! The problem is that most of the brands you buy at the department stores do not have a full range of sizes. What sense does it really make to think that a size 32 only goes to a B or a C? Or that DD and DDD can only start at a size 38?

Measure your ribcage as it is. If you get an uneven number, round up no more than 1”. In other words, a 32 is a 32. Not a 36. Jeez Louise – you’ll be swimming in that band size. You should not be able to pull the back of the bra band away from your body by more than an inch or so. The straps should stay in place and not have to be hiked up to the point where they are leaving welts on your shoulders. The bra hooks on the first set of hooks. As it stretches out over time, you move over to the next set. When you have moved to the last set it is time to replace the bra.

Cup size. Same as usual. Measure at the fullest part of your bustline. 1” more? A. 2”? B and guess what? There are E, F, and G cup sizes. Heck, I have seen and fitted J and JJ! I cannot tell you how many women I fitted for 32DD who had been wearing 36B. Or 34F who had been wearing 38C. Yes, you can get by with these sizes. For about a minute and a half. The band holds your breasts in place, not the straps. So if the band is too big then guess what? The straps slip constantly. The band should be at about the middle of your back, not way up high. If the back is up high, the breasts are down low. Not a good look. If the bra is too small, you end up with very strange looking pointy breasts. And if the breasts are sitting incorrectly, your clothes will simply not hang right.

If measuring yourself is too much of a hassle, or too confusing than go to a very good boutique to be fitted. Do not go to a chain store. They have no clue and they do not have the proper size range. How many 30Cs have you seen in these stores? How many 38Bs? 32FS? Case closed. It is worth the money.

A really good bra is going to cost upwards of $40.00 and in most cases, $50.00 or $60.00. (I sold several for over $70.00) But they last about 3 years. I would rather spend the money and not spend it again for 3 years than buy a dozen cheap bras that I have to replace every few months because they have stretched out.

Always wash them by hand and hang them to dry. No machines, please. When you are wearing the right size you look thinner. Even if you are a 34F. It pulls up the entire area. Ideally, your breasts should sit somewhere between the elbow and the shoulder, at the mid-point there.

Make sure you have a T-back style for halter tops, or cut-in shoulders. Don’t let your straps show. Ever. Not clear straps. Not any straps. Please do not do the “clear” straps with any strapless top. You are fooling no one and you look trashy. There’s no other way to put it.

“Contour” bras are not to be confused with padded bras. I don’t know how many customers I had to explain this to. Contouring is to give you a slightly better line/profile and prevents nipple show through because bra is lightly lined. It is not the same as a padded bra. Believe me; they could be used as flotation devices if necessary. Padding is quite heavy and fills up a lot of the bra cup. For those people who are very small on top these bras are great.

Your basic wardrobe should include a nude, a black, and a convertible strapless. After these have been bought, then have a ball. Buy colors. Buy lace. Go wild. The female body is gorgeous and should be celebrated! Besides, you carry yourself differently when you know you are wearing fabulous lingerie. Don’t make yourself wait for a “special occasion”. Own your femininity and your fabulousness!

Elizabeth Sutor is a Makeup Artist and Wardrobe Consultant. She can be reached at or 302.312.9241. Her website is

Finding your personal style

Personal style. We’ve all seen the woman or man who has it. We know it the minute we see it. But how do we get it for ourselves? It has less to do with trends than in how one works those trends. Ever see someone who wears the latest thing (usually all the latest things at the same time), but has no style? The clothes seem to be wearing her, not the other way around.

So how do you look develop your own personal style?

  1. Identify your look: Go through magazines and cut out all the looks that stop you dead in your tracks. Put these pictures aside, in a folder or small box.

  2. Go to your closet and pull out 5 items that you cannot live without.

  3. Line up everything – pictures and outfits, on your bed, a table, whatever feels comfortable.

You should see a theme emerge – classic, bohemian, sporty-preppy, etc. Anything that doesn’t work within that theme, you will be gradually replacing with new clothes that really speak to you. This way, you will no longer face the “I have nothing to wear” dilemma, or worse, open your closet and see things you have not only never worn but still have the price tag on them.

Now it’s time to put your own spin on that theme. Mix things up a little. If you’re into the Bohemian look, don’t wear all the components at once (unless you’re going to a costume party). Wear a peasant blouse with a sleek mini skirt instead of the more expected (and costumey) long gauze skirt. Go back to the peasant thing with either a batik or straw bag or perhaps gladiator sandals with a slight heel to them. Into classic? Don’t do the whole matchy-matchy suit thing with the safe looking (and boring) shirt! Go for one of the new, more feminine and flowing tanks, and add bold jewelry rather than the expected set of pearls. If your “uniform” is jeans and a T with a black jacket and heels, make the heels in a great color or pattern, and wear the classic pearls with this. Or, instead of the T, go for a lacey or sheer blouse with a camisole under it, and the jacket over.

When you buy a 2 or 3 piece outfit, I suggest you to hang those pieces on separate hangers the minute you get them home. Try the pieces with everything in your wardrobe to get a fresh spin on them. You’ll find combinations you may never have considered before and stretch your wardrobe in the process. And it’s not about how much you spend. Re-sale shops are a great source – there is no reason you cannot wear a designer dress with a Goodwill jacket – just make sure it’s well-constructed and in good condition.

It’s not about how much you spend: it’s about knowing who you are and really owning that. And that is priceless.

Elizabeth Sutor is a Makeup Artist and Wardrobe Consultant. She can be reached at or 302.312.9241. Her website is

Who’s hands are these?

Do your hands look like they belong to someone else?

Someone much older???

I looked down at my hands one day and thought: “Who’s hands are these? Someone is obviously holding my real hands for ransom somewhere because these are clearly not my hands!”

Your hands. They take so much abuse: house cleaning, sun exposure, gardening, even our office jobs (all that filing!) all take a toll. Even gradual (and therefore cumulative) sun exposure results in loss of elasticity and age spots. How many times did you actually put an SPF of 15 on your hands before going out for the day? Be honest. Probably never, huh?

Hand creams, hand “butter”, and even petroleum jelly seem like they should help, and, to some extent, they do – temporarily. But because they only “sit” on your skin, they never really do what you’d hoped: improve the look of your hands.

Hand creams alone won’t address the problem of tired, worn-out, dry-looking skin.

You’ve got to slough off the dead skin cells. Well, just like microdermabrasion kits promise and deliver a renewed-looking more vibrant complexion, a similar type of kit for your hands will do the same. Your skin will glow. It will look more “alive”, better-toned and more supple.

The trick is to do this regularly. Just like you cannot get your hair cut once and have it look great for the rest of your life, you can’t do a treatment on your hands once and be done with it forever. This is not a “trick” of the cosmetic industry to sell more products. The same is true for the products you use on your face. Over time, the improvements show. With continued use, the transformation is sometimes startling.

If you don’t want to spend the money on a micro-dermabrasion/scrub kit for the hands, you can let a face scrub do double-duty. You can even use hot salt or sugar scrubs made for the body. Just do something if your hands are looking older than the rest of your beautiful self. It’s never too late to start. You can also put a heavy duty cream on your hands over night while wearing cotton gloves. (Hint: you can also do this for feet.) You won’t get quite the results you will get with a scrub and the full Monty, but at least you will soften up any dryness, and address that issue. As soon as you can, though, do get the hand kit and use it religiously.

Here’s how it works: you use the scrub 1st. Then you follow with the hand cream. At night, if you prefer, you can do the scrub, then follow with the special night cream. The results are amazing! No wonder few people have a problem with doing this on a regular basis.

You can put a heavy duty cream on your hands over night while wearing cotton gloves. (Hint: you can also do this for feet.) You won’t get quite the results you will get with a scrub and the full Monty, but at least you will soften up any dryness, and address that issue. As soon as you can, though, do get the hand kit and use it religiously.

As I said, over time your hands will feel and look better. Prettier. And what woman doesn’t want that?

Elizabeth Sutor is a Makeup Artist and Wardrobe Consultant. She can be reached at or 302.312.9241. Her website is

Bring out your inner sassy

My name is Elizabeth Sutor, and I am a makeup artist and wardrobe consultant. Before branching out on my own, I worked for Lancôme Cosmetics at a local department store. The training and the seminars I attended as both part of the cosmetics line and the cosmetics department was both fun and invaluable. It was so gratifying to watch my clients’ self-confidence grow before my eyes as I taught them how to go from “oh, well”, to “WOW!” in a matter of minutes.

My mother was an artist, and I grew up surrounded by color, form, and beauty. I learned by osmosis, through DNA (my father was a gardener with an eye for gorgeous yet natural combinations of trees, shrubs, and flowers that bloomed through each season). In high school, I both acted and did makeup for the school plays. Later, as a professional singer/songwriter, I did makeup for stage and photographs, for myself and other performers. I also learned how to put together a cohesive “look” for myself and my backing vocalists, depending upon the venue, and the program.

I believe that every woman has her own unique style – that inside, each of us knows who we really are. But we have been taught to not honor that. My plan is to encourage women of all ages, sizes and colors to bring out their “Inner Sassy”. See, when you truly own who you are, you carry yourself differently, and this confidence extends across the board, into every area of your life. Job interviews, dates, meeting new people for the first time, getting what you want out of life – when you package yourself differently, more professionally, more polished, more “I know who I am”, it all takes on a different tone. It’s not about superficiality or materialism: it’s about owning your own power.

In my articles, I will be addressing every aspect of true style – identifying your “look” in your wardrobe, your makeup, and yes, even your home. I will show you how to work the latest trends while not becoming a fashion victim. Together, we will cover everything from how to deal with casual day at work, to how to look sexy without looking sleazy and to all points in between.

Elizabeth Sutor is a Makeup Artist and Wardrobe Consultant. She can be reached at or 302.312.9241. Her website is