Awards season is upon us and as I sifted through photos of Golden Globes red carpet looks, I started thinking about the concept of glamour. What is it, exactly? I don’t think of myself as a glamorous person, but could I become glamorous for a week, wearing my own clothes and doing my own hair and makeup?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of Glamour reads:
- a magic spell
- an exciting and often illusory and romantic attractiveness
Yes. To both. It takes a village to make a red carpet look come together. Sandra Bullock isn’t home right before an awards show, trying to master a smokey eye makeup look and struggling to do up the zipper on the back of her dress. She has a whole squad of skilled experts to perform magic and turn her into a red carpet glamazon. Now, don’t get me wrong, she’s beautiful already. But glamour isn’t the same as beauty. It is a hex. A magic spell. An advanced marketing campaign.
Glamour is a whole lot of work and I don’t think I pulled it off this week. But the interesting thing is that it doesn’t matter what I think about the looks. If other people thought my looks were glamorous, the outfits were glamorous. Glamour is outward, not inward. The appearance of confidence is just as effective as the real thing. I’ll go through the thought process behind each look, starting with…
Day 1: Sleek outfit, big hair
This look came together last minute, because my first outfit plan didn’t work. Mornings are always a scramble for me, even if I think through my clothes the night before. Even if I look glamorous in the morning, I never feel glamorous in the morning. I am not a morning person. My exterior may be that of a swan serenely gliding across a pond, but my brain is more like the little swan legs underneath the surface, paddling like the dickens.
The rare occasion that I do feel glamorous is when I am getting ready for a party at night and I have time to putter around the bathroom, turn on Frank Sinatra, and wipe off the failed eyeliner attempts and try again until it actually looks good. In the morning, there’s no Sinatra, there’s no second attempt at eye makeup….. it is what it is and out the door I go.
But on Monday, I did manage to curl my hair a bit and that’s a big deal for me. If you manage to curl your hair every morning, I take my hat off to you – that’s amazing to me. I wanted big hair and (since the outfit was Take 2) I wanted a simple, sleek outfit. Black turtleneck and black skinny jeans were my blank canvas, then I went from there. I tried a couple different jackets before arriving at this striped black-and-white number. The stripes give the look some drama and the fit is very sleek. Then a pair of heels. Out the door.
Day 2: Dressy outfit, straight hair
This week pushed me outside my normal winter uniform of skinny jeans and sweaters. This two-tone blue and black dress always seems a little dressy for the office, but with a black wool jacket, it looks very work appropriate. Yes, it is dressy, but one thing I’ve learned while I’ve been doing this blog is that people don’t mind when I dress up.
Do you save nice clothes for some hypothetical future event? I do. But I’m going to try to do that less. I’m going to pull out my cute professional sheath dresses and get more use out of them! They can always be dressed down with a slouchy cardigan or a jean jacket. I can make them work for real situations, not just hypothetical ones.
This was the day I straightened my hair and it was ridiculously easy. I’m not going to straighten my hair every day, but if I want to look a little more put together and I have two minutes to get my hair looking decent, the straightener is coming out. Not sure why it hasn’t been part of my hair repertoire in the past. Maybe it is because my hair is longer than usual right now.
Day 3: Color-coordinated
Since black featured heavily in the first two outfits, I wanted to veer into a different color scheme for Wednesday’s look. Earth tones might not be everybody’s go to color palette for a glamorous look, but I like a challenge. I started with the tweed skirt and built the outfit out from there.
Red is one of my favorite colors to wear, and I tried a bright red shirt at first, then opted for a more muted rusty red color. The shirt is a henley style tee from the Salvation Army and it isn’t much to look at by itself, but with outfits (as with life), it isn’t where you start, it is where you finish. Buttoning up all the buttons made it look less early-2000s-ish and tucking it into the skirt gave it better fit and proportions. From there, I picked some stockings and shoes in a similar color scheme – an additional benefit of having sort of matching shoes and tights is that it makes the leg line look longer. Helpful.
The star of this outfit is the jacket. The white lightens the whole look, the red ties in the earth tones, the blue adds in a refreshing complementary color… all good things. The only downside to this jacket is that it has hook and eyes instead of buttons, so my skirt got hooked a whole bunch of times on Wednesday. Fortunately, there weren’t any major emergencies, but it made me very cautious. This look is my favorite from this week.
Day 4: Casual, but with red lipstick
Glamour and red lipstick go hand in hand in my mind. When I’m doing my makeup, I tend to focus on the eyes. There are couple reasons for this. 1) My eyes are quite little and squinty and need a little more help. 2) I like to drink coffee when I am at work and when I wear bright lipstick, most of it ends up on the coffee cup. But I do understand the appeal of red lipstick. Red lipstick is bold and beautiful. It makes us think of the 1950s (a time we associate with glamour) and old Hollywood actresses (who basically invented what we think of as glamour).
Since this was a particularly rushed morning, I needed the red lipstick magic to elevate this outfit. My hair was still partially wet when I left my house and I was back to my winter uniform: skinny jeans and a sweater (with a jean jacket for extra warmth). The red lipstick added the zing this look needed.
Day 5: Wild Card
My coworkers occasionally point out that I don’t really do Casual Fridays. That’s true. Friday is usually my wild card day – the day where I pull out the look that I’m not sure will work. This is my mad scientist experiment day.
This gray sweater is so fabulous, but it isn’t simple to wear. It is a slightly awkward cropped length and it has tiered bell sleeves. But I love drama, so I love this crazy sweater. The skirt is a knit skater style in a neutral houndstooth pattern. And just to show that the outfit wasn’t supposed to be taken too seriously, I added the bright pink tights.
I didn’t feel very glamorous this week. I liked the outfits, but there’s something about knowing the process to the final product that doesn’t allow me to take my own style very seriously. Life isn’t the Instagram photo. It’s all the moments before and after that one frozen instagrammable moment. Social media is pure theater sometimes. I thoroughly enjoy Instagram, but I can’t take it very seriously either.
My advice at the end of this week: don’t chase glamour. It is an outward projection of what we want people to think about us. Instead of relying on glamour magic to trick people into thinking what I want them to think about me, I would rather focus on building something lasting. I want to strive for real beauty. Not just in my outward appearance, but in how I treat people and how I conduct myself and how I speak. It is more difficult, but it is so much more worthwhile.