Category Archives: trends

Gray: the new hot neutral – for hair.

Good news! If you’re starting to see some gray hairs sprouting up and making panicked calls to your stylist, put down the phone. Gray hair is a growing trend.

Kate Moss sported gray streaks at an event in January.

The New York Times reported a wash of silver among the young and fashionable in April:

Also caught up in the silver rush were pop icons like Pink, who showed off gray-tipped strands at the Grammys, and Siobhan Magnus, the “American Idol” contestant, who accessorized recently with a skunk streak and spectacles.

In embracing a tint their mothers would have shunned, such role models are lending gray new cachet, giving shades from ash to ermine an unlikely fashion moment. Now, some say, the trend, which trickled down from the runways of Chanel, Giles Deacon and their rarefied ilk to fashion hot spots around the country, seems poised to go mainstream.

The UK picked up on the trend late last year.

Ironically, gray hair seems to mostly be in vogue among the young. It’s seen as sort of punky and subversive and the next logical step for young trendsetters who already have blonde and pink in their rear-view – while women whose hair has gone naturally gray are still spending money to color their locks. The grass is always greener on the other side. But even that may be beginning to change. Model Kristen McMenamy, a household name in the 1990s, has grown out her hair into flowing silver strands.

Kristen McMenamy in August's Vogue.

McMenamy says she stopped dyeing her hair six years ago:

“You can get older and still be rock ‘n’ roll. I thought all that gray hair would make a beautiful picture.” She added, “You’ve got to keep moving forward.”

Of course some people, like stylist Louis Licari, are bucking the trend. Licari says that gray hair “gray hair makes women look older and their complexions dull and drab…” Easy for him to say. On men gray hair is considered distinguished and handsome (see anyone nagging George Clooney to get a dye job lately?). He goes on to sat that the artificial grays being displayed by young women like Kelly Osbourne are attractive precisely because they are fake, and that natural gray is unflattering and “creates a huge burden for most people trying to look their best.” The point of which seems to be that your hair is only OK if it’s fake. But don’t worry; Licari ends his article by saying that you have to be comfortable with your appearance, even if it means he’ll tell you that you look old.

But in fact going too dark with hair color can create too high a contrast with skin that loses some of its luster with age, and that can make you look older unless you’re willing to cake yourself with makeup (which can in turn settle into fine lines and cake up). So maybe nature knows what it’s doing. To that end, StyleList has put together tips for making the most of your gray, from hair maintenance to makeup tips.

I think Licari has one thing right: you have to be comfortable. If you love the way you look, then who cares what anyone else thinks? Going gray can be tough on women when we’re constantly pressured by advertising and magazines to stay somehow perpetually young and supple, and those first strands of silver can deal a devastating blow to our self-image. (I say this out of personal experience; I’m currently in a constant state of worry over the increasing number of white hairs I’m finding mixed in with my natural red.) So if for whatever reason fashion has turned in such a way as to make one facet of aging acceptable, I say go with it if you want to. (And if it makes you happy, go with it no matter what fashion says. The best kind of beauty comes from being happy.)

Of course the weirdest part of the gray hair trend might be the fact that it has somehow made Lady Gaga’s current Vanity Fair cover seem almost mainstream:

Lady Gaga on the cover of August's Vanity Fair.

Who saw that coming?

This season in undies…

Somehow I have accumulated a lot of links to different stories about underwear. They don’t necessarily connect in any way besides the core undie topic, so I’ve been sitting on them. Also I’m a procrastinator – nobody’s perfect, right?

Which actually brings me to the first link! StyleList has a pretty comprehensive guide to wearing shapewear in the summer and Instyle.com has handy list of bras for summer clothes (including a backless option). I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but here in New England it’s been hot and sticky, and the thought of wrapping any part of myself in spandex is pretty unattractive. I tend to avoid any clothing form-fitting enough to require stretchy armor in the summer. I’m only willing to suffer so much to be fabulous. But when I do wear shapewear I use a high-waisted thigh slimmer to smooth out my pear shape. Hanes makes a line of shapewear (on sale on their website!) that includes the thigh shapers as well as shaping panties. They work as well as Spanx without the hefty price tag.

Remember how we learned that big butts are trendy? Well apparently that’s not the only asset that’s “big” right now. Big breasts are in too! Given the amount of implants running around Hollywood I don’t know when big breasts were ever actually out, but apparently this “new” trend means lots more gel and push-up bras. I used to wear a gel bra (I’m pear-shaped, remember?). They’re heavy and not always terribly comfortable – which is what I’m told by my better-endowed friends is a little like actually having large breasts, so I guess the gel bra wins for authenticity.

But if you want to be trendy and the life of the party? Go with this:

The Wine Rack is a sports bra that holds 750ml of any beverage (the equivalent of a bottle of wine), using said liquid to create the illusion of larger breasts. Once you drink your boob cocktail you can use the attached straw to inflate the bra so you don’t look… deflated.

And if you happen to fill that bra with say… beer, which might make you a little gassy? Check out Subtle Butt, a disposable stick-on patch that goes inside your underwear to absorb unpleasant odors. The Subtle Butt’s inventor has a series of stick-on clothing innovations, including the Knicker Sticker, a patch designed to prevent the dreaded camel toe if you decide to forgo undies altogether. If you do want to wear underwear but still want to avoid a “frontal wedgie?” Well there’s a product for that too.

So there you have it. Everything you need to smooth, suck, enhance, hide, and drink out of your lady bits this season. Enjoy!

“Oh. My. God, Becky. Look at her butt. It’s so… TRENDY!”

Big butts are all the buzz this season.

It’s always amusing to me when body parts go in or out of style. Unlike your clothes, the body you’re given isn’t really something you can change all that much (at least not without thousands of dollars worth of surgery). So when some magazine declares that this year’s “look” is small breasts, or long necks, or attached ear lobes (OK, I’m joking about that last one) it all seems that much more ridiculous. How can people go out of style? And what are you supposed to do if you don’t have this year’s hot shape? Stay inside until the trend changes? Clothes go out of style; people do not.

And yet…

Apparently this year’s big trend is already behind us. So to speak:

Make way! Big bums are shaping up to be the summer of 2010’s hottest trend.

Serena Williams reveals that it took her years to accept her curvy backside, joining other full-figured celebrities embracing their broader bottoms this beach season.

Kim Kardashian says she finally appreciates her round rear. Madonna’s daughter Lourdes loves shorts that make your butt look big. And a new book celebrates bulging booties.

Not since Sir Mix-a-Lot’s 1992 hit “Baby Got Back” has so much praise been paid to the posterior.

The book mentioned in the article is The Big Butt Book, a 372-page salute to well-endowed posteriors.

This is great news for me, since I tend to carry my weight in my hindquarters. Now instead of admitting that I’m just too lazy to go to the gym I can say I’m being trendy! Hooray! If you’re not lucky enough to have some extra junk in your trunk, you can always fake it with padded panties or butt-lifting jeans. Or you can just wait until next season when inevitably slim hips will come back into style.

But it’s not all fun and games for us fat-bottomed girls. A new scientific study has found that women who carry extra weight around their hips may suffer memory impairments. The study found that “apple” shaped women, or women who carry weight in their middle, scored higher on cognitive tests than “pear” shaped women:

The study involved 8,745 post-menopausal women aged 65 to 79.

These women were asked to complete a memory test that doctors use to judge brain function. They were also weighed and measured, then scored on an obesity scale known as Body Mass Index or BMI. Over two-thirds of the women were overweight or obese.

The researchers found that for every one point increase in a woman’s BMI, her memory score dropped by one point.

And pear-shaped women – those with smaller waists but bigger hips – scored particularly poorly.

The researchers say this is likely to be related to the type of fat deposited around the hips versus the waist.

So enjoy your moment in the sun, my fellow pears. Someday we won’t remember the short time when we were fashion’s big trend. But at least we can rest assured that Sir Mix-A-Lot and Queen will always love us.

Summer-proof your beauty routine

It’s hot out there!

Summer means a lot of time outdoors. And while I know plenty of women blessed with gorgeous skin and coloring that requires no makeup, I am not one of them. That means that when summer comes I start worrying about raccoon eyes from melted mascara, unintentional smokey eyes from smudged eyeliner, creasing shadow, and oily skin. That means adjusting my routine to accommodate the heat and humidity as well as the increased oil my skin produces when it’s warm. Continue reading

New dumb trend: socks with sandals.

One of my favorite things about summer is the fact that I can pack away all my socks until it gets cold again in favor of bright pedicures and sandals. Well, bad news for me, because apparently socks with sandals is now a trend.

I ask you, does this look cute?

Image courtesy of NYMag.com

That’s actually not the worst example they’ve got – you should really check out the slideshow. This look was all over the spring runways, too.

I don’t get this. Isn’t the point of sandals and open-toe shoes to be… open? Isn’t that why they exist in the first place? So we can enjoy one less layer of fabric in a hot season? I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here in New England it’s hot and sticky. The less unnecessary fabric I can get away with, the better. Even worse, all the socks in the New York Magazine slideshow look like they’re mostly nylon – can you think of a sweatier, less desirable fabric to wrap around your feet in the heat of summer?

Sorry fashion world, I’ll be sitting this one out. I’d rather flaunt my brightly-polished toes in your disapproving faces than deal with sweaty, hot, smelly feet. Also, I’m not really interested in taking fashion tips from this guy:

Image courtesy of Top10Kid.com

What price beauty?

Keep young and beautiful,
It’s your duty to be beautiful!
Keep young and beautiful,
if you want to be loved.

So says the Annie Lennox song:

But sometimes we get a little crazy in our quest for beauty. The search for that miracle cream that will sweep away blemishes and wrinkles, or the magical hair product that will give us luster and shine, can lead us to some outlandish places.

One salon in London is offering clients a protein treatment made from – wait for it – bull semen:


Touted as “Viagra for Hair,” this 45-minute treatment ranges from £55 to £85 ($90-$138 U.S.) and uses semen from Aberdeen Angus bulls. Hari’s combines the sperm with the root of the protein-rich plant Katera. The protein-enriched potion is massaged into the client’s hair after it has been shampooed. Then the client is put under heat so the treatment penetrates the hair. The final step is the blow out, which gives the hair an awful lot of body, as well as shine.

As someone who has spent plenty of cash on different conditioners and treatments in the pursuit of frizz-free, shiny hair, I can honestly say this is a bit much for me. But it’s nothing compared to using urine as a facial treatment. Urine! On your face! It seems to me that if your body had much use for what was in that urine, your body would have kept it in the first place. But don’t worry about that, because you can skip the urine and get a facial that uses synthesized human sperm or snail slime instead.

Total Beauty has a list of ten strange beauty treatments that includes the bull semen hair treatment as well as procedures involving live fish, the feces of nightingales and crocodiles, and placenta.

Vanity is a strong force, isn’t it? We spend so much of our lives being judged on how we look that it can make us crazy and the next thing we know we’re paying hundreds of dollars to have things smeared on us that we’d otherwise avoid in the hopes that it will make us beautiful or keep us young for a little longer. I certainly have nothing against natural remedies – I’m a fervent champion of honey and its many many uses. (I use it mixed with my conditioner and occasionally with crushed aspirin tablets as a facial mask.) But there’s a difference between embracing the idea of alternative methods and leaping into any unproven (and/or gross) new thing just because it’s trendy. A few years back Gwyneth Paltrow caused a stir when it was rumored she was using a facial moisturizer containing snake venom because the paralytic venom was believed to have a Botox-like effect on the face. Like a lot of these types of things, the claims were unproven and the side effects potentially dangerous. But tell women the stars are doing it (or just charge a lot of money) and we’ll line right up.

Some of these things do have a basis in science – the bull semen hair treatment is high in protein, for example. But you can get any number of protein-packed hair treatments without spending that much cash or drenching your head in bovine bodily fluids. In fact most of these trends have lower-priced and less insane counterparts. If you look at what’s supposed to make it work, it’s usually based on the ingredients and science already present in the beauty products you can get at any drug store. (Well, maybe not the live fish that eat the dead skin off your feet… but that’s another story.)

The Beauty Brains are a great resource for topics like this. The site, run by cosmetic scientists, explains the science behind beauty in terms anyone can understand and debunks a lot of the claims made by trendy beauty treatments.

It comes down to research. Before you try any new “miracle” treatment or product, do a little Googling and a little reading. It might save you some cash and some time.

Braids aren’t just for little girls anymore!

If you have wavy/curly hair like me, the approach of summer means one thing: frizz. At least once a summer I consider chopping off all my hair to escape the heat and the frizzy mess it becomes when exposed to humidity. There are ways to fight frizz (Allure has nine handy tips), but some days you just want that hair off your neck, out of your face, and off your mind. The hot way to handle that hair this summer? Braids. Check out this season’s looks after the jump. Continue reading