Monday, January 26, 2009

Stop, Slooooow Down & Listen To Me

No matter how many self-improvement projects you've scheduled on your calendar before W-day (you know, wedding day, our big moment) do not and I must request your full-and-undivided-attention here:  Do not do anything rash.

If you do, you could end up with an irreversible regret that I can guarantee will be documented in albums, digital cameras, computer photo "libraries", throw-away camera glossies, DVD's and other people's elephantine memories for decades to come.

Let me define rash:  
  • A new hair color.  (This could be good, this could be very bad.)
  • A radical cut.  Ditto.
  • A fussy -- operative words "old-looking" up-do. (Not good.)
  • No weird nail polish colors.  What's the point?
  • Ensembles that scream "mother-of-the-bride."  This is a delicate subject, which will be covered at length in the future, but I suspect you have an inkling about my references.
  • Coats and jackets that fly open at the slightest movement of air in outdoor photo ops or during a lively dance in which you will most certainly be participating.
  • Anything strapless that requires that exceedingly attractive wiggly-winged jumping haul-up movement.  You know what I'm talking about.
  • Skirts that hike-up mid-thigh when seated.  You may think that's what tables were invented for, but in my experience religious ceremonies often precede receptions.
  • Bottom line anything uncomfortable that has you handling and adjusting stuff all day and night is to be avoided no matter how gorgeous you think you are standing motionless before a mirror while the salesperson enthusiastically endorses your impression.
  • Corsages or any other live flowers on your body (see Dec. 10th post which discusses this at length).  I say "live" because there might be a splendid location for a Chanel camillia for example.
  • Killer stilettos.  (As gorgeous as these Jimmy Choo shoes are, they are lethal in this context.)  You haven't worked this hard to get this far to break your leg. 
  • A badly thought out hat.  Little else will draw more attention to you -- in a bad way -- than a chapeau, so it better be great.  We'll discuss.  (Isn't this Philip Treacy hat fun?)
  • Plunging necklines.  Been there done that.  Enough already.  It's neither the time nor the place and perhaps that chest area is not as taut as once was.  No offense. 
  • Realizing in the cruel light of day (or night) your bare arms days are over, do yourself and everyone else a favor -- cover them. Think sleeves or jackets. Shawls are not an option, they slip off and require constant adjustment (except on French women for reasons I've never completely understood).
  • Putting your face into the hands of a makeup artist whom you will meet for the first time two hours before your grand entrance.  (Schedule an appointment well in advance to see if you look better or worse with your daughter's designated makeup applicator.  If you're not happy, scurry out immediately to find another and try, try again until someone gets it right.)
  • A head-to-toe liquid tan.  (Please see Jan. 2nd post wherein I confess to my most outrageous miscalculation.)
All of this is not to say you shouldn't experiment.  One must.  We're striving for perfection after all and with trials there will be errors.  These "missteps" as I like to call them, must be experienced in private, witnessed solely by strangers or those one trusts implicitly (or better yet those over whom one has some sway like knowledge of terrible secrets from their pasts).

Moving along:  What one must not do is experiment too closely to W-Day.  The national U.S. average from proposal to final engagement is 15 months.   As you know I had only nine months which is why I can tell you with the greatest concern and compassion: Listen to me when I implore you not to do anything bizarre to yourself that cannot be quickly and easily rectified or immediately rinsed off.  Plan well and 15 months --  or if you're really, really lucky even longer -- should be enough time to obsess over every-single-detail until you can say (to yourself) without equivocation:  "I look absolutely fabulous."

And don't forget: I'm here to help.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Re-defining Family

It is incredibly annoying when circumstances beyond one's control intervene on one's well-laid plans.
As the MOB there is so much to do -- and in my case, as I've mentioned, in such a protracted period of time -- I was getting twitchy (and testy).  The digital read-out on my nutritionist's high-tech scale wasn't moving fast enough in the correct direction; my shoes weren't even close to the perfect crystalline beige, yet not quite beige hue of marron glacĂ© I had specifically chosen; and my hair wasn't growing fast enough.  I had more than enough to deal with on a purely personal level. 

Now really, what do I care about my body fat/muscle ratio and what percentage of the number on the scale is water weight? In a perfect world perhaps, but my world was closing in on me and I was simply wishing, hoping and actively working for an overall reduction in the big numbers, not a detailed spread sheet -- so to speak.  (The "more information than you need to know" scale pictured below is from Escali, with it you can see if you've lost an ounce -- how exciting is that?)

Really, I was overwhelmed and felt this was not the moment to be confronted with any extraneous requests or meaningful lessons in life.  I had appointments.

I was busy trying to schedule all the make-up, treatments, diet, hair-streaking, figure camouflaging tricks and interventions without scalpels I could cram into my nine months of pre-nup prep.  I had neither the patience nor the interest in an epiphany.   At a time when my priorities were focused exactly where they needed to be -- on me -- I neither expected nor appreciated life intruding on my agenda.

I still hadn't found someone I could trust to clean my divine, coral suede Chanel evening bag; decided on what I was going to wear to the chi-chi all girl dinner party preceded by salsa dancing lessons hosted by friends of Andrea's I hadn't seen in more than a decade -- I mean, pressure, pressure, pressure -- and on top of all that decisions, decisions, decisions.  Should I or should I not wear white pants to the rehearsal/out-of-town guests dinner where I would be meeting Will's family for the first time and seeing ex-in-laws I haven't laid eyes on in at least 15 years or more, even though I had packed a VERY long black tunic top. . .

Well, you get the picture.  I needed to concentrate on me.

Then along came Catherine.

Catherine is Andrea's half-sister and was her sole attendant.  I had met her over the years perhaps a half-dozen times, briefly and coolly at graduations, a brunch, a huge buffet dinner party, but we barely spoke.  

Just weeks prior to the wedding, Andrea informed me her sister would be bicycling through France and wanted to use us as "home base" and furthermore she would also be spending Christmas with all of us this year.  Was that o.k.? 

Ah, well ummm, sure.  Who can say "no" to a bride who days before the main event was still making tiny ceramic apples and pears as favors for the guests and wasn't getting anything close to her daily eight hours of bed rest?  

So in the midst of my primping the decision was made and the rest is history.  Alexandre and I now introduce Catherine as "our niece" because it's too complicated to explain she's Drea's sister and wait while one's interlocutor registers the word and then tries to work out the family ties.

And it's thanks to Catherine with her infinite patience, that my blogs exist. Truly she has been a life-changing experience and it's lovely for us to know Andrea's sister.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Making Up Is Hard To Do

My daughter does not like strangers, translate -- make-up artists -- fiddling around with her face.

Obviously, this is my fault.  Apparently I introduced her to the wonders of eyelash curlers at such a tender age that she is now terrified by any beauty instruments used to apply cosmetics
in the hands of anyone but herself.

I started using an eyelash curler when I was eight and felt 10ish was an appropriate age for her initiation.  I had no idea she would pull away in mid squeeze and leave me holding a curler with several of her severed lashes.  I give 
you my word I explained AND demonstrated its use before her first and sadly last lesson in the fine art of eyelash curling.

Result of this phobia, we -- and I admit this could have just as easily been a singular pronoun, but my maternal guilt kicked in and once again I went along with the program -- had no professional makeup people doing our faces for the big day.  Big mistake.

Actually, Andrea looks great in the pictures and since all you see in mine is my liquid tan, maybe it would have been a waste of time and money for me to have hired someone to get me camera ready.  Still, I have regrets.  I couldn't have looked worse, therefore. . .

Having assisted on untold numbers of photo shoots where makeup application can take upwards of two hours with non-stop touch-ups throughout the day, I can attest to the reality
that the better the makeup, the better the photos.  And it takes more products than you can imagine to look natural.
Furthermore, I'm talking about models in their 20s.**

My point:  Do not under any circumstances agree to not have someone do your makeup.  I'm not harping, but just reviewing the facts:  We are slightly older than our daughters and need all the help we can get on all fronts.  Am I right?  You know I am.

If your daughter and her attendants opt out, hey let them look back at their pictures 30 years from now and wish they'd let someone apply alabaster, reflective pre-foundation prep lotion; rosy blush on the apples of their cheeks; the finishing touches on an exquisitely arched brow and the perfect dollop of gloss in the middle of the lower lip to create that enviable insouciant, yet irresistible pout.

**This is a photo of my friend Chad Hayduk (who I wish I'd invited to the wedding and asked to save my face) one of the co-founders of the superb makeup line Three Custom Color who is a brilliant makeup artist, particularly with that tricky "natural look".  

P.S.:  If you want the world's best eyelash curler, and who wouldn't?  Except Andrea.   It's the Shu Uemura pictured above.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Brown As A Berry

Into each life some errors must come.  What we dearly hope, however, is that these little missteps are not witnessed, photographed and remembered for eternity by more than 100 friends, family, complete strangers and people who don't particularly like us and are thrilled by any teeny lapse in judgement we may display in public.

Yes, I prefer to think of my error as a lapse of judgement, but actually it was an egregious miscalculation.  

Let me explain:  Normally I never leave home under any circumstances wearing anything not in my favorite color family -- black.  I do have some navy in my wardrobe and a few gray items, but nothing wedding appropriate.  (My husband says even when you turn the light on in my closet you can't see anything in there.  True enough, but everything goes with everything.)
Now, one cannot in good conscience wear black to one's daughter's wedding because of the implied message it imparts.  Being the good sport I like to think I am, I thought perhaps I could find a midnight blue ensemble or a very charred charcoal number. I didn't or couldn't and in the meantime other forces were at work -- friends, daughter, husband -- trying and unfortunately succeeding in convincing me to wear a light color.

Without belaboring this saga, I'll get to the point.  I wore "vanilla".  Why I did this I shall never know.  In fact the woman in the boutique who sold me the outfit told me she thought I should check with my daughter to see if she had a problem with my wearing a color often chosen by brides.  Andrea unfortunately was THRILLED with the choice.  (She cannot recall ever seeing me in anything but black.)

Feeling vulnerable and lumpy I decided I could pop into one of 
those spray-on tanning salons and feel less exposed.  I figured a head-to-toe, literally, bronzage would give me the same type of security blanket confidence as a black get up, i.e. make me seem thinner, at least psychologically.  


If you've never done this let me tell you how much fun it isn't.  You stand naked or with little knickers if you prefer inside a cold, minuscule cubicle while a complete stranger (obviously) wearing a sort of surgical mask aims a lethal looking machine filled with a maple syrup brown liquid at your body and spray paints you from aft to stern.  While she is protected by a mask you have to hold your breath. Although she assured me the product was made out of sugar (?!) I almost passed out from trying not to inhale the stuff.  Then, she set up a music stand with old magazines -- I guess she didn't want me to get bored while I was standing there -- turned on a bunch of fans and left me alone to dry.  

You see no immediate results except for feeling slightly sticky.  When you make your appointment you are told to wear loose, dark clothing.  I recommend adding "old" to the list. As you hand over your credit card -- insult to injury -- you are warned not to take a shower before retiring.  (In retrospect I realize that was my second mistake.)

It's first thing in the morning when you've forgotten you did this ridiculous little procedure that you practically faint when you look in the mirror.  Of course you can't cry because you'd have little stripes running down your cheeks.

To be perfectly honest some wedding guests complimented me on my "tan" but I think they were just being polite or maybe they were lying.