A New Look for a Busy Mom

When Carolina Parent announced the chance to win a free makeover for mom in February, we were deluged with responses. Choosing just one was difficult, but we had to. In the end, we selected Janine Coleman, a Raleigh mother of four kids — 4-year-old twins, an 11-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son — who wrote, in part, that juggling the demands of full-time work in a competitive industry and family life were taking a toll on her “inner fashionista.”

She wanted to be able to “put her best face forward and present a polished, professional image” at work while also looking great on date night and stylish when taking her children to their various activities and events.

Enthusiastic and eager to learn, Coleman set off on her makeover adventure. Here are some of the highlights.

Step One: Focus on the Face

The first step of Coleman’s makeover was to analyze what colors work best for her. Considering her hair, skin and eye shades, image consultant Mary Michele Little determined that Coleman’s color harmony is Vivid Cerillian Autumn. With a warm skin tone, some of her best colors are coral, turquoise and rich caramel — colors that are right on trend for the season. A personalized color palette with 40 of her best colors will help Coleman when she shops or pairs outfits so she wears her most flattering colors, especially around her face.

Many women are surprised to learn how the shape of their face determines their best neckline, jewelry, jacket lapels, even shoes, according to Little. Rounded, higher necklines best balance Coleman’s oblong face. Round hoop earrings and other rounded lines in jewelry and shoes are the best choice for her.

Step Two: Clean Out the Closet

When it came time for Coleman’s closet audit, Little had two goals; the first was to clear out anything that didn’t work well for her or didn’t fit. Little and Coleman also pulled anything that needed to be cleaned, mended or discarded. The second part was to take what remained and find new ways to create chic outfits for both work and weekends, creating maximum versatility from her clothes with multiple pairings for most items.

To show off Coleman’s small waist — one of her assets — they got rid of her big, baggy jackets and tops and kept her more-fitted jackets, sweaters and trousers. Trying to hide behind baggy jackets visually adds inches and pounds where most moms don’t need them.

Step Three: Creating Wow from Now

Even with a reduced closet inventory, Coleman ended up with several new outfits because Little showed her fresh ways to create looks by shopping in her own closet. “I didn’t think of putting things together the way Michele did,” Coleman says.

Little created casual looks that started with jeans and a T-shirt or simple top, what Coleman says is her basic “uniform” for casual wear. For example, Little chose an ivory cardigan over a simple T paired with jeans and leopard-print flats. The round spots on the shoes echo Coleman’s face shape, and the cardigan shows off her waistline. This outfit can be the basis for multiple looks; simply switch the top for another color and change the accessories and shoes.

The key to putting a chic spin on jeans and a simple top is to “go one step further. Throw on a jacket or cardigan, bold earrings or a necklace, even a scarf,” Little says. Opt for a cute pair of flats or cute athletic shoes, but skip the big white sneakers or you’ll risk “looking like one of two things: either a busy mom who has just given up, or a tourist. Either way, it’s not a flattering look.”

Step Four: Filling in the Gaps

What Coleman needed, and what most women need, are not tons more clothes, but the right clothes: a great fitting pair of jeans, chic tops, a nice belt, and a pair of neutral flats to go with multiple outfits. Armed with this mental list, Little and Coleman headed to Scout and Molly’s in Raleigh where owner Lisa Disbrow helped pull items within a wide size range. They found just what Coleman needed – modern clothing appropriate for an almost-40 mom who wants to look chic, but isn’t a size 4 anymore.

After trying multiple looks, Coleman and Little settled on a cantaloupe-colored knit top with round neckline cinched with a wide caramel-colored belt to draw attention to Coleman’s waist. A pair of dark-wash Joe’s Jeans complement the top and belt, and caramel-colored peep-toe wedges complete this modern and age-appropriate look for Coleman’s busy weekends with her family. She also received a stylish pair of Joe’s Jeans (a great cut for her body type) from Uniquities in Raleigh.

Step Five: Personal Polish

Justin Dare at Glam Lounge added sun-kissed highlights to her deep brown hair, and cut a chic and easy-to-maintain bob perfect for the office as well as weekends. Dare used a flat iron to add sleek polish to her bob.

The last stop was Luxe Apothecary in North Hills Mall for a makeup session with Fiquet Bailey, who shaped Coleman’s brows. “Brows frame the face. I’d rather someone fill in their brows than put on lipstick any day,” Bailey explains.

After showing Coleman how to create a chic and easy look using makeup that can be pared down for weekends, Bailey stocked Coleman’s makeup bag with the essentials from Becca Cosmetics.

By paying attention to the details, Coleman finds she can look polished with minimal fuss. And getting dresses is easier and faster with a streamlined closet. But the best part about the makeover is that she’s able to maintain the look and make better decisions, Coleman says. Plus, it “inspired me to take better care of myself,” she says, encouraging her to make better eating choics and exercise more. That’s a gift every mother needs.

Takeaway Tips for Moms

Go through your closet once a season to see what you need, considering basics and accessories.

Try different clothing and accessory combinations to see what works. Ask “How many things can I put this with?”

Know what styles best flatter your body and stick with them. Don’t be afraid to try something new, but if you’ve learned that a certain cut doesn’t work on your body type, steer clear of it.

Look for necklines and accessories that complement your face shape — either angular or contoured/rounded.

Know what colors are most flattering for you. These will make you look your best and enhance your natural coloring.

Be sure your jeans fit well, whether they cost $200 or $20. Many women can’t get a perfect fit off the rack, so alterations may be needed.

Wear a semi-fitted jacket over a T-shirt for a slenderizing look.

Break up suits and sweater sets. Mix and match to create endless wardrobe options without adding more clothes to your closet.

Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale, and keep in mind that an item should go with at least three things you already own.

Do a cost-per-wear analysis. Divide the price by the number of times you think you’ll wear an item to determine whether something is a bargain.

Wash your hair only a few times each week to help keep it from drying out. Start by skipping one day between washes, then two, then three to help keep oil production in check.

Try a flat iron for a sleek, polished look. It’s faster and easier than using a round brush, and the effects last for two to three days.

Buy makeup and products that do double-duty, such as tinted moisturizer with sunscreen and eye shadow that can be used as a shadow or a liquid liner when blended with water.

Visit the makeup counter in the spring and fall to keep your look fresh. You don’t have to overhaul your makeup bag, but a new shade of lipstick and eye shadow keeps you looking up-to-date.

Tips from Mary Michele Little; Dawn Bender and Justin Dare of Glam Lounge; and Fiquet Bailey of Luxe Apothecary

Total makeover package value: $2,000.

Thanks to One Chic Mama Inc., Scout and Molly’s, Uniquities, Glam Lounge, Luxe Apothecary, Marilyn-Bryant Tucker and Urban Food Group for donating services and/or products.

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