Monday, February 10, 2014

How To Discover & Ace Your Signature Look

[As published on HERE]
In Hollywood, the best way to be remembered is to rock a certain hairstyle/makeup style so frequently; it’s labeled as ‘your’ particular look. Taylor Swift used to be known for her carefree curls (when she was still a rising star), but soon transitioned her hairstyle into a sleek ‘do with bangs that she’s kept for the past year. Since her Red album release, she’s also been sporting red lipstick all the time.
Halle Berry has maintained her edgy, super-short pixie cut since forever (2007 to be exact), and to be honest, it’s just not the same if she had long, wavy hair. And who can remember the last time Gwen Stefani or Rita Ora stepped out not wearing red lipstick? We sure can’t. There are many more examples: Kelly Osbourne’s granny lilac hair, Janelle Monae’s vintage quiff, JLo’s effortless bronzed skin, Tilda Swinton’s ghostly-pale makeup… the list goes on.
As for Lady Gaga, well, she’s consistently zany. If she turned up looking normal one day (ie in a satin floor-length dress instead of in an egg), I’m sure we’d be fervently discussing her lack of self-expression.
Even if you’re not a celebrity, you can also find a signature look that works for you. Of course, there are pros and cons. The most obvious being: people will recognise you because of that particular look (a good thing), and people will not recognise you if you decide not to work the look (not so good).
While working in the publishing industry, it was part of my job to attend events on a daily basis. I rarely go out without makeup on, so it sort of became a common sight for my friends and colleagues to see me with my usual cat-eye liner. So much so that if I bumped into them sans makeup on weekends, they’d ask me, “Are you sick? You look so different!” Similarly, there were writers who always wore bright pink/red lipstick. I got so used to seeing them with bright lips; it made them look naked if they suddenly turned up wearing a muted shade.
Here are a few pointers on how to ace a look and call it your own:

Experiment until you find ‘The One’.
It’s kind of like the dating game. Never settle for a particular look just because ‘it’s convenient’, or because ‘you’re used to it’. That is NOT a signature look. A sleek ponytail with an extreme side part is a signature look. Frizzy hair haphazardly tied back with a rubber band used for take-away food is not.  Tweak your appearance in little ways until you find something that looks good and makes you feel good.

Listen to what your loved ones say.
If you change the way you apply your eyeliner, and your boyfriend/best friend/colleague compliments you, then you’re on the right track. It works both ways. If it doesn’t work, be prepared to accept constructive criticism graciously. Some people (bless their souls) will be more mindful of your feelings, and say things like ‘I quite liked your previous look’ etc, but there are also toxic people who will say hurtful things by taking it too far. These people you can simply ignore. Their opinions don’t matter.

It’s okay to be different from everyone else. 
I’ve had people tell me that I should use less eyeliner (because ‘good girls don’t use so much eyeliner during the day’ – what kind of reason is that?!?). But because I didn’t care much for their opinion (see above), I didn’t let it get to me. Not for long anyway. If we all spent our lives trying to look like each other, then we might as well be clones. For instance, many young girls nowadays look exactly the same – long black hair (middle parting), double eyelids (made with stickers), iris-enlarging contact lenses (usually coloured), thick eyebrows (often poorly drawn), pale foundation (too much)… They’re usually prominent on Facebook and Instagram, with ‘professional’ shots of them rolling around in bed with only their underwear on. Even my male friends have commented that these girls all look the same. So much for being original.
Anyway digressing aside, my point is: you don’t have to feel bad if you don’t look like everyone else on the street. Use it to your advantage.

If you find your signature look, stick to it. 
Wear your look with pride. Why change a good thing if change isn’t necessary? It doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself, though – there are many ways you can change your look without losing your unique identity. Love eyeliner? Change it up by lining the lower lashline with a bright colour, or use a different lipstick on special occasions. If you’ve always had pink hair, it still looks mighty fine cut short or kept long, or braided. Bottom line: it’s still pink.

Ultimately, finding your signature look should be a journey of self-discovery that’s to be enjoyed. It might take weeks, months or even years until you find something that you love. It’s okay – find pleasure in each and every moment of experimenting, either good or bad. Always remember that it’s just makeup and it’ just hair. If you don’t like it, you can change it whenever you like.

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