Friday, June 14, 2013

Moving On...

via Pinterest

So, I didn't want to start a blog only to watch it slowly but surely descend to the depths of that wishy-washy "I might post every once in awhile when I feel like it" kind of deal. We all know that's where blogs go to die, whether it's acknowledged or not. So now, I'm trying to do you a favor. Kind of like in old animal movies where it's best for the wild but adopted pet to go back into the wild, and the sobbing child owner has to act like it hates the animal's guts to get it to leave?

"Go ON! Get outta here!! I don't want you anymore!! The ranger's gonna get you if you stay!!"

This blog was an experiment of sorts, to test my interests, and see whether this was something I wanted to maintain, as well as explore what it could evolve into and become. It's not a failed experiment in the slightest. I've been pleasantly surprised and extremely supported by the amount of kind feedback and input I've gotten from you for almost a year now! The questions kept me going and challenged me to keep learning and for that I'm so grateful.

But here's the thing. A lot of what I've been writing about is being covered all over the fashion blog corner of the interwebs right now, and I've never wanted this blog to be about adding to the noise. And while my blogging voice is and has remained my own, my stylist skills are still very basic. Because of that, I think it'd be better for me to stop talking and keep learning at this point, until I have something to offer that's not readily accessible elsewhere. But I need to be able to learn at my own pace at this point, without the pressure of maintaining a blog about it.

So, The Twenty Ninth's exploratory fashion era is being put to sleep, for now. I can't thank you all enough for keeping me inspired and keeping my post queue full of drafts.

Who knows what reincarnation this blog will go through next? Until then, here's to all of you!

Now go on! Get outta here!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Makeup School with Sarah, Part 2

It's the second half of our Makeup School with Sarah series! Today we're talking more about the practicals -- Sarah offers tips and tricks as well as her makeup recommendations below.

All photos are of clients Sarah has made up... err... done make up for? You know what I mean.

The Twenty Ninth: Do you have any practical and simple tips for everyday makeup users?
Sarah: Whatever you are applying, make sure you are applying it COMPLETELY.  Uncertainty in technique and placement leads to women applying makeup only half-way or part-way.  Applying makeup incompletely isn’t safer, it just looks bad!  The two ways I see this happen most frequently are in foundation application and application of a bold lipstick.  It’s too often that I see women walking around with foundation missing from a 1 inch rim around the perimeter of their face.  Your foundation should be blended gently into your hairline, below the jaw line and into the neck, and even slightly behind the ears.  You can’t see those areas, but most other people can.  As for the bold lip color, do it or don’t!  If you wear the bold lip and don’t apply it fully, it will look silly anyway.  Make sure you extend the color all the way to the peaks of the cupid’s bow, all the way to the lowest part of the bottom lip line, and all the way into the outer corners of the mouth.  Using a lip liner will really help you to be purposeful about where the lipstick goes.  If there are certain makeup techniques you’re not comfortable with but you want to master (winged eyeliner, fake eyelashes, blush, etc.), just keep practicing!  The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become, and the more you will enjoy putting on makeup! 

The Twenty Ninth: What are some of your favorite techniques?
Sarah: Subtle layering and gradations.  They create quite a lot of positive change without making a person look unlike themselves.  They also help to mimic the natural shading of a healthy face.
The Twenty Ninth: What are some of your go-to colors/makeup combinations right now?
Sarah: At the moment, I’m enjoying playing around with colors that are almost inharmonious, but not quite.  They can create more pop and reaction than a bold color that is completely harmonious, yet still work.  I’ve also been interested in creating a stark contrast between intensities of different makeup elements within the same look.  For example, using a very sheer, undetectable foundation, with a strong painted-on brow and bold, opaque lips. 
The Twenty Ninth: Are there a couple of wrong ways people typically apply makeup that you can enlighten us on?
Sarah: I actually read an article recently that really hit the nail on the head concerning the most common makeup faux-pas!  I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I’ll let you read it for yourself.
The Twenty Ninth: What’s the one question you’re asked most frequently?
Sarah: “What’s the best makeup brand?”  Answer:  there isn’t one!  If there was, they would have already won and beat out the other brands.  Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is selling that brand.  Different brands are good at different things.  It would make our lives easier if you could just look for one common word on packaging to link together all worthwhile products, but as with most arenas of life, it takes a bit more work than that!  To sift through all the tricky marketing and beauty writers’ hype, read user reviews!  I can easily say I’ve gained more product knowledge through reading about products than through all the trainings I received while working in Sephora (I was trained by 40 different brands in the beginning, with many reinforcing trainings thereafter.)  Whenever I would receive a brand training at Sephora, I would go and read reviews on the products they had just told me about afterwards.  It’s much easier to get reliable information from an unbiased source.  Personally, I mostly prefer user reviews to beauty bloggers and writers when it comes to picking products, in general.  ( is a great place to find reviews!)  People whose job it is to write about the beauty industry get more money and attention saying something is amazingly wonderful or astonishingly horrible than saying something is mediocre.  Mediocrity doesn’t create interest and generate increased readership.  Regular people, however, have no problem giving a product the mediocre label it may well deserve.  I’d often rather read the opinion of 122 “uneducated” voices with a discerning eye than hearing only one “educated” voice who may or may not have ulterior motives.  Beauty bloggers can be great resources; you just need to take their endorsements and rejections with a grain of salt.  Much of life is not as extreme as entertainment sources would like it to be. 
The Twenty Ninth: That being said, what are some of your favorite brands?
Sarah: Being mostly experienced in the high-end consumer part of the industry, I’d say MAKE UP FOR EVER, NARS, Dior, Laura Mercier, Yves Saint Laurent, Guerlain, and Givenchy, from my experience.  There are many more great lines that I haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know in detail, both in high-end consumer (Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Bobbi Brown) and great pro-brands less visible to the public eye (Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, Face Atelier, Graftobian, Cinema Secrets, Inglot, etc.).
The Twenty Ninth: What 1 makeup piece should be a person’s “investment” piece?
Sarah: Foundation!  You can’t fudge a good foundation.  Making a product that effectively mimics skin in color and texture is not easy.  Bad foundation is the #1 most offensive makeup piece to the general public, whether they know that was what created the adverse reaction or not.  Poor formula, especially when paired with poor color selection and application, can often lead to the general makeup descriptors of “cakey”, “orange”, “mask-like”, “unnatural”, etc.  With pretty much all other makeup pieces, you can definitely make it work with drugstore products for your every day makeup.  Some excellent foundations I like that work for most people are MAKE UP FOR EVER Face & Body makeup (sheer, lightweight, and great for all, but this will especially be the best friend of fair/freckled women!), Dior Nude Skin foundation, MAKE UP FOR EVER HD foundation (more coverage than the Face & Body), and NARS Sheer Glow or Sheer Matte foundation.  (Disclaimer: this is not a comprehensive list!  There are many more all-inclusive, beautiful foundations with which I have less experience.)
The Twenty Ninth: Which resources would you recommend to help people make sense of the cosmetic industry? 
Sarah: For (mostly) educated reviews on a wide array of brands, Sephora is a great resource.  For reviews on all brands, try Makeup Alley (but be careful, the quality of the reviews on this site can be a bit lower than Sephora’s).  To make sense of all the rumors and myths you hear about the beauty industry (ex. Parabens are going to give you cancer and kill you, horse shampoo makes your hair grow longer, etc.), check out The Beauty Brains.  They’re a group of scientists who make a variety of cosmetic products.  They know the ins and outs of how products and ingredients actually work from a factual level – no hype here!

Sarah, thanks for taking the time to share your expertise with us! Wish you all the best as you makeup your way to the top!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Makeup School with Sarah, Part 1

Remember Sarah, our Girl Friday from a few weeks ago?

Sarah just received her diploma from the MAKE UP FOR EVER Academy in New York City. She's an extremely talented makeup artist, and I asked if she'd be willing to share some of her tips & tricks with us here on The Twenty Ninth. Below, Sarah tells us more about her history in the makeup field, as well as a few of the things she's learned as an artist over the years. Tomorrow we'll get more into the practicals!

All photos are courtesy of Sarah, and showcase skills she learned while at school. For more pictures of her work, check out her Instagram!

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The Twenty Ninth: When did you know you wanted to become a makeup artist?
Sarah: I think part of me knew it since high school.  I remember saying aloud at one point, “Man, if I could just be a makeup artist for the rest of my life, that’d be so cool!”  But I only ended up getting into it by sort of by accident.  I was out of a job, ended up applying to be a makeup artist at Sephora, and got hired!  That was the beginning, and I loved it from there.  
The Twenty Ninth: Did you go to school/training for your profession?
Sarah: I just finished attending the MAKE UP FOR EVER Academy in NYC and I loved it!  I think it’s the best choice for a makeup school, at least on the East Coast, maybe in the States as a whole.  I don’t think going to makeup school is essential to becoming a successful makeup artist, but it definitely helps!  And I’m so appreciative of everything I learned there.

The Twenty Ninth: What kinds of clients do you typically have?
Sarah: I’ve done makeup for a lot of brides.  Occasionally I do makeup for local celebrities (Nycci Nellis, Sarah Frasier) and politicians (Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Laura Ingraham).  That was the sort of work I was doing in Washington DC (and will continue to do!), but it’ll be interesting to see what sort of jobs fill my time now that I’m freelancing in NYC as well. 
The Twenty Ninth: What's your favorite type of event or client to work for?
Sarah: So far, I’ve really liked doing bridal makeup.  I like establishing the connection between a woman’s makeup and her personality, which is especially important on a wedding day!  I’ve also gotten some of the most flattering feedback from my work in bridal.  “I’ve never felt more beautiful in my whole life!”  “This is what I’ve always dreamed of!”  There aren’t many jobs where you hear that kind of thing at the end of a project!  It’s nice.   In NYC, I’ll be excited to experiment with all different sorts of makeup jobs and clients, as there are so many thriving industries here!  

The Twenty Ninth: What are you currently learning/experimenting with?
Sarah: At the MAKE UP FOR EVER Academy, we just finished learning body painting.  It was interesting going from learning how to be a better makeup artist to learning to be a painter, and on a live canvas at that!  It’ll be cool to see how such different expressions of the same craft will inform & strengthen each other. 
The Twenty Ninth: What's an important lesson/work skill you've learned in doing this over the past couple of years?
Sarah: I’d have a hard time limiting it to just one, so I’ll list a couple!  One is that I’ve learned to work quickly.  Naturally, I enjoy working slowly – to take my time and just have fun in the process.  There are no real makeup jobs where they will ask you to work more slowly.  Quickness & efficiency are always better!  It’s good to learn how to budget the time you have and recover quickly from unexpected obstacles.  Another is to give importance to every experience you come across relating to your field.  Every job you have matters.  Every person you meet while working or networking matters.  Every makeup tip or lesson you receive matters.  Not all of these things will pan out to benefit you, but you can’t predict which ones will benefit you and which ones won’t!  That’s only something you discover with time and initial pursuit of those resources.  Plus, making a general practice of treating the people you encounter with value will get you far in your relationships and reputation.  One more is that you are not just a makeup artist, you are a businessperson.  It’s not about just making amazing art.  There are lots of logistics that need to be skillfully managed to even get you to the place of being able to do that!  Learning to develop great rapport with people.  Learning how to network.  Maintaining quick and effective communication.  Managing expectations.  Setting up a business model and business goals.  Branding your business.  Accept that you are also a businessperson in addition to an artist, and learn to become a great one!  It’s crucial to your success as an artist.
The Twenty Ninth: How does being a makeup artist compare with being a paint & canvas artist?
Sarah: I’d say the biggest difference is that a painter’s canvas is static and predictable, while a makeup artist’s canvas is ever-changing and unpredictable.  A painter can usually count on their canvas reacting the same way with their tools & materials every time, I would think.  A makeup artist’s materials react differently on every canvas, depending on the person’s skin.  You can’t tell how they will react until you try using them.  Some makeup products will react oppositely on one face or another.  Also, a makeup artist’s canvas interferes with their art (mostly unintentionally!)  Eating, drinking, blowing noses, changing clothes, crying – all of these natural actions in your client’s life will affect the makeup you’ve applied to their face.  In that sense it’s more difficult, but in another sense I think it’s very rewarding!  Creating art that someone wears to reflect their personality and preferences is a very personal experience.  Not only is it an intimate reflection of the person because it changes the way they perceive themselves and others perceive them, but also because they must be present for the entire time the art piece is being created!  Because of this, they can give feedback throughout the process to help create the desired outcome.
The Twenty Ninth: Any advice for people interested in a career in makeup artistry?
Sarah: You need to learn from MANY different sources and come up with your own opinions about what’s best.  No one artist, brand or school can tell you everything you need to know about makeup.  They all have their “spiel”, their philosophy they want to be known for.  But if you only follow the philosophy of one source, you’ll be seriously lacking in your knowledge.  The best way to improve your technique (beyond knowledge) is PRACTICE!  Your technique and execution will only improve as they’re put to the test every day.  Practice on all sorts of different people.  You want to become excellent at doing makeup for all ages, skin tones and face types, not just the ones you prefer or that match you. 

Join us for Part 2, tomorrow!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Tees 101: My Picks for Best Tees

via Pinterest
The time has come to go forth and FIND that perfect tee!

It's probably going to be a trial-and-error process. Finding a favorite t-shirt, one that you will keep and love and wear for all eternity, is a deeply spiritual experience -- second only to finding your spouse, and also maybe having a kid.

In the end, it really does come down to your specific budget & lifestyle, as well as your preferences for colors, styles, textures, and quality.

Here are my recommendations for where to start, at every price point:

via Madewell
High Quality // $$$$: J.Crew, Madewell, Gap
The colors, fabric softness, and garment quality speak for themselves! These are good places to stock up on tees you'll wear all the time, for years to come.

- Don't pill as easily
- Come in a variety of fabric thicknesses
- Gorgeous colors
- Available in every neckline & style

via Target
Middle Quality // $$-$$$: Old Navy, Target, Urban Outfitters
I particularly love to get v-neck tees at these three places -- the necklines are just the right height (not too high/low), and typically very affordable.

- Good for basics for the more budget-conscious
- Old Navy pills some, Target not as much
- Urban Outfitters has unique designs and slouchier fits
- Available in many necklines & styles, but can be limited in color choice

via H&M
Middle-Lower Quality // $$: Forever 21, H&M
For those times when you need something cute, cheap, and fun -- fast. These are great places to look for prints and graphic tees.

- Great for trendier items that only need to last a season or two
- Great if you're looking for more unique styles (banded hemlines, crazy necklines & sleeves)
- Items will probably only last a few seasons, so keep that in mind as you shop

What's your favorite tee and where did you find it? Leave a comment and let us know!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tees 101: Accessorizing

via Wit & Delight
The last part of Kari's email to me about tees was this:
"If you... could also address making a T-shirt look chic with accessories (rather than layers/other clothing), that'd be excellent too!"
My immediate inclination is to layer stuff up to make it interesting, but I like what Kari is asking here... rather than depending on other pieces of clothing to make a tee special, how can we draw attention to the simplicity and versatility of a tee through accessories alone?

I would love to hear others' ideas on this, since I'm still trying to get the hang of simple accessorizing! Link up to a favorite Pinterest inspiration photo in the comments, or leave me a note about your favorite way to accessorize a tee. In the meantime, here's what I came up with:

Statement Jewelry: Go big or go home! Bib necklaces, chunky cuff bracelets, and intricate chandelier earrings work well against an empty t-shirt canvas, and allow you to show some personality.

Layered Jewelry: I'm thinking multiple charm/pendant necklaces or an arm-full of bangles or beaded bracelets and a watch...

Graphic Scarf: Whether it's a larger, light scarf draped around your neck, or a smaller silk scarf tied in a knot at your throat, a scarf is a great way to add a special pop and some interest. 
via Pinterest
via A Cup of Jo
Bags: Crossbody bags with a pretty or unique strap, a big tote with a graphic print or picture on it, or a beautiful leather bag with awesome hardware can dress a tee up or make it look artsy, instantly.

Belts: If you're into tucking your tee in and showing off a belt, this accessory can have the same personality-boosting effect as a necklace.

Hats: Baseball cap to floppy straw hat... it's all about the look you're going for. Headbands and headwraps are another great option!

Shoes: Don't take for granted to affect your footwear can have on your simple tee & jeans outfit. Heels or wedges (or even flats!) can take a tee from lounging on the couch to out-and-about glamorous. Since it's spring, try a colorful pair of espadrilles!

What's your favorite way to dress up a basic tee?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tees 101: Sleeve Lengths

Have you ever noticed how different t-shirt sleeve lengths can either make your arms look great or look... well... large?

Growing up during the world's "baby tee" craze, I wore tiny, tight short sleeve shirts without a second thought, like everyone else. But as I got older and my arms filled out and were no longer preteen spaghetti arms (those were the days), I started to realize that the length of my tee sleeves mattered.

Lauren Conrad only confirmed this for me in her book, Lauren Conrad Style:

When I read this a few years ago, it finally all made sense. I had found that t-shirt sleeves that hit me just above the bicep were the most flattering, but didn't know there was an actual "style science" behind it. My arms aren't big, but tight, cropped sleeves that hit me at the shoulder made them look bigger than they were. This is not to say I shouldn't/can't ever wear other sleeve lengths (above the elbow sleeves work for me too, for example, and I can wear some cap-sleeved pieces, if the sleeves are loose), but it's always good to know your most flattering lengths, sizes, and cuts -- it makes shopping easier.

Do some experimenting yourself! Put on a short sleeve tee with slightly longer sleeves and, in front of a mirror, roll or pull the sleeves up and down until you find the length you think works best for you. It makes a difference!