I’ve been completely transfixed by the makeunders these famous ladies have undergone. Maybe it’s me creeping into my 40s and mellowing out in my old age; maybe it’s me being grateful to see some women actually covering up, as opposed to the current trend of stripping it all off.
Whatever it is, one thing’s for sure: there is so much truth in the saying less is more. And there are some commonalities in these makeunders we can all learn from!
Kim Kardashian, Age 33
Say what you want about Kanye, but whatever he’s telling Kim is good stuff, because honestly, she keeps looking better and better. Or maybe it’s the feeling of being a capital-W-woman that childbirth undoubtedly imparts on new moms that is the catalyst. Whatever it is, just this week, Kim kissed several inches of her phenomenal mane goodbye. And I love it.
Kim debuted the shortest hair she’s had in years and years, a below-the-shoulders, layered bob that is chic, easy, and so. Not. Kim!
Kim probably has the best head of hair on the planet, and she honestly looks incredible with it long, layered, shorter, blond, highlighted, up, with bangs or without. But this new cut is a sort of liberation, it seems. It looks less glamazon and more ingenue. Youthful and fresh. Don’t you think?
These days, it seems Kim is also opting for toned down makeup. Whether it’s baby North sapping her time, or the realization that she doesn’t need that much makeup, it is a marked improvement. She is a stunner all the way around, but less makeup makes her look her actual age, and takes a lot less time to apply.
Pamela Anderson, Age 46
Newly shorn- and (re-)married, Pamela Anderson looks ah-mazing. Pamela clearly got the makeunder memo when she chose to chop her beyond-the-shoulder, often-teased blond locks into a pixie cut—but that was just the beginning of her dramatic change. Add natural-looking makeup, demure dresses with a ’50s silhouette, and luxury handbags from Hermès and Saint Laurent—and you have her recipe for success.
Anderson, who is featured in Elle magazine’s April 2014 issue, admitted that her buxom-blond-bombshell persona kind of overtook her entire identity:
“The rock-star thing became very destructive…I just kind of became that thing. The hair, that rock-star kind of lifestyle, just living a dream. It kind of took over. It started out very innocent and then I turned into a cartoon character. And I started to feel like a cartoon character.”
Well, cartoon character she is no more. In fact, Pamela looks every bit the sophisticated woman. These days she sticks to monochromatic ensembles in neutrals like white, cream, and black. All the ultra-short, ultra-tight dresses have been replaced with lower hemlines and higher necklines.
Doesn’t she look sensational? She’s still sexy as ever. I mean, this is Pamela Anderson. She oozes sexy, because, well, that’s just her. And let’s not forget she keeps that bod toned and taut, which makes everything look better. But now she looks ladylike and lovely. And her clothing—from casual, everyday wear, to decked out for public appearances—is totally age-appropriate.
Tips for the Ultimate Makeunder
So what can we gather from a study of these two beautiful women? Sometimes a makeunder is exactly what you need. Here are some guidelines for how to pull one off…
1. Lose the long locks. And the extensions.
Coming from a die-hard, long-hair girl, this is a surprising tip. But it is true. Not everyone needs or wants to go Pamela-pixie-short, but if you’ve worn your hair long for many years, sometimes losing several inches is a huge makeunder, even if you do nothing else.
And seriously, the use of extensions is not only out of control, it’s giving us all a distorted sense of what a full head of hair really looks like. Occasionally, a woman is born with hair so thick and lustrous, she struggles to get an elastic around it. But for most of us, that is not the case. If you can’t grow your hair to mid-back, it’s because you shouldn’t! Nature takes care of us in that regard; generally, ladies with baby fine hair can’t grow hair that long, because their hair can’t take it, and it wouldn’t look good.
Work with what you’ve got. If you see a woman on the street with hair texture similar to yours, with a fantastic cut, ask her where she gets her hair done. A good cut and color not only make a look, they have a major effect on your self-esteem.
2. Dress for your body and your age.
It’s not enough to only dress for your body. Pamela Anderson has an incredible body at age 46, but just because she still has the body of a 30-year-old doesn’t mean she should dress like one. That doesn’t mean you should fast-forward to Frumpville, either. A good rule of thumb is to balance the upper and lower halves of your body with opposite proportions. If you’re wearing an a-line or full skirt or wide-leg pants, you wear a fitted top. If your top is blousy or tunic-length, pair it with a pencil skirt or skinny trousers or jeans.
I’d never advocate sticking to any “rules” of fashion that are age-based, but I will say this: At some point you do need to abandon shopping at Forever 21. It you’re pushing 50 or are well past, wearing clothes that are low-quality, too tight, or too short actually makes you look older than you are. And desperate. If you are in your 40s or older, you can wear skirts above the knee…just not skirts that are seven inches above the knee. A pencil skirt that hits an inch or two above the knee is just as sexy on a woman of a certain age as a mini is on a PYT.
And when you hit your 40s and 50s, quality is imperative. Hell, babe, you have earned it and deserve it. Buy less and buy better.
3. Stick to neutrals and monochromatic looks.
Nothing oozes sophistication and calmness like a monochromatic look, and even better is one in a neutral tone. The chances of looking like the clothes are wearing you, instead of the reverse, are significantly less likely when sticking to a neutral palette.
Ever seen an eccentric old bird decked out in a beautiful, cream-colored pantsuit? No. That’s because patterns, and lots of them, are the staples of eccentricity. Steer clear of bold prints and patterns if you’re looking to dial it down a notch.
4. Keep makeup light and understated.
Applying makeup with a heavy hand, and doing the full glamour face daily (false eyelashes, contouring, heavy foundation, lots of eyeliner) is aging and over-the-top. If you tend to wear a lot of makeup, try swapping foundation for a tinted BB cream, and back off the rest one product at a time.
To look polished everyday requires nothing more than a little blush, mascara, maybe a swipe of powder, and a lip product. It takes time to adjust, but you will adjust to your less-made-up-face over time.
5. Skip the tan and the bronzer.
Nothing screams overdone more than a fake tan. Really, you should never, ever be tan. A genuine, natural tan is not only aging in the long-term (wrinkles and sun spots), but skin cancer is a legitimate reality. And fake tans, whether from a spray booth or a bottle, almost always look, well, fake and try-hard. Plus, when your body is tan, it tends to require some bronzer to get your face to match, which adds another layer of makeup. Looking natural and understated is impossible if you have to wear bronzer.
Obviously, if you are about to embark on a holiday to some sunny locale, a little self-tanner is OK, and sometimes advisable if the thought of getting into a swimsuit makes you nauseous. But for everyday, there is nothing wrong with just being the color you are.
6. Never have more than two “fake” things.
#1 and #5 kind of help sustain this idea, but let me explain. I heard this little pearl shared by a local radio personality, and I couldn’t agree more. Let’s be honest: Almost none of us are truly, 100% natural. Most women enhance their beauty in some way, be it hair color or gel or acrylic nails, and the list goes on from there.
So this is how it works: You can only sport two fake things at a time, like acrylic nails and bleached blond hair. Or false eyelashes and acrylic nails. Or dyed hair (and if you must) a fake tan. But you should not wear false eyelashes, acrylic nails, bleached blond hair, and a fake tan, or you will look like…Pamela Anderson before the makeunder. Get the picture?