Beauty Q&A: Shells, Bra Purses, and The Next New ‘Do

1. I want a new hairstyle. Like, the newest. I want, for once in my life, to be on the cutting edge! But I kind of missed the ombré boat and I’ve never been any good at predicting trends. Do you know what’s coming next?

It’s important to remember that nothing is ever truly new. Any “new” hairstyle is just a reworking of something that’s been done before because humans have been here for wayyy too long. There were girls in my high school who did ombré on their hair, only they used dye AND bleach, rather than just achieving the gradation with highlights. Does anyone remember this? They were like sort of punk/rockabilly girls and from the roots to quite a ways down the length their hair, they put either burgundy or black dye and then a few inches before the end it would blend into bright red and then the tips would be yellowy? It looked like fire? Anyone? Okay, well, the point is that if you think about any recent hair trends, they all have a basis in something from the past. Another example is the shaved side of the head — it’s just a modified mohawk.

CHALLENGE: Think of a truly new hairstyle and put it in the comments so people can fight with you about it. This will be fun!

So, to be cutting edge, you need to try to predict which style will come back and with which adaptations, but MORE IMPORTANTLY you need to not give a shit if you don’t guess correctly. It’s like being an entrepreneur! You must be willing to lose, but you won’t actually be a loser because you’ll have a super-original hairstyle and everyone will ask you about it and it’ll be fun. And also it’s like being an entrepreneur in that if you guess correctly, everyone will start following what you did and then you’ll have set the trend and it won’t matter what was going to happen next because you bent the future to your liking.

Here are my guesses for what’s on the way, but let’s all try to come up with a thousand more:

Big bangs. Please, for the love of god, only not quite as big, thick, or hairspray-crunchy as they were back in the ’80s. More like Marilyn Monroe. I mean, did you even look at her hair in that picture up there?

— Speaking of, that short, bouncy hairstyle of the ’50s is back. Like Elizabeth Taylor hair. Jessica from Homeland is doing it, did you notice?

Perms. I know! I know. But I think they could be cool now as long as we don’t put gel in there? I want Elaine Benes hair.

— Very well done all-over unnatural haircolors on people who are not members of a fashion subculture. Mainstream-looking ladies have been flirting with this idea lately, but I say no more of these temporary color sticks or pink highlights, just go for it! Be the woman with long, flowing navy hair.

2. So, I’m going on a 10 day trip to Europe this summer followed by an 8-week conservancy project on an island. I’ve been searching for a good pair of sandals that are lightweight and cute, but won’t destroy my feet after days of walking around sight-seeing. The problem is that all of my Google searches are turning up THE ugliest clunky mom sandals that look like they belong on the feet of Dr. Tobias Funke. Also, apparently Barcelona has a huge problem with pickpockets and so people have suggested a fannypack or money belt, but I’m really not tryna, again, because I would like to be semi-cute if possible.

Uhh, do people think pickpockets don’t know how to get into fanny packs? They do know how! They really do. When I travel alone with huge wads of cash… just kidding! I don’t. Put your passport in a safe if your hotel has one and just hope your debit card doesn’t disappear. If you’re extra-extra nervous, look for trip insurance. (It might already be covered under your renter’s or homeowner’s plan, so call and ask.) I’m serious! It’s usually under $100 and reimburses you if you get ganked, or many other worse scenarios, plus they have a “concierge” available to help you out of jams.

I have to also say, though, that I’ve never had a problem in one of those pickpockety areas, and chances are you won’t. Rome, Beirut, London — all good! Just don’t stand in the middle of a huge crowd of people watching some stupid “magic” show while you mysteriously get bumped into over and over again by the Tuppence A Bag woman. Just kidding, pickpockets look like you and me! It’s like life in general: hang onto your shit very tightly, and sometimes be unlucky. You could always go for one of these bra wallets if you’re still worried.

As for shoes, ugh. Why do people even want utilitarian sandals? Do your feet get that wet or hot? This old Bass style is my go-to “walking around for days” sandal, if I must be so nude-footed and comfortable at the same time. They’re just squishy enough to be comfy, and they look cute, though there’s not enough traction to go hiking in them, but why would you go hiking on vacation? If it’s not going to be 100 degrees wherever I am, I prefer a lightweight, breathable running shoe that won’t feel heavy on my burdened legs. How Euro-cute are these?

3. Jane, what the heck do I wear under a blazer? I’m a petite, chubby, chesty lady in my early 30’s and I recently picked up a couple of cute blazers to wear to my smart-casual office job. Given that blazers are a bit bulky on my frame to begin with, I’ve been avoiding layering them over button-downs, thick knits, and anything with frills or those weird neck-ties. I seem to have found myself in a black tank top rut. Are there pretty, silky options that won’t look like I’m in my nightie? Also, how do I figure out if my top length and blazer length are flattering on my short, curvy body?

You’re on the right track with the fancy tank idea, and they even have a name: shells. More on them in a second, but first let’s talk about proportions. To me, there are two places your shirt should hit under a blazer, and depending on your body type and which bottoms you’re pairing with the outfit, you should decide which looks best on you: at your natural waist, which is at your belly button or higher, or a few inches below the top of your hip bone/just above your pubic bone. Just google “Kim Kardashian blazer” and check out all the ways she wears one. (I saw her IRL twice, I’ll tell you about the first time some other time, but the second time she was getting into her Rolls Royce and she had heels on and she wasn’t even as tall as the car.) You may strongly disagree with the print and accessory choices in the photo of her at left, but it’s a good example of getting the proportions right.

Choosing a top also kind of depends on the length of the blazer. If you’re wearing a super-cropped jacket, a longer top might look odd. Same thing with a super long blazer and a very cropped top. Caveat: some of you are quite fashion-forward and can pull off anything. N E WAYZ, just remember that if you’re wearing the shorter, tucked in or cropped blouse, you’ll need to pair it with a higher waisted pant or skirt.

As for where to find the right thing? Outlet stores are a great place to look for fabrics that are more affordable than silk. I’ve found some gorgeous printed and brightly colored shells at Banana Republic’s outlet. (Just be sure not to hit them with a hot iron or they might melt!) Shells are cut looser than tank tops and read more “sleeveless” than “strappy.” They can also have short sleeves, but they all basically exist to be worn under blazers. Try searching on “shell” at ShopStyle where you can refine by size.

Related: one of my “shell” searches just now randomly turned up this dress that I just have to show you guys:

4. I was hoping you could help me with my efforts to Do Better and Take Care Of Myself. Specifically, I need ways to cover my head. I’m trying to tackle my dermotillomania (which is isolated to my scalp), and having some kind of barrier really helps to keep me from picking. I have a bunch of bandanas that I can wear at home/when I’m schmucking around, but they are not exactly fun or flattering to wear. I also spend a lot of my time in a lab working with human subjects, so I need to be able to look respectable and science-y instead of like a dirty hippy. I have a couple of really gorgeous silk scarves that I can wear, but I’m worried about ruining them. My head is really big around, so most hats don’t fit me at all. I can crochet, so soft crocheted hats are a possibility if I can find a pattern that is not completely ridiculous/a beanie. If it matters, my hair is shoulder-length and straight, and I have straight-across bangs.

Oh no! I’m sorry you’re dealing with this but also stoked for you that you are able to work on a solution. That’s very lucky! I recently had a similar challenge, but for much less serious reasons: I took a job at a wine and cheese shop for one weekend and then I quit. No kidding! It’s a story for another day along with that KiKi one. In California, and probably everywhere else, in order to work around any food you have to cover your hair. This was not the case the last time I worked in kitchens and it’s bullshit! But true. All to say, I just went on this search and found ONE cute option that I can endorse.

First, though, since you know you like silk scarves, have you looked for vintage sets online for cheap? Maybe collect up a dozen that you like and don’t worry about ruining them. I often find really good deals on them at TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack as well. And Goodwill and estate sales! The recently dead love silk scarves.

But the best non-silk option I found in my search was this cap. It held all of my hair and looked super cute with my bangs showing. She has a bunch of styles available and I believe she’d make you one out of your choice of fabric.

Oh, and this is neither here nor there, but I just wrote about having a hard time choosing my wedding hair/makeup/outfit. Do you think I should’ve gone with that first dress? It was TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS, YOU GUYS.

Previously: Remember Crystal Gayle?

Do you have a question for Jane?