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making faces :: the completely indecisive, random guide to holiday party looks

always claim the element of surprise
libras are supposed to be indecisive. it's a thing with us. and i honour that thing by never being able to make a solid decision about things that other people would consider trivial. seriously, i get praised [and occasionally chastised] for having strong opinions and confidence in my decisions when it comes to large projects, but you should see me trying to decide what movie to watch. back in ye olden days, when people used to go to stores and choose a movie to take home for the night, a lot of my friends refused to go with me, because they knew that they'd likely end up spending more time in the store making a choice than actually watching the movie. when i was a child, it was a matter of great concern to me which sock went on first. there was a decision to be made and i didn't feel i had the objective information available to formulate a solid opinion. i don't remember this, but my mother does and, as she very sweetly told me "i didn't think you were indecisive, i thought you were retarded."

so that's me. i'm minor-decision retarded. [and if you think it's insensitive of me to use that word, i encourage you to look up its origin. i think you'll find it's highly appropriate.]

that manifests today most frequently when i'm forced to make decisions about what to put on- clothing, makeup, accessories. there are relatively few situations where it really matters what i look like, particularly because there's not a great divide between casual me and formal me. i don't swing terribly far in either direction. on the other hand, at this time of year, when i generally have different sorts of events on my schedule for work and family, i feel there's the chance that people will actually pay attention to what i look like and that there's a bit more pressure on me to make that elusive "correct" decision. [although they probably don't care about the order of my socks.]

it's all very puzzling. it's a time of year when things that sparkle are in, when we're encouraged to wear red lips, when we're supposed to highlight and powder ourselves so that we sparkle like a field of fresh snow. shades of gold and green are everywhere. lustrous textures dominate. and the occasions for all of these take place at different times, with different crowds of people, who have different ideas about what does and doesn't look good. or appropriate.

this is a libran nightmare.

so in the end, i decided this year that i'd try to put as much distance between each holiday look i did and to indulge my love of colour by trying out as many different options as i could fit in to my social schedule. here are some of the ideas i came up with. feel free to borrow, alter or suggest your own.

tried and true



i did a whole series on red lips last year and i actually thought about doing another one this year, with completely different reds. but that seemed predictable.

however, if you have some place to go, there really is no substitute for the uber-basic red lip with a neutral eye. so for a first family gathering, i opted to go for the classic. in this case, i chose one of my all-time favourite colours [supposedly limited edition from last fall but still available!], rouge d'armani 608. it's a nice choice for a family party, because it's festive, but not overly bold. it's more of a muted plum-red, with a glorious smooth finish. it's everything i could want in a lipstick, assuming that i would want only one lipstick.

i paired that with one of my beloved hourglass visionnaire eye shadow duos, something i've only recently picked up- "suede". when i first saw these, this was the one of the duos that struck me as eminently passable. didn't it have tons of clones everywhere? it was just a beige-ivory and a soft taupe. there are millions of those.

but they aren't "suede".

i'll admit to the embarrassing truth: despite its understated, almost commonplace appearance, this is probably my favourite hourglass shadow duo. it's a little less shimmery than the others, but it just seems to make my eyes come to life. for someone with a red/ dark lip fetish, it's the perfect straight man- giving a luminous texture and subtle definition without distracting. the quality is such that it's nearly impossible not to get a flawless application.

i decided to give myself some rosy cheeks, courtesy of guerlain's rose aux joues blush in "red hot". cool-toned ladies take note: this appears very warm in the pan and swatched, but look how it blends with the natural tones in my skin. gives you that perfect, fresh look without having to go stand in the wind which, let's face it, can be pretty unpleasant this time of year.

this is the ultimate foolproof, undisputed champion of holiday party looks. it's timelessly elegant and about the only thing you could say against it is that it might not be the most memorable thing you wear. but sometimes, that's also a benefit.

razzle-dazzle



i kind of love the fact that people in my office take the opportunity to get gussied up seriously. we're not an exceptionally casual lot in general, but there's not a lot of pressure for people to look a certain way when they come to work. the company xmas party is the time when everyone pulls out the stops. it's not excessively formal, but everyone does treat it as a special event, and dress themselves accordingly. so, yes, i felt the need to up my game a little.

since the party was being held in a room with low lighting, i felt like i could really bring the shimmery, sparkly holiday lights to the fore. and there is no better place to start with that than with ellis faas eye lights. i've already shared my thoughts on "bronze", which was my first purchase, but for this look, i went with "silver" [e301]. much as "bronze" is much more complex than its name would indicate,"silver" goes way beyond the normal connotations of a metallic silvery shade. it has a distinctive touch of gold to it, although it's a very light gold, so the overall effect is a shimmery platinum or white-gold shade. it's less opaque than "bronze", although the colour can be built up, but generally, the effect is softer. i smoothed this all over my lids, but concentrating on the inner third. on the inner corners of my eyes, i applied armani's eyes to kill #19, a silver-gold mixture that's whiter and brighter than the ellis faas variation. these two are made for each other.

to give a bit of drama to the eyes, i went back to a summer collection- armani's. i mixed "obsidian black seaweed" on the outer angle with a bit of "jade" from le metier de beaute over the outer third of the lid. then i highlighted along the brow bone with "madre perla". since everything in this combination has some kind of sheen or shimmer, it can be very eye-catching and very effective in situations when you want to make the most of limited light. the best part about this is that both the ellis faas and armani products will survive anything short of nuclear war. my eyes looked more or less the same when i came home as when i left.

to give myself a bit more highlight power, i mixed in benefit's "high beam" highlighter with my foundation and just to take things completely over the top, i used nars "new order" blush. what you're seeing, of course, is not what i wore. the dress that i wore had some decolletage accident going on, so i also dusted "new order" over my shoulders and down my neckline for that extra bit of oomph. to give nice shadows and perfect cheekbones [as perfect as i can get] i contoured my cheeks with chanel's "notorious"- truly one of my smarter cosmetic investments this year.

i wanted a lip colour that would show up well, but not overwhelm everything else, so i opted for armani's rouge d'armani sheer lipstick in "black lacquer" a sheer grape purple. because, if you're going for a fun look, nothing is more fun than purple. [ok, maybe fuchsia.]

i have to say, this look- particularly the sparkly eye- garnered me a lot of compliments.

down to earth



i had another family function on my schedule and i figured that, since it was more scaled-down than the earlier one, i'd put more effort into the eyes, assuming that a bold lip would seem out of place. [i was wrong. my sister-in-law showed up wearing an incredible coral-red lipstick that kicked cosmetic ass and yet seemed perfectly in keeping with the festivities.]

personally, i figured i'd keep the lip neutral, so i chose "dark juices", one of my favourites from rouge bunny rouge. although they describe it as blue plum, i'd really say it's more of a cool-leaning deep neutral with fine silver shimmer. actually, what i'd say is that it's hard to describe with any exactitude.

the emphasis for this look is on the eyes, which i chose to do in green and gold. well, "gold" in this case being the divine green-tinged gold of mac's "old gold" pigment. although i've been frustrated with some of mac's recent launches, their pigments truly remain on a pedestal for me. the dimension of the shades, the colour payoff, the value for money [even after they shrunk the containers a few years back] are hard to beat. there are a thousand imitations of this colour, but this remains the standard.

for greens, i went with some other favourites from my collection: rouge bunny rouge "whispering ibis", blended on the inside and outside of "old gold", nars "blade runner" and "night porter" in the outer coner and crease to add depth. and i even used the warm mahogany shade from "blade runner" along my lower lash line. these are all rich, slightly yellow- [rather than blue] toned greens that are pretty easy for anyone to wear. and although there are a lot of colours involved, they blend so easily together that it doesn't take long.

i warmed up the overall look with mac "my highland honey" blush [a muted tan-orange from their 2010 holiday collection] and mac "by candlelight" mineralize skinfinish for a nice shimmery glow.

honestly, i still feel that there are things that i left out, which is good, since i still have a few functions to get all tarted up for. i'm already thinking about this in advance, so that i don't spend an hour wondering "what do i do?" i need that time to figure out which sock to put on first.

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