I go to college in New York City and I’m trying to turn into a total career-lady badass this semester by getting myself an internship with a news organization. This would involve going from class uptown to a newsroom downtown. So my question is: How can I look cool in class and on campus but still be put-together enough for a professional setting? —Frances
Congrats on becoming a badass working girl! When it comes to a profesh wardrobe, I am a firm believer in basics. The secret to a cool and easy transition between school and work looks is to have something simple and solid on the bottom, like a black skirt or black pants, then switch up your tops, add a piece of outerwear, and play with accessories. I recently bought a black skirt and have been wearing it with everything and in every way! Let’s assume you have at least one black skirt in your closet (otherwise there are soooo many thrift stores in NYC where you can get a good one for cheap). If you have two, even better. Here’s what you can build around two basic skirts: one skater-style circle skirt and one pencil skirt.
For class, wear either skirt with a cute crop top or a fun graphic T-shirt. When it’s time to make your way downtown, switch out the tee for something more professional, like a tie-neck blouse. You can also keep the crop if it works (like if the pencil skirt is high-waisted so you’re not showing a lot of skin) but put a blazer over it. Accessorize with tights (dark colors are best for work-esque vibes) and a nice necklace or a thin scarf. For office-y footwear, I’d go with an oxford shoe or a basic heel, which would be cute in class and at your internship. I hope this helps you make a SMOOOOVE style transition. —Marie
I’ve been wearing practical, molded bras pretty much nonstop since middle school, when my mother forced me to start wearing them (I even used to sleep in a bra!), but lately I’ve been wanting to try going braless, or to wear one of the pretty vintage bras I’ve bought (only to let them languish in a dresser drawer). My problem is that I’ve always been afraid of my nipples being visible through my top, which happens when I’m not wearing a thin, lacy bra or none at all. I don’t want my nipples to cause a commotion when I leave the house! What is society’s problem with the nipple (I cannot find any articles online discussing this) and how can I overcome my embarrassment so that I can wear my vintage bras with confidence? —Hidden Headlights, 18
OK, Hidden Headlights, first things first: You don’t have to wear a bra. My boobs are small, and bras were doing nothing for me support- or otherwise, so I just ditched them altogether. Even if you wear a larger cup size, there’s really no law that says a lady has to wear a bra. Your body, your boobs, your choice. Whatever makes YOU comfortable.
Now, being braless (or wearing pretty vintage lingerie) does mean the silhouette of your nipples will probably be visible through your clothing. And to that I say: WHO CARES. I don’t! It isn’t wrong or indecent to make people aware of the fact that you have nipples—everyone has them, dudes included—and I’m sorry if someone made you feel that it was! But honestly, that’s their problem, not yours.
That being said, in certain work and school settings there may be a dress code that doesn’t allow for your braless, nipple-showcasing state. (For some reason or another, people get so distracted by boobs that they can’t get any work done if they are reminded of their existence. This I will never understand. One time in high school I was forced to wear my gym uniform to all of my classes because I was showing too much side boob. Lame!) So wear that dread “T-shirt bra” if you’re in a space that polices bodies like that, but otherwise, just let your boobs do their thing. —Hazel
P.S. Here’s an article about this very subject, asking the eternal question “Do you live in fear of your own nipples?”
I have a major glitter nail polish problem: I absolutely adore it, and I’d love to wear it all the time, but it’s SO HARD to remove! Do you have any tips for how to take it off with ease? I’d love a better solution than my current one, which is just to not wear it at all. —Daisy, Utah
I’m a fellow glitter-polish addict, and regular nail polish remover was NOT working for me at all. Then one day I heard that pure acetone was the trick to removing that stubbornly beautiful sparkle! You can buy it at the drugstore. Then get some cotton balls and some aluminum foil. Soak a cotton ball in acetone and place it on top of your nail, then wrap your fingertip with the foil. Repeat for all fingers. After about five minutes or so give the foil a nice twist, and the glitter should come off! Any little shiny guys still stuck to your nails can be gently and easily wiped off with cotton or pushed off with a cuticle stick.
Soaking your nails in acetone can dry them out, so be sure you’re taking good care of your nails the rest of the time: If they feel like they’re getting brittle or weak, try using a nail strengthener like this one from Barielle. Also, remember to use a base coat—Picture Polish makes one especially for glitter polishes. —Marie
I’m a frightfully pale Wisconsin girl with a (naturally) blond pixie and (naturally) dark eyebrows—really, really dark, thick eyebrows. I love how they look most of the time, but sometimes I feel like I can’t have any fun with my makeup without looking ridiculous or overdone, because of my dramatic eyebrows. Any ideas on how I can try out new, maybe colorful makeup without looking like a clown? —Ava Marie
The contrast between light hair and dark eyebrows is so beautiful and striking; I love that you’re into it too! But I understand your trepidation when it comes to colorful makeup: Sometime it feels like your brows are making their own statement just by being there on your face, and adding anything to them would be overkill. But there are ways to bring makeup into the mix and still look totally awesome and not at all clownlike.
Let’s start with something basic, taking inspiration from this image of Agyness Deyn. Her brows are well defined, her eyes are just a bit smoky with lush lashes, and her lips and cheeks have a subtle flush that looks really sweet:
To draw attention to your eyes, line their perimeters and just below the brow bone (or your “crease” if you have one) with a smoky eye shadow—I like Urban Decay’s eye shadow pencil in Mushroom because it’s creamy and easy to blend with your fingers. A good blush is key to giving your face some life, especially since you’re blond and fair-skinned. My current favorite is Stila’s Convertible Cream in Rose, which doubles as a blush and lip color and can also easily be applied with your fingers (yay!). Finish up with two coats of mascara on upper and lower lashes and you’re good to go.
Another look I love is strong brows and red lips. Michelle Williams has that going on here, and she looks the opposite of clownish:
The key to this look is to emphasize your brows. Use a brow powder and an angled brush to give them a really strong shape. (New York Cosmetics makes a brow kit that you can get at the drugstore for about four dollars.) Then, apply a red lipstick the “expert” way and look like a fierce lady that no one will mess with.
Now, if you really want to up the ante, take your inspiration from Edie Sedgwick, another dark-browed blonde:
I did a tutorial for this kind of mod eye makeup here. Add a light lip color and muss your hair with a bit of styling cream and you’re set.
Try these looks out at home a few times to get comfortable with them, then go out and show off those gorgeous brows! —Hannah ♦
If you have a question for Marie and her jolly band of style writers, send it to email@example.com and let us know your first name (or nickname) and where you live.