Saturday, May 26, 2007

The best bikini fashion

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It was Coco Chanel—that great originator of maxims—who said, “Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.” Take it as a mantra this season, as the dress becomes all-occasion wear, from casual T-shirt dresses to sophisticated sheaths. The best part? We’ve found a selection for every price point.

PAUL SMITH Spring 2007. Photography by Peter Stigter

The best fashion shows photographs

DAY FIVE I run some ISO Daily Styling Gel ($14, at salons) through my hair and try to fashion it into a bun. I’ve grown weary of all the skin perfecting (read: lazy), so I revert back to my usual coverage regimen. Later, I meet my gay boyfriend for a movie. “I’ve never seen your hair like that. It looks elegant. Sophisticated.” He makes me feel less unattractive.

VERDICT At the end of my week, I’m glad to lighten up on the product overload. Plus, wearing my hair in a way that made me feel so exposed forced me to be at peace with all my imperfections. And you know, I did like the smooth pony. OK, maybe beauty isn’t so hard.

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DAY FOUR Today, I’m doing the Alexander McQueen hair. When I interviewed runway hairstylist Eugene Souleiman, who created the look, he told me he was thinking of ’60s Bond girl Ursula Andress. “You know when she’s coming out of the water in that scene in [Dr. No], and she’s wearing that bikini, and she just looks amazing?” Gotcha. Now I’ve got to make that look work in a cubicle. I rake enough gel through the front and sides so they’re completely saturated, leaving the back down. As I study my look in the mirror, it’s obvious that this kind of hair needs context. A bikini—hell, a bathrobe. Clearly, I’m not wearing either, so I settle on jeans and a white tank, with a black silk tank layered on top. At the office, comments come forth. “I love it,” says our fashion director. “You look stupid,” says our features editor. “It looks great!” says our art director. “You should wear it like that all the time. It’s very Leo.” Huh? (I’m a Libra.)

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DAY TWO I’m still easing into this, so I smooth my hair into a ponytail and loop it into a knot. With absolutely nothing to shroud me, the look is quite severe. I wear a ruffly white blouse to balance out the harshness. Before noon, I have to rewet and slick with Alberto Extrême Style Freeze Gel ($6, at drugstores), even though I still have gunk in my hair from this morning. In fact, this continues all day long. Who knew the wet look would require constant upkeep? I guess that’s part of why it works on the runway: It has to last only two minutes.

DAY THREE I start off the day with real wet hair. Like I said, I normally refuse to do such things, but I’m a gamer so I’m playing by the rules. I load it with more gel, along with Pantene Pro-V Restoratives Frizz Control Extra Strength Serum ($10, at drugstores). I’m a little overzealous and end up looking slightly greasy. Oops.