What I don't want to do is appear fussy, or worse, high-maintenance. In other words, I want to look like a glamor girl, I just don't want to look like a diva. It's not as though I can't leave the house without a three-hour stint for hair and makeup in the powder room. I'm usually done in about 30 minutes, give or take a shower. But, like most women, I feel better when I'm freshly polished. My date is a hottie, and I want to look my best. Finally, he excuses himself to grab a couple of beers at the bar.
Cue the Mission Impossible soundtrack.
I have 12.6 seconds to complete my mission: Fresh lip-gloss and repair any visible damage caused by spending four hours in the brain-melting Florida sun. I whip out my Glamorist Watch (www.glamorist.com), my sparkly little watch that secretly conceals both a mirror and lip-gloss (And people say luggage-on-wheels was a great invention…Ed). Only the FBI and the CIA have better equipment for such delicate covert operations. James Bond-style, I flip open the face and check myself in the tiny little mirror -- my skin looks pink, not too bad, my hair is a matted mess from all day in the humidity, and, thanks to a hot dog, a pretzel and three bottles of water at the game, my lips are bare, bare, bare. I dab the tiny brush into the lip-gloss, do a quick touch-up, checking my teeth in the mirror for mustard stains or hotdog residue, and snap it shut. Mission accomplished.
Preening on the sly has long been a dilemma for women. It is considered the height of rudeness to whip out a compact at the dinner table, but going through life with a shiny nose or parsley stuck between your teeth is hardly endearing, and frankly, can be downright embarrassing. So what's a girl -- or an image-conscious guy -- to do?
Sometimes, we just can't help ourselves. Both sexes preen subconsciously when we're attracted to someone. A guy may adjust his tie, smooth his hair, or pull up his socks. A woman will straighten her clothes, or do the classic hair-flip.
Celebrity makeup artist Rachel Weingarten, author of Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America, '40s-'60s, says depending on where you live, certain types of preening are acceptable. She says, "In some regions like the South, the look is over the top, more makeup. Ladies cluster to the ladies room to touch up their makeup. In New York City, or South Beach, the look is more minimalist, utilitarian beauty. We think nothing about whipping out lipstick at the table."