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Trendspotting Today Style-House Conflict


Image from The Stepford Wives movie

Deliberate beauty that hints at Stepford Style reigns on the runways, but on the streets, rougher reform-school looks fight for fashion turf. It’s old-school versus new-school in the battle for seasonal cool.

In the right corner, a 1,000-pound elephant in the form of class-action suits, ladylike waves, sweater sets and prim ballerina buns. In the left, an urban contender, with studded jeans, burlesque boots, and a fragmented geometric haircut made fierce with blazing red.

Welcome to the fall-fashion smack down, where the only way to go down for the count is to look like you never picked sides.

After all, fashion is political, and in a red-State, blue-State world, personal choice says something important about you. But, because fashion is also about fun, mixing it up is fully allowed, as long as your eclecticism is well- refereed.

Hair has rarely been more important, whether you’re underscoring retro-glamour looks straight from charm school or radical chic that ranges from sultry to mannish.

It’s rare to see a fabulous cut without stunning color these days, but the choices for both range far and wide. On the fashion fence? Unsure which pieces you can appropriate?

The best trends to make part of your vie for the best-tressed title include:

Curls—the must-have of the moment when glitz is it. From loose tendrils to deep waves, the inspiration is old Hollywood. If you’re too young to recall Natalie Wood, Grace Kelly and Veronica Lake check out their styles on the Internet, or in re-released DVDs.

Image of Veronica Lake Veronica Lake on the take

Fingerwaves, pin curls and hot rollers are all integral to getting the looks, which is why even perms are making a modest comeback at salons like NYC’s Oscar Blandi, where they’re delivered on oversized rods that ensure sexy curls and waves that last a style-trend lifetime.

Getting the looks on your own presents a problem: Finesse with a Marcel iron is not in most girl’s bag of tricks. In addition, looser, shattered curls look good in glossy magazines but don’t last long in reality.

What’s easiest for you do to, says Eric Fisher, owner of Eric Fisher Salon in Wichita, KS, is to use a curling iron and don’t even open the lip.

“Start at the root or scalp area and wrap sections around the closed iron, all the way to the ends” says Fisher. “You get a tighter, more beautiful curl than you would with rollers.

Or, try a rag wrap. Hold a cotton strip perpendicular to hair, take a wide section of hair and capture the ends in the center. Roll up the strip and tie the ends.”

Another easy idea from Fisher: Wrap strands around a pencil, mist-on thermal spray, add a blat of heat, and release.

When texture isn’t curl-created, it’s ultra-edgy and sliced throughout with scissors and razors. Paris isn’t burning this season; the looks in the City of Lights are conservative. But on London streets, the styles sizzle via shredded geometric cuts and surface panels that are snipped into rounded or pointed shapes that show-off underlayers in a totally different shade.

Shaggy, choppy styles all rely on the new texture, and straw-haired Courtney Love’s new look (which replaces her ladylike look of years back) is a harbinger of the modern punk’s hair modification, or, hair malfunction, depending on your take.

Whether you want barely there curl, deep-set waves or razor-backed texture, only truly healthy hair shows it off; sorry Courtney. The return to health and shine is significantly enhanced with a slew of new products that treat hair from the inside out.

They’re so scientific that they treat hair care like skin care, using liposome-delivered vitamins and cerimides to target the hair’s three layers—outer cuticle, middle cortex and interior medulla.

They’re even marketed as hair face lifts (Alterna) and hangover helpers (Charles Worthington’s treatment for hair that’s in recovery from a night on the town) for the seriously in-need.

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- Revised Publication Date: 05/25/10

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