The Ultimate Confidence Test: My High School Reunion

My 25-year high school reunion is tonight. It may be the year’s Ultimate Confidence Test.

I’m not the girl I was in 1987. Can you find me in that sea of hair??

Aside from the usual hmming and haaaing over what outfit to wear, it’s time to brace for the visible, albeit subtle, reactions to how the aging process has effected us all. I’m venturing to say that most of my fellow alums will look healthy and vibrant for being in their early 40’s.  They’ve always been a good looking lot. Yet you can’t deny that gravity, sun exposure, child birthing (and rearing), soda, alcohol, stressful workdays, and periodic sleep deprivation are taking a noticeable toll by now.

The sweet sentiments of “you haven’t changed a bit” or “you look a-mazing” will be flying around the room. Yet, many of us will privately be questioning how we really look comparatively. How noticeable are the extra 15 pounds? Are my wrinkles deeper than hers?  Who is grey?  Bald?

My self-esteem is much higher than it was even 5 years ago, so I’m unexpectedly calm and relaxed given I’m 20 pounds heavier than I was at my 10-year reunion.  Taking care of a teenager and toddler did nothing for the worry lines and hyper pigmentation.  And years of living like a rock star are catching up with me. Yet, there are a few tricks I’m using to help me feel more comfortable in my own skin.

1.  Good Posture. It’s the first clue to a strong body and spirit.  Slouching is a form of hiding and an indicator of low self-esteem. I find that standing straight, shoulders down and back with knees unlocked (just a slight bend) does wonders for first impressions– not to mention you breathe better, which calms and clarifies.

2.  Smile as much as possible.  Smiling makes you approachable and brightens your eyes and face. The wrinkles become “laugh lines,” which are a positive characteristic that people find attractive.

3.  Eyebrow shaping.  Believe it or not, a well-countoured eyebrow can take years off your face.  A full brow is a youthful feature, and shadowing in an arch just above the highest point will lift the eyes.  It really is a free facelift!  Use an eyebrow pencil or eye shadow that is one shade lighter than your brow color. If you live in Austin, set up an appointment with Kiss N’ Makeup for a lesson. They’re the best!

4.  Hydrate!  I’ve been substituting my evil diet sodas with a lot more water and iced tea this week.  At least twice a day, I’m using my facial moisturizers and elixirs to plump the skin and set the stage for smooth makeup application.  Fruits and veggies have lots of water and are great snack choices.

True Match Color Fan5.   Color scheme.  I’m proud of my Texan status and am flaunting it by way of brown cowboy boots, southwestern influenced jewelry in browns and golds, and a LBD (little black dress).  My hair is pretty dark these days, so the black blends nicely and recedes– making me appear slimmer.  If black is too overbearing for your color scheme, try a dress that is all one color or a continuing pattern. Or dress in separates that are in the same color family (if you’re bigger on bottom, the slacks/skirt should be the darker hue; vice versa if you’re bigger in the middle or on top).
6. Comfort first, style second. Choosing a cotton jersey knee-length dress was intentional. It’s breathable and comfortable for sitting, standing and dancing. Wrap dresses are a universally flattering choice.  With shape wear underneath, those little bumps and bulges will smooth out. The cowboy boots are the key style element. I’m not worried about aching feet or stumbling around like a baby giraffe after a cocktail.  They’re a fine looking pair of footwear that make me feel super chic and are a great conversation starter. Find pieces that do the same for you.

7. Focus on what you love about yourself.  This goes for how you dress and how you think.  Choose your best body feature and draw attention to it using bright colors, prints, makeup or accessories.  I’m wearing a funky red lipstick with my sharp bangs and hair pulled back like Rooney Mara’s red carpet look. I love my smile and neck/back, so this strategy works for me.   If you spend all your time trying to hide what you don’t like, you’ll forget to give people something to look at– which results in a forgettable style.

Furthermore, stay positive about yourself in conversation. If someone pays you a compliment, accept it graciously rather than deflecting it.  Example:

Old chum: “You look fabulous in that dress!” 
You:  “Thank you! It’s one of my favorites.”  (not: “Oh, this thing? I didn’t have time to buy a new one.”)

In turn, compliment someone only if it’s genuine. People can smell false sincerity a mile away.

Before you leave the house or hotel, make a list of all your accomplishments since high school.  It will boost your psyche and give you some feel-good responses when people ask what you’ve been doing since graduation.  The intention isn’t to brag; it’s to give yourself credit where credit is due and prevent any negative spiraling that can happen when you’re nervous and consumed by worries that others may consider TMI.

So, I’m running through my own advice and am looking forward to seeing my old classmates without reservations.

Class of ’87 rules!

 Thea Wood
Signature Stylist

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