Don’t get me wrong; part of what I love about fashion is the fantasy it fosters. But back in the real world, I need tips on how to look amazing without a time machine and someone else’s bank account. My best beauty and style resource has always been other women. Luckily for me, I have fabulous friends. I’ve culled beauty and style tips from 7 of them, all sensationally stylish women who are industry insiders and tastemakers. And psst! All these women are in their 20s and 30s and have never looked better. Check out their secrets to looking fresh below.
All photography by Matt Licari, an arts and fashion photographer at large in New York City.
Cayli Cavaco Reck
Cayli Cavaco Reck has been in the fashion and beauty worlds her entire life. The daughter of a stylist and the Creative Director of Allure magazine, Cayli grew up on set and spent time behind the scenes watching the pros work their magic. Cayli has been an editor at many publications including Teen Vogue and Elle Accessories and has worked closely with designers including Zac Posen. She's currently a creative director and brand strategist specializing in fashion, beauty and accessories. In 2012, she began documenting her musings on stylesovereign.com.
Tip: Leave it to the pros. By "it" I mean the important beauty procedures like color, skincare, brows, and nails. Professionals look for that one minuscule tweak that can take a look from great to next level. If you don't have direct access to a professional, then use the products they use. Pros are professional for a reason: For example, a professional make-up artist understands the geometry of the face and can perceive the most beneficial lines for you. Pros know that using products with better ingredients, the better the outcome. It used to be that only a certain select group of fashion and beauty elite could have access to pro tips, but not anymore. Follow make-up artists on Facebook and Instagram and see what they're using to achieve their looks. We now have access to all this information, so let's exploit it. The advent of all these technological tools allows us to have access to these people in a much more intimate way. Some of my favorite pro products include the Dangene 1 2 3 Skincare program and Harry Josh's ProDryer 2000.
Lauren Rayner is a New York based creative producer for stage, film, and multi-media events. She founded her own production company, Lauren Rayner Productions, where she enjoys the challenge of producing seemingly impossible projects in various media. She describes each day as a hustle, whether she’s crowd-funding or working with artists to develop marketing strategies. Work consumes much of her time, but like many professional women, looking put-together is part of her job: her style must convey her creative aesthetic to clients. She cannot stand shopping – as in, at all – so she tends to wear her clothes and shoes to death. When she falls in love with a pair of shoes or finds the perfect jeans, she’ll double up and buy two pairs.
Tip: Do things for you no matter how hard that might be. Impress yourself. Take risks with your beauty. For years, I was told by friends, family, and lovers to keep my hair long. "Oh, it looks so pretty long," they'd say. "No, don't cut it!" All along, I really wanted it short. This went on for years. Recently, I cut it into a short bob after the end of a long relationship and felt liberated. Finally acting on my own impulse gave me such confidence in my beauty. Jump in. Do what feels right to you and don't necessarily worry about how other people see you.
Jo Anna Mclean
Jo Anna Mclean is an art enthusiast, jeweler, model, and craftsperson. When she is not designing custom jewelry with Peter Hofmiester in his East Village studio in New York City, Jo Anna volunteers in Habitats for Humanity ReStore Mural Project. She photographs street-art and is often photographed herself by style bloggers for her chic downtown style. A staple in the New York party scene, Jo Anna is the quintessential gal about town.
Tip: Go au natural. I like wearing my hair just as it comes out of my head and have never felt better about it. As part of my return to nature beauty approach, I use only natural products, like deep coconut hair masks make my hair happy. I’ll apply the mask, take a Pilates class, and then sit in the sauna allowing the heat to activate the coconut oil, so it really seeps in. Some of my other favorite natural products for hair and skin include olive oil, Shea butter, rose infused witch hazel, Argan oil, and vitamin E. In addition, I’m careful about what I put into my body. The more I understand about food and nutrition, the better. I’m loving Vegetal Silica supplements to add suppleness and elasticity to skin, and strengthen hair. And, I’m eating a ton of cabbage for its antioxidants and skin healing properties.
Stephanie Owen has been designing jewelry for over a decade. Elizabeth Cole jewelry has recently been on the runway during Paris and New York Fashion Weeks. Stephanie is best known for her collaboration with designer Zac Posen and her designs for Elizabeth Cole have graced the pages of numerous publications including Vogue, Bazaar, Elle, Allure and Vanity Fair. Elizabeth Cole Jewelry can be found at fine boutiques and department stores around the world.
Tip: Remedy dull skin by adding a pair of sparkly earrings. When choosing earrings, I like to play off the eyes: lavenders bring out the green in your iris and blues look spectacular with blues. Jewelry is a quick way to change your entire look, accentuate your features, and brighten skin. Never underestimate the beautifying power of a statement necklace. I especially love nude necklaces because they highlight your natural skin-tone and lift the complexion.
Kelly Rae LeGault
Originally from the Midwest, Kelly Rae LeGault is an actress and model currently based out of New York City. In her work, she’s particularly drawn to dark or alternative projects that explore the edgy complexity of women characters in film and macabre editorial. Not afraid to get ugly or weird, she loves to embrace unusual characters. Upcoming projects include the independent feature film "The Gilgo Beach Murders," the short film "Baggage," the "In Fear Of" horror web series, and "Painkiller."
Tip: You don't have to spend a ton of money to have a highly curated look. I wear $5 jewelry and $10 dresses and get compliments all the time on my style. The lipstick I have on, the nail color I'm wearing; people want to buy what I have because of the way I wear it, not because it's a label. H&M makes up about 95 percent of what I own and is my favorite store for my "signature" look. Wear what you like! People feel like they have to have the outfit and the bag in the magazine, but you don't need designers to get the look. Have the confidence to own your style every single day, no matter what. If you feel self-conscious about what you're wearing, other people will see it. A professional woman can rock it out on a budget; I am living proof.
Melissa Osborne is the co-founder of Ash + Light, a fashion forward bridesmaid dress brand. As such, she spends a good deal of time devoted to making women look their best and feel even better. Forget the "always the bridesmaid" pity party; she thinks bridesmaids are warrior princesses. In her own words, her designs allow women to focus on being “badass” rather than worrying about wardrobe malfunctions on the dance floor.
Tip: Follow the 15 percent-85 percent Rule. Let me explain, I’m mostly put together at any given time, except for that 15 percent. For example, I planned my outfit for this photo shoot in advance and still managed to get cupcake frosting all over the front of my dress on the way to the shoot. I don't even know how I could accomplish such a feat. I used to be hard on myself for continually falling short of perfection until I learned to ride it out. Since my mishaps are always a surprise, usually funny, and ultimately keep me from taking beauty too seriously, I embrace them, and even count them as part of my signature style.
Elizabeth Ward calls herself a Social Media Ninja who has worked for such companies as 5Boro, Torro! NYC, Skate Sauce and BOX Creative. In her work she creates a cohesive brand identity for clients across all social media platforms. A former child and teen print and commercial model for various brands in both South America and the U.S., Elizabeth has spent time both behind and in front of the camera. She holds degrees in fashion design, with a concentration in street wear from the Fashion Institute of Technology and photography from the School of Visual Arts.
Tip: Add a pop of color to any outfit with a statement lip. My signature pop of color is a red lip, which turns a daytime outfit to a nighttime outfit with little effort. But not all reds are created equal and you have to find the red that works with your skin tone. As a Colombian woman, I have an olive skin-tone that looks best with a warm, fiery red as opposed to the blue reds, which are for fair-skinned women. And, when shopping for the right red, always try the lipstick on your wrist first. If it looks too pink on your wrist it will make your skin on your face look washed out. It takes practice to get the red lip precisely. As for liner, if you use it, go a shade darker than your lipstick shade you're wearing and blend.