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Because Every Woman Deserves to Look Like Audrey Hepburn

By Amalah

DISCLAIMER: This week’s column was written while your intrepid bossy-type advice person was at the beach, where she (like always) wore no makeup, spent days in the same tank top and didn’t deep condition. Because she likes to believe that she magically transforms into a tanned natural beauty with wild sun-kissed hair at the beach, and generally doesn’t snap out of this salt-water-fueled delusional dream world until she gets home and views the photos, which reveal her tan to be a sunburn, her clothes to be more “homeless guacamole-stained vagrant” than “casual”, and her sun-kissed hair to be a rat’s nest of deep-friend straw.

Help! Next week, my husband and I are invited to what I am thinking will be a swanky soiree – it’s for one of his business associate’s 50th birthday party and will be held at a nice hotel from 7 pm to Midnight on a Saturday night. VIPs will be attending this party – such as the CEO of Sprint, etc. In addition, in lieu of gifts, they are suggesting donations to a favored charity of the birthday boy. Very cool, eh? I am SO excited. However, I need to buy an outfit for this shindig and have NO idea what the dress code is for this event – it wasn’t listed on the invite. My husband doesn’t understand the importance of clothing-related matters and is not helpful, although he is understanding of the need for the clothing purchase.

I don’t want to be under-dressed, but don’t want to show up in a ball gown, either. I am thinking summery sundress (cotton?), strappy sandals and light jewelry. Also, what is a good donation amount that doesn’t look chintzy? We are not rich people, so I was thinking $50, since it is for the guy’s 50th birthday.

What do you think? Any suggestions of the best place to shop for such an outfit? I am literally going to be shopping next Friday for this event – I am sure I can lose 10 lbs by then. No?


Three words: Little. Black. Dress.

The Little Black Dress was INVENTED for this sort of clothing dilemma, because it’s considered appropriate at about 97% of social functions. (Don’t wear it to picnics or spelunking expeditions. But that’s about it.) I mean, God, it’s even got a Wiki!

I’m forever trying to discern dress codes for office parties and restaurants (what the bloody hell is “casual elegant?”), so I think I can crack your invite. Swanky location + Saturday evening + momentous occasion for a rich person specific language stating black tie = very dressy. Not tuxedo and ball gown dressy, but, yeah.


Too dressy for a summery cotton sundress, of that I am certain. This evening is screaming out for an LBD.
If time and budget are a concern, I’ll shoo you gently away from or other designerish places (like Barney’s or BCBG or Neiman’s, where the dresses will be so lovely you will cry, but most are over $300 at least) and recommend that you check out more accessible places like Banana Republic or a nicer department store.

At Banana, you can get a dress for a tad under $150. has an entire CATEGORY of Little Black Dresses, with several below $100. If possible, splurge a teensy bit and buy the dress that you love the most, because seriously, you will find a million and one places to wear it.

(Oh, and make your husband wear a sport coat and a tie. And kill him if he even tries to wear a baseball cap with it, like WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT? MEN! YOU LOOK LIKE TOOLS. STOPIT.)

(And yes, I think $50 is an appropriate amount. although the rule of thumb for these sort of things is to actually think about the gift you would buy him otherwise, then donate the price of said gift.)

So, I noticed on your flickr page (because yes, I am a stalker – I live in DC! We could be friends!) that you do the same thing with your bangs that I do sometimes, which is pull them back on the top of your head with a clip in an extremely dorky but efficient way. I got my bangs because I felt like I needed to something different with my hair, and my hairdresser kept hinting that it would look good. I think they did look good, at first, but now . . . I keep doing the dorky clip thing. They’re a little too long, which annoys me when they’re in my face, and they don’t hold a style as well as when they were a little shorter. I’m conflicted: should I cut them shorter, so they’ll look they way I want (kind of swept to the side, in a non-stringy way) or go through the annoying grow-out/clip phase to get to the point where I can tuck them behind my ears? I feel like a loser for not being able to deal with a new hairstyle, but the fact that they can get so easily messed up by a freaking BREEZE, and I can actually have a bad hair day now, makes me want to be rid of them forever. Advice?


They are the bane of my hair existence. I keep getting bangs, and I don’t know why. I HATE bangs. I hate styling them, I hate worrying about them, and I extra-hot-hate the cowlick I have in the center of my forehead that sends one chunk of bang (singular? plural? huh?) flopping in a completely different direction than the rest.

Yet I go back to my hairstylist, who says “I like you with bangs! Let’s cut some bangs!” and l go along with it, because I am weak and want her to think I am cool. And because I always think that THIS TIME will be different.

So yeah. I feel you. I love the “fresh-from-the-salon” look of my bangs, and maybe the first couple days I’m pretty happy with them. And then…I get lazy. And the bangs get long. And in my face. And I leave the towel wrapped around my head for five minutes too long and my bangs dry sideways and bent and I decide it’s easier to just clip them back with a snappy barrette, like


I think I am going to grow them out. I think…yes. I will. (Oh God. It’s like a weight has been lifted.)

Because I am not dedicated enough to the Bangs, and the Bangs deserve a better home. Someone who will take them for walks and throw a tennis ball around for them. So you must decide for yourself: Are you dedicated? Are you okay with stopping by your salon for in-between-haircut bang trims? Or (gulp) cutting them yourself? Will you blowdry? Ease under with a round brush? Invest in some texturizing goop? Throw away your snappy barettes?

If not, there’s just no middle ground. You either style your bangs every day or you…don’t.

Dear Goddess of Skincare,

As I sit here, checking my email and peeling, it occurs to me that you may be able to aim me towards the skincare product I am obviously lacking–a nice, daily-use lotion with a built-in SPF of 15 or so. There’s more to it than that, of course. I dislike most lotions; they’re generally too greasy or I’m just always aware that they’re there. I also try to stick with the more natural lotions and prefer avoiding parabens and the like. Right now, I usually use an Aveeno lotion on my body and an Oil of Olay product with SPF on my face, saving the general lotion with SPF for specific events when I know I’ll be out in the sun for a long time. The burn I am recovering from happened because I didn’t plan on hiking THAT far and it was cloudy, so I ignored the fact that the sun is much more intense in Hawaii than the mainland. Ouch!

Crispy in Kona

(FULL DISCLOSURE: I totally had to Google “parabens.”)
You know the first product I’m going to recommend for you, right? I mean, you’ve got to know where I’m going with this.

Philosophy’s When Hope is Not Enough SPF 20.  A lightweight everyday moisturizer with SPF (20! Which is five more sun protection factors than 15!) for sun-damaged skin, specifically recommended for people who live in sunny climates.

If you prefer drugstore brands (which is my favorite way of saying “cheap” these days), my husband uses Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 (and oh my GOD he’d kill me if he knew I was telling the Internet that he uses a product with the word “Radiant” in the name, but he never reads this column, so HAAAA, girly man). He likes it a lot, and the few times I’ve used it I thought it was a very nice sheer moisturizer, but it wasn’t exactly doing my clogged pores any favors. (It didn’t make them WORSE, mind you, but just…eh.)

However! Glancing at the ingredient list I see the pesky parabens you mentioned. (Which…um…are in pretty much all the Aveeno and Oil of Olay products, so you might want to double-check the ingredients on the lotions you mentioned if you are seriously concerned.)

Anyway, whatever you end up going with, you must promise to get into the habit of wearing the SPF product EVERY DAY. Which equals ALL THE TIME. Sunny, cloudy, hell, I want you to wear it during monsoon season. You’re actually at a greater risk for sunburn on cloudy, hazy days, and seriously: it’s the best anti-aging strategy we’ve got. Do it. For you. For me!
(Me, who just looked at my shoulders in the bathroom mirror and realized that yes, I did indeed get a sunburn. Probably because I spent all day maniacally reapplying the Water Babies to Noah’s preshus baby skin and forgot to reapply my own sunscreen, or possibly because I am just a Big Fat Hypocrite.)

If you would like to submit a question, email Amalah at [email protected]. By submitting a question, you agree to allow us to post your question here Alpha Mom.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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HA! Donnie and I use the same moisturizer as Jason. My husband is a radiant girly man too!


I worked for 8 years at a national non-profit office, and the amount of the gift is not revealed to the person in whose honor it was given.
So the birthday boy will get a card that says, “A gift in your honor was given by Joe and Jan Smith.” You can give $5 or $500 and only you will know.


I love this stuff:Neutrogena’s Oil Free Moisturizer with spf 15. But I’m a cheapskate.

Culotte Folle

Alba makes an excellent paraben/cruelty free sunscreen, and it comes in many different flavors/styles/what have you.
And now I’m starting to feel like an Alba marketing genius, because this is the 2nd blog that I’ve commented on recommending the Alba sunscreen.
But really, it is the bestest.


LBD has been procured – I ran into Nordstrom’s and the 1st dress I tried on was a winner. Which was really nice because my kid was screaming the entire time I tried on dresses – even after I offered to buy him a pony. AWESOME.
Strappy black shoes still to be procured. Fake Tan still to be applied (carefully, of course). Otherwise, I am ready to go now.
Again – Thank you!

Jessica Rosenberg

First of all, how fun is it to say BANGS? (I know, I know, I am a total dork… but really, it’s fun! Bangs, bangs, bangs…)
Second of all, Ann Taylor Loft also does some really cute LBDs for a reasonable price, but not consistently.


Bangs…oh how I love/hate them. I am also the person that clips them back and thinks I am pulling off that look.
Of course I AM NOT pulling it off.
But my husband would kill me if I went and got them cut again. He can’t handle hearing me complain about them ALL THE DAMN TIME.
(I took your advice from last week on eyeliner and bought many new brown ones. I am now much happier. And my new liners are awesome…)


Another good cheap brand is Purpose Dual Treatment Moisture Lotion. Doesn’t clog pores and is very light. Their bar soap is also good for oily skin.