12 Feb
My Friend Is Dowdy. How Do I Help?

When Stephanie Smirnov agreed to do a guest post for The Mouthy Housewives, I squealed with joy. And not just because it meant that I had one less post to write.   Stephanie is a sort of Wonder Woman: wife (to a RUSSIAN!), mother, high powered professional and super glamorous, to boot.   If she weren’t so nice and wonderful, I’d really have to work extra-hard to contain my envy.   Stephanie’s blog, PR Mama,   is always smart and   fun, so make sure to check it out! — Marinka, TMH


Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I  love my best friend from college, but her look is so dated. She’s got tons of gray hairs, her make-up is the same make-up she wore in 1993 and her clothes are just awful. So dowdy. I love her to death, but she is making herself look years older. Any thoughts on how to improve her look without hurting her feelings?

Fashion Plate


Dear Fashion Plate,

I’d love to know just what kind of a 1993 look your friend is rocking. It wasn’t all bad back then – Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle and Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal? That’s right – 1993. Serious cuteness.   I am nothing if not intuitive, however and the angst in your note suggests your girlfriend’s look leans more towards “Designing Women” and “The Nanny.” Which is troubling, but solvable.

I see two options for you:

#1:   Abdicate responsibility. Fire up an episode of “What Not to Wear” on the DVR the next time your friend’s heading your way for a visit. If you act sufficiently engrossed, she’ll probably join you on the couch and if you’re lucky, absorb the style and beauty lessons of Clinton and Stacy and their hair and makeup gurus automatically. Your friend will come away inspired to go shopping for a cute jacket that “gives her a waist” and a box of Clairol Perfect 10 without you ever having to say a word.

#2:   Throw yourself under the bus. Tell her you’re feeling frumpy and out of date and would she accompany you on a girls’ day out of beauty and clothes shopping? Say you need the company and moral support. The assumption is she will get swept up in the makeover fun herself and be open to fashion advice. This doesn’t have to be expensive, and if you’re clever, you can enlist professionals to do your dirty work. Most department stores offer free personal shopping services; call to book one for the two of you and let them know in advance that your real agenda is to help update your friend’s look. They’ll do the heavy lifting. Same strategy for the makeup makeover. That same department store has legions of beauty advisers working the counters of their cosmetic department just waiting to give you a free consultation. Swing by the counter the day before, make a small purchase from one of the ladies to butter her up, and enlist her in your effort. When you come back the next day with your friend, she’ll be armed with blush brushes and mascara wands and ready to rumble.

I suppose there is a third option, but it’s the most challenging and potentially the most painful. Which is to be flat-out honest with your friend. But knowing how sensitive this topic is, no one would judge you for taking a more circuitous approach. Though not too circuitous because unless a “Designing Women” revival is on the pop culture horizon, she really needs your help.

Good luck,

Stephanie, Guest TMH


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13 Responses to “My Friend Is Dowdy. How Do I Help?”


Comment by Amy @ The Bitchin' Wives Club.

Great advice! The circuitous route is almost always my favorite way to travel.


Comment by Krajcimama.

Great advice – I often wish someone was video taping me and getting ready to put me on an episode of What Not to Wear even though the prospect of the world seeing some of the clothes that are lingering in my drawers is truly frightening!

Please enter me in the contest for the FLOW book, too! 🙂


Comment by Muirgen.

Option 4: Assume there’s more to your friend than her looks and accept that this is not her priority. Just because it matters to you doesn’t mean it matters to her. Perhaps she has better things to do with her time and her money. If she’s happy, why does it matter?

Marinka, The Mouthy Housewives Reply:

I thought of this, too, although admittedly, only after I read your comment. I know that in an ideal world how we look would not matter and I would be a supermodel based on my strong character and moral values. But looks do matter. If someone’s channeling the 1990’s, it may be because she doesn’t care, that she genuinely loves that look or that she doesn’t know how to ask for help.

Of course, if someone is channeling the ’80s, all bets are off and it’s emergency intervention all the way!

Muirgen Reply:

Ultimately, I think it comes down to the nature of the friendship and the intent of the comments… the difference between a “Clueless” makeover, and a “Mean Girls” one.


Comment by the mama bird diaries.

Great advice! Really depends on how close a friend. I’m still grateful to the friend who pulled me aside in 1995 and told me I must do something about my eyebrows. She took me right into a salon and honestly, it made such a difference. Sometimes you gotta be direct.


Comment by Wendi.

So is this why Marinka invited me to come makeup shopping with her when I get to NYC this summer? That bitch.


Comment by GrandeMocha.

1. Submit her to Clinton and Stacy for a WNTW makeover.

2. Find a WNTW that covers a woman the same age, stuck in the same clothes.


Comment by Lisa.

I gotta agree with #4 – accept your friend for who she is.

Now, if the friend ever expressed that this is a problem, that’s different. If she ever complained about men, or not being taken seriously at work, that would give you an opening.

Heaven save me from so-called “friends” who want to ask me, “You know what your problem is?”


Comment by Anon.

I could give a shit about how my friends look (and hope they think the same about me says this 43 year old stuck in the Jeans and Hoodie movement!) and would Never Ever comment on what they wear or how they look.

Love them for who they are and yes, all of them free spirited strong women who are happy with themselves and their lives.

Who am I to tell them how to dress?


Comment by redgirl.

I have done something along these lines…not with fashion tho

Enter me for the “Flow” contest plz?


Comment by TCo.

Woohoo, a give away, I love it!! I do NOT however, love Aunt FLo…


Comment by The Mouthy Housewives » The Mouthy Housewives’ Seal of Approval.

[…] week’s honoree is a hysterical post by the very funny and very smart and former Guest TMH, Stephanie, who blogs at PR Mama. Go and check out her great post. And if you don’t love it, […]

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