Makeover, Boston edition
December 29, 2013 5:36 AM   Subscribe

Where can I go to get a good haircut, makeup tutorial, or personal stylist in the Boston area?

I've been laid-back about my appearance all my life, and now that I'm at the fag end of my 20s, I'm ready to change things up. I'm looking for recommendations on services in Boston, as well as general ideas on how to go about learning to dress well.


1. I'd like to find a hair stylist that can suggest new ideas, and tell me what sorts of styles would look good on my face shape. Bonus points if they can work with (and not against) very thick, wavy-straight hair.

2. I have no idea how to wear make-up, not even nail polish. Youtube tutorials haven't helped. Stores or services that will teach you to choose and apply make-up? I went to a counter at Macy's once, but it felt like too much information at one time.

3. I'm willing to engage a one-time personal stylist or shopper to help me break out of my fashion comfort zone, but I don't know anyone who's done this -- is it worth it? Specific suggestions?


- I'm 5'2", 100 lbs, with stubborn stomach fat that restricts my choice of clothing a bit.

- My style now is not frumpy but nondescript -- I currently live in jeans, tank tops from Ann Taylor, cardigans, and flat winter boots. I'd like to wear skirts and dresses, but I think I wear them wrong and end up looking like a 10 year old. I also don't know how to walk in heels, and consequently don't own any, so I would love to find a comfortable pair (boots or sandals).

- Although I have decided to put in more effort into dressing, I know I won't be able to sustain a high-maintenance routine. So anything that involves styling my hair everyday, spending hours shopping regularly, etc. is out.

- I'm a professor, and don't have too much of a life. Weekend evening are mainly spent at friends' houses or going to see the occasional play. Right now, I pretty much wear the same things on weekdays and weekends. I don't have to wear formals to work (and in fact, it would look a bit weird if I do), and have room to experiment.
posted by redlines to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For a salon, my wife loves the Marc Harris on Broad (by Fanueil Hall, but there's another on on Newbury Street). The Sephora in the Pru can help with makeup tutorials--go during the day during the week, and they'll have more time for you.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:54 AM on December 29, 2013

Go to a good Nordstrom and get a personal shopper. For makeup try Sephora.
posted by k8t at 6:57 AM on December 29, 2013

I also don't know how to walk in heels

Platforms are your friend! I never learned how to walk in heels either; wedges compliment my naturally casual style, but the concept works for stilettos just as well.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:13 AM on December 29, 2013

If you are really looking for someone with a solid eye who can help you with your hair and possibly some other daily routine stuff, I'd recommend seeing Grant Paquin at James Joseph Salon. Grant has done some magical things for several friends of mine. If I were still in Boston proper, that would be who I would see. It has been a long while since I've been to see him and I know that the prices have gone up, so I would get a price list (edit: found pricelist on website. He is a Senior Stylist) before I went lest ye be really shocked.

And the mark of a good hairstylist is one that listens to exactly what you've written here and comes up with a creative hairstyle that works for you within your constraints.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:20 AM on December 29, 2013

Rather than going to a cosmetics counter, I'd recommend consulting a makeup artist. Some salons have them on staff (usually to do bridal makeup but they will dial it back for daytime). The advantage is that it is one on one, they will show you how to apply it, and they are not pushing a particular brand. It is a lot more in-depth than what you would get in a store.

A makeup artist that I know of (not in Boston) charges $30 for a 15 minute consult and $60 for a trial application which I think takes an hour. It's not just buying the right colors, it's knowing how to apply them effectively.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:49 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had very good experiences with the makeup artists at Sephora in the Pru. Absolutely go on a weekday, weekends are a circus.
posted by sonika at 8:19 AM on December 29, 2013

I've had a really good experience with makeup at a Blue Mercury-- the stylists are makeup company reps, so the cost is usually three pieces of makeup from their line. The one I went to was a Laura Mercier specialist. I honestly find Sephora a little overwhelming and the staff a little rushed/into more elaborate makeup then wha I would be into, so this was a much calmer option. I've had really hit or miss luck with makeup counters in department stores in terms of applications and the perfume miasma doesn't help. He also did teach me a bit about applying them, and I love my new foundation so much more that I've actually been wearing it more often. If you are interested in a makeup artist, you can often see their portfolios by googling around for weddings and wedding photo shoots-- obviously those are more elaborate colors/designs, but you can usually get a sense for the makeup artist's style and get reviews on them as well.

Nthing Nordstroms. Their regular clerks are pretty good at suggestions, they have basic in-house alterations, and they're kind of geniuses at finding the size you need in the system. The personal shoppers are even more helpful. Also their in-house lines aren't crazy expensive and go on sale frequently.
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:38 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

The blog Extra Petite might be good for inspiration -- I believe the woman who writes it is about your age and size and even lives in Boston. It could be good to go through it to identify looks you do and don't like before meeting with a personal shopper, and it will also, I think, help you identify why some things off the rack don't fit right and how to fix them.

Here is one of her posts on how to make jeans/shorts/t-shirts look more polished: how to look older in casual clothes

For next level casual-but-polished, she has tons of looks like this: Sunday Staples
posted by pocketfullofrye at 10:40 AM on December 29, 2013

This is not quite as tony as a personal shopper, but as someone who used to be your exact height/weight/shape (and now has gained a bit but hasn't gotten any taller) some of the only clothing that makes me look like a grown up is Anne Taylor/Ann Taylor Loft's petite work dresses. They have a whole line of very conservative, traditional workwear that is actually cut to accommodate bodies where everything is smaller and shorter.

A lot of other brands are cut for fit models that are significantly taller than me, so even if I get a small number size and it technically fits me, it looks like I'm a child dressing up. There's a definite difference when I wear petite sizes. I don't know of it's true for you, as well, but you should ask your personal shopper to try to find some petite things that work for you.

If you hit Ann Taylor, the salespeople are on commission, and will happily bring you things they think work all day, but don't feel obligated to buy anything you don't like. I also find a lot of these dresses at the thrift store and I always immediately buy them, even if they need small repairs.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:41 AM on December 29, 2013

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