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August 27, 2009

Looking "Edgy"

Looking "Edgy"

By Nancy      Go to fullsize image

It's been time for a new publicity photo for...well, so long that my natural color is now almost completely resistant to Nice 'n Easy 103B, if you get my drift, and I've gained and lost enough pounds to impress the hell out of Marie Osmond. I've also tried sufficient no-wrinkle lotions and potions to drown a small city--all in the hope of transforming my 50-something self into something considerably younger, lighter, tighter and more suitable for a dust jacket we hope will sell to the 25-year-olds as easily as the AARP set. Yet none of my efforts managed to turn back the clock.

But when my agent said,  "We need a new photo within two weeks," in her friendliest-with-the-steel-edge tone, I knew I couldn't stall any longer.

And because my new mystery series is a departure from my kinder-and-gentler Blackbird sisters mysteries, her additional advice was: "Try to look edgy."

Edgy? Edgy?  What in the name of Coco Chanel does edgy mean?

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I was pretty sure it meant "leave your pastels and pearls at home, Nancy," but that was the extent of my edgy fashion expertise.

"Just throw on a black turtleneck," she advised before signing off to sell a surefire New York Times bestseller to an eager publisher.

A black turtleneck? No.  No, no, no, no. Let me explain this as delicately as possible: With a neck like mine--inherited from my long departed great-great Aunt Agnes who started with what's kindly called a "champagne chin" and eventually ended up with something you see on Galapagos--a black turtleneck would only emphasize my gene pool, fondness for chocolate covered Michigan cherries (you know who you are, evil fiend, who started me on this addiction!) and my complete lack of edge. 

So I embarked on a quest.  What does "edgy" really mean?  And could I achieve such a look? 

I trolled the internet.  I flipped through magazines. I watched the Project Runway marathon.  (I can't watch Rachel Zoe because I can only think, "Somebody make that woman a sandwich!" alternating with, "If she'd spent all that money on an education instead of accessories, she'd have won a Nobel prize by now!")  I tuned into a VH1 TV show called Stallionaire (let the title be sufficient warning, believe me) but the so-called "booty camp" was so nauseating to one who once carried a NOW card in my wallet that I had to quickly turn to HGTV to watch a soothing kitchen renovation instead. (Really, the young women on Stallionaire all looked the same--enormous breasts displayed like canapes on a caterer's tray, and let's not talk about the need for orthodontia, okay? Because they were required to look sullen at all times, even while grinding their "booties" fast enough to whip a cake mix, so teeth--or lack thereof--didn't matter. Refrigerators have more self respect these days, and I'm not kidding.)

But I digress.

I finally struck gold with an online dictionary:  "Edgy:  Characterized by tension. Having a bold, provocative and unconventional quality."

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Oh, jeez.  Me? Bold and provocative?  Fashionably unconventional? I wear yoga pants and Easy Spirits for the commute from the bedroom to my downstairs office. For an outing, I put on the diamond earrings from my mother and the pearls my husband gave me a few years back, and I figure I'm good to go.  But bold and unconventional, I ain't. 

Silver chains I reserve for dog leashes. Scarves give me hot flashes.  Black leather in August sounds like I'll have a heat rash in five minutes. Purple eyeshadow? I don't think I could keep a straight face.

If any of our younger readers have "edgy" advice, boy, am I listening!

Increasingly desperate, I emailed the photographer.

No doubt sensing he'd have to single-handedly cope with the panic of a middle-aged, hot flashy basketcase, he emailed back: "I strongly suggest hiring a stylist."

So I have hired my own personal stylist. And the photo shoot is today. 

One thing I know I'll certainly get out of this experience:  Next week's blog.

Wish me luck.  Here I go.  And just in case, I've got my pearls in my pocket.


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Where do you find a personal stylist? I'm thinking one of these days (like when I ever sell my next book) I could sure use one . . .

Good luck! I'm sure you'll wow them all!

Hiring a stylist sounds really great. I never have the confidence in my choices. Although, since I have that chin problem, too (not to mention the chocolate problem), I have found that dark v-neck sweaters or t-shirts are the most friendly.

Nancy, scarves aren't edgy, anyway, sadly.

I have no further advice, since I'm also someone who couldn't be edgy without an actual edge, but your "champagne chin" is still cracking me up. Funny is way better than edgy, anyway.

Best of luck on the photo shoot. Can't wait to hear how it goes.

Nancy, I love "champagne chin." Mine is just a plain "German jaw." With my family, "beer chin" would be more accurate.
While we're on the subject of booze, I had a glass of white wine before one photo shoot. It was wonderfully relaxing. I didn't care if I had more chins than a Chinese phone book.
Elaine Viets

Great blog, Nancy. Good luck today. Did the stylist give you any tips that you can pass on? Do we get a photo preview next week?

Good luck on your photo shoot.

Nora Roberts just puts on a leather jacket to become J. D. Robb.

If you come up with any good tips to hide the chin, please share! (I have visions of the photographer climbing a tree to find a flattering angle. Possibly at night.)

Good luck on the shoot. You may want to try a starched white shirt with a tux jacket. Open the shirt to that magic line between whore and decorum. If they are looking low enough, they will not see the chin. The glass of wine will help you trust the stylist. Remember, they will shoot dozens of pictures and choose one. You can try different looks and the embarrassing ones get deleted.

One of my HS classmates is now a photographer. Take a look at the opening montage on her web site. You may find something "edgy" to try. http://www.suzygorman.com/

Oooo, I love the idea of a black leather jacket with a white or RED v-neck t-shirt.

And it looks like the setting helps. I liked the diner shots in Alan's friend's portfolio.

You guys are so supportive! I'm very grateful!

The photographer was the one who sent me a list of stylists (really makeup artists who have licenses to comb and sptray your hair) so I took his advice. The one I picked is a former model, too, so she has tips on how to stand, etc, and how to tug your clothes to make them look okay.

My white shirt is already on my back, and the black leather is packed! Stay tuned!

Nancy - can't wait to hear more. I was thinking, as I read the blog, that something along the lines of tailored black jacket and super sharp white shirt would be great for you -- but damn, red might be even better!

Me, I rely on the tats for edge; the rest of me looks like pretty classic Mom material :)

I would love to borrow your tats, Kerry!

Somewhere in Alan's friend's montage I glimpsed a regally dressed woman with what looked like an Uzi. Now that's edgy.

I was too busy gulping over the naked lady in the stilettos to really notice the Uzi. Whoa!

Don't worry! Everything can be Photoshopped..

When I need a photo for this blog, I went to my favorite salon and let them have free reign. At that time, I was still 'undercover' as Rebecca the Bookseller, so we wanted a photo that was me, but not me.

The photographer (a brother of the salon owner) came right to the salon. I have never, before or since, worn that much makeup or had that much product in my hair. Couldn't wait to take a shower.

Will they let you wear sunglasses? Think Men in Black.

Alan, I recognize the name Suzy Gorman, but I don't know the context in which I've heard it. Does she write also? Great photo montage!

Out of the mouths of babes category...my new little five year old neighbor was standing outside with his grandma. I introduced myself and the little "cheeky child" LOL, asked me about my turkey neck affliction. I almost burst out laughing and said to him that it's what you get when you get older. He looked at his grandma and then at me and informed me that his grandma didn't have the wobbly neck affliction. I told him that I guess I was just lucky. His grandma was serene and lovely. HIs mom was mortified. But I decided that truth is humility and went back into my house. I am loved in spite of my turkey neck but I'm looking forward to the day when I win the lottery and have a revamp. Congratulations on your new book series, Nancy. I can't wait to read it.

Nancy, have a great day and if you have the pearls hanging out of the black jacket pocket, that would be edgy.
or not
really, edgy for me is when my clothes actually fit . . . wearing capris and a t-shirt at work today. stained the capris just before leaving the house and didn't change. Me, not so edgy. Suzy Gorman - edgy.
Do we get to see the new photo next week?

It's Me, Margie.

Uh, Nancy - nice opening shot up there. The open petals and the pearl necklace? Really?

You should just use that as your new image. I mean, especially if you've got a book coming from Ellora's Cave. Just saying.

I, too, saw the naked lady in stilettos but somehow I just couldn't picture you wearing stilettos, Nancy.

I also have a hard time with 'edgy', but do agree that a leather jacket over a sharp button-down is good. And probably not much smiling, either.

Me? I would bust out laughing if they said to look serious. And my version of edgy is to wear all black with bold jewelry and such.

I just have to add the Stilettos can be SO uncomfortable. I can't see going from EasySpirits to stilettos.

I have NO CLUE what edgy is but I can't wait to see the proof pictures. You are going to post them, right? Especially the nude one with you wearing only your pearls and EasySpirits?

Gorman and Gene Krenz were my two favorite STL photographers. Nancy, it might be worth your while to see what they could do for you.

But with that smile of yours . . . no worries, sweetpea.

As for 'edge,' half a bottle of Scotch, a dirty glass holding half an inch, and a nickeled small Smith & Wesson should do the trick. Add a piece of chain (bicycle or otherwise) for that Val McDermid bad-ass attitude.

I like the idea of the photographer shooting from up in a tree . . . especially if you're standing next to a tree chipper below it.

I wouldn't know edgy if it walked up and bit me in the butt. I dread the day I'll need a picture for my books. I'm a fashion idiot.

Good luck on the shoot!

I can see you in the black jacket, white shirt, glancing over the tops of your sunglasses, hot red lipstick, lots of eye makeup, pearls hanging out of your pocket, and a black fedora tilted just right. You be one edgy bitch girl!
BTW, have you seen the ads for The Good Wife?
They have her wearing pearls for 'the' press conference!

I'm thinking that in this day and age, you'd have to be practically naked, wearing nothing but a dog collar, high heels, perhaps a Kevlar vest (open) to be truly edgy. But that's probably not the image we want to project.

How about very stark lighting, and you're in sunglasses, and smoking, and almost completely in shadow? Looking mean?

Okay, never mind. This is why I'm not a director.

You'll be lovely.

Nancy, you can be edgy. You can do this, because it's more about the photographer, and his/her skills than you. It's about the lighting and the cropping of the photo too. Think of contrasting shades like blacks and whites, red lipstick, a smart suit and a twinkle in your eyes and your golden.

A duster coat and a fedora. It looks edgy and it comes off in a heartbeat.

Can't wait to see the new photo, though!

On Designing Women, the girls were to be photgraphed for an article on "The Women of Atlanta". The photog wanted Julia to wear a man's suit, white shirt opened to just below decent, a fedora, and her pearls in her mouth...slightly sucking on them.

So, Nancy. Pearls can work.

. . . and the photographer was lucky to leave with his own . . . pearls intact. Edgy is different from exploited . . .

and not edgy at all, but the very best yearbook photo I ever had taken as a teacher was when one of my students stood behind the photographer to continue our conversation and distract me enough to be relaxed. Do you have a good friend who can keep things fun for you?

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