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Fashion Matters: Make your compliments genuine

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How many times have you walked up to a friend, given her a hug and told her she looks fabulous?

Now, ask yourself how many times you've walked up to a friend and said she looked fabulous, knowing it was a lie.

And it seems the more outrageously paired the ensemble is, the harder you sell your compliments. I've seen a woman wearing head-to-toe animal print, and while interacting with her "friend," all I hear is "I love your animal print."

The truth is that her friend has no clue how to approach the style mishap, so instead of ignoring it, she feels obligated to compliment it (knowing that dressing like a full-size cheetah is unacceptable).

As the new year approaches, it's time we start being better style friends to one another.

One of the most common style mishaps women encounter is applying obscene amounts of makeup. Of course this beauty victim might not have a clue, as everyone around her keeps pointing out her makeup with compliments: "I love your dark eye shadow!"

If you see an associate wearing too much makeup, a great technique to point that out without insulting her is to say: "You have such a naturally beautiful face." Leave it at that.

Now, if it's your friend wearing too much makeup, work on being more direct: "I know you love your makeup, but it's almost overpowering you." Yes, it may be difficult to say, but it's so much better than letting her walk out of the house looking like a disaster.

The most common style lie I hear women tell one another is the clothing lie. "I love your top. ... I love that new jacket. ... I love those pants." When in truth, what she really wanted to say was: "The color of that top makes you look ill. ... That jacket is so loud I couldn't miss you with dark sunglasses on. ... Those pants are way too tight for work."

While it goes without saying that you shouldn't always say exactly what you're thinking, what's with the lying?

If you don't love what someone has on, there's no need to automatically draw attention to it. If the woman in question draws attention to herself by saying something along the lines of, "Don't you just love my new top?" (and you don't love it), a great response is to think of something you've seen her in before that you did like. "I loved that silk print top you wore last week."

Another approach is to put the ball back in her court. "You don't think those pale sherbet colors wash you out?" If she says no, the conversation is over. If she seems unsure, congratulations, you've just started an honest style conversation.

While you might not have a job that requires you to be honest with women about style, it's still crucial that we as women start telling one another the truth about our style. This automatic need to issue a compliment upon greeting is fruitless unless it's grounded in truth.

I would rather someone tell me they hate my skirt than to compliment me on it and 10 minutes later tell someone else how much they hate it.


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