Beauty, Bras and Shoes... and the woman
behind it all!
Interview with Fashion writer
STEPHANIE PEDERSEN author of 'Bra: A Thousand Years of
Style, Support and Seduction', 'KISS Guide to Weddings' and
'Kiss Guide to Beauty'.
Let's start with some background info about you, Stephanie. How
did journalism come about and what made you mark out 'Beauty,
Style and Fashion' as your main areas of writing?
Most people have something in their lives that they've
always, even as a child, loved doing. I have always written--as
a child it was little stories to amuse myself, as I got older it
was articles for school and church newspapers. When in high
school, I approached the local town newspaper and asked if I
could write for it. For whatever reason, the editor said yes.
Lucky me--that was the beginning of my professional career.
After graduating from college, I moved to NYC because I
wanted to work for magazines; everyone I'd talked to said NYC
was the best place to be for magazine writing. I joined the
staff of a small women's magazine and was assigned to the
"beauty/fashion" department. This was pure chance--I could have
been placed in the copy editing department, or business
department or who knows where else. But because I started in the
beauty/fashion department, I developed an expertise for these
subjects. Thus, when I left the magazine to become a freelance
writer, it was beauty, and fashion topics which I most often
wrote about. Like I said before, it was pure, happy luck!
2. What according to you, do the words 'Beauty' and
Great question--let's see if I can answer this! Beauty is a
hard thing to define, isn't it? I see it as "specialness," if
that makes any sense whatsoever. The physical--and
non-physical--things about you that make you special. A
celebration of your specialness!
"Style" is how a woman expresses herself, how she celebrates
her individuality and her whims, how she presents herself to the
world. When we talk about having a great sense of style, we
admire a woman's comfort using all those things available to
her---clothing, accessories, makeup, hairstyles, fragrance, and
so on--to celebrate herself. Style isn't about having a lot of
money, it's about dressing for enjoyment, about expressing your
individuality. This is easy to forget when we're surrounded with
images of immaculately groomed, very expensively dressed
celebrities. But being expensively put together is one thing,
dressing for one's sense of self is quite another, and it's the
essence of style.
3. It is every woman's dream to achieve a glowing
complexion. Tell us more about your book 'KISS Guide to Beauty'.
Our visitors would also love to have some insights into your
tried and tested beauty secrets.
KISS Guide to Beauty is published by DK Publishing, and is in
most bookstores. It was so much fun to write. Really fun. I
basically got to "talk" for 325+ pages about my favorite thing:
Beauty. And by beauty, of course, I mean all the standard
material, such as skincare, makeup, hair issues, cosmetic
surgery, salon treatments and so forth. But I also mean health
and attitude, because you can use all the Creme de la Mer and
have all the plastic surgery in the world, and if you don't have
a beautiful bearing, or you have "low habits" (as my grandmother
would call them) or you are unpleasant or petty--well, you're
not going to be beautiful. I talk about all of this in the book.
On the other hand, there are certainly habits and ways of being
you can adopt to be more beautiful that have nothing to do with
cosmetics or losing weight or hairstyles or fashion. These are
in the book, too.
But on to glowing skin--something I am obsessed with! As a
child I lived in Australia, then in California, so I have
incurred my share of sun damage. Some of my more
"traditional"--or perhaps I should say "dermatologist
accepted"--favorites are retinol, glycolic acid, vitamin C,
antioxidants, and sunscreen. Let me tell you about my routine.
At night I remove makeup with any old remover I have sitting
around--sometimes I'll even use a thick face cream or petroleum
jelly. Next, I use a glycolic wipe (20 percent Clycolix Elite
Treatment Pads). Then I go put one or both of my sons to bed,
return to the bathroom and apply a bit of Prevage, the new
antioxidant cream from Allergan. I really recommend this to
anyone with past sun damage. Then I go sit on the sofa and have
a glass of wine with my husband. Then I return to the bathroom,
apply a retinol, and go to bed. I like to let some time pass--15
or 20 minutes--between product applications. Several
dermatologists have told me this lessens the chance an active
ingredient will be diluted by slapping something else on top of
it too soon.
For daytime, I like to concentrate on antioxidants. I gently
cleanse my face with vitamin C wipes (Citrix C Antioxidant
Cleansing Pads) wait awhile and apply Prevage, wait awhile and
apply a few drops of Skinceuticals C + E + Ferulic, then put on
a sunscreen with Mexoryl, which is not available in the U.S. I
get mine when I travel, or I have a friend in Germany send it to
me. A dermatologist suggested using sunscreen with Mexoryl and
I'm glad she did--it works for me much better than Parsol or
titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Once a week I'll give myself
some kind of mask (more often if I have a party of work event to
go to). Usually the mask is something my friend in Germany has
sent me--perhaps a Haushka or Eckstein mask. Also, Clarins Flash
Baume--this may not be the precise name--is terrific before a
night out. It's been a favorite for years. And I absolutely love
Illuminaire Cosmetics Fantastic Finish Foundation and the Extra
Coverage Foundation/Concealer. It gives the skin a rich, satiny
finish and has an spf of 21--it has zinc oxide and titanium
dioxide and is available at illuminarecosmetics.com. I just love
If you have specific problems and have some money, I am a big
believer is regular dermatologist-administered exfoliating
treatments, microdermabrasion, pulsed light treatments and so
forth. I've tried them all and liked them--I'd do them more
often if I didn't have my son's school tuition to worry about!
But we're all different. I don't have sensitive skin, though
some people do. Some people have acne or rosacea or dryness or
whatever to contend with. You must tailor your routine to what
works for you. Try things, research, ask questions, visit a
website like makeupalley.com, where you can tap into other
4. Bra is often overlooked as an essential wardrobe item.
How would you emphasize the benefits of building a proper bra
I wrote Bra: A Thousand Years of Style, Seduction, and
Support during and directly after having my second child, which
gave me a great appreciation for what a bra can (and can't) do!
Comfort is what I suggest when building a bra wardrobe! Yes, it
is smart to have one bra that invisibly does its job under
T-shirts, another that can enhance a low-cut dress, another that
will keep you supported during exercise, and so forth. (After
all, a push-up bra can look kind of strange under a T-shirt and
you can't wear a sports bra with a halter dress.) But each of
these bras must be comfortable, or you are going to feel
miserable. And it's hard to feel attractive when you are
miserable. It's hard to concentrate on what's in front of you
when you're miserable. It's hard to enjoy yourself when you're
miserable. It's hard for other people to enjoy you when you're
5. Buying a bra has become much more complicated with the
stores being flooded with so many different types of bras. One
could almost get confused deciding what to buy. Any pointers
Oh, I know. It is confusing, isn't it? I wrote an entire book
about bras and even I am confused. Here's the best advice I can
give you, advice I hope will clear away the confusion. Ignore
all the suggestions, all the hype, all the sales help and just
try the bra on. Furthermore, try it on in several sizes. Does
that make sense? I was in a well-known lingerie chain store
shortly after my second son was born and whew! I overheard
several salespersons tell several confused women that a 36B was
"pretty much the equivalent of a 34C, give or take a bit of
fabric." And I thought, "Yes, but the fabric that has been given
or taken, may be the fabric that a particular person didn't need
or did need." My point is that even salespeople are confused!
I think part of the problem is there is no set standard that
all bra manufacturers must follow. Just think of your favorite
two fashion labels. Perhaps you wear an 8 in DKYN, but a 10 in
Club Monaco. Same thing with bras. You must try each of them on.
Go into the dressing room, put them on, lift up your arms, swing
your elbows, shrug your shoulders. How does the bra feel? How do
you feel in the bra? (By the way, if you order bras online, do
the same thing--and send back the ones that don't fit well.
Don't try to "pretend" that they fit okay when they pinch or dig
into your skin! You absolutely deserve to be comfortable!).
6. Your book 'The Bra: A Thousand Years of Style, Support
and Seduction' tells a lot more interesting facts about bras
than an average woman would know. Tell us more about the book
and your experiences while writing the book.
The book is a history of the bra, going back a thousand
years. Actually, more than a thousand years. There were plenty
of early cultures (modern cultures, too--such various South
American and African people) where women didn't worry about what
their breasts were doing. But plenty of other cultures, such as
the Greeks, wanted breasts to be out of the way. Thus, binding
was popular in the distant past. Corsets in the late 19th
century did this same thing with often disastrous results to
women's ribcages, lungs, pregnancies, and internal organs.
Incidentally, it was during this time that the term "loose
woman" was coined. Society at large felt that corseting kept
women "in line" and submissive--words like gentile and feminine
were frequently-used compliments. Women who didn't use corsets
were considered "lax" or of loose morals. Thus a loosely-bound
woman equaled a woman with loose morals.
These were the kind of interesting things I learned while
writing "Bra: A Thousand Years of Style, Support and Seduction."
In many ways, the history of the bra is the history of
women--their independence and their lack of so, their place in
society and their feelings about how society sees them.