Tag Archives: jewelry

TGIW: The dreaded driver’s license photo

by Libby Sternberg

Advice for the day: Do not settle.

What my driver's license photo often resembled.

What my driver’s license photo often resembled.

Year after year, I’ve reconciled myself to the awful mug-shot-like driver’s license photos that dampen any joy one might experience at the moment one must pull the darned license out for identification.  I could be purchasing the Best Outfit Evah, absolutely sure it will Change My Life in Epic Ways, filled with the elation that justifiably accompanies such a momentous occasion, but then…”Could I see your driver’s license, please?” The ID check brings the awesomeness to a screeching halt. Out it comes, and there, staring me and the store clerk in the eyes is The Truth–this woman cannot possibly have her life changed in epic ways by ANYTHING because she looks like a fugitive. I half expect the sales clerk to say–after an embarrassed little titter, of course –“What, they didn’t have any more orange jumpsuits that day?” Ah-ha-ha. Ha. Ahem.

Three years ago, I made the mistake of having my license photo taken sans wig. My hair was scalp-close then, see, because of a treatment that rhymes with dreamotherapy but is kind of the opposite. I thought at the time that this shorn-locks look would be a triumphant remembrance of the victory I felt at the end of that treatment slog, a badge of honor, sort of like a tattoo that one gets to mark a significant act of bravery.

And it did serve that purpose. For a while. Then I got awfully tired of dragging out that photo and wondering what people thought when they saw it. (Most likely: Good lord, who was her hairdresser and how can I avoid them?)

What I aspire to look like in my driver's license photo.

What I aspire to look like in my driver’s license photo.

So, this year, no mug shot for me. Nuh-uh. No shorn locks. No staring into the camera like the proverbial deer in the Ugly-Magnifying headlights.

First up: makeup. Not just everyday makeup, but eeeeeevvvvvvening makeup. The kind you used to wear on dates. Or the first year you were married. A nice foundation, some subtly applied rouge to your cheekbones, once you locate them again, and then….eye shadow , eye liner (quick, straight lines above and below), mascara (the volumizing kind advertised in those commercials that make skimpy eyelashes sound like a physical disability for which there is a government program!).

Second up: Clothes. Pick out your best top. I recommend sparkly, chiffony, satiny or something pink. In my case, it was a Chicos purchase from a couple years ago, something I bought not on sale to celebrate a book deal optioned for film, that has so many sparkles around the neckline that you have to wash it by hand. (Not that I ever do, mind you. Wash it, that is.) Wear any ole jeans or scruffy pants or skirt. It’s only the shoulders up that count.

Thirdly: Accessorize. Since my top was sufficiently bedazzled, I opted for no necklaces, but I wore the shimmering earrings I’d sported at my son’s wedding two years ago.

Wear sparkly jewelry!

Everything’s better with sparkly jewelry.

Fourthly: Hair.  Two words: Curling iron.  Oh, two more: Hair spray. Nuff said.

The result, I have to say, was all I could have wanted. The photographer complimented me. I was ready for my close-up, and I only needed one take. And…I look like someone who is not headed for a penal colony. I’ll proudly whip out that photo now.

So, do not settle for those dull, ugly driver’s license photos. Go fabulous. I only wish I’d taken my feather boa…..

Libby Sternberg is a novelist. She likes sparkly things but can only afford them if you buy her books.

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Goodbye, JC Penney

Recently, I wrote of my prescription for turning around Sears. My phone has since been ringing off the hook, retail consultants offering to pay me millions for more advice. (What? You don’t believe me? Why, just look at the photo of me in the new gem-encrusted tiara I was able to buy with my riches.)

So, now I’m back, offering advice to JC Penney. Here it is:

Stop, before it’s too late!

Penney has adopted a new strategy. They have moved away from continual sales with coupon enticements and have gone to continual deep discounts with what they seem to think is hipper marketing.

That means no more almost-daily mailings from JCP filled with coupons for this special deal or that special item. Good for them. Those coupons were a bear to keep track of, and I know more than one Penney shopper who always ended up in the store trying to use the wrong one for the wrong item on the wrong day (yes, that was me holding up the line in home goods with my outdated coupon for a turkey roaster). The coupons had enough fine print on them to put scores of optometrists’ children through college.

That’s the good news about this strategy: no more annoying coupons.

Here’s the bad news: the stuff shoppers loved about Penney is now…lost in the mist of mercantile marketing miasma. The confusing sales might be gone, but so are the “shopper cues,” the signs pointing you to the “two for the price of one” T-shirt displays, the “marked down” racks of jeans and khakis, the enticing shelves filled with gewgaws that you might not buy but put you in a buying mood.

On a recent trip to Penney’s for what should have been an easy purchase (a denim skirt), nothing pulled me into a display at all. Not even the jewelry or the casual clothes for women of a certain age. Those beckoned to me in the past.

To go along with this less-is-less marketing strategy, Penney now sends out expensive little booklets promoting each month’s special deals. The first one was reasonably, if not spectacularly, done. This past month’s was filled with…jewelry. As if Penney had decided to hop, skip and jump over their latest marketing efforts and become a standalone shop for the Gollum crowd.

But worst of all in this pantheon of pathetic promo ideas is their television campaign. The only thing I ever remember about their TV ads is a rather unattractive mouth on a less-than-appealing auctioneer. Don’t take my word for it. Watch for yourself.


JC Penney used to be my “go to” store, my first stop at the mall, the one I parked in front of. I knew I could always find comfy casual slacks there, curtains, sheets, towels, the occasional small appliance (ah, that turkey roaster), good costume jewelry and an upscale outfit for that once-a-year formal event. I loved Penney’s.  Now, sadly, not so much. They’re losing me, and I was a loyal shopper.

Way to go, corporate!


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