Refresh your style: New wardrobe for a NCSU reseach assistant

CorrespondentNovember 16, 2013 

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    Photos by Juli Leonard

    Clothing from Smitten, 1105 W. Main St.,


    Shoes from Step shoe store, 721 Broad St., Durham,

    Hair and makeup by Nicole Murphy at

    Lux Salon, 8377 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh,

    Want to reboot your style? Contact Sheon

    Wilson at 919-641-0173 or and say what you’d like to change

    in your look.

Valerie Lapham, 59, a research assistant at N.C. State University, wants out of her style rut. The self-described tomboy is the mother of three daughters, grandmother of four, and newly remarried after losing her first husband to cancer 10 years ago. “My wardrobe has consisted of outfits, or lack thereof, that were simple, quick and easy,” she wrote in an email. “I put my needs and wants on the back burner for the sake of the family’s.” I picked pretty, feminine clothes to show her how to dress stylishly on the weekend and be comfortable too.

Before: This make-do outfit is aging. The shirt-as-jacket is underwhelming and the khakis have a boxy shape that doesn’t flatter Lapham’s long legs. This doesn’t look pulled together or inspiring, especially on someone “embarking on a new phase” of her life.

Hair and makeup: Nicole Murphy of Lux Salon updated Lapham’s look with a darker hair color, modern haircut and subtle makeup. The richer color makes Lapham’s skin tone look more vibrant and accentuates her eyes. The shorter crown and sides create a feminine silhouette that flatters Lapham’s face shape; the cut reveals the graceful curve of her neck. Tweezing neatens up her eyebrows. On her face, foundation and concealer create a clean canvas, and blush, eye shadows and lipstick add complementary colors that bring out her assets.

Cool jacket, classy lady: Casual looks young and fresh thanks to the on-trend faux-leather Tribal jacket, which creates a long, slim line, and dark denim Miraclebody jeans that make the most of her legs. A loose-fitting Avec blouse with fitted sleeves pops against the jacket, with the Mollybeads tasseled pendant creating more visual interest. The LaVie bejeweled cuff gives her more sparkle, and the Galian textured clutch is practical because its chain handle converts it to a shoulder bag. Proving that chic comfort is attainable, the purple and mocha Fly London platform skimmers provide a sure-footed step.

Sweater weather: Another top-notch topper, the patterned Tribal cardigan, is the star of this casual look. Its patterns and texture coordinate with the V-neck merino wool Alturg sweater and green multilayer necklace. The Bianca bow-detail pumps and fine-wale Tribal corduroy slacks are pretty supporting players. Bringing the bling is the embellished Brighton tote, which adds a practical, pretty touch.

The reaction: Kudos to Lux Salon for providing a free hairstyling and makeup session for Lapham, pampering that was long overdue. The shorter haircut and darker color were a departure from her routine and that’s just what Lapham was looking for. She likes the looks, especially the jacket, which she plans to add to her wardrobe. For the practical scientist, experimenting with pretty clothes was a lark. “I must look pretty good,” she said when I asked how her pampering had gone, “because I keep getting lots of compliments.”

Styled and written by Sheon Wilson (

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