Refresh Your Style: Elizabeth Langston gets trendy, approachable

Elizabeth Langston before her makeover, far left, and after her makeovers.
Elizabeth Langston before her makeover, far left, and after her makeovers.

Elizabeth Langston can wear yoga pants, T-shirts and sneakers to work as a software engineer. But that outfit won’t cut it Oct. 17, when she needs to look fun and professional for her book signing at Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh. Langston writes young-adult books, and she has struggled with what to wear to reader events to promote her books.

“I need to look young enough that teens find me approachable, but I don’t want to go too crazy overboard because then I will just look silly and delusional,” she said. “My daughters say, ‘Mom, your clothes are so old-fashioned,’ and I agree with them.”

I showed this engineer-turned-author how to dress for her next chapter.

Before: Langston calls this “business casual for software engineers,” but she wants to look more pulled together. The cropped jeans shorten her leg line. The top is a flattering color, but accessories would show personality. Langston said her hair was too plain, and she didn’t want to color it.

Hair and makeup: Langston got the movie-star treatment from Katie Manselle, an award-winning hair stylist who has styled actresses Drew Barrymore and Sarah Jessica Parker. Manselle used a clarifying shampoo to bring out the silver in Langston’s salt-and-pepper locks, and then added a clear gloss for shine. Manselle shortened Langston’s bangs and then layered a shorter bang underneath that adds volume and frames her face. Manselle kept longer pieces along the jawline that add drama and can be tucked behind the ears for a sleeker look. A pretty foundation color and concealer accent Langston’s skin tone. Eyebrow pencil, layered eyeshadows, false lashes and mascara showcase her eyes. A soft cheek color and plum lip gloss add sex appeal.

Ready for her reading: A simple silhouette and bright bag fast-track Langston’s style. The Foxcroft graphic ink-dot button-front blouse from Dina Porter boutique looks on-trend and polished with black jeans from Lane Bryant. Vista ankle-strap wedge pumps from Kristen’s Shoes continue the leg line, and the pale green bag can tote books while it adds complementary color. The sparkly Pyrite Citrine necklace adds an elegant accent.

On-trend and comfortable: Langston experiments with colorblocking, wearing go-to basics under a sporty jacket. The Ming Wang knit tank top is paired with a Ralph Lauren varsity-style jacket that frames the Pyrite Citrine necklace from Kristen’s. Polished black jeans from Lane Bryant mimic slacks but are more comfortable for travel. The Vista ankle-strap wedge pumps finish the look.

The reaction: Kudos to Susan Coker of Dina Porter boutique in Chapel Hill, who gave Langston several of the pieces in the makeover, including the button-front top and two Ming Wang tanks worth about $250. Langston bought the jeans, a pair of khakis, the black shoes and several undergarments that provide a smooth foundation for the looks.

Kudos to Joelle Ray, co-owner of Samuel Cole Salon in North Raleigh, for providing Langston with a pampering beauty session worth more than $300. Her new hairstyle got raves from her co-workers at SAS, she said. “The cut is wonderful. After five minutes in the morning, it looks great for the office. With 10 minutes in the evening, it looks great before going out.”

WANT TO SEE? You can check out Langston’s new look in person at her book signing for “Wishing for You,” Oct. 17 at Quail Ridge Books & Music, 3522 Wade Ave., Raleigh


▪ Photos by Juli Leonard

▪ Hairstyling and makeup by Katie Manselle, Samuel Cole Salon (, 8511 Colonade Center Drive, Suite 120, Raleigh; 919-845-0098

▪ Clothing from Dina Porter (, University Mall, 201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill; 919-929-4450.

▪ Jeans from Lane Bryant (, 8200 Renaissance Parkway, Durham; 919-425-0910.

▪ Shoes, bag and jewelry from Kristen’s Shoes (, 501 Daniels St., Raleigh; 984-202-5030.