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“I Need a Makeover”
Comments () | Published December 1, 2009
Photograph by Matthew Worden

Autumn Kuei, 37 • Logan Circle, DC • IT security consultant, A-Tech Systems

Why she wanted a makeover: When a friend told Kuei she didn’t look her age, the just-turned-37-year-old took it as a wake-up call, not a compliment: “I thought maybe someone should tell me how to dress my age and give me an age-appropriate haircut.”

Where we sent her: Hela Spa & Ted Gibson Salon and Bloomingdale’s in Chevy Chase.

Autumn Kuei had last gotten her hair cut three months before in Belgium. Despite a language barrier, she had decided to try highlights for the first time. “Something got lost in translation,” she says.

Colorist Huda Al-Yacuoby at Ted Gibson Salon says Kuei’s blond streaks and too-dark base made her skin look washed out. Al-Yacuoby added warmth and balance by using chocolate brown for all-over color and subtle caramel highlights to frame her face.

Stylist Ted Gibson—the newest member of TLC’s What Not to Wear team, who counts Angelina Jolie and Anne Hathaway among his clients—wanted to give Kuei a cut that would accentuate her slim neck and strong jaw line. He went with an angled cut that’s longer in the front, with short layers in the back. He gave her long, side-swept bangs that work well with her new highlights.

Autumn before her makeover.

Because Kuei doesn’t normally wear makeup—“I’m afraid of looking like a geisha,” she says—makeup artist Jessica Dunaway dusted her face with a light powder foundation and added a natural-flush color to her cheeks. A shimmery gold shadow and a touch of mascara completed the eyes.

Dunaway, who used Laura Mercier makeup, wanted to make a statement with Kuei’s full lips. She chose a deep berry shade and topped it with high-shine gloss. “You don’t want to match your lipstick to your dress,” she says.

Kuei, who has always been self-conscious about her legs, typically wears longer dresses or pants. Bloomingdale’s outfitted her in a knee-length red knit dress by Elie Tahari ($398) and a gold necklace ($148) and earrings ($64) by Argento Vivo. The black Salvatore Ferragamo pumps ($398) were Kuei’s favorite part. With wide feet, she says, it’s hard to find comfortable dress shoes.

“The outfit was very simple yet sophisticated,” says Kuei. “I’ve been taking a good, hard look at my wardrobe since the makeover.”

A few hours after her transformation, Kuei attended a winetasting at the National Press Club. Friends loved her new look, and a few didn’t recognize her. Kuei expected to miss her hair’s length—but she doesn’t: “I started out apprehensive about the makeover and ended the day elated. I feel like a million dollars.”

Getting the Look

Hela Spa & Ted Gibson Salon, 5481 Wisconsin Ave., Level 2, Chevy Chase; 301-951-4445; tedgibsonsalon.com. Gibson, who travels between Chevy Chase and his salon in New York City, charges $950 for a haircut—the most expensive rate in the country. (In December, his cuts are “on sale” for $500.) Other stylists at the salon start at $95 to $150.

Bloomingdale’s, 5300 Western Ave., Chevy Chase; 240-744-3700; bloomingdales.com.

Autumn Kuei, 37 • Logan Circle, DC • IT security consultant, A-Tech Systems

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 12/01/2009 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Articles