How to wear fall’s pretty mouth

It’s hard for me to read women’s magazines. All that mind-numbing fashion advice and those hollow promises that they’ve discovered the next miracle product. If I rushed out to buy every hot new cosmetic praised in the pages of Cosmo or Glamour, I’d be out enough cash to purchase a small housing development.

So when I saw an article about the new red lipsticks for fall, I paged past the story without reading. I like my makeup like I like my clothes: classic — nothing flashy, nothing trendy, and certainly nothing red.

But I surprised myself recently by buying a pair of red jeans. They fit in all the right places, and the color — bold, striking, nothing like what I’m used to — somehow felt just right. I bought them in a heady fog of shopping euphoria, but when I got home, I realized I had a problem.

My usual makeup routine wasn’t going to cut it. Neutral lips with those pants? Like wearing flip-flops with a ball gown.

I was going to need a new lipstick, the kind the fashion magazines were touting, and I realized that nothing short of fire-engine red would do.

I made my way to Sephora, where a salesclerk named Angel took one look at my cherry pants and said, “I know just the color.”

He led me to a display of lip glosses, each one laid out like a fishing lure, and lifted a vial of color that was not so much tomato, not so much maraschino, but positively Serrano — spicy and heart-stopping.

“That one?” I said. “Are you sure?”

Angel was already dabbing the applicator on the rim of the tube.

“Tilt your head back,” he said.

I did, and when he finished, I looked into the hand mirror he held out for me.

“Yikes,” I said. “That’s really red.”

I started to search for a tissue or cotton ball, something to wipe off the bold color that felt like nothing I would normally wear, but the young woman getting a makeover at the counter beside me looked over and said, “That’s really pretty.”

I stopped reaching for the tissue box. “Really?”

The saleswoman doing the young woman’s make-up turned.

“Oh, yes,” she said. “And it matches your pants.”

I looked at Angel, an eyebrow raised.

“What’d I tell you?” he said.

Although I was still not convinced, I bought the lipstick and that night gave it a test run at a dinner out with friends. We sat at a table on the sidewalk, and the men who passed by — men who would never glance at my au naturel look — stopped and stared. Not at my eyes, not at my decolletage, but at my mouth.

Several nights after the dinner out, a gentleman picked me up for a date. I wore my new red pants and my flashy hot lips. In the car, he reached over to take my hand.

“You look nice,” he said. “Your outfit, your hair, your pretty mouth.”

My pretty mouth? I caught a flash of myself in the side mirror and laughed. All that red looked nothing like me, but it sure did the trick. ¦

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2012-10-18 digital edition

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