Smack in the middle of summer vacation, three brave teachers, chosen from hundreds of applicants, agreed to undergo the rigors of Newsday's second annual teacher makeover.
Makeovers -- ours at least -- are meant to be fun, focusing on beauty, fashion and glamour. But there's a serious side to how a teacher looks, pointed out Melissa McMullan, a sixth-grade teacher at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Port Jefferson Station, who nominated her neighbor Sharon Lane. "Teachers serve as role models," she said. "We teach our students different aspects of being good citizens, having good manners and being successful people, but just as important is to show what a professional looks like in a workplace."
With this in mind, we approached the makeover process with the goal of teaching the teachers how to look and feel their best while still projecting a professional image. First stop was nuBest Salon and Spa in Manhasset, where the changes -- some significant -- began. The next day, it was off to Jericho High School, where our glam squad of hairdressers, makeup artists and stylists converged to work their makeover magic. We think you'll agree that our teachers passed with flying colors.
Teaches: certified nursing assistant program
School: Western Suffolk BOCES in Farmingdale
“She has the most beautiful mind, body and spirit, and she just wears the worst clothing of anyone I’ve ever seen in my life,” wrote Melissa McMullan in her nominating letter. “She spends so much time on her family and students that the last thing she thinks about is herself. If there were a real fashion police, she would have been in jail a long time ago.”
For her part, Lane was oblivious. “I wear a suit every day” (some of these ancient, many ill-fitting, all in black or beige). “I thought it was professional.”
Lesson plan: Teach Lane to embrace color, and show her that a “suit” needn’t be boring and matched to look professional. Encourage her to get looser with her hair and more streamlined with the fit of her clothing.
The Rx: At first, it was all about taming the ’do. Lane’s wild mane was damaged from years of pulling it back and coloring it with “whatever.” NuBest creative director Jamie Mazzei lopped off three inches of frizz and layered it, while color director Christian Fleres corrected the brassiness, then recoloring it in a dark to lighter honeyed ombre that he said wouldn’t require significant maintenance. “If I knew my hair could look this good,” said Lane, “I would have taken a vested interest a long time ago.” Tailored, stylish clothing with some detail — leather trim, floral prints — and a bit of color finished the job.
Homework: “Sometimes you can’t see the forest through the trees. I didn’t realize the potential I had, but I do now. This showed me the opportunities I have to be professional and fashionable . . . like wearing a flowered jacket!”
On Sharon: Floral jacket by Ted Baker, $325 at select Bloomingdale's; burnt-orange flutter blouse, $78, and black cigarette Khloee pant, $88, both by Kenneth Cole, at select Macy’s.
School: Seaford High School
Gonzalez was nominated by Kathy Trotta, a parent whose three children have taken his class. It was not that Gonzalez had such a fashion problem, but, as Trotta wrote, “Mr. Gonzalez is a great teacher but very old school and wears a shirt and tie to school every day."
“I don’t really think about fashion,” Gonzales acknowledged. “I have about 150 ties, and in terms of jackets I have the standards — navy, black and gray.” On Fridays, dress-down day at his school, he mixes it up by not wearing a tie. Additionally, his wife, Carmen, has encouraged him to change his haircut. “I tell him get it more like the young guys — closer in at the sides, but he always gets the same thing.”
Lesson plan: Break Gonzalez out of the suit-and-tie mode with more casual but still professional looks, add some color to his wardrobe and modernize his haircut.
The Rx: NuBest’s Mazzei shaped Gonzalez’s shock of white hair into a hipper style, tapered at the back, and trimmed up his mustache. Those formal jackets were banned, though to stay in his comfort zone we kept the ties but put him in vividly colored sweaters, patterned shirts, even dark jeans.
Homework: “I learned that checks, plaids and stripes actually do complement each other. It looks quite attractive, and, though I don’t usually wear them, I enjoyed wearing vivid colors,” he said. In all, he summed up his makeover: “Una experiencia insolita” (An unexpected experience).
On Rodolfo: Striped oxford shirt, $155, at billskhakis.com; blue sweater by Polo Ralph Lauren, $98, at select Macy’s stores; oversized stainless steel watch by Mossimo Supply Co., $22.99, at select Target stores and target.com.
Teaches: Library media specialist
School: Dayton Avenue School in Manorville
Marone nominated herself for a makeover after someone confused her for one of the students. “I want to look older, professional and stylish,” she said. Her hard-to-style mid-length hair was most often pulled back into a “messy bun.” “My mother, who’s in her 50s and also a teacher, dresses better than me.” Mom, Lenore Lounsbury, agrees. “I do. When she went for the library job, she said she was going to break the librarian stereotype, but when I visit her, she’s wearing black pants and a scarf and her glasses. I say, ‘You didn’t break the stereo- type; you are it.’ ”
Lesson plan: Shape Marone’s neither here-nor-there hairdo and introduce her to more sophisticated fashion, accessories, color and organized layering.
The Rx: First nuBest’s Fleres colored her hair in a deep chestnut shade, painting a few highlights around her face. Gutsy Marone allowed Mazzei to chop her locks into a short style (think Jennifer Lawrence) that framed her face and looked chic and modern. “I love it,” she said. Dressed in easy-to-peel-off layers, rich colors and even a statement necklace, Marone’s got raves from her mom, who said, “It’s going to be a whole other girl coming back to school . . . I mean woman.”
Homework: “I was in shock with how I looked,” said Marone. After the photo shoot, her mom took her shopping for her 29th birthday, and instead of picking out a blah neutral, Marone went for a red dress and blue statement necklace. “I learned to take more chances with color . . . and to spend a little more time on myself getting ready.” Added bonus? “My husband loved how I looked.”
On Erin: Dark teal shift with faux snakeskin front by Donna Morgan, $188, and abstract print scarf by Elana Kattan, $75, both at Impulse Boutique, Port Washington and Greenpoint; bordeaux leather jacket, $380, at Massimo Dutti, Manhattan; pendant, $310, at select Swarovski boutiques and swarovski.com; leather bucket bag by Lancaster Paris, $218, at lancaster-paris.com, Black opaque coverage tights, $14.50 at better department stores and DKNY.com.
Erin Marone’s media room gets frosty, so she needs this alice + olivia faux fur animal print jacket, $369, worn with a cobalt blue top, $99, by Bella Luxx and tassel necklace, $199, by Alyce Ross, all at Entree Boutique, Port Washington. Classic Merona pants, $27.99, at select Targets and target.com.
Rodolfo Gonzalez gets colorful with a lavender check Ralph Lauren shirt, $69.50, electric blue quarter-zip pullover by Black Brown, $69.50, and purple plaid Kenneth Cole tie, $55, all at select Lord & Taylors and lordandtaylor.com. Black dress pants by Dockers, $40 at select J.C. Penney's.
A smart black dress with leather patchwork by Bailey, $289, topped by a funky moto jacket by Jack, $99, and worn with a marbled necklace by Alyce Ross, $219 (all from Entree Boutique, Port Washington) and Chocolate opaque coverage control top tights, $14.50 by DKNY, (at better department stores and DKNY.com) shows Sharon Lane that a "suit" needn't be matchy-matchy.