Teachers Kristen and Shawn Meyer, a married couple from East Islip, put out a fashion S.O.S. to Newsday when they wrote in to participate in our annual teacher makeover. She teaches special education biology and earth science at General Douglas MacArthur High School in Levittown. He’s a physical education teacher at Talfourd Lawn Elementary School in Jamaica, Queens. They're the devoted parents of Owen, 6, and Kaylee, 4.
“Having young kids never gives us time to shop for ourselves, so usually our clothes are faded or don’t fit well since we sacrifice for our kids," Kristen, 37, wrote. She shopped so rarely for herself, that until very recently, Kristen was still wearing a maternity dress from when her son was born almost seven years ago.
Truth told, loads of deserving teachers were makeover hopefuls — there were daughters and moms, twin sisters and best friends. But we pinpointed a problem when it came to the Meyers and it wasn’t just about not having time to shop. While they were happy to spend money on their kids’ wardrobes, they looked for the most inexpensive clothing for themselves and purchased based on the price, rather than what actually looked good on them.
"If it’s on sale, I’ll just buy it in every color.” says the clearance-focused Shawn, 38.
Kristen, meanwhile, has her own uniform.
“My students make fun of me for wearing the same thing — striped dresses,” says Kristen. These more beachy than teacherly frocks (dubbed “very Kristen” by her husband) don't do her justice, according to Shawn. “I feel she could dress a little better. I believe she could get a little more glamorous.”
She’s on the same page about him.
“Shawn doesn’t even have a nice T-shirt. I see phys ed teachers who get dressed up for parents' days, but he never does,” she says.
And she admits, “Sometimes I feel really blah and I look at other teachers who have it all put together and are moms like me and I wonder, ‘How do they do it?’”
THE MAKEOVER JOURNEY
Our first makeover move was to partner with Marshalls and T.J. Maxx to help teach the teachers that with an eye toward trend and style, they could buy great looks for great prices. Newsday sent ace stylist Samantha Brown into the stores to pull current name-brand clothing for the Meyers based on their specifications.
“My goal for this couple was to integrate trends in a way that would make sense for their lifestyle and jobs,' Brown says. "For him, I kept on an eye on what was practical, while trying to elevate pieces that he already wears. For her, the challenge was getting her out of a rut, “ says Brown. “In her existing wardrobe it felt like she was hiding, so my goal was helping her stand out and into the seasonal trends like animal print and color. “
And all this can be had at a good price. From head-to-toe including jewelry, shoes and even a bag — the most expensive ensemble they tried cost less than $110.
But clothes aren’t the only thing that make the man or woman.
To get them ready for their close-ups at a full-on photo shoot, the Meyers' makeover sojourn began at nuBest Salon and Spa in Manhasset, where expert haircutters and colorists tweaked the teachers' looks. For Shawn, it was a refresh of his already-short hair and a shave, removing his mustache and goatee.
The experience was more dramatic for Kristen. “I wish I knew a style I could do with my hair,” she says. Stylist Anastasia LaMotta happily obliged, lopping off three inches of her straight mane to shape a "lob" (a long bob) and slashing in layers. The salon’s creative director of color, Christian Fleres, deepened the teacher’s base color — she had never colored her hair — into a rich chocolate brown and by way of the balayage technique painted in natural-looking caramel highlights. LaMotta finished her off with a curling iron adding the appearance of beachy waves.
Later in the day, makeup artist Anna Naso taught the teacher how best to enhance her natural beauty.
“I felt like it was my wedding day,” she says.
After a day of pampering, primping and styling, Kristen says she feels more prepared to experiment.
“In the salon, it was the first time I could give up the reins to someone else, instead of telling someone what to do. And I plan to change up my makeup regime adding brow pencil and lip liner.” As for the clothes, she says, “I learned that when you put an outfit together things don’t always have to match. Normally, I would just wear black — black pants and a black and white shirt maybe. But this made me realize that color is your friend and not everything has to be black.”
As for her future shopping forays? “I’ll try to be a little more experimental and to go out of my comfort zone and maybe wear some animal prints. I feel like if took a little bit more time in my shopping experience, rather than just going for clearance, I can get really great fashionable brands at good prices.”
As for her husband, whom we busted out of his clearance rack athletic wear, he was visibly jazzed about his new put together looks.
“I would never even try on a pair of pants like these,” he says of some easy, khakis in a soft, fluid material. “Normally, I would never wear slim pants like this, but they look so good and are so comfortable.” He adds, “I’m going to try to think outside of the box and be a little more selective when I choose clothes.”
And just maybe he’ll toss aside his sporty duds for a smart sports jacket, floral shirt and slacks for parents’ night this year.
All clothing is from Marshalls and T.J. Maxx
Hair: By nuBest Salon and Spa in Manhasset — Richard Calcasola, Anastasia LaMotta and Christian Fleres
Makeup: Anna Naso, Anna Naso Makeup
Style: Samantha Brown, SamanthaBrownStyle