SouthPark stylist creates makeover fit for busy mom

Kelly Keiter approves after getting her hair styled and colored to a rich auburn by stylist Cameron Downing of Carmen!Carmen! at SouthPark Mall.
Kelly Keiter approves after getting her hair styled and colored to a rich auburn by stylist Cameron Downing of Carmen!Carmen! at SouthPark Mall.

Kelly Keiter, 41, is a busy working mom with two young kids, four older stepchildren and zero time for self- indulgences, let alone long shopping trips, frequent salon appointments and hours at the gym.

“Being (in my) early forties, running kids around to different activities after work, not getting enough sleep, and not having time to exercise or eat right has left me feeling tired, frumpy and ugly,” she wrote to us in her entry for The Charlotte Observer’s SouthPark mall makeover contest.

Three months ago, she decided on an impulse to get a wedge haircut, which she says made her wavy hair look thin and lifeless. “I am hiding my gray hair by getting highlights, but after having my daughter, it makes my skin look puffy, pale and lifeless,” she wrote.

“I never buy anything for myself and feel guilty taking time out for ‘me’ time. Not exercising and looking at the upcoming swimsuit season makes me want to hide under my desk.”

To top it off, Keiter is attending her 20th college reunion on Friday night.

Enter SouthPark mall personal stylist Suzanne Libfraind, who spent a day last week with Keiter, advising her on dressing well for her lifestyle, new hair and makeup looks and overall lifestyle changes that will help her feel less ragged and more ravishing.

SouthPark mall gave Keiter a $100 gift card to put toward the purchase of a look Libfraind helped her select for her upcoming reunion. Hair and makeup services were complimentary.

Here are the highlights from Keiter’s makeover – with lots of tips from Libfraind that can apply to practically any woman:


Keiter likes to mix classic and trendy styles and doesn’t shy away from bright colors (“I don’t really have a pastel personality,” she says), so Libfraind pinned a variety of fabrics in strong shades around her neck to see what looked best with her fair complexion.

Six favorites emerged: bright orange, royal purple, turquoise, royal blue, Kelly green and a creamy white. Most women look better either in bright white or cream, depending on their hair and skin tones, Libfraind says. For Keiter, a creamy, more ivory white was more flattering because a bright white made her fair skin look washed out.

Libfraind gave Keiter swatches of the six fabrics to take with her on future shopping trips.

In the dressing room, Libfraind instructed Keiter on the silhouettes that would best fit her body shape, which is slimmer on top and slightly boxier from the waist down.

To slim her waist and thighs, flat-front pants (no pleats or pockets) are best, with full or boot-cut legs.

Shirt sleeves should hit the middle of her upper arm, or come down to just above the wrist. Cap sleeves are a no-no.

The bottom of her shirts should hit no higher than the hipbone, to elongate her torso.

Keiter has strong bone structure across her shoulders and chest, so Libfraind recommended V-neck tops or blouses with an open neckline. Crewnecks are a poor choice, she said.

For her reunion outfit, Keiter fell in love with a Vince Camuto jumpsuit with a jazzy print and a black mesh back that Libfraind had preselected at Belk.

The jumpsuit worked, they agreed, because of its flattering V-neck neckline, a drawstring waist that had a slimming effect around the middle and pant legs that had enough weight to move well when she walked. The mesh back had the “rock-and-roll” vibe Keiter craved.

To top off the outfit, Libfraind found a Karen Kane swing jacket with short sleeves in a royal blue that made the blue accents in the jumpsuit pop.

Keiter likes wearing heels when she dresses up, so tall heels in a bright orange by Jessica Simpson were the right shade to accent the orange in the jumpsuit.

For jewelry, Libfraind picked out two three-strand cuffs of muted orange beads for Keiter’s right wrist, and (faux) gold elongated oval dangle earrings.


In years past, Keiter colored her hair a reddish brown – a color she loved but that she found hard to maintain after the birth of daughter Eve two years ago.

So she switched to blond, which covered up her grays but left her fair complexion looking washed out. With Libfraind’s guidance, she decided to say goodbye to the blond in order to warm up her skin tone and accentuate her eyes (even though it will require more frequent trips to the salon).

Cameron Downing, a stylist at Carmen! Carmen! Salon e’ Spa (on the top floor of Belk in SouthPark), did an allover color in rich auburn, trimmed Keiter’s hair to get rid of the wedge shape and gave her soft, side-swept bangs. He taught her how to dry her hair using a large round brush in order to get a smooth look on the days she doesn’t want to wear her natural waves.

While Keiter waited for her hair color to set, Libfraind used the time to talk more about clothing styles and brands that will work well for her body type: yes to palazzo pants, side-zip shorts (that fall just a few inches above the knee), and brands Tribal and Elliott Lauren. No to jeans with faded striping or tears on the thighs (makes legs appear bulky), and “matchy-matchy” jewelry.


Last on the agenda, the pair headed to the Aveda store in SouthPark, where lead adviser Kelley Jones analyzed Keiter’s skin, gave her skincare recommendations, and applied her makeup.

Jones recommended that Keiter use a cleanser, toner and lifting serum for daytime, a face-firming cream for nighttime, a daily eye cream and an occasional tourmaline mask.

She showed Keiter how to apply a concealer in several triangle formations across her forehead, nose and cheeks to even out her skin tone, as well as a tinted moisturizer and a powder foundation.

The takeaway

Keiter says the new look has made her even more excited to attend her college reunion. But more than that, she says it has given her confidence to prune her closet of ill-fitting items and make better choices while shopping for clothes.

“I used to go shopping and look in the mirror and think, ‘I look so dumpy.’ Now I can tell myself, ‘It’s not your body, it’s the clothes,’” Keiter says.

“You don’t have to feel bad about your body and how it’s shaped,” she says, when tricks like choosing the right sleeve length or waistline or color can vastly improve how you look – and feel.

After the makeover, “I feel more confident in my choices, in terms of what I’m going to pick out of my closet in the morning.” Shopping will be easier, too, she says, “because I can look around the store and go exactly to what I want. I can be more efficient with my time, and it can be more pleasurable.”

First-time consultation and shopping appointments with SouthPark mall stylist Suzanne Libfraind are free. After the initial consultation and shopping appointment, the charge is $90 per hour. Libfraind can be reached at, 919-270-0250 or

Five makeover takeaways

Check out these five tips stylist Suzanne Libfraind offered Kelly Keiter that can apply to practically anyone:

COLOR: Determine what colors best complement your skin and hair colors by gathering fabrics in a variety of hues and pinning them around your neck, one at a time. If your face appears more warm and rich, the color is a good choice. If your skin appears ashen and dull (sometimes the circles under your eyes will appear darker), the color is a poor choice.

MINIMALISM: If you want to minimize hips and thighs, choose flat-front pants and remove any front pockets. Libfraind recommends asking a tailor to cut out the pockets and sew up the pocket slits. Less fabric on the upper thigh means a slimmer look, she says. Shorts and pants with zippers on the side also have a superb slimming effect, she says.

THINK HIP: Elongate and slim the torso’s appearance by choosing blouses that come down to at least the hipbones. Shorter shirts cut the body in half and make you appear shorter and wider.

THE POINT: Choose pointy-toed shoes if you’re trying to make feet and ankles appear slimmer. Rounded-toe shoes make feet and ankles seem wider. If you have thick ankles, steer clear of shoes with ankle straps – they will make ankles seem larger.

MATCH GAME: When selecting jewelry for an outfit, choose items that complement each other without being too “matchy-matchy,” and keep the tone of your jewelry uniform, she says. If you’re going for a laid-back, boho vibe on a particular day, for example, keep the fine jewelry with precious stones in the jewelry box.

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