I remember the exact moment I stopped wearing red lipstick. It was 1990, I was 18, and me and my newly scarlet lips were at university. As I walked into the uni bar, the guys there stopped, looked up from their beers, fell quiet, and stared.
The curious silence was finally broken by one male undergrad who murmured appreciatively, “Red rings.”
Do you get that?!
I didn’t until, pressed, he mumbled it was something to do with blow jobs and lipstick marks. Got a visual? Ewww!
Embarrassed, I removed the lipstick the next chance I got, jammed the tube deep into my backpack and stomped off in my 501’s and Doc Martens listening to The Breeders on my Walkman.
Fast forward 21 years and I’ve spent the last 7 days wearing red lipstick from morning till night. For a Dare. And I loved it.
My red lipstick renaissance began when I picked up a book called Anonymums. It’s the story of 3 mothers with young children who, bored with the monotony of their lives give each other dares to spice things up a little.
It made me think about how easy it is to fall into a fashion rut when we become mums; where we give in to the sartorial monotony of our ‘mummy uniforms‘. That is, we start to wear the same type of outfit day in and day out.
Keen to mix things up a little myself – and always up for a good dare – I decided to challenge myself and the readers of my blog with one of the dares from the book that particularly stood out to me: The Red Lipstick Dare.
The rules were simple. Wear red lipstick every day, from when you get dressed in the morning till you brush your teeth before bed at night. So that’s what I did.
Turns out, not that much has changed since the 90’s – but I sure as hell have.
Red lipstick still has the power to make people sit up and notice you – but this time around, instead of being embarrassed, I quite liked it.
All of a sudden, I became more noticeable.
The Barista who makes my coffee most mornings freshly regarded me with an approving glint in her eye. The mums at school drop-off did a double take (in a good way). People kept asking me “Where are you off to?” And the women in my boxing class at the gym struggled to keep up with me. Seems it’s true what they say: red makes you go faster.
But more importantly than other people noticing me, I became more noticeable to myself.
Red lipstick demands extra time, and an element of precision on application, and that effort is poorly offset by a scraped back messy bun and a pair of old cargos or tracksuit pants. So over the week of the dare, I found myself carving more time into my manic mornings to be able to make more of an effort with coordinating my outfits, and styling my look. And it felt bloody great to give myself that extra attention.