“First Lady of Beauty” and trusted lifestyle expert Mikki Taylor shares uplifting advice for women who want to cultivate their beauty both inside and out.
Mikki is that girlfriend-in-the-know who you wish you could take everywhere you go—and now you can! Written in her signature, no-nonsense style, Editor in Chic delivers fabulous advice that will give you the confidence to be your best self every single day.
From dress code to life code, Mikki shares hundreds of her favorite secrets, including the five products you need to perfect your complexion; the genius ingredient for living comfortably in heels; how to define a bankable wardrobe, be frugal, and look fabulous; unexpected drugstore buys that will give your everyday look a wake-up call; rules for mastering eye-catching makeup and the perfect red lip; ruminations on the challenges of hair loss and effective solutions; what really has the power to motivate or defeat you; why being “risk adverse” is to be “success adverse”; and much more. Whether you’re standing in front of the mirror debating what to wear to a last-minute event or trying to hold your peace in the middle of a confrontation, Editor in Chic gives you the necessary tools to stay affirmed, informed, and inspired in all aspects of your life.
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About the Author
Mikki Taylor is a popular writer, motivational speaker, and TV personality, and is known as the country’s leading authority on beauty and style for women of color. A media veteran of more than three decades, Taylor is editor-at-large for Essence magazine and the president of Mikki Taylor Enterprises, LLC, a strategic branding, consulting, and communications company. She is author of the critically acclaimed books Self-Seduction and Commander in Chic.
Read an Excerpt
Editor in Chic
Wherever you are in the journey, this is your time to show up and style out! I’ve learned that the good life we desire begins within and is based on an appreciation of who we are, and impacts everything about us—from our fashion and beauty choices to the élan with which you live. Before you work that amazing lipstick or dream frock, I want you to be inspired by the Queen that you are and live with authority! Life isn’t a dress rehearsal: this is it and it’s about living your narrative from an empowered perspective—one that affirms you every step of the way. It’s centered in valuing your truth and confirming that you are more than willing to embrace the cost as well as the delight of being your best self. It cost those who came before you. They not only had to make sacrifices for the future you now own, but had to make strategic choices, both personal and political, and so do you. It costs something to be your best self and it’s called determination. It costs something to stay on course—commitment—and for certain, it’ll cost you to own your life to the fullest. What I know for sure is living with vision comes down to making the purpose-driven choices that support you and your desire to live the life you want now, not the one you’re waiting for. We don’t have the time or the luxury to live two lives. There’s no better time than right now to express yourself boldly and define what’s truly important to you. So take that essential inventory on everything: your dress code, your life code, your love code, who you surround yourself with—in short, how well you’re authentically living your life, because your behavior must testify that you know who you are! The goal is to see where the person you envision yourself to be is at odds with the life that you’re carrying out. Before you decide not to do the work, or think it’d be too overwhelming, ask yourself this pivotal question: Is it a challenge or an opportunity to be your most empowered self? Know that whatever area you babysit won’t grow, so push for the possibilities! Real style is all about living your truth, and you must be willing to live on purpose in order to thrive. Know that it takes decisive and prayerful work to thrive, not just survive, so see it through.
I’ve come to know that you must have a relationship with your decisions and not make them on the fly. I’ve been guilty of doing the latter, and it always cost me in ways that threw me off track and kept me longer than I wanted to stay. Now I take my time because I know the only way I’m going to be disciplined enough to see my decisions through is by being clear and fully engaged with them from the start. The Word says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” so each of us has to decide what’s important in life so our hearts will stay focused.
For certain, faith must be a part of your strategy. Faith is nothing if it’s not defining your life. Faith is what keeps you going when you’d rather resist. It’s what anchors your “soul’s seat” and keeps you steady in rocky times. Some of the most visionary women I know are conditioned to prevail by a transformational faith that’s real in their lives. As such, they’re strategic, fully committed gals who stand on God’s promises and rock! I admire how they continually activate their dreams and walk in their purpose because they have a clear understanding that “faith without works is dead,” as the New Testament says. When you possess an unshakeable faith, you can move through life with a keen understanding of who you are, no matter what, because you believe what God says about you to be true, and that’s a winning strategy for sure!
I know the importance of not just looking together but being together and loving the journey. I’ve worked with and met some of the most fascinating people in history, and what it taught me for certain is this: if you’re not owning your truth, then you’re only living in the shadow of who you are meant to be. Real women stand firm; are resilient in the face of adversity; honor their strengths; nonjudgmentally address their weaknesses, ups, and downs; and possess a fearless, unshakable sense of self. I’m so passionate about this that I’ve gathered some of the most powerful women I know from all corridors—from the arts and entertainment industries to corporate America and more—to have their say on what compels them to stand in their truth and what fuels their self-appreciation, purpose, and strength.
I penned Editor in Chic because I want every woman to own her life and master her distinction with the kind of panache that sustains her in every way imaginable. Thirty-plus years in the editor’s chair as beauty and cover director of Essence magazine has me full of information and yet all the while passionate about new and noteworthy ideas, so whatever your beauty and style concerns, whether it’s how to navigate your look at any given time and determine the most fab practices or how to define a bankable wardrobe that’s truly you, I’ve simplified the process with inspiring ideas on these pages. Like you, I love it when someone comes to the table with the kind of solution-oriented information that works in my day-to-day, so whether you’re standing in front of the mirror trying to figure out a great “five-minute face” or wondering how to pick the most sensuous lingerie (that also supports your assets!), I’ve got you covered.
I need to tell you that Ms. Mikki loves a steal, so I’ll show you how to be frugal and look fabulous (some of the best beauty picks can be found in the drugstore, and chances are that dress you’re drooling over can be found at a reduced price online) and where to invest your time (e.g., renewal practices—a massage, a luxurious bath, a meditation session) and money (customized hair color, a timeless LBD [little black dress], professional skin care services) and more.
EIC also shares motivating insights on mastering “Brand You”—what you stand for—and establishing a platform that showcases that divine-inspired purpose that lies inside of you with great success. Each of us must identify and master our purpose. Purpose is that unique talent, that is to say that gift that you stand in possession of and the compelling requirement that is placed on your life by your Creator. It’s no wonder it burns inside of you like a dream that must be awakened! In fact, the New Testament urges you to “stir up the gift that is in you,” and if you look back at your childhood, you’ll see the clues to your purpose. For Yours Truly, it was about playing with my dolls and telling stories, which I did until age fourteen. This led to a career of creativity with living dolls and my life’s work to affirm and inspire millions of us on the pages of Essence magazine. It also compelled me to empower beauty companies to carve out effective marketing initiatives, messaging, and products that resonated with the magazine’s audience of “beauty enthusiasts.” Today I’m continuing the work as editor-at-large, and fulfilling my mission of affirming us through engagements that do just that. I’m speaking to the media and across the nation at conferences and colleges to women of all ages on beauty, empowerment, and spirituality, and empowering future generations through the Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence, to ensure that none of us live beneath the richness of who we are. In short, wherever Mikki Taylor is, you can rest assured that “purpose is at work.”
When it comes to defining your purpose, one thing is certain: you must ignore the voice of reason to uncover and thrive in it. When I came of age, they weren’t asking little brown girls like me if we wanted to be editors. They put limited choices before us, but I didn’t choose any of them! My mother taught me that to be risk-averse is to be success-averse. What I say to you is this: your purpose may not have an established title or path, it may not make sense to anyone but you and God, but that’s validation enough, so don’t let anyone or anything stop you. Conquer your fears and move forward by faith and put the divine plan in action, and you will succeed.
It is upon all of us who are privileged to walk in the dreams of our ancestors to pursue excellence and use our gifts to make a difference because the world is waiting to receive what God has placed in you. That is what purpose at work is all about. In the grand gesture of things, it is purpose that orders your life, directs your actions, and brands your future. And no matter where you are on your dreamscape, you must recognize that you’re the entrepreneur of your destiny and you must be transformational in your thinking, fearless in your ambitions, and determined to succeed in your purpose.
I’m a big believer that opportunity favors the prepared mind. Those who are not only willing to do the work but also work their divine plan with strategic intention always command their goals. I’ve found the ease lies not only in focusing your energies and overcoming procrastination, but also in surrounding yourself with what I call a “celebration circle,” a circle of celebrants who are there for you no matter what the season of your life. Your greatness was not designed to work in isolation, so don’t move through life unsupported. Life is challenging enough as it is, and you need a team of empowered people whose support you can count on, who are test-worthy and there for you no matter what you are going through. Make no mistake about it: it is about connecting with those who want to see you win. I know I couldn’t do without my council, and I don’t want you to be without one either, because it’s practices like these and others found in EIC that will help you succeed.
EIC also offers an entry to meet every purpose in your life and quotes to fuel your soul and inspire you along the way. There are blank pages to hold your notations on the all-important self-discoveries you’ll make and, believe me, these personal insights, inspirations, and affirmations are empowering to your journey. Because my name is on it, EIC not only shares what works, but also reveals what and who doesn’t, from toxic people dressed up as “friends” (because I don’t want you hallucinating, thinking that they’ve got your back when they’re really invading your life and trespassing your value) to the products that overpromise and underdeliver (that’s called “imposter marketing”!).
At the end of the day, I want you, as Queen & CEO of You Inc., to be informed, inspired, and fearless! To paraphrase Oprah, who, after hearing Viola Davis’s acceptance of her 2015 Emmy, tweeted, this is your “proud to spell your name W.O.M.A.N.” time! So get your imagination in gear, redefine what it means to be a leading woman, push for the possibilities, explore new options, and set your mind for success so you can engage the affirming life you deserve. Power to your journey!
Table of Contents
1 Eye on Beauty 1
2 Skin: It's a New Day 79
3 Makeup: No Limits! 123
4 Hands, Nails, and Footnotes 159
5 Hair: Running the Show 183
6 Style: Make a Statement 229
7 Master You Inc. 271