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Rise and Shine Breast Cancer Survivors all, these four women get 20-minute head-to-toe transformations that deliver big impact.

Rise and Shine Breast Cancer Survivors all, these four women get 20-minute head-to-toe transformations that deliver big impact.

Posted by Tina Sutton, The Boston Globe Fashion Editor on May 3rd 2009

          • Makeovers can be like playing dress-up in Mom's closet: equal parts fun and fantasy. That was especially true for the women shown on these pages. All four are breast cancer survivors who volunteered to model in the My GirlsTM Gala Fashion Fundraiser for Breast Cancer Research hosted by Shreve, Crump & Low; we photographed the dress-rehearsal fitting. The show featured flirty styles from Chikara, a clothing line created to flatter women's bodies after mastectomies and other procedures but wearable by all. The whole before-to-after process -- including chic new outfit, makeup, and hair -- took only 20 minutes each.

            Gail Erdos 

            47, BELMONT

            This teacher, artist, and single mom of three is in the process of co-founding a nonprofit healing art center for children and teens facing cancer treatments. Erdos laughingly describes her style as "attempted funky" and basically lives in jeans. Now back on the dating scene, she wanted a jazzy going-out look for her makeover. "And can I show my legs?"

            1. "Everyone thinks neutral cosmetics are boring," says makeup artist David Nicholas. "But they're quite elegant and sophisticated." Erdos's reaction: "He put a lot of makeup on my face, but it didn't feel like it. I loved the way he did my eyes and lips."

            2. Erdos chose not to wear a wig during treatment, so this one was a real novelty. "The layered cut plays up Gail's cheekbones, and the multicolored gold highlights complement her complexion and the outfit," says wig stylist Kathleen Gill Bazazi.

            3. Cheery-colored accessories reflect Erdos's upbeat personality. "I think I'm going to make yellow as an accent color my new thing," she says.

            4. Though soft and comfy, the Chikara tunic's asymmetrical drapery and tulip hem capitalize on current fashion trends. "This outfit is easy to dress up or down. That's what I like best about it," says Erdos.

            5. "While I would probably go more casual with flats, I love how the platform shoes look," says Erdos. She also likes that the shoes share the clutch's metallic accents; both are from the Marc by Marc Jacobs store in Boston.

            Eunha Kim

            33, Malden

            The cancer-research student at MIT dresses casually -- "nothing special" -- for class. "I do like fashion, except because I'm in school, I don't have time to pay attention to what styles are in," Kim says.During chemotherapy, she started lessons in the Argentine tango. "Dancing saved my life," says Kim. For her makeover, Kim envisioned being on the dance floor.

            Nicholas decided to go with soft lips but dramatic winged eye makeup. "I couldn't recognize myself," laughs Kim. "I never had makeup like that in my life but would consider wearing bolder colors now."Women should emphasize their best features, says clothes designer Hilary Boyajian, who zeroed in on Kim's tiny waist with a tight belt.

            Kim enjoyed having instant longer hair with Bazazi's choice of wig, made even more alluring with a flower tucked behind her ear.

            After hearing that Kim loves to tango, Boyajian immediately selected this three-tier silk blouse from her line. "Sometimes I wear color, but this outfit -- I never wore anything that bright and dramatic before," says Kim, clearly delighted.

            The fingerless gloves and bangle bracelets add an exotic touch for the dance floor.

            The circle skirt is actually a dress with an elastic stretch top. Along with the ankle-strap heels, it's from the Marc by Marc Jacobs store in Boston. As soon as Kim put them on, she started smiling and twirling.

            Jennifer Palmer

            41, Belmont

          • As a wife, mother of two, and sales representative for IBM, Palmer doesn't spend loads of time on her wardrobe. "I like classic styles with a bit of contemporary flair," says Palmer, who dresses casually when working at home and favors pantsuits for client meetings. But, she adds, "now that I have much shorter hair, I'm liking ruffles and more feminine styles."

            Nicholas used makeup to create what he calls "a combination 2009/1940s look," with both strong eyes and lips. Keeping the tones monochromatic and picking up the copper hues in her hair make it all work, he explains.

            With her new shorter hair, Palmer had been wearing scarves to soften her look. She thinks the cascading ruffles of this chic dress have a similar, though more glamorous, effect.

            "I usually wear dark grays and blacks, typical New England colors," says Palmer. She wanted a change but doesn't really like pastels. The combination of the soft gray dress with gold and copper-toned accessories was the unexpected compromise she was looking for.

            Palmer's initial qualm about Boyajian's choice of outfit: "I'm not really a dress person." But after the addition of leggings and a contrasting leather belt, she was instantly won over. Palmer hadn't worn leggings with high heels before but says she'll definitely do it again for future evenings out.

            Palmer likes the versatile gray tone of these Michael Kors dress sandals, which, along with the Big Buddha clutch, are from Cuoio in Boston.

            Rosemary Purtell

            48, West Roxbury

            "I'm in court just about every day and always wear a tailored skirt or pantsuits," says the divorce attorney. "And in this economy, there are more divorces than ever." Purtell, however, is happily married and has a 9-year-old daughter. For a change of pace, she wanted a less formal dressy outfit that's ladylike. The one prerequisite: "High heels! I'm only 5-foot-2."

            "Rosemary has such beautiful eyes, I decided to keep the shadows soft to let the green color shine through," says Nicholas. In contrast, he decided to give her bold red lips to match the snazzy bag and shoes.

            The right accessories are especially important to give petite women the illusion of height. The white silk flower at the neckline draws the eye up, while the red accessories are eye-catching without overwhelming her. And the Marc by Marc Jacobs pen shaped like a lipstick really gave her a laugh.

            Purtell was instantly smitten with this Chikara organza-trimmed wrap top. "It's so comfortable. The shirt really gives," she says.

            Contrasting the colors of a blouse, pants, and shoes is considered a don't for petite women, but this outfit works because of the proportions. With the knit top skimming the hips and the elongated legs of the J. Crew pants, Purtell actually looks taller.

            "I love those shoes!" enthuses Purtell of the Stuart Weitzman patent high heels, but adds, "I would never wear that color or open toes to the office." Along with the Big Buddha clutch, the shoes are from Cuoio in Boston.

            © Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.