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So Fly: Is Winged Liner or the Cat-Eye Look Appropriate for the Office?

Winged liner or cat-eye makeup has been around for decades and is particularly hot right now. Here are a variety of looks and how to get the perfect flick.
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jonathan saunders Spring 2012

Staff wanted to call this post "Always with Wings." I told her to start her own website. Anyway, last Sunday, on behalf of Beautygeeks and The Kit, I was part of a lively FCUK panel of beauty types -- Lucky Bromhead, Michelle Mullins and me -- to chat with America's Next Top Model Live attendees about makeup trends, including the cat eye, or winged liner. So popular right now, the 60's-inspired accent has been reintegrated into the everyday beauty landscape. Yet still some wonder: is winged liner or the cat-eye look appropriate for the office?

is winged liner or the cat-eye look office-appropriate?

I tend to use the terms as though they're interchangeable, but the cat eye is really a winged-liner look which generally sweeps along the entire lashline from inner corner to past the outer. Either way, '60s-esque eye makeup is experiencing quite the return. We saw it on the runway for Ruffian, Dolce and Gabbana, Jonathan Saunders, Frankie Morello, and even Mr. Diss-Your-Clothes-if-They're-Not-My-Taste Kanye West. So we know it's runway-appropriate. But some may feel the look is just too much for everyday, and certainly too much for the office. We thought we should look at a variety of winged-liner and cat-eye versions before we decide.

Ruffian backstage beauty Spring 2012

who can wear winged liner or a cat eye?

Almost anyone can pull off a winged liner look. True, the more visible your upper lid, the more visible your liner, as it is here on cat-eye pro Vanessa Jarman. But don't let a less obvious lid stop you -- you can surprise and delight with swish of liner (try it in colour!) every time you blink, wink or look down. Also consider the from-the-runway look Arianne of GlitterGeek demonstrates here.

Frankie Morello

what to use for winged liner or a cat eye  

I love a liquid liner pen, with a pointy-marker tip. One of my favourites is the Physicians Formula Eye Booster -- yes, I've used it to apply winged liner successfully in the back of a cab. The brand has a new marker-tip pen you'll want to try, too. Also Stila All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner and Gosh Intense Eye Liner Pen -- all marker tips, brilliantly easy to use with excellent control. Maybelline Eye Studio Master Precise Ink Pen Eye Liner has a super-fine tip, which is great for novices too.

Ruffian liner Spring 2012

Cream or gel liners, such as Bobbi Brown Longwear Gel Eyeliner, Make Up For Ever Aqua Black, MAC Fluidline, Essence Gel Liner or Essence Stay All Day Long Lasting (cream) Eyeshadow ($3.99 each!) are also pretty easy to use. The trick there is finding the brush that gives you good control. Some will prefer MAC's 263 or 266 small angle brush; others will do better with a fine-tipped type like the 209 or 210. Brushes with short, firm bristles will help you control your application.

And pencils are absolutely acceptable -- they're the easiest to use. Sharp, of course. And waterproof -- winged liner needs to stay put perfectly to look good. Urban Decay, Make Up For Ever and Covergirl make excellent no-budge liners (my kit is packed with them). Dab a layer of powder eye shadow in a matching shade over the liner for extra no-budge security.

Jil Sander beauty Spring 2012

how to achieve a winged liner look

Don't stress out trying to achieve a perfect line in one sweep. For an easy-wear look, start at the outer-eye corner with a tick that follows an imaginary line extending from your lower lashline toward your hairline. From the inner corner of the eye, apply liner along the lashline in small, connecting strokes. Build up to the thickness you want until you reach the up-tick.Work from the tip of the up-tick down to connect it to the lashline and fill in.

Don't worry about wobbles in your line. You can clean up edges with a small brush dipped in a bit of liquid foundation or concealer. Learn the best winged liner trick in the first part of this vid.

Kanye West Spring 2012

winged liner variety

Winged liner is a fairly versatile look. A fine, discreet line and subdued flick is pretty and delicate, less obviously ’60s (Jil Sander). The cat-eye shape is sexy (Sophia Loren; Ruffian Spring 2012). A smaller flick -- dubbed the "kitten" -- hits between pretty and sexy (Dolce and Gabbana Spring 2012; get the Kitten-Flick how-to here). Jonathan Saunders and Frankie Morello have that exaggerated ′60s flavour (on some girls it looked quite Amy Winehouse). Also loved the Kanye West look, above.

Marni Spring 2012

The cat eye has a distinctly ’60s air, especially when worn with defined brows, false lashes and pale lips. Playing with shape -- the width of the line, the length and size of the flick, and colour -- keeps things fresh and now. And fun. Softer brows -- or no brows -- is less retro, and puts more focus on the liner and your eyes.

Is winged liner or cat-eye makeup appropriate for the office? It depends on your office environment and your own confidence level -- feeling good in your makeup, owning the look is essential. But as you've probably already deduced from at least one image in this post, the final answer is of course.