Janine Ptaszek

1. Janine Ptaszek, 34
When Janine gets dressed in the morning, her M.O. is not to get noticed. She spends her workdays in a boxy white coat, hair tied back, face makeup-free. It's a role she's comfortable with. "Growing up, I was very academically oriented," Janine says. "I wasn't the pretty one. I was the smart one." Even off the job, she keeps her look quiet. "I don't own makeup and rarely wear heels or body-conscious clothes. I've never wanted all eyes on me," she says as she settles into Ken's chair and all eyes turn to…her.

First Ken had Laura deepen Janine's ashy brown haircolor to a chestnut, weaving in caramel highlights—"the combination makes her skin look more radiant." He continued to lighten things up by lopping off eight inches of hair. The shorter cut and soft layers coaxed out Janine's natural waves, so Ken simply let her hair air-dry and then used a curling iron to smooth the curls around her face.

Rebecca's makeup approach was just as minimalist: She brushed a pale champagne shadow over Janine's lids and dotted a soft rose blush on her cheeks. The main attraction was Janine's full, sensuous mouth, emphasized with a rich, ruby lipstick. As you can see, the final package was eye-catching—and Janine continued to turn heads after the lights and cameras (and stylists) were gone. "I've noticed people looking at me more, and I'm not shying away from it the way I used to," she told us a couple of weeks later. "I don't think it's so much my appearance as that people are responding to what I'm projecting now—more confidence, more comfort in my body."

Sweater, Donna Karan. Earrings, Chanel.

Jenny Bailly
Janet Hill Talbert

2. Janet Hill Talbert, 44
Book editor turned jewelry designer
This photo shoot marked the first day of the rest of Janet's life. (And we're not just talking vixenhood here.) After working as a book editor for more than two decades, she had quit her job to start her own jewelry business—and tonight was her going-away party. But first: a physical reinvention. "You're expected to look a certain way in the book industry. I never wear anything provocative; my hair is always back," Janet told our team, running a hand over her bun.

Ken let Janet's long hair fall loose around her shoulders. "Since her hair is relaxed, she needs to add back some curl and softness around her face and against her neck for a more sensual look," he explained, before setting her hair in two-inch Velcro rollers. He combed out the curls with his fingers and pushed them forward around her face. For extra body, Ken clipped in a hairpiece (from his line with Jessica Simpson, Hairdo) just below the crown of Janet's head, hidden beneath her top layer of hair.

After removing Janet's tortoiseshell glasses, Rebecca knew immediately where to direct her attention: "I'm going to play up these dreamy doe eyes." Her tools included a chocolate brown, gold-flecked shadow that complemented the honey tones in Janet's skin and a full fringe of fake lashes. When Janet strode onto our set in a clingy sequined gown, she was definitely ready for her close-up. We hardly recognized the buttoned-up bookish type we'd met that morning—and neither did she. "I can't believe that's me!" she said when she saw the first digital photos. After a few minutes, though, the come-hither arch of her back and tilt of her head looked so effortless, we knew the transformation had sunk in—it was her, all right. "Such a shame my husband's away on business tonight," she said, casting a playful look at the crew as she dashed out the door to her party.

Dress, Naeem Khan. Earrings, Elizabeth Locke.

Jenny Bailly
Ellen Payne

3. Ellen Payne, 49
Publishing Executive
Full disclosure: We found Ellen in our own cafeteria. She is Hearst Magazines' director of editorial operations. She is focused, firm, whip-smart…and decidedly reserved in her style. "There have been periods in my life when I was more in touch with my attractive, sensual side," she mused. "But I've morphed into the suburban soccer mom. Between a full-time job and three teenagers, I don't think a lot about hair, makeup, or clothes."

Ellen's metamorphosis began the next morning with a new haircolor. "Her blonde is almost beige, and it washes out her complexion," Ken explained. "Taking it a bit darker—with more rich, golden tones and thicker highlights—will actually make the color, and her skin, brighter." A few new layers in front made her narrow face appear a bit fuller and put more focus on her eyes ("so big, and the most gorgeous green-gold," Rebecca said). Cat's-eye liner—slightly elongated at the outer corners—made them look even wider. "I'm using a grayish brown instead of black, though, which would be too severe," Rebecca says. "You want people to notice the whole package, not just the makeup." A light caramel-tinted lip gloss, pink cream blush on the apples of her cheeks, and carefully groomed brows ("Blondes should keep them two shades darker than their hair, to help define the eyes," Eliza said), and Ellen officially achieved knockout status.

We did a double-take when she emerged in a champagne silk gown that seemed to melt over her figure—she was still strong, still commanding, but also resplendent and really sexy. After she vamped for our cameras, she went home for another shoot: Her husband and three daughters were so awed by her new look, they had to snap some shots of their own.

Dress, Domenico Vacca. Ring, Diamonair.

Jenny Bailly
Judson O'Hair

4. Judson O'Hair, 41
Technology Sales Executive
"The vixen in me was never really…encouraged," says Judson, recalling the kilt-and-kneesocks uniform of her days at a girls' school, the bulky sweaters of her college years in Vermont, the conservative crewnecks she currently favors when she calls on her (mostly male) clients. "I haven't done the whole 'sexy' thing—until today." But for a first-timer, she was a natural, hardly flinching as Ken transformed her simple shoulder-length hair ("It's always been a variation on this theme," she says) into a glamorous bob, stacked in the back and with side-swept bangs in the front, to bring more focus to her deep brown eyes. "The silhouette reminds me of Faye Dunaway's style in Bonnie and Clyde," Ken says. "All the edges are soft, but the overall effect is still bold, daring."

Our fashion editor said the same about the next step in Judson's vixenization: sliding into a curve-hugging, cleavage-baring silk jersey dress. To balance the sophisticated haircut and clothes, Rebecca kept the makeup understated, blending a warm beige shadow over Judson's lids and smudging a light brown one along her upper lashline. Then she tapped on a pink lipstick to leave a raspberry stain on her mouth. Once the transformation was complete, we wheeled in a plush, unmade bed; Judson hesitated only for a second before she hopped in (rhinestone-studded stilettos and all). After her roll in the sheets, she reflected on her foray into "the whole 'sexy' thing": "I've always thought of myself as the perky, fun girl, the goofball; suddenly, I feel powerful."

A few days later, she called to give us an update after a client meeting. "The guys didn't even notice any difference," she said. "But somehow I felt more serious, more grown-up. I'm definitely going to keep up this cut."

Dress, Zac Posen. Earrings, De Beers. Ring, David Yurman. Bracelet, Whiteflash.

Jenny Bailly


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