Harriette Cole


“We worked with celebrity fashion stylist Phillip Bloch to develop concepts for wardrobe and then he and his team went shopping. We really wanted him to look elegant and timeless on the cover. We found a number of looks that would achieve that and presented them to Michael. He ultimately chose what he would be happy to wear, which turned out to be far more outfits than we had time to shoot.

Michael Jackson was the perfect fit for everything we put on him. He’s got the body that any woman or man would die for! At 49 years old, he had a slim dancer’s body … It was a lot of fun to work with someone who looks great in clothes, who knows how to move his body and who understands the camera. It was magic!”    Harriette Cole

Sick kid turns classroom into a germ factory

DEAR HARRIETTE: There’s a child in my son’s fourth-grade class who often comes to school when he seems to be sick. The teacher routinely sends out notes telling parents that they should be mindful of sending their kids to school when they have a fever or are coughing or have anything that might be contagious. This kid’s parents don’t seem to listen. I am worried that it’s just a matter of time before my son gets sick. Should I say something to this child’s mother? Or the administrator? I don’t want to be labeled a bad parent, but I have to do something. – Brent, Cincinnati, Ohio

Dear Brent: Germs are everywhere. Even when parents work extra hard to protect their children and others from getting sick, inevitably over the course of the school year, many children do pick up different bugs. Pediatricians tell me that children build up antibodies to some of the most basic illnesses by contracting them and having their bodies fight them off – meaning it’s not the worst thing for your child to get sick for a bit.

Still, that is no excuse for children who may be contagious – who are coughing, have a fever, or are otherwise potentially spreading germs – to attend class. If you have a good relationship with the parent in question, you may mention your concern about that child. But you already know how defensive parents can be about how they care for their children. A better tactic may be to speak privately with the teacher or principal about the health of the classroom and your observation about this particular child.

Family Squabbles

When you know that your parents don’t get along, is there anything you can say before the wedding to comfort everyone involved? 

Of course. First, make some attempts to create space to think seriously about your family problem. Find a place in your heart for forgiveness of whatever troubles you have experienced in the past. Then sit down with your parents individually and have a heart-to-heart. et them know that you are embarking on a new journey and that you want them to join you on it. Present it to them as a tie for healing old wounds and regaining respect and love in your family. If you sense tremendous discomfort, encourage them to enter into counseling separately or with you, as you prepare for your married life. Even if neither of them takes you up on your offer fully, both should be able to see the love that you are offering them and may, in turn, work on being supportive during your big day. 
Beyond your plea for the reconciliation, you can help by mapping out your wedding and reception seating to accommodate their differences. 

This passage was taken from one of Harriette Cole’s books on planning weddings, Jumping the Broom.

For more advice, the complete Jumping the Broom book is sold on http://www.amazon.com/Jumping-Broom-Second-African-American-Wedding/dp/0805073299/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278685589&sr=1-1

I Miss E. Lynn Harris.

In the early months of 2004, E. Lynn Harris was the first major American author to send a blurb to my publisher based on the blue book of my first novel, Upstate. The novel was written by me, nobody author Kalisha Buckhanon. Nobody author had never sold a book. Nobody author had never done a…

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What I loved the most about working with Michael Jackson is how kind he was to everyone. He was gracious to the elevator operator, the guard and the executives in the museum. He made sure to thank each person who was in ear shot when the shoot was over. He was generous and kind. Did some people feel intimidated by him? I don’t know if that’s the right word. More, I think some people were mesmerized. Some were pinching themselves wondering if they actually were in the presence of the King of Pop.
—  Harriette Cole - Ebony-Jet magazine’s editor in chief
Moving back home? Boyfriend may not be welcome

Dear Harriette,

My 24-year-old daughter recently lost her job and asked if she could move back into our family home. She has lived with her boyfriend for the past three years, and he is not working, either. Her plan is that they will share her childhood bedroom. Call me old-fashioned, but I didn’t like that they were living together in the first place – now, under my roof? I know she has lost her mind! – Diane, East Lansing, Mich.

Dear Diane,

I see both sides of this situation. Given that your daughter has been in a committed relationship with her boyfriend over several years, it makes sense that she wouldn’t want to abandon him during this time of crisis. Sadly, many people are losing their jobs right now, and what to do next is a frightening reality.

What should you do? You must decide what you can live with. Of course, you want to support your daughter in any way you can. It’s already significant to invite her to move back in, if temporarily. I can imagine that you thought she would be on her own for good, especially after she moved in with her guy. Should you invite the boyfriend to join her? Only if you can handle it, which doesn’t sound like the case.

It’s perfectly reasonable for you to explain to your daughter that you will welcome her home while she looks for work, but that you do not feel comfortable inviting her boyfriend to live there, too. Make it clear that you aren’t abandoning him. If you feel comfortable welcoming him to visit, have dinner sometimes, etc., let her know. Draw the line where you feel you need to.

Your Questions Answered (For Grooms)

My boys want to host a bachelor party for me, and they’ve already told me that they are having strippers. I’m down for it, but my fiancee is freaked out. I don’t want to seem whipped already in my friends’ eyes. How can I handle this situation?

Your fiancee is nervous that if temptation is in front of you, you may go for it. Rather than canceling the event, you must prove that she can trust you. If you believe that you can observe without participating-at least not past a point- assure  her that she has nothing to worry about and then stick to your plan. Trust is the foundation of a relationship. Now is a perfect time to demonstrate to your fiancee that you can be trusted even when you do things that she may not favor." 

This passage was taken from one of Harriette Cole’s books on planning weddings, Jumping the Broom.

For more advice, the complete Jumping the Broom book is sold on http://www.amazon.com/Jumping-Broom-Second-African-American-Wedding/dp/0805073299/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278685589&sr=1-1

Weak, limp handshake a total turn-off

DEAR HARRIETTE: Your advice is usually pretty dead-on, so I’d like to get your thoughts on something. I was talking to my girlfriend about handshakes. We agree that, when we shake hands with men and they hold on to our hands a little too long, it is uncomfortable and sometimes creepy, but we couldn’t figure out the reason for limp, weak handshakes from men.

In my opinion, a nice firm handshake doesn’t diminish my femininity. It signifies my pleasure in making your acquaintance, and it shows I am a confident person. I don’t want a man to crush my hand, but a firm handshake is nice, and it makes things feel equal.

Am I missing something when a man gives me a weak or limp handshake? My friend also brought up another handshake oddity: When she meets other women, sometimes they offer her the tips of her fingers; she wanted to know what that is about. What do the rules of etiquette have to say on the subject of handshakes? – April, Bronx N.Y.

DEAR APRIL: A firm and respectful handshake – i.e., a handshake exhibiting confidence but not force – is wise on the part of men and women. A firm handshake accompanied by direct eye contact shows confidence as well as interest in the person you are greeting. A limp handshake on anyone’s part seems fake, weak and uninteresting.


Harriette Cole

Harriette Cole (born March 14, 1961), is a life stylist, author, nationally syndicated advice columnist, motivational speaker, media trainer, magazine editor, lifestyle writer, wife and mother.

Early life

Cole was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the middle of three sisters. Her parents are Doris Freeland Cole, a retired kindergarten teacher who has devoted her life to her children, and the Honorable Harry A. Cole, the first Black judge on the Maryland Court of Appeals. Cole’s sisters are Susan Hill, a vice president at Disney in Los Angeles, and Stephanie Hill, a vice president at Lockheed Martin in Maryland.


Harriette Cole went to public schools in Baltimore City including Dickey Hill Elementary School, Greenspring Junior High School and Western High School. She graduated from the all-girls’ Western High School.

Cole spent her first year in college at Towson State University. She completed her college education at Howard University where she was a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.


Cole worked for then freshmen member of Congress Barbara Boxer after she graduated from college. During that year she continued to freelance as a runway model. She became an assistant editor at Essence Magazine in the lifestyle section, then known as Contemporary Living.

For the next several years, Cole was promoted annually until she became the editor of that section. During her tenure in Contemporary Living Cole traveled all over the world documenting cultures of people of African descent. Her travels took her to the Ivory Coast in West Africa, Zimbabwe in Southern Africa, Bahia, Brazil, Paris, France, throughout the Caribbean and also across the United States.

In 1995 she left Essence and launched her own media company which is now titled Harriette Cole Media.

Through her 15-year-old business, Cole has participated in a broad range of projects. She has written a number of books including How to Be: A Guide to Conscious Living, Choosing Truth, Vows and Coming Together. She has helped to launch a number of magazines such as American Legacy Woman, Savoy, and Uptown. Cole led the visual transformation of Ebony magazine, and most recently served as editor in chief of the magazine. During her 3½ years at Ebony, Cole produced covers featuring Barack and Michelle Obama before he announced his run for the presidency, Michelle Obama in the thick of the campaign (Cole also wrote that cover story), Barack Obama days after he was elected, Michael Jackson for his final photo shoot and interview, and Prince.

Cole has provided media training, presentation training and/or fashion styling for many clients including Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Carl Thomas, JoJo, Shontelle and Hal Linton.

Cole has provided presentation and empowerment workshops for businesses and institutions, including Speaking of Women’s Health, Kraft, the Saralee Corporation, Cornell University, the National Urban League, National Action Network, Jack and Jill of America, Delta Sigma Theta and more.

Cole hosted a reality series on the ABC Family Channel, called Perfect Match New York. She hosted a daily radio show on XM Satellite radio, called Pulse. For the past ten years she has written the nationally syndicated advice column (six days a week), “Sense & Sensitivity,” which is syndicated by United Media/United Features Syndicate. (See colesense.tumblr.com.)


She has been a frequent guest on the Today Show, offering advice on how to be your best. She has been featured on Access Hollywood, The Insider, MSNBC, LXTV, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Rachael Ray, NPR, BET and TVOne.


Harriette Cole has been married to fashion and beauty photographer George Chinsee since 1993. They have a young daughter, Carrie Emmanuelle Cole Chinsee, who was born in 2003. They reside in New York City.


What Kinds and How Many?

“Most couples do incorporate flowers into their wedding ceremony and reception. If you are planning to use them during your celebration, take tie to consider what you like, what you need, and how much it all costs. It’s easiest to select the bridal bouquet first, which should be a collection of your favorite flowers, designed to reflect the style and proportion of your gown. Especially if you are wearing traditional African clothing, you should consider carefully the flowers that will best complement the colors and style of your outfit. There are several bouquet styles you may select from, from the absolutely lavish to the most simple and elegant. The basics are as follows: 

  • Arm bouquet. Long-stemmed flowers that are hand-tied or French-braided with ribbon. They are carried cradled in the arm. 
  • Cascade. Flowers, ivy, and other greenery that flow vertically and drape downward from the bouquet and extend outward from the center. 
  • Nosegay or Posy. Tightly designed, compact collections of flowers that are often tied with a decorative ribbon and carried in the hand.

The types of flowers that brides choose vary depending upon taste. Yet there are a few longtime favorites. Many brides are still selecting roses as their first choice because they offer such a romantic, traditional appeal as well as a refreshing aroma. Other flowers such as gardenias, stephanotis, georgiana orchid, and lily of the valley are popular thanks to their enchanting fragrances." 

This passage was taken from one of Harriette Cole’s books on planning weddings, Jumping the Broom.

For more advice, the complete Jumping the Broom ebook is sold on http://www.amazon.com/Jumping-Broom-Second-African-American-Wedding/dp/0805073299/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278685589&sr=1-1

DEAR HARRIETTE: I think I caught a sexually transmitted disease from my new boyfriend. I am so embarrassed I don’t know what to do. I had some itching, you know, and that never happened before. I like this guy, and he’s from a prominent family. Plus, my family thinks he’s “the one” for me, finally. I have to attend to this problem, but I don’t want my whole life to cave in. – Sylvia, Philadelphia, Pa.

Dear Sylvia: First, go to the doctor. If there’s even a chance you have an STD, you need to get it treated, pronto. No one has to know about your medical condition, so you can keep that confidential.

If you believe that your boyfriend exposed you to a venereal disease, face that. Don’t get caught up in this man’s background. Who is he to you? Why do you remain interested in him? If it’s because of his pedigree, is that enough to build a life with him? Answer this honestly for yourself.

I am not saying that you automatically write off the man if or because he infected you with an STD. That’s something you need to address directly with him. People live with diseases of all kinds all the time. How you deal with it is the issue. Talk to him about what’s happening. His response will tell you whether it’s worth continuing in this relationship.

Trimming the Price

“Throwing a big party for your wedding doesn’t have to be prohibitive if you think creatively. You can host your affair at your favorite establishment if you plan it properly, according to Jim Fornaro, vice president of sales for Martin’s, Inc., a cetering facility in Maryland. Here are a few tips on how to cut costs: 

  • Get married on any day other than Saturday. Friday nights, Sundays, the weekday before a major holiday (such as the Monday before the Fourth of July, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Memorial Day Monday, Labor Day Monday) are likely to be discounted. 
  • Opt to marry during the off months of January, February, July, or August. 

Book your location within two months of the date. Although not recommended by rental facilities because you run the risk of finding no free space, last-minute reservations can gain you a discount from 10 to 20 percent off the base price.”

This passage was taken from one of Harriette Cole’s books on planning weddings, Jumping the Broom.

For more advice, the complete Jumping the Broom ebook is sold on http://www.amazon.com/Jumping-Broom-Second-African-American-Wedding/dp/0805073299/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278685589&sr=1-1 

Should I bring a date?

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was invited to a black-tie affair for my job, and it’s a big deal. I am excited to go, but there are two issues that trouble me. First of all, it is black tie, but they’re not allowing me to bring my husband. My mother always taught me that a lady doesn’t go to a black-tie affair alone. Next, I really don’t have an appropriate dress. I hardly ever go to dress-up functions. Would it be crazy to buy a dress during these lean times? – Beverly, Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Beverly: First, it may be that, because the event in question is a work function, the organizer has filled all the seats at the table with other colleagues and/or other guests. There simply may not be room for you to bring a guest. Yes, your mother’s wisdom is the standard, but in a work setting often the rules shift to accommodate the circumstances. If you have been invited to go, consider the invitation a privilege and figure out how you can do it.

With regard to attire, you may get lucky. Because the economy is tight, many retailers are hosting sales on all manner of merchandise, including deep discounts on formal attire. Shop around until you discover great buys in styles that flatter your body. Once you select a gown or other formal ensemble that works for you, begin to negotiate. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount on your favorite item. Even if the clothing is in perfectly good condition and not on sale, you may be able to get a few dollars shaved off just by asking. Retailers are suffering. They do not want to see you walk away without making a purchase.

Dear Harriette: I ran across a disturbing piece of my co-worker’s mail – a doctor’s note saying that she has a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Yes! How horrible. This woman constantly talks about her dates and various intimate exploits. I feel as if it’s my responsibility to say something to the guy who sometimes comes to visit, thinking he’s her boyfriend. Should I? – Marcy, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Dear Marcy: Mind your business. You have no right to reveal what you snooped at your co-worker’s desk. It truly is none of your concern. Yes, your co-worker should have been more discreet. She should not have brought her personal mail, especially of that nature, to the office. And she may have a legal responsibility to tell any of her sexual partners that she has an STD.
What you must understand, however, is that you are not bound to be an adjunct officer of the law. Stay focused on your job.

If you find you cannot get it out of your mind – though I don’t recommend this – the only other choice you have is to speak directly to your co-worker. It would be terribly wrong for you tell other co-workers. If you tell the co-worker what you saw, be prepared for her wrath. You violated her boundaries. Surprisingly, though, she may need an ear. If so, be a confidential ear. She may need to talk it out to figure out her best next steps.