A lot of people are surprised to learn that my makeup collection is comprised of mainly drugstore products. And to be honest, it surprises me sometimes too. Over the past 13 years of writing about and reviewing makeup and skincare, I've tested a lot of products across various price points but what I use every day falls toward the lower end of luxury.
In my teens and twenties, I lived for a department store makeup counter. As a 90's teen, Clinique was certainly the entry point: the sketchy 3-step skincare regimen, Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, and an iconic green-swirled powder compact were IT for me. By college, Clinique was shoved in the back of my makeup drawer in favor of Bobbi Brown, Benefit and Origins. I worked at the mall throughout college and spent all of my breaks and most of my paycheck from Lane Bryant at those counters.
It will probably come as no surprise to anyone with a few years and a 401K under their belts that as a 20-something woman working an entry-level job, I couldn't actually afford the $25 Bobbi Brown bronzer or $30 Origins body lotion. Every time I swiped my credit card to make one of those purchases, the pit in my stomach grew along with the outstanding balance and I would defiantly vow to myself that, "Once I'm a real grown up, I'll only buy high end." Don't worry - the stupidity of all that is not lost on me.
I am now a real grown up and guess what? I don't want to regularly spend my money on $49 eyeshadow palettes and $35 highlighters. I want to spend it on lots of things: books, and my home, squeaky toys my dog will play with once and then ignore, dinners out with friends, trips with my husband, and new plants to fill that bare spot in my garden.
Even more so, I no longer reach for my credit card to buy self-esteem. Because that's absolutely what I was doing as a younger woman. I wanted to fit in with the other girls in the locker room during high school, and brandishing a Clinique compact was one way to do that. I felt insignificant at my first job out of college, where I pulled paper off a fax machine and delivered it to someone who literally sat less than one foot from the damn machine, so I'd drive over to the mall during lunch and buy a new lipstick or eyeshadow or literally anything that would give me enough of a lift to face an afternoon of faxes back at the office.
I appreciate the democratization of makeup, these days. There's something for everyone, at almost every price point and in a variety of store types. If high-end makeup is something that you love, you have a lot of wonderful products to get excited about. I love that for you. I'm able to look the way I want to with products from the drugstore, and I love that for me.
Note: Yes, that is my actual makeup collection pictured above.
Also: You might like this and this.
There's something I'd love to know: What kind of clothes are you wearing right now, and are they different from what you regularly wore pre-pandemic? I've worked from home for the past 2 and a half years, and my uniform has long been a dress of some kind. Dresses are essentially public pajamas from a comfort standpoint, and they always make people think you're really put together (even though you know you're wearing public pajamas). My closet is comprised of 80% dresses of various lengths, fabrics and fits.
Once we got the Stay at Home orders here in Minnesota, my day-to-day really wasn't all that different, aside from becoming smaller and more contained. But as the days inched through March, into April and May, my fear, anxiety and depression levels sky-rocketed (along with those of the rest of the world). And suddenly, I began wearing a lot of lounge wear (along with the rest of the world). The radical shift in what I was wearing struck me one week while doing laundry, when I realized that I was folding 6 pair of yoga pants and assorted tee shirts. Not a single dress or item of clothing that could pass for anything but "comfort" wear. That's what I needed, then. I told myself I'd start wearing real clothes again once we got back to normal.
We're obviously nowhere near back to "normal" at this point in the pandemic. However, I'm really tired of lounge-wear yet not ready to fully embrace my pre-COVID wardrobe. My wardrobe, like life, seems to be stuck in a weird, in-between-place. Which brings me to: shorts suits.
Over the past few weeks, I've seen a few of my favorite fashion bloggers - like Allison at Curvy Girl Chic - styling a shorts-suit combo, and I'm very into it. There's something really appealing about the casual/dressed up vibe of a shorts suit. So I peered into my closet to see if I could come up with separates I already own, and what do you know? I did!
The shorts are Lane Bryant and the jacket is Charter club. Something new, created out of something old. How delightful. Tell me: What kind of clothes are you wearing right now, and are they different from what you regularly wore pre-pandemic? Bonus points: What's a current trend you're looking at with new interest?
I'm a white woman who has called the Midwest home for most of my life. That life of mine is what it is because I was born white. I didn't always know this, but I certainly do now. And I know it's my responsibility to continually educate myself on my blind spots.
I needed to learn the language and the history of race in America so I can confidently articulate what needs to be said, when it needs to be said, in my day-to-day life. Maybe you do, too. The work of Ijeoma Oluo and Dr. Lauren Michele Jackson were foundational components of my education.
It's not the job of any black person to educate me - it's my job to get educated - so I'm especially grateful for these books.
So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
"In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to "model minorities" in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life."
"Generous and empathetic, yet usefully blunt . . . it's for anyone who wants to be smarter and more empathetic about matters of race and engage in more productive anti-racist action."--Salon
White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue And Other Thoughts On Cultural Appropriation, by Dr. Lauren Michele Jackson
"American culture loves blackness. From music and fashion to activism and language, black culture constantly achieves worldwide influence. Yet, when it comes to who is allowed to thrive from black hipness, the pioneers are usually left behind as black aesthetics are converted into mainstream success—and white profit. Weaving together narrative, scholarship, and critique, Lauren Michele Jackson reveals why cultural appropriation—something that’s become embedded in our daily lives—deserves serious attention. It is a blueprint for taking wealth and power, and ultimately exacerbates the economic, political, and social inequity that persists in America."
What books are you reading or have you read that have helped shape your understanding of and participation in conversations about race? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
First and foremost, I hope you are doing OK. That's such an inadequate statement, but it comes from the heart and is meant to encompass every aspect of your well-being. I hope this space can be an uplifting outlet of entertainment outside of the news cycle for you. In that spirit...
For a little over a month, I've been thinking about hosting a tea party. I could use something to look forward to: a reason to pull out Aunt Min's set of "nice dishes" which includes a tea service for 12 and make tiny food that looks cute; to set a table with Grandma Ruth's linens and a vase of hot pink carnations. But here's the thing: there's no one in my friend circle who would really love to attend a tea party.
Don't get me wrong: my friends would show up, for sure. But not because they're excited to sit around and drink tea and have that particular experience with me. And in much the same way that I avoid watching Hallmark movies with my husband Dan, even when he offers, because I know I'll feel self-conscious the whole time - and like I need to reassure him repeatedly that yes, I know this is the exact same plot from that other one we watched - I know that having a tea party with wonderful people who just aren't into tea parties would not be satisfying. I didn't want to force it, for the sake of making someone else experience something that I - and I alone - wanted.
In my twenties and thirties, this would have turned out one of two ways:
This tea party happened on March 12th, when COVID-19 was just beginning to become more real here in Minnesota. As I write this post on March 22nd, when it's now very real, I keep thinking: Use the nice dishes now. Make the cute tiny food with what's in the fridge now. Light the candles now. Sit and look out the window and breath now. Don't wait for a gathering, or the right time, or a better moment.
Make the moment.
My moment is not your moment, so I'd love to know what that looks like for you. I've heard a few people use the term "romancing the ordinary," which really lands with me. I mean, I'm certainly living my most ordinary life at the moment, at home with Dan and Gravy and a week's worth of yoga pants. So I'm very into finding ways to add a little romance and whimsy to my everyday. So let's hear it in the comments - how are you romancing the ordinary in your home these days?
This is a place to celebrate all the parts of yourself that come with age and experience. I'm here to share with you what I know and to explore with you the many (many) things I don't.