Category: Style & Beauty

Fall Makeup Basics

It’s been a while since we talked about makeup, so I wanted to share a few items I’ve been using lately.

 

Drugstore Makeup Finds

 

Drugstore Makeup Finds

 

Foundation:

After a year or more of using Laura Gellar’s baked foundation, it started looking a little orange.  Perhaps I was using the wrong kind of brush, or should have tried a lighter color, but I got tired of looking orange and randomly grabbed Revlon’s ColorStay Makeup hoping it would do the job while I searched out a new favorite foundation to wear.  I was surprised when I liked it so much!  It does require sponge application — which I basically hate, because it’s so hard to keep a clean sponge on-hand — but it is smooth and it definitely lasts all day.  I’m wearing number 180 – Sand Beige.

Concealer:

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind is a modern classic, and I highly recommend it.  It feels nice going under your eyes and the bottle lasts for ages.  Jessica from How Sweet Eats also sings its praises, but I was wearing it even before she was!  (It makes me feel cool to say that.)  I’m wearing Fair — I typically purchase a shade lighter for under-eye concealer.

Eyeliner:

I’ve always used CoverGirl’s perfect point plus eyeliner, and I’ve always hated how easily it breaks and how rough it can feel along your eyelid.  Maybelline’s masterDRAMA eyeliner is fantastic.  It is smooth and soft. I’m wearing the slate gray color called “coal commander” and it is lovely.

Mascara:

My eyes are dry and a little sensitive, and I’m always rubbing them — which leaves mascara everywhere! Dry and flaky mascaras make this worse, leaving me itchy and uncomfortable. The Maybelline Full ‘N Soft mascara has been lovely.  I feel comfortable all day and much less itchy.  I’m wearing Very Black and I like how it looks with the dark gray eyeliner.

I have such a hard time choosing which products to purchase, finding the right shades for my skin tone — it always feels like it’s so easy for everyone else, but I’m sure that isn’t actually true.  If you’ve found some awesome products — drugstore or otherwise — I’d love to hear about them.  Share the wealth!

On Looking Professional without Sacrificing Productivity

Being successful at work is really important to me, and I’m at my best when I am completely focused.  If I’m in “the zone,” you might find that if you walk past my cubicle and say hello I’ll jump a bit, completely startled that anyone else was in the room.  (Thankfully we have security doors, so I don’t have to worry too much about someone sneaking up behind me!)  That’s just how I roll: I sit down, dig in, and get things done.

But here’s the thing:  if my sweater sleeves are itchy, if my pants are ill-fitting, if my bangs fall in my eyes or if my shoes are uncomfortable, I can’t do my best work. My mind will be distracted by how much I hate my outfit or how uncomfortable I am.  I’m not sure men have these problems.  But that’s not what this blog post is about. 

To do my best work, I need to be comfortable. A dress with a cardigan or blazer is ideal, so long as hosiery isn’t rolling down or bunching up. Slacks and a sweater or blouse can also be great, if the pants fit well and my cubby isn’t too hot or too cold. I really like to wear heels at my desk – partly because they feel fancy and partly because I don’t have to wear socks so my feet don’t get too hot.  I try to wear layers that can be stripped off without scandal in case I get too warm.  My ideal work set-up requires changing from flats to heels and a sweater to a blazer just like Mr. Rogers did.  (Dreams do come true, kids.)

If this all sounds a little crazy to you, that’s okay – my productivity makes me a fantastic employee, so if comfortable clothes and fancy shoes are what it takes for me to strategically plan broad organizational change or write and edit convincing and accurate reports on a deadline, I’m down for a little craziness.

This past week, however, a blog I read was talking about the difference between wearing clothes that make you feel good, and wearing clothes that make people think of you as the boss. As young female professionals, we want to do whatever it takes so that our management thinks of us when developing the organization’s succession plan, filling vacancies, etc. And what this blog post and the comments that followed boldly stated was that the best way to be empowered in your workplace is not to feel valued and loved and comfortable in whatever position you hold or clothes you wear. The most effective way to be empowered in your workplace is to have actual power in your workplace — a.k.a. to be the boss.

While I absolutely want to dress in a comfortable way that allows me to do my best work, I also want to look like someone who should be in charge. If someone new walked into the room and scanned the people sitting around the conference room table, I want that visitor to assume I’m already holding a management position.

Spring is coming (slowly but surely) and each day I’m edging closer to 30 and farther away from 25. It’s time for a[nother] closet overhaul.  It seems like I need one of these every now and then!  I’m not sure if fashion posts are your thing, but I’ll be checking in for the next few weeks on my 2014 closet revamp.

To kick us off, today I’m linking you up with my favorite fashion blogs:

1. Capitol Hill Style – Belle’s a former Capitol Hill Staffer, and she provides realistic and specific advice for a professional wardrobe on a variety of budgets, and she includes plus size options and hair and makeup recommendations.

2. Corporette – Fashion, lifestyle, and career advice from former firm attorney turned full-time blogger, Kat. The comment sections here are incredible, and if you have a question about how to navigate a difficult work situation or what to wear to work-ish events, this is where you want to go.

3. The Small Things Blog – For hair and makeup and all-around beauty, Kate’s blog is the place to go. I used one of her hair tutorials for my hairstyle during one of my best friend’s weddings last summer, and she gives honest reviews of products to help you find what works for you. She also just had a very adorable baby. Kate’s archives are gold.

 

Okay, so tell me where you fall on the spectrum:  do you dress for comfort or to make a positive impression?  Maybe a little bit of both?  Does hearing this perspective on empowerment make you re-evaluate your own wardrobe choices? 

Dreaming of Spring

It’s been a long winter.  I can’t remember a day that I haven’t made the choice between snow boots or regular boots.  The snow boots usually win out.  I’ve worn my full-length eggplant purple coat nearly every day since the package arrived in our gym.  [We get packages delivered to the gym in our building.  It’s a little strange.]

There are a lot more weeks of winter-ish weather ahead, but I’m so ready to wear something different.  I’ve been online window-shopping like nobody’s business.  I know it’s better to spend your clothing budgets on quality, not quantity, but these items are just thrifty enough that I might pick up one or two to add a little spice to my sweaters and wool slacks while I wait for signs of spring.

SET: Dreaming of Spring

Old Navy navy shoes
oldnavy.gap.com

Forever 21 loafer
forever21.com

Necklace
shopruche.com

Pink scarf
shopruche.com

Except, probably not the shoes. I think it’s going to be a while before I can go outside without warm socks. But a girl can dream, right?

Love Toes

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Here’s a quick piece of trivia for you all — did you know that when you get a pedicure in the winter, you stuff your soft, polished feet into sandwich baggies to protect your nails before putting on your socks and boots? Well, if you didn’t, now you do. This is just one of many lessons I’ve learned while surviving my first winter in the Great White Midwest.

In other news, I attended my first non-couples social engagement of the winter, and it was lovely. It is so nice getting out on your own! I met a handful of women in the city and reconnected with someone I haven’t seen in literally years. Like, since 2006. Sometimes I forget just how long it has been since college. Tonight, I remembered it has been quite a long time!

This week’s toe nail color is Too Too Hot by Essie, which will be perfect for Valentine’s day. I’m seeing tons of great V-day beauty and fashion posts and am SO READY for some warmer, spring-ish weather. I’ll probably mix a little pink or red into my work wardrobe Friday, but I’m typically not really a V-day celebrater. Are you doing anything special to celebrate?

Happy New Year, Again

I haven’t significantly cut my long brown hair since the Saturday before the bar exam, July 2011. On that day, my hairdresser Allegra told me what a big haircut can mean. Her mother practices Buddhism, and believes the cutting of hair is a release for the whole body: As our bodies process stress and worry, those feelings grow out of our skin into our hair, hanging around with us each day. When we’ve been walking through life wearing our past stresses and worries long enough, when we’re ready for a change in our lives and our souls, cutting off our hair removes the residue of that long battle and helps us to enter into that new stage.

I have been to a few yoga classes this month, but I don’t know anything about Buddhism so I cannot tell you whether any of that is true. I’m not entirely sure any Buddhists out there would read this and identify with that statement in any way. It could be completely misunderstood or misconstrued by me during a bar exam-induced frenzy. But, I’m a believer in the power of a good haircut and let me tell you why: After three years of law school, three months of intense studying, and one significant haircut, I passed the bar exam with no real worry of failure and entered into a new stage of life.

That new stage, which is now my old stage, was rocky and beautiful. I made some deep and lasting friendships, learned a lot, and became much more grounded in who I am professionally and personally. But it was hard. It’s been almost three years now since that last big haircut, and there were a few months in there where I only went to work because I didn’t want to pay a fine for departing before my fellowship was complete, and where I only went to parties when I couldn’t think of a socially acceptable excuse to break the commitment. There were absolutely some days where the veil I wore was too thin, and my actual heartbreak or frustration was clearly visible to those who I like to pretend cannot see the dark edges of my humanity. And, I stuck my foot boldly into my mouth more times than I would like to remember. (I do continue to remember these moments, which is perhaps the worst part of this whole thing called living. Each time I say something horribly ill-timed or inappropriate or unthinking I remember it. Even years later it comes back to me in a disappointing memory which no haircut has as of yet been able to erase.)

Over the last month, I’ve been thinking a lot about getting a serious cut. My hair was just too long, and it was starting to get in the way of things. All of those feelings and memories just didn’t fit onto my shoulders along with the sweater and scarf and coat and hood necessary to survive this winter. I never felt comfortable with my hair sticking out from under a hat and pointing every which way while I walked down Michigan Avenue toward my new office in my new city. In my apartment my hair was straight and lovely, but each time I headed outside toward something new the wind would blow it into tangles and knots. It was time to let go of the baggage and free up some room for warmth and possibility.

I thought that my twenty-eighth birthday would be the time for the big cut, but beginning the day we returned from Las Vegas and until just a few days ago I was so sick I could barely leave the apartment, much less choose a hairstyle and find a stylist. I kept delaying the cut, although I knew how much I wanted it and how ready I was for the change.

This past week, as my cough reduced and my health improved, I found a stylist on Yelp.com and made the appointment. I didn’t realize at the time that my cut was scheduled for the second day of the Chinese New Year celebration, considered to be the first day of the new year, but how perfectly timed it was. As many celebrate the new year by cleaning house to sweep away ill-fortune and make room for good luck (thank you, Wikipedia), I too am chopping off the last three years and starting fresh.

I don’t have a picture for you now. This change wasn’t just about fashion or beauty, it was about being more fully alive, about diving in and seeing what would happen. And so before returning to the surface, I wanted to take the time to share this process. But don’t worry, glamour shots will be headed your way soon. Happy New Year, again. Let’s do something awesome this year.

A decorating confession…

I had a lot planned for this past weekend and this work week. A serious cough and another polar vortex shut all of that down. I haven’t been outside my apartment since this past Friday, and I’ve been drinking orange juice, ginger ale, and water like nobody’s business.

Regular blog posts will resume shortly, but the schedule may be a little off for the rest of this week. I’m planning to go into the office for at least half a day tomorrow, and I may be too wiped out to keep up with the editorial calendar.

But then again, maybe tomorrow will be awesome. Let’s plan for that, and trust that it will come.

This afternoon I felt well enough to take down the Christmas tree. I wanted to leave it up until Epiphany, and then got busy and never took it down. I know, I know: it’s almost February. But, it’s not February yet.

Leo was very disappointed that the holiday jungle gym went back into the closet.

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The lights on our balcony railings are still up, but we haven’t turned them on in weeks. It’s way too cold for me to take them down! They may just stay out there until Spring. No one can really see them, right?

So, tell me this and don’t sugar coat it: what’s the longest you’ve ever left up the holiday decorations?

Tips for a Successful Week: Arriving at Work Professionally Dressed

dressing professionallyI know what I like to wear.  It’s usually three, maybe four outfits that I mix and match.  I have less-loved filler in my closet too, but there is one pair of jeans I always prefer, a few pairs of wool socks that are soft instead of scratchy, the perfect tank to wear under a sheer blouse.  When I’m running late, I can never find the pieces that need each other.  Half-dressed I’ll realize something essential is missing.  That first outfit is thrown to the bed/floor and I try again.  Sometimes, it takes a few re-starts to get it right.

As much fun as this whole dressing-undressing-redressing experience probably sounds, it isn’t.  I end up later than planned to work, or else have to skip breakfast because my precious morning minutes have been used up frantically searching through drawers.  When I’m even five minutes later to work than planned, I fret on the bus instead of enjoying catching up on blogs, and my morning work time (which is my most productive time of day, when I’m not thinking about shoes and tights and sweaters) takes a hit.

There is a simple fix for this unnecessary stress:  planning ahead.  A lot of people recommend choosing your clothes the night before, but I know myself well enough to know that there’s always a night or two each week that I can’t be counted on to care about morning stress.  Perhaps we’re out late at a dinner or met up with friends for drinks or trivia; if I get in late, I’m pretty likely to go to sleep without choosing outfits or ironing slacks.

It may sound a little intense, but I’ve started choosing an entire week of outfits on Sunday evenings.  It has completely changed my morning routines.

First, I do the regular load or two of weekend laundry.  In a perfect world I actually put that laundry away, but if we’re being honest that doesn’t always get done.

Then, I check the weather.  I grab a post-it or an index card or my planner or whatever else is handy, and jot down the ballpark temperatures [lately, just “cold” or “really cold”] and take note of any days where it might be rainy.

Finally, I stand in the closet and pair tops, skirts/pants, and sweaters together and hang them in a group in the front of the closet.  I go to my drawers and choose the tights/socks/underneath layers necessary for each outfit.  I also think of what shoes will be necessary and make sure I gather up all of those shoes from where ever I might have stashed them and place them in my closet.

Over the last few months when I’ve been using this system, I’ve learned a couple of things:

  1. Always choose an extra outfit.  This is great for two reasons.  One, you can wear any outfit during the week that you’ve chosen, and if you decide you hate something at the last minute you have a back-up.  Two, if you fail to be responsible on the following weekend, you have an outfit nicely waiting for Monday morning and you can catch up on Monday evening.  I’m taking advantage of my extra outfit right now, wearing black tights, a black dress, and whatever cardigan is the least-wrinkled in my closet.
  2. Pull that blouse you never wear out of the back of the closet and try putting it back in rotation.  You bought it for a reason, try to remember what it was.
  3. Develop a balance between dry-clean-only and regular-wash items, so that from one week to the next you still have clothes to wear.  When I finally get to the dry cleaners, I have a slew of items I love that I haven’t worn in a while (because who goes to the dry cleaners regularly?  Not me…), and I want to wear them all at once.  Doing so will only result in them being back in the “please take me to the cleaners” pile right away.  Space those beloved items out so you have at least one thing each week you love.

Do you have any tricks for dressing well without stressing out?  If so, please share in the comments.