Category Archives: Where to shop

My Short Love Affair with Zoe, plus How to Mix Patterns

You know what’s exciting, in a Christmas-y kind of way? Getting a box in the mail, a box full of clothes that you will probably love and that will probably be in your size but that you have no idea what is in there (I apparently wasn’t up to the challenge of that grammatically tricky sentence). Anyway, that exciting Christmas feeling is what I got with my first box from Stitch Fix. I promise, this is not an ad or a sponsored article. I wish it was, and that Stitch Fix would pay me. In free Fixes. (Stitch Fix people, hint hint…)
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2 Life-changing Tips: Rule the Makeup and Buy the Shoes

Listen closely: don’t let your makeup tell you what to do, or be all intimidating and, like, “You better use me the way I’m meant to be used,” and mocking you because you may never be a movie star. If your makeup talks down to you, you need to show it who’s boss. Say you spend $30 for some facial packed powder with just a touch of shimmer, and the shiny box demands that you treat it regally, and the instructions tell you to dust it gently across your cheekbones — guess what? You can simply use that as a guideline. Go ahead: put it on your eyelids as a softly glowing eyeshadow. Or brush it across your chest for an evening out, to show off your cleavage. Wearing an off-the shoulder shirt? Try it on your shoulders. Hell, dust it on the tops of your feet to draw attention to the awesome color of your manicured toes if you want. There are no rules. 
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Why I Hate Umbrellas but Love Nordstrom Rack

We don’t seem to use umbrellas in Northern Colorado. It doesn’t rain much, and it usually stops early and dries quickly. Also, everyone in Colorado, including middleaged women, is obsessed with the outdoors; I guess it’s not “cool” to carry an umbrella. Even MAWs put on our mountain climbing jacket with the oversized hood and head out. And we do NOT hunch our shoulders or duck our heads. We walk proudly through the rain, even if inside, we’re cursing the weather.

Last Thursday, though, Nordstrom Rack opened in our town, and I took a stand against being umbrella-less. I took extra care with my hair and makeup because it depresses me to be in a dressing room and see how pasty I look in that light, and how flat my hair gets from pulling items over my head. 

We get over 300 sunny days a year here; Thursday, of course, was pouring rain. (I tried to think of a metaphor like pouring cats and dogs only better, but nothing’s coming. Suffice it to say it was pouring like a motherfucker.) I searched the house for an umbrella, because I didn’t go to all that effort just to have the rain ruin my hair. I  found an oversized one in the garage (which I now realize is a GOLF UMBRELLA, the source of the problem) and was thrilled with it. At first.

So: I get to the car and unlock it, and realize the umbrella is longer than my arm and wider than the opening of the car door. I try to sink backward into the driver’s seat while simultaneously closing the umbrella like graceful women do in the movies, but, like a giant grabby octopus, the umbrella snags itself between the car door and the car itself, making it impossible to close either the umbrella or the door. I turn the umbrella sideways; rain pours onto my boots. I lean out to click the little clicky thing. An additional bucketful of water pours onto my shoulder; more rain drips into my sleeves and collar. I get the damn umbrella closed; now I am holding it straight out of the car, at arm’s length, as though I am about to joust. I wonder what to do next (but am secure in the knowledge that, if a dark knight on a horse appears with a lance, I am well prepared): I can pull the umbrella into the car, across my lap, and onto the passenger seat, but that will shower water everywhere. Also, I suspect the umbrella will not be satisfied with the passenger seat: it will want to reach across the console and share my seat because it hates me. Maybe I should have initially crawled into the BACK seat, left the umbrella to drip on the kids’ seats, and climbed over the console to the front.

Finally I jump out of the car, open the back door, shove the enemy onto the floorboards, and fling myself into the front again. I’m sure you’re wondering how my hair survived: surprisingly, it was fine. Unfortunately, I was sweating furiously from exertion so I can’t say the same about my makeup.

Nordstrom Rack held crowds of women and squeezing through the aisles was a challenge, but we were all in a good mood and feeling festive, as though a throng of friends had come home for the holidays and we were all enjoying our little shopping spree while waiting for the rum punch and figgy pudding (which never came, might I add).

Despite the lack of refreshments, the trip was a success: I bought a pair of ballet flats , a blouse, a “fashion leather” jacket (which I think means “it’s not real leather but we think it still looks good”), a belt (reversible, brown on one side and gold on the other), and a lightweight, drapy sweater.
  
 

Free People sweater, Jessica Simpson ballet flats, Michael Kors belt


Couple of tips for shopping at the Rack:

1. Get a cart. It’s best if you bring a ton of different sizes into the dressing room because there aren’t many attentive sales folks to find your sizes. Without a cart you will be hauling too many clothes around, and the arms of the shirts will drag along the floor, and you’ll trip on them, potentially ruining a great outfit.

2. Tell the person who hands you your number at the dressing room to NOT GIVE AWAY YOUR CART. I lost mine and there were no more to be had. When I tried on shoes, I had too much to carry and it was very awkward (though I still managed, bless my heart).

3. If, like me, you balk at buying $40 or $60 or $80 bras at Vicky’s Secret or even Macy’s, definitely check out the Rack. I got a perfect DKNY T-shirt bra for $16. It’s very supportive (it tells me all the time how nice I look).

PS: Just remembered I also got a black Calvin Klein blazer. Everything together was only $250 (shoes, sweater, blazer, jacket, belt, shirt). Impressive, Jen. Very impressive.

5 Steps to Subtle, Sultry, Smokey Eyes

Here is why I am qualified to offer this eye shadow lesson:

1. I’ve recently talked to a couple of “makeup artists” at Sephora and they showed me how to do eyes, so clearly I am well-educated in the art. Also, having bought way too many Urban Decay color palettes because I appear to be addicted, and having spent way too much time playing around with them and making myself late for things (sorry, DeAnna), I thought I’d share some of the fun I’ve been having;

2. Angel told me she liked the way I did my eye shadow, on a day that I had experimented with “smokey” eyes, so I am obviously a professional. (And don’t go all, “Who the hell is Angel? Jen should really tell us who she’s talking about,” because I’ve written about her a number of times, and I’ve told you that she is my sister-in-law and one of my very bestiest of besties, so pay attention, people! I will not be explaining this again.)

Smokey? Or bruised-looking?

Anyway, here’s how I’ve been doing my eye shadow. A few things to note:

1. I thought this was bullshit, but it turns out that it really does help to have a variety of brushes. Depending on the firmness or softness of the bristles, the thickness of the brush, and the shape of the brush, you have more control over how the eye shadow goes on.

2. Make sure to tap off the excess from the brush before you apply it. If you don’t, flecks of eye shadow will sprinkle onto your cheeks like fairy dust and no matter how pretty the color is, you probably don’t want it on your cheekbones. (Also, it won’t make you able to fly no matter how much you clap your hands and believe in fairies, so don’t bother. I’ve tried it and it just doesn’t work.) Additionally, you are more likely to get a clump of color in one spot when the brush first touches your skin. In a similar vein, avoid using a heavy hand when applying it. Brush very, very lightly. If you apply the eye shadow with too firm a hand, it is harder to spread the shadow evenly and harder to blend. (The Sephora lady showed me the truth of this but I don’t feel like taking more pictures to prove it, so you’ll have to trust me. Which I hope you do. Because if you don’t trust me, why are you reading this in the first place?)

3. I had a third tip, but now I can’t remember it, and don’t tell me I probably only had two but only thought I had three because I have ADHD and tend to forget pretty much everything (see what a convenient excuse it is?). I KNOW I had a third tip, because I specifically went back to the sentence above that says, “A few things to note,” and changed it from “a couple things to note,” because I wanted to be specific and a couple means “two” and a few means “three,” so what the hell was the third tip? argh!

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here are my personal steps to sultry eyes. They are all done in shades of brown and beige. I also included a picture of smokey eyes at the end. Same techniques, but in shades of grey and blue. 

Thin brush for shadow along lash line, wider brush for covering the whole eyelid

  

Clean eyelid, no makeup

  

Smudge a line of dark gray along lash-line using just the tip of the thin brush; make it a little thicker toward outside edge. It doesn’t have to be perfect; you will blend later. Also smudge just a bit of gray to the outside third of the lower lash line.

  

Add matte beige over whole eyelid up to the brow bone using the wide brush, then blend well with the fat brush.

 

   

Add slightly shimmery darker brown in middle of eyelid up to brow bone, feathering toward outside corner of eyebrow

  

Fat brush for blending; short, firm but soft bristles

  

Blend, blend, blend, then blend some more

  

Add mascara, wiggling brush at the base of the lashes to separate. I like to add mascara just to the very outside lashes on the lower lash line.

  

Note just a touch of smudged gray on outside corner of lower lid. I like to use it instead of eye liner, which is too heavy for me.

 

   

Same technique, with darker blues and grays

  

 

Smokey eyes. Looks like deep thoughts are running through my mind. That’s because I was thinking about the deep line running across the bridge of my nose. I want it gone, dammit!

HA! I remembered my third tip: for eye shadow along the brow bone, just below the eyebrow, use a flat brush and PAT it on, don’t brush. I don’t know why. The Sephora people told me to do it that way and I always do what I’m told.  I told you I had a third tip, and you doubted me. I may take away some privileges. Not sure. I’ll have to think about it and see if your behavior changes. So shape up.
*I appear to be feeling a little aggressive today and it looks like I’ve scolded you several times. I apologize. Maybe I’m a little nervous because this is my first tutorial and I’m afraid you’re being judge-y. So please don’t judge and forgive me for my attitude. And have a great day. And let me know if you try this out and if it works for you. And send pictures. And that’s all I have to say.

Why Must My Husband Mock Me? Can’t MAWs Wear Pink Shoes?

So this guy came to measure my windows this morning and when I opened the door for him, he had a box in his hands. “Found this on the steps,” he said. I’m sorry to say that I may have clapped my hands and/or said, “Yay!” and straightaway began opening the box, before realizing that I probably should invite the guy in and show him my windows, seeing as that’s why he was there and all. But as soon as he was engaged with his electronic measuring gadget-thing, I tore into it and lifted out…

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How Cheap Is Too Cheap? Also, Thoughts on Self Image

I received such an inspiring comment from a woman yesterday who wrote about losing weight and how she gets extra movement going on by dancing in line at Walmart. She added that one of the wonderful things about aging is that you get to stop worrying about what other people think of you.

I’m definitely not as worried about what people think as I used to be. I’ve been known to do squats or toe raises while waiting in line when I’m bored, and I’m constantly singing in public without really realizing I’m doing it (and I don’t get embarrassed when the person passing me on the street comments about it). But I still have a hard time with worrying about what other people think about my weight. I know, it’s the whole culture thing, and magazines and models and movie stars being a size negative two, and obsession over “thigh gap.” But I would think I would be beyond that by age 46! As I continue this fashion journey, I have a difficult time being as excited about it as I was last year before I gained a bunch of weight. (Note to self: work on the whole self image thing.)

Still, reading a comment from someone who called me “an inspiration” was truly inspiring to me, in turn (thank you, anonymous commenter!). So I will continue the journey.

So back to style: I’ve been thinking about costume jewelry and wondering, “how cheap is too cheap?” I bought a funky necklace at Kohl’s recently (wait, actually my mom bought it for me – thanks mom!), and my son gave me another one for Mother’s Day (thanks, mike!). They were $15 bucks each, and they sort of look it. So, do I look stylish or tacky? I don’t want to be some schoolmarm type who wears cheap, chunky beads and glasses on a chain. (Of course, that’s what I remember from being in school 30 years ago. Today, all my kids’ teachers are very fashionable.)

But back to my point: stylish or tacky? Check it out.

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(Why why why are the two pictures of the necklaces upside down?! They weren’t when I took them. My kids could fix that for me, but God knows I can’t.)

What do you think? By the way, the picture of me wearing the necklace was taken just after my workout at the gym. Ignore the running bra…

Here’s one more pic of a “cheap” necklace.

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Thoughts?