Friday, January 11, 2013

Brrrr...Cold Weather Beauty Essentials

Winter is, bar none, my least favorite season.  I am not one of those bloggers who is going to sit here and wax nostalgic about snowfalls and cold noses and cozy scarves.  You tell me that and all I see in my mind is slushy dirty puddles, chapped runny noses, and itchy wool choking me.

I'm basically counting down the days until spring hits again.

But, until we get to light jacket weather, I have to tough it out like the rest of the world.  And I've discovered a few beauty tools to make the short days go a little faster.

Winter Beauty Essentials

Aquaphor.  This stuff is like life to me.  It's greasy and thick and pretty gross, but damn, does it work.  I try to put it on my hands before bed to minimize the slick door handles and toddlers slipping through my grasp.  I also use it as a lip balm, spot treatment for dry spots, and before long runs to prevent blisters.

Creme de Corps.  Aquaphor is kind of like the napalm of moisturizers.  It's the big gun.  And, as such, it should be used strategically.  It's also NOT what I would use before a date or at any point where I would need to hold onto anything.  For those scenarios, I turn to Kiehl's and their Creme de Corps line.  The regular is great, but I prefer the texture of the lighter version.

Lip Stain.  Picture this, you are strolling down the sidewalk and the wind is whipping around, like tiny icicle knives in your face. You pull up your beautiful cream colored scarf and then realized you put on lip gloss and now have stains on your scarf and fuzz on your lips.  Sweet.  You can always skip lip color, but I think the alternative (playing up your eyes) is harder, so I'll opt for lip stain like Revlon's Just Bitten Lipstain and Balm.  The stain stays on and pretty under a protective slick of clear lip balm like Rosebud Salve or the aforementioned Aquaphor and you don't have to worry about getting a bezoar from eating the lint off your scarf.

Leave-In Conditioner.  As hilarious as Reese finds it when we shock her with static electricity, I'm not a huge fan of what it does to my hair.  I'll come in from the cold and find myself with enough flyaways to audition as the next Muppet character, especially since I've still got my post-baby baby hairs growing in.  At my last haircut, my stylist recommended a leave-in conditioner, like Aveda's Smooth Infusion Style-Prep Smoother which can be used every time I wash my hair.  She also mentioned that a deep conditioner every week or so can also help keep hair from standing straight up.  I'm a fan of Aussie's 3 Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner and have been since I read about it on Capitol Hill Style.  I apply it before I shave my legs and then rinse it out after. Unfortunately, both of those things had become quite rare.  But I'm back on the wagon after Reese dissolved into a fit of giggles the last time I took of my hat.

Waterproof Mascara.  While I'm not the sentimental type (I don't cry at weddings or at Titanic), I have majorly watery eyes.  I set out into the cold and it's total waterworks.  Honestly, I haven't found a perfectly waterproof mascara that I lovelovelove, Cover Girl Lash Blast Waterpoof Mascara is a solid choice.

So, those are the products stocking my shelves for the next 67 days.  What about you?  Anyone from an actual cold weather area with some tips?  Any waterproof mascara recommendations to knock my socks off?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Heading North!

Hello!  In a couple of weeks, my sister and I are heading north to Toronto for a long weekend with a couple of girlfriends.  While I'm definitely looking forward to a little solo girls time, I'm trying to not care that Reese and my husband will eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all weekend.

To that end, I was wondering if any of you had any recommendations for things to do, places to eat, places to shop.  Let me know in the comments or email me at caphillbarbie {at} gmail {dot} com.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Naptime Reading Material: Elizabeth Cline's Overdressed

Two weeks ago, two things happened to me.  I read Elizabeth Cline's Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion and my pants ripped while I was taking Reese to the Children's Museum.

I was surprised how much one helped explain the other.  Let me back up.

I heard about this book, a Fast Food Nation slash Omnivore's Dilemma for the H&M set, from New York Magazine and Jaclyn Day's blog.  As someone who loves clothes and a heaping helping of guilt, this book was made for me.  But even knowing the premise going in - that cheap trendy clothes are reducing the value of human labor, working conditions and the quality of our clothes - I was surprised at how much I was affected by this book.

Cline lays out the clothing landscape in the U.S. as a vast, trend-driven economy where consumers cannot tell the difference between well made garments and rags and frankly aren't willing to pay for any kind of quality.  She examines the fashion industry that has pushed for ever faster cycles to ensure that customers will buy new things and cut costs to the point where it will always be less expensive to buy new than to replace what we already have in our closets.  Further, the industry producing these clothes has moved to cheaper and cheaper labor in countries where standards are low and there is no incentive to look at anything besides the bottom line.

If that sounds depressing, it's because it is.

Which brings me back to my pants.  They were a pair of navy Gap corduroys that I picked up last year.  I really liked them.  They fit me well, they looked good, and I wore them a lot.  Apparently too much, because the fabric wore out and they ripped.  I would guess that I got 7 months of solid wear out of them, that's it.  I've noticed this more and more with clothes I've bought recently.  A tee shirt from Madewell that has holes in it after two washes.  Threads on a J. Crew shirt that were never cut and end up getting pulled.  Buttons that fly off and are never found again.

One of the things that resonated with me in Overdressed is the fact that while cheap fashion chains like Forever 21 and H&M offer extremely low prices and admittedly less than excellent quality, mid-to-high level companies like J. Crew and Gap are not offering much better quality for much higher prices.

So, the big question is always: what to do with this information?  Here is what I am planning.

Buy less.  Look, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I'm not going to shop any more or will never buy something cute and trendy at H&M.  But, I am certainly going to think long and hard about it before I do.  This book did open my eyes to the costs associated with an impulse splurge and they are just too high.

Buy better.  At several points in the book, people compare fashion with the food industry where the "slow food" movement has taken over. Consumers are willing to seek out organic and ethically raised foods and are willing to pay a premium for these products.  Cline herself advocates for this approach to reduce the fast-fashion lifecycle.  I'm a huge fan of farmers markets and slow food, mostly because it just plain tastes better.  I am hoping to reap the same rewards from the clothing industry.  Taking the time to find clothes that are well made and from good fabrics, will hopefully last longer and look better.

Pay attention.  I've noticed the "Made in..." labels in clothing and, you know, patted myself on the back when it says USA or France, but never really cared beyond that.  I think that time has passed.  I plan to spend more time and effort seeking out clothes that were made in countries with solid labor standards and minimum wage requirements.  Maybe that's naive and simplistic of me, but it's something.  Plenty of my favorite labels are made in the USA, like Milly and Rag and Bone, and you can easily search sites like Neimans and Modcloth for the Made in the USA label.  Also, I've noticed that very few companies (even those that are vocal about reducing outsourcing) make everything in any one country, so caveat emptor.

Wear what I have.  I have plenty of shoes and clothes that look great...I just need to wear them instead of seeking out the newest thing.  Instead of looking for a new scarf that looks just like the one another blogger is wearing, I should really head to my drawer and pull out my vintage Hermes.

Take better care of my clothes.  I've never really been a "hand wash" kind of girl, and that was before I had a baby.  I've become a strictly wash-and-wear or dry clean only person.  I am going to try to do more washing of sweaters and invest in a garment steamer to reduce my dry cleaning bill.  I also am planning to tailor and repair more clothes and shoes to get them to wearable shape.

Buy used. I live within striking distance of some of the greatest consignment stores in the country.  The internet is a gold mine of vintage treasures.  I resolve to try to find a vintage version of what I want before dashing to the Gap.

I know it's easy to write off a book like this, to say that it's too hard to do better, that the problem is too massive, etc.  But, as I read Overdressed, I kept thinking about my closet.  I thought about the things I really liked.  My vintage pink dress.  The Petit Bateau tee shirts that I bought in Paris while studying abroad.  My grandmother's Chanel necklace.  I want more clothes that I will love and that will last me a long time, not something that will leave me wrapping a sweater around my waist in the Dora the Explorer exhibit.

Has anyone else read this?  What do you think?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Be It Resolved, Again


That was one hell of a holiday.  I really mean it.  Between traveling, family illnesses, a thousand Kay Jewelers ads, retirings, present giving and one pulled muscle, I am officially ready to move into the new year.

As I've mentioned before, I actually like making resolutions.  And looking back on my post from last year, I think I made some good ones.  Ones I would like to continue to work on.  So, I thought I'd go over how I did on my resolutions and what I'd like to do this year to improve on them.

Last year, I focused on being healthier.  This year, I want improve the quality of my life.

Exercise.  I started 2012 hoping to just get to the gym three times a week.  I ended up training for a marathon. I'd say kept that one.  I definitely felt as though having a goal kept me honest (more like scared straight) and feel that I need that kind of motivation going forward.  Exercising made me happy, gave me time alone to think, gave my husband a chance to spend some quality time with Reese.  For 2013, I would like to actually run a marathon.  I'm signed up for the National Marathon in DC in March, but I think a tweaked muscle might keep me to the half.  I do have guaranteed entry to NYC this year after the cancellation and I'm planning on doing it.

Eat Better.  Last year, I just resolved to eat better, especially in front of Reese.  We joined a CSA farm share program over the summer which was pretty much amazing.  Even though my not-so-secret yuppie locavore dreams of Reese snarfing down kale and celery root and any other vegetable didn't come true and I ended the season with about 4 pounds of rotting beets in my fridge (so many beets), it was a lot of fun.  Reese tried a ton of things, we ate more salad than ever before, we fed family and friends and we are planning on signing up again this summer.  For this coming year, I would like to try to do something similar and get higher quality meats for our meals and have at least one dinner a week together as a family.  Reese is finally old enough to use real cutlery and seems to really enjoy sitting down at the table with the adults.  Maybe revive the Sunday dinner tradition?

Get Out.  Hey!  Did you know that spending all your time with a toddler attached to you is a recipe for total madness?  I guess I didn't until I started taking some time off this year and found that it makes life a lot easier.  I worked out a schedule where my mother spends one day a week with Reese and I get some free time and it's been a huge help.  I get to go shopping, take the stairs, go through revolving doors, etc.  It's fun.  I think going forward, I should try to plan those days a little better and meet friends without babies, get my hair cut, etc.  Packing a little more in might make those days feel better spent.  Also, this past year, my husband and I took a vacation without Reese.  It was pretty bizarre to not see her for a week, but also refreshing.  I think shorter breaks are in order for the future...coming up...girl's trip to Toronto with my sister!

Dress Better.  Now that we've passed the spit up on everything/grubby hands phase, I feel like I can finally start to wear nicer clothes.  I did try the outfit post thing, but it felt kind of strange.  Did people like them?  I feel that I am just not that photogenic, mostly because I'm too old for those crazy OOTD kids on Facebook (insert old-man voice and shaking fist at sky).  For the next year I want to focus on buying fewer clothes of higher quality.  I just read Elizabeth Cline's Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion and feel that impulse buying and trendy clothes are not the way to go.  (More on this book in another post.)

Work.  Yeah, this one is hard for me.  I'm still looking for the right job, or really, any job that I feel would make it worth going back to work.  I had some really close calls this year, including being passed over for one job that I was almost certain would have been perfect.  My heart is still in policy and government work, which is scarce to non-existent in New York.  On the upside, armed with my library card and New York's amazing ebooks program, I have been taking more time to read actual full length books!  Yes, there was the Hunger Games Trilogy and Gone Girl, but also some more literary type things.  Any recommendations are welcome.  For 2013, I haven't given up on finding a job, especially since Reese will start preschool in the fall and I really would like to get back into working.  Maybe my one holdover...

So...what about you all?  Any resolutions?  Things you think I should cover?  I promise one of my mini-resolutions will be to blog more...
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