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In Which I Stopped Buying Clothes and Really Didn’t Notice

If you’ve been keeping up, you will know that this is a year in which I’ve determined to simplify. One of the ways I’m attempting to do that is by not purchasing as much clothing – and what better way to give up a thing than cold-turkey, right? So I haven’t bought any clothing since December—and you know, I really don’t miss it a bit.

(Wardrobe staple items are excluded, so I did buy three new pairs of plain black leggings and one plain black long sleeved tee to replace one that had worn out.)

What I’ve found in the last 4.5 months is that I wear a uniform. It’s black leggings, a black dress, some kind of scarf or necklace, and maybe a jacket.

This dress is one of my favorites, I like it so much I have two of them identical. I wear one at least once a week to work. Very flattering over the boobs of doom. Neckline not too low.

I also have two black spaghetti-strapped swing dresses, and I wear them regularly with either a jacket over them or a shirt under them.

These are the things I choose when I go out, when I go to work, when I run errands, they’re just the things I feel comfortable in and don’t have to think about.

Of course, I have a huge closet full of other things, not as perfect as these things, and I have been pulling more stuff out and mix and matching in the last month as spring rolls in. Stripey tshirts with jumper-dresses over them, or stripey t-shirts with high-waisted skirts, or (as today) hot pink maxi skirts and black tees. A lot of black and white with a splash of color.

Perhaps inspired by my new bag. Maybe just a little.
Perhaps inspired by my new bag. Maybe just a little.
My favorite scarf. Might need some TLC now that I look at it closely. Love you, Beetlejuice scarf!
My favorite scarf. Might need some TLC now that I look at it closely. Love you, Beetlejuice scarf!

I’ve also been throwing out lots of things, or putting them in donate/resell piles. Things that don’t fit? Gone. Things I actually don’t like to wear? Gone.  Worn out things I’ve had since my 20s? Gone. I threw out a sweatshirt yesterday that I wore when I was in college. It was an old Gap one and it said “Final Victory 29″ on it. I remember my boyfriend at the time used to make fun of it because it was super oversized, and he used to call me “Final Victory” whenever I was exercising. I’ve kept it more than 20 years because some guy I haven’t spoken to in almost that long thought I was cute in it. Literally what am I doing? I am cute all the time irrespective of the comments of others.

I’ve also been examining some of my attitudes towards dressing. I buy things and I think I never wear them because I never go anywhere nice, but then I go somewhere nice and I still want to wear my old basics and not be fancy. I don’t think I am in the mood for being looked at, or drawing attention to myself. I want to look put together, but I definitely don’t want it to look like I am trying. Because I am for sure not trying. I guess that’s why all the makeup’s been neutral lately too. I just don’t want to feel very visible. How much I don’t care needs to show. One day I might care again, I hope I do, in a healthy way, but right now I don’t care. I just want to wear something respectable enough that people treat me well, and otherwise be low-key.

Of course my idea of low-key dressing is probably not the same as other people’s idea.

Anyway, I am hoping to come out of this year with a severely streamlined closet, and a clearer idea of the types of things it’s worth it for me to purchase in the first place.  My year-long clothing-buying hiatus has not been a challenge in the least.

Betsey-Johnson-Opening

Meet My New Bag, Bow Regard

I’ve been wanting a new bag for months now, something perfectly me. I’ve even ordered and returned bags for not being quite right. Finally I was at TJMaxx this weekend and found this Betsey Johnson  “Bow Regard” (gettit!?) beauty and made it mine.

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Then yesterday after the WORST computer trauma “everything is wrong and everyone is an idiot” day at work I decided to go to the mall and buy the Anastasia Liquid Lipstick in Potion like I have been wanting, but won’t pay $10 to ship. I checked online and they had it in stock, but when I got there it was GONE. I over-reacted in a ridiculous way, considering there are people dying all over the world and all I wanted was a lipstick, but you know how those days go, right? And the fact that it was a computer glitch, when my whole day was a giant computer glitch – ugh. Anyway to comfort myself I went to Nordstrom Rack and there I found a new wallet/wristlet by Hobo that matches my bag very well, and also is slimline so I don’t shove too much stuff in it. I am well pleased.

Also I think that lipstick has been discontinued and I bought one on ebay for $28 because that is the kind of week I am having.

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So Susan Cosmetics – Thoughts on the Brand

I can’t remember how I first heard of So Susan Cosmetics, but I was immediately intrigued. (My first name is Susan, if you didn’t know.) Narcissism fulfilled by self-named beauty products? The circle is complete!

I wasn’t quite sure what to buy, so I signed up for their Lip Love subscription. I’ve gotten two bags from them so far, and also received another product from the brand in a separate monthly subscription box (I think Glossybox?) so I have a few things here to give some initial thoughts on, as well as some thoughts on the brand as a whole. These are not all of the products I have, but the ones I thought would make for interesting reviews. Note, the brand is cruelty free.

First, the products.

So Susan Cheek Jelly Lip and Cheek stain.
So Susan Cheek Jelly Lip and Cheek stain. $15 for .34oz

This product was in my first Lip Love bag. I haven’t used it much, but it seems to be a nice, pigmented stain. I will probably use this more in the summer, when I want a long-lasting, no-fuss stain. There is some leaking/messiness with the lid, you can see in the above photo, but nothing has actually leaked out of the container or stained anything else. The color is quite vibrant and is said to be derived from “a proprietory blend of Pomegranate Seed Oil, Raspberry Seed Oil, Cherry Kernel Oil, Cranberry Seed Oil and Goji Berry Extract”

Here’s a comparison shot next to Benefit Benetint. ($30 for .42 oz)

Benetint is on the left. You can see that this product is much more pigmented and true to color.
Benetint is on the left. You can see that this product is much more pigmented and true to color. It’s also more matte.

I also received this concealer quad. At first I wasn’t a fan, as the texture felt too waxy and somewhat off.

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So Susan Cosmetics concealer quad $30.95
You can see why I thought it was waxy initially - once you break through the top layer it's got a decently creamy formula though.
You can see why I thought it was waxy initially – once you break through the top layer it’s got a decently creamy formula though.

But then I started to play with it more, and I used a brush to get into the pans and to apply – that’s when I started to like it a lot more.

Here are some swatches on my inner arm.
Here are some swatches on my inner arm. (Darkest, white, light, medium.)

Going to play with it more, but it seems like it would be good for combating redness around the nose. Depends on if the formula breaks down on the skin or not.

Next in the March Lip Love Bag I got this Liquid Powder Shadow Palette ($14.95) in “Gatsby Girl”. It is an eight-pan palette of eyeshadows. I am intrigued by the color mix here.

8 pan palette, So Susan Cosmetics
Eight-pan palette, So Susan Cosmetics

The pigmentation isn’t stellar, but it might be fun to play with because the colors are great for spring/summer and (a few) are super sparkly.

A little patchy (without primer) but very sparkly!
A little patchy (without primer) but very sparkly!

I got a blush duo, one cream and one powder product. They both seem pretty nice, but I am confused as to how different (and non-complementary) the colors area.

Blush Duo - So Susan Cosmetics
Blush Duo – So Susan Cosmetics

One warm terra cotta type cream product, one cool fuchsia toned sparkle powder. Swatches:

Both pretty, but very different in tone.
Both pretty, but very different in tone.

The last product I will show you is a lip pencil. It’s called the Lip Dome in the color “Rhubarb.” Normally priced at $12. I got one of these last month (I think it was Melon?)  and honestly I just threw it out. The color was so bad on me – a warm toned nude-brown, I not only didn’t want to wear it personally, I didn’t even want to see any of my friends wearing it.  So I tossed it rather than pass it on. I got another Lip Dome this time, but in a more wearable pink color.

Unfortunately, the very first time I went to use it, the entire tip broke off.

The front fell off.
The front fell off.

The color is not bad, but the it’s really a very dry stick.

Color swatch
Color swatch

Here’s a short video where you can actually hear how hard and dry this is.

Anyway, the products so far have been some hits and some misses. Now let’s talk about the subscription model.

Here is the description of the subscription from the So Susan website:

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Click to embiggen.

Their bag is $15.95 a month, no shipping. The first highlighted passage says that you will be able to preview your bag each month and opt in/opt out. (So far that has not been the case. I have been charged each month and I have never been sent any information about previewing a bag or opting out of a months’ delivery.)

The second highlighted portion seems to directly contradict the first highlighted portion – this sentence tells you that to skip a month you must cancel your subscription. Wut?

The monthly parcels come in cute cosmetics bags, and they seem to be excellent value for money when compared to the prices the products are in the web store (whether one would pay those prices for products of this quality is debatable.) The bags so far have also included little extras, a starry ankle bracelet last month and a pair of feathered earrings this month. Those are nice, but honestly I can shop for my own accessories.

This is a brand with great packaging, good merchandising ideas, and a funny aesthetic. It does seem to be struggling with behind-the-scenes organization/logistics and product quality. I am going to stay on for one more month at least and see what happens – hopefully things will come together for them on the back end and they will have products and service that match the high expectations set by the look of their packaging.

Come with me, and you'll be... in a world of pure imagination.

MOBOT Orchid Show 2015

The best photo I've taken in the Missouri Botanical Garden
The best photo I’ve taken in the Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden is one of those local treasures that I sometimes forget is quite so special as it is. A short drive from my home, this National Historic Landmark is the oldest botanical garden in continuous operation in the country.

I am a member of the Garden, which means that I get free entry anytime, and free or reduced admission to most Garden events. I also get reciprocal free admission to many other gardens in the US. It’s a good value, $65 a year, I only wish that the hours were extended, since they close daily at 5 p.m., which means I (and most worker bees) can’t usually visit on a weekday.

Two of my favorite shows that the Garden puts on are the Succulent Show in the summer and the Orchid Show in the winter.  This past Friday I had the day off work and finally got to see the Orchid Show.  The Orchid Show kicks off in January, with a members-only preview night (I went to that a few years ago, it’s wonderful to see the show at night) and then lasts for a few months. The orchids are brought in and built/planted into an artificial rain forest-type environment. Ideally I would have loved to have a docent next to me and spend hours learning about everything I was seeing. I find that, as I get older, I don’t want to just ooh and aah at pretty things, or laugh and point at ugly things, or sneer at things that are disgusting, I want to understand. I want access to someone who can explain to me why the tree grows this way and how its environment pushed it to do so. I want to know the adaptive function of those strangely shaped leaves. I want to know how animals and plants integrate to form these environments, and how we’re (almost probably) destroying them. Everything I learn about, I want to learn ten layers deeper. Lack of access to experts on every topic frustrates me. I just want to understand more.

Anyway. Here are some photos. They are pretty. I have taken them and edited them in ways that help me build an imaginary world in my mind. This is the world I’d live in if I could choose – a world I built myself, full of dark things and bright things and mystery. I hope you like them.

Building this show must be so delightful.
Building this show must be so delightful.
Seeing the show at night is my preference, but things do seem to glow in the daytime.
Seeing the show at night is my preference, but things do seem to glow in the daytime.
Come with me, and you'll be... in a world of pure imagination.
Come with me, and you’ll be… in a world of pure imagination.
Take a look, and you'll see, into your imagination
Take a look, and you’ll see, into your imagination
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We’ll begin, with a spin, traveling in the world of my creation
What you see will defy
What you see will defy
Explanation
Explanation
If you want to view paradise
If you want to view paradise
simply look around and view it
simply look around and view it
anything you wan to, do it.
anything you want to, do it.
Want to change the world? There's nothing to it.
Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.
There is no life I know, to compare to pure imagination
There is no life I know, to compare to pure imagination
Living there, you'll be free.
Living there, you’ll be free.

If you truly wish to be.

 

The contenders.

New Mascara Three Way

I’ve been cheating on my fave Tarte Gifted mascara lately, experimenting with some other formulas. Short story – Tarte is still my everyday favorite, but some of these others have definite merit. (and one is a major fail.)

The contenders.
The contenders. Benefit, Dior, Make Up Forever

First is a total luxury indulgence, a splurge on a day when I felt bad. (It was worth it.) Dior Addict It Lash $27.50. It’s really not that much costlier than the others I mention here, but I think that anytime I see “Dior” I just think luxury. Plus it IS very close to $30 for mascara. I mean. That is kind of nuts.

I’d first tried this in a 100-pt perk deluxe sample from Sephora, and I was really impressed. This is a long-lash, not a thick-lash, formula. So it’s best on days when you’re wearing little to no eyeliner and you really want some long fluttery lashes to contrast with your lid. It’s a really nice formula, doesn’t clump, and best of all it doesn’t give me panda eyes by one hour in.

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Brush from Dior Addict It-Lash

 

The brush is rubbery with short bristles and it dispenses an appropriate amount of product. The packaging is also incredibly sleek and makes me feel happy whenever I see it on my dressing table. Would definitely repurchase, although this will not ever be my everyday mascara.

Benefit Roller Lash
Benefit Roller Lash

Benefit Roller Lash $24 Firstly, the name. In my world, the word “Roller” almost always comes with “Girl” after it. So I keep wanting to call this “Roller Girl Lash.” But it has nothing to do with Roller Skates, and everything to do with old-fashioned roller technology. This mascara is supposed to help your lashes hold a curl.  I am not sure if you can see from my out of focus photo above (camera could not make itself focus on those tiny hooks) but the spikes on the brush here have little barbs at the end, supposedly to hook all your lashes. I really liked this mascara, but I will say that it’s a really REALLY wet formula. Once you apply it, you need to sit very still and wait for it to dry. If you touch your eye area before it dries, your lashes will form one giant clump of mono-lash. Not kidding, it’s weird. But that said, if you comb through your lashes after application, it’s really good stuff. I am really curious to see what it will do in another week or so once the tube dries down some.

I don’t know that it made my lashes curlier, because mine curl naturally, but I did like the look, very much. Not a lot of panda eyes with this one, either.

Lastly and leastly, we have this hot mess of Make Up Forever Smoky Extravagant Mascara $24. Just look at this photo below, firstly:

Look at that disgusting mess there.
Look at that disgusting mess there.

OK just basic tech here, if you’re going to have a brush with this kind of extreme point at the tip, the inner rim of the tube (which should remove excess product from the brush) will not be able to clean it correctly. I mean, obviously. That will never work. You either have an inner rim small enough to clean that small tip, which will remove all the product from the base of the brush OR you have an inner rim that can remove the right amount from the base of the brush, thereby leaving the end covered in goo, as we see here. So when you pull this wand out, the end is completely glooped up. That’s just a fail.

Then, when you actually put this stuff on, you have maybe 10 minutes before it starts falling down/flaking off and turning your under-eyes black and smudgy. By the time I had driven to work I looked like I’d had a major crying jag. I don’t think that’s the kind of “smoky” I am into.  Nothing more to say about this really, it’s  a crappy, ill thought out brush and a super crappy flaky formula. Total fail.

It’s been fun to experiment with some different formulas though, and know that when I am in a mood for a different lash look I have some options. Have you tried any of these, or my favorite Tarte mascara? Let me know in the comments!

Brightening Violet Powder

You Made Me (Want To) Love You – Bésame

Agent Carter wearing her signature lip in Bésame 1946 Red Velvet
Agent Carter wearing her signature lip in Bésame 1946 Red Velvet

Like most other women I know, I am a little obsessed with Agent Carter.  Bad-ass vintage lady-spy? Yeah, I am into it. So when a post went around Tumblr detailing what makeup she used, and how anyone could create her signature lip, I found a brand new company to check out – Bésame Cosmetics.

Bésame sells cosmetics based on vintage formulas, in old-school packaging, with a retro advertising vibe. The 1946 Red Velvet lipstick that Agent Carter sports is frequently sold out, and I honestly need a new red lipstick like I need a roundhouse kick to the head, but I wanted to try something from the brand! So I settled on this lovely, vintage inspired Brightening Violet Powder ($22 at Bésame and Sephora.)

Brightening Violet Powder
Brightening Violet Powder

Described on the site as:

 A translucent violet powder that brightens any skintone. The finely milled formula sets makeup beautifully, leaving a soft, matte finish and a subtle violet fragrance. Wear it alone, over foundation, or around eyes to instantly lighten dark circles.

  • Formulated without Parabens
  • Gluten-Free
  • Made in the USA

It seemed like the kind of thing anyone could use, and that packaging just looked adorable, perfect for my dressing table. So I ordered it from Sephora (free shipping, samples, points) and received it a few weeks ago.

Overall, I am disappointed with the product, and wouldn’t purchase it again. For one thing, the packaging, which I assumed would be a vintage metal tin style, is plastic. It’s cute and everything, but it’s plastic. The box it came in was perfection, but that box gets thrown away, and you’re left with a pretty ho-hum plastic container that does not pass for vintage at all.

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Nice design I guess, but very basic plastic.

The package I got doesn’t event match the packaging shown on Sephora’s site (although it does match the packaging show on the Besame site.) I liked the idea of the burgundy (which matches their overall branding) much more than I like the lavender and yellow/cream combo.

This is the product packaging shown on Sephora's website. See why I assumed it was a metal tin?
This is the product packaging shown on Sephora’s website. See why I assumed it was a metal tin? It looks like a tin in this shot.

 

Also, the product is really hard to get to. I suppose this might be designed to carry in a handbag, so it’s got several fail-safes to prevent it spilling. But that makes it difficult to use or to apply evenly. You have to unscrew the top, take out the puff, flip up the plastic interior lid then… what? Shake some into the lid?

When I placed the puff in this opening and shook the package upside down to expel some powder, almost no product was deposited onto the puff, and what was deposited was in tiny pinprick sized mounds. So you can’t really get a smooth or even application with this system. You can shake some product into the lid and then press the puff into that, but then if you dumped out too much you can’t really put it back in. My best results have been tapping some into the lid, then using a brush to apply.

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Cute, but hard to get at.

The powder itself is nice enough I guess. The scent is light and innocuous. The violet color does not translate to the skin, except as a brightener, as they describe (your face doesn’t have a purple cast.) It does an OK job at stopping shine, but it doesn’t do well for me in the under-eye area, it makes any fine lines I have much more prominent.

For the $22 price tag, I think there are better options out there, with nicer, easier to use packaging.

I would say that all three of these (which I’ve used personally) are comparable in effect, and the MUF and Tarte products are easier to get out of the packaging. I know there are some other drugstore options (I think e.l.f. makes an HD powder) which would probably do almost as well. So, my thought is that you could save your money on this one.  I am sorry this is the first thing I bought from the brand, because it makes me bit reluctant to try anything else in case it’s also overhyped. If you’ve tried any of the lipsticks or compacts, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Here's where I weigh in.