Bye bye Birchbox :(

There was a time, like super recently, when the first week of the month was filled with anticipation. I’d text my boyfriend on my way home from work: ANY PACKAGES FOR ME TODAY?! On arrival, I’d rip open the door of our building and hungrily scan the mail area for telltale bright pink packaging or anything promisingly box-shaped. This was makeup time, bitches.

giphy (1)

“Think of a clown and then work your way back”

When my ipsy or Birchbox did arrive, I’d take a seat on the bed, open the package, and carefully tip out its contents. Typically, I received at least one of the following: mascara, lip product, hair product, fragrance sample, hand or body lotion, tiny nail polish, and maybe a three-color eyeshadow palette or a fancy brush. I’d eagerly pore over the products and the little information card, opening the lotions and perfumes to sample their scents. Most of the time, I liked—even really, really liked—what I got.

So why did I just cancel all of my subscriptions?

Continue reading

Makeup Monday: Up, Up in the Air

Whew! Somehow I let the entire month of February rush by me without posting once, for which I apologize. There was a terrible flu/cold that made its way through our house, as well as the beginning of the academic semester, which means work takes on a whole new dimension of busy. I’ve also been counting my pennies this month in preparation for some upcoming travel, so I haven’t been doing any (!) shopping.

But I made an exception not long ago, as I was looking through my nail polish collection and somehow, astonishingly, just not finding anything catching my interest.

Nail polish is kind of a big deal for me. I’m obsessed with color, and polish is an easy place to get very colorful. My partner has had to take my arm and gently pull me out of the nail polish section of Target or Walgreens on multiple occasions. I can stand transfixed in front of a display of Essie or OPI for a surprisingly long time. I love the colors, the subtle differences in shades and tones, the cutesy names. I’m a habitual nail polish impulse-buyer, and am always open to experimenting with new shades.

But the nail polish industry, like the rest of the beauty industry, has some skeletons in its closet.

Continue reading

The Oyster’s Autobiography

“A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls.” —Coco Chanel

Here is a thing you may not know about me: I have a history with pearls. I inherited one of my grandmother’s imitation pearl bracelets when I was eleven, and even though the creamy paint is chipping off the pearl-shaped beads, I treasure it and wear it anytime I need a bit of luck.

My parents bought me my first set of real pearls when I turned sixteen, and they sit in a place of honor in my closet, safe in their gold-leaf velvet-lined box for me to admire whenever I feel the need.

Not being into diamonds, blood or otherwise, I’ve filled my embarrassing secret Pinterest board with dozens of photos of pearl and opal engagement rings. (Really, I just don’t “get” diamonds. Why are they such a thing?)

And almost every day, I finish my getting-ready routine by slipping on one of my mother’s old rings, a simple gold band topped with a single pearl. (She may or may not know that I’ve “borrowed” it from her jewelry box.)


Continue reading

Resolution #3: Share the love

I almost titled this post “Give More,” but then I realized that I’m advising you to do other things with your cast-offs—you know, the things you couldn’t refashion or mend or use in other interesting ways—instead of or in addition to donating them to Goodwill or Oxfam or whatever charity organizations thrive in your part of the world.

That’s not because I am a mean-spirited person who doesn’t believe in charity; quite the opposite. My partner and I live just a few blocks from a St. Vincent de Paul, and we donate there on a regular basis. We also do a lot of shopping there—it’s a great place to pick up furniture on the cheap, and we are almost constantly on the hunt for bookshelves. (Once we were looking at a bookshelf in a furniture store and the salesman asked us if we were actually planning to put books on it and we both had this immediate reaction of shock because what else do people put on their bookshelves, and on their desks, and on their bedside tables, and in their closets, and on their coffee tables, and in their cupboards, and under their couches?)

Anyway, none of that is the point. The point is that there are more things you can do with your old clothes besides handing them over to Goodwill, and in fact you should consider some of these other options, and I’ll tell you why.

Continue reading

Happy New Year!

New Year's Resolutions, 12/31/2010

New Years’ Resolutions, 12/31/2010

And apologies for the long hiatus. December is always an intense month—four family birthdays, including my own, in addition to the end-of-semester rush at work, and then of course the holidays and all of the madness entailed therein. I didn’t intend to drop out of frame, but looking back, it was pretty inevitable.

But now I’ve returned, and as 2014 slips behind us, it’s a good time to start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve never been good at keeping a diary, despite my best intentions; but I do have an old silver velvet journal that I bought back in high school in which I still record my resolutions every year (even though it’s basically falling apart at this point).

"Stop focusing on cats so much."

This one was too hard for me. 1/1/2006

Some of them have been more successful than others; ten years after I resolved to “get a cool boyfriend,” I finally managed to accomplish it (he’s not that cool, but close enough), but I’m still not sure I’ll ever fulfill my 2003 resolution to “be less weird all the time.” It’s important to be realistic.

"Stop playing Sims 2 so much."

NEVER! (Although it’s Sims 3 these days.) 1/1/2006

And here on the blog, I’m going to roll out a few fashion resolutions over the next four posts (my first ever post series!). I always find that January is a good time to reassess my wardrobe and make sure that everything in there needs to be there. I suppose that could also be a metaphor for life in general; make of that what you will. This year, I’m focusing on cleaning out, paring down, spending wisely, and being creative. The beginning of the year is always so thick with promise and potential, don’t you think? I’m looking forward to getting started, and I hope my journey through my closet will be interesting and useful to you as well.

As for what else is new: I’ve finally completed the Where I Shop page and added a few new links, so make sure to stop by and give it a look. A few of the things on there haven’t (yet) shown up in blog posts, so there are new discoveries to be made!

I’m glad to be back on the Conscious Closet, and I’m glad you’re here as well!

"Be more selfless; need fewer things"


Softening (or, skinny-crazy)

I watched this TED Talk on a recent lunch break and it brought me face to face with some things I’ve been thinking about lately.

For most of my life, I had a unique disdain for girls and women who expressed doubt about their looks, especially their weight. “She only says that she’s fat because she wants everyone else to tell her she’s skinny,” was my typical put-down: I despised needy girls, insecure girls, who I assumed were only seeking others’ opinions to inflate their own egos.

I would never do that, of course. I was above caring. I was big into the body acceptance movement, although deep down I might have recognized this was mostly because I knew there was nothing about my body that might be considered unacceptable. If not convinced of my own beauty, I was at least very secure in my slenderness; I’d been told for years how thin I was, and I’d never had to do anything to earn what I recognized as praise. There were other things “wrong” with me, of course: I was too tall and gangly, my forehead was too big, my nose too sharp, my hair too unruly. But at least I had a flat stomach.

There were times, of course, when being thin was not particularly helpful—for instance, when I was desperate to develop double-D breasts (never happened), or when my parents briefly suspected me of having an eating disorder (I didn’t.) But the rest of the time, thin was great. I’d preen when mall saleswomen suggested a smaller size than I had pulled off the rack, or when friends’ mothers, watching me feast on chips and chocolate and pizza and ice cream without gaining a pound, sighed “I miss those days!” I’d been thin all my life, but even though I’d never experienced anything else, I was instinctively aware that being skinny was better than the alternative.

I like to think that I was never hateful toward other bodies, but I know that I was not entirely free of judgment. Given my own miraculous powers of eating anything I wanted without consequences, it took me longer than it should have, especially as a self-avowed feminist, to recognize that other bodies worked differently. And even after I came to this realization, I didn’t stop taking my own slender form for granted. While my college friends eschewed the ice cream machine in the dining hall or turned down Halloween candy, I indulged myself. I drank sodas, ordered rich desserts, ate second and third helpings. I never denied myself, or gave a thought to the calories (and chemicals, and junk) that were going into my body.

Part of this, of course, was because my metabolism was fast and I ran every day, which made me almost constantly hungry; but it was also because I could. I was thin, and in my mind I always would be, and I never needed to extend compassion to girls who desired outside validation of their own prettiness or skinniness. I figured those girls were just shallow, or too dumb to see what was in front of them. I knew better than they did. I didn’t buy into the popular opinion of what was “beautiful” (and of course I would have insisted that this had nothing to do with the fact that my own body fit within those standards, and it’s always easier to reject a privilege when you’re one of the privileged).

Then I fell in love, and it ruined everything.

Continue reading