Monday, July 6, 2015

Botox Watch 2015

I don't know what finally brought me around to Botox. For years I've been in the "not in my face" camp. But something pierced my armor last month.

A girlfriend invited me to a Botox party. (Where a group of women gather at the doc's office and get shot up together, thereby saving a bunch of money by Botox-ing in bulk.) My first thought, "She uses Botox?" She looks amazing, not at all frozen.

Then I got to thinking. Why the heck not? I mean, really. I get a flu shot every year, I drive a car, I had my bikini line obliterated by laser, heck, I had eyeliner tattooed along my lash line. I'm no stranger to calculated risk.

My 40's have been freakin' fantastic. I'm more phlegmatic, and more intentional. I'm a little less disciplined, more principled, and much, much more forgiving. So Botox? Sure, why the hell not. I'll take it for a spin.

Here's how it went down.

I gathered with my ladies, we chatted and waited for our topical anesthetic to take hold while the nurse gathered our litany of syringes. The plan for my forehead was 30cc. The anesthetic worked like a charm and I didn't feel the full sting of multiple shots at all. I walked away with bumps that looked like mosquito bites, which faded in a couple of hours.

Here's a pic from the treatment chair, pre-Botox.

I'm heady with anticipation as the Botox starts to kick in ... and yet, wow, my forehead still wants to express some things and I have a headache.

Day 4 photos.
Still emoting up top.
Look at that, the Scrutiny Furrow is no longer active.
DAY 12
My forehead is a blank slate. The Scrutiny Furrow, also smooth and immobile. Am I happy? Not really.

Turns out that bewilderment, abject surprise, concern, delight, wonder, and myriad other emotions suit my face. I miss my forehead's perfect synchronicity with my brain. 

My kids noticed immediately, "Why does your forehead look weird?" They trust their friend, Forehead, to show them how everything's going. My forehead, she's a barometer of many moods, my kids want the full face show.

Despite the Botox, my forehead still wants to react to life experience. It's giving me a headache, literally. The intensity of the relationship between my forehead and my every emotion can't be severed with a few shots, apparently. It hurts.

What's more? When I do show emotion (which is often), the last, teeny-tiny remaining active muscles make me look akin to Jack Nicholson.


This is me feeling abject surprise, concern, delight, and wonder. Oy. I'm trying to figure the next move: fix the Nicholson effect with more Botox, or let it ride as a poignant reminder of my folly.

Botox has been in use for 20 years and enjoys a good track record. Aside from cosmetic procedures, it's been found to help painful muscle flare-ups, and can sometimes replace a regimen of steroids. People who suffer from Hyperhidrosis (profuse perspiration), can now fix the problem with Botox. Great, right?

This is a good product and works for quite a few women I know. I will never begrudge a sister her sense-of-self, however it comes to pass. For me, Botox is not great. If you love Botox, I'm glad you've found something that works. If you're on the fence about Botox, let me be your cautionary tale.

It's not just my kids that want the full face show. I do too.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A New Approach

We have too many clothes. This "abundance" confuses our days, undermines our peace-of-mind, it exploits hundreds-of-thousands of workers, and it's compromising our planet. As a fashion lover and an ardent, dyed-in-the-wool bargain shopper, I am totally depressed by all of this. But it's undeniable, I've seen it first-hand, in closet after closet: too many clothes. My closet included.

Major manufacturers are producing clothing quickly, in great quantity, and very often without an ethical compass, all to feed a hunger that has been suggested to us by those same manufacturers' marketing departments. What's worse? The clothing that we're buying from these macro-retailers is so shoddily made, its utility so ephemeral, that we are compelled to buy more when a seam bursts, fabrics pill, and fasteners fail after only a few wearings or washings.

When our cluttered closets hold "nothing to wear," our impulse is to buy more. Instead, we should be clearing the rubble and unearthing what we actually wear everyday. I pulled out the clothes that I turn to again and again: jeans of various washes, T-shirts, a few dresses, skirts, a blouse or two, and shoes galore. What remained in my closet was overwhelming. Rubble.

As a "reality stylist" who focuses on budget, utility, and beauty, I've endorsed the macro-brands as bastions of wallet-friendly, easily obtainable, on-trend purchases. As a Portland resident, a mother, and a conscious human, I can no longer give the big boxes my endorsement. I'm detoxing both my business and my personal shopping habits.

How??? Yikes, I have a real wantneedlove of Gap Favorite T's. Forever 21's slutty little dresses for $9.90 sing a siren's song from their racks. Old Navy bathing suits are my kids' summer wardrobe. This won't be easy, it will take great intentionality. But I'm confident: I eradicated fast food from my diet decades ago, and I can curb my fast-fashion cravings too.

Here's how: local designers, vintage, consignment, thrift stores, clothing exchanges, a little bit of research, some ingenuity, and, again, great intentionality.

Join me? Here's some illuminating information to get us all started:

The Science of Simplicity: Why Successful People Wear the Same Thing Every Day

"The True Cost" (A documentary premiering May 29th about the fashion industry.)

Exhaustive list of made-in-USA brands (recently updated)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Do These Jeans Fit?

There's one question I'm asked more than any other: "Do these jeans fit?"

Shopping for jeans can be a frustrating, confusing experience. There are so many brands, scads of fabric permutations, and tons of different cuts, styles, and colors. Believe me, bathing suit shopping is a walk in the park after you've tried on 40 pairs of jeans in bad lighting.

Shopping with a few rules on board will make your next excursion a happier one.

RULE #1: Shop with a plan.
Are you in the market for a skinny jean? High-waisted? Cropped? Bootcut? Know before you go so that you walk away with the jeans that will fit in your wardrobe and look best on your body.

RULE #2: Check the thigh.
The back view of your jeans tells the story of their fit. If you see a defined horizontal line back-of-the-thigh, the jeans are too tight.

Size up or try a different brand if you see this telltale sign on the back of the thigh - these are too-tight.

RULE #3: Watch the waistband.
If you're a woman with curves, you're familiar with the waistband-gap-problem. When you've found jeans that fit everywhere except the waist, consider having them altered (bringing in a waist is a quick and relatively inexpensive fix).

RULE #4: Muffin top. Avoid it at all costs.
When your midsection is squeezed out of the top of your jeans, it's a bummer of a silhouette. Not to mention uncomfortable. Look for jeans with a higher waistband (rise), and/or a wider waistband. There are so many different rises available these days, muffin top is completely avoidable. (There are even jeans with wide, elastic waistbands. Heaven!)

RULE #5: Say NO to camel toe. (I'll spare you the picture.)

Dark, uniform wash: perfect all 'round denim that can be dressed up or down - an excellent choice if you can wear denim to work.

Dark wash with fading/distressing: a little more casual than a uniform dark wash, super-versatile in a wardrobe.

Light wash denim: excellent casual choice and beautiful for spring and summer paired with whites and pastels.

Beware: whiskering at the the hips if you are curvy.

Beware: poorly executed stone-washing, sand-blasting, or lightening in places that you don't want highlighted.

The size and placement of the back pockets is a big deal. Small pockets make a beautiful, bountiful booty look like it's going to eat the pockets for lunch. Large pockets can make a narrow booty look anemic. Back pockets should be proportional to your butt size and placed in a flattering location: not too high or low, and not too close together or far apart.

Beware: flap pockets or embellished pockets if you're curvy. Choose a plain pocket instead.

Bootcut, straight-leg, and flare: the hem of your jeans should hit the middle of the heel (approximately) of whatever shoe you're wearing. Sometimes this means buying two pairs of the same jeans. I know, gah.

Skinnies: cropped above at the ankle (my preference, they tuck in to boots in the winter, look great with sandals in the summer) or hemmed just at the bend of the foot.

Beware: jeans (or any pants) that are cropped mid-calf. These are never flattering, I checked. 

Most denim comes with a little spandex or lycra these days. And thank goodness, a little bit of stretch does amazing things for fit and comfort. If you're looking for durability and a retro fit and feel, look for 100% cotton denim without additives.

Beware: If the jeans-with-stretch fit perfectly in the dressing room, it's likely that they'll be too big after you've worn 'em for a few hours. Try the next size down.

Stay tuned, I'll post about some slam-dunk, great-on-everybody jeans soon!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Shape of Spring

Spring is peeking out from all corners of the Northwest. Daffodils are in full bloom in mid-February and I can actually see the days grow longer because there isn't a cloud in the sky. These hopeful beacons translate immediately to how I dress. See ya later Smart Wool socks (a begrudging good-bye to the striped pair), I'm shopping for a replacement for my Chloe wedge sandal. 

Fashion's transitional seasons are my favorite. Come spring and fall, I'll devour the latest magazines and dogear pages that capture my both fancy and my reality. Spring is the time to bring in some fresh basics and play with proportion and layers. 

Here are my hankerings (click the links to go directly to my coveted items):
1) A stack of crisp white T-shirts. My favorites come from The Gap, aptly named "Favorite T."
The short-sleeved style comes in scoop, crew, and V-neck.

2) Slouchy pants. I love these with a flat T-strap sandal or sneakers, top with a slinky T-shirt and tidy leather jacket ... tomboy chic! 
Find these, and many more, at Shopbop.

3) All-round fabulous sneakers. I'll wear these with shorts, skirts, dresses ... maybe even a bathing suit. 
I'm a traditionalist and lean toward the tried and true brands. These Vans are from Piperlime, which has a vast selection of this style in many silhouettes and price-points.

4) A glorious handbag in dove gray or cream. This beauty from Rag&Bone is spot on.
It's almost too pretty.

5) Easy, lightweight button-front and pop-over shirts to pair with shorts and skinny pants. 
Love the dreamy fabric and piping of this JCrew tunic.
I adore gingham! This Nili Lotan shirt will look outstanding with a pop of color - find it online or in store at Parallel.
Lean on this shirt forevermore. A classic denim silhouette (check that stitching!) from Levi's.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Thoughts on the Gym Rush

Gym memberships soar in January and my gym is no exception. There are many new faces, classes are fuller, and there's a longer wait for machines.

Some complain about this rush of new members, I say kudos to anyone who is trying to better their mind and body through exercise! There is no better way to enjoy your clothes - and your life - than moving and caring for your body.

Welcome new exercisers! Welcome to those who have taken it up after a hiatus! Welcome, welcome everyone!

Welcome, now get the heck out. Seriously. This is not the place for you.

I am terrified by the poor form and risky technique that I see from my fellow classmates and weight-lifters. Large classes don't allow for the instructor to give individualized help, and new members are surely frustrated by the aches and pains that arise from bad form. This is the kind of stuff that will discourage return visits and derail all good intentions for a healthy lifestyle.

I strongly advise starting your new regime with a small exercise studio. While the price may be daunting when compared to a big-box gym, the experience will be well worth your investment. Not only do you get personal attention, but you're more likely to stick to the program because you're accountable to your team of trainers. Showing up is half the battle!

I love a small studio, but when I need to save a little money I'll reactivate my mega-gym membership and hunker down for a few months, locked and loaded with good form and habits from my time at the boutique gym.

Here are some of my favorite studios in Portland (I'd love to hear about yours):

Pil-oga-robic - Outstanding staff and beautiful space, I can't say enough about this place. The instructors are FUN and super-informed. Personal attention abounds and there's always a variety of classes to choose from.

Studio Blue - Dan and his team bust out some killer Pilates workouts. The studio offers both mat and Reformer classes, and there are plenty of Bosu and yoga classes to try too. You'll be sore in all the right places.

Fulcrum Fitness - Fulcrum is bootcamp heaven. Light resistance, interval training, and serious motivation from instructors and fellow exercisers.