The pile on the closet floor

This post is not for the faint of heart. It is about that awful moment of reckoning, typically occurring as you face your closet, when you realize that everything has started to go irretrievably south.

Advancing age is not without its blessings, but appearance isn’t one of them. We droop. In multiple places. Even if our weight is reasonable and we exercise zealously, we droop.

It isn’t as much about weight (though it certainly can be) as it is about shape. My godmother, who is a pretty spiffy 94, petite, erect, and trim, has become downright phobic about clothes shopping because nothing fits her. That’s crazy, but I get it. Clothes shopping isn’t fun any more, and I’m a LOT younger than she is, as she graciously reminds me with some frequency.

I truly believe that I’ve become more patient and mellow with each passing year, but neither quality is likely to manifest when I’m trying to find something to wear. I’m recalling my old friend Cathy, in the comic strip of the same name. I couldn’t’ find the strip online, but I have a very vivid recollection of Cathy in a multi-mirrored dressing room, throwing a tantrum worthy of a two-year-old, shrieking and jumping up and down feverishly on the pile of rejected bathing suits she’s hurled to the floor.

I can relate. Cathy is all of us. Just ask me how many times I change clothes when I’m going out—to church, to a work appointment, to dinner, or—God forbid—to a high school reunion.

It’s almost worse when I’m forced to shop for something new. Although I adore dresses, I’ve pretty much given them up because what fits above the waist definitely does not fit below. I’ve tried A-lines and felt like one of those old-fashioned clothes pin bags: narrow at the top and wide at the bottom. [Does anyone remember clothespin bags? Or clothespins? Probably not.] I hold no hope of ever finding a dress I like that doesn’t require more than its weight in gold in alterations… and a capable tailor to do them, which seems like another thing of the past, at least in my neighborhood.

This sorry state of affairs, for all intents and purposes, leaves me pretty much up the creek (you know which one) without a paddle.

Yet I know there must be designers out there in the ether who know how to dress a woman who is not as lithe and willowy as she once was, in something that has neither elastic nor Velcro®, actually has a shape, and is definitely NOT Boho. Been there, done that, don’t want the T-shirt.

If that designer is YOU, hit me up, and let’s talk.






Lipstick, part deux…

If you read my post last week on lipstick, more specifically RED lipstick, you’ll recall my mentioning that some women wear it very well, and that the “other” Angela, my hair stylist, is one of them. I thought you’d get a kick out of this photo of us after today’s hair appointment. Note my pale lips versus her vibrant ones. Not coincidentally, her salon is appropriately, and cleverly, named RED.

Lipstick on your collar

I love lipstick. On those rare occasions when I leave the house without it, people ask if I’m okay because they think I look “a little pale.” That’s a pretty clear message.

And yet… I’m a behind-the-scenes, producer type. While I have the ability to work just about any kind of crowd, do a TV stand-up, or speak off-the-cuff to a giant audience, I still prefer to be backstage, making things happen. For this reason, I regretfully eschew red lipstick.

Some women—like Adriana Trigiani, one of my favorite writers, and “the other Angela,” my hair stylist—wear red exclusively and always look fabulous. It was Adriana’s recent Facebook live, as a matter of fact, that reminded me how much I love red lipstick—on other people. Whenever I try it—which I often do, hoping against hope—I feel as if my lips, like overdone gold jewelry, are walking into the room five minutes before I do.

Perhaps you’re too young to know that lipstick, until the 1960s, was always red. Revlon was responsible for two of the most smashing and popular reds of all time, “Fire and Ice,” “Love That Red,” and “Cherries in the Snow.” Make no mistake: this is the lipstick that Connie Francis sang about. Note in the photo that these shades are still available, more than half a century later.

“Cherries in the Snow,” a cool blue-red, has always been my personal favorite among the Revlon reds, all of which fairly scream glamour. My mother wore “Cherries in the Snow” for years, with the matching nail polish, until dusty rose took over the mainstream adult market in the mid-60s. (We kids, I’m sorry to say, were over-influenced first by the British Invasion, which gave us ghostly Julie Christie lips, and later by the Haight-Ashbury crowd, which gave us nude ones.)

I search incessantly for the perfect lip color. I can easily waste an hour in Ulta, going from deep pinks to peachy-keen to fuchsias, from crayons to glosses to matte, in a perennial frenzy of indecision. But part of me just longs to be that “lady in red” from the 50s, when things, including lipstick, didn’t seem quite so complicated.

Aside: One of my ongoing fantasies is to be The One Who Names The Lipstick, which is kind of like being The One Who Names the Crayola Colors, or the Sherwin-Williams paint swatches. Who are these geniuses, the objects of my eternal admiration? Who first said, “Cherries in the Snow”? This inquiring mind wants to know.


Drug Store Skin Care

When I was a kid,  “night cream” was the only skin care product that most women used.  My mother’s was a Rea & Derick Drugstore proprietary blend called “Cream Lilas.” It was thick, with a definite sheen, and looked a little like stiffly beaten egg whites mounded up in the jar. It had a significant but not too perfume-y scent. There was still a jar on Mom’s dresser when she passed. Heaven knows what was in this stuff, but Mom never looked her age till she hit 80. I doubt that any higher-priced product would have done any better; her beautiful skin was probably more the result of her Mediterranean heritage and a lifetime of olive oil consumption.

I’ve always believed that you shouldn’t put junk on your skin. I started using Clinique cleanser and toner in my mid-30 and over the years used many high end products, including several luxurious French brands. Quite honestly, who among us doesn’t want to look our best and, as we age, “reduce the appearance of” wrinkles and saggy baggy skin? If you don’t, you are amazing and have my admiration, but you are the exception rather than the rule. Now that I am #retired, however, logic and economy have become more important to me. Unless you’re committed to 100% organic, the active ingredients in any of these products are very similar. And the “state of the science” is what it is.

So I decided to defect.

An exhaustive (and, truthfully, exhausting) online search provided a few product comparisons, but even on the manufacturer’s websites, there is very little guidance on the differences between the various products.Among the plethora of choices I found on Ulta’s “drug store side” were day and night moisturizers, eye cream, various serums, BB creams, exfoliating masques, and do-it-yourself peels—Neutrogena Ageless Intensives, ® Olay Regenerist®, L’Oréal Paris Revitalift®, not to mention Roc® and Garnier®. Pricewise, there isn’t much difference among these, but compared to Philosophy and other even “dearer” brands, the gap is huge.  I ended up with the L’Oréal, quite frankly, because there was a buy one-get second for 50% off deal. So I spent about $30 less than I would have if I’d gone for the Philosophy Miracle Worker line.

Progress Report:
I’ve been using the Revitalift products for several weeks. Thus far, I can report that the scents are pleasant and not overbearing, that the texture is lovely, and that my face feels light and clean after application. I’ll keep you posted.

I know that many of my friends (of all ages, in fact) have expressed frustration at the cost of high-end skin care. Thus, I would love your feedback. The great thing about blogs is that it gives us a chance to learn from each other.