Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Beauty Q&A: If You See Something, Say Something

1. I have a younger sister who just graduated college and is now out in the working world, holding down two part-time jobs while searching for her full-time breakthrough. She's fun, gorgeous, great skin, but her taste in cosmetics and perfume is a little... what's the nice word for tacky? Let's just say tacky. Paris Hilton scents, way-too-dark lip liner, the whole deal. I'd like to use Christmas as a chance to introduce her to nicer brands and less garish colors, without stifling her fun or putting her in totally boring neutrals. If I get her a Sephora gift card, though, I feel like I'd just be enabling her addiction to plum-colored everything. Any suggestions? 

This is a choose your own adventure answer. If your sister is as confident as she sounds, good-natured, and likes having heart-to-hearts, proceed to answer A. If you're in the mood for an elaborate, harmless, fun scheme because you don't have much going on right now and your sister is also maybe a bit sensitive, proceed to answer B.

Answer A: Have you tried talking to her about it? Maybe, if you sat her down and said, "Hey Paris, what is UP with your style? It's so... unique?," she would fill you in about how she secretly wants to be a makeup artist for Cirque du Soleil so she practices on herself in small ways, and also her girlfriend just really loves her perfume — it reminds her of when they first met in freshman year — so it's like, why change if she still looks gorgeous and gets all the jobs, you know? No, you don't know, and neither do I. My bet is she really loves her look and feels good about it. She wouldn't be the only one — what you're describing sounds pretty mainstream, if a little young, which your sister is, so that's fine. Is there a possibility that you're maybe... projecting a little? Sometimes when we think we want "what's best for someone," what we really want is for them to make the exact same choice we would so we can feel validated and "right." Or we have anxiety about the world perceiving them negatively, and judging us by association. Or, we secretly desire to look and smell like Paris Hilton, but could never pull it off as successfully as our little sister, so we convince ourselves that she actually looks and smells bad. Free psychoanalysis today! Whatever the real issue is deep inside of you, big sis, accepting her, but being brave enough to have an honest, loving conversation about your discomfort will be really good practice for relating to your future lover/child/best friend who one day morphs into an unrecognizable life form. Just come prepared to apologetically remove any potential sticks you might find up your butt. Then go buy her the Sephora gift card. 

Answer B: Get makeovers together! I'm speaking from experience here, except I was the little sister character . You see, way back in the 1990s, there was a style called "grunge" and it forbade young ladies from wearing blush, unless you were wearing tons of it ironically. Either way, you looked dead — freshly or open-casketly — and that was the point. Moms don't like that! Moms like their children to look alive and healthy, did you know? So, anyway, my mom somehow got me into some blush one day and I can honestly say that before she had me try it on, it had NEVER OCCURRED TO ME to wear blush. None of my friends ever had any! It just didn't come up. And it looked fine and I didn't immediately add it to my makeup bag, but it made its way in there by junior year. Okay, so back to the plan:

Schedule side-by-side, early evening makeovers at a fun counter at the department store — like Nars or Benefit — and talk to the artist who will work on your sister beforehand, letting them know your concerns and The Plan. (Did you know you can call and schedule those beauty-counter makeovers ahead of time? You can.) Then, pitch this plan to your sister: "Let's get dressed up, go get stupid mall makeovers and hit the town for some classy winter cocktails... like ladies!" I mean, seriously, how fun does that sound? You said she's fun, remember? Once your faces are corrected, the key is to take her somewhere your friends will be, or at least where you'll know the bartender or someone, and have them compliment her, subtly. "I love your lipstick." That's it. I know it's sneaky! And I don't care. Putting a new idea in a resistant person's head is tricky. Don't expect any change to happen overnight, but if you do it right, it'll plant a seed of doubt in her as she applies her black lipliner the next morning. *TENTS FINGERS*

2. I need help finding my signature scent. This seems to be a thing a Grown Ass Lady should have, and while lots of perfumes smell nice to me (and some give me horrible sneezing fits), I have yet to find The One. Searching online by keyword (floral/spicy/fruity) is useless because perfumes are more complex than a few choice words can describe. I even went to Sephora to smell all the smells, but nothing was exactly what I was looking for. The scents I like are reminiscent of an Indian rug store — sandalwood, patchouli, amber, things like that — and nothing overly girly. My problem with perfumes is that they all smell so... perfumey. I guess I'm looking for something that isn't so much like a layer of scent surrounding my body, but something that seems to emanate from my skin, so people will think I naturally smell like a spice wagon. Short of rubbing myself in straight essential oils, I don't know what to do!

Have you tried rubbing yourself in straight essential oils, perchance? Do it, but avoid straight patchouli oil, as it smells like... patchouli oil. I know it sounds like a standard, boring place to shop for such a thing, but Aveda actually makes some really nice oils and blends that are meant to be worn as perfume. They're unfortunately called "Pure-Fumes," but I'm recommending them as there are Aveda salons and stores everywhere, making it easy for you to test them in person.

A tip when shopping for scents: smelling the bottle or spraying onto blotter papers are great ways to narrow down your selections, but to really get a sense of the scents, put your two faves on different wrists, or a wrist and a shoulder if you only have one wrist. Go shop somewhere else for an hour and then see how the perfumes actually react to your body chemistry, and more importantly, whether your nose gets sick of them over time. I find that my favorite perfumes kind of disappear and I don't notice them after a few minutes, and my most hated smells linger and irritate me all day long until I take a shower and change my clothes.

As for actual perfumes that have the notes you're looking for, many, many formulas these days contain those elements, but it sounds like you've tried a bunch of the more popular ones and are disappointed. If you have a little money to spend on one amazing bottle — and it sounds like you do since this will be the only perfume you will possess — I suggest two niche brands: Penhaligon's, and in particular I think you'd like their Hammam Bouquet as it's got the notes you like and isn't very "girly," and Kilian. Available at upscale department stores, Kilian makes just plain weird smells inside the prettiest bottles for the top of your dresser. These will do that magical "it can't be a perfume because IT'S COMING FROM INSIDE HER" thing. "In The City of Sin" sounds up your alley:

"A place of extreme temptation where every street corner offers the possibility of impromptu encounters and seductions. IN THE CITY OF SIN opens with an explosion of Bergamote from Calabria, pink Peppercorns and Cardamom from Guatamala. The perfume then evolves into a heart of Apricots and caramelized Plums held in check by the Turkish Rose Absolute. A light haze of Indonesian Incense entrances and then lends a profound depth, further sustained by Atlas and Virginia Cedar woods and rich Indonesian Patchouli. Each bottle includes a white clutch embellished with a goldtone snake detail."

Yeah. Start saving up.

3. It seems like every woman in New York City owns a pair of perfect black leather riding boots. Buttery leather, a sleek rounded toe, the slightest heel (maybe 2" max), sometimes a zipper, no frills or ruffles or studs, perfectly classic, simple, and exactly what I'm looking for. Are these women paying out the roof for the shoes of my dreams? I want warm, perfect boots that look great with tights as well as black jeans, and maybe boots that will last me through several winters. My budget is ideally $200 (about five times more than I have ever spent on a pair of shoes), but if you think investment boots might cost me more, I will take the plunge. I have walked out of so many vintage shops, shoe stores, boutiques, and department stores empty handed — I am starting to think I need to begin asking random women on the street where they buy their boots. I really don't want to do this!

Why not!? They don't bite. Do you know what the women of NYC love pretty much more than anything? Being complimented by strangers and bragging about getting a great deal on something. You'd be making their day. I'm going to pretend I'm one of them and you just stopped me on the street:

You: Excuse me, ma'am? I mean miss! Sorry, miss. So, um, first of all, ack! This is making me so nervous. I never do this and I HATE it — I mean truly I do NOT want to be doing this for some reason — but oh well, here goes: I love your boots and I was wonderi...

Me: Thank you! Oh my god, I know, right? They're amazing, right? I'M amazing, RIGHT? I'M YELLING BECAUSE OF THE SIRENS AND ALSO THE EXCITEMENT OF THESE BOOTS AND GETTING COMPLIMENTED BY A STRANGER WHO IS NOT TRYING TO SELL ME A DISCOUNTED HAIRCUT. The two-tone thing really makes them stand out. I got them online for 160 bucks plus free shipping. Do I win?

You: Sure.

Me: Good. They're by Steve Madden, if you can believe it. 

You: Nope. Okay, bye.

Aaand, scene.

You can also — like I've said too many times already, but I'm sorry, it really is the answer — go to ShopStyle.com and put in all of your requirements. Here are a bunch of black riding boots with no or low heels for under $200.

4. I have eye bags FROM HELL.  I am only 42 and I am suffering from these huge, puffy bags that I *cannot* get rid of.  I have tried everything imaginable: eye creams, roll-on caffeine, tea bags, cucumbers, Sudden Change Eye Serum, ice packs, and Preparation H. Concealers don't seem to be of  any help because I don't have dark circles. YouTube tutorials all seem to be make up oriented, but when I use a lot of eye make up, it seems like it is more pronounced. Besides, I usually only wear mascara and a gel eyeliner, so I look kind of funny (and not ha-ha funny) when I wear too much makeup. 

I only survived the summer by pretending I was Jackie Onassis and going around in oversized sunglasses whenever possible.  This plan, being both stupid and effective at the same time, is not going to work in Minnesota in the winter when it is dark out the majority of the time.

Is an eye job going to be my only option?  Do I have to divert my 50th Birthday Boob Lift Surgery Fund to take care of these damn things?  

Well, harumph, welcome to being a mortal human animal with a face. Your first option is to get rid of your face. Just kidding. Actually, first, have you seen an allergist? You don't mention your eyes being irritated, so this is a longshot, but you might be reacting to something in the air, or on your pillow. If you notice it's worse during certain times of day, or after you've visited a particular place, write that shit down and take it to a doctor. There might be drops or allergy meds that'll clear this right up. Also, how much water are you honestly drinking? However much, double it.

Short of that, however, you have a condition called Aging. Over time, the fat in our mid-faces starts to move around.

TANGENT: One time I went to an eye doctor because I have a floater  that truly obstructs my vision and drives me insane. (In fact, I see you right now, you piece of shit!) She looked into my eye with a... thingy... and was like, "Yep, it's a floater. Sorry! It'll probably be there for a long time and there's nothing we can do." And I was like, "Boo. Dumb answer. What is a floater, exactly?" And she said to imagine the inside of your eyeball: when you're born, it is like a firmly set up Jell-O mold in there, but as you age, the Jell-O starts to melt. Occasionally, as it slowly disintegrates, a chunk breaks off  – like a piece of an iceberg floating away into the sea — and it just bobs around in the melted part until it either fully liquifies or you die. THE END.

Where was I? Oh, so your midface fat is melting and some slides down to give you jowls, and some breaks apart under your eyes to give you bags. (Or something more scientifically "correct.") So, now you just look like a person who is getting older and sometimes that sucks and other time you are Audrey Hepburn. I dunno. I guess try to get okay with it somehow (meditation?) or you're looking at spending at least $3,000 to have a lower eyelid blepharoplasty. And this gives me the perfect excuse to link to tons of graphic before and after photos of eye surgeries on my "favorite" website.

Previously: Nails 101.

Do you have a question for Jane?

251 Comments / Post A Comment


answer A to LW1 is so dead on. i love it.

Beatrix Kiddo

@wearitcounts I love it too, but I might add a gentle suggestion that she wear slightly more mature makeup-- but ONLY any time she's going to a job interview.


I meant to edit a comment but I pressed delete because: iPhone. And it was long and pointless anyway but in summation, a fair point.


@Beatrix Kiddo Last year I was tasked with making sure my mother-in-law and her insane Eurotrash taste didn't wear frosted purple lipstick to her daughter's wedding, and took this angle: "do you ever wear red lipstick? Try mine! Oh man, that looks great on you. Here, just put it in your bag. No, take it! Totally your color!" It actually worked. So maybe the sister can just be like, "hey, have you tried just lip gloss, no liner? Let's try it! Wow it looks so good!"

Or just stop worrying about it because it's not her face, I guess.


@wearitcounts Yup, I'm LW1 and totally guilty as charged. BUT ALSO the middle sister, who splits the difference between government-employee me and awesome professional masseuse/??? youngest sister, agrees that youngest sister could step up her game a little. So all three of us will take option B together. Then I am not a judgy jerk, but rather the sister who buys drinks!


@robotosaur oh I don't think you're a judgy jerk at all! i think you have the best of intentions, and I think this is a human nature type thing that everybody (myself veeerrry much included) is guilty of from time to time, and it's good to be reminded of that. Have fun with your sisters, pro makeovers are a blast!

Anne Helen Petersen

Allow me to preach the Frye Gospel: when I first looked at Grown-Ass Woman Boots seven years ago, I was two years into grad school and so poor I could cry. Student Loan check came in, went looking for boots, and one of those very skillful Nordstrom's shoe guys convinced me to pay the extra $100 for Fryes instead of, oh, I dunno, some crappy BP brand.

FAST FORWARD SEVEN YEARS: my boots are perfect. Seriously perfect. I wear them nearly every day, and sometime in the next two years I'll need them resoled, but they look brand new. I bought a seven dollar pot of shoe polish that I apply every 3-4 months. That's it. Perfect.

I could continue this sermon for days. I am not someone to spend a ton of money on luxury items. I keep resisting all the people (Hi Jane) telling me to buy cashmere. But Frye is my religion.

Lexa Lane

@Anne Helen Petersen Fryes are the most wonderful things ever. I am wearing mine right now, I wear them at least 2-3 times a week in season, and they are possibly my favorite possessions. In terms of Things I Would Save in a Fire, they're up there, along with my Kitchen Aid (which...okay, would slow me down when running from the flames, but it would hurt to leave it). They were my "everyone else is getting married, getting pregnant, or getting a fancy-ass degree so I'm going to splurge on nice boots because I *can*" purchase, and after a few moments of initial hyperventilating I have never regretted them for a second.


@Anne Helen Petersen I have a pair of fryes that I LOVE, but they are sliiiightly too big, so I don't wear them nearly as often as I should. Maybe I should just stuff some kleenex in the toes and do right by them.

Lexa Lane

My second favorite boots are the ones I got at DSW, of all places. Ralph Lauren, low heel, rounded toe, shiny black with a brown band at the top (though they also came in all black or all brown), SUBLIMELY comfortable and warm in the winter. Under $200, worth every penny (okay, my mother bought them for me, but I *would* have spent my own money on them had she not).


@Anne Helen Petersen You would have entirely converted me by now except that I don't believe Frye makes wider calf boots? Am I wrong?

I see so many people raving about Frye, and every time I go to their website, and every time I am saddened that they probably won't fit on my legs.

I don't know what is wrong with my legs. Even at my skinniest, my calves would not fit in normal sized boots. (and it drives me crazy because it seems like most nice, high-quality boots have no calf variation)/end rant

so what?

@Anne Helen Petersen This is exactly what I wanted to hear having just purchased my first pair of Frye boots and thus spending three times more than I have ever spent on boots. But they are so lovely! Also, guys, eBay. So many sellers have brand new Fryes for bit cheaper (just make sure they are authentic and not knock-offs).

On the subject of knee-high boots, I am having a helluva time finding some that are flattering. My legs are average/maybe slightly shorter than average, but I carry a bit of weight in my thighs and I feel like riding boots really emphasize that. Is it in my head? Maybe I should like to calf-high boots, which really haven't done me wrong.

Beatrix Kiddo

@so what? I think it's in your head. I crry my weight in my thighs too, and I think knee-high boots actually help it balance out, whereas I don't like how my legs look in skinny jeans without the boots.

Beatrix Kiddo

@Anne Helen Petersen Fryes are the best. I bought some a few years ago in a size too big, just because they were discounted to $60. $60! I love them so much that I don't even mind having to double up on socks.


@Ophelia You have maybe tried this BUT I am a fan of getting the super cushy insoles that subtract a half-size or so. Double-layer them! It has worked for me. Also, thick socks.


@MissMushkila My calves also will not fit into boots!! It's so depressing. Shopping is so embarrassing because I won't even try boots on if the salesperson is looking at me (and then I don't want to explain why, because I'm embarrassed, which is just sooo awkward), but it's just too much for me to try time after time and NOT BE ABLE TO ZIP THEM.

It's weird, because I'm not otherwise a large person. I just apparently have ENORMOUS calves. Any other ladies out there who have found brands that fit this problem?


@MissMushkila Frye's TOTALLY makes wide calf boots. I always screw up linking to things, but you can easily find them on zappos (I've been lusting after the Veronica wide calf's for YEARS)!


@Anne Helen Petersen "Only the rich can afford cheap shoes" - someone wise (I can't remember who)


@timesnewroman That's a line from a Discworld book ("Guards! Guards!" if I remember right) by Terry Pratchett. Yes, the only time I log in to comment is to be pedantic about satirical fantasy books, apparently. Cole Haan also makes nice boots, fwiw. And while I'm typing, perfume...ugh. Perfume. Maybe stop wearing it, everyone? Forever? Please?


@OneTooManySpoons I totally have this problem, and I'm pretty petite so people just roll their eyes when I complain. Fryes do come in wide calf but some of their styles (not all!) just have a fairly wide calf to begin with. The only others I know of that are good quality are Jcrew, and they are no cheaper (but almost all their styles come in extended calf)


@OneTooManySpoons My calves also do not fit into boots and my feet hate pretty much every shoe BUT this year, after like five years of looking, I found pretty much what I wanted: plain, black, tall riding boots with a super low heel. I got them at Clark's, and they were crazy expensive (the most expensive wearable thing I own), but I didn't have to break them in, they're waterproof and snow-proof, lined with Gore-Tex, and I wear them pretty much every day. Because of my giant calves, they of course have the stupid elastic panel, but it's not terrible. Everyone is all, "Ooh, I love your boots." YES, THANK YOU. FINALLY.


@OneTooManySpoons @MissMushkila
Find some boots you like and have them stretched! My cobbler will do this for around $7, seriously. Leather stretches beautifully. I had nearly 2 inches stretched into a pair of Fluevogs.

For boots - I love my Keen Bern Babys. They are perhaps just a little touch casualish? But they are soooo comfortable, and also fit my buxom calves.


@OneTooManySpoons PREACH. I wear straight sizes on every other part of my body, but my calves can barely fit into boots (if at all), and forget about tucking jeans in. Audrey Brooke makes some wide calf Frye-esque boots that are cheaper without looking/feeling cheap.


WIDE CALVES WIDE CALVED WIDE CALVES. I have them. I can climb hills like a champ. I've started marching into stores and demanding wide calf boots and being good-humouredly exasperated when they don't fit. Like "this isn't your fault, saleslady, but it SURE AS HELL ISN'T MINE. haha too bad see ya I'm going to go drop $400 on boots elsewhere."

I only started this 1) when I stopped feeling really fat and like my calves were my fault and 2) when I finally was making decent money and starting shopping at lunch in an expensive suit and felt like the elusive "valuable customer".




@TheclaAndTheSeals I'm joining this wide calf party. I've actually found some varieties of Frye boots have quite wide calves anyway? I have a pair that are, while not LOOSE exactly, do fit over me + leggings. Look on Zappos, and it'll tell you the boot shaft circumference - many are 16" which for me just about does it.


@Anne Helen Petersen Ok forgive me if this is just a horribly, insultingly "duh" thing to say, but have you considered shorter boots? I have huge calves (18 inches), and every winter prior to this one I went through hella cheap and crappy pairs of Lane Bryant wide-calf boots, because I figured those were my only options (besides Duo boots for like $450). Until one day my friend was just like "Dude, who told you that boots HAVE to be that tall?" And it was like...holy shit, DUH! I went right out and got myself a pair of Frye Veronica Shorties and oh my god I LOVE THEM. The break in period was a bitch, but now that it's over they feel like slippers and I never want to wear any other shoes. And my calves don't even enter into the equation! They're not, like, ankle boots - they "read" as tall boots, they look great with all of my clothes just like tall boots would, they're just a bit shorter. Anyway, I know it seems obvious, and it probably would be to most folks, but it wasn't to me and BOY did it change my winter footwear life.

@TheShe Ummm... well, yeah, boots don't have to be that high. However, knee-high boots are very flattering and very stylish. I have wide calves, and the answer isn't "buy shorter boots." Shorter boots have their uses. Shorter boots aren't also what I want. When you're short and have wide calves, those calf-height boots often make your calves look wider and your legs look shorter.

So yeah, I've considered shorter boots. I don't like them. I want tall boots that are stylish and pretty and trendy and the same as all the other girls wear. I want them to hit a specific bone on the side of my leg, and nothing else will do.


@OneTooManySpoons @S. Elizabeth @MissMushkila Don't know what the availability of these outside Canada is, but if you go down the side menu there's an "Athletic Calves" option under Specialties: http://www.blondo.ca/en/products/women
I have big calves too and have a pair of these from last winter that have treated me well. (Also a good brand for anyone else who has wide or narrow feet!)


@MissMushkila i've got confusingly large calves that don't fit in any normal boots. i also have two amazing pairs of fryes. the secret: take them to a cobbler; ask him to add zippers and, if necessary, extra leather. BAM! customized boots.

like a rabid squirrel

@so what? I relate to this - I feel like boots that are tight all the way down and/or have point toes (a lot of riding boots fit this description in my experience) make me look wider in the hips, but I did find a pair (Jessica Simpson's brand, surprisingly) that were kind of slouchy around the ankles and thus made me look less... taper-y? This could all be in my head of course.


@When robot unicorns attack To all my wide/extra wide calf ladies: Fitzwell. They are around $100-$160 on Zappos.com and 6pm.com. They are really stylish, comfortable, and go up to an 18 inch calf size.


@Anne Helen Petersen Get thee some gel insoles! They will take up room in your boot, making it fit more snugly, and they will be cushion-y.


@When robot unicorns attack
I love everyone on this thread and I'm going to buy a hundred pairs of gigantic boots online tonight based on all of your recommendations.

Hot Doom

@OneTooManySpoons SO LATE TO THIS GAME, but Sendra boots are super comfortable, beautifully made and fit wider calves (I think I'm like a 16 or 17" circumference). I have a tall black riding style with a red zipper detail. They have good traction on the bottom and very thick, supple leather too, so I'm pretty sure my pair will survive the apocalypse. The caveat is price- I think mine were like $275 on sale at Nordstrom's pre-fall sale, but if you can afford it/get someone to get them as a gift, they are really fantastic and I've been told by some that they actually hold up better than Frye boots (SORRY! Not trying to rock the Frye boat here, it's only hearsay!...but maybe something to consider?)


@Lexa Lane I have those Ralph Lauren boots! I have the all black ones. They ARE great.

fondue with cheddar

@Anxiety Perfume and cologne make me sneezy. Always. Every single one of them. If I spend more then a few minutes with someone wearing perfume there's a pretty good chance I will get sick. I know people like it, but EVERYONE PLEASE STOP WITH THE PERFUME. :'(


@MissMushkila How tall are you? I've always had issues with boot shafts not fitting and I assumed it was because my calves were too big. But I realized that because I'm so short the bottom of my calf ends up in the ankle of the boot and that's why I could never get zippers up very far.

Sam I am

@Anne Helen Petersen I really like Atienne Eigner's boots too!


@Anne Helen Petersen
Late to the party, but FRYE FRYE FRYE FRYE FRYE.
I am very particular about my boots and spent forever looking for a new pair this year. I had some fantastic red/brown riding boots from Frye that I found for $30 at a consignment store a few years ago. Alas, I didn't take care of them soon enough and the leather split right where my foot flexes. I have wide feet.
So finally I landed on the Frye Melissa Spur, but they stopped manufacturing and no one was selling in my size. I hunted on Ebay and finally dropped $250 on a pair but they are perfect and I am in love.
But LW, if you see this, check out the Melissa Button. Nice and sleek and classic; casual or dressy. I just didn't want knee-highs.
As far as calf issues, if they're real leather you could try getting them stretched by a cobbler? Not sure how much bigger they could get but it's an option.


@Anne Helen Petersen Yes, good boots! I love my cobbler. I feel justified buying nice-ish shoes because I can just keep getting them resoled, as opposed to the material wearing out/falling apart. Cheaper than buying new shoes. And Frye is great. 2 year guarantee! You have a problem (with the manufacturing), you send them back and they fix them for free.


@lemonadefish Boot stretching is a thing?! You may have saved me many frustrating hours of trying on beautiful but skinny-legged boots. Other wide-calfed ladies: did you do a sport at a young age? Because everyone in my ballet class, who otherwise had a wide variety of body shapes, had problems getting boots and skinny jeans to fit, and we figured it was because we'd been training up those muscles from ages 5-18.

fondue with cheddar

@Apocalypstick The closest thing I ever did to a sport was dance (before puberty when I was a toothpick) and color guard, and my mom has wide calves and she never did any sport. In my case it's genetics. My legs are thick all the way down, from thigh to toes.


@Anne Helen Petersen I will concur on the Frye boots. I finally bought a second pair (which are brown SUEDE and are in PERFECT CONDITION after 6 winters in CHICAGO NO JOKE. And I wear them in the snow/salt/muck b/c I am a child.) because I got TIRED of the first pair and wanted a different boot option.

Frye's are like a marriage - pick carefully - you'll have them forever.


Wait, what? How does suede survive such a thing? Is it lots of upkeep? I'm not even sure if I like suede, I just never thought it was an option for this climate.


@MissMushkila many places will stretch your boots for you. with boot stretching devices. yeah i didn't know they existed either until i worked at shoe store for 6 hellish months. so many people think they can't wear boots and were all like "yeah we can stretch them". like at least half of people need them stretched


@S. Elizabeth are we still talking about wide leg boots? because I bought this pair last spring on clearance, and I love them. I have fairly large calves, and I've never had a problem zipping these up, even over my thickest jeans. I didn't post yesterday, because I assumed they'd be discontinued, but apparently they still have some sizes at Nordstrom. So if you have rather small or rather large feet, these may be your go-tos. http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/enzo-angiolini-zayra-boot/3180783?cm_cat=datafeed&cm_ite=enzo_angiolini_'zayra'_boot:361162&cm_pla=shoes:women:boots&cm_ven=Froogle,Google_Product_Ads&mr:ad=20584803473&mr:adType=pla&mr:filter=41084235353&mr:keyword=&mr:match=&mr:referralID=NA&mr:trackingCode=C0138520-7106-E111-8116-001517B1882A&origin=pla

Note: I usually wear an 8.5 or a 9, and the 8s I bought fit perfectly, even with thickish socks.


@bocadelperro ugh, sorry for that horrible link, here's a tinyurl version. http://tinyurl.com/ae5nn2g


@Anne Helen Petersen AND all the large-calved ladies:

A good cobbler can stretch the shafts (leather-only) and/or add a gusset to pretty much any pair of boots. Get it.


@Anne Helen Petersen This just in: Bloomingdale's has Frye boots on sale in a gorgeous light brown- but only in size 9. They were $300 but now they're around 150, and if you put in the discount code BMERRY at checkout they'll be discounted at least 20% more. I'm drooling, but also extremely short with child-sized feet that never fit grown-up shoes, but I thought someone might be able to use the info.

Sam I am

@FulanaDeTallcan Though I'm not a size 9, I had to log in to say you've got some good karma coming your way! :)


@Anne Helen Petersen Uh okeydokey, I was just trying to offer a alternative that worked for me, and that enabled me to actually wear Fryes despite my calves being too big for their tall boots. Also I've found that shorter boots show off the curve of your calf, and are actually much more flattering for my legs. Plus, shorter boots are "in" this season (whatever), which makes them much easier to shop for.

Nicole Cliffe

HEY, pro tip on riding boots. Decent leather riding boots (fashion riding or horse riding) need to "settle," in addition to the usual breaking-in process, like, they will actually sink about an inch and a half after you buy them and wear them, so bandaid up the back of your knees and grit your teeth and know how mad-sexy you'll look when you're done.

Nicole Cliffe

@Nicole Cliffe Or, you know, say "fuck it" and buy shorter boots.


@Nicole Cliffe And you absolutely have to take care of them! As someone who actually uses legit riding boots that have been used for riding in, it is all about the care. Get yourself some neatsfoot oil and do not let them stay dirty or wet, it wrecks the leather. And yes, you have to get an animal oil if you have real leather. The synthetic stuff leaves a weird film that takes ages to get rid of.

And if you have to break boots in just wear them around the house where you can complain to your cat about how they rub here and are too tight there, and then when you actually want to wear them out they are fine!


@Nicole Cliffe they are usually not real leather, but Aerosoles now makes wide calf sizes too and I got a super cute pair of knee high cognac boots from them that I love!! And they have rubber bottoms too so they are actually good for the winter.


LW2, I'm agreeing with Jane here - check Aveda, or Escents, or other aromatherapy-type shops. In addition, don't be afraid to check out scents for men. I haaaaaaate almost all perfume for women (maybe we're complaining about the same undernotes, even?) so my signature scent for a time was Happy by Clinique, but the mens' version. Light, fruity, summery and not at all cloying.


@dale YES scents for men. I love notes of ginger, but in women's perfumes they always pair ginger with citrus, which I do not care for. In men's scents they pair ginger with things like bergamot and sage and woodsmoke.

Also I love http://www.cbihateperfume.com/. The descriptions of the scents alone are enough to break my heart, but their actual shop is in Brooklyn and many of you are also in Brooklyn, so you can go and smell all the things I can only read about.


@Linette I smelled some of the CB I Hate Perfume scents at some store in Venice Beach that was way too cool for me, and I can attest that they are really amazing.


@Linette CB perfumes are so depressingly short lived though. I want to smell like I Am A Dandelion all summer but I really only smell like it for half an hour each morning.

polka dots vs stripes

@dale I LOVE Clinique Happy but don't wear it often for fear of insulting other people's noses - I know, I should probably just get over it and wear it OR I should investigate this Happy for Men.....


@MilesofMountains Oh, really? I have not had this problem with the Wild Hunt. But I will also say I am not exactly one to pay much attention as the evening wears on.


@polka dots vs stripes Whether it's still available or not, I can't say (or whether they've changed the formulation...). But worth a trip past your Clinique counter to see?

Don't Panic

@dale Yes! I was going to recommend this. I think the CB AmBrosius scent is exactly what the LW is looking for. Also, they cell tiny little bottles for $10 or $15 that actually last for a very long time and let you really get to know whether you like the scent or not.

sceps yarx

@dale I find that the CBs last longer on clothes/sheets than skin, so maybe spray it on your sleeve and collar instead of your wrist and neck?

Stingray Bikini

I too love to smell like a dusty old stack of rugs and and have a ridiculously large collection of perfumes because saving money is for suckers. My favorite woody, incense-y, amber-y smoky scents are:

1) Prada - gotta like amber!
2) 10 Corso Como - sandalwood!
3) Donna Karan Chaos - kinda expensive, but the bottle is big and chic and you could bludgeon someone with it if it came down to that.
4) Estee lauder Sensuous - this is probably the most afforable of the bunch AND a great scent. makes you smell like a bundle of sticks doused in vanilla extract. In a good way!
5) Andy Tauer L'Air du Desert Marocain - this is holy grail shit. It is smoky/smolder-y and just so wonderful. It's EdP only and really expensive ($125, I think?), but the bottle will last forever and does that emanating-from-my-flesh thing that you're looking for.


@Stingray Bikini Aaaaand I think you just gave me a new thing for my Christmas list with that Tauer perfume.

My hints! I would try some unisex scents, if you find women's scents to be too "perfumey." I like Five O'Clock Au Gingembre by Serge Lutens, which sounds like what you're describing. Sexy gingerbread, close to the skin. I wear it a lot during the winter.

all the bacon and eggs

@Stingray Bikini Also several Hermes perfumes. They vary in price from kind spendy to extremely spendy.

sceps yarx

@Stingray Bikini I have similar taste in perfume and I swear by L'artisan brand. They have a bunch of rad, weird incense and tea scents that manage to be unusual and sort of feminine in their masculinity. I know that sounds weird but writing about perfume is like dancing about architecture, right?

my faves from the line are:

Navigateur: smells like a pipe smoker drinking chai
Passage d'Enfer: smells like a funeral in a beautiful catholic chapel
Dzing!: smells like a circus
Dzonkha: I can't even describe this one


@sceps yarx Dzonkha is crazy. Like, angry medicinal in an awesome way. It's so evocative


@Stingray Bikini I said this below as well, but I think I also have similar perfume tastes, and I recommend trying anything (particularly from essential oil type places) with a name like "Fire".


@Stingray Bikini I also think there are some by LUSH the LW should look into-Orange Blossom is kind of musky. I like it a lot. I also wear "Dirty," and a female friend of mine wears "Breath of God"-both of those are unisex.

Daisy Razor

Ah, Grunge. I look like a (very trendy) vampire in my first driver's license. Good times, good times.

LW2, you could also go to Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, search the notes you're looking for, then read about the scent on the forums. Warning: even if you don't particularly like perfume, that site is as much of a time suck as TV Tropes.


@Daisy Razor This. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab will change your life if you like perfume but think it smells "too perfumey." That too perfumey thing is almost always caused by traditional perfumes being alcohol based. They have too much sillage (that's the trail of scent that surrounds you) and the alcohol just funks everything up. Try Morocco, Tombstone and Snake Oil - based on what you said you wanted to smell like, you'd almost definitely love them both. If you go over to the forum at bpal.org there are a bunch of people who'd be happy to make more suggestions, and you can try sample sizes of all but the limited edition scents.


@Daisy Razor Amen! Not only do BPAL's imps, their sample-size bottles, come five for $20 (and the company often throws in a freebie), there's a pretty robust online swap community, since lots of people find that a particular scent doesn't work on their skin and don't want perfectly good perfume to go to waste. Once you figure out which keywords in their descriptions line up with your chemistry and preferences, you'll find it easier to determine what to buy in the next batch if you don't hit the jackpost first time out.


@Daisy Razor Yes! I was also going to recommend BPAL. Alternatively, try anything from any brand/company (particularly essential oil type places) with a name like "Fire".

fondue with cheddar

@Daisy Razor I more or less stopped wearing makeup during the grunge era, and my cheeks are naturally rosy so I never looked dead.

BUT I totally stopped wearing feminine clothes, and my dad hated that. So one day he said, "If I bought you a dress, would you wear it?" I said I would. So I took him to Contempo Casuals in the mall, and he bought me not only a dress, but accessories to go with it (black shoes, black tights, a necklace, and a black crochet vest). It was a great outfit. The dress was a little frilly and had pink flowers on it so he chalked it up as a win. The dress was totally sexy and had sleeves that could be worn on or off the shoulders, and it was easy to pull it down to expose my boobs. So the boys loved it and it became my sex dress. So I chalked it up as a win, too.

I never stopped wearing jeans, flannels, and Doc Martens, though.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@Daisy Razor Yes yes yes to BPAL! I actually think the LW has a fantastic idea of what she's looking for, so throwing that description out in the forums would probably yield tons of suggestions. I have the same issue re: perfume and not wanting to smell girly, but unlike the LW, what I want instead is to smell like a wood-nymph or a sea captain (so, Elf and Calico Jack respectively are two of my favorites).


Re: boots -

I recommend Aerosoles "Tapenade" style SO much. The heel might be a smidge higher than you're looking for? but they're still fairly low, and they're squared off instead of stiletto or rounded/narrow. The style is super classic/simple. I got my first pair in brown in autumn of 2009, then promptly went to get a pair in black that December. I noticed when I was browsing the website that they're still selling the style, which is awesome, because my brown pair are just about worn out (mostly because of scratches in the leather that could probably be fixed with a visit to a good cobbler).

Because I wear them all the time. The soles are rubber and super comfortable, and the toes are squared off instead of long/pointed (plus the sturdy heel) so they're easy to walk in... in fact, I've run several blocks while wearing them with no trouble, and I'm not someone who can normally run in heels. Actually, when I bought them, I wasn't someone who wore heels at all, but they were the only boots I could find that weren't gaudy or Uggs or like 5in heels in my price-range.


I consider plum to be a neutral, and therefore do not see the problem with LW1.
As for 2, I HAVE SOME FEELINGS. First of all, do you know what even smells good on you? Like, I personally like the smell of like citrus and coconut perfumes, but I CANNOT WEAR THEM THEY JUST SMELL WEIRD WITH MY BODY CHEMISTRY. What does work is anything with vanilla or really spicy orientals. If you really like spicy though, I would definitely check out some cologne. My favourite perfume that I wear ever is this really spicy oriental cologne. It is technically for men, but SMELLS SO GOOD ON ME. So I would suggest giving some of those a whiff. AND PUT THEM ON YOUR BODY.


@Megano! Well, she colors her face in all plums and then also wears purple. It's kind of a lot. (<--LW1)


@robotosaur OK, that is a bit crazy. Have you tried the ol' "find a beauty blogger with her colouring and bomb her with emails saying 'SO CUTE!'?

sceps yarx

@Megano! Please don't do that. I have ridiculous taste in makeup myself, and if anyone sent me blog links that were the opposite of my tastes, I would feel REALLY uncomfortable.

sceps yarx

@sceps yarx I think some of us are just born to be Dolly Parton. Let us wear what makes us happy! One girl's clown face is another girl's fabulous glamour face.

every tomorrow@twitter

@Megano! My undertones are so cool I basically glow blue, so plum actually reads as totally neutral on me.

Speaking of which if anyone knows a ridiculously-cool-skintoned beauty blogger who takes decent photos let me know because I love temptalia but she's both warmer and darker-skinned than I am, so I'm forever seeing stuff on her and falling in love with it only to realize that if I wear it, it is bright orange.


@every tomorrow@twitter I like this beauty editor from XOJane is a pale girl's best friend. (http://www.xojane.com/author/hannah) just leaving the link because too lazy to hyperlink


@every tomorrow@twitter Rae over at TheNotice is cool-toned...porcelain white. Kate at drivel about frivol is a little warmer than Rae, but still transparently pale. Both are Asian, but I've found that doesn't matter (I'm not Asian) when looking at products. I can use Kate's foundation swatches and know they'll match me--and I lean cool, a bit lighter than MAC NC15.


@Megano! A while back, I had a very spicy thing called Le Feu D'Issey by Issey Miyake. It was a bit heavy but really compelling and almost peppery. I loved it, but it wasn't an everyday thing for me. It actually smelled warm, if that makes sense. And it appears that there is now a lighter version... which I plan on checking out ASAP.


@robotosaur Eh, I think it's a being young thing. In my early teens I was guilty of looking like a drag queen (which is awesome) but too much for every day. My dad would tell me my face looked plastic, which only made me want to wear more makeup. Eventually I figured out my actual face is not soooo bad I need to look like a Hologram. I still love fun makeup (Sephora's eye shadow sticks are THE BEST) but maybe you could just suggest that the lipliner deal may not come off as professional for interviews and keep it to evening wear only if that's what she wants to do?


@every tomorrow@twitter Have you seen Killer Colours? http://rodeo.net/killercolours/


Makeup Utopia.com? This is a shameless plug because I also contribute to the site, but my editor (most frequent poster) is a natural redhead and has the corresponding porcelain skin to match.
Also, stuffiputonmyself.com - Nat Dee has really pale skin, too. And gets bonus points for being a badass.


@Megano! I have the exact same thing! I love the smell of florals, but they just start smelling sour and gross on me. Vanilla and honey scents work much better on me.


LW2: I think you're going to have to go niche (or Shalimar, or some of the more expensive Chanels like Coromandel). Unfortunately, unless you're in a big city that's going to mean shelling out for some samples. I really really think you need Tauer's L'Air du Desert Marocain, which is to die for. You can buy samples of perfumes on sites like the Perfumed Court (which will also have ready-made sample packs based around your favourite notes, or "Bad Girl Scents" or whatever). OR, if that kind of money just isn't going to happen, there are some cute, good independent perfumers who don't cost much. My favourites are Smell Bent (sells sample packs from their website) and Ava Luxe (who sells on etsy). Go on there and read the descriptions and grab some samples of anything that seems like it might fit. I'd recommend reading reviews on Makeupalley or perfume blogs first, because lists of notes seldom give you a good idea of what a perfume will smell like, and reviews will generally give you a better description.

Just a warning, though, too long on perfume blogs, and you'll never settle for just ONE signature perfume.


@MilesofMountains Oh and patchouli. How did I not comment on that? I am a patchouli fanatic. Two of my favourites are Noir Patchouli and 1760 by Histoires de Parfums. Noir is a bit on the green side and is one of my day perfumes while 1760 is all chocolate and dried fruits and is majorly sexy. It's my date night perfume (that's why I can't do a signature perfume. I need a winter daytime and a summer day time and a sexy one and a 'I am a wild thing you can't cage me in' one...)


@MilesofMountains Juliette Has a Gun will send a set of samples too (I think you may have to pay a little but you get a discount on first purchase - ?) and most of their scents are based on a resinous/patchouli/musky core which makes them smell delish. Also, Le Labo (you can get samples from their website) is pricey but long-lasting and their scents aren't feminine or masculine, just beautiful. Try Poivre 23, Rose 31, and there's one that's meant to smell like a church, all incense and wood. Lucky Scent can be spendy if you get sucked in like a kid in a candy shop, but they'll make a recommendation if you email them. Sometimes I buy samples on eBay too, which can cost less than perfume sites.

I find most modern department store scents sweet and synthetic; niche or vintage will suit you better if you're not into that.

Yay, scent! I get all excited about lovely smells.


@puncturedbicycle OOOH, and Wonderwood by Comme des Garcons! And what is that fragrance that smells just like Laphroaig whisky - ?

Also, the site Fragrantica has a list of notes and you can choose the ones you like and it will tell you what perfumes feature them. Have fun!


@puncturedbicycle Oo Comments des Garcons is my crack. I love their incense series

Heather Thompson@facebook

@MilesofMountains Have you tried the newer Shalimar,Shalimar Parfum Initial? It's less "middle aged unmarried woman who grabs a gimlet during lunch" sophistication and more "messy hair+red lipstick 30-something who no one she works with knows that she smokes" coolness. In other words, it's really lovely and soft but still quite cool.


Ahh! I have the same problem as LW1, except my little sister's thing is super light shiny lipgloss. Like, she applies concealer to her lips to make them lighter and then puts gloss over this. I think it looks trampy and that makes me sad because she is GORgeous.

I haaate it and have tried on occasion to bring it up, but in terrible ways. ("Why do you DO that? You know, that. With your lips. I mean, it's fine, I don't know.")

Am I projecting? Does this look good on people?

fuck fuck fuck

@cmonster aww i usually think that looks pretty.

Pocket Witch

@cmonster I don't think it looks good, but my sense of aesthetics leaves much to be desired, I'm told. I prefer lip tints that are slightly darker or brighter than my natural lip color.


@fuck fuck fuck Yeah, that's why I'm asking!

I'm with you, Pocket Witch, my general style is to go darker, so I could be totally crazy.


@cmonster My GORGEOUS baby (24 year old) sister does this too. Me: STOP! You look trampy! Her: Shut up it's my face.

I trained her well. The student has beat that master (at not putting up with shit and standing up for herself).


@cmonster I agree with whomever said that pale lips are only appropriate on corpses.


@fuck fuck fuck I think it's pretty too, though I guess it could go horribly wrong depending on the variables (and end up looking like Dexter--has anyone noticed his weirdly pale, matte lips?). I always coveted whatever neutral shiny beige that Jennifer Lopez wore (wears?), but who knows if I could do it; my coloring is not at all the same.


Yes! His lips! SO distracting. Like, do they put lipstick on him? Why?
I don't know if it'd be weirder for it to be makeup or natural.


@NeverOddOrEven And it's not even in every scene, so clearly it's not just him. Sometimes it looks like his lips have a coat of dried-up expired foundation on them--like the old-fashioned concealer that looked like a lipstick. Maybe someone became mixed up in the makeup department.


...I... may or may not have that style concealer in my pocket right now....
But yes, I love nude lips, probably because mine are very pigmented, and I'm forever searching for the right product. I'm pale and have dry lips, so finding a formula and shade that both work is a nightmare.


@NeverOddOrEven That's OK--just don't be rubbin' it all on your lips (it seems like it would pull them!). I have the very pigmented lips too so I usually go with a dark or just a gloss because my real lips show through other stuff.


LW3: I had your same wishlist, and ended up buying these boots from Nordstrom. Bonus: they're waterproof!


i look on etsy for used boots because 1.) they're usually a bit less expensive 2.) they're usually already broken in (but sometimes you can find amazing vintage boots that are completely unworn! score!) and 3.) i like vintage better than new, style wise. usually.

I got a pair of vintage zodiac boots 3 years ago. I got them for $40, resoled them that first year for $40, then I get the heels resoled every year for $14. And I get compliments. All. The. Time.

Baby Fish Mouth

What do you do when your signature scent gets discontinued? I bought a bottle of Bath and Body Works Magnolia Blossom when I was in college and too poor for nice perfume. I have yet to find a perfume that is as perfect as that scent is for a daytime perfume. I've been reading reviews of magnolia based scents but they're harder to find. I'm starting to think maybe I should give fragrance making a try to see if I can come up with a clone but I think that will take more patience than I have. Any suggestions?


@Wiscowhitney Try a site that does decants, like the Perfumed Court. You can search by notes, and order a bunch of cheap, tiny samples to see if you like any of them.

Baby Fish Mouth

@SarahDances Perfect! That is exactly what I'm looking for. When I've looked at review sites some of the perfumes that sounded great are not at any stores around me and did not have sample sizes so I wasn't going to drop $80+ on something I had no idea would work or not. Thank you!!


Speaking of boots... anybody know where one finds wide calf boots?


@Dancercise THIS! I know DSW lets you search for wide calf, but it seems none of the high quality brands make them, and I feel like this is a conspiracy.



I think Zappos also has a wide calf search option on boots, but I might be mistaken. Perhaps a very general Google search like "Wide calf riding boots" would lead to previously unexplored shopping options?


@Dancercise Try Aerosoles. I have "athletic calves" (hahahaha) and finally found a pair that fit. http://www.aerosoles.com/eng/product/mezzotint/mezzotint


@Dancercise My Born boots are pretty wide. Ann Klein makes some wide-shaft boots as well. (Lord & Taylor)

polka dots vs stripes

@Dancercise I found Nine West had a lot of wide calf, as does Bandolino (although I don't know what Bandolino's quality is like).


@Dancercise I am jumping onto this thread mostly because I want to be notified if more people respond with suggestions. Because I need these suggestions. I always thought I was alone in this, because it seems as if everyone I know has good-looking boots, and I don't.


@Dancercise In other wide appendage news, does anyone know of a nice, fashionable but sturdy brand that doesn't run appallingly narrow? I finally got a pair of Cole Haan ankle boots that I'd been stalking for months from Amazon and they are just about half as wide as my squashed-out poor-person feet. See also Ferragamo, colette, Zalo, etc. ):<


@Dancercise Frye Melissa Button! Wide wide wide in the foot, and they do extended calf, too.


@Dancercise I mentioned above, but will say again - find your boots, then get them stretched for your voluptuous calves! Or buy Keens. Not just for hiking!


@Dancercise I just bought a pair of Anne Klein "wide shaft" boots that made me almost cry when they zipped up no problem. I got them at the Bay, because I'm weird and Canadian.


@Dancercise I have both a suggestion and a question for lemonadefish

I got my favorite boots ever that fit my wide calves with room to spare at Torrid, which surprised me because I'm usually not a fan of their clothes. I've had similarly decent luck at other plus size clothing places that I similarly dislike the clothing of.

@lemonadefish How do you know if they will fit before said stretching? Is that just for slight tightness or does it add like inches?


@MollyculeTheory. If you find out let me know. I have the money to spend but higher end companies seem to want nothing to do with my man feet.


@Dancercise www.widewidths.com

ETA - also, www.bootband.com sells what is basically a black or brown elastic triangle that zips into your boots to expand the calf circumference. I have no idea if it's worth it, but it's a neat idea.


@Dancercise 6pm has a TON of them - http://www.6pm.com/boots-wide-calf~1 The RSVPs aren't bad quality for the price and come in both wide calf AND extra wide calf. I've got pretty large, bulbous (?) calves from growing up doing ballet really seriously but otherwise have slim ankles and wear a 6.5w/7 reg shoe. The extra wide calf RSVPs were really big on me, FWIW. Their return policy requires you to pay return shipping tho and I paid so little for them (and went through eBates) that I just kept them because sending them back was almost half what I paid.


@Dancercise Zappos.com and 6pm.com. Fitzwell is a wonderful brand found on both websites that make truly wide/extra wide calf boots. I own three pairs of their knee length boots, couldn't be happier. AHP speaks the gospel of Frye, I speak the gospel of Fitzwell. Also shipping and returns are free on Zappos.com so even if you buy/return multiple pairs don't fret.I do this all the time, and Zappos is fantastic about their customer service.

fondue with cheddar

@shelleycerata I have wide calves and very wide, square feet, but the bigger problem is that I've got thick ankles. Boots need to be a little bigger in the ankle so you can bend it, but for me they're always super tight. Sometimes I can't bend my ankle at all, other times the wrinkles dig into my achilles and the front of my ankle so badly that I have deep, purple-red welts by the end of the day.

Inspector Tiger

LW2: I too am a non-perfum-person who went on a quest to find a perfum that would seem like I just naturally smell good...

my tip: try Bodyshop. They have a small selection but those don't smell "perfumy". I got one that has an accompanying body wash & lotion, so that's good for layering the smell according to occation.

my second tip: try to find out how you smell naturally and find a perfume that has the same tones. So you won't get annoyed by it's "unnatural" smell. The one I use smells a lot like me just flower-ier and lovelier. Does that sound esoteric enough? ugh.

Having said that, I still only think of applying it about once a week. haha.

Puppy in a cup

@Inspector Tiger I want to go on this quest, too! But how do I find out "how I smell naturally?" I just feel like I don't even know where to start. Should I just resign myself to hours of smelling different scents while sales associates roll their eyes at my indecision? Maybe that's just what it takes, or maybe I'm doing it wrong?

Inspector Tiger

@Fingers Crossed So, I have been thinking how I found mine, but I basically just tried a few different distinctive notes like moschus, citrus, vanilla etc. to get a feel for them. And then I tried to find out how I smell myself by... well smelling my skin (I can't find a way to describe that without sounding crazy) and going in the direction I found matching with myself ... So I knew heavy and sweet perfumes just weren't my thing and I concentrated on a mixture of citrus with some earth tones.

as I said, it's all very esoteric, sorry to not be more helpful...


Lady #2: Jane's Aveda Purefumes suggestion is a GREAT one! They used to have a "birthday club" and sent me a certificate for a free one every year! I like the "Earth 1" scent a lot-- an ex-bf once described it as "Smells like hippies, and ginger... But nice!"


LW2: Try L'autre by Diptyque (http://www.diptyqueparis.com/personal-fragrances/l-autre.html). It LITERALLY smells like a spice market, but sexy. It's a little too much for me--I am a pale petite redhead, and I imagine the woman who wears L'autre has long curly black hair and a tan and wears long colorful skirts and bangle bracelets she got when she lived in Thailand.

Anyway. I'm a huge fan of Diptyque because another scent of theirs, Philosykos, is my signature. But I think L'autre is awesome for the right person.

sceps yarx

@caprette oh, I love Philosykos! It was made by the same perfumier as my ex-signature scent, L'artisan's Passage d'Enfer. Who is a woman, btw. Just sayin'.

Right now I'm wearing L'artisan Navigateur, but man is it intense! It sounds really similar to L'autre, but with tobacco too. I feel like I may be a bit much for also-pale-petite me. I'm trying to grow into it!


REI has some great boots actually, not just hiking boots but actual cute, wear with a skirt and tights boots. And they are super comfy to walk in, warm, waterproof, the whole shebang. I got a great pair of Teva boots there last year. To the person who was asking about wide calf boots-I saw tons of them at DSW when I was boot shopping last year.


@fuzzypeach Yessssss, REI boots! I just plunked down $400 for two pairs of waterproof Merrell boots and they are so comfy and adorable I can't even feel badly about the money.


Perfume Lady! Another perfumery i'd recommend is Bond no. 9 (http://www.bondno9.com/). They sell it at Saks, and have a bunch flavors (flavors?) so you'll be able to find your perfect one. I wear Bleecker St, which is kind of spicy but fresh smelling, and unisex. I also really wanted an perfume that would be natural and long-lasting, which is was Bleecker St is for me!


Okay but if you do not have puffy bags (yet) but you do have dark circles what do you do to get rid of those?

maxine of arc

@ponymalta Do you have allergies? Those are the big factor in the darkness of my circles. A mountain of antihistamines may help! And maybe consider a sleep mask so you can't start frantically rubbing your dry, dry eyes in the middle of the night, because that'll contribute, too. Try cold compresses for itching?

Beyond that, that shit is genetic and your best option is a good concealer. I like MAC's Select Cover-up because you can really layer it on.


@ponymalta I've read in a couple places that puffy eyes and/or dark circles can ALSO be a sign of food intolerances--usually gluten and/or dairy are the biggest culprits.


LW2: I am mostly a lurker on the 'Pin but I logged in just to tell you, I am a lady after your own heart! And I found my really affordable perfume at OLO Fragrance (http://olofragrance.com/). All of her scents are feminine without being girly, and Lightning Paw is so wonderful. It's described as "bergamot, jasmine, vanilla, patchouli" and whenever I get into the car, my little brother says, "Who here smells like a hippie?" and I don't even care. Also, whenever I smell department store perfumes now they kind of make me gag because they smell so sickly sweet and chemical-ly.

You can buy her perfumes online at the website or at other shops. Good luck! I'm now waiting for her to sell solid perfume so i can take it with me on trips.


Re: perfume. My favorite is actually a cologne for dudes! Gaultier's "Le Male," which comes in a little dude-torso shaped bottle with a really cute butt. The scent melds differently on a lady than a dude because of hormones and stuff, so I don't end up smelling like a dude, but it's dudely enough that people are intrigued and wonder.

Plus, wearing things made for dudes makes my queer self super happy. So maybe look into some men's scents, too?


LW 3: I bought these Orchestra II boots from Seychelles a few months ago and have really been happy. http://www.amazon.com/Seychelles-Womens-Orchestra-II-Boot/dp/B007M87J84. A Google search showed them on Zappos and Nordstrom's sites too; they might be cheaper there. Good arch support and good leather so far.

polka dots vs stripes

LW3: I spent MONTHS searching for the perfect pair of brown boots, and finally found amazing ones at DSW from Ralph Lauren that I practically sleep in, I love them that much. Nine West also had a lot of great boots that were out of my price range but within yours.

Honestly, I would scour the internet just to see what's out there and the varying costs. I looked at DSW online, Macys, JC Penney, Nordstrom's, 6pm, Lord and Taylor, Zappos - basically anywhere that sold shoes and boots, I knew their inventory like the back of my hand.

Now I'm on the hunt for the perfect ankle boots, if the pinteriat have any suggestions ;)


@polka dots vs stripes Madewell's zip code boots. I knew they would be perfect from the moment I saw them. I tried to find a cheaper knockoff but nothing came close. I finally got them for my birthday and they are ridiculously comfortable and ridiculously cute.

polka dots vs stripes

@Lady_Terminator Ohhh those are promising! About 4X more my budget....but promising!

Faintly Macabre

@polka dots vs stripes I got perfect ankle boots at DSW last year--so perfect that I bought two pairs! They were these

I have big, hard-to-fit feet, and these fit almost perfectly, and still look almost new after a year of abuse. I have walked around in them all day and felt fine. Plus they were basically free with Rewards winnings! They're not selling them at the moment, but DSW sometimes brings styles back. (Kelly & Katie is only sold at DSW, but I read that they're made by Liz Claiborne.)

nevernude cutoffs

@polka dots vs stripes Oooh... Madewell boots are so good, I just had to second that. I have 2 pairs, one I've had for 4 years now. They're so classic and go with everything. Also- if in store, they have a student discount if one applies to you! (fyi, I have the biker boot, and an older pair that is similar to the watchtower boot, but the archive boot is pretty similar to LW3's request.)


I may be a crazy person, but as a person who LIVES in boots exactly like the ones LW3 describes all winter, every winter, I would strongly discourage shopping online, because then HOW WILL YOU KNOW IF THEY FIT! I find that when doing the boot shopping, I have to try on a thousand pairs before finding a pair that doesn't hurt and doesn't have gigantic oversized calves. I recommend starting at DSW, because they have a nicely huge selection in which you can try on a million things in one place. And if you don't find the right pair there, then you start branching out one by one to the other stores. I find that when choosing the perfect boots I live in every day all winter, sometimes I can pay as little as $50, and sometimes I have to pay as much as $300 (assume they'll last you multiple winters, so it's not quite as painful to pay that amount). Pricewise, you never know.

polka dots vs stripes

@werewolfbarmitzvah I should have mentioned in my above comment, I shopped online to figure out which stores had the styles/prices I liked, and then tried on and bought my boots in person. I mostly did that because I don't like having the revolving credit card charges and the buy it-try it-return it circle, but others might not mind.


@werewolfbarmitzvah You buy them all and then send back the rejects!! I can never ever find my size in stores, so I have become accustomed to this. If you decide quickly, the charges are usually off your card before paying time, too...

Lily Rowan

@werewolfbarmitzvah That's why Zappos -- free shipping both ways!


These last three questions are ALL letters I've considered writing to Jane in the past. I feel so... connected... to the Hairpin readership. (Well, except I prefer my perfumes on the girly side, but otherwise, yeah.)

The thing I wanted to add is that, while age drastically intensifies the eyebag situation, some of us simply have terrible, terrible bags under our eyes that are not a result of age. Mine were puffy and droopy when I was still in high school. And now it seems like every year they multiply in size. I'm seriously afraid that by the time I'm 40--hell, by the time I'm 30--my face will simply be one ENTIRE under-eye bag; like, my jowls will not actually be jowls, but rather an extension of my under-eye area (or will I start developing jowls ON TOP of these?? Oh no).

The only solution I've found that helps a *bit* is to apply concealer at the "bottom" of the bag, if that makes sense. Like, apply it to the crease at the bottom instead of actually on the bag. It doesn't make them go away, but it takes the edge off and makes me feel like I'm not 100 years old.

au contraire mon frere

LW4: I used to work for a facial plastic surgeon so... Dysport isn't a filler - it's like Botox, which is why this guy is talking about the muscle relaxing in the video. You might be able to put filler under your eyes to 'even out' the bags a little with your cheek but: big time bruises, probably about $1000 (in NY, at a good doctor) and that will last you 6 months with questionable results. But yeah, that thing under your eyes is called a fat pad and surgery is the only thing that will help long term. Hope that helps!

Jane Marie

@au contraire mon frere oh thanks, i'll fix that!

sceps yarx

@au contraire mon frere My sister-in-law got under-eye surgery and it looks good. You can't even tell she got "work" done. However, it made me sad that she did it in some ways. All he friends are rich California 'burb moms. God forbid one should age without dropping a ton of cash on your face!


i seem to have the opposite boot problem, doesn't anyone make narrower calf boots? all of the boots that i try on seem to be able to fit both of my legs (but not both feet) in them. unless i want to spend $1,000 at saks...


@hellomynameis I'm a wide-calf lady but the company that made my favorite pair of boots, Duo, does narrow-calf boots by calf measurement as well, and I can at least vouch for the quality of the wide-calf ones! They're mostly in the $200-$300 range, and they have sales once in a while.

maxine of arc

@hellomynameis YES I have the same problem. Little Contessa reviews narrow-calf boots, which will save you the trouble of ordering a billion pairs from Zappos in order to find one that fits, although she doesn't have much luck, either. The only knee-high boots I have that actually fit my calves are Miz Mooz Hannahs from a few years ago--they're lace-ups with a super wide tongue, so I had plenty of space to adjust them.

I'm waiting for some Eric Michael Shannons to be delivered from Amazon. They allegedly have a 13" calf in a size 38, but they have buckles all the way up the side so I might be able to cinch them tighter. My next attempt will be the Bronx Maron, which is supposed to be 12" in a size 6. (The calf circumference usually goes up about a quarter inch per half-size, so you might have some luck if you're a skinny-legged size six, but you're pretty screwed if you're a skinny-legged size 11.)

I hear Fluevogs run pretty slim, but I don't have any personal experience with them. Any other tiny-calved ladies in the house?

Marquise de Morville

@hellomynameis I have narrow calves as well (after years of thinking they were huge) and narrow but long feet. I own a pair of La Canadienne lace-up boots that are quite narrow, so maybe that's another brand to try? They are expensive (I got mine on sale) but good quality.

It is annoying that larger shoe sizes seems to mean wider calves. Often they only state the circumference for one size when buying online, so that is something to consider.


@hellomynameis This is hard too! My narrow be-calfed girlfriend wears legwarmers in her boots for bulk. That's all I've got.


@hellomynameis Yeah, that's my problem, too - all of the boots out there seem to have enormously oversized calves, and I can't find a whole lot of consistency among brands for sizing this issue. Miz Mooz does seem to make slightly narrower calves, though, and I've also had some luck with a brand embarrassingly named Kelly & Katie, and I once had a perfect pair of Camper boots with really narrow calves, too. It also helps to wear two pairs of thick tube socks underneath.


@hellomynameis I recently tried on some boots that were by Coconuts (sub-brand of Matisse), Blakely Riding Boot, that had a narrow calf. Maybe their others do as well?


@hellomynameis Low arches plus chicken legs equals saggy boots. I had a pair of Kenneth Cole boots that worked well years ago, and have been hunting for a narrow pair since. Thanks for the suggestions girls.


@hellomynameis - Another vote for Miz Mooz. I still have to wear thick hunting socks with them to take up space, but they're the most narrow I can find outside of something like Duo. I've had mixed success with Franco Sarto as well - they're the second skinniest calves I've found after Miz Mooz, but I have to wear hunting socks and another thin sock underneath to take up the space.

(That's all with jeans - with dresses I have to layer yet more socks.)
(And I should say my budget usually cuts off at $200, so there may be narrow ones out there that I haven't ever considered because of the price.)

Sam I am

@hellomynameis I'm seconding (thirding?) the Kenneth Cole suggestion, but I'd also like to add that I've had some luck with Etienne Agnier boots too.

ETA, instead of doubling up on socks, sometimes I do a pair or socks/fun tights with leg warmers. Makes up for some of the room (depending on the boot) and keeps me toasty.

tea sonata

BOOOOOOOOOTS oh, how I lust after thee. Dribbling lust. Egads.

In the meantime, here's an apt Terry Pratchett quote - was it the one referenced upthread?

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

Men At Arms.


I feel a little bad for the undereye-bag lady. I am sure that Jane didn't mean it but her answer came off a bit glib and harsh, like: "You're old and ugly now, nothing to be done about that so DEAL WITH IT. Surgery or meditation, those are your options." Meanwhile, the Youngs write in with questions like, "I have an infinitesimal cluster of blackheads behind my left ear, what do?' and there's a ton of heartening advice and cheerleading and product suggestions and interviews with skin experts and blackhead survivors and whatnot.

I mean, maybe there truly is nothing to be done about undereye bags, but at least there must be some way of disguising them/calling attention away from them, etc. , right?

Or, barring that, perhaps, we could have a conversation about exactly how one is supposed to go about dealing with the slow collapse of one's face and body into decrepitude without sinking into a morass of self-hating obsession on one hand or nihilistic giving up, on the other. I mean, I'm sure that surgery and meditation would both help, but it seems like there might be a middle-ground to this conversation that would be worth having.



Additionally, here is a poem I found.

Little Blessing for my Floater
Jeanne Murray Walker

(after George Herbert)

This tiny ruin in my eye, small
flaw in the fabric, little speck
of blood in the egg, deep chip
in the windshield, north star,
polestar, floater that doesn't
float, spot where my hand is not,
even when I'm looking at my hand,
little piton that nails every rock
I see, no matter if the picture
turns to sand, or sand to sea,
I embrace you, piece of absence
that reminds me what I will be,
all dark some day unless God
rescues me, oh speck
that might teach me yet to see.

sceps yarx

@Kristen Wow. That is beautiful, thank you.


@Kristen maybe some illuminating concealer?


@Kristen Thank you for that. Seriously. I am the bag lady in question and I worded the letter glibbly, because I KNOW it is a part of aging. I got a lot of shit I am dealing with as far as aging is going. I can deal with that. This is just a stupid, vain thing I trying to deal with and if I could rectify it, might take the sting out of other things I am finding I have to deal with right now. I think I am just on the way high end of the reader deomgraphic I guess.


@SuperMargie Yeah, I think that the voice of the site def skews towards the mid-twenties, which is fine, but at the same time I think there's a fairly wide range of ages overall, which means we could talk about subjects that target slightly older people and still gather a lot of interest. I ALSO think that I started vaguely thinking about a lot of aging-related stuff in my late twenties and I would have been a wiser, better, happier person if I'd had some guidance from women who were slightly older than me about all the aging-related stuff that was about to come sliding my way once I hit my thirties.


@Kristen As a fellow older eyebag lady, I've found cutting waaaaaay back on salt and drinking TONS of water does help. I'll always have them though. I feel you LW3! Oh, I also avoid booze for the most part, especially wine. My eyes are puffy slits after. Again, drinking a ton of water when imbibing alcohol helps.


@SuperMargie Thank you for writing this letter! And I am sorry that Jane was so wholly dismissive, and borderline mean. I'm in my 20's and freaking out about exactly the same thing. I've had bags under my eyes for as long as I can remember, and photos of my older female relatives send me into full-on panic. Nothing I've tried has helped, except that i try to keep the following in mind:

Beautiful celebrities who have bags under their eyes: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jakob Dylan, Eva Mendes, Justin Timberlake, even babies like Kirsten Stewart.

Something a friend once told me when I was living in LA: That bags under the eyes are the best way to tell models from regular pretty girls. So I try to operate under the idea that my life is so Full and Busy and Glamorous that I simply don't have time worry about looking tired.

Either way, thank you for reminding the editors that their readers extend beyond their peer group.


@Slapfight @kac
Thanks. Smarts a bit less. I will take the booze and salt advice to heart.


@SuperMargie But is life worth living without wine and salty food?


@SuperMargie Just wanted to jump in and say that I was also disappointed with the response to this question, although I was so happy that someone asked it. I *am* in my 20s, and my intense undereye bags have always been a big source of insecurity for me.

I know you say you don't wear a lot of makeup, but I'll repeat a comment that I made above: the only thing that I've found makes a slight difference in my appearance is in the way I apply concealer. Get a good concealer and then apply it to the bottom crease of the bag--where the puffiness of the bag meets your "regular" face. I find that softening that line a bit (rather than applying the concealer right under the eye, which is only good for dark circles) makes them appear less intense.

Sorry not to have any better advice, though. I also don't like wearing tons of makeup, so I hate solutions that are just "wear makeup!" But that's all I got.

(edited to add: I am also on this comment board talking about how embarrassed I am by my huge calves when I try on boots. I promise I'm not simply the world's most insecure person--these just happen to be two issues that are very relevant to me!)


@OneTooManySpoons @SuperMargie @kac I know the no booze & salty foods is not for everyone. Cutting down on wine was really hard for me at first. It did make a difference for me though. And agreed One Too Many Spoons' concealer trick. A makeup artist on a set where I extra'd told me to but Benefit's Boi-ing concealer. It does a good job of reflecting the light.


I'm taking a lurking break to say I'm surprised nobody suggested LUSH for LW2! I'm such a LUSH fanatic, but it all started because I hated perfume until I tried LUSH perfume. It's not all perfume-y and chemically, and they are all over more androgynous scents. Also, it is incredibly cheap! Most of their other stuff is expensive, but the perfume is such a great deal. Or LW2 could just get some Karma lotion and solid shampoo and it will actually be like she is emanating patchouli.


@luna848 Ooh, Lush's Breath of God is so awesome. Not what LW2 is after, but awesome.


@luna848 I was going to suggest Lush's Karma too! They make a solid perfume to dab on your skin, which might help give the scent-emanating-from-within quality (I don't know, I don't know much about perfume). Love how my bathroom smells when I get a bar of Karma soap.


Ladies, buy your boots in the summer, when they are half off. The Aldo riding boots I shelled out $179 for in-season were $75 in July. I'm not saying go boot-less when you don't have any and winter is approaching, but check your favorite shoe sites off-season and stock up for the winters to come. Then have them regularly maintained by a good shoe guy, and they will last you for years. When you have broken down their cost-per-season to $20 AND you still get compliments, it's a great feeling.


@Spaghettius! This is good advice - I'm reading through this thread wondering 'what does everyone DO that they can afford all these lovely, $200 - $400 boots? Whyyyyy"


oh man i hate when people are judgey about makeup. i don't wear a whole lot--usually liquid/pencil eyeliner, mascara, foundation, light blush, and lipstick--but some women, especially "professional" women, like to take me aside when i touch up my lipstick and say "honey, you don't need makeup." fuck off, bitch! i'm not wearing makeup because i quiver in a pit of anxiety, i wear makeup because i think it's fun to change up my appearance and play with color. i'm real pale with dark hair, and i love classic red lipstick. i wore some nars red lizard (GORGE) to a networking event for my grad program and this alum i was talking to in a group with other girls went off on a weird tangent on how people trust women who wear just a little makeup, but not too much. i was the only one wearing any visible makeup, and i'm pretty sure she was trying to give me sly advice that my lipstick was unprofessional. whatever, tell that to joan holloway. women who denigrate feminine things as "unprofessional" really get my goat. i shouldn't have to ignore my feminine side to be treated with respect.

edit: ALSO i have a full time job IN MY FIELD that helps me pay for my grad school so i think i know a thing or three about professionalism.


@dotcommie Bright lipstick is the besssssssst. Honestly, the daily workaday life is boring enough without having the fun of makeup taken away from you. Putting together an outfit and wearing red or fuschia lipstick is pretty much the thing that gets me out the door in the morning.


@werewolfbarmitzvah On days I really need to rock it, the red lipstick comes out. My boss always looks at me at the end of the day in amazement that it's still on and looking as good as ever. I work in a male dominated field and the only thing I figured out about my make up was the guys are not going to give two shits if I wear make up or not, or what it looks like.


@dotcommie As LW1, I totally agree and often wear bright colors to work! My sister is just stuck in what I think of as "college-face"--lots of cheap, bright cosmetics at the same time that sometimes flake off and land on her cheekbones. But Jane is also right that I am sort of a judgy jerk.

the angry little raincloud

@dotcommie Ooh Red Lizard! I wear Red Square myself, or the Terre de Feu matte one. Was contemplating buying Jungle Girl yesterday but restrained myself.

New Hoarder

@werewolfbarmitzvah This. Getting up for work is hard in the morning (though I am grateful to be going) and I get excited to put on my makeup and try random things out. If people ask if I am sick (bad color choices!) then I know that makeup combo is not a good idea for the weekend when there will be new people to meet, pictures taken, etc.

Also, I am not a creative type: I can't just throw together an outfit; I can't just whip up a batch of whatever food; I can't figure out interior designing; I can't make my own jewelry. (Or at least I haven't attempted any of those things. ;-p) BUT, as I yell to my husband when he is telling me to hurry up, makeup is my one creative outlet and I don't care what anyone says. So long as I am happy with or without makeup on that is what matters.


Also, re: perfume. I pretty strongly feel that anyone searching for perfumes in the higher-end area should be reading Gaia Fisher's The Non Blonde blog. The woman reviews perfumes (and some makeup, too) in a way I can actually read and absorb as a non-perfume-nerd. I can't tell generally if I'll like something from just a list of notes, but I can usually decide if something is worth me hunting down after reading a Gaia review. A lot of other fragrance sites just intimidate me--I don't know about vintage perfumes, or even what the hell aldehydes are, and I definitely cannot usually smell all 8 million notes in a given perfume. Gaia's reviews tend to clear a lot of that "perfume, what the hell?" up for me.


My two signature scents that I love and will never, ever change, despite getting the following feedback every time:

"Sake" by Fresh: "Who smells like gin?"

"Kelly Caleche" by Hermes: "Do you smoke? Something smells like smoke...leather smoke."



@jule_b_sorry I'm not really a perfume wearer, but I love fresh perfumes! Good stuff. I also occasional wear some roll on lavanilla perfume too.


@jule_b_sorry Haha! "Who smells like gin?" is the best!

New Hoarder

@jule_b_sorry My mom loves the Jurlique hand sanitizer I keep gifting her because it "smells like you know what- GIN AND TONIC!" *maniacal giggle* She thinks she is being SO bad.

New Hoarder

@Punk-assBookJockey Got a tiny sample of Lavanilla vanilla coconut body lotion. Loved it, bought the whole range, including the perfume ball. The shower gel, body lotion, AND rollerball are all strong enough- just on their own! I finally returned the rollerball and shower gel because I was getting sick of how strong the smell was.

New Hoarder

@Punk-assBookJockey Fresh Citron de Vigne. That's my jam.


@New Hoarder Yeah, I hadn't worn the Lavanilla in a long time and I put some on the other day and for about an hour I was like, "Wow, I'm really smelling that." I use the plain vanilla or the lavender though, and just the roller perfume not the lotion and all that. I LOVE fresh citron de vigne. So awesome. I just got a sample of the grapefruit one too, Hesperides, it smells really good too.


Also, I've had the exact same obsession over the leather boot thing - I'm glad to know I'm not alone! I've literally been walking down the street for months mentally screaming "HOW CAN EVERYONE AFFORD $400 BOOTS?"

I think I finally found theeee pair, though:


However, I hope I'm getting them for xmas b/c I'm hella broke buying everyone else's gifts. I'm really terrified that no one will take my hint, and they'll be discontinued (or it'll be spring) before I finally feel comfortable buying them. Ugh.


Also LW3 I feel your paaaaain because my mom has the same thing going on (so I will probably have the same thing going on very soon), but I want to share with you this hilarious vignette:

My mom had cataract surgery two years ago (she was under 60). When she was at her eye dude, he mentioned that during the surgery they could "do something about those bags under her eyes if she wanted."

Doctor: "....No, that's just fat. I'm offering you plastic surgery."
Mom: :(


@antarcticastartshere - ahhh! I don't know how to feel about this. On the one hand - who the fuck he is to basically insult her about something I assume she never brought up herself. On the other hand, if I already felt uncomfortable about something and was informed that I could get plastic surgery "piggybacked" on something else so I only had to see a doctor once...it would be nice to know that beforehand.


But gravity alwaaaaaaaaaaaays wins....


Wait, what? NO! NOnonoNoooO. I have like a million floaters! I'm only 25! Does this mean my eye jello is disintegrating super-fast? It is my job? Is my job killing me by sitting AND also burning my eyeballs out?


LW2 / Perfume: Try perfume oils! The fragrances are in an oil base, instead of alcohol-based sprays, which often cause that overly-strong sneezy feeling. You dab them onto pulse points and they emanate from you in a low-key, come-hither way.

There is a whole perfume oil subculture online - I know it's hard to know if you'll like a scent from reading about it online, but it's so fun to look through the notes and descriptions, and ordering samples is addictive (and less of a commitment than a whole bottle of designer perfume! Though even full-size bottles, often 5ml or so, are usually only $15-25).

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, as Daisy Razor mentioned, is a good place to start, but can be overwhelming with choices! Try sites like Wylde Ivy, Blooddrop, Arcana, and Villainess - all good quality.

Sorry if I sound like a commercial, I'm obsessed with scents and I've harvested quite a collection of samples over the years from several great brands. It's fun to wear a different scent every day if I feel like it. :)


@pennylaner BLACK PHOENIX ALCHEMY LAB!!! AH I FORGOT ABOUT THEM! I'm so bad at figuring out scents based by descriptions, their imps are a godsend


@pennylaner Omg, BPAL, my obsession. Seconding perfume oils as a category unto itself for the whole, subtle-emanating-from-your-skin effect.

And for those of us with long hair, a teeny tiny dab onto the ends of hair will leave you in the middle of a wispy fog of faint perfume all day long. So pleasant.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@celeec4@twitter I totally do that! It's one of my secrets -- people are always like HOW DOES YOUR HAIR SMELL SO GOOD OMG?


LW2: Pacifica solid perfumes! You'd probably like Spanish Amber or Tibetan Mountain Temple, which are spice-y without being overly perfume-y. But they have a ton of scents, and the nice thing about the solid perfumes opposed to their sprays is that they aren't nearly as heavy, so even the florals come off like a natural scent. Also, it looks like their website is having a sale, so these are even more inexpensive than what they normally are, and they have samples you can order as well!

Becky Russo@facebook

@crango i love tibetan mountain temple!! that is my go to scent.


Ooh! Perfume seeking lady, I have a wonderful perfume, Fragonard Murmure, and you might love it, it's all sandalwood and spice and deliciousness. I wear it in the winter, but I get all paranoid because no one ever notices/compliments me on it, and I think this means everyone hates it because I require external validation.

Actually, it's also because I get ALL THE COMPLIMENTS when I wear my Chanel Allure, which has clearly set me to fail.


Hello! I saw a woman wearing those boots in downtown Portland this morning. That is all.

Clarisse McClellan

Another brand of perfume to try is Maroma MEN. I use the Olibanum Citrus. It isn't expensive and lasts a long time on your skin. I think Maroma makes scents for women too, but I haven't smelled any of them.


@lemonadefish Boot stretching is a thing?! You may have saved me many frustrating hours of trying on beautiful but skinny-legged boots. Other wide-calfed ladies: did you do a sport at a young age? Because everyone in my ballet class, who otherwise had a wide variety of body shapes, had problems getting boots and skinny jeans to fit, and we figured it was because we'd been training up those muscles from ages 5-18.

New Hoarder

@Apocalypstick Yes. Left calf slightly large but can squeeze into normal boots. Right calf apparently HUGE and fits into nothing. Right foot was my kicking foot in soccer.


Bags under the eyes: here's the thing! for some people, it is genetic. My toddler son has this going on already, no matter how much he sleeps, and it's not about age. Luckily he's totally adorable in all other ways and this is easy to overlook. But my dad had it his whole life, and my sister too. There's...well, kind of nothing to do about it, except recognize that it's a small flaw and you are otherwise awesome/gorgeous.
Also, if you get too skinny, your face may look more skull-like than other people's because of the eyes. So, maybe an excuse to skip dieting? I'm not kidding: my sister's face looks infinitely better / less exhausted when she weighs 5lbs more than she would otherwise want to. And my dad...he was thin for a while (normal thin) and his eye bags looked awful.He's now less thin (though still not overweight) and he's less scary looking.
It's also entirely possible that no one else can notice, and your eyes are actually fine.


Letter Writer Two! Letter Writer Two!

I recently discovered this lady, Madame Scodioli. I ordered some of her solid scents and wasn't very excited when they arrived, but THEN I tried them on. And when they warmed up they were sensational.

Classic perfume notes but with some unusual additions like Earl Grey. Not totally girly. Doesn't smell like fake melons. Unusual.

Have a lookie: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ScodioliCreative?section_id=6301497


@Susanna Oh, hey, I hadn't seen this when I wrote my question about etsy below. That vanilla oak one looks verrry interesting.


LW 2: I am soooo late to this, but just wanted to recommend Ajne perfumes. I can't wear most perfume because it goes all powdery on my skin and starts to make me feel sick. But Ajne seems to be oil based, and the scents I have tried (through The Perfumed Court, thank you Hairpin!) are spicy and a bit dry and stay close to the skin. This is a bit weird to say, but men I don't know rarely chat casually with me. However, I've noticed that when I put on the Ajne scent called Third Eiger, they make excuses to talk. (I'm not sure whether this should crush my ego or boost it, but whatever. It's interesting.)

Bed Monster

LW2: Try lush if you want anything with patchouli, sandalwood, typical hippie smells. Patchouli sits well on me, and I use their aluminum-free deodorant that has a strong patchouli note in it as its primary deodorizer (Aromaco, if you're interested). They also have a pretty large selections of perfumes, and many of them have these types of scents in them. I've used Karma in the past and enjoy it, and people who like the same stuff you like tend to like Ginger as well. If you're nervous about committing to a whole bottle, buy one of their solid scent sticks and try it out for a few weeks. Pretty much every perfume they have has a corresponding solid that is significantly cheaper than a full bottle, and they take awhile to finish (note: the fragrance doesn't last as long as it does in spray form, though). Good luck and happy hunting!

Bed Monster

LW1: I unintentionally made my friend feel bad the second I said something about frosty lipstick and how much I'm not a fan of it. I didn't mean to make her feel crappy, but I felt terrible about it the second I realized that she loves frosty lipstick and feels great when she wears it. You don't want to do that to your sister!

Have fun doing a makeover with your sister at a cool counter(I second NARS, but MAC has been and will always been a mainstay for me since the selection of colors in their permanent line is fantastic and has great range for many, many skintones). However, I'd only stress about it in terms of her job prospects/looking appropriate for certain types of interviews. It's her face, and let her enjoy every purple out there if she pleases!

the angry little raincloud

LW3, searching for boots: I own what I humbly believe to be The Most Beautiful Boots in the World. I wanted them for years (they're a standard boot in the company's repetoire). I hoped every year they would go on sale (they never did, or never in my size). I tried to find something similar from someplace cheaper, but never could. Finally, after wasting money on other boots, I realized, Fuck It. I'm buying the boots. They were not cheap. (I have paid less in rent in previous places. Not NYC. But elsewhere.) They were worth every single fucking penny. I always feel dressed in these boots. They are both fancy yet casual. I don't even look at boots now, so I think they'll save me money in the long run since I won't waste money on things that don't make me happy.

But I'm a huge proponent of buying just a few nice things. I realize I used to buy lots of little cheap things, none of which I liked all that much and would only wear for a few months. Now, I save my money and buy one or two really nice things, that seem very expensive at first but that I really love. (I do not impulse shop.) Comparing my spending: I've actually spent less this year since I started this system than in 2008 or 2009, when I was depressed and randomly buying shit from H&M, the Gap, wherever.

Sorry for the long-winded comment!

PS, edited to add, because I love adding random and inappropriate comments about my poor life choices on the internet: you would not believe the number of men who want me to leave the boots on during sex. (They are also extremely sexy to take off: zippers and buckles that make for a long remove.) Seriously. I bought them in fall 2011 and I am somewhat slutty, so I'm not talking about just one or two men, either. If you find the boots you love, just buy them!


@the angry little raincloud You can't say all that and not link to the boots!!!

the angry little raincloud

@han I guess I thought it would be better to leave each of you with the imagination of your own version of The Most Beautiful Boots in the World!

Good thing I bought them when I did: they're no longer available! Yikes. They are Paul Smith's Kings; I have them in black: http://bit.ly/RCmc25


@the angry little raincloud Oh man, those are nice. Good decisions!


@the angry little raincloud WANT

the angry little raincloud

@KeLynn @han Thank you! Like I said, worth every penny. (Whereas I do regret the much cheaper boots from Anthropologie. What the fuck was I thinking? Those were a waste of money.)

Brobdingnagian Brainboners

IS THAT WHY I DON'T UNDERSTAND BLUSH? I was a teenager first experimenting with makeup during the grunge era of the 90s. These days I do my makeup every day, but I never, ever, ever use blush. I hate it. I don't get it. It's stupid. And now I learn that it's not me, but rather the ghost of the 90s haunting my face forever? Because I can live with that, actually.


@Brobdingnagian Brainboners If grunge is the reason for my not-understanding of blush, then...I have no excuse? :\ IDK, I just think blush looks weird and unnatural on me. Are you another lady who tends to not blush/flush sans makeup? Because I don't, and I think that's most of my disconnect with blush, actually.

Brobdingnagian Brainboners

@celeec4@twitter Yes! I only "blush" when I'm exercising, never for any other reason. Clearly both our faces are plotting against us.


For boots, I really think the answer is to just comb the internet. I've paid about $150 for each of my pair of boots, and I probably spent 2-3 hours hunting down each pair online. Visit Zappos, Piperlime, Amazon, Endless, 6pm.com, and Google search it. If you find something that looks almost right, but not quite, Google the brand and see what else they have. If you have a Nordstrom Rack or a TJ Maxx near you, stop in there - somehow they almost seem to have just what I'm looking for in the "something basic with few or zero frills" department.

Off the top of my head, Franco Sarto might be a good brand to look up?


LW2 here! First of all, thanks to Jane for publishing my question! This is more exciting than when PJ Fresh Phil read my letter on YTV when I was 8! Canadians? Anyone?
Anyway, thanks everyone for the kajillion suggestions! Since writing in I have found a couple of scents that I like ok, but I have yet to find the perfect one (or more). I ordered a few perfume oil samples from Auric Blends, and so far Rasta is the closest, though a liiiiittle heavy on the patchouli, even for me. I also found that I like Viktor and Rolf Spicebomb (a men's fragrance) but alas, Sephora won't ship it to Canada. Atelier makes some nice unisex scents, but so far I've only tried a sample of Orange Sanguine, as they are pretty expensive.
But yes, I've been making lots of notes from everyone's suggestions and after I am finished my last exams before grad school in January, I will be a girl on a (different kind of) mission!
P.S. Jane, thanks again. I was seriously super excited to see my weird and super wordy question on a real life website!


@cageybee ohhh mannn, I was just coming down here to recommend Spicebomb! It's so good! Atelier will send you samples if you email them(though maybe not to Canada, herrmmm), but I find a lot of their scents don't last very long, which is a shame because they smell really nice. You might like their amber scent, it's very spicy and different.

Summer Petersen@facebook

What is that amazing Red/Green eyeshadow compact pictured?! Me want!


Has anyone tried any perfume oils off of etsy? Because I've been on there a lot lately, and I saw some scents the other day that look really interesting.

incense and cookies

@aubrey! yes! I've been a Black Phoenix fan for a few years and just started branching out to etsy perfumers this fall. I've ordered from both Alkemia and For Strange Women. Alkemia - more scents, including a couple I'm already in love with (Blackberry Noir & Persephone) and you get free samples with every order. She's great. For Strange Women - just got my first order today. You do not get free samples (at least if you order samples) and she's therefore a tad pricier. The scents seem quite strong and I'm still testing those.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

Just jumping on this thread late to put in a plug for my Kenneth Cole motorcycle boots! I've had them for years and can't quit them. They're great for big-calfed ladies since they only come up to mid-calf, and they seriously look good with everything.

Sam I am

@Oliver St. John Mollusc I love Kenneth Cole boots (I've got regular sized calves) & shoes, they speak to me. KC really gets me (and you)!


I know this is crazy, but hey riding boots seeking lady...ever consider just buying some riding boots? Like, from http://www.doversaddlery.com/? You can get pretty good tall boots for about $200 (not great, but pretty good), some of them zip now. Just sayin...

sarah sprague

I'm a day late (sorry!) but as someone who also gets bags under her eyes, I am a huge, huge huge fan of Fast Response Eye Cream by MAC. Surprisingly effective.

Sara E Anderson@facebook

Eye bags don't respond to products, IME. I had a years'-long battle with them resulting from a surgery side-effect, so this may be totally off-base, but what worked for me was doing stuff to reduce water retention in general (antihistamines are bad news when it comes to water retention) and some facial massage. Dark circles respond to products, but bags are kind of a bigger issue.


So the sister is wearing too much makeup... and the solution is to take her to get her makeup done by a professional? Have you SEEN how much makeup beauty store/mall makeup artists use? 99% chance she will come out looking exactly the same. Just tell her you think she should tone it down for interviews.


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