Girl School for Grownups

Like having a big sister, but better because I can't boss you around!


Ever since seeing Jeff Goldblum in “The Fly” with his seven identical suits (one for every day of the week) I’ve wanted a uniform. The simplicity of not having to choose what to wear, combined with the assurance you’re wearing the right thing (because it’s the only think you’re supposed to wear) equal freedom to me. Perhaps I wouldn’t feel this way if I’d ever actually worn a uniform in school. Hmmmmm. Nope. I’d still love the idea of a uniform.

My husband would tell you that at times I did have a uniform. When the boys were toddlers, nearly every photograph will attest to my love of one pair of Victoria’s Secret overalls with a plain white t-shirt. (I loved those overalls so much that when the buckle broke on one side, I fixed it with a bread twist tie. True story.) At that time keeping up with two little boys and their little boy energy took everything I had, and I loved that zero thought needed to go towards what I would wear.

Looks like we all got the uniform memo!

Looks like we all got the uniform memo!

Recently I’ve read a number of article about minimalism, and today I saw a piece about having a capsule wardrobe. The idea is that you have a limited number of pieces that go with each other. I think this is a great idea. And I may try it out. But for now I have a formula for what I wear, and that seems to be working. Here’s the formula:

  • jeans or pants
  • t shirt
  • a third piece

Just knowing that this is how I dress makes it so much simpler. Generally speaking I keep 2 of the 3 pieces neutral, and use a bright color for the other piece or I bring in color with a scarf or a necklace. Right now what that looks like is cobalt/dark teal jeans, a grey Michael Stars sweatshirt (fabric is dressed up, silhouette is casual), and oops, no third piece. This combo doesn’t seem to need it, but I do have a multi-colored necklace on that ties in the pants. At other times the formula is black skinny jeans, white t shirt, and a bright cardigan. The third piece seems to pull everything together and make it look a little more grown up somehow.

Where the formula falls apart is in the summer. Temps in Rocklin are regularly in the high 90s/low 100s which makes a 3rd piece superfluous. Perhaps this summer I’ll try the capsule wardrobe thing. If I figure anything out, you know I’ll let you know.

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Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and aging, part 2

Grim news. Maslow’s hierarchy has been discredited and out of favor for decades. Decades! And nobody thought to tell me! But his flawed framework will continue to be used as we continue on with aging. Just don’t base anything important, like a term paper or a master’s thesis on it.

Ok so once you have the great attitude in place, what’s next? To my way of thinking the next two things are these: finding and maintaining a good weight and excellent skin care.

Let’s talk about weight first. (crickets silence) It’s tough to write about weight, especially because as an emotional eater, my weight fluctuates by about 10 pounds and right now I’m at the top of my weight range. Neverthless, finding and maintaining a good weight “reads” younger than lots of unnecessary pounds. Please know though that “good weight” does not = “perfect weight” or “unattainable weight.” Because I like odd numbers and the idea of being super thin is appealing, for years I thought my ideal weight would be 123 or 127 pounds. (Yes there are more odd numbers to be found, but those seemed right.) (Full disclosure: in my mind, my perfect weight is 113 or 117. I weighed in that range when I was 14 years old.) Grrrrr — the point here isn’t to get bogged down by THE NUMBER but to find a weight that you can maintain with relative ease and then stay there, or thereabouts.

Going way up and way down in weight is bad for your body, bad for your skin, and bad for your soul. Remember The Zone diet? I’ve rarely been as bitchy as when I tried to do it. Bitchy is not a word that describes what I’m after. ūüôā

Moving on to skin care. Good skin reads healthy reads youthful. For good skin:

  • Don’t tan.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Buy the best quality skincare products you can afford and use them.
  • Wash your face. (But we’ve already talked about that!)

I was a teen in the 70s and this was the time of lemon juice in the hair and baby oil on the skin. But I got lucky because try as I might, I could never get good at laying out in the sun. I found it boring and uncomfortable. In my 20s and 30s I would hit the tanning salon before vacation but not on a regular basis. I now know that your history shows up in your skin. Young readers, please oh please oh please wear sunscreen and don’t use tanning beds!¬†Your skin will thank you for it, I promise.

Smoking. Yes, I was a smoker. I smoked off and on from age 19 to 25. Quitting smoking was incredibly difficult. But I’m so glad I did. Smoking not only robs the skin on your face of vital oxygen, and dumps a whole bunch of free radicals onto you, it also hijacks your money. Just say no. Just say no. Just say no.

As far as skincare, make sure you use sunscreen every day (good lord this is the most boring thing I’ve ever written!), and use both moisturizer and eye cream at night. Most skin care systems also want you to buy¬†toner which I think is an attempt to get you to spend more money. Save your money and buy a Revlon facial brush and use it with your cleanser.

If you have good skin and maintain a consistent weight, everything else is so much easier. Clothes look better. You’ll need less makeup and application will be faster and easier. In part 3, which will be more interesting, we will talk about makeup and fashion.

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Mascara adventurer


Originally I thought mascara whore would be the title, but while that’s certainly provocative, it’s not exactly right. I am in love with mascara, and I’ve never met a mascara I didn’t want to try. So I’m mascara unfaithful, but fidelity isn’t required when you buy mascara. Ok whatever you want to call it, mascara is my desert island beauty product and I’ve done quite a bit of research (hoarding?) to find the very best ones. Here are my current favorites.

  1. Perversion by Urban Decay. With or without the Subversion last primer, this mascara is wonderful. What I love about it is that it’s got a matte finish which makes it different than every other mascara I’ve tried. So you can make your lashes as long as you want with it but it doesn’t look overdone, especially for daytime.
  2. Better Than Sex by Too Faced. First off, the name is delightful. So is the shimmery pink case. And what it does to your eyelashes is the bomb. With this one I have to be careful not to use too much — a little goes a long way. Those with sparse lashes might put this as number one on their own list.
  3. Anything by Dior. Diorshow. Blackout. Extase. It’s all fabulous.
  4. They’re Real! by Benefit. This one produces a look that most resembles having false eyelashes. If that’s what you’re looking for, this is the one for you. But be careful as using a second coat can cause lashes to clump together.

The mascaras I’m recommending are not drugstore brands which means they’re in the $20 – $30 range. That’s not cheap to be sure, but one thing to note (something I wish I’d known sooner) is that if you don’t like a beauty product that you buy from a department store or beauty store (Sephora, Ulta), you can return it. For any reason, any time. One time I bought a Perricone eye cream with fish oil as a primary ingredient. Reviews said it didn’t smell bad, but I found the smell unbearable. I used it 3 times then returned it. Also my Better Than Sex has had a wand malfunction, where the little round thing that “wipes” the mascara as you remove the wand from the tube has gotten stuck. It will go back to Sephora and they will give me a new tube. I’m sure of it.

If you have a mascara favorite that’s not on the list, I’d love to know about it.


How to wash your face

I’m not kidding here. This really is an essay about how to wash your face. Let me explain.

Boys, you may not know this, but us girls are told from the time we’re wearing makeup that you MUST WASH YOUR FACE EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! Or else bad things will happen like YOUR SKIN WILL NOT BE ABLE TO BREATHE, and YOU WILL GET ZITS, and (we’re told later) YOUR SKIN WILL AGE PREMATURELY. Somehow men aren’t given these same dire warnings. I read once that shaving acts like exfoliation for men, so maybe that’s why they get off the hook so easily.

So true confession: it’s only within the last year or so that i’ve gotten into the regular habit of washing my face every night. (Are you running away shrieking now?) Yes, I’ve been that girl who lives dangerously, probably verging on¬†needing a face transplant or whatever else super bad happens if you don’t wash your face at night.

A year ago I decided to tackle this anti-habit. First question was to ask why. Why don’t I wash my face? In my case it was that I didn’t like the feeling of water running down my arms as I splashed my face with water to rinse. And that splash move also makes the mirror spotty and causes it to need cleaning sooner rather than later. More frequent cleaning is nowhere near my “things I love” list. So it makes sense that something that feels unpleasant and creates more work would be something I didn’t do. But just because they do it that way on the commercials for skin care does not mean it’s the only way. Here, for the first time ever, I reveal the secret to washing your face.


Seems a little anti-climactic, doesn’t it? But yes, it’s washclothes. Get a whole bunch of cheap washclothes in pretty colors like these from Target. Keep them in your bathroom. Then in the evening, get one a little wet and put some facial cleanser on it. Rub it around on your face. Rinse the washcloth. Rub the rinsed washcloth around on your face. Put washcloth in the laundry.

I can’t say my new method has taken me from crypt-keeper to fresh as a daisy, but more evenings than not, I actually do wash my face.

P.S. If you’ve figured out how to do this and have done it your whole life, please do not share this here. I’m still basking in the afterglow of my amazing, took me 4 decades of my life to figure out but who’s counting habit.