Ever since I was a teen, there have been a few things that have been a staple in my wardrobe, closet and makeup drawer. They are probably things that you cannot live without either. But as I move up in age, I notice fundamentals of these items evolving. For example, every woman needs a purse. As a young woman, my purse needed to be able to hold my money, a lip gloss and a license. That was it. When I got married and had children, my purse then had to be able to hold those items plus a travel-sized pack of baby wipes, hand sanitizer and a Ziploc bag of Cheerios. You see where I am going with this.
Even now that my kids are teens and my daily routine is totally different, I am finding that my must-have items are becoming less and less basic. At least the designers are aware of this because no matter what I need, someone seems to make it. Let’s break down my simple fashion necessities and what requirements they must have to fit my more “mature” life now:
Then: Small shoulder bags in jazzy colors with one compartment were fine. Sometimes it wasn’t even necessary to carry one at all. Carrying a purse meant you could only carry one drink at the bar during 2-for-1 nights.
Now: Shoulder bags are frowned upon due to arthritis bothering the shoulders. Black or brown is fine. It must be able to hold a wallet, checkbook, ATM card, cell phone, pill box, lip balm, bottle of water and the janitor ring of keys. Extra room should be available in case there is a need to carry a small pack of tissues, datebook, two granola bars and a hair clip. Designer name not required but it helps to justify the purchase.
Then: High, high, high. The more hooker-looking, the better. Brown didn’t exist, red and black patent leather were a necessity. Comfort was not even considered. Kinney’s was your go-to shoe heaven.
Now: Leather shoes work best because they stretch out and allow room for bunions. Square-toed and rounded-toed shoes work best. Pointed-toed shoes make your eyes water just looking at them. Peep toes are the new sexy. Black and brown are a must, grey or silver is now considered daring. Any shoe over 2” must have a comfort, no slip sole and a built-in cushioned arch support. Designer name not required but helps to justify the purchase.
Then: If your jeans weren’t tight, you returned them. Stretch jeans were best because they enhanced your figure. You lay down on the bed to put them on and you were fine with that. If you wanted them to feel snugger, you wore stockings underneath them. Acid-washed was your favorite color but anything tight would do.
Now: If your jeans are tight, you return them. Jeans must be purchased at the store because they have to be tried on—no two pairs of the same size fit the same. Stretch jeans are best because they stretch for your figure! If you have to lie down on the bed to put them on, you can expect to be there all day. Usually the classic name jeans fit best but if a designer pair fits better, then that will help to justify the purchase.
Then: The gaudier the better. You watched Madonna and Janet Jackson videos for ideas. Your earrings were so heavy that you were told your piercing holes were about to rip through. Getting you ears double pierced was a luxury that made you the envy of your friends. Your bracelets were made of rubber. Your necklaces looked like Mardi Gras beads. If your jewelry turned body parts green, it was no big deal (that’s what clear nail polish was for.) If you didn’t get your jewelry at a “Buy One Get Two Free” sale at your local teen store, you paid too much.
Now: The shinier the better. Golds, silvers and platinums are the jewelry box trend. Styles are simpler and reflect the person wearing the pieces. Studs, hoops and chandelier earrings are most common. Necklaces are all lengths with varied pendants. Bracelets are usually flashy. If you only have your ears double pierced, you are considered white bread. Minimum of three holes in one ear (with diamond studs) is more the norm. A pierced belly button is now a common accessory at PTA meetings and soccer games. Any watch with two hands will work, but ones with diamonds have been said to keep better time so that helps to justify the purchase.
- MAKEUP & SKINCARE
Then: There was no such thing as the “natural look.” Foundation had to be slightly on the orange side and end right before the neck began. Lipsticks came in pink, hot pink and fuschia. Lip gloss rolled on and came in strawberry or cherry flavors. Mascara was in a pink tube made by Maybelline. Eyeliner was a foot-long pencil, was always black and always cheap. Skin care consisted of Sea Breeze pads and Noxzema in the blue jar. Moisturizer was only something you used on your hands in winter. If you went to bed with your makeup on, you knew it could save you time in the morning. Perfume was Love’s Baby Soft or Charlie.
Now: You have two looks—au natural and glam gorgeous. The natural look is earth tones from mineral powders. Chapstick with a shimmer is enough for the lips. Eyeliner is soft and smudged and mascara is minimal. The glam look is more out there. There is glitter on everything from the eyes and lips down into the cleavage. Eyeliner is blackest of blacks and mascara is thick and bold. Focus on skin care is a must. We will try anything…and everything… to avoid crow’s feet, laugh lines, wrinkles, flakes and sun damage. Paying $40 for a good moisturizer is not unusual. We look for words like Retin-A, peptides, SPF, omegas and vitamins. Our bathroom counter looks more like a spice cabinet. We go to retail stores that sell nothing but makeup and skin care, and won’t think twice about dropping a car-payment size amount of money to stay looking young. Washing your face at night takes 10+ minutes. There are perfumes everywhere that suit a person’s personal taste, but if it comes with a body lotion and shower gel sampler, a free tote bag and a pair of sunglasses, it certainly will help to justify the purchase.
Then: No matter how big your hair was, it wasn’t big enough. Two cans of Aqua Net and a can of mousse per week was normal usage. Finesse shampoos and conditioners were the designer brand for routine care. Home perms were what you had done if you and your mom were bored on the weekend. If you mother refused to give you a home perm, you bought a hair crimper. You were happy with your natural hair color. That is, until June, when your locks drank Sun-In as much as you drank Iced Tea. When you realized that the Sun-In had turned your hair into dried grass, you tried to make it look stylish with either Farrah Fawcett side curl flips or a jazzy banana clip.
Now: Your monthly hair maintenance is as routine as your mortgage payment. And about as expensive. You’ve lost track of what your natural color really is because you can’t tell where the highlights begin, the lowlights end with the blending of the roots in between. Your stylist knows all about you and refers to you by name & hair color shade. (“Oh, hello Tina Redken OC8 Cayanne/Saffron!”) You can’t stand the thought of even a wave in your hair and you don’t hesitate to pay an exorbitant amount of money on a ceramic hair straightener and blow dryer to prevent any type of curl. You have bottles, tubes, cans, sprays, foams, gels, waxes and pomades in every nook and cranny of your bathroom and shower. Because your hair looks so slammin’, you save money by not buying hair clips, and that in turn helps to justify the purchases.
Then: You hoped the box of Cracker Jack you bought contained a tattoo that because that would have made you sooooooo cool with your friends.
Now: You are wondering where on your body you are going to put your third tattoo because your friends think you are a Cracker Jack for having less than them. You finally tell your husband you are going to get a tramp-stamp of the design on your wedding invitation tattooed on your back because it will make you feel that much closer to him. That surely will justify the purchase with him… Right?