Thursday, April 03, 2008

Julia's Basket of Self-Knowledge

Julia, my Maid of Honor and Kindred Spirit, and me

Once upon a time there was a young woman, me, who fell in love with a couple of pink chairs from Mitchell Gold.  While I was at the annual market sale deciding if they were too frivolous for reality, I met another young woman, Julia.  She was working that day, only for the special market sale and she was helping me with my pink chair dilemma.  I was with my aunt and as Julia walked away I said "That girl is me."  She dresses likes me, thinks like me and I had this uncanny feeling that we must be kindred spirits.  I got her email and even though we lived two hours apart we became friends.  She came to visit me in Greenville, SC.  I stayed with her in Hickory, NC.  We talked of trips to Italy.  She was the Maid of Honor in my wedding.  She is a friend that I can be totally honest with no matter how awful it sounds coming out.  I love those kind of friends because I always wanted a sister and this is the closest experience that I could have to that.

One weekend I was staying at her lovely, impeccably decorated and Mitchell Gold outfitted home and I noticed something in her bathroom.  It was a basket.  It had lotion, eye shadow, maybe a lipstick, and very few other things.  Curious, I asked her about the basket full of very few potion bottles in her bathroom.  She said those were all that she had.  A bottle of lotion, one eyeshadow (not even a palette!), ONE LIPSTICK, and maybe a blush that she didn't really use.  I shudder as I write this as I remember the truth dawning on me that my soul-friend could have so little in the way of makeup and potion bottles.  Mine tends to be under the sink, on top of the sink, in storage bins, taking up drawer space, in my purse, and on top of the dresser. Julia seriously only buys one color lipstick and she keeps buying it over and over.  Another shock to me because I have a hard time with repeat buying.  There are so many others to try!

Having said all that, this little basket has been my inspiration ever since I laid eyes on it.  Yes, I have bought baskets to emulate it only to have them overflowing in a short time.  I do console myself and Gustavo when I point out to him how much LESS I have than I used to have. Remember that linen closet in my condo?  It was full.  Remember the apartment after that?  It was only the full length under the double sink vanity.  Now, only under my sink and a small drawer in the closet, er and a small storage container and ok on top of the sink.  Oh, I forgot about the little baskets I bought at Ikea last week, but to be fair they do have mouthwash and necessary potions in them too.

No matter the present or past circumstances, I keep my eye on the prize.  Every free gift with purchase that I pass by is a coup for me.  These are little samples and full size products that won't be cluttering up my space.  Nordstrom having a free gift with purchase right now does not phase me when I keep my eye on the prize.  Although, if I do study the contents of the gift it does make me falter slightly as I carefully analyze to see if I will actually like the gift and if I actually do need to order something.  That is always a mistake.  That is why they say keep your eye on the goal, and not the anti-goal.  

One time when Julia spent the weekend with me, I scheduled makeovers for us at Chanel.  This was our first visit together and before I knew about the basket.  After the makeover I deliberated what I was going to get and ended up with an eyeshadow palette and an eyeliner. Julia didn't succumb to the temptation.  She didn't seem all that impressed either.  She is so strong in her makeup convictions that I envy her that.  Me, if my eyes meet the makeup artist and I see she has a willing spirit, I am up on her chair so fast it will make your head spin.  "Can I try our new colors on you?" is music to my ears.  Just a few days ago I had a Bobbi Brown makeover and discovered that now I need their new CLC lipstick in Rose Petal and maybe the foundation too.

One day I am going to achieve the goal of simplicity in my makeup and skincare routine.  I know it because I have made great strides in not being tempted by so many things.  I "just say no" quite often to Sephora Insider rewards, to many, many gift with purchases, to spontaneous makeup purchases and to kits that are a good deal but that have items I don't need in them.  I know that I am a makeup addict and even though it's "cool" to be that when you are perusing blogs and reading magazines, I think it's much cooler to know what you want and get that.  To me, that is what the basket represents.  It is a streamlined knowledge of who you are and most importantly who you are not.  


La Belette Rouge said...

Perhaps it was the beautiful photo of you that inspired this metaphor, but I want to compare my makeup collection to marriage. I did not marry the first guy that came along--it took some trial, error and big mistakes to figure out who I am and what kind of guy is best for me. The same is true with makeup. I have tried blue mascara, jade green eyeshadow and even hot pink eye shadow. Now, I have a much smaller collection--because I have tried lots of stuff and made mistakes---it makes me even happier with what I have committed to. There is no green shadow or blue mascara in my makeup drawer--but I am happy I tried them and didn't commit to a neutral eye and a red lip before it was the right time to do so. I love my edited look and yet am still open to trying new things--just in case there has been something I have been missing out on.
Ugh, sorry, this comment is going to be almost the length of a post. Will stop by saying that I really enjoyed your post. :-)

The Closet Therapist said...

LBR- I love your metaphor and you are so right! When I find something that I actually like, I feel so contented that I can check that off the list. The metaphor rings true for me in the past dating realm too. Oh the first dates I endured before meeting my Sweet G.

I can't remember if I told you this, but I'm using Ann Webb's skincare line who is at Whole Foods here. She has a salon in Austin if you want to have a facial. Her line is paraben-free and other nasty stuff-free if you are interested in that.

You sound tres glamourous with your neutral eye and red lip! I love that look with glowing beautiful skin. Hopefully we'll get to meet one day and I'll just look for the pouty red lips!

La Belette Rouge said...

Thank you so much for the info on Ann Webb. I will give her salon a try. I have very sensitive skin and am allergic to a lot of products. But, I am up for a high quality facial at a great price.

I hope we can meet up soon. And, I will try and smile for you and keep the red pout for another day.;-)

nikki said...

simplicity in makeup is a very difficult goal, in my opinion. the purchase of make-up is not simply the addition of a new color to one's repetoire, but rather it embodies the feeling of something new, of the promise of beauty, of confidence... and the ad/pro people know this full well. so many times in the past i have gone into a store looking for a new lipsitck as a pick-me-up only to bring home the tube and discover that i already have that shade several times over! i have since stopped doing that, how many browny-pinks does one girl need? but when i found a long misplaced chanel red (jewel), the perfect red for me, i went to see if i could buy another, as reds are very hard for me to find. to my dismay, i found that it had been discontinued. now i need to think very hard about whether or not an event is "jewel-worthy" a la elaine of seinfeld, and i continue my search for a replacement red. admittedly, it is hard to resist a new lipstick, i couldn't hold out in a recent jaunt to a european duty-free airport shop. but i consoled myself with the thought that chanel is not readily available where i am, and so, a worthwhile purchase. my make-up bag is pretty small as i try to keep it simple, but to resist the marketers promise of beauty... not an easy mission.

The Closet Therapist said...

mdmom- You speak so many truths, of marketing temptations, that simplicity isn't easy at all, and the allure of the "perfect" color. Your experience with the pinky brown is mine too. Every time I read "the perfect color for every complexion, I just have to see that. Let's see...Tenderheart by Clinique, Dolce Vita by Nars, Twig by Mac, etc. etc, I have them all! No matter what, it is such a delicious experience to buy a new color. The dreams and expectations that go into that little tube. It's no wonder that sales of red lipstick goes up during a war.

Thanks for stopping by to see me! Enjoy your Chanel Jewel. Mine is Bobbi Brown Ruby Stain that I'm conserving for special occasions. :)

The Closet Therapist said...

LBR-I hope you enjoy your facial with Ann. Let me know what you think.

When we meet, I'll be smiling too! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. This is a topic that has long intrigued me. I am trying to scale back on shopping. Currently there is a lancome gwp that is calling my name. I've been on their website thinking of what I could buy just to get this silly gift. I know better, nothing from lancome works for me. I've tried it all, why am I even thinking about it?

Anyway, I am doing much better and one thing that helps me is actually writing down all the things that I thought about buying but did not. At the end of a week it adds up! I'm trying to be satisfied with the makeup I do have and really figure out what works for me but your friend is my new idol. She really has pared it down.


The Closet Therapist said...


I'm laughing because I could have written your response myself! I love to hear you say that because now I know that I'm not the only one who struggles against the marketing of the free gwp! It's designed that way.

If I may offer my strategy, I do a process of elimination. Like you said you don't like Lancome, so just don't look at it anymore. Get off the mailing list or the email list if that is what you are getting. I do this process of elimination and literally tell myself that I don't need to think about that brand anymore, or that product because I tried it and I don't like it. No matter what they do to try to lure me back, I'm not interested.

Another rationalization I do in my head is to know that there are PLENTY of gwp and there is always a next one very soon. So, by forgoing the one now that I don't really like or need I am saving up for one that I really do want.

I also am not quick to throw away stuff because it reminds me not to be careless with purchases. The fact is that even with a little gwp, cosmetics are expensive. Think about what else you could do with that minimum purchase of $100 or even $35. Look to see if you've all the little bottles from the last gwp.

Well, I could go on and on because this topic is obviously something I struggle with too! Thanks for writing and let me know if you resisted that gwp!

Send me a pic of your pared down basket!

Anonymous said...

I'm making progress. Today I pared down my lipstick collection. I went from 6 nude lipsticks to one, my favorite one that I reach for all the time. It is a small step, but I feel better. Tomorrow, I go after my huge collection of deep berry shades. For once I'd like to use up a tube of lipstick! I'd like to finally get down to one of each....nude, deep berry, red, mauve, and pinky brown. That is still a lot but seriously, it would be a huge improvement.

I took your suggestions and got off the mailing list of the brands I do not like. Great idea! I wouldn't have wanted it if I didn't know about it.


The Closet Therapist said...


Brava! This is what it's all about! It's just baby steps toward a goal that you have in mind. I know that it's no small step letting go of all those lipsticks. I'm so impressed!

Our Trip to Rosemary Beach, Florida

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