Audacious Advice for Living a More Stylish Life
By MidCentury Maven
(inspired by Diana Vreeland’s Harper’s Bazaar column 1932-1941)
All good things must come to an end so it was with a little sadness that I filmed the last of the Birchbox unboxing for my ASMR channel. One of my Gentle Viewers, Marissa Bracke, gifted me a three month’s subscription to the beauty box and not only was February’s the last of the gift it is the last of the Birchboxes available to us Canadians. I received an email shortly after receiving last month’s box informing me that Birchbox was closing down its Canadian operations.
But those of you who really like unboxing videos need not be too disappointed as we still have our monthly Calm Box to look forward to and, who knows, there may be an Ipsy subscription in my future.
In the meantime, here is February’s Birch Box unboxing video, ASMR-style. Enjoy.
If you watch my ASMR videos you know they only show my hands. It was a style choice I made right from the beginning based on the limitations of my recording equipment, the size of my recording space, my preference for whispering ( I need to keep my mic inches from my mouth so that it picks up my voice and thus the mic is directly in front of my face) and the type of videos I film. So choosing to make a video on mascara might seem a bit odd.
But when my nieces gave me a Sephora Sampler of mascaras and I saw how beautiful the packaging was I knew I needed to do a show and tell video. When deciding on a subject for an ASMR video I am first drawn to the sounds I can create and the packaging was perfect for tapping and sticky finger sounds. Talking about the different formulas and brushes gave me ample opportunity to whisper for almost an hour.
For a brief second, I thought about including close-up shots of my eyes wearing the different brands but when I thought about how disconcerting it would be to be watching my hands and then a big eye would show up on the screen staring at the viewers it seemed a bit creepy. But I do give my feedback on how each mascara performed and at the end of the video I tell you what my favourites and hate its were.
Also, after a year of constantly changing my nail colour for the videos, my nails have become very dry and have a tendency to peel. So I’ve cut my nails short, given them break from the drying effects of polish and remover and started to put on a nourishing nail salve every night. But to coordinate with the products and packaging for this video, I knew I needed to do something special as my unpainted short nails just wouldn’t do. So watch the video to see what I used for my nail “wardrobe.”
Click Image Below to Watch
Reading the title of this post, you’d think I would start by talking about hats, but I have to backtrack a bit and talk about shoes. Or my past obsession with footwear. My family owned a shoe store so I was indoctrinated into the passion at an early age and by the time I was in my thirties and working a government job, I had about forty pairs of shoes in my closet. My most expensive pair was four hundred dollars. That was a lot of money in the early nineties and oh they were beautiful.
But my life has changed dramatically since then and now I’m down to four pairs of practical shoes. I have two pairs of gardening shoes, (my wellies and duck shoes) a pair of runners for working in retail and when I’m writing I wear my comfy moccasins. I don’t mind that I’ve had to give up buying exquisite shoes because I’d rather spend my money on plants, books and writing journals. Also, I have a dear friend who sends me beautiful shoe calendars every year and I frame my favourite ones so I can still enjoy looking at them. And for my last birthday, the same friend sent me a colouring book complete with glitter crayons. But not just any colouring book. Just look at the photos below.
So now that I don’t have the lifestyle or budget to buy shoes I’ve noticed I’ve switched my addiction to hats.
In this day and age there isn’t much call for wearing hats, not like in the thirties and forties where a woman wouldn’t venture out the door without a hat, gloves and matching handbag. Although, my hat collection so far is mostly practical with one exception, I have been pinning quite a few stylish hats on my Pinterest fashion board.
So here is a quick look at my current selection of hats.
The Gardening Hat
This was a cheap little hat I bought eight years ago when Cari and I lived on our hobby farm. I added the fabric flowers later. I wear this hat everyday when I’m gardening in the sunshine and rain. It has an unattractive adjustable cord for around the chin which is invaluable for keeping this little beauty on my head on windy days.
Knitted Winter Cloche
My most recent purchase which I picked up at a local craft fair. Hand knitted with a sliver brooch and fluffy little feather detail on the side. Fashionable and practical and speaks to my love of the 1920’s.
Trapper’s Hat for Serious Winters
This one I don’t wear much anymore since moving to the west coast but it was a life saver when I lived in the Kootenay’s and was outside shoveling nine feet of snow fall over a season. But you may notice it is warm and practical but look at the colour. Okay, the expression on my face tells you exactly how I felt about all that snow. I do wear the scarf however, a lovely gift Cari made me last winter.
Okay, I have to confess, this one isn’t mine. It’s my niece’s and she and her sister taking riding lessons but it was a bit of silly fun I couldn’t resist.
Italian Sun Hat
This one is so big you could host a whole party underneath it.
My Everyday Hat (Just Kidding)
Frankie is helping me decide what to make for dinner.
January; a time for resolutions to lose weight, eat healthier, drop bad habits and get a better job. According to a recent article in Forbes only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals. I think the reason so many people fail is that their goals are external. If there isn’t a meaningful soul-level yearning for change than it’s hard to make the external ones stick in the long haul.
Instead of resolutions, I prefer to do an internal housecleaning. I sift through old thoughts throwing out the ones that no longer serve me, release patterns of behaviour keeping me stuck and review my dreams to see if they need to be tweaked or drop entirely. To help me re-evaluate and modify these core beliefs I look to women who have gone before me, whose wisdom and clarity of years well-lived help to illuminate the path I’m just beginning to trek.
These Elders are a source of great inspiration and knowledge in an age where youth and beauty are deemed the only valuable aspirations.
One Wise Woman I admire not only for her quirky fashion sense but for her vitality and joie de vivre is 93-year-old Iris Apfel. Although most people equate her with being a fashion icon she is also a successful business woman and entrepreneur.
In an interview with Fusion she shared her rules for fashion and for life.
“My father told me I should never expect too much from anybody because I wouldn’t get hurt and I wouldn’t get disappointed. If someone was very nice and did lovely things for me it would be twice as delicious.”
It is important not to make other people responsible for your happiness. This is a difficult task when most of us, myself included, fall into the trap of people pleasing because we expect that if we sacrifice our own desires to please another they will reciprocate in kind.
That is quite frankly a recipe for disaster. But if you take responsibility for providing yourself the experiences and environment in which you will thrive then when people surprise you with their generosity is will be a bonus and not the source of your fulfillment.
“Learn what you can do . . .”
The most important word in that sentence is do. The only way to learn what you can do is by doing. Learning is not a passive endeavour. No great insights into who you are can be found sitting in front of the television watching reality shows.
When my marriage ended and my household income took a nosedive I took any job I could get. I’ve worked as a stable hand, house cleaner, barista, gardener, chambermaid, receptionist and office worker. I learned I can do what needs to be done to take care of myself even if it means working three part-time jobs doing work that was deeply unfulfilling.
During this period, I also explored new things just for the joy of it; horseback riding, yoga, belly dancing, pottery, cello lessons. I learned that I still love to dance but have absolutely no musical ear (my apologies to my cello teacher). And I started to write. It was in this pursuit that I found my passion and my joy.
My most profound learning experience came when my sister and I sold everything to move to a hobby farm in the middle of nowhere. I learned to use power tools, rewire lights and furnace switches, replace plumbing pipes, fix gates and fences, care for chickens and goats and shovel off roofs despite my fear of heights.
Discovering that nature gives me solace and recharges my soul was a life changing revelation for a city girl, one I never would have realized living in suburbia.
“Learn what you are comfortable with . . .”
Life is a duality and you can’t learn what you are comfortable with until you experience discomfort.
I have learned to be comfortable with much less, I learned not to allow the stress of poverty stop me in my tracks, I learned that I am more resilient and resourceful than I had previously given myself credit for.
“Learn what you can pull off . . .”
Iris is talking about fashion but you can also apply it to your life. I’ve learned that my perseverance and determination allows me to pull off anything as long as it intrigues me. I learned medical transcription on the fly after I already was hired for the job. I wanted to work in an artistic setting so I stalked the owner of a potter studio before she even opened and landed the job. I learned I could pull off writing novels and have them published.
“Don’t try to be someone else . . .”
Iris is not afraid to dress in a manner that expresses how she sees herself. She is not defined by the latest fashion trends or a preconceived notion of how a women-of-a-certain-age should dress.
In an interview with Ari Seth Cohen, Drug of Choice from The Avant/Garde Diaries on Vimeo, Iris discusses how people need to find out who they are and that fashion is an expression of the individual. She said that some people are maximalist some are minimalist and some are in between.
Find out what feels authentic to you whether you apply it to your wardrobe or your life.
So to Iris, I thank you for your wisdom and your assistance in creating my New Year’s list. This year I will:
1. Lower my expectation of people and raise my expectations of what I can accomplish.
2. See where my curiosity leads me. Perhaps and archery class or harp lessons or whatever else strikes my fancy.
3. Devote more time to writing and time alone in contemplation.
4. See if I can pull off writing full-time so I no longer need to work another hospitality or retail job.
5. Express my authentic self in all aspects of my life including my wardrobe.
And here is one last piece of advice from Iris . . .
“If God has blessed you with an ample butt, that’s a good thing but don’t wear skinny jeans ‘cos it’s not pretty.”