Tuesday, 18 April 2017

My Minimal Standard

I spend a great deal of time just at home and I am always aware of the chronic illness I live with, aware of the fatigue, the aches, the limitations it imposes on my activities and abilities.  A life spent in lounge wear with unwashed hair and no effort at all put towards self-presentation would be too constant a reminder of what has been taken from me.  So with this in mind I have a minimal standard which I break only on those days when I am really feeling awful and might get out of bed only to find food or make tea.  Some days it's more of a struggle to meet that minimum standard but  by simplifying it and my personal style I have achieved something that approximates effortless chic, if I do say so myself,  and it really is minimal effort.

There are days when I pick and choose carefully what I will expend energy on and in all honesty that means I do not shower and/wash my hair daily.   I think that we've gotten to a point in western culture where that might almost be shocking to some people.  A daily shower and daily washed hair has become a norm and I was once someone who participated in it.  Given that I don't do much intense physical exertion and the climate where I live is rarely so hot as to make me sweaty, a daily shower isn't really  needed and a quick sponge bath in between showers will do.  At the moment, while my growing out hair is in an awkward stage, I usually will soak it in the sink and comb it into some sort of reasonable shape but sometimes, a good brushing and some hair pins will get me through the day.

Looking intentional is the secret to looking pulled together, but intentional stopping short of too much effort is my goal. 

My Minimal Standard

My wardrobe is pared down to easy to wear, mix and match pieces that flatter me and I love ( as much as I can love clothing which isn't much compared to most other things )  so that anything I put on looks intentional.

I always wear earrings.  I generally sleep in a simple pair so that I don't have to think about putting them on in the morning.  If I want something a bit more impactful then I can change them when I get dressed.  I never leave empty holes in my ears but if I want to wear a necklace for going out I make the earrings small.  I find I don't feel as comfortable in necklaces so I am more likely to put on a bracelet just before going out but I don't wear one around home.  Going out I will probably add a scarf but I don't wear one around the house. 

I think that earrings, a hairstyle that feels right and a little bit of makeup are the key factors that can make me feel ready to face the day as a properly functioning person.  And since my life does not involve wilderness hikes, gardening or mucking out the barn, this little bit of polish also feels appropriate.

I have a uniform style of dressing, suited to my lifestyle and it consists mainly of jeans and various tops-sweaters, blouses, tee shirts, with some accessories to round out the look and some variety in cardigans and jackets. 

My minimal standard makes it easy to go out without having to do much.  I am most likely to brush my teeth, reapply lipstick and grab an accessory or two.  Very little thought needs to go into footwear or jackets because it is dependent on the weather and my clothing.  Every jacket or shoe goes with more than one clothing outfit but every outfit looks best with a particular jacket or shoe.  This makes it easy to get out the door knowing I look pulled together and like I put some thought into what I am wearing but it's all premeditated.

Internal Nagging

If I don't go out at all, which is likely, I've got my basic uniform on, a simple hairstyle and my minimal makeup which makes me feel like I am participating in life.  There is a little voice in my head that wants this to be a world where women don't 'need' makeup.  This voice sometimes needles me for participating in this game and demands to know what is wrong with my face as it is.  Nothing is wrong with my face.  We live in a culture where it is entirely acceptable and often expected that a woman's face will have a bit of makeup on it and I could choose to fight that standard if I want to.  There would be no consequences but it would also be a moot point.  Nobody cares if I put on makeup or not.  It is only my own concern.  I do not have a job where it is required of me or where the lack of makeup might prevent a promotion and thus my not wearing makeup contributes nothing to changing that situation.  I do live in a culture where at least a little bit of makeup is the norm and I think that the very purpose of my minimal standard is to give me the feeling of participating in that culture because being ill and rarely leaving home can cause feelings of isolation.  Isolation is perhaps great if it is by choice.  I can imagine myself sometimes choosing it.  The goal is to find my personal balance between being one of the herd and standing alone.  For now, what I have chosen as my minimal standard gives me that power, a power that could easily be taken away from me.

For some women, daily life is about putting on a makeup mask, a uniform that is not of their choosing, and participating in a public life which they are happy to shed when they return home.  For them, claiming some power over their own appearance might mean the opposite of what it does for me.  It might mean taking off their makeup and putting on pyjamas or lounging clothing.  Claiming some power for ourselves means having a choice and getting away from something that is either imposed on us, or is so frequent that we need a change.

I have no problems with being seen in public bare faced.  I'm not even sure that my minimal makeup makes much difference to my appearance except perhaps an obvious lip colour.  That isn't really the point.  The point is that it makes me feel that I have gotten ready to take on the day.


I've had a good time playing with makeup over the past year, finding the best colours and exploring products, but one thing that has always been true of me is that I am not interested in makeup trends, in trying different looks or colours, taking more than five minutes maximum to apply it, in wearing makeup that I can feel or that I must touch up or generally worry about.

I'm aiming for a healthy, awake, me-but-better look and given the face I start with, that may look more tired or more vibrant depending on the day.

This is a minimal face with a bit of oomph added by a swipe of lipstick.  My lipstick home is in the browns, so I've got brown-oranges and terra-cotta colours in my makeup bag, the one in the photo is Revlon Toast of New York, blotted.  I'm quite tired and it shows, so there is a bit of concealer under my eyes and a bit of medium brown shadow on lids with one swipe of brown-black mascara.  It looks like no makeup on my eyes but just wakes them up a little to balance the lip.

In my photo-taking efforts the lipstick took a dive, while open, right onto the floor.  Thankfully it was not carpet.

I have allergies too and at this time of year wake up with swollen, red, watery, itchy eyes.  Cold compresses, eye drops, antihistamines and a prescription nasal spray are all required but a bit of makeup can help to eliminate the look of spent all night crying. Too much makeup can make the effort look obvious though.

I've used a little bit of neutral powder on the T-zone of my face because it gets very shiny in photos but if I'm not taking a photo for this blog I tend to ignore the powder.

 Other options for my basic day look.....

I have liquid blush in a browned-peach colour for days when it seems I need it.  For the sake of fun I've got some gold eye shadow though I mostly use a matte medium brown and a bronze-brown pencil.  I don't do jumbo lashes, so mascara is just to darken my lashes a bit and I never put it on the bottom lashes as I don't like the look of spider eyes.

I sometimes do a bit more with my eyes but because my eyes are small and deep-set  I don't get too dark with this and always use a medium brown-taupe colour.  With more makeup on my eyes I do a lighter lip but a nude-beige look doesn't suit me so it's a creamy terra-cotta colour, Revlon Rose Velvet, which is a very natural look for me.

                      I should have cleaned up that eye pencil but it would be too much trouble to take more photos.

This is a close up of my eyes looking down so you see the eye makeup better.  It's very subtle and this is as much as I ever use.  I'm convinced it makes a difference even though it's so minimal.

My Makeup Basics

Not only do I want a minimalist makeup look on my face, I want makeup minimalism in my makeup bag.  A few options are nice for a bit of variety, but I've discovered I am the type to have a preferred look and to stick with it.  I tried some more obvious colour for eyes but didn't like the look.  stick to a bronze-brown range, though finding a light, medium and dark in exactly the colours I want is a bit tricky, especially with drugstore options.  I really dislike having a quad or trio of shadow where I only use one or two of the colours but sometimes that's the only place I can find the colour I want. I currently own four lipstick shades and I use them all equally.  They are similar colours but have different qualities in texture or finish.

For Every Day:

liquid concealer
brown eye pencil/shadow

For Extra Special:

liquid cheek colour
gold eye shadow

As always this is a long post so it's time to stop.  I will stop right HERE.


  1. I like the look of makeup sometimes on others. With myself I find it difficult as I've said before. I went through a period of just wearing lipstick when I went out or on the blog, but have even dropped that for now. I find with glasses any efforts on my eyes are pretty much wasted as my prescription is so strong my eyes are microscopic.
    I also tend to rub my eyeshadow all over the place, forgetting I am wearing it.
    I love the idea that wearing makeup helps you feel like you are participating in the world. What a simple trick!
    I love your new colours and that golden tee shirt makee your skin glow!
    xo Jazzy Jack

    1. Thanks, JJ. I know what you mean about rubbing your eyes. With allergies I often rub my eyes and I always seem to feel as though there is cat fur in my eyes. As I said in the blog, I have deep set eyes so my eyelids are hardly visible. I think that a neutral colour somehow gives my eyes a bit more definition but fancy colours and shading is wasted on me since it just doesn't show. I like the idea of just a lip colour on you and no other makeup. It says confident and doing things my way. Your eyes are dark enough to balance the lip colour too. Lipstick is definitely a pit of a pain though as it needs reapplying. Thanks for the vote of confidence on the golden-yellow. It's a new colour for me. I once thought I couldn't wear yellow. I think I was wrong. xoxo


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