Beauty Q&A: Caftans, Baby Gifts, and What Is Up With BB Creams?

1. I need help with what to wear this summer. I am a stay-at-home mom of a two-year-old and also a photographer on the weekends. I spend a LOT of time at the playground running around, sitting in the grass and on pavement, climbing jungle gyms, etc. When I go out to dinner or for drinks I adore a nice light cotton dress and sandals. However this is not practical attire for chasing my son around. At the end of the day I am often sweaty and sticky. I want to wear something to keep cool and looking like a hot mommy but I’m at a loss. I’ve been wearing cuffed mid-rise skinny jeans, ratty old t-shirts and falling-apart TOMS but the jeans are too hot and I look like a schlub. I am 5′ 3″ and have an hourglass shape: big boobs, smallish waist, wide hips, thick thighs. I hate “tissue-thin” tees; they shows every little bulge. I like a classic, retro look. I am thinking cropped pants? Shorts scare me. But what sort of tops? I do like a bit of a sleeve. Summer!

Oh summer, you jerk. There are three things you should have at the ready this season: a light, flowy, maxi-dress/caftan (you might call it a muumuu, but the right one will turn heads in a good way), a linen wardrobe, and shorts that don’t scare you. I hate shorts too, except for the two pairs I own that I don’t hate at all because they are the best.

First, that dress: if you find the right one, you might think about buying two since I swear it will be the thing you want to throw on every morning. Long enough to not give anyone at the playground a show, loose enough to run around in and catch some breeze, and yet a fashion statement (which is always better than passively stating “I didn’t even think about what I put on my body this morning because there is no “my” and I think everything looks terrible on me so why bother?”). Before you hit the dressing room, bring a cute pair of embellished sandals — a wedge even if you’re comfortable in them, some giant earrings, and a belt or two. The Earth Mother thing works better with accessories (check out the bangles on those cartoon models!), unless you look like Gisele or something. Which, if you do, shut up. I die for this one by Malene Birger, but some more affordable choices are this one, this one, and this one. And don’t tell me, or Elizabeth Taylor, or Aretha Franklin, that they look bad on short people with boobs. Here’s the one I’m wearing right now. Moms chase me down the street to ask about it.

For linen, you might have to invest a little more money, but since you’ll only be wearing these pieces for a few months each year, they’ll last you a long time. On the other hand, H&M does some killer looks with linen. Wherever you end up buying, get a pair of pants, cropped or otherwise (whyyy are these sold ouuut-ahhh?), a camp-style button down, and a pullover top. Rule: DO NOT WEAR AN ENTIRE LINEN OUTFIT, MOM, OMG WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO RUIN MY LIFE!? Tuck the tops in to a more fitted bottom of a different material. Speaking of fitted bottoms…

Shorts. Think about a time you saw a woman in shorts (we’re not talking booty shorts) and thought to yourself, “Girl, somebody lied to you!” I would put money on it that you didn’t object to her choice simply because she had “thick thighs.” Everyone has lumps and bumps they don’t like, but, unfortunately, we all have to wear something on this scorching hot Earth. There is absolutely no harm in trying on a billion pairs with that linen top. Again, bring a belt, some big accessories, and not-ugly shoes. Target has been my go-to for cute shorts for years now, and Asos has a bunch of options. Just remember: you have to dress your entire body to feel good about wearing shorts — or really any new style. Leave the “___ and whatever t-shirt is sort of clean” look to the children.

2. I have been trying (pretty successfully!) to switch over to more natural beauty products — for makeup, I try to avoid parabens and artificial fragrance, and other stuff if possible. The one item I’ve been unsuccessful in finding is foundation. I like Physician’s Formula organic powder, blush, eye shadow, and Tarte’s concealer and waterproof mascara. I even like the Wet and Wild natural powder (I know!)

Do you or other ‘Pinners have suggestions for a natural foundation?

Ah, you are so right to ask the Hairpintariat for their suggestions! Before I tell you my choice, I just want to make the case for spending a little more money on foundation than you might other products. Aside from often containing better ingredients, you’re paying for the ability to try before you buy — something you can’t do in most drug stores. Finding the right color and something that doesn’t feel drying or heavy can be an all-afternoon task.

Since you already like Tarte products for some reason (stay tuned for my Mascarapedia in which I take them down), why don’t you start with their foundation? It’s got all the stuff you’re looking for — plus SPF and some sort of wrinkle fighter. Reviews say that its coverage is buildable too, in which case you might be able to ditch the concealer and save some dough.

3. What on earth does a 30-year-old wear to a christening? I asked some friends but they assumed I was talking about the christening of a boat and suggested I bring a bottle of champagne and the conversation devolved from there. This is for a baby. Also, what do you buy a baby for her christening?

Assuming the christening is in a church, just wear the same thing you’d wear to a church wedding: leave the white to the baby, don’t upstage the baby in anything too flashy, don’t embarrass the baby in anything too short, and bring a sweater because churches are cold.

As for presents? Ahhh!!! I love buying presents for babies! Seriously, it is kind of a pastime? Here are some rules I buy by that might help:

— A baby under two years old is really just an appendage of the parent. Buy something for your friend who owns the baby or buy something for the baby that would make their parent happy and serve a function at the same time. I got Nicole’s baby a onesie with a horse on it. See? If Edith had a baby, I’d get it a bottle of wine or…

— A doll house. Think of a gift theme you can stick to for years of holidays to come. If Edith had a baby, I’d get it a doll house and then every year give it some new accessories. I have two baby sisters and I always get them the books I loved as a child. They probably have duplicates by this point, but with two kids that’s never a bad thing. You could be the tutu lady, the candy lady, the game lady; the possibilites are endless, lady.

Shell out some cash for a keepsake. This could be anything: a toy chest, jewelry box, fancy lamp, artwork.

— If you are especially close to the family, one christening-specific gift is a piece of jewelry, devotional or otherwise. Stores like KMart and JCPenney usually have special displays of children’s jewelry in the fine jewelry section.

4. BB creams. What?

Yeah, I don’t really know either. I got one as a freebie from Sephora. It was Dr. Jart brand, which is just… ugh, what a terrible name! Jart. “Here, rub this Dr. Jart cream all over your face.” I tried it and it was heavy and then I still had to put foundation on and it seemed superfluous.

My hesitancy to use these is probably due to misinformation — and then laziness about gathering the correct information — but I do know that when they first started to pick up steam, they were essentially whitening creams under a new name. Whitening, brightening, lightening, skin bleaching; whatever you want to call it, I am not interested. Don’t they seem racist? There, I said it! To split hairs, however, I’m not bothered by spot-treating a zit scar that just won’t go away. “You are a sensitive and complicated beast.” — My dude.

Back to BB creams, though: I’ve read more recently they do things aside from making you whiter. Some fight acne, some contain sunscreens, some are moisturizing, others are not. I’d love to read some testimonials in the comments from devotees to this new miracle cream. My snap judgment is to not add another product to all the crap I already advocate for, but I could be swayed…

Previously: ID Photos, Gaudy Shoes, and Looking 10 Years Younger.

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