While I’m certainly no fashionista, as you know if you follow me on Instagram or know me in real life, I do have a style that is all my own. It’s unique, quirky, fun, practical and usually casual. This goes for my make-up, hair and skin care routines as well. I’ve written before about my philosophy on wearing what I want, doing what I want with my body and not abiding by nonsense fashion rules. I’m thrifty and not at all afraid to look outside of the box when I need or want something particular. (If you follow me on IG you also know I’m on the hunt for mom jeans crossed with boyfriend jeans in plus-sizes with a high waist, medium wash and lightly distressed with a LOOSE FIT NOT SKINNIES that I can find and try on in a brick and mortar store but I’ll be searching for this unicorn a LONGGGGG TIME I know.) Anyhow, I’ve been sitting on some new fun personal faves for a while and in true good Oprah fashion (not in diet-pitching Oprah style), I thought the holidays would be a good time to share eleven of my favorite things, both new and old.
1) Oiling : I started oiling my face nearly two years ago now and IT IS AMAZING. I even got my Lucy on board and she loves it, too. It’s so simple to make your own and here’s my favorite recipe for dry skin: 1/3 c. avocado oil, 1/3 c. castor oil, 1/3 c. jojoba oil, several drops of rosemary essential oil. (You can use any kind of essential oil you choose; we had rosemary on hand and it smells great and has protectants against sun damage plus antiseptic properties so works well for me. You can find some other oil recipes here.) I get all the oils in larger jars at Whole Foods (about $30 total) and measure them out into a squeeze bottle and shake it up, with plenty left to make another future batch. My recipe makes 1 cup’s worth which lasts me at least 6 months, if not a year, as I only use a dime-sized bit in the palm of my hand in the shower each night. I wet my face with warm water, massage the oil all over my face, neck and eyes to remove any make-up, leave on for about 5-10 minutes and wipe off with a wet, warm washcloth. That’s it. It leaves my skin so clean and soft that no other moisturizer is needed. It doesn’t cause me to break out, nor my teenager either. I swear by this!
2) Men’s wear : Since I was a plus-sized teenager who grew up in a rural Idaho town that had zero options for larger sized women’s clothing I learned that the more generous fit of men’s wear was my friend. I started with Levis, moved on to shop men’s wider width shoes which fit my feet so much better, and have always purchased men’s ski pants, ski coats and boots, as they were the only ones that would fit over my big butt and calves. I’m lucky to live in a world now where feminine plus-sized fashion has grown leaps and bounds since my teen years (but still has a LONG WAY to go), yet I still shop them men’s side for a few things: hats and Chaco sandals. They are often cheaper, wider and rounder, making for a more comfortable fit for my fat head and feet. Luckily the styles are super cute and more neutral, which is always my style in hats and shoes. I love Target or JC Penney for men’s hats for around $20 or less and Sierra Trading Post for Chaco sandals for less than $40.
3) Dr. Pepper LipSmackers : Many of you who know me know that I am never ever without a tube of Bonne Bell Dr. Pepper LipSmackers in my pocket. In fact, I probably currently have 30 in possession, in every single pocket of every item of clothing I own, in all make-up and travel bags, both vehicles and my purses. I literally cannot live without its slight pink tint and sweet scent. I have tried a gazillion other lip balms, trust me, but none are as long lasting and keep my lips moist as this one. They used to be so easy to find and were $1.25 at every drugstore in town, but there was a big scare by Bonne Bell that they were discontinuing it a few years ago and all my friends were buying them for me and telling me every time they saw them and I’m worried that the discontinuation was a bit delayed because now I’m not seeing them anywhere and am beginning to get freaked out. (SOS let me know if you see any or if you want to get me something special this would be it. They currently run about $1.99 each.)
4) Salt + Oil bath : While I love me some bath bombs and fancy bubbles and oils that feel luxurious, I always come back to the basics in my baths, especially when I’m sick and sore, both mentally and physically. Plain old Epsom salts and a few drops of whatever essential oil I have on hand (peppermint and lavender are faves and usually always in our home). It really does get into my bones and my nose and ultimately my head, making everything better. The Epsom salts can be found at the grocery store for around $5 a bag and essential oils at places like Whole Foods and even Walmart for about $7-9 for a small bottle that will last a long time.
5) Homemade dry powder shampoo : My wily silver hair has gotten kinkier and drier as it changes, leaving my scalp really sensitive and dry. In an effort to preserve my tender skin on my head as well as prolong the beautiful red highlights my stylist gives me every three months or so, I usually only wash my hair once or twice a week. It never looks or gets oily, and my natural curls are enhanced by bedhead, so it works. Plus, I don’t really use product and don’t curl or blow dry, so my style is natural and usually looks different every day. To keep it a bit manageable, make it smell fresher and to style with my fingers I use a salt shaker full of corn starch, shake a bit either on my hands or on the roots of my hair, and rub through. (You can also use baby powder for the same effect.) It’s like a natural alternative to dry shampoo, super cheap, and lasts forever. You probably have one or the other in your house already.
6) Gold Bond Friction Defense stick : Every single summer I post this beloved find of mine for all the thick thighed folks in the world because I’ve tried all the products and this is not only cheap but hands-down my fave. I usually have three sticks at once – one in the travel box, one in the bathroom, and one in my purse for emergency reapplications. It looks like deodorant that you apply to the inside of your thighs to prevent chafing and unless you’re wet or sweating a lot, will last for hours. Perfect for short shorts or dresses. And it’s around $5 at Walmart, Target or online and is almost always found in the men’s athlete foot section of the health care department.
7) Queen Helene Original Cholesterol cream: My mom introduced me to this stuff when I was a kid with thick long hair and I thought it was so bizarre and uncool but soon realized there is nothing else that works better and for this price point. It’s usually $8 a tub now (it used to be $3.99 when I first started using it) and now more difficult to find locally, but always available online on Amazon or at places like Sally Beauty Supply. I use it once a month for that super dry scalp I mentioned. I wet my hair, towel dry, apply generously and rub especially into my scalp, cover my head with a shower cap and wrap it all up in a towel turban for about an hour before showering. So luxurious and moisturized! (There are many different kinds and versions of this which I’ve also tried but they are not the same as my tried and true original.)
8) Thrifting & consignment shops : It was when I was in high school in that rural Idaho town that carried no plus sizes for women that I discovered the joy of thrift shopping. I loved the hunt, the quirky treasures, the vintage finds, helping the environment by reusing and the fun you could have with fashion on the cheap. This carried over into college where I perfected my thrift store style and it’s never left me. In fact, it’s only gotten stronger, especially after a surprise layoff in 2009 during the Recession that luckily happened to coincide with my family taking on The Compact for our New Year’s Resolution further bucking our consumerist culture. I’ve also been hosting a yearly clothing swap for the past ten years and this has also been amazingly fun. Shopping your friends’ closets and cool styles for free? Yes please! Two years ago Curvy Girl Kate’s, the local plus-sized consignment shop, opened up in Boise by my friend Bobbie Jo and this has also been game-changing, not only for me, but for so many other big beautiful people in the Treasure Valley. Sure, it can be a challenge to find exactly what you’re looking for, but if you’re open-minded, creative and flexible you’ll find it as fun and liberating as I do (and not just on your wallet).
9) Ivory soap : Like most women, I’ve tried every single body wash, fun new face product, acne cream, etc. I’ve spent $4 and $90 and everything in between. For me, nothing – and I mean nothing – works better for body wash (and face wash in between my oilings) than plain old white Ivory bar soap. It’s simple and smells clean and so cheap. I think it’s like $3 for a pack of three at Winco. I use it and every person in our family uses it and it doesn’t dry out our skin terribly or cause breakouts or have a lingering sickening sweet stickiness or smell.
10) Reading glasses : After squinting and pulling back my kids homework at least two feet from my face to be able to read it for about a year I finally called for an eye appointment with the doctor. I had a feeling it was time for reading glasses, and I was right. He prescribed me a 1.25 and told me I should buy like 10 pairs at the dollar store and put one in every room of my house and in each car. I couldn’t believe what a difference this made and SO FAST. The dollar store also has cute little beaded neck chains and readers in a bunch of funky colors and I don’t feel bad when my toddler snaps them in half (which he often does).
11) Bralettes : I wore hefty sports bras for years daily even when I wasn’t working out because I detest underwire. Eventually - maybe ten years ago – someone started creating cuter and more trendy sports bras that were less for hard core physical exercise and more for everyday wear. These only came in straight sizes, though, and not plus-sized, so if I got lucky and found a really stretchy brand that carried an XXL or the like I MIGHT be able to fit in one. I don’t know who invented the bralette (wait, thanks to Google, I see it was Marie Phelps Jacobs in 1914!!) but I’m so glad. Lacy, sexy and sweet and available now in a TON of sizes, I’ve purchased them from Torrid to Walmart in a variety of colors and LOVE them. While I still have a few underwire bras for certain outfits, namely dresses I wear to formal events or speaking engagements, I live in bralettes.