Fashion and Motherhood

Since Littlest was born I’ve had conflicted feelings about dressing myself.

To be clear, especially since arriving in France, I’ve gone through phases of loving clothes shopping, like my year in Reims, when I even wore jewelry almost every day. I used to be fascinated with the way (fashionable) French women dressed. Shoes have become a burden for me because of my feet, but that’s another story. As for make-up, I subscribed to Birchbox for the past two years and enjoyed testing out and ordering new things, including curly hair products.

When Littlest was a newborn and I was on maternity leave, I made a point of taking a shower every day but I scaled lots of things way back. I only put on moisturizer and foundation. I often let my hair dry on its own. I was jealous of my husband and how it took him 30 seconds to get dressed after a shower. It seemed entirely unfair so I tried to reduce my routine to get as close to his as possible.

When I went back to work I did start putting on a little more make-up, but only for work days. Breastfeeding has limited my wardrobe a bit—no thigh-long tunics for example—and over the past years I’ve thrown out anything that has holes in it (a surprising amount of things). So overall I feel like my wardrobe choices have gotten pretty drab.

There’s also a financial element. Money has been tighter this year (a complicated issue with maternity leave and being taxed on last year’s much higher earnings) and so spending money on clothes means no savings for the month. I put my Birchbox subscription on hold several times this year and finally ended it (though they were also sending me too many things I couldn’t use on my sensitive skin).

I miss taking pleasure in dressing myself, I miss elegance and novelty, and yet I also still yearn for the simplicity of male fashion that my husband gets to enjoy. In men’s fashion, clothing and shoes are comfortable and long-lasting. Even dressy women’s shirts and skirts are made so that you’re tugging at them throughout the day and I have no patience for that now. I feel like my body did something amazing, and I’d like my natural beauty to dominate rather than poking, prodding, and spending time on it, and yet…

I guess I’m wondering, am I the only one who resents and still sort of misses dressing fashionably?

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New Conditioners

Recently I made an exciting discovery for curly girl-followers living in France. (How many of us are there? Two? Three?) My conditioner of choice (L’Oreal EverLiss) disappeared a while ago from the supermarkets I go to. I reluctantly returned to buying Timotei’s conditioner, the remaining one conditioner that seemed to exist without silicones and be widely distributed in French supermarkets.

I noticed though that shampoos and conditioners with “huile d’argan” seemed to be popping up and though I’d occasionally give them a glance (just long enough to confirm that they do indeed put silicones in them) I never really took the time to give any new products a good look, because J is usually with me at the grocery store, and reading bottles takes time.

ultradouxSo imagine my glee when I went grocery shopping recently by myself and found that Garnier’s Ultra Doux line has three (count them: 3) silicone-free conditioners! You have to be careful though and really read the back of the bottle because of the seven varieties of Ultra Doux conditioners that exist, only three are without silicones: huile d’avocat et beurre de karité, mangue et fleure de tiaré, and beurre de cacao et huile de coco. At least, those were the only ones available at my supermarket that didn’t have silicones. They all have a tiny line on the back that says either “sans parabens et sans silicones” or just “sans parabens,” which I have to say I find ridiculous since so few products in France contain parabens these days. It’s like saying “unleaded.”

Anyway, I bought all three of them (duh) and now alternate daily, because of course they are only sold in quantities of 200 mLs, and I put about 30 mLs in my hair every day. Still, they aren’t very expensive and they smell amazing and they make my hair happy.

Coming soon: Final before and afters of the house renovations.