Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Survival Guide, Part I

I live in VA. Summers in VA suck. That is all there is to it. They are hot and humid and you frequently find yourself oscillating wildly between a hot and burning exterior and an over air conditioned, artic interior. My office building is a prime example of this. Some days, it is stuffy in here and the air has an icky feel. Other days, I could swear it is February. I have a fan in my office, as well as my wool J. Crew grandpa sweater that I frequently wear on days that I have to unearth my car from a layer of ice. There have been a couple of days where I have used both at different points. Such is the perk of working in the dead center of a giant building with no windows or other forms of natural aeration.

Therefore, you have to have a few tricks up your sleeve in order to make it through comfortably and not looking like you are "hot as a Trojan" (I don't know where this saying comes from and if it relates to ancient Greeks or condoms. My grandmother said it a lot growing up, and from her, it could be either). Here are a few things I have found that are helpful.

Goody Spin Pins: I have long hair, and come summer, my number one activity is finding a cute way to keep it off of my neck. Ponytails are ok, but I really don't want to rock a pony all day, every day. Health magazine ran an article about summer hair a month ago (June's edition, I think) and there was a cute bun in there that I wore a bit and liked. Real Simple had some ideas as well, notably one for a side pony that I have worn with my fedora to great acclaim from the husband. However, bobby pins are never really that fun. They fall out, you lose them, they bring back horrific memories of dance recitals in years past. They are a general pain in the ass. This is where the "spin pin" comes in. Basically, this are tornado-esque pins that you put through a little chignon and they hold it in place. Two pins and you're solid. And you know, I really like them. In fact, I am wearing them right now as I type this. They are fast and simple (I am pretty much all thumbs with a wide array of hair styling, but I got the hang of this pretty quickly), they hold the hair securely, and the look is cute and a little better than a pony. Plus, you don't even have to use a hair elastic. Really all you need are the two pins.

I will say that you should give yourself time to get the hang of it. It is quick to learn, but it can be frustrating (like really, HULKSMASH style frustrating) when you are in a hurry and trying to get your hair up and it just won't work. The real trick is to try to put them in straight up and down--not on an angle. Also, you are a bit limited on what you can do with them. The Goody box specifies three styles--the classic chignon, a side chignon and a double chignon. A quick Google search tells me there are other options on You Tube. But, for the money, this is a great product and a real helper in the summer time.

Goody Headwraps It is somewhat fitting that the first two things on my list would be dealing with hair, because I think hair is the biggest issue in a hot humid summer. At least it is for me. These are your standard head wraps, designed to pull the hair back from your face like a headband without the headache. If I remember correctly, I rocked some very wide cotton ones in strange colors during the early 90's. I originally bought these for running to smooth the sides of my head from the bits of hair that pop out from my ponytail. However, you can do a lot more with them. If you buy the ones in the color of your hair (brunette for me), they blend in and can really smooth those little fly aways on the sides that humidity pulls out of me. I have in one right now with my Spin Pin chignon. It is just there to keep things smooth. I have used these things forever, but I recently saw in the June Health where frequent contributor, Bobbi Brown (of make-up fame, not of Hell to the No fame) uses them as well, even for formal events, and I can definitely see how you would do that. Like I said, it is just another weapon for you in your battle against humidity. And by the way--don't order them from Amazon via that link. $17.59 is crazy. I just bought a new pack a couple of days ago to share with Gabby, and I think they were $4-$5.

Jersey dresses: I don't really feel like this is new information or that I'm blowing the lid off of anything here. Jersey dresses are super comfortable and are a summer staple. The racks are filled with them--I see classy ones, slutty ones, ones that are made of that weird stuff that is often flower printed and looks like it is wrinkled (anyone know what this stuff is called? IT IS THE DEVIL). But I also see a lot of women walking around in places where a jersey dress would be perfection, looking hot, tired, and uncomfortable in ill-fitting shorts and dresses made out of stiff, non-breathable materials. Stop the insanity people! Every year, I purchase a new one of these dresses from J. Crew. I might get a few others in various places, but I always, ALWAYS get a J. Crew one. Why? Because they are flattering, and I have found them to be of consistent quality. Just for an example, I wore one of them throughout my pregnancy with Alice--I think I wore it the day before she was born! This year's dress is this one. I have found it to be unique in that has a little bit of interest--the elastic belt, the almost Grecian look at the strap--that set it apart and make it ok for a not-so-fancy evening out or with a cardigan to work (especially around here where the lack of students is making us all a bit more casual than during the school year). Plus, it is super, super comfortable, and miracle of all miracles, was not too long on me when I purchased it! Super, duper score.

Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunscreen Ladies, sunscreen is not optional. I am uber, UBER pale and I would love, DREAM OF IN FACT getting a nice bronzing while laying at the beach, reading Motley Crue's The Dirt. BUT. Skin cancer is a very, very real thing. You probably remember this if you read regularly, but I recently watched my grandmother die of skin cancer. Besides the obvious sadness because this was my grandmother, this was probably the saddest, most horrible death I can imagine. I won't go into details out of respect for her, but believe me when I say that this is not something that you even want to tempt into having. I have always been a bit of the sunscreen queen while on vacation with my kids and that kind of thing (and really, what mom is not?), but this year I have definitely stepped it up a notch. I am glad I found this product. It is perfect for applying at the pool--you can apply it right after exiting on to wet skin, and it will adhere just perfectly. Plus, even if you're not chilling pool side that much, it is perfect for sweaty bodies. My husband and I used it yesterday after riding in a hot car (read: bit sweaty) and then going running and it stuck to us and worked great. Great for touch ups too. I will tell you that I don't wholly trust the super high SPF's that I see, so I think I have 30 or 50, but it goes up to like 85 if you are into that kind of thing. There is also a kids formula, but my kids are fine with this version.

Guys, I don't really care if you buy this sunscreen. I don't buy it exclusively--I use a lot of different brands depending on where I am, what I need and what is on sale. But please consider wearing it this summer. We put it on our kids, we'll make sure they are covered with rash guards and hats and such, but so many times, we as women forget about ourselves. And that's not ok. Layer it on so that you can enjoy many, many more summers with them and love that sun and that trashy novel as much as you can!


  1. I have the head wraps but they are old, stretched out and black. I need a brown one. And you have me sold on the spinny things.

    Those atrocious prints are called Sublimation prints. I wrote about how I hated them and spent about three hours trying to figure out what the hell they are called.

    And love the Neutrogena Wet, got for E and now have for us. Ditto on skin cancer, my old boss who was like a father to me died of melanoma and that was a major wake-up call to me. A horrible thing I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

  2. I knew I had seen you post on it, but I still couldn't remember the name and wrote this in a hurry before going down to represent at a Job Fair! KILL IT WITH FIRE.

    Yeah, the spinny things are rad. I just did it again--I was making jokes with another guy at our table and managed to pull part of my bun down with a plan that was behind me--without even looking. That was a first! And they are really that simple!

  3. Uh, a "plant" that was behind me. Not plan!