Cornered Office

with Mir Kamin

I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.

To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at

Putting on a professional… face?

Categories: My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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I used to go to conferences fairly regularly—one or two a year, at least—but as I noted in my recent post about BlogHer, this will be my first conference in around two years. It seems impossible that it’s been that long, and yet… here I am. No big deal, because it’s not as if the passage of time somehow renders me incapable of behaving in public, or anything. I just pull out the pretty shoes I haven’t had a chance to wear in a while, dust off my business cards, and go do my thing. Right?

Some of you may remember that a while back I started thinking about letting my hair go gray, and then about a month later, I went for it. I’ve embraced the gray, and I’ve been growing my hair back out ever since, and as I prep for conference-going, my attention has turned to my face.

And now it’s time to embark on the makeup angst. I totally forgot about this part, plus it’s different, now, than it used to be.

Just as I was surprised by the passionate responses to the whole gray hair question, I’ve been surprised at various points in the past when it comes to opinions on the role of makeup when it comes to women and professionalism. Full disclosure: I almost never wear makeup in my daily life. I wear it to dress up, but I am not a “never leave the house without putting my face on” kind of gal. I already have a face, and I would no sooner spackle it every morning than I would put on stilettos to run to the grocery store. (Not that I’m judging if that’s your jam.)

My point is that daily makeup isn’t something I think every woman has to do. But when it comes to a professional setting, I do think makeup is kind of expected and part of the uniform, just as you don’t expect people to be wearing sneakers with their business casual or whatever. Is my opinion the canonical truth, and should you argue with me if you disagree? Probably not, because it’s an opinion and I know that. (I also believe that hosiery is no longer an indispensable part of “dressy” for a woman, and I know a lot of folks disagree with that, so take my opinion for whatever it’s worth.)

Given that I’m not a daily makeup wearer, when I do put on my professional-in-public getup, I tend to go pretty minimalist. My philosophy with makeup is that if it’s not immediately obvious that you’re wearing any, you’re doing it right. I wear mascara and eyeliner and a touch of blush and lip gloss, usually. Nothing huge. Sometimes a fairly neutral eye shadow, too. But I don’t wear bright lipsticks or full foundation or any of that. I aim for enough. I want to look polished but not put-on, if that makes sense.

So, back to my current situation: I haven’t had a lot of occasions to wear makeup for a while. In surveying my stash, I realize it’s probably time to go out and buy some replacements. I can’t, for example, remember when I bought this tube of mascara, which means it’s probably old and clumpy. In surveying my face in the mirror, I would like to know when I became so old. (Kidding! Mostly.) My current under-eye concealer is either too old or too wimpy to handle the current state of my under-eye baggage. And to top it all off, I realize that with my hair a much lighter color than when I purchased all of the items in my make-up bag, it’s possible I need to completely reevaluate the palette I’m using on my face, anyway. At the very least, with all of this gray on display, I probably want to make sure my face is looking as youthful as possible… if not for professionalism, then for vanity. (Ha!)

As a cheapskate and an infrequent makeup wearer, this pains me.

I’ve always done the drugstore makeup thing, with the occasional trip to a Big Department Store Makeup Counter (like, say, before my wedding). I have no idea what to even start with, this time. But I think before this conference jaunt, I’m going to have to actually go to a mall.

Hold me.

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