What an interesting letter! L. writes,
Just found your website, and thank you! It’s wonderful!
I’m a new pastor, living in XX. (A new climate and culture for me- that’s relevant.) I’m having a blast shopping thrift and I also get my jackets discounted at the Vest Home and creating cute new outfits for myself- ask me sometime about how working with transgender women has given me permission to do this. But it is time for me to re-evaluate my make-up routine, both for professional reasons, and because my [new city’s] dry heat in winter, gosh-awful humidity in the summer is doing awful things to my face.
But I have no earthly clue how to start with new make-up, esp on a budget! When I shop for myself at drugstores, I invariably come home with some color that doesn’t work *at all.* I’d love to get a make-over, but am scared of both the price and the scrutiny. Does one just walk up to a make-up counter at a department store and ask? Am I then obligated to buy their expensive stuff?
One other “help!” question I’ve yet to find on your site- I’m often invited, in my pastoral role, to go to drag bars, or places other than my seminary profs pictured me, to watch parishoners perform, or generally do what my church calls “beer evangelism.” I think this is wonderful! But haven’t a clue what to wear. I’m hyper-conscious that some folks may feel judged if I come across as too middle-class or uptight, but also don’t want to be believable as a pastor when introduced as such. I’ve considered dark jeans, black heeled boats, black leather blazer, and a cute v-neck underneath. Can you help?
How lovely to hear from you, and thank you for loving BTFM! We love you right back!
Let me take your inquiries one at a time:
1. Moving to a new climate almost always creates problems with the hair and complexion. You may find it useful to stick with the most gentle products for awhile (Cetaphil cleanser, fragrance-free moisturizers and eye cream) to let your skin calm down. Stay hydrated. Do not panic and start slapping all kinds of chemical treatments on your face, which will only exacerbate problems: stick to a simple routine of cleansing, moisturizing and gently exfoliating. Use a good eye cream and sunscreen year-round. See the BTFM archives for TONS of product reviews of skin care products.
2. Don’t fear the make-over, but don’t go in for one unless you’re in an up and confident mood — confident enough to enjoy the suggestions you’re getting and to resist any hard sells. I know there’s a Sephora in your city; schedule a day and go get a make-over and play, play, play! Again, you’ll find tons of make-up tips and reviews in the archives here. It takes time to get to know what works for you, and there’s absolutely zero reason to buy expensive make-up when drugstore versions often do the job as well or better. I think that ALLURE magazine does a really good job teaching make-up tips to ordinary working women, while other fashion mags are much more fanciful with their looks. My list of the make-up basics would include a base for evening-out skin tone (I rarely use it on the entire face, just on ruddy areas), a loose powder and fluffy brush to clean up shinies, a neutral blush (look at Nars Orgasm for a universally flattering shade unless you have dark black skin), lipstick or gloss, eye shadow or liner, and mascara. As a 40-something gal, I am also very devoted to skin illuminating products, but I think you’re years away from needing those!
You can buy lipsticks and glosses from Wet ‘N’ Wild for under $3 each, which can start you off finding colors you like without making a huge investment. Ask friends if you can try their make-up on. Learn which brands highly pigment their products and which don’t (I, for instance, have often been furious to see that a lipstick that looked so pretty in its packaging wore as almost totally sheer on the lips). EXperiment, darling! Make-up knowledge takes time to develop. I’m a true cosmetics hound and even I make bummer purchases now and then, even with extensive knowledge of hundreds of brands and formulas.
3. I think you included a typo when you wrote of not wanting to be believable as a pastor when introduced as such. I think you meant that you DO want to be believable as a pastor. And my dear, nothing can do that you but your own belief that you are a real, live pastor. Clap your hands if you believe in pastors!! You’re not Tinkerbell, lambkins. You’re a minister. Wear what you like, and don’t try too hard or worry too much about how others see you. For instance, I think that a black leather jacket is a bit of overkill with the outfit you describe (unless you already have a leather jacket you love) and if I was a biker I might grin and think you were trying pretty hard to make me like you. If you’re middle-class, be middle class. If you don’t want to seem uptight and judgmental, let your demeanor take care of that, not your clothes. There’s a big difference between being thoughtful, respectful and appropriate with your clothing and taking them on as a kind of costume that “allows” you to be present to a community of folks, wherever they happen to be.
Your calling (ie, your vocation) is your calling card, not your clothes. And yes, I think jeans and a cute V-neck and blazer or jacket with boots sounds terrific. Add a genuine smile, a listening ear and eye contact to that combo and I’m sure you’ll be welcome wherever you go. Blessings, dear.