The Fashion Magpie Basket Bag Scarf

How to Look Awake When You Actually Resemble a Corpse.

So first, a caveat: the whole newborn exhaustion thing has not been THAT bad for me.  I have been surprised at how much I can do on minimal sleep, and how little I mind waking up once I see mini’s sweet face when she is crying out for me.

Let’s call a spade a spade: is there anything more satisfying than feeling needed?  To me, it’s one of the most beautiful parts, so far, of parenthood: a sense of deep connection to my daughter, a feeling that I am the only one in the world who knows what’s best for her and who has the right and privilege to care for her.  I love it.

And, for context: I have to share an exchange I had with a friend of my mother’s that has haunted me for the better part of a decade.  At the time, I was completing my M.A. in literature and working on a project with my father during my spare time.  (He was basically being over-generous and throwing me $20/hour to help me get through the poverty of studenthood for work I would have unqestioningly done pro bono.)  I would go into his office a few days a week to help edit a book he was writing, and, while there, would always offer to make him a sandwich for lunch in his small kitchenette.  He was invariably effusive over this small and silly gesture of domesticity.  I told my mother’s friend this story, laughingly, in the way we women often talk about men, in the vein of: “Oh, men can hardly make a sandwich for themselves! Har har har!”  But, instead of laughing along, she turned to me and said, in a deadly serious tone: “It’s nice to be needed, though, isn’t it?”  I felt reproached, ashamed (“badly done, Emma”), but the phrase has stuck with me.  And, I dare say, I have generally been able to avoid spouting off such ungrateful, offhanded comments since.

Indeed it is a nicety.  And a privilege.

I’m reminded, too, all of the sudden, that when my mom flew out to care for myself and minimagpie after her birth, I apologized at some point for asking her to do something for me–I can’t recall exactly what it was (such a blur, those days), but it was something truly humiliating like helping me pull on my underwear or put on a sock.  One of those things you just can’t believe you can’t do for yourself in the wake of a serious surgery.

But anyway.  I must have said: “Thank you; I’m so sorry you have to do that for me.”

And her response was: “It’s my privilege.”

[Heart breaks.]


My mom is the real deal.  (P.S. — Some advice I’ve picked up from her on caring for newborns, and a more complete portrait of her amazing parenting here.)

But anyway, back to sleeplessness and the newborn.  Setting aside the fact that I’ve been both reproached into being AND taught by example to be genuinely grateful for mini needing me, I’ve also majorly lucked out with an infant who has been a pretty generous sleeper since day 1.   Aside from a handful of truly challenging nights where mini was either awake for hours on end or in the mood to wake up every 1.5 hours to have a snack, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a babe who has slept for stretches of 3-4 hours at night since she was born.  (This probably makes it easier for me to talk about this topic in an upbeat tone than those moms with children who cluster feed, or, as my mom puts it, “have their nights and days mixed up,” for example.  And to those mamas: hats off to you.  And sorry to approach this topic from more of a pollyanna angle.  I know it’s not easy for many of us, and I generally hate when bloggers act as though everything is sunshine and daisies.)

So, it hasn’t been that bad.  Just an adjustment.

But, Lordy, do I look ragged these days.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and do a quadruple take —

“Is that a skeleton?  Oh no.  That’s my face.”

“Is there soot under my eyes? Oh wait.  Just dark circles.”

“Who is that 55 year old woman in the mirror?  Oh.  It’s me, a 32 year old.”

“Why does my face look like it’s covered in ash?  Oh wait, it’s just gray from sleep deprivation.”

Etc, etc.

All self-deprecation aside, I have had to put some serious elbow grease into making myself look like I have a pulse awake these days.  Even when I feel energetic and equipped for the day, I need a lot of help in the makeup department.

Below, my top tips for making myself look alive:

Tip No. 1: Highlight the Crap Out of Your Face.

I dab Nars’ illuminator ($30) on my cheekbones, under my eyebrows, and just above the center of my top lip.  Sometimes this can come off a little J Lo (in a bad way — like, if JLo were in a music video kind of way) if you’re too heavy handed, so either go light or save for evening hours if you’re worried.

The Fashion Magpie Nars Illuminator

For a truly daytime appropriate highlighter, this RMS Beauty Luminizer ($38) is AMAZING.  It adds dewiness rather than color and really catches the light.  It’s thick — balm-like — so it can be a touch tricky to apply over powder bronzers.   I usually apply it over my tinted moisturizer, before I add any blush or bronzer.

The Fashion Magpie RMS Beauty Illuminator

Finally, I always apply a little dab of this Bobbi Brown long-wear cream shadow stick in a light color (I love “truffle”) in the inner corner of my eye and sometimes just underneath my eyebrow, blended in carefully.  It instantly opens up the eye and brightens the whole area.

Tip No. 2: Add Some Lift to Your Hair.

One of the fastest ways to feeling like a woman — for me — is a fresh blowout.  Man do I love them.  I actually got one the day before I was going in for mini’s c-section, and I swear it made me feel more human in the hours after her birth.  (At least my hair looked decent.)  But, blowouts just aren’t in the cards right now–if I have time to myself to do what I please, I’m always going to go for a manicure over a blowout, and those sessions aren’t that frequent, so there you go.  Instead, when my hair is looking limp and stringy and stupid, I throw on some texturizing spray to make it look intentional: “Oh, I’m going for the beachy hair look.”  I love Drybar’s Triple Sec spray ($26), which is a dry shampoo, volumizer, and texturizer in one.  It leaves the hair with a little grit to it — it just makes your hair look like it was coiffed on purpose.

The Fashion Magpie Drybar Triple Sec Spray

Tip No. 3: Throw on Some Lipstick.

Lipstick can mean the difference between “honey, are you OK?” and “girrrrl, where are you headed today?”  I always wear lipstick, whether it’s something as easy to put on as chapstick, like Nars’ Roman HolidayNars’ Roman Holiday (no mirror needed!), or something that requires a little more precision, like a Mac reda Mac red (my go-to brand for a matte red lip).

The Fashion Magpie Nars Roman Holiday

Tip No. 4: Put on a Statement Top.

Distract yourself and the world by wearing a bold new top, preferably something loose and bright.  I got a ton of compliments on my sunshine yellow Zara top the other day — I think the color made me look a little more alive, too.  I felt fashion-forward wearing a non-nursing top, too.   (Ugh, nursing.  I wrote a little bit about what to wear while nursing one or two weeks into motherhood, and I still stand by my recommendations but I’m SO bored of them now.  Ugh, just like pregnancy, it just gets real old wearing the same old thing erryday.  Lately I’ve been loving wearing overalls and button-downs.)  This striped top ($39) would also be a good pick for right now — easy to pull up and nurse with, but tres chic at the same time.

The Fashion Magpie Striped Top

Other favorite new statement top finds: this GORGEOUS sorbet-colored striped top, this embroidered English Factory top in the prettiest blush shade, and this asymmetrical floral top.

Tip No. 5: Wear Some Color.

I hear my mom’s voice in my head with this one, but a bright color can work wonders.  I am sort of freaking out over this happy patterned scarf ($40), which I envision tying around the handle of a basket bag (I own this one and LOVE IT) or throwing over my shoulders when wearing a white dress or blouse.

The Fashion Magpie HM Tropical Scarf Inspiration:

The Fashion Magpie Basket Bag Scarf

{A scarf with a basket bag — hers looks a lot like mine.}

P.S. — Isn’t H+M killing it with its latest new arrivals?  Love this dress in all the colors and this chic jumpsuit (the bows!)


  1. Haha! I know just what you mean, and I swear the newer one is better. It’s still pretty matte, though, which in my mind sometimes equates to that flakey and cakey texture. I might just have to give it another try tomorrow and see what happens! Ha.

  2. That’s interesting, MK, because I have one of those Generation G sticks from Glossier and I always felt it made my lips flakey and cakey and gross! I’ll have to explore the new formula…

  3. I think you’ve sold me on the RMS Living Luminizer — looks like just the trick I need, and I’ve heard so many (good) things about that brand.

    I love the tip about lipstick, too — I always forget to wear it, but LOVE the effect it creates when I do. I am also a NARS fan but for a slightly muted effect, I also like Glossier’s Generation G (I have Zip and Crush and like both, although I prefer Zip because it’s a newer formula — I got Crush right when it launched and they’ve since improved the formula to be less dry!)

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