FOTD: Autumn Leaves

October has always been my favorite month. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, my love of seasonal makeup has a lot to do with my upbringing. My parents and I lived in Cambridge, MA, until I was seven, when we moved to San Francisco. I spent the next ten years pining for “real seasons,” especially fall, and I’ll never forget the childlike joy of catching falling leaves during my first semester of college back in Massachusetts. I’m given to understand that appreciating the glory of fall is now a symptom of basic bitchery, I suppose because it’s not a rarefied pleasure available to a select few. This article (since when does Buzzfeed quote Bourdieu?) notes the classism inherent in the “basic bitch” insult. I don’t agree with all of the writer’s points, but it’s worth a read. In any case, I refuse to be ashamed of my autumnal raptures. Where I live now, there are about six weeks per year when it’s actually pleasant to be outside, and October contains two or three of those weeks. I’ve spent this particular October sick, stressed, and overwhelmed (academic job market, what’s up), but I haven’t been able to ignore the spectacular beauty of the season. It’s a privilege to be able to walk outside and see this:

And this:

And this (yes, this post is a flimsy excuse to spam you with foliage photos, as if you haven’t been getting enough leaves from me on Instagram):

This is the first weekend in a while that hasn’t been consumed with work, so I did glorious nothing until about 3:30 pm, when I decided to experiment with the custom palette that I put together at San Francisco’s theBalm store in August and still haven’t reviewed:

For my shamelessly obvious autumn-leaves look, I used the copper and the green. I’d like to claim credit for this color combination, but I based it loosely on the NARS Blade Runner duo, reviewed by Kate at More Like Space here. I swear I’ve bought half my eyeshadows in semi-conscious attempts to dupe NARS duos. This particular dupe attempt is very different from the originalBlade Runner’s green is darker than theBalm’s, and its copper is much pinker—but Blade Runner is long discontinued, so this is the best I’m going to do for now.

I called one of the shades “copper” just now, but it’s actually closer to straight-up pumpkin orange. I’ve had a few pangs of regret about choosing this shadow. The saleslady at theBalm told me it would look great with my eyes, but my eyes are set in a face, and that face doesn’t usually do well with orange. The color is a bit brighter IRL than it looks here:

Then there’s that unusual shade of gray-tinged moss green:

Not every shadow in my palette has a perfect formula (the duochrome purple at bottom left is the worst offender), but I find that theBalm does softly frosted finishes to perfection, and the copper and green couldn’t be smoother or more buttery. I used the copper on the inner third of my upper lid and the green on the outer two-thirds, blending them together carefully before applying the sparkly dark brown to my upper and lower lashlines. I kept the rest of my look simple, but equally basic-bitch autumnal, with Illamasqua Zygomatic blush and Revlon Lacquer Balm in Coy.

I’d worn the copper before and found it too bright and obtrusive, but I really liked how it looked today. I think it was just a matter of blending it out properly (which reminds me, I should probably get an eyeshadow brush that costs more than $5…).

I’m also in the market for a brown eyeliner, something I’ve never owned: I’ve always made do with brown eyeshadow applied with an angled brush. Eyeshadow on the lashline fades more quickly than I’d like, though, even over primer.

I was very pleased to note that the green eyeshadow was a near-perfect match for my nail polish, Butter London Wallis. I used to refer to Wallis as “the official nail polish of Slytherin House,” but a recent conversation with a grad-school friend (also sorted by Pottermore into Slytherin, don’t you know) has me thinking that NARS Night Porter might be worthier of that distinction. Wallis is a formidable contender, though.

I spent the rest of my afternoon preparing to teach Nabokov’s prefaces to Lolita and Pale Fire on Monday (I am so excited about teaching my favorite novelist, you have no idea), and then I sat around some more and listened to k-pop and wrote in my notebook and made a lentil recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and drank bourbon with ginger ale. I’m not sure there’s a better way to spend a Saturday in October.

18 thoughts on “FOTD: Autumn Leaves

  1. If enjoying the one season that isn't absolutely unbearable weather-wise in Atlantic Canada makes me a basic bitch, then fine. I'm okay with that.I love the muted glow in this look – I think it looks lovely.


  2. I miss real October so much. Except not today, because a friend in the Western MA area reports that it snowed this morning D:I acquired a brilliantly copper Shiseido eyeshadow in France that is so gorgeous, but I'm really being generous to describe it as copper. It's orange. Orange eyeshadow doesn't scare me too much because I favored bright red and black for a very long time, and orange still seems tame in my mind. I love the gradient you've done here, makes me wish I had more subtle colors in my own collection. And reminds me that I have an autumn eyeshadow post in my drafts I need to finish hrrm hrrm


  3. I'm in Montreal and it snowed today. On October 18. I am despairing for the winter to come. :(Those muted colours are perfect for fall. The lipstick works well with it too – everything is interesting but subtle and definitely autumnal.I've been using my Balm Jovi palette a lot this fall; there's a burgundy and an olive in there that have been calling to me recently. Their eyeshadows are really good quality, in my limited exposure to them. I'd be interested in hearing more about the build-your-own-palette experience!


  4. Exactly! First it's so cold that stepping outside is physically painful, then it's allergy season, then it's unbearably humid–and then fall arrives and we're not allowed to get excited? I don't think so.And thanks!


  5. It was pretty cold here today, too. No snow quite yet, but I could sense winter looming.I don't know why I'm so scared of bold eyeshadows when I wear bold lipstick all the time, but it takes real mental effort for me to wear color on my eyes. Any shadow that isn't some variation on gray or taupe sets off a whole string of calculations: can I wear blush with a purple eyeshadow? Would plum lipstick be too much with blue on the eyes? What about a tiny dab of blue? I don't know where this particular neurosis comes from, but it really prevents me from experimenting as much as I'd like.Yay, autumn eyeshadow post! I've been missing your posts.


  6. I just looked up the Balm Jovi palette and that burgundy is gorgeous. Such a perfect autumnal color! I've been sort of poking away at my palette review for a while now; I have all the photos I need in a folder on my laptop, but I've been too lazy to upload them. I promise I'll do it before long!(I wish my mom wore eyeshadow, because she loves Bon Jovi and that palette would be perfect for her. Oh, well.)


  7. It's wrong to like autumn now?! This basic thing makes no sense. I've lived all my life in a place where its either hot and humid or hot and dry and I would totally drink the crap out of PSLs and wear Uggs or whatever. Anyway, lovely look! I think the colours go well together though they are a more colourful combination than neutral. Lets all wear foliage inspired eyes and berry and plum tones and be as boring as possible 🙂 Hope you enjoy the Nabokov teaching, Lolita is one of my favourites!


  8. Hot and humid weather is the worst for me. It can get up to 99% humidity here and it just makes me angry. I confess, though, I'm not a PSL fan! I try one every fall just to see if my tastes have changed, but they always taste a bit weird to me. I'm not convinced that coffee should ever taste like pumpkin. I do have a pair of extremely warm Uggs slippers, though; I'm wearing them right now. :DMy favorite Nabokov novels are Pale Fire and Ada, or Ardor. Have you read those?


  9. I really like that color combination, and it's one I've never thought of (having never seen the NARS duo). And I think that orange looks very nice with the green to mute it down. (though I have a thing for orange eye shadow)


  10. Great job on the color combination and the blending! I've only very recently started experimenting with eyeshadows and seeing this makes me realize that I am still too wimpy in my application.What kind of liner are you looking for? Liquid, pencil, gel? Also, I like your tree pictures! As someone who left the East Coast to live in the perpetual season-less limbo of San Francisco, I love the weather here. But I'm sure it won't be long before I start craving the change of seasons 🙂


  11. Thanks! I should have mentioned that I applied these shadows over my NYX HD primer, which really makes a difference in opacity. I'm looking for a brown pencil, ideally. And yes, SF has been having gorgeous weather this year (too bad it's connected to the drought). I was shocked when I visited my parents in August and had to keep wearing the very few summer clothes I'd brought!


  12. I agree with Kareen, I love your foliage posts on Instagram 🙂 That's a really pretty look! I'm scared of both copper and any kind of green eyeshadow, lol, but I liked your idea of a soft transition between the two shades, I may try something similar. Ah, Lolita… 🙂


  13. Cool, I will look into the nyx primer.The reason I ask about the type of liner is because I am a big fan of the Stila liquid eyeliner, and they have a nice brown liner:'m currently looking for good pencil liners though. I recently purchased a MAC kohl liner, but it's super smudgy and I'm probably gonna return / exchange it. So if you find good pencil liners, I would love to know!And yes, SF has been freakishly warm and sunny these past couple of months (even over June – August) ! It's hard to enjoy it in the bliss of ignorance when you know it's linked to a drought.


  14. That is a great combo. I haven't seen the Bladerunner duo before, but for some reason I would think that it would be along the silver and blue lines, for some reason? Autumn and spring are my favourite seasons. Obviously in New Zealand the seasons are the other way around, but they're so similar temperature- and weather-wise so same difference to me. I've never tried a pumpkin spice latte! Do I need to? Or should I just make my own coffees as normal and chuck in a bunch of nutmeg?


  15. The pinkish copper and forest green strike me as an odd match for the Blade Runner name, too. I haven't seen Blade Runner in a year or two, though, so maybe there's some aspect of the movie's color palette that I've missed so far? Ugh, I love that movie.Until this year, the PSL contained no actual pumpkin and was just a very sweet latte with cinnamon, nutmeg, and artificial flavoring/coloring. This year they've added real pumpkin (or so I'm given to believe), so maybe it's better, but I haven't tried the new version. I've never been crazy about the fancy Starbucks drinks–I have a huge sweet tooth but the PSL is actually too sweet for me!


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