The wedding industry places a ton of emphasis on the visual details of your wedding. And in the past few years, the industry has even made some space for bolder choices there. Neon became a thing last year, gold centerpieces were all over the place, and I left no fewer than five weddings covered in glitter (which is obviously the best way to leave any party). This is great if you are the kind of person who likes to express themselves with decor. But if you’re not? If you’re, say, the kind of person who likes to use your body as a canvas and experiment with clothing and weird hair and makeup, the wedding industry has squat for you. I blame it on AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com and the Eighties (which most people who aren’t me regard as a decade full of fashion tragedy) for making “timeless” the primary objective for wedding style these days (and you know our feelings about that).
Plus there’s the pervasive messaging that you should look “pretty” on your wedding day, which usually means “safe” (and pink). But as I root deeper into my marriage, and subsequently into the core of who I am, the more I embrace a fuck it attitude and the more I think pretty can kiss my ass. When it came time for my wedding, I listened to all of the messaging about timelessness and vanilla-ed the hell out of myself. I grew my awesome faux hawk out, and wore natural makeup, and delicate earrings and looked very nice and very tasteful. But if I had it to do all over again? I’d lean hard into color, wear bright lipstick, big ass earrings and whatever crazy hair I had at the time (which is bleach blonde at the moment, and was lavender five seconds ago).
During Feminism month last year, Meg wrote about choosing your feminist battles. If I had to pick one, it would be to give women the space to stop having to answer to “pretty” and replace it with some other word that comes from inside, like: Badass. Or brave. Or exciting. Or expressive. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear any makeup or heels or dresses (though it’s fine if that’s the direction your feminism takes you in). Or that you can’t embrace timelessness if that feels authentic to who you are. But rather, that the impetus for how we express ourselves should come from a primal space within, without fear of how the general public might receive it. In short, it’s about embracing a little ugly… even on your wedding day.
With that in mind, today I’ve rounded up some of my favorite (affordable) bold makeup choices. Lipstick is obviously not exactly an obvious feminist statement, but for me, experimenting within the parameters of a safe space like makeup, and playing around with things that aren’t conventionally pretty, gives me the courage to make bolder feminist choices in other arenas. Plus, in the conversation about weddings, I’m consistently amazed at the response from people when you start challenging the constructs of bridal beauty. So here’s my middle finger to timelessness, tastefulness and prettiness—in shades of orange and purple and hot pink.
*Note: for many of you, challenging the constructs of bridal beauty might mean no makeup at all. Cheers to that. For me? It means shiny orange lip lacquer.
ONE I am very picky about what goes on my lips (they’re really dry and always chapped, so for the longest time I swore off lipstick altogether). But these super bright lipsticks changed my tune this month. The colors are really pigmented, the texture of the lipstick is awesome and it wears really nicely for a long time before fading to a pretty stain. My favorite color is Hot Plum (if you’re looking to fulfill any ’90s fuchsia lipstick fantasies, this is the one for you too). Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids lipsticks ($5–$10)
Two Remember our favorite retro cat eye tutorial from last year? Well how about doing it for ten bucks? (Bonus: You can also buy this eyeliner in purple.) Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner ($10–$12)
Three It’s really hard to find sheer lipstick that doesn’t wear off in thirty seconds. But these sheer lipsticks are an awesome combination of saturated color (in really cool shades), with lip gloss shininess, but without any of the stickiness that comes with it (because, gross). For bold colors, I recommend Fiery Veil, Blushing Sequin, and Cardinal Plume. All of which currently reside in my purse. L’Oreal Colour Caresse by Colour Riche lipsticks ($5–$10)
FOUR Okay, so maybe you’re not ready to experiment with your face. But you still want… something a little out there. APW writing intern and resident beauty expert Rachel swears that these press-on nails last forever (well, about a week, which is forever if you ever tried to wear Lee press-on nails as a teenager). Also, they make a leopard print French manicure. Is all I’m saying. Broadway Nails Impress Press-On Manicure ($5–$10)
FIVE This is a bit of a cheat, because it’s from Amazon and not the drugstore (but really, isn’t Amazon basically the drugstore of the internet?). Before I dyed my hair purple, I loved playing around with these hair chalks. You just rub them over dry hair and ta-da! Instant color. They come out with water, so you can mess around with a bunch of different looks without having to make any kind of commitment. And while a little on the expensive side, one package will last forever. Kevin Murphy Color Bug ($22) (Side note: there is now a gold color bug, which sounds super super awesome, right? Word on the street—from Meg’s awesome stylist—is: they suck. Just an FYI.)