Fashion, Makeup, Accessories, and More!

Welcome to my new endeavor called @JoannaAfter40, where I review stuff, like clothing, shoes, bags, jewelry, makeup, skincare, and more. The skies the limit!

My modus operandi (m.o.) is to be kind and compassionate, but honest so you can trust that if I provide a review, it is an authentic opinion, whether the brand provided the product to me or not. I will make sure you know how I received a product or item – whether I purchased it myself or received it complimentary to review – so you can assess from there. You can find these reviews either in “All Posts” or simply click on “Posts by Topic” and then choose the link for “@JoannaAfter40.”

Would you like me to review a specific product? Do you have a brand or store you’d like me to feature? Please reach out on the Contact page and we can discuss!

More to follow!


Home Sweet Home

We spent the day getting all of our ducks in a row to get mom home! We have a lovely aide named Sophia lined up to start on Tuesday, so with mom’s blood tests in order, she’ll be coming home then. We are working on getting her a hospital bed and all the trimmings. I got her a fluffy, bright twin-size comforter for her temporary bed.

So, overall, a positive day. In between, I worked. Hard to balance everything so I’m glad it’s the weekend. I spoke with one of my donors today & she said I’m the “utmost professional.” I needed that!

I went to Old Navy and got a few things since I’m down 60 lbs now. ūüėÉ

Tonight, I went through mom’s jewelry and “inherited” some necklaces. She had offered many of them on my last journey home but alas, they didn’t fit. They do now! Wearing her clothes and jewelry makes me feel close to her. I try to wear something everyday that was hers.

I recently donated these super cute size 8 fit-flop sneakers because they were swimming on my feet. Then I remembered she had gotten them in a 7! I asked her before she got sick if she’d be willing to donate them to her “incredibly shrinking daughter.” Of course she agreed. I dug through her sneakers & found them! They’re about 10 years old but as they say, what is old is new, and they’re right in style again!

So. Things are a bit brighter tonight. I may even sleep!

A whole new(ish) world

One of the wonderful side effects of my weight change is that I can now shop in many more stores – the ones that sell “straight” sizes versus “womens” or “extended” or “plus.” Pick your favorite euphemism.

I have been dipping my toe in some size L/XL items from TJ Maxx, but today, I jumped into the pool & journeyed to the world of Assembly Row in Somerville. For those of you who aren’t local to Boston, it’s a newish outdoor outlet mall with shops, restaurants, AMC theater, LEGOland, and more. I have only been there once years ago to see a movie. I hadn’t ventured there because they had few stores I could shop in besides accessories, etc.

Today I hit up Loft Outlet and got some cute things that were not expensive. Last week I got a few more tailored work items at Ann Taylor Outlet. These are definitely part of my comfort zone – “inside-the-box” kinda clothes. I look forward to branching out, back to BCBG and Nordstrom and Saks outlet for some edgier things. I’m still wearing my plus size Avenue jeans – again, comfort zone, but I’m almost sized out of them.I will miss Torrid and Lane Bryant, but I will not miss the frumpy and sequined tops that scream “I’m fat so I must shine in sunlight!”

I can’t deny it – walking around in my new puffer coat – 2 sizes smaller than my last purchase – feels good! I’ll try to post some photos soon. Ciao!


It’s been about a week since my surgery. I’ve mainly been in the house, recovering and trying to eat my protein and drink my ounces. It’s not easy. My body has been reacting to my surgery is many ways, so it’s a lot to take in. But my incisions are healing nicely and I have no pain.

The hardest feeling to adjust to is fullness. It happens very quickly and can come upon me before I suspect it. I’ve gotten permission to expand beyond protein shakes pretty quickly so tonight I made egg salad with a bit of Greek yogurt and a pinch of tarragon. It was pretty tasty but very filling.

I keep trying to go out for a drive to Target or somewhere but I don’t quite have the strength yet. Ted took me to Walgreens yesterday so that was helpful. He’ll be back on Thursday so I’ll have more help again. He’s the best!

Mom started chemo again yesterday. She seems to be handling it fairly well. She even went out to J Jill to buy some new pants! She’s been calling me every day, appropriately mothering her daughter healing from surgery, and it’s nice to have our roles reversed for the time being: mother caring for daughter. I’m glad to have our daily – sometimes twice daily – chats while we’re both home. We compare what we’ve eaten, how we feel, etc. It’s a sweet opportunity for us to support each other equally.

I think I’m over the regret I felt last week about having the surgery. I can tell I’m starting to lose weight. My clothes don’t feel different but I can see my cheekbones starting to emerge again. I’ve missed having a great canvas for blush!

Over Thanksgiving, I will plan to shop in mom’s closet for some of her bigger sized things that are now too big on her. She has some nice things! I told her I’d bring a big suitcase. Meanwhile, I have about 5 bags packed to donate of my largest sizes. Eventually my wardrobe will completely change. It’s very surreal. I have a lot of nice things so if you know anyone who is plus sized who might enjoy a free wardrobe freshening up, send me a note as I’m happy for my things to go to great, deserving homes. I’m also going to sell things on ThredUp.

Wow, long update. Thanks for the support and stay with us on our journeys!


It’s finally #thecurvycon!

The Curvy Con is a 2-day fashion show, body positive conference, and shopping extravaganza. Hundreds of women & men (maybe?) gather during NYFW to express power to our curves. Of course, I’m going to be losing weight post-surgery but no doubt I’ll be curvy. I’ve been curvy even when thin!

I’ll be blogging during the con and will post videos & pix too!

Immersion Day

I took the day off from work and experienced what Mt Auburn calls “immersion day,” where you spend the day learning everything you’d ever want to know….and more…about bariatric surgery. We heard from the surgeon, behavioral psychologist, dietician, nurse, and from each other – 4 strangers about to embark on a monumental life change.

I still have many tasks ahead prior to surgery: physical with pcp, visit with pulmonary specialist, 3 group sessions, a visit with the nutritionist, a visit with the psychiatrist, blood tests, and more. Tonight I placed an order on amazon for a food scale, measuring spoons/cups, a book on bariatric surgery, protein shakes, and a Where’s Waldo? Book. Ok, the last one is for a 6-year old bday party coming in Sept!

I’m glad I waited to call mom until after the day was over because she had a rough night and had to see the oncologist today. She felt better when we spoke later in the day because she had gotten an IV drip. Still, she wanted to hear about how my day went. I called back again later and filled my dad in on the day. I reminded him how brave & strong he and my mom are in this process.

Today was exciting – for the most part – and it confirmed: I’m ready for the surgery! I’m working hard to have it done at the end of October, before mom’s chemo is done, and after our big campaign event at work. Trying to imagine 2 weeks off from work, staying home because I’m on pain killers, is daunting.

I don’t remember the last time I took 2 weeks off, in a row, from work. I’ve been slowly telling my colleagues that I’m having the surgery so they aren’t caught off guard when they see me in Jan at our next retreat and I’m a bit smaller.

I am also mourning the loss of my wardrobe a bit. It may be larger sizes, but I love the stuff I’ve acquired over the years. But, it’s just stuff. I’ll replace it with more stuff.


Taking My Face Off

IMG_4926I’ve been working long days planning a big event for work. ¬†It’s a bit after 9pm and I just dove into my PJs as fast a possible. ¬†Putting on my PJs is arguably my favorite part of the day.

But tonight I felt grimy.  My face felt icky.  Oh!  I had forgotten to take off my make-up.  I have this unbelievable foundation that literally stays on for 13 hours.  Yep, I put it on at 8am this morning and there was a large amount that came off on my makeup remover pad.

I don’t remember where I’ve heard the expression “taking my face off” but I love it. ¬†I googled it in the hopes of teaching you fine people something but all I could find were youtube clips for the movie “Face/Off.”

Anyhow, these are what I use to take my face off.  They even smell good!


Dress Shopping

Just got home from Nordstrom. ¬†I’m speaking at a gala next week, and running one for work in a few months, so I needed something ideally to wear to both. ¬†I spent a lot of time in advance doing some browsing online for ideas. ¬†I looked at Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Lane Bryant to name a few. ¬†I’m what the fashion industry calls “plus sized” so finding cute dresses to try on that don’t look too frumpy or boxy can be challenging. ¬†At the same time, I don’t want something that’s designed for a teenager to wear to prom.

I stopped at Lord & Taylor and tried on about 5 dresses. ¬†They all looked dreadful on me and I felt like a blob. ¬†Instead of getting discouraged, I walked over to Nordstrom where I knew I’d get help from the sales associate.

I grabbed a stack of dresses and headed for the nicest dressing room I’ve ever seen. Seriously – it had a purple velvet couch. ¬†Anyhow, I digress. ¬†The first 6 or so dresses were pretty but not flattering. ¬†Then I tried on this one:

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 8.52.36 PM

It was very flattering.  The eye is drawn right to the waist, which is a nice focal point.

It’s made by Adrianna Papell, one of my favorite dress designers. ¬†And the tag said $91, but it rang up $56 on sale! ¬†Can’t beat that.

I walked out of the store feeling very satisfied. ¬†I found a great flattering dress at a great price. ¬†I am sure I have some cute shoes in my closet, and can’t wait to raid my own jewelry box.

I’m grateful that I didn’t give up.

How “What Not to Wear” Has Given Me Hope Again

I know what you’re thinking. ¬†TLC’s¬†What Not to Wear?¬† It’s so last year and its so off the air now. ¬†But, I’m always a little behind the curve when it comes to basic cable shows because, unless they’re available on Netflix or Hulu, I don’t usually get to see them (says this internet-only “tv” viewer). ¬†But recently, two seasons of What Not to Wear popped up in my Netflix queue so I spent the last two evenings binge watching it.

What-Not-to-Wear-450x300And, truth be told, I love this show. ¬†I’ve always loved watching makeover shows and this one is the best because it shows how women – in all shapes and sizes – can transform themselves with new clothes, a new haircut and makeup. ¬†It’s not a dramatic change but it often appears to be life changing for many of the contestants on the show.

I see a pattern in many of these women who are ambushed by their friends and family, swept away to NYC, and meant to embrace their new look in one week. ¬†They justified their old frumpy looks by saying, “But it is comfortable” or “I rely on my brains for people to like me.”

Can you relate?  I can.

I cannot tell you how many times I told my therapist that I wanted a guy to be attracted to me for my brain rather than my appearance. ¬†“But I’m smart,” I would tell her, “And they should like me no matter how I look.”

Ok, great in theory, but the reality is: the way you represent yourself matters.

I’m a little embarrassed at how often I wear hoodies. ¬†And sneakers. ¬†And jeans. ¬†I’m 38 years old, so it is probably not the best thing to wear every Saturday and Sunday. ¬†But it’s comfortable.

Yeah, but sometimes you have to step up your game.

I’m determined to wake up tomorrow, take a refreshing shower, and put on makeup. ¬†And feel good about myself.

How about you?