Aspen Princess: Getting the best(?) of both worlds: Aspen and down valley |

Aspen Princess: Getting the best(?) of both worlds: Aspen and down valley

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Princess

The other day I was walking down Hopkins on my way to get my hair done and this flawless looking woman walked by in the other direction with her long, blond hair blowing in the wind and as if she were a model on a photoshoot.

She wore the latest iteration of trendy jumpsuit (calf-length linen and baggy through the bodice with thin straps) and expensive-looking sunglasses (light-colored acetate lenses with a moderate round shape). She had the face of a Ralph Lauren model — chiseled jawline, small, slightly upturned nose, high cheekbones and full lips. I suddenly felt frumpy in the striped cotton T-shirt dress and platform sneakers I’d thrown on since preschool drop-off and errand running don’t warrant the effort.

The transformation from Aspen glam to downvalley suburban mom happens to us all when we finally realize we want a house that’s bigger than 1,000 square feet and/or don’t have the time or money to keep up with the ridiculously high standard for beauty and athletic prowess. Of course there are just as many rich, fit, beautiful people in Basalt and Carbondale, it’s just that we’re too preoccupied with our kids, our dogs and our yardwork to have the time or desire to try so hard.

Here are a few surefire signs you’ve gone from Aspen Princess to Desperate Downvalley Housewife:

You have more sneakers than heels.

When I lived in Aspen, I wouldn’t hesitate to drop four bills on a pair of designer shoes if they made me look taller, thinner and more glamorous, and all of them did. I’ll never forget when I first walked into the Prada store in downtown Aspen and no one asked me to leave. I used three different credit cards to pay for that pair of black platform Mary Jane clogs with chunky wooden heels that were at least 6 inches high and felt like having a rusty nail driven through the ball of my foot after the first 10 minutes. Still, I wore them again and again. They were kind of like the padded bra of shoes — that extra height fooled all the boys.

These days, I’ve gained 10 pounds and lost 5 inches and I’m more Vans than Versace. I wear sneakers that are only appropriate for daytime because I rarely leave the house after dark. Plus, who needs the height or the hassle? The only boy I need to kiss these days is my 3-year-old.

Your makeup routine is sunscreen.

I used to love to sit at the makeup counter at the Cos Bar at least once a year to update my make-up regimen and to spend an entire month’s salary on some luxury skincare brand I couldn’t afford (I still dream about La Mer). I loved being fussed over and learning about new products or how to master the best application techniques. These days, my idea of make-up is the special sunscreen for problem skin by Alta MD. Why bother putting your face on when the only time you take your sunglasses off is to scroll through the last 100 photos you took of your kid?

The idea of staying out past 10 is terrifying.

A few weeks ago, my friend Jen invited us to celebrate her husband’s birthday party at Mi Chola. My in-laws were in town, and Ryan and I were excited for a long-overdue date night, to dress nice, smell good and hold hands in the street — until we found out the party was at 8. At night. “I know this sounds lame, but we are so tired, so we might just come for a drink.” Jen wrote back, “Yes, that does sound lame.” And so we did. It was at least two days before those dark circles under my eyes faded, and not because I made the effort to put on concealer.

You go to Whole Foods. Every. Single. Day.

I’m seriously convinced that Whole Foods must pump oxygen into their stores like they do at a casino and they’ve also rearranged the store in such a way that it takes you three times as long to find what you’re looking for (even though, strangely, you already know where everything is), so that you can’t get out. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for why I find myself there every single day even though I shop for the week at City Market where I don’t end up spending $75 for fancy olives, a brick of imported cheese and gluten-free pasta. It’s just part of the suburban existence, because in our world, realizing you forgot to buy raw cashews for your vegan Caesar salad dressing is a really big deal.

You tweeze and shave instead of wax.

Sometimes Ryan will creep up slowly toward my face wielding a tweezers and quickly yank that renegade hair that’s sticking out of my chin that I missed. It’s kind of sweet in a way, how he grooms me like a gorilla. While I was once coiffed, groomed and waxed by a team of professionals (a Brazilian wax is still the gold standard for the most pain I’ve ever endured without anesthesia), these are expenses I can spare with a razor and a set of tweezers. That’s not to say I don’t splurge once in awhile, it’s just that it’s in the back room of the nail place in El Jebel that always smells like feet and chicken broth.

That’s not to say I don’t still love the Aspen luxury and glamor or the way it feels to be the girl people check out walking down the street. It still happens — only now it’s because I accidentally put my shirt on inside out or didn’t catch that chocolate stain left by my son’s sticky fingertips.

I can have the best of both worlds because Aspen isn’t going anywhere. It’s just me who is finally, gratefully, happily, standing still.

The Princess really needs a haircut. Email your love to