I don’t know about you, but some days I feel like it’s nearly impossible to look polished and “together.” Between running the kids from place to place, taking care of commitments, and (somehow always) rushing to get out the door, it’s so much easier to just throw something together and GO.
…and then it happens: we rush out the door in yoga pants with no makeup on and we run into someone we know or we end up having to run in somewhere unexpectedly, and the whole time we’re just cringing, like, “Why did I have to run into her TODAY? I feel like a mess!”
We’ve all got that friend who’s so good at fashion she looks like she’s walking right out of a catalogue or off a Pinterest board. And she seems so…effortless! How on Earth does she do it? What are her secrets?
It’s true. When we look good we feel good…but why does it have to be so hard?! Why do we sometimes feel like we’re one safety pin away from falling apart?
I went looking for answers. I found a few go-to fashion and beauty “hacks” and tips we can all use to help us feel like we’re looking great no matter the situation, from job interview to coffee date to Target trip.
The best part? Most of these tips aren’t very hard and can even help streamline our routines so we can get out the door even faster! In fact, it’s all about doing less, not trying to do even more. So try a few today and rock your next appointment or errand with confidence and a smile!
1. Lay Out Your Clothes the Night Before
This timesaving tip is the secret of busy ladies everywhere. It helps ease morning routine struggles and gives us time to answer the “what to wear” question before the morning rush.
When laying out clothes at night, be sure to include accessories such as shoes, jewelry, and other things that tend to get misplaced in the morning hustle and bustle. Check over all of your clothes to make sure there aren’t stains, holes, runs, or other issues. (If you’ve ever had to change an entire outfit because you pulled on hosiery only to realize you have a big run and no backup pair, you totally know what I mean!)
Set aside just five minutes or so before bed to pick out tomorrow’s look. It doesn’t have to cut into bedtime or take long, but having the leisure to deal with everything at night means mornings will flow much smoother. Eventually, it might even mean you can set the alarm five minutes later!
2. Consider a Capsule Wardrobe
If you’ve ever looked at “capsule wardrobes” on blogs or on Pinterest, you’ve probably been amazed at how great everything coordinates and goes together with a minimal number of pieces. It can seem a little daunting at first, especially if it seems to call for going to the store and buying even more clothes to stretch a wardrobe.
But, how many of us have tops or pants that don’t seem to go with anything else in our closet? Wouldn’t you love a whole closet full of coordinated options, where everything went together?
The idea behind a capsule wardrobe is that there are basic foundational pieces that are interchangeable, like black pants, a navy skirt, a classic trenchcoat, a white t-shirt, or a grey sweater. Then, a few “trendier” pieces are added, but in workable and coordinating patterns. For example, a yellow polka dot sweater, a red floral blouse, or a purple corduroy skirt. Everything still coordinates and can be interchanged and paired together. One of the main capsule wardrobe tricks is to pick neutrals (like polka dots, animal prints, or stripes) and pieces from a similar color scheme, such as jewel tones or pastels.
If this seems like a lot of work, simply consider paring down your wardrobe to the items you truly love and wear. Look at the classic pieces you have already and only keep items that “go” together and coordinate. Donate the rest to someone who can use them. When I took my closet down to 40 hangers, it was a little scary at first, but really helped me find the things I loved in my wardrobe that went together and made me feel my best. Sometimes it helps to cut the clutter to see what’s really working.
3. Go with Classics & Basics
A basic wardrobe doesn’t mean it needs to be boring, or well…”basic.” Instead, when it comes time to shop for clothing, focus on finding clothing that will last and that you feel great wearing. Look for the classics. To streamline your wardrobe, find things that might have looked good ten years ago and will probably still look good in ten more years.
I love fashion just as much as the next gal and I know it’s how many of us express our personality, but try to opt for things you’ll wear and items that fit, flatter and enhance your best assets. For some, that might mean long sleeve t-shirts, classic jeans, and some blazers or cardigans. For others, it could be a button-down blouse and wool pants.
Quality fabrics tend to last longer. Wool, tweed, cotton, and quality knits will last through many wears and are easier to care for and hold their shape. Read labels to make sure items aren’t high maintenance. (Avoid dry cleaning, lots of ironing and special care.)
4. Polish Your Look (and Shoes)
Clothing doesn’t need to be new or expensive to look nice. You can find some really fabulous items at second-hand and thrift stores. To make a wardrobe seem much more fashionable and together, just steam, iron and polish.
Back in the mid-1900s, people got by with fewer items of clothing, and they often repaired and cared for what they had very deliberately. Looking at old mid-century photographs, it’s amazing to see how “together” people looked back then (and not because they were wearing dresses).
Touching up shoes with a coat of polish, repairing buttons and loose threads, and shaving pills and nubs off of sweaters can make old clothes seem new again. As much as ironing can be a pain, it makes a very impressive difference when it comes to finishing a look. If you don’t have time to iron, consider buying a little travel steamer or even touching up the hem of your blouse with your flat iron (just make sure it’s hairspray free). It can make a huge difference!
Perhaps my favorite fashion hack is adding accessories. How about you? A pretty necklace, a scarf, or earrings can dress up a t-shirt, add a pop of color to an outfit, and instantly make your style look deliberate.
The trick with accessories is just a little goes a long way. One bold necklace and some earrings, or a cool cuff bracelet is all that’s really needed. Highlight one or two items to really make a statement.
Add a scarf to finish off a plain long sleeve tee and jeans, or cinch a basic t-shirt dress with a bright wide belt in a fun color. Add all sorts of personality and flair to any look simply by adding some inexpensive jewelry. It’s so easy and goes a really long way to finishing a look.
6. Look Great in Layers
Another secret of fashionistas? They know how to layer! It’s definitely an art, but it’s something the rest of us can learn to do, too. One of the best parts about layering is it can cover a myriad of concerns.
Layer a camisole or simple t-shirt under a too-see-through shirt. Bring a cardigan or jacket along to throw on if you need to hide a stain or have a top that’s a little too snug. Even layering tights under a skirt or dark pants can mask a threadbare area, small holes, or even legs that are looking less-than-their best.
Keep the thinnest layer closest and layer out from there, adding thicker pieces as outerwear. For example, a bright tank under a v-neck sweater with a cute fleece and then even a scarf and puffy vest over the top will keep you warm and looking together. If it gets too hot, you can simply shed a few layers throughout the day.
7. Add a Little Stylizing
One reason photos online look so “together” is because the subjects have been “styled.” Styling sounds intimidating—like something done on a movie set or on a photoshoot, but really it’s pretty simple.
Styling simply means to do some artful tucking, knotting, rolling or finding creative ways to wear something. A basic “styled” look to try is just to roll up your sleeves, add a half-tuck to your shirt (tuck in the front to show a belt, but leave the back undone), or add a waist-accenting belt and you’ll look totally pulled together.
It might feel a little strange to knot your shirt or leave a sweater unbuttoned, so only try the things that make you feel coordinated and at ease. Experiment with different style tricks until you find a few “go to” tricks you’re comfortable with.
8. Embrace Your Hair
Another way to get out the door quickly in the morning? Style your hair the way it looks best. We each have a pretty good handle on the temperament and abilities of our hair. If it takes a lifetime to blow dry in the morning, try washing it the night before, then simply touching it up in the morning.
If your hair is naturally curly, embrace it rather than fighting against it. If your hair is straight, why spend hours trying to get it to stay wavy? For a special occasion it might be fun, but when trying to streamline a routine, why fight against nature? There are wet-to-dry flatirons on the market now, as well as brushes and towels that can cut back on blow-drying time. Dry shampoo can also be a great timesaver.
When all else fails, every girl needs a go-to style that makes her feel polished and together in five minutes or less. For some, it’s a ballerina bun. For others, it’s a low ponytail with hidden elastic or even a French braid. The idea is to find a style that says “effort” without requiring too much effort.
Visit a salon and ask what they recommend for a very easy style. Be as honest as possible with the stylist and know it’s okay to say, “I need a style that looks great air-dried and is long enough to pull back.” Ask your stylist to recommend a type of product to help you achieve your look as quickly and easily as possible.
9. Minimize Your Makeup Routine
Find what makeup items are MUST-haves and then consider ditching (or doubling up) on the rest. For some, this might be mascara and concealer. Others of us like blush and a little bit of lip balm to look alive. Find your must-have products.
Many of us accumulate makeup that we really don’t use, like eyeshadow pallets without the “good” colors left, or lipsticks that were just a little too bright or too dark yet we think we might wear them to something. Or how about eyeliner that needs a sharpener we can never seem to find? It can be hard to rummage through all the “extras” to find the things we really want to wear, especially if we’re in a hurry.
Go through your makeup and toss as much as you can part with. If there are items you just don’t wear, like, or don’t work for you, get rid of them. A lot of makeup only lasts for 6 months to a year anyway, and can actually make you break out or clog pores if it’s beyond its prime. Instead of risking it, just let it go.
Once your makeup routine is streamlined, it will feel more doable in the morning, and you won’t feel the mad crunch to get out the door. For most of us, our routine means foundation or tinted moisturizer, a concealer, blush that can double as eye shadow, mascara and a soft lipstick or balm. Easy-breezy, right?
10. Find Products that Do Double-Duty
With any beauty products, try to find items that can do double-duty. Most of us moms will take any help we can get and any extra products we can cut out and use to save time and still feel great.
A pretty-scented body wash and moisturizer might eliminate the need for another layer of perfume. Some shampoos have conditioner right in the formula or try a leave-in spray that also works as a style spray. Look for moisturizers with SPF built in and watch for blush and bronzer in colors that look great on you so you can use them as both an eyeshadow and on your cheeks.
Look for cleansing cloths that remove your makeup as they cleanse, as well as whitening toothpaste, color-enhancing conditioner, and other great double-duty products.
11. Mind Your Mani
Ready for a game-changer? Try a nail buffer. Many of us are so busy, the thought of going to get a manicure sounds almost laughable, right? Plus, the thought of painting nails at home means they’ll inevitably get smudged before they dry because someone will need a glass of water, help in the bathroom or help with homework (or like me, you’ll just forget about the paint and touch something without realizing it—d’oh)!
Enter the nail buffer. These little block things shine up your nails to a polish finish with no drying time. They’re cheap and simple to use and your hands will look instantly better as soon as you use them! It literally works in less than two minutes.
Add a little lotion or coconut oil and keep your nails clean and your hands will always look great! Even if you’re a nail-biter or if you do a lot of work with your hands, you can still make things look great with some moisturizer and a little nail buff!
12. Add Some Sparkle
To always look polished and together, think of ONE thing you can do to add a little sparkle or shine to your look.
For some of us, it might mean adding a great statement necklace or bright shoes with a pop of color. For others, it might mean adding a scarf, a little bit of finishing gloss on our hair, or some lipstick in a bright shade.
When we have a little bit of sparkle or shine to our look, we instantly feel boosted and more confident. It’s amazing what cool earrings, a manicure, or some lip-gloss can do to make us feel like our best self.
When it comes down to it, the best thing is to have great posture, a kind smile, and a little spring in your step. But hey, give yourself a break! Even that friend who seems so polished doesn’t have it together all the time!
In the words of Audrey Hepburn, “The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows and the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”