How to be perennially polished, no matter the occasion? You could try to emulate the stylish lives of the stars – filled with trainers and stylists and hair appointments and caloric allotments – or you can try these quick and dirty tips.
Write a style statement
Fill in the blank: When people look at me, I want them to see a: ______. Whether you fill in that blank with “fun-loving coed” or “artsy young professional” or “the hottest hipster ever,” that phrase will be the jumping-off point for how you define the style that is fundamentally you. This exercise might be a little cheesy, but hey: first impressions are made in less than 3 seconds. So take control of what your style says about you – by figuring out what you want it to say in the first place.
Check yourself out
Instead of staring at yourself in the mirror, do this: Peruse the best and worst of your Facebook pics. You know, the ones you pick for your profile, and the ones you untag as fast as possible. What do you like best about yourself in your favorite pics? What are things you hate about yourself in the wince-worthy pics? Doing this will help you figure out how to turn your favorite outfits and looks into your everyday look.
Set your palette
While you’re checking yourself out on Facebook, take note of what colors you were wearing in your favorite pics. Do you look best in earth tones? Do neutrals wash you out? Do jewel tones make you glow? If you need help figuring out your best colors, check out this how-to from a clothing and textiles professor, which breaks down hair color, eye color, and skin tone. And if it’s hard to figure out your undertones (“Do I glow yellow or pink? Um, do I even glow?”) – or if you’re biracial like me and hard to pin down – get tested at your favorite department store for your correct foundation color. It’s where I learned that I have golden undertones that make me look tan, even though foundation color-wise I’m always the palest shade.
Face it: Go light
To look super-polished, look super-awake by paying extra attention to your eyes: 1) curl your lashes and 2) fill in your eyebrows – no matter the plucking or thickness, they’re most defined when filled in with a small brush and eyeshadow. As for the rest of your face: No need to drench it in makeup. Pick one feature you most like to highlight – lips, cheeks, eyes – and ease up on the rest.
Get picky, not trendy
Use prints sparingly. They go in and out quickly, so it’s not worth investing in a decent piece if it’ll be out next year. Right now, for example, the stores are mad for plaid and polka dots. Instead of dumping cash on a plaid dress or a one of those designer mesh polka dot tops, how about a plaid scarf or polka dot flats?
Trends often come in certain shapes: At the moment, the long, lean shape is in, with big loose tops, skinny jeans or leggings, and sky-high shoes. This look is great for supermodels – not so much for the rest of us. So compromise: if you can stand yourself in skinny jeans, wear a loose but belted top to balance out the tight pants, lest your legs aren’t a size 0.
No matter what your shape is, or if you’re happy with it or not, there’s no need to add 10 pounds to your figure. Avoid tops that make you look boxy (short and wide tops) and pants that make your hips/thighs look wider, such as any that are: cropped, skinny fit, dyed horizontally across the thighs, ripped, embellished, boyfriend fit.
Quit the cheap shoes
Cheap shoes are often a painless purchase, but they become painful later as they 1) fail to support your feet properly, 2) fall apart and 3) might even get stinky – fake leather especially. The most polished styles are worn by women who can stand solidly on their own two feet, so make sure those feet are supported and pretty.
You know how when you have a good hair day, your outlook on life improves dramatically? Good hair days aren’t just due to karma or the stars – it helps when you have hair that’s not weighed down by split ends. Keep your stylist happy: Make your standing appointment today!
So you know your colors, you know your shapes, and you have a style statement. Whatever is left in your closet that doesn’t fit in… would go nicely at your local Goodwill.