We're all pressed for time - but that doesn't mean we can't look perfectly polished! Check out my time-saving tips for presenting a polished look, while saving time in the morning by focusing on the most important things!
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*Post updated June, 2019
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You may not know from all my blogging, but for the last 4 years, I was actually a busy lawyer! While I used to spend countless hours getting dressed each morning, often to sit in an office for 10 hours essentially alone, I've narrowed down my routine, to keep me looking professional, while giving me more time to bill some hours!
How to Look Polished: Invest smartly, in the right pieces
This is by far the hardest tip to master, but if you succeed, it'll make a massive difference in your overall polish. When looking at your clothing budget, spend the most money in the right places and don't be afraid to splurge with purpose.
Avoid spending large amounts of money on "trendy" items, such as (at least for this year) - shirts with giant billowing sleeves, anything with studs, or the animal print of the moment. Pick these up at Target/T.J. Maxx and transition them to a charity shop or eco-friendly recycler when they go out of style. Even though buying a large amount of cheap clothing is definitely where we are as a society right now, it's bad for the environment, they don't hold up well, and they don't look polished, as these clothes slowly start going limp, or the hems come down, or the sweaters start to pill. As enticing as buying a bunch of cheap clothes is - if it looks too good to be true...it is.
Build your wardrobe slowly, over a number of years, rather than all at once. Add just a few classic items each season, and don't be afraid to buy items at the end of a season when they're on sale, knowing that you'll still love them next year!
Especially keep an eye on discount retailers of quality products, such as Saks Off Fifth and Nordstrom Rack.
A key word of warning (I worked at a major retailer in college): Don't buy brands you've never heard of from these discounted retailers, though. Some of their products are purchased only for the discount arm, not for the "main" stores, thus defeating the entire purpose of what we're trying to accomplish!
So what are the "right" pieces on which you should be focusing your clothing search??
For clothes, my favorites are Eileen Fisher and J McLaughlin - their clothes are very high quality, with sturdy, heavy fabrics, and most are machine washable. Their styles change each season (obviously), but retain generally similar silhouettes, which allows me to add without having to totally change out my wardrobe. I search for deals off-season, and frankly, the deals just aren't that hard to find!
And finally, part of investing in the right pieces is getting things tailored that need it. If you're going to spend, you might as well take the final step. If you find a great winter coat, don't be afraid to get the sleeves shortened, or the hem on new pants altered to hit your shoes perfectly. People do notice when something fits well and it's part of an overall polished look.
How to Look Polished: make time (and a schedule) for nails
Of all my tips, this one took me the most time to get 'nailed' down. I LOVE having freshly manicured nails, but it can be hard to find the time (and the bills add up!). So, to make sure I keep to my schedule, I have a recurring appointment - Tuesday mornings, because for me, before work is when I'm more likely to be free. I don't get out of the office at the same time each day, but if you do, after work makes sense! If you have a reliable lunch break, lunch can be a great time, too, to sneak out and keep those nails looking fresh!
If going to the salon isn't your style, paint your nails every Sunday night. There's nothing else going on and it's a relaxing way to do some self-care and spend a slow evening!
How to Look Polished: add a scarf
So many people think of scarves only as a winter accessory. While of course they are, I recommend adding a scarf, regardless of season and wearing them all day at the office, as a traditional accessory!
Invest in a few "fancy" scarves in addition to your winter scarves - one silk, one flowy, and one huge (think shawl). You can re-work those in so many different ways. French fashion powerhouse Hermes offers great tips on how to tie scarves - I watch these videos all the time when I forget what I learned in Paris!
How to Look Polished: get your hair cut every 6 weeks
Like the nails, make the appointments in advance to make sure you don't skip out. Even if you don't have time to fix up your hair each morning, if you have good, clean ends, your hair will look well-kept.
Find (via trial and error) the simplest way you can do your hair that looks finished - for me it's wash, blow dry with the concentrator nozzle (the opposite of the diffusor), and pull back the top with a few bobby pins (a "hair grip" for by U.K. friends).
How to Look Polished: wear only the essential make-up
One of the top ways I save time on work mornings is by wearing only minimal make-up for everyday. It gets the job done and, let's be real, everyone's make-up is a hot mess by the end of a full day.
Everyone is different, but select the items that have the most impact for you. For me, you can't go wrong with Bobbi Brown - it's the perfect blend of high end and reasonably priced. As far as my essentials, that means mascara, eye brow pencil, and a really good primer with SPF. If I'm feeling fancy, I throw on some quick bronzer as well. And ta da!
How to Look Polished: keep your clothes looking fresh
I use a couple different tricks to keep my clothes looking fresh. First, all clothes get wrinkled - either from being packed in a suitcase, folded in a drawer, or just hanging the wrong way in a closet. I never had much faith in the ability of handheld steamers to remedy this, until my husband bought us one! We opted for a relatively inexpensive one - available here - but it does a great job. When I pull out something I don't wear frequently, it's so quick and easy to just steam it up really fast to make sure it's looking crisp and fresh!
Second - ugh, deodorant stains!!!!! For years, I looked up remedies and just could not figure out how to remove those nasty white blotches on my clothes, short of professional dry cleaning. Finally, I found the most amazing deodorant removing sponge and it's as though my clothes have been given new life!! Just rub vigorously - and watch the ugly white stuff come off!!
Hope you found these tips as helpful as I do and that they save you oodles of time tomorrow morning!!
Thanks for stopping by!! xx
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