7 Ways to Look Perfectly Polished
The devil is in the details
You brushed your teeth this morning? Victory! You combed your hair? Jeez, I wish I'd gotten around to that. If you're doing these little things, you've already taken a big step towards appearing put-together. "You don't necessarily have to buy anything new to look polished, but can work with what you already have," says Jennifer Scott, the fashion blogger behind The Daily Connoisseur and author of the upcoming book, <i>Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris</i> (Simon & Schuster Nov. 2012). "It's all about paying attention to a few details." Try Scott's real-world tricks to look neat and stylish whether you're off to a fancy restaurant or to the grocery store.
Get a low-maintenance hairstyle
That trendy, razored cut seemed like a good idea at the salon, but without a flat iron, it likely turned haphazard. And who has time for daily styling when faced with screaming kids, a ringing cell, and a work report? "Talk to your hairdresser about a cut that not only flatters your face, but is easy to style," says Scott. "Get your money's worth from your hairdresser by asking for tips on easy ways you can wear your new style." Holding off on a haircut? With hair, polish is in the details. "For example, if you pull your hair back into a ponytail, hide the elastic band by wrapping a few strands of hair around it and securing with bobby pins. It's thoughtful touches like these that create the polished look," says Scott.
Start an at-home mani ritual
Bright colored polish looks chic for about two hours — that is, until you start doing dishes and using finger paints. But, your hands say a lot about your investment in your appearance. "Once a week, file nails into a clean shape, cut away any rough edges, and apply cuticle oil followed by a coat of clear varnish. This will make your hands look polished and takes no time at all." You can even do it while watching the latest episode of <i>The Real Housewives</i>.
Know your core wardrobe
If you haven't worn it since before your last pregnancy, or it's a poorly-chosen gift from your mother-in-law, donate it to charity. "When you create a capsule wardrobe, you'll be able to orchestrate several polished outfits that you can pick at a moment’s notice, meaning you'll no longer stand in front of your closet, frazzled, wondering what on earth to wear," says Scott. Your edited wardrobe may include interchangeable go-to items that form the backbone of your outfits, such as a pair of skinny jeans, wool slacks, a blazer, a pencil skirt, a fitted cardigan, a blouse, ballet flats, and a trench coat.
Make friends with a tailor
A key to looking neat is to have your clothes fit perfectly, so find a good tailor who can make small tweaks to your core pieces. "Especially important is tailoring your pants to fit your frame," says Scott. "To avoid looking sloppy, have one pair of jeans tailored for flat shoes and another tailored for heels."
Perfect the 5-minute makeup routine
"If some mornings you have time for only concealer and lip gloss, so be it!" says Scott. Instead of worrying, realize that this little bit of effort has a big payoff. Bright, flawless skin can do wonders for pulling together your look. Just be sure your concealer becomes invisible when blended into your skin. Also, avoid puffy, raccoon eyes by applying concealer only to dark circles rather than your entire under-eye area. We love Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Waterproof Concealer ($22).
Organize your accessories
Next time the kids are out of the house, spend an hour determining which accessories work best with which outfits. That way, "you can easily finish off your look with the perfect accessory the next time you’re in a hurry," says Scott. Whether you're wearing skinny jeans and a t-shirt or a LBD, having a pair of signature earrings that goes with everything adds variety to your wardrobe and helps complete your look. These gold and garnet drop earrings can easily be dressed up or dressed down. ($48, Wendy Mink).
Clean up your shoes
No matter how flawless your concealer or tailored your pants, wearing a pair of beat-up shoes will drastically take away from your overall look. "To minimize scuff marks, take good care of your shoes by storing them carefully rather than piled on top of each other," says Scott. Try the Whitmor Faux Leather 3-Tier Shoe Rack ($22.39) for easy safekeeping.