My Grandma Dorothy was a snazzy dresser. I can’t remember her ever leaving the house without a perfectly put together outfit, and never a hair out of place. Her fastidious nature when it came to clothing extended even to me—I remember spending one particularly hot summer afternoon polishing a pair of white Salt Water Taffy sandals until they sparkled.
“You will not go to church looking just any old way,” she’d say to me in her lilting, Mississippi drawl.
On one trip towards the end of her life, she was in a particularly frail state. We thought we’d dress her comfortably for the flight, but she insisted on a smart outfit, and even a lashing of lipstick.
“You can’t go to the airport looking just any old way,” she murmured to us. (I can only imagine what she’d say if she saw how people dressed for the airport now).
Dressing well at that point may have seemed silly to us, but I remember just how much she perked up with just a little change in wardrobe.
Now, as I transition into the next stage of my career, I realize just how important her words were. You absolutely cannot go to work looking just any old way—because people will treat you as well as you present yourself. And it’s not to say that you don’t need substance behind a glossy, shiny veneer, but looking good and feeling confident in what you’re wearing (UGGs are the most comfortable shoes know to man, but their comfort in no way offsets the fact that when I wear them with my winter coat, I look like I’m auditioning for a role in a movie about a half Sasquatch/half human woman’s life in the big city) translates into an easy confidence to those around you.
Over the past few years, I’ve developed a kind of uniform and routine that helps me always bring my clothing a-game with surprisingly minimal effort on my part.
- Preparation Is Key: I lay out my clothes for the next day before I go to bed. It sounds silly, but it’s a habit I’ve had since I was a little girl (my mom made me do this, and as a child, I thought she was insane, but now I realize there was a method to her madness). It’s one less thing I have to do when I get up in the morning, and on the rare occasion that I don’t remember to lay out my clothes, I’m always rushed for time the next morning because I can’t find that one sock, or that one pair of tights
- Get a Uniform: I have found that the most flattering and easiest way for me to look put together is a combination of a cardigan, knee-length dress, and opaque black tights. It’s a pretty basic outfit, three pieces, really—but when put together, I look put together, even if it only took me 15 minutes to get ready. And not everyone likes dresses, but find that one key outfit that you look and feel great in, and then replicate it many times
- Invest, Invest, Invest: I am a lover of fast fashion, but can also appreciate the value of a good pair of pricey shoes. I figure that my shoes endure the most wear and tear of anything I’ll put on in any given day, so those are the things that I should spend the most money on. For instance, I will frequently pair Tory Burch flats with a dress from Target or Old Navy. And by frequently, I mean, every day.
- Foundation Garments Are Your Friend: You’ve either seen Mad Men or stills from Mad Men. And those figures are, yes, the figures of Hollywood starlets, but they’re also created and accented by quality foundation garments. I went to Nordstrom last year to get properly fitted for a bra, and learned that I had been wearing a bra that was THREE CUP SIZES too small for God knows how many years. The difference a properly fitting bra makes in your posture and the way your clothes fit is extraordinary and worth every penny.