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I often look scruffy. What easy steps can I take to look neater?

(617 Posts)
Ferrisbuellersdayoff Wed 01-Jan-20 18:46:05

I'm often at the school gate with unkempt hair, a down-filled walking jacket, old, bobbled top, jeans that don't fit, amusing socks from accessorize and scuffed shoes. I work from home most of the time. When I have to go to see clients, I wear dresses and try to look tidy (but still end up with ladders in my tights and looking a state) but when I'm running errands and on the school run, I feel really awkward and messy. It doesn't help that I'm about a stone heavier than I like, and my hair is greying because I can't dye it at the moment. What can I do to smarten myself up and feel less dowdy? I'm 5ft 6 and a size 12, pear shaped with a massive mummy tummy that makes me want to cry, so I have to try to hide it.

OP’s posts: |
Laiste Wed 01-Jan-20 19:16:47

Clean hair smartens you up 100%. It's a great starting point to aim at having clean hair either styled or put back in a nice ponytail/plait each day. Nice clean hair immediately makes you feel perked up.

If i go out in smart clothes i'll change out of them and put my 'slobby stuff' (usually yoga pants and a vest top or cozy jumper) when i'm home and wash the good stuff if necessary or hang it up again if not. It reduces wear and tear on your good things and makes you more aware of dress up/dress down looks.

Keep your nails nice. A short french gel polish lasts a good 4 weeks and looks lovely 24/7 with no effort. If you dont want to do that then just keep them neat and clean and a swipe of clear gloss on them.

If you can afford to get your eyebrows dyed and plucked at a salon this lasts ages while you forget all about them on a daily basis. It frames your face and makes you look more 'done'.

A pair of little stud earings which are comfy enough to sleep in and go with everything (plain diamond like stone or plain silver/gold for eg) which you can leave in and forget about is another zero effort thing which makes you look like you made an effort on the day, but didn't smile

Find a pair of jeans or jeggings which fit you well and are comfy. Get them in different colours and it forces you out of your usual colour pallet a bit. M&S do ones which look like uncomfy trendy jeans (in lots of different shapes for different bodies) but are stretchy and soft.

Mumblechum0 Wed 01-Jan-20 19:17:17

1. Get your hair cut into a style which doesn't need more than a brush through in the morning to look tidy.
2. Don't understand why you can't get your grey covered? Couldn't you just bung a home box colour on it?
3. Bin all worn out/bobbled/mismatched clothes and buy 10 pairs of opaque tights, keep a spare pair in your briefcase/car in case you need to change them before a meeting.
4. Buy some nice jewellery eg unusual silver pendant or something to look like you're "together"

I do feel your pain, I also wfh a lot of the time but have one wardrobe full of boring but tidy workwear which all pretty much matches so I don't have to think before getting ready to meet clients

StrawberryPi Wed 01-Jan-20 19:36:44

"I'm often at the school gate with unkempt hair, a down-filled walking jacket, old, bobbled top, jeans that don't fit, amusing socks from accessorize and scuffed shoes." Get a good smart but warm coat, something like a trench coat or tailored wool coat.

"I work from home most of the time. When I have to go to see clients, I wear dresses and try to look tidy (but still end up with ladders in my tights and looking a state)" Make sure you always carry spare tights. The aforementioned good coat also helps with this, as well as a smart handbag (doesn't meed to be expensive) and good, clean and well looked after shoes.

"but when I'm running errands and on the school run, I feel really awkward and messy. It doesn't help that I'm about a stone heavier than I like" I know plenty of "overweight" women who look elegant, smart and well put together. The trick is dressing in smart (tailored rather than stretchy), well fitting clothes that suit your shape and colouring e.g. a well fitting pair of jeans and soft cotton (ironed!) shirt or blouse.

"and my hair is greying because I can't dye it at the moment" Grey hair can look great as long as you have a good cut. What length is your hair, perhaps we could give you some style ideas?

"What can I do to smarten myself up and feel less dowdy? I'm 5ft 6 and a size 12, pear shaped with a massive mummy tummy that makes me want to cry, so I have to try to hide it." As a size 12 you really aren't big! I bet noone else would even notice your tummy but if you feel self conscious of it there are a lot of tummy minimising styles out there. Try tops and dresses that are fitted around the waist but then flare over the tummy and hips for example.

Sunshine1235 Wed 01-Jan-20 19:38:00

Following because this is exactly me

JourneyToThePlacentaOfTheEarth Wed 01-Jan-20 19:42:52

Really good tips on here thank you!

Glentherednosedbattleostrich Wed 01-Jan-20 19:56:24

I get a gel polish and eyebrows done regularly. I also get a lash lift and tint which lasts ages too.

Hair is washed on a morning and I either have it in a French plait or a neat bun. (Work with children so it needs to be back). This has the advantage of making it nice and bouncy if I'm out after work!

Clothes, make sure everything is clean and in reasonable condition. My work clothes are comfy jeans, t-shirt and jumper or work hoodie.

Coats wise I have a lovely waterproof parka for walking the dog and being out and about with the kids. When I'm off duty I have a nice wool coat of I need to look smart, a casual Mac and a nice blazer. Most were bought in sales or second hand and they are all very good quality, dry cleaned regularly and kept in good condition.

Shoes - at work it's converse, uggs or trainers. When out with the dog it's my lovely wellies or walking boots. My nice boots are kept in good condition with a regular polish.

Basically, get good quality basics and keep them in nice condition!!

I like a good pamper so have some nice body lotion, face masks and hand cream and I drink lots of water so my skin looks good. And I pop a spritz of my favourite perfume on before I open the door on a morning. Oh and I'm 3 stone overweight bit get lots of compliments on how I dress.

Ferrisbuellersdayoff Wed 01-Jan-20 20:11:14

These are all excellent tips, thank you. I think I would definitely benefit from taking my 'good' clothes off when I get home - I'm always wrecking expensive trousers by scrambling around on my knees. I can't dye my hair right now because I'm having an allergic reaction to something and I need to avoid likely allergens whilst it settles (I have a rash on my face).

I get my hair cut every 5 weeks into a chin length bob. This is the first month I've gone without dyeing it for almost a decade. I can't dye my near-white blonde eyebrows either for the same reason.

OP’s posts: |
Ferrisbuellersdayoff Wed 01-Jan-20 20:12:08

I'm dreadful with shoes - heavy-footed and lazy so I wear them until they die!

OP’s posts: |
museumum Wed 01-Jan-20 20:17:52

Spend money on a nice casual coat (scandi style) and shoes (can be trainers but nice ones)
Throw out your bobbly tops and ill-fitting jeans and get a couple of nice pairs of jeans in black or navy and a couple of new jumpers - I find supermarkets ok for jeans and jumpers (Tu at sainsburys) if you’re on a budget after the coat and shoes.

Butterymuffin Wed 01-Jan-20 20:24:27

You need a comfortable but not scruffy work-from-home uniform that you can wear for the school run. So something like leggings and a tunic and cardigan, with a decent pair of boots or flat shoes (not everyone favours leggings but I like them), or yoga pants or other comfy but not too scruffy trousers and tops. Get enough so that you have 5 outfits and work through them Monday to Friday. Job done.

Clean hair really helps though if you're pushed for time, one advantage of being grey / light haired is that dry shampoo works well on you. Two minutes to freshen your hair up is worth it.

holly40 Wed 01-Jan-20 20:26:19

A good coat (nice quality, fairly smart and on trend). Preferably long, to conceal any working-from-home tops & jeans underneath.

And a nice pair of boots. Easy to get on & off ones like chelsea boots work well for me.

I keep a hairbrush & lip balm on the side next to my keys so I remember to give my hair a little quick brush before leaving.

nevernotstruggling Wed 01-Jan-20 21:56:26

I think my advice (also to myself) is throw out anything that makes you feel really scruffy then you can't wear it.

The thread is great x

DelphiniumBlue Thu 02-Jan-20 00:52:31

I wonder if your self image is a little warped. You can't be that fat if you are a size 12, and it is unlikely that your hair is a mess if you have it cut every weeks.
Sounds like you are worrying about your skin but I guess you probably can't wear makeup if you're testing for allergens. Can you wear lipstick, though? It's a quick way of brightening up your face. Could you find a hat that suits you - it might work to cover greys if you are really selfconcious about them.
You can get nice trainers which are comfortable and cool quite cheaply, but keep them clean. Wipe them with a damp cloth often, they 'll look so much better.
Have you had medical advice about your skin problem?

MrsMoastyToasty Thu 02-Jan-20 01:00:48

Good underwear is the best starting place. Pants that don't give you a VPL and a bra that fits well and hoicks your boobs off your belly are a must.

PrettyPurpleFeather Thu 02-Jan-20 03:24:49

Everything suggested above plus:
* After brushing your hair, spray hairspray onto the brush and comb through one more time. It keeps all the little frizzy bits in place without coating my hair in hairspray.

* Put a few drops of foundation into your moisturiser and massage into your face. Then a quick sweep of bronzer or blusher & mascara and you're done.

* I wfh a lot & do school run. My 'uniform' is dark jeans or black trousers with a white/cream top or jumper & or black Cardigan. Plus a smart Tresspass coat and DM boots. If I'm in the office I swap the DMs for brogues and outdoor coat for a wool one for meetings.

Everything I buy goes with everything else in my wardrobe as I don't have time or money to shop. Zara, H&M, M&S, Fat face, White Company, Next, Primark & Uniqlo are where I usually shop for plain clothes. I rarely buy patterns as they look frumpy on me.

PrettyPurpleFeather Thu 02-Jan-20 03:26:43

Invest in a good quality blazer, that instantly smarten your wardrobe.

Laiste Thu 02-Jan-20 07:56:18

One thing to consider doing this year is Marie Kondo'ing your wardrobe.

Don't be scared by it! Some people seem to think you'll turn into a crazed being flinging all your best stuff out the window (OK, maybe a bit grin) But honestly if it's something which you need to do in your life then it will snowball once you start and be amazing and once you begin it will start changing the way you look at your belongings and open your eyes to bad habits in the way you shop for yourself. Couple of hours at a time. Good supply of black sacks. It's addictive though - once your clothes are done you'll turn around and zone in on the rest of the bedroom, then the sitting room ect ect grin The chuck and not sure yet piles were massive when i did it. Didn't realise i had so much stuff i never laid a finger on.

CountFosco Thu 02-Jan-20 09:39:15

If the OP is reacting to something the last thing she needs is loads of suggestions to wear makeup/dye eyebrows or eyelashes. StrawberryPie speaks lots of sense.

If you want to feel better then make a resolution to do one of the following to make yourself feel better about yourself:

Do some exercise every day (in these mild winter days getting out for a walk is good for the soul and gets the blood going).
Drink water rather than tea or coffee or soft drinks
Eat more fruit and veg
Drink less alcohol
Stop smoking

Don't waste your time with fakery like painting your nails, as long as you are clean and your hair is brushed you're perfectly presentable. Get a gadget to debobble the jumpers, get some jeans that fit and some new comfortable shoes that you like the look of. If you're not fussed about clothes stick to a limited set of colours so everything goes together. Avoid patterns and novelty items. You really don't need to do a lot to make yourself acceptable but to make yourself happy with yourself you should concentrate on your health.

Bouledeneige Thu 02-Jan-20 10:14:42

I'm probably your height and shape but two sizes bigger! Its certainly possible to be a bit smarter without being boring. So I wouldn't bother with a trench or blazer. I second throwing out the worn out tops and having a big supply of opaque tights in.

I mostly have my nails done and my hair is nicely cut and blow dried - if its not so clean I wear it up or in a pony tail. I always have make up and earrings on. If I weren't working I'd be wearing ankle boots, black or blue jeans, a nice sweater and pea coat with a scarf. I also have nice bags. I definitely don't look ready for a board meeting but I don't look a mess.

nevernotstruggling Thu 02-Jan-20 10:46:56

Also size 12 is slim.

Considering other school mums the coat is the key thing in looking smart

Ferrisbuellersdayoff Fri 03-Jan-20 20:01:28

New year, new me and all that. I've had a rootle through my clothes and have bunged a few things in a charity bag. I think one of my problems is that I tend to buy dresses, which fill up the wardrobe and don't capsule in the same way as separates. I then wear my few separates until they disintegrate.

OP’s posts: |
XingMing Fri 03-Jan-20 20:22:51

So, more separates. Uniqlo is good for basic cheap shirts; when you find a style/colour that works for your body, buy multiples. I look fine in grey marl (hard to find anything more basic) so I have five of their grey marl Henleys... and they have stopped selling them. Eeek...

nevernotstruggling Fri 03-Jan-20 20:41:50

This thread has made me evaluate the most well presented women I know.
There are two - one managed an estate agent and is the most glam person I've met in real life (if you recognise yourself I am in awe!). Always dressed up in suits or a fitted dress and heels. Wears two very good coats. One is a sort of Victorian style dress coat and so defined that you never notice what's underneath. Only wears an anorak off duty in a thunderstorm. Never leaves the house without an umbrella. Hair is tonged in loose curls every single day. Eyelash extensions and gets eyebrows done I reckon but otherwise very minimal make up.

The other one just looks really classy. Graduated bob, skinny jeans or trousers and kind of draping batwing tops in black or grey and nice silver jewellery. All her clothes are quite similar but she looks amazing and very glam.

Both women wear a very limited colour palette now I think about it. It's grey/beige/black/cream/airforce blue occasionally and grey/black/white.

MadameF Fri 03-Jan-20 20:45:49

UK size 12 is not slim. It is the equivalent of 16 or more in European size. Get up 2 hours earlier, do some exercise and then get properly dressed. If you lose weight you can look good in jeans, no need for dresses.

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