Sometimes I get compliments on what I’m wearing. Sometimes I drive my kids to school in my PJs. What I’m aiming for is more days where I get compliments, but also more days with PJs-level effort. Miraculously, I think I’ve cracked the code to that elusive dream of Effortless Style. Here are my top five tips for upgrading your style while downgrading your effort. Remember, when you look good, you feel good…and we ALL deserve to feel good!
#1: Swap your shoes
I spent at least two entire summers in yoga capris, floaty shirts, and flip-flops. There is nothing wrong with that look, but the truth is, I was rarely going to or from yoga. It was just that these stretchy clothes fit no matter what size I was, they were easy to care for and easy to find, and they came in both a lot of neutrals and fun patterns. Then one day I put on gold sandals instead of $2 Old Navy flip-flops, and it was an instant outfit upgrade. Compliments galore. Once I returned to work that fall, I tried the same outfit with flats. Again, instant upgrade! Your shoes tell the world whether you’re working out (or pretending to) or whether you’re dressed for the day. I promise you can wear leggings just about anywhere if you match your shoe to the occasion!
#2: Don’t be afraid of a uniform
Almost every woman I know who wore a uniform growing up talks about it nostalgically, and there’s a reason. Fashion is hard, and in the morning, we don’t want to make decisions. Translate that to your adult life, and voila! Life just got a whole lot easier. Don’t know where to start creating yours? No problem! Here are three of my go-to’s:
Option A. White jeans, bold floaty top, necklace, fun sandals. This is especially easy all summer. When the weather turns cooler, swap the bold top for a soft neutral sweater and the sandals for booties. Yes, you CAN wear white jeans year round now! And yes, my grandmother is rolling in her grave…
Option B. Dress, cardigan, sandals. Add a scarf and flats for the office or when the weather cools. Swap to tights and boots all winter. If you’ve ever wondered why your child’s teacher is so cute all the time, it’s probably because she’s wearing this. This is the #1 teacher uniform, based on my informal spying at faculty meetings.
Option C. Skinnies, graphic T, blazer, booties. If you want to knock a few years off your emotional age, do the half-tuck and get a graphic tee that says something about cats. Or tacos. Or better yet, cats eating tacos.
#3: Metallics are neutrals. Wear them with everything!
I touched on this with the shoes but think about watches and bracelets, necklaces, belts, earrings, and handbags, too. I tend to mix my metallics but keep them in the same color family. For example, I’ll wear gold shoes and carry a bronze bag or wear a gunmetal necklace with silver earrings.
Because of the sparkle factor, adding metallic pieces to any outfit transforms it and makes you look more put together. Consider the leggings and floaty top with bronze flats and a statement necklace. It doesn’t feel like yoga clothes anymore, does it?
#4: Embrace foundation garments
Some of us moms are so super fit and toned and it’s amazing! Some of us moms, however, are a bit jiggly. You want to dress your body in a way that creates the shape you want. Consider jello: if you make jello in a sandwich baggie, it will be whatever shape. If you make jello in a Tupperware, it will be the shape of the Tupperware. You want to be more like Tupperware and less like a sandwich baggie. But I know you also want to be comfortable.
Great news! Foundation garments have come a long way, and I find that there are many options that don’t constrict your breathing or make it impossible to pee. Go up a size or two. You’ll still get the slimming and smoothing benefits but you won’t feel like a boa constrictor is hiding under your clothes. I personally love compression tank tops and shorts and wear them under dresses and skirts, or tops that are clingy in the wrong places.
#5: Add an accessory (or twelve!)
When in doubt, default to basics you love (black pants, white shirt, for example). Then pile on the accessories! Right now tassels and pompoms are so trendy and affordable, and they’re on everything from sandals to earrings. I personally like a big chunky necklace with lots of sparkles. Also, remember that bold makeup can serve as an accessory. Try a bold hue on your eyes, or a classic red lip. And never forget your best accessories: confidence and a smile!