A friend of mine gave me a sweet compliment when she remarked, you always look put together, and then said something like, if you were to give 6 pointers to help a woman pull her look together, what would they be? The question was framed with, you know, you’re dashing around with children, doing errands, just home from work: how can you look put together then?
As soon as she asked I pictured the most glamorous woman of my youth: my mother. I thought back to my mother’s house and the downstairs half bath with small glass shelves in a gilded wall unit lined with lipsticks. In her selection there was always a bold shade. Always an orange red. Always on hand before she dashed after one of her six.
Then I remembered the story my mother recently told me. My mother spent the 1950’s pregnant and/or nursing and the 1960’s and 70’s on the run after us. One more pregnancy in the early 60’s and before she was 40, she had a household with an infant to teenager and ages in-between to contend with, alongside a husband’s demanding and upward career, a home that needed daily attention, and her own drive to advance her profession with a MA from Columbia. Throw in winning golf championships, memorable tennis teams, orchestrating extended family gatherings and summer vacations and serving fabulous dinner parties, and you begin to sense her energy level.
Last Mother’s Day she told me about the time one of her Bridge buddies (yes, she played cards too!), sat her down, and gave her some advice. She said, “Eileen, tonight you look stunning. Hair up, your face on, everything is as perfect as this dinner party for eight. But last week when I saw you out and about doing errands, and mind you, you were being seen by far more than eight, you looked dreadful! Try brushing your hair, use lipstick. Something please!”
My mother laughed a great big laugh retelling this story. Of course, in reality, no one can look like they are out on the town, nor should they, all the time, but I do think my mother’s friend was hinting at something important. Just like my friend who asked me advice on how to stay on point even on a Thursday afternoon when your work week and heavy demands have left you dragging. I began to realize my mother’s lipstick might be more than decorative.
Considering all that women do to make themselves their very best self, while doing so much more, my Six Best Pointers are for you to feel as wonderful as you already are:
- Eat single ingredient food. Especially if you are eating on the fly, grab an apple or a carrot. Eating out? Order a piece of fish with steamed kale. Eat healthy to look healthy. Simple advice which can be applied to beverages too. Drink water. Water is essential for your skin, your organs, your overall health, and ultimately will give you a glow like nothing else. Consider not popping a tab and pour a glass of water instead.
- Avoid the couch like the plague. Walk around the block, follow your kids, take the stairs, park as far from the door as possible: do what you can to add more steps in your day. No question staying fit will help you feel better about yourself more than any Chanel purse ever will. Find some physical activity that makes you happy and make time for it. We are talking about your body, the only one you will have for like 80+ years; I suggest you keep it moving smoothly for as long as possible, whether you do chair stretches at lunch or run a 5K on weekends, do so with respect to your ability.
- Splurge on the best moisturizer you can. It’s your face! Every January I place my order with Pratima and luxuriate using her superior products during those cold and dry months. The rest of the time I use Weleda. Face, neck and hands are seen first, so products that keep those looking fabulous is money well spent. Teeth too. Brush, floss, and visit your dentist so you can smile with confidence.
- Be dressed to celebrate. You don’t have to be wearing formal wear, but don something that makes you feel festive every morning. Happy to be you. It could be a small item like a cherished ring, or grander like a flashy red dress, but chose an outfit or accessory that makes you feel like you are headed out on an adventure. For me, this often means adding a favorite hat, either vintage or new, doesn’t matter; same with shoes. Even your basic every day utility shoes should fit you well, you know, be wearable, and be stylish. Tomorrow morning why not reach into the back of your closet and pull out that dress you only wear to summer weddings and put it on. Match it with a sweater if needed, but stop saving the clothes you love for special days. Make this day special by wearing it.
- No matter your budget, whether you shop at Target or along Rodeo Drive, pop into a thrift store or visit a flea market and hunt out a vintage treasure. These finds will make your look your own: a Pucci scarf, an antique broach, or something outlandish and uncharacteristic of you, yet feels right. Finding something perfect isn’t easy, but worth a side step to mix up your wardrobe. You’re not a mannequin for Banana Republic, so there is no need to wear only what they sell or what they deem right for this season. Thrift store finds will fashion a more eclectic you.
- Lipstick. Wear it as needed. Keep a case in your car or purse or near the door. When all else fails, and the baby or career or chores or all three have brought you to a dimmed version of yourself, lipstick will brighten your smile. Will warm your welcome. Will make you feel like a celebrity even on the bagel line.