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Dear Allie, don’t yell at me but sometimes I don’t want to get dressed up, but I work in a corporate environment (no jeans, no sneakers, no logo tee shirts). It’s usually after a night out or that week before Aunt Flo but sometimes I just feel like it. What can a gal do to look professional when she doesn’t really care what she looks like?
I am not going to yell at you because I too am human and I too have MANY of those days where I just don’t CARE. Those clothes are thrown on so I don’t get arrested, not so I can look arresting. And it is possible to still look put together even if your heart is in sweatpants and your soul is wearing an oversized tee shirt.
Many fashion experts would say this is the perfect time to whip out a dress – one piece dressing, no thought! Slip on with your favorite heels, pull your hair into a topknot, swipe a bold red lipstick on your pout and skip across the street with a baguette in your leather tote. Oh how jolly… and how unrealistic. For most of us, a dress means proper underpinnings – slips and control garments and only that one bra that doesn’t show and hose and uncomfortable shoes. And few women look good with dark circles, redness under the nose and a bold red pout. Let’s get real – when you’re feeling crampy or tired or under the weather, you don’t want to even look at Spanx.
shop this look: floral shell | pink pants | slingback kitten heels | red and white top | black pants | black wedges | orange top | tan pants | ankle strap shoes | blue top | ivory trousers | nude pumps
I’ve found the best choice is pants and a printed top. While I usually suggest purchasing solids because they are more versatile, a print is a great way to look pulled together even if you’re falling apart. A printed top can usually work with any bra in your drawer, hides spots, and gives the effect of a complete outfit even if it’s not accessorized.
A printed top with some sort of interesting detail is even better. My go-to top for such days is the Sophie Blouse from Dobbin Clothing. Each season they offer different prints; I have a leopard-print one with gold buttons that looks great tucked in or left out. I’ve paired with ivory trousers, dark skinny jeans, black ankle pants, and black suiting trousers. I’ve worn under jackets or on its own. My Boden printed silk tee is great because it has a print so unique and fun people notice it instead of the fact that I didn’t do my hair. The pleating keeps it from being too ho-hum. Mixed media (a combination of fabrics), ruffles, pleats, silk or a textured fabric, collars, lace trim, sparkly buttons… such details make accessories less necessary.
For the pants, find a pair that flatters and is comfortable for long spans of time and stock up. I have the LOFT Custom Stretch trousers in navy, black, and ivory. On clearance I have found the same cut of pants at LOFT in a heavy textured cream fabric and black with tonal tux-inspired stripes down the sides. These pants are machine washable, have Lycra for stretch and to prevent wrinkles, and are in a fabric that works year-round. There is nothing wrong with having multiple pairs of the same pant, even in the same color if it truly fits and flatters.
As for shoes, it may be tempting to slip on your beat up ballet flats or those black walking shoes that from far away look work appropriate but shoes are what makes or breaks such an outfit. I recommend finding a pair of shoes that have a pointed toe and at least a slight wedge or heel. The pointed toes of old are no longer in style; the current ones have an extended toebox so there’s plenty of room for your piggies to wiggle. I put a Foot Petal in the front to keep my foot from slipping forward, and when I find a great pair of such shoes in black, I buy two pairs – one for every day, and one to keep for the special occasions (and yes, outfit posts).
Beauty Tips to Look Presentable When You Feel Like Crap:
- Dry Shampoo and a Hair Dryer – Dry shampoo often leaves white residue in dark hair, and colored versions often leave hair sticky. I’ve found that if I put in dry shampoo and then blowdry my already dry hair with a round brush, the dry shampoo gets better worked in and looks more natural. Since your hair is already dry, this only takes a hot minute (didja see what I did there? Har har…).
- BB Cream, Mascara, and Laura Mercier’s Spiced Rose – This is my go-to face when I’m in a hurry. I can rub BB Cream on without even looking at a mirror, I use this pinky-nude lipstick on my lips and rub a bit on my cheeks while they’re still dewey from the BB Cream application, and then a quick coat of mascara. If Laura Mercier’s Spiced Rose isn’t right for you, look for a color that is your lips, only more enhanced, and a formula that lasts and has a subtle creamy shine. This trio can be applied in one minute, and it will save you from people asking you all day if you feel okay.
- Statement Glasses – Do you wear glasses? Contacts? Sites like Coastal.com and Zenni Optical offer prescription lenses for uber cheap. Sure they may not be as elegant or lightweight as your designer frames from the optician, but people will be noticing your glasses instead of your dark circles.
- Take the Shower – You’re running late, you feel like crap, you don’t want to hear your boss yell at you for missing that 8am conference call and you justify no shower. And then you spend as much time as a quickie shower messing with barrettes, dry shampoo, and deodorant. Not only that, the rest of the day you look like a greasy half-asleep mess. Screw shaving, don’t even worry about body wash. Take soap to the important regions, get a little shampoo in at the roots and call it a day. You’ll feel better, I promise.