Tuesday’s Tip – Mind Over Matter

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This is a post I have been thinking about writing; have made drafts but never completed. This is to many women in my life who fear that caring for their looks detracts from their intelligence. You are beautiful, you deserve to feel great about all aprts of you, not just your mind.

Many women, especially Americans feel that caring about their looks detracts from their intelligence. I remember my freshman year of college, attending study sessions with women wearing threadbare and misshapen thrift store sweaters, ill-fitting stained trousers and skirts, clunky shoes and unbrushed hair. It seemed that the less a woman cared for her appearance, the more intelligent she was.

Why can’t a woman be intelligent AND well put together? Looking good does not require a woman to invest many hours a week pouring through fashion magazines and watching only the Style network on television. You don’t need to hit the mall every weekend and you do not need to change your interests. It isn’t being hip to the latest trends that makes a woman look great; it is having a sense of style that transcends trends and accentuates the persona of the wearer.
Oprah Winfrey. Diane Sawyer. Ségolène Royal. Hillary Clinton. Anna Wintour. You may not agree with their politics or profession, but would anyone doubt the intelligence of these women? They are all smartly dressed females, yet their intelligence is able to shine through. What works for Diane Sawyer can work for you as well.
Just as you wouldn’t put any old painting on your wall, you shouldn’t place any old sweater on your body. If you don’t care for your person, why should others care? If you are intelligent, more often than not you are sharing your knowledge with others, be it for business lunches, discussion groups or presentations. You are interacting with people, and people will be judging not only what comes from your mouth, but the package holding that intelligent mind.
Without changing your entire world, there are a few things you can accomplish to maintain your lifestyle but add some personal style to it.
  1. Care for your hair. If it’s always in the way and you keep tucking it behind your ears, pulling it up in a clip or piling it in a half-hearted bun, you may need a haircut. Your profession causes you to bend your head down in concentration; long layers may not be the best for you. If you find your hair a burden, it’s often best to have less of it. Along these lines, care for the hair you have. Accept that it is curly, fine, straight or coarse and have it styled to accommodate that. This doesn’t require hours of time with tools and products, just a decent haircut that allows a low-maintenance regimen. Along with that, use proper shampoo and conditioner for your hair type. The cheap brands at the drugstore are just as bad as washing your hair with dish detergent – they will increase spit ends, frizziness and lackluster color. There are lower-end (and cost) brands that will baby your hair – consider the Suave Professionals line. It’s in most big box retailers and usually is less than $2.00 a bottle.
  2. Donate the distressed. Would you drive a client in a car with a hole in the window? Would you serve guests at your dining table with a broken chair? Then why are you wearing clothing with holes, stains and tears in them? Replacing these items will not cost you an arm and a leg – slowly replace them by carefully searching sale racks, discount stores or even thrift stores. You can be quirky, creative and intelligent with complete clothing.
  3. Show your personality. So you are an artist, an author, a Nobel peace prize winner. Why are you dressed all in gray, brown and black? You have a colorful mind, let it show in your dress. Love purple? Why not get a purple sweater, a purple scarf, a purple purse. Add some color to your wardrobe; this is the easiest way to freshen your complexion, add shine to your hair and improve your figure. Don’t believe me? Buy something in a color you are passionate about and see the compliments roll in. People will think you are thinner, taller, happier and in love just with a change of color.
  4. Go for simplicity. When you are busy, the last thing you have time for is matching outfits and worrying about your wardrobe. Make it simple. Buy solids and stick to simple cuts and fabrics. If you invest in simple flat front pants, a-line skirts, solid well made sweaters and basic dresses, you can wear them for years without looking dated, trendy or tacky. Prints are memorable, it’s harder to have a simple fuss-free wardrobe if it is full of plaids, paisleys and florals. It’s easier to wear the same dark red merino v-neck for five years, once a week than a striped one. Want to show your creative side? Do it with necklaces, bracelets, scarves, shoes and handbags. Invest in basic simple pieces – less worry about what you are wearing and more ability to transcend seasons, years and trends.
  5. Care for your skin. You don’t need to wear makeup to look polished; if your skin is healthy, you will glow. Wash it with a gentle cleanser, be fastidious with the sunscreen, moisturize day and night, do not overwash your skin (skin should never feel tight after cleansing). You will have your body and your skins forever; care for it now and it will be a good friend throughout your lifetime.
  6. Buy a new pair of shoes. Like your skin, your feet are with you forever. Your shoes should be in good shape, supportive and a joy to put on each day. Instead of basic black flats, why not try a pair of red, or even leopard spotted ones? Shoes should be reheeled and resoled every year or so; this will keep them from being permanently damaged or affecting your health (bad shoes can cause leg and back pain as well as feet woes). A woman does not need seven dozen pairs of footwear, but should have the basics for all events – sneakers for sports and activities, pumps for dresses and more formal events, boots or loafers for pants and jeans and a sandal that can be worn with skirts, dresses, cropped pants and shorts. The rest is up to you. As for these essentials, keep them simple and you will need fewer pairs. Keep them polished, maintained and in a safe place when not worn and they will last you for years.
A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. D.D. – I agree with you about DC women. My mother often used the word “dowdy” to describe the way DC women dress. It’s a damn shame.

    The next time you and Mr. Dilly hit Hard Times Cafe for some chili, or possibly Ledo’s Pizza, think of your cyberpal Moxie! And the next time you are in LA, give me a shout.

  2. Why yes, I do live in the DC Metropolitan area; a town full of highly intelligent and creative women who usually put their brains and beliefs first; their personal care on the back burner. I would LOVE to do an intervention; I am actually hoping to accomplish one soon for a friend of a friend!

  3. Amen sister! Are you available to help with interventions? ‘Cause I have a few people in mind that need one…

    BTW, do you live in the DC Metro area? You said something in your other post about a gov’t. client. (I’m originally from the DC area so that’s why I ask.)

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