How to Look Polished

What is the secret to looking so put together? The art of looking well put together. How do I best present myself in a business setting? These, and numerous permutations, appear repeatedly as keywords in my blog’s analytics. Instead of focusing on their spreadsheets and proposals, most women appear to be on a quest for the Holy Grail of fashion. The past few years have seen tremendous shifts in both our culture and fashion. Regardless of your current fashion preference, I’ve included some tips for always looking put together below. No matter your body type, size, financial situation, way of life, or preferred style, you can benefit from these suggestions.

Some women just seem to have an innate ability to look put together. They can look chic in a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, just like Audrey Hepburn would today. They seem to exude an air of effortless confidence and style, with their hair perfectly coiffed and their lipstick never smearing onto their teeth. You won’t find me in that group. Every morning, I manage to drip a little coffee down my sleeve. My pals are constantly picking crumbs and lint out of my sweater and hair. My body shape makes even the most expensive and well-cut stylish t-shirt make me look like I’m about to clean out the garage, and I end up wearing more bruises and scratches than clothes. Nonetheless, I’ve figured out how to look put together, bumps and all.


Step 1: Get Real

If you want to look polished like Audrey Hepburn, Meghan Markle, Tilda Swinton, Olivia Pope, or Claire Underwood, the first thing you need to do is get rid of that mental image of them. You probably don’t look like these women or have their income or connections, so don’t ask them for advice on how to look polished. Trying to force yourself into an ideal is never a good idea because it never comes across as genuine or fun. You can still look put together even if that’s the case. Simply put, this means that once you embrace the fact that you are, in fact, you, you can move on to designing an outfit, a beauty routine, and a way of life that is truly reflective of who you are. Look good because you feel good. If you like the way you look, it shows in your body language, your grooming habits, and the impression you give to others. Confidence is the most fashionable accessory, but it cannot be worn by someone who is trying too hard to pass for someone else.

Step 2: Gather Data

Keep a fashion diary for a minimum of one week. Make a note of the events of the day, the clothes you wore (and their condition), and your facial and hair styling. Take note of people’s reactions to you, the comments they make, and any praise you receive (not just on your outfit, but on your work, your talent in another aspect of your life, your health, or vitality). Remember how you felt when you last saw yourself in the mirror before you left for the day, and how you felt when you got home that night. You can’t expect to look put together, calm, and comfortable if you wear something that doesn’t love you back. It could be a dress that’s just a tad too snug, a blouse that needs a few well-placed safety pins to keep your bra from showing, or a sweater that’s itchy and a color you don’t particularly care for but that seems to be all the rage right now. You probably don’t even need half of the things in your closet, much less wear them all. Donate or re-gift unwanted items while you save up for something more suitable. How does the garment hold up after a full day of wear? Is that pencil skirt going to look like Venetian blinds by lunchtime? Do you have to keep pulling up your shirt to hide your bra? Have you been pushing up the sleeves of your sweater so much that they have become loose bells around your fingertips? Who cares if you’re feeling all sassy at 8 a.m. if by the time happy hour rolls around you feel like a used grocery bag? You shouldn’t even consider keeping such things in your wardrobe. But what garments do you own that help you carry yourself with confidence? It could be the robin’s egg blue cashmere turtleneck you bought with your holiday bonus or the matte jersey wrap dress you picked up on sale for a song. It could be a sleek black suit that fits you like a glove, or it could be a frilly, feminine confection that transports you to another era. Good doesn’t mean cozy in this context. I don’t mean something that makes you think of your mom because she knit it for you when you were in college or that is made of soft, concealing fleece. Women frequently confuse an emotional high with a sense of security. You may feel more comfortable reaching for a sartorial safety net, but you’re here to learn some serious grooming skills. You can put your best foot forward by dressing in garments that bring out your inner beauty, strength, confidence, sexiness, originality, bravery, and specialness. Your clothing selection should honor your status.


Step 3: Take Good Care of Yourself… And Your Wardrobe

A polished woman does not have snags in her sweaters, stains on her shirts, or wrinkles on her wrap dresses.  You spend hard-earned money on your wardrobe, it deserves to be cared for. 

Don’t throw something in the dryer if it specifically says not to. Air drying will preserve its form and appearance for a longer period of time. You say you need evidence? You probably have an iron, but you should also think about investing in a garment steamer. Use it on freshly purchased items and clothes that have been worn but do not require laundering to get rid of wrinkles quickly. Clothing with lingering scents from an event can be revived with a steamer in less time than it would take to iron. A travel or handheld steamer can be purchased for less than $75 and has a water capacity of 1–2 garments, negating the need for a bulky professional steamer. Clothes should be hung up when the day is done. Clothes should not be hung on furniture or hardware; doing so can result in creases, dents, and other damage. Make good use of hangers. Clothing can get rust stains, shoulder dents, and unwanted creases from using the hangers provided by the dry cleaner. Velvet flocked hangers, available from The Container Store to Amazon to an end cap at your local TJ Maxx, are my go-to for hanging most articles of clothing because their textured surface prevents garments from slipping off and their slim profile frees up valuable closet space, ensuring that your clothes will not be crushed. A molded hanger is ideal for blazers and coats because it helps them maintain their shape. If you notice a stain, get it cleaned up right away. This is my go-to recipe for removing stains from nearly any material. Don’t take it home if you’re not prepared to look after it. Few people actually adhere to a strict “hand wash only” or “dry clean only” regimen. Don’t waste money on clothes that won’t fit into your lifestyle or that will only get worn out quickly. If you want to learn about luxury fashion brands, check out

Step 4: Keep it Simple

A “polished” woman would never be seen wearing garish embellishments like fake jewels, brand logos, or cabbage roses. The less complicated your pieces are, the more you can do with them, the more stylish they will be, and the longer they will last. To avoid having people say things like “oh there she is again in that embroidered shirt!” after you repeatedly wear the same trendy top for the next three months, resist the urge to buy the blouse with the eye-catching embroidery. After establishing a basic, functional wardrobe, you can add flashy, fun pieces to reflect your unique style. Think about creating a capsule wardrobe with versatile pieces. If you’re not sure where to begin, this article will teach you the basics of creating capsule wardrobes, and the following link will provide you with examples of capsule wardrobes I’ve put together for different occasions, lifestyles, and individual tastes.



Step 5: Focus On Fit Above All Else

Clothes that flatter a woman’s figure are well-fitting. Her pants are always the right length for her heels, her sleeves are never too long, and her tops never gape open to reveal her bra. She shops for what suits her personality and body type rather than what is currently popular or cheap. Having your clothes professionally tailored is the best way to highlight your body’s best features. Whether it’s a t-shirt or a full suit, having it tailored to your specific body type will make you look and feel great, make the clothes appear more expensive, and polish the overall look. Your mental canon of fashionable people? None of them are dressed in ready-to-wear. Everything has been tailored to their physique, and I do mean everything. A local seamstress or tailor can make that dress or blazer you scored on clearance look like a million bucks, and they are not just for the rich and famous. Your dry cleaner can do simple alterations like shortening a hem or sleeve. You won’t miss the extra clothes in your closet if you buy fewer of them and invest in having them tailored to fit you perfectly.


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