How Did I End Up Frumpy?


How do you lose your style and end up frumpy?

“How did I end up frumpy?”

This is a lament that I hear from women of a certain age who feel they’ve lost their style mojo and they’re not sure when and where they lost it.

It tends to creep up on us, as we get older we tend to have less time to go to shops and try on clothes.  Also, our body shape tends to morph a bit, particularly if we’ve had children or gone through menopause.

Often when we put on a bit of weight, either through pregnancy or just life, we look for clothes that are a bit looser, we may look for an elastic waistband, and then we get used to this larger, looser style of clothing. We may also feel like we need to hide our body and start choosing more voluminous garments and wear them together, instead of one at a time.

This all adds to the frump factor.

Then, as we’ve got kids and we are time poor and now hate shopping or feel useless at is as we no longer know what shops to frequent, our clothing becomes older and out of fashion, which also leads to frumpiness.

And how many mothers don’t seem to find any money for themselves, but can always find money to put their kids in the latest trainers or give them a whole new wardrobe every year?  Mothers often feel like they are the least important person in a family, the last one in line for anything and everything.   We spend money on the kids and the home, before we spend anything on ourselves.

We feel guilty for spending money on ourselves as we are not important enough to be worthy of spending that money.

A friend of mine discovered after she had a ‘nervous breakdown’ as she described it, if she, the mother is broken, the whole family stopped working.  Taking some time out for herself, looking after her needs and making herself a priority rather than the last on the list, looking after appearance helped her recover and become a better mother.

Re-discovering yourself is important, we are not static beings and understanding our personality today is an important first step in looking after ourselves and knowing how best to fight the frump.

My kids love that I look after my appearance and that am vibrant and youthful in my appearance and attitudes, they have said to me that they’d prefer I keep dying my hair rather than let if go grey, cos grey hair is only for grandparents.   In fact, both of them love to help me get dressed (though I have to have the final say), they enjoy choosing my clothing and accessories and helping me look ‘pretty’ (my kids words).

So how did you end up frumpy and how do you fight it?

If you’ve ended up lost, unsure of your personal style, unsure how to dress the body you have today (rather than the one you had before), then my 7 Steps to Style program is for you.  Inside I unpack how to discover your own personal style likes and dislikes (and the all-important “why”, so that you become the expert in your own style). I share my professional opinion on your body shape and features and will tell you which are your ideal colours and contrast are so that you can start rebuilding your wardrobe in clothes that flatter you mentally, emotionally and physically.  This program is an investment in your self-care and self-esteem.  No matter your age or stage in life, you can feel more stylish and confident every single day.

11 Ways to Style Cardigans so they’re Funky not Frumpy

Avoiding Mom Clothes – frumpy to fabulous

How to Get Yourself Out the Door Looking Stylish in Minutes

How to Build Your Style from Ground Zero

How to Look Modern, Sophisticated and Stylish as You Age

What to Wear When You’re Retired


I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • Interesting thoughts. I seem stuck in a bit of a downward spiral that I really don't know how to escape. I have been under-employed since about 2002. I started to find it very hard to compete for jobs somewhere in my 40s, it really felt as if my age was against me when the interviewer was half my age. Once I was out of work, it was very hard to keep my clothing up-to-date, don't mention the hairdresser! I currently work only 5 hours a week – so I don't earn enough to not have grey hair, or to have new clothes. A medical issue in the last 12 months caused a weight gain which means I now have few clothes that even fit me, much less that look stylish!

    So, I guess I must admit that I am now frumpy, and likely to stay that way until I reach pension age.

  • Well I am a grandmother, and at 60 this year I decided to go gray, or in my case it's white. I go to a yoga class with an older group of women for the most part and as we were waiting the other day I took a look at them. Not the clothing but their hair. Really bad haircuts and no makeup. I know its yoga class, but it's at 5pm, so obviously they didn't have any on all day. I like makeup, it's lighter than it was when I was young, but I keep it fresh as well as my hairstyle. No I wore it this way in college look! I have a great hairdresser and my white hair is in a very chic cut. My 24 year old dd thinks I look fab.
    I also do not wear over sized clothing even though I am about 20 lbs over my goal weight. I also listen to your advice for what styles are good for me and really think about what I sew and wear.
    So, no I do not think I look frumpy thank goodness.

  • Losing all my clothes in a house fire while I was pregnant, meant I had no 'normal' clothes to wear after the baby came; I put on weight, and carried on with the maternity clothes! There was little available, save baggy polyester, and I cringe at the photographs at that time. An English size 18-20, I now have loads of choice, and I'm finlly (at 55!) learning how to properly put together an outfit! The now 19 yr old 'baby girl' helps, and I finally care about myself, but the journey has been long and painful! Caring for hair, teeth and wearing make-up daily, have been a big part of my journey forward!

  • I try very hard to look "put together", and while I don't really care about being stylish, I do care about looking good. There were some years during which I felt that caring about appearance was less important than my internal life…I was fooling myself. I now give equal importance to all aspects of my self. Like Nancy K, I let my grey grow out many years ago, and recently I have been rediscovering my artistic leanings. My personal style reflects my interest in the natural world and art.

  • Vireya: Are you enjoying all the free time you have? I checked out your blog and you seem to be up to many great creative pursuits! As a full-time worker, I am definitely jealous; I get so little time for such stuff.

    – tall & slim anon

  • How timely! I decided to stop coloring my (very) grey hair this past winter. I'm still a little undecided how I truly feel. Sometimes I feel a little frumpy with grey hair (and a little extra weight)even though I am well groomed and nicely dressed.

    I don't spend tons of money on clothes and accessories, just shop carefully, make purchases that work together with others and even sew some for myself. I do receive compliments on my appearance so maybe the effort is worth it. However I do have a couple of really frumpy items – a hideous cotton housecoat with a old lady floral pattern. I even go out in the yard with the dog wearing this item. I really need to put this in the rag bag!

  • To "tall & slim anon",

    Yes, I do have a very enjoyable life! I have lots of creative pursuits, I have lovely friendships, and plenty of community involvement. But none of that pays for hairdressing appointments or new clothes, so this blog post has forced me to admit that I probably have become frumpy!

  • I think I made it to boring and stopped there before I actually hit frumpy – and now I'm working on being less boring. So far, so good 🙂

  • Love this post!!! I couldn't agree more that you have to take care of yourself first!

    Before I had my son, I remember hearing moms say they hadn't showered in days or hadn't done their hair in weeks and at the time I couldn't fathom how that was even possible. After my son was born, I had about two weeks, where just adjusting kind of took the life out of me and I then realized how it was possible to just let myself go. I was almost depressed and felt gross. After that, I realized that I HAD to shower, do my hair and makeup, and get dressed every single morning, even if I had no plans of leaving the house. It was amazing what that did for my self esteem. It sounds so ridiculous, but just simply getting ready in the morning before my son woke up, really did wonders for my mood!


  • Vireya: Hope you take up sewing, that should be a fun and cheap way to get some style. As for hair, I think a neat pony-tail is suitable for most people and that "haircut" can be done by a friend. Enjoy your freedom! This is written from a gray office 😉

    – tall & slim anon

  • I've definitely noticed that as I've gotten older I don't think as much about what others think anymore. Don't they say that fashion is for other people? Not that I want to be frumpy…So I wear a few favorites that I think look good and make me feel good. And I find I dress for circumstances more often–for work, for an occasion. But just running an errand to the dry cleaners? I'm probably not going to "style" myself for that one.

  • Spending the last 3 years making, carrying, delivering and cuddling babies – frumpiness sneaked up and snagged me too! Getting out of that funk was one of the main reasons I started my blog. And you are so right – the women I know who complain the most about being frumpy are the ones who say they never go shopping. Not even online browsing to see what's out there and what they like and can incorporate into their own wardrobes. You gotta get out! Even if it's virtually.

  • I'm kind of looking forward to going gray. My mother and aunties all grew a tiny silver streak that started in the middle of their foreheads and widened with age.

    I'd love to look like my Aunt when I'm 60; she has soft porcelain skin with smile creases on her cheeks and at the corners of her eyes. (She complains of a wattle and age spots, but I'm sure no one else sees that) Her hair (completely silver now) falls to her waist and she wears it pinned up in a thick braided bun. Her clothes always co-ordinate, her jewelry compliments her skin tone and clothing choices. She wears flats most of the time now, but always well-made ballet slippers or loafers with the occasional beaded thing. (I inherited some of her pretty heels, several decades of gorgeous shoes) I don't suppose her look is precisely "up to the minute" and she groans about dressing like an old lady, but she dresses to her strengths. She's utterly gorgeous and timeless, always well dressed in natural fibres and a palette of blacks and whites, with all shades of blue thrown in.

    I suppose it helps that her kindness and generosity of spirit overwhelm anything she wears. I've seen her roll up her cashmere sleeves and help pluck chickens with South American friends, cuddle snotty kids as they get their vaccinations, and stand up for non-English speaking clients in court as an unofficial advocate. She is my ideal of a "Lady," inside and out.

  • I have fought pre-frump for a lot of years. California is just TOO casual and that makes it easy to slide into unattractive clothing but you still fit in.

    I started by losing the excess weight that had crept on.

    Then I went searching for tips. I bought several books read them cover to cover and now I stalk a lot of blogs related to fashions appropriate to my lifestyle written by much younger women.

  • I'm new to your blog and enjoyed this post as I can completely relate to it. I've always had a tendency to be frumpy because of putting everyone else's needs first. I've decided to invest in myself and have just begun the "fight".

  • I am definitely frumpy these days. It feels like so much of what's in the stores is super-short and made for girls in their teens so I get discouraged when I shop. As a result, I just go shopping less and less and less frequently, and the clothes in my closet become more and more and more out of date.

  • I've been frumpy (schlumpy?) for quite some time now. I've always lived in jeans, but the last few years, I've also been living in sweatshirts. Dress pants don't last in my job, but I should upgrade to some jackets and nicer tops. I'm working on the excess tonnage that's crept up over the years, but I think I'll let the hair go grey. I've done coloring in the past, and got tired of the upkeep.

    Cupcake Monkey – when reading your morning routine, it struck me as a personal-care version of the Flylady's "shine the sink every morning" for battling clutter and disorganinzation in the house. I should give it a try on weekends, when my frump level is raised even higher.

  • “cos grey hair is only for grandparents” ??? No way!! Google it! There are many cool women out there with grey hair – both young and old ! and I’m one of them! LOL

  • Gee my kids are just the opposite. They think its all nonsense or something that irritates them because Mum is busy with something and its not them! When they were younger they were more interested, now its just ‘uh huh’

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