I received this reader question in my email:
Where do you find all those lovely matching shoes in such a comfortable style. Every outfit perfectly co-ordinated. Where do you find the time to care for your kids, make dinner, clean house, have time with your spouse and kids and look so good. I would love you to do a piece on time management and style: it’s the flip side of beauty.Meredith
One of the common comments I hear around having style is that it just “takes so much time”. In fact many women say they don’t wear any makeup as they have no time to put it on, yet some women manage to find the time to do all these grooming and style related tasks.
There are definitely ways of making the time management area of style easier to manage. Like anything we do, we can choose to make something a habit (like cleaning your teeth) or turn it into something that is a special occasion only task. For me, general grooming – hair and makeup – are habits – they don’t require much thought and I build the 10 minutes they take me into my morning routine. Do I get up 10 minutes earlier? Possibly? Or do I forgo watching breakfast TV, or reading the paper in the morning – yes. When my kids were very young they would sit on the bathroom counter and chat to me as I put on my makeup. My 10 year old daughter still enjoys spending time with me in the bathroom as I do my makeup.
There are many ways we can use our time and I know that when I feel that I look good, I feel more confident, so taking that time out each day to put together an outfit I enjoy wearing is time well spent and makes the rest of my day more productive as I feel positive in myself.
My wardrobe has evolved over time. I find that the more I know about my style and what suits me, the colours, the shapes, the contrast, the patterns, the scale, the fabrics and textures. Knowing all these details make it so much easier to shop for the pieces that I’ll wear, will go with what I already own, and work for my lifestyle. Knowing and really understanding your personal style and colour really do make it much faster and easier over time which is why I work with my personal clients and have also developed 7 Steps to Style so that you too can make your wardrobing process easier and quicker (plus save you money for the rest of your life as you stop buying the wrong garments and focus on what works for you).
This means I cut down on the time it takes to get dressed each day as the colours in my wardrobe easily mix and match. I know when I’m shopping what my wardrobe holes are, and what I’m keeping my eyes out for to fill those holes, so when I spy those shoes that fill that hole, I get them, knowing that they will be a great workhorse. That way I have a co-ordinated wardrobe with shoes and accessories all ready to go (you too can create some easy co-ordination with your own beauty bundles).
I’ve spent time evolving my style (and yes doing a style challenge like Evolve Your Style can really help you discover what you do and don’t like to wear, try new outfit combinations and refine your style statement.
Where does anyone find the time? We focus on what is important to us, do those things first, and other elements fall by the wayside.
For me, I know that by planning my meals for the week on a Sunday and doing the weekly supermarket shop with those meals in mind, I don’t have to think so hard each evening when I finish work and go to the kitchen to cook dinner.
In many ways I plan my wardrobe the same way, considering what is going on, who I’m meeting, what the weather will be, and what I want to project.
I don’t think you need more time to look stylish and put together, you just need to manage your time better if it’s not something you naturally focus on. That’s why I’m creating a Weekly Wardrobe Planner for you to download so you can plan your outfits, as you’d plan your family meals!
I treat what is important to me with respect and care – and I try and spend my time wisely (as I know just how limited it is, in fact I consider time to be my currency, it’s what I value most).
Having gotten divorced I know how expensive that process is, and so I focus time on my husband so that I never go through that again.
I know that my kids are growing up fast and it won’t be long before they are adults, a decade feels like it zips past in a minute! Therefore I enjoy the time I spend talking to them and being with them, just cuddling on the couch. I’m lucky I work from home, so I can be here when they go to school and home when they get home, they come and sit in my office and do their homework as I write blog posts, we discuss their homework, they ask questions. I try and help, without actually doing the homework for them!
I appreciate my health, the older I get the more I appreciate being in good health, and so I exercise regularly to help keep me healthy and vibrant. I get up that little bit earlier to ensure that it happens. I go to bed at a reasonable hour so that I’m not tired all day and I can think clearly. If I’m in pain I know that I’m unproductive, so I do what I can to avoid that.
I try not to waste too much time, which is so easy, particularly with social media constantly begging my attention. I try and maximise my time, I love reading and gaining new knowledge, but have little time left in my day, so I listen to audio books when I’m driving my car, going for a walk or run, cleaning the house or doing the gardening. It makes boring and mundane tasks more pleasurable for me.
I’m currently listening to Gretchen Rubins – The Happiness Project, which I think has a lot to offer on what is important as well as what will make us happy. And I’m not listening because I’m unhappy, in fact I think my life is pretty darn great! But I know that small tweaks can make a difference to how I feel, my relationships and what I concentrate on doing.
Much of my wardrobe is not the latest season, I don’t believe it has to be. I do update a little every season, but that’s as far as I go. I feel it’s always a work in progress and always will be.
I can tell you that I’m far from superwoman. My husband will attest to the fact I comment how often how much I have on my plate (as my to-do-list seems to grow not shrink day after day), and I’m far from perfect and things slip by and I forget things, which is why the more we can make a habit in our lives, the easier those elements are as they don’t take up as much brain space.
How do you manage your time and your style? How much time does it take you? What are your tips to being stylish and groomed even when you have a very busy life?
For me, time has never been a problem, but that’s because my lifestyle is a bit complicated. Currently staying home because of medical reasons, but occasionally goes out 2-3 days a week to do an athletic activity or something social because Im not ready for work or school yet (a stress related trauma that has become an habit that hard to break from, plus Im a bit agoraphobic in some enviroments).
So yeah, time management for style and grooming is not issue, its more the otherway around in my case. 😉 At home, Im like a “slob” and don’t care about my clothes (my parents don’t care if my clothes are worn out or my hair is a bit greasy and Im not someone who dress to impress people!) unless they are visitors at the house, but otherwise tends to dress up and plan ahead for the activities I do. But, Im not someone who spends hours at the mirror or closets, usually its take 30-40 minutes all together as I eat breakfast “on-the-go” (low hunger feelings when waking up) and don’t do any activities other than brushing my teeth and getting dressed in the morning. Hair and skin products are minimal and only takes some minutes, but I like experiement with my eyemakeup which can take up to 20-30 minutes. Grooming is also the bare minimum I find necessary. Im sensitive to creams and slight allergic to parfumes so I don’t like focus much on it.
In short words: Focus on the things I like and be minimal with the other things I don’t enjoy or struggling with. Even if I started to work or start studying again, makeup/clothes is not an issue, its something I love to do! Sometimes, I plan a month ahead of what clothes to bring with on a trip or a special outings. 😛
Great question that’s on many of our minds, I’m sure. The take-home message seems to be “make it a priority”, which is great but for those of us with 60+ hour work weeks (and spouses who work as much or more than we do), young kids, etc. there are only so many things we can “make a priority” before we run out of hours. Here’s my take: pare it down. WAY down. Mentally give yourself permission to do the bare minimum that makes you feel good, and let the rest go. Hire someone to clean your house, if you can afford it. If not, work out a schedule – I spend 15 minutes a day, usually while dinner is cooking or husband is doing dishes, and over 2 weeks our (small) house gets clean. Get a low-maintenance haircut and find some easy styles online that you can replicate for work (I wash my hair the night before because I don’t have time in the morning). Super-simplify your beauty routine – I do eyeshadow/mascara/lipstick and keep it in my work bag so I can put it on in the car before I walk in. Pick out your clothes the night before, and set them out with everything you need, including shoes/hosiery/accessories.
Someone once told me that having young children puts you in “survival mode”, and that’s very true. Give yourself credit for everything you do, and don’t feel bad about the stuff you let go.
Absolutely you have to figure out what is a priority for you. And there are minimums for everyone – though they will differ. Trying to be creative in the morning is often not a great option which is why the more you plan ahead, the easier it is to have style.
Increasingly I find keeping an ‘outfit recipe book’ the best way to time manage style. My categories are the various activities I do: errands in town, work, hobbies, travel etc.When I put together an outfit and feel happy that it works well for the activity and it feels stylish I make a note of the ‘recipe’ (I sometimes add a couple of variations in the ‘notes’). If I’m short of time or not feeling creative I can just pick a ‘ recipe’ outfit and know that it works. It’s best not to have too many recipes. 6-8 per category per season works well for me.
I’m fighting with depression and I notice that when I slip back into blues, it negatively affects my grooming habits, and the other way round. Makeup is not yet something I regularly do. In the past, I started with much enthusiasm, only to end up with another chore, especially with removing make up in the evening.
Sorry to hear about your depression. Grooming is always the first element to go when we’re tired or unwell, yet this actually tells the world that we aren’t quite in control of our lives and emotions. It’s a vicious circle, but like cleaning your teeth, which you’d do, taking off makeup only takes a minute and maybe all you need to do is reframe the process from a “chore” which is negative, to ‘self-care’ which has a positive association.
It’s OK. I’ve been a part of this community for a while and I can feel I can disclose it now and in an appropriate context.
Here’s my confession–I have been able to keep up a professional appearance as an IT consultant by keeping a minimalist approach to everything. I have to look alert, energetic, and authoritative. Not easy as a single parent with a stressful job, which is why I had to find ways to streamline my grooming routine.
I swear by Project 333, which is a goal of having only 33 total items of clothing, shoes, purses, scarves, belts, and jewelry in a season’s rotation, in order to facilitate fast decision making. My routine is so simple now, that I can be ready in 15 minutes, from washing my hair to dressing and going anywhere, because everything goes together. I even minimized my makeup and toiletries collection in order to have less to buy, keep track off, and feel that I have to use. A little BB cream mixed with lotion and illuminator, mascara, lip gloss, and a tiny bit of rose blush, then I’m off to the races.
I even took my 33 item capsule wardrobe on a 3 week train trip that included an Alaska cruise, in one carry-on bag. Based on black skinny pants, black skinny jeans, moss green pants, leggings, black ankle boots, black sneakers, black tote, and some lively colors to layer, it yielded the perfect edgy and youthful wardrobe to go with my black hair, green eyes, and rose-beige skin. I even had an option to dress up the pants for formal nights on the cruise. With a very fancy top and handmade statement jewelry, they didn’t turn me away.
It sure took me a long time to realize that my bold coloring required a bolder look. I’m petite and have longer legs, so darker skinny jean style pants are more flattering to me. I “disappear” in feminine frilly things and soft colors. I’m still totally confused about what my colors are officially, but I know I can’t wear navy blue or yellow even though my undertones say I can. But, I can wear just about any color that is metallic or bold (not muddy).Gold, silver, copper, steel, burnished, shiny, it doesn’t seem to matter, it seems I’m a “metallic”, lol. One day I’ll have to take the time for a consultation.
Anyway, that’s my tip. Minimize your stuff, your decisions, and your routine, then you won’t need more time to style it up. It will become second nature to figure out ways to improve your routine and shave off a minutes.
That’s fantastic that a small wardrobe works for you. I know it does for many, but for me I’d be bored and frustrated with it! I do keep my makeup just to the colours that suit my complexion which certainly makes makeup application fast and easy.
I can certainly understand that having a bigger, more versatile wardrobe is essential in certain professions. In the computer field, if I started dressing trendy rather than just a bit edgy, I’d probably get the side eye from my colleagues. I’m posting a link to last year’s set I created on Polyvore to help me whittle down the wardrobe for September-November. It’s heavy on the black, grey, & red, but everything goes with everything. Later I added sneakers, moss green pants, and a couply of dressy print tee’s with bold greens and metallic accents (silver leaves, bronze studs). It’s also missing pictures of my two suit jackets for work.
You may be familiar with Polyvore, it has a very nice editing tool that makes it easy to curate a capsule wardrobe look. You can take pictures of existing clothes, find them online from any picture, or “shop”. Here’s my wardrobe snapshot showing some of the outfits and layering: http://www.polyvore.com/14_day_alaska_cruise_minimalist/set?id=135738966.
Feel free not to post this, if it’s not relevant. I love your site and get tons of ideas. This is the first time I’ve commented.
I use polyvore all the time through this blog! It’s a brilliant tool to use for creating wardrobe graphics.
I work full time in a casual-dress law office, and I definitely plan my daily outfits on Sunday after looking at the weather forecast and what’s on my calendar. I rarely deviate from the plan, which includes shoes and jewelry. Since my office is in an older building with real windows that open (and let in both summer heat and winter cold winds), the temperature varies from too cold to too hot (especially when I have a hot flash), so I dress in light layers and need every piece to be stand-alone; I don’t have heroes that ruin my outfit if removed. Well, actually I just realized my reading glasses are my “hero piece” because they are on my face all day (half-lenses worn on my nose like a librarian) and everything I wear coordinates with them. 🙂
Rather than write it out, I hang my planned outfits together in order with the shoes underneath; my jewelry box is topped by an organizer tray so I can lay out the earrings and brooches in order too (I rarely wear necklaces or bracelets). I seem to have been using the “beauty bundles” idea without the name, and find it very convenient since most of my clothing pieces are solid colors that I mix up (although I do prefer an inner column, sometimes I can rock an outside column with the right scarf or brooch).
I’ve found that simply laying out my clothes and jewelry the night before saves me 10-15 minutes in the morning — more if I’m tired and unfocused. This is just what my very organized mother always did, and tried to convince me to do, the whole time I was growing up. And of course, Mom is always right! (I still get out of the habit occasionally, even though I know better now.)
I’m sure that planning for the full week saves even more time, but I enjoy dressing on a whim too much to do that. It also doesn’t help that, in November, the weather forecasts are notoriously unreliable. We’re vacillating somewhere between highs of 35-70 degrees, depending on the day, so I’d rather plan the night before!
You might find you plan a week’s outfits, but don’t necessarily wear them on a certain day
Thank you Imogen. All great ideas. Anyone out there raising and home educating 4 or more kids with comments?
I tried an approach which included putting a loop of ribbon on the hanger when I wore something, and putting clean laundry away in a different drawer this helped me get rid of things I don’t prefer.