Can we talk about the little things you do every day to look more polished for work?

Home Forums Women’s Fashion Tips Can we talk about the little things you do every day to look more polished for work?

This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  stripemonster 2 weeks ago.

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  • #12369

    Nana
    Member

    Tell me all about your hair, nail, clothing, makeup, etc. routines that make you ready for work. I’ve just started my first law job and am in awe at how badass, gorgeous and competent the women at work look!

    #12370

    stripemonster

    I’ll preface this by saying I work in a fairly casual environment (we can wear jeans with nicer tops and shoes) and I’m also a low-maintenance person.

    Staying hydrated is a great foundation to looking (and feeling) your best.

    Have a basic hair and makeup routine so even in a rush you can make a minimal effort.

    I’ve found that having a color palette tends to work. I’ve started to build a wardrobe that consists of higher quality basics (nothing too fancy, just not T-shirts from Target) that are comfortable and wear well throughout the day. Honestly it doesn’t matter how polished an outfit might be, if you’re uncomfortable it will show.

    If something I want to wear is wrinkled, I’ll throw it in the dryer with a wet towel to “steam” it a little bit. This tends to work pretty well, and I can let it go while I do my hair.

    I stopped painting my nails almost a year ago because I don’t always have the time (or desire) to keep up with them. Chipped polish is a great way to ruin what is otherwise a good look.

    A lot of “looking polished” starts with a good foundation, so make sure you take care of yourself, get enough sleep, etc. 🙂

    #12371

    r0xeee

    Although I have a desk job the dress code is very relaxed, so it didn’t take long until I got stuck in the same jeans + shirt/sweater combination. This week I’m trying to avoid jeans and combine my clothes in different ways. Honestly, I feel so much more confident and inspired by my clothes. It’s amazing how much an outfit can change by wearing dress pants or skirts instead of the same old skinny jeans. Today a colleague told me that I look like I have my s**t together and it made my day. And it’s not just feeling more professional, it’s also that completely ignoring jeans made me look at the clothes I already have in a different light and not wear the same ones again and again.

    Other things that work for me: wearing a classic watch, tucking in my shirt and being well groomed in general. I have oily skin and maybe it’s just me, but at around 2 p.m. I start looking disheveled because of it, so bloating sheets are a must.

    #12372

    mostlybooksandplants

    Also a baby lawyer here! I do batch steaming sessions on the weekends so I don’t have to worry about that shirt I want to wear being wrinkled when I grab it in the morning. I also do spot checks of my shoes to see if there are any scuffs or stains that need to be fixed. I have a cat, so I lint roll everything while it’s still on hangers in the morning before I get dressed.

    My office / region doesn’t have a strong norm for women wearing makeup, but putting on a little eyeliner, mascara, blush, and nude lipstick makes me feel like I’m flicking my “professional” switch. I also wear earrings every day for the same reason–I think it makes me look like I thought about my outfit instead of just throwing some things on.

    #12373

    funfetticake

    Probably an unpopular opinion, but I am done with ballet flats for my more formal business casual office. IMO ballet flats do not project “I have my shit together” in dressier workplaces. Men would never wear such flimsy footwear. Also they wear out quickly and tend to look cheap fast.

    I’m still wearing my last pair, but once they get a hole I’m going to replace them with loafers instead.

    #12374

    reine444

    I’m not in law and I’d imagine the “rules” are a bit tighter. I work a regular old office job in corporate America. Dress code is casual but 1) I’ve never had a casual dress position before so I have the professional wardrobe that I already own 2) I’m not really a casual dressing person.

    When I have a busy week ahead, I take the time on Sunday to try on some outfits. And then I’ll put 3-5 outfits together and hang them in the closet. Not necessarily choosing them by day, just things I like together. And then each day I just grab and go.

    Having a tailor is a must. Getting rid of clothes that need to go is a must (if it doesn’t fit quite right, you don’t like the fabric, it has any stains or anything, etc). I have a lot of clothes but they are by and large things I love that look great on me.

    I should take better care of my nails but I just try to keep my nails trimmed and even. They are very rarely polished.

    I rarely do a full face but I take care of my skin so it’s pretty smooth and even. Sometimes I’ll dust with a little powder to avoid shine. But every day is brow grooming and mascara. Usually a tinted gloss.

    I do not have time for daily hair styling. I’m black, I have a relaxer (vs natural…some natural ladies wash or at least wet their hair daily. I have to wash my hair every 5 days or so). I usually pin curl my hair at night or do what’s called a flat wrap and tie it down and can USUALLY take it down, add a little coconut oil, comb and go. Sometimes it’s gone wonky and I have a host of bobby pins and cute clips and usually go for some form of half up/half down if I wake up with ‘bad hair’.

    #12375

    ifweweresharks

    Sometimes I take a shower.

    #12376

    mospence3

    Gel nails at home 🙂 If my nails are done and shiny, I feel at best. Also, they’re so much easier/cheaper than you would think. Of course, it all comes down to what makes you confident.

    ETA: Gel because I can do them every 7 days or so. If done at a nail salon they do last longer, but you pay for that.

    #12377

    joylukclub

    I work in a very casual environment (hoodies and jeans are the norm), and if I wore anything “nicer” I would stick out, and not necessarily in a good way. So I try to do my makeup every day to feel a little more put together. At the bare minimum foundation, brows, and eyeliner.

    Since I didn’t have to buy a brand new “adult” wardrobe for my job, I’m now focusing on buying fewer but better quality clothes. It’s my first job out of college so half my closet is fast fashion, and the other half is oversized band tees. Right now my priority is buying higher quality basics (plain ts, jeans, etc). Wearing nicer pieces always makes me feel more confident, even if people around me can’t tell the difference.

    #12378

    CrazyIrina

    Coupla easy ones that I am sure I have mentioned a few times at least.

    Prepare your outfit the night before. Select the entire outfit, then iron and make sure it’s natty; no loose threads or stains or anything.

    Shine your shoes. Make em shine and cover up scuffs. If you are buffing up heels, do the back of the heels, too. It’s easy to scuff up the backs while driving and sometimes this can be overlooked.

    Pick out makeup/touch up polish at this time.

    Make sure to get all the sleep your body needs…no extra episode of streaming whatever or another few minutes of a video game, or that one last chapter in a book. If you need 8 hours of sleep, make sure you get it all the time. Make up sleep on the weekends is a myth. Beauty sleep is an actual thing, and it’s hard to look put together when you feel like you have been burped out of the ass end of an angry giraffe.

    Other stuff: try to keep spares of clothes and stuff at work. Extra outfit if you can swing it. Shoe shine kit. Toothpaste and brush. Back up makeup kit. Talc. Wet wipes. Spare hosiery of a few types and colors. Emergency sewing kit with good needles and threads in colors of your outfits. Popped buttons/belt loops/errant hems can be fixed enough so they aren’t noticeable.

    I use to work long hours and I’d change clothes and freshen up halfway through the day and before late meetings. It helped a lot, both inwardly and outwardly.

    #12379

    bronsteezy

    * I hit the gym in the morning and use the ironing board in the changing room so that I don’t have to worry about wrinkling during my commute or from folding them the night before.
    * I have a few staple outfits I buy multiple variations of, e.g. black turtleneck and wide-leg high-waisted pants. Helps me feel secure in my style without stressing too much about what I’m pulling out of the drawer, i.e. the confidence element of seeming ‘polished.’
    * Speaking of those turtlenecks: one of them is a little sheer but only across the boobs, so I wear a pashmina around my neck to simultaneously fix that and add that “third element”.
    * Masculine clothes -> heels; feminine clothes -> loafs
    * I don’t worry about my hair. On a “good hair day” I’ll leave it down or clipped in the back, on a normal day I’ll do a boring braid, chignon, or sock bun. Earrings compensate for this.
    * During the warm season, I do the girdle and stockings thing under skirts. It’s superior to control top nylons or stay-ups because you don’t have to constantly fucking fiddle with them.
    * Block heel. No way will I wear a stiletto to work ever again. Nothing screams “I don’t know what I’m doing” like hobbling around the office looking all sexy.
    * For God’s sake get your blazer/suit jacket tailored!!!!!

    #12380

    joidea

    I ask myself if a man would do it. I make myself clean, neat and smart. No creased clothes, good quality clothes that fit well so they hang well, neat hair. I keep my shoes polished and reheeled so they lift the outfit rather than dragging it down. I buy clothes that generally go together well so I don’t have to plan outfits unless I want to. Minimal accessories that go with anything and I look put together. And then I refuse to dedicate ongoing headspace to anything work-related that isn’t actually to do with the job.

    #12381

    BonhamsFourSticks

    I look waaaaaaaay better since I’ve started embracing my natural hair texture. My curls are pretty much wash and go now. While I am a lawyer, I work on a military base, and I don’t ever have to go to court. This enables me to have a nice little capsule of business casual-business formal to choose from, so I don’t have to really worry about what to wear day-to-day.

    #12382

    BeBetter1718

    When I had an office job I would always inspect each piece of clothing when I got home and took them off.
    Then I immediately decided what to do with them and went to action: throw away pantyhose with a run, hang the jacket outside to air it out, remove the small stain from the blouse, wipe down the shoes (or brush them), put the underwear in the mesh bag for delicates, make a note in the calendar to buy new panties.
    It usually only took ten minutes but made such a huge difference. I was working insanely long hours at the time and the ten minute wardrobe check saved me from embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions and stressful mornings with nothing to wear or getting dressed and realising that it was a stain on the jacket or there were only pantyhose with holes in them.

    I also did a full grooming session every Sunday: washed hair, used a hair mask, scrubbed the body, used a face mask, did a manicure and pedicure. Spending time on a really good blowout or using hot rollers meant that I only had to wash my hair every 3-4 days.

    Keep an emergency kit in your desk with needle and thread, lint rollers, shoe shine sponge, unused pantyhose and – if you work long hours – an extra top or blouse and clean underwear. Also a pair of extra shoes. And some toiletries: toothbrush, hairspray, dry schampoo, nail clippers and nail file, eye drops for red eyes.

    #12383

    yqlin

    Be groomed! I don’t wear make-up for the most part but I always make sure I have good brows, clean and neat nails, and no chapped lips. I also never skimped on getting regular hair cuts (short styles must be maintained). I’ve noticed these are the things that set people apart, appearance-wise, no matter what they are wearing.

    If you have an early start, set aside your outfit the day before. It makes mornings much easier and you feel more confident about your day, which is half the battle won.

    Personally, I would invest in a nice but discreet looking watch. People spend a lot of time looking at your hands in a meeting, and you shake a lot of hands in the corporate sector too. (I say discreet, because if a junior person wears something flashy, it tends to incite comment…)

    #12384

    funobtainium

    When I was working in an office (instead of in my home office), the top thing I did was to plan outfits a week out. This was kind of general, not “on Tuesday I’m wearing this dress” unless there was something special going on, and of course weather has an impact, but having 3-5 work outfits ready to go with the right shoes/jewelry made things really easy.

    My hair and makeup routine was always the same, but not having to waste time hunting for tights that aren’t ripped or a different top because it didn’t look good with x pants is priceless.

    Edit: also, a blazer made a huge difference in terms of feeling/being perceived as professional. I was a young journalist covering police and courts and I found this out early, though I didn’t do it as often in more casual offices. Likewise scarves really worked for me.

    #12385

    pascalines

    Personally I express myself a lot with my hands at work, so I always make sure my hands look good.

    I often wear very simple streamlined outfits, with a nice watch, nicely manicured nails, and tasteful rings.

    #12386

    maundering_manda

    Hair: I have fine hair, but a lot of it. I allow it to air dry, then I straighten the ends. From here I can leave it down, which will give a natural wavy look or put it in a polished ponytail. I use a touch of hair pomade to restrain my flyaway hairs.

    Nails: For my nails, I do not paint them. I keep them filed, but long and close to the same length. A clear top coat will add shine if you’d like. I do paint my toe nails a mauve color and keep them trimmed. They look great in peep toe heels.

    Clothing: For clothing the key is not how expensive your clothes are. This took me a while to figure out. Buy clothes and get them tailored to your figure. It can be something cheap, but when tailored it changes the look drastically. For example, buy maybe two different neutral colored blazers. These will work to pull your outfits together in a professional way. Now get them tailored to your shoulders and waist. This alone will be a game changer. If you buy a cute professional dress, get it tailored to your waistline. And the dress length should be hitting you right below the knee. Same with skirts. You can also do longer, but don’t go shorter.

    Only buy heels you’re comfortable walking in. Don’t test your limits here or you risk looking goofy and uncomfortable. If you have to practice, do so on your days off. Also, wear flats, if you’d like. Wearing heels too often will literally ruin your feet. Right now the trend for flats is a leather pointy toe. But wear what you like.

    Makeup: I have a full makeup routine. It’s up to you how far you’d like to dive into makeup. But I’d at least suggest learning how to clean up your eyebrows, use concealer for any acne or redness, and swiping on a coat of mascara. That’d be a great start. Check out: /r/MakeupAddiction

    Skincare: Use a moisturizer once a day even if you have oily skin. And make sure that if you wear makeup, that you are also removing said makeup before bed. But be gentle with your skin. Also if your pale like me, use sunscreen on your face everyday even if your barely outside. Check out: /r/SkincareAddiction

    Other/miscellaneous: Lint roll your clothes. Iron if the fabric can be ironed and is wrinkly. (Tip: Always hang your clothes right out of the dryer so they won’t wrinkle. Or get them dry cleaned professionally.) Eat mindfully so you aren’t getting food stains on your clothes. Find a hairstyle that compliments your face. Put lotion on your skin, so you don’t look dry. Add accessories such as scarves and jewelry. Also invest in a nice looking handbag. I usually pick a neutral color that can go with anything since I don’t have much money to blow on clothing.

    Posture is EVERYTHING! You will look so much more put together and poised if you learn how to stand properly. I have terrible posture, but at work I try to correct it. I feel an actual boost in confidence when I stand properly. I’ve noticed that all the people that wow me, they all have great posture.

    Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, so you don’t have dark circles under your eyes. Or if you do, use a concealer to mask them a little bit. Also hydrate. Water does wonders for your skin and body in general.

    These are all just suggestions based on my own personal journey to look polished. Just keep in mind that a lot of how others perceive you is based on how you feel. If you’re radiating confidence, it really outshines a cute scarf for example. So learn how to love yourself and love whatever you wear/ look like. That’s 90% of the battle. Good luck!

    #12387

    [deleted]

    Iron!! If you have clothes that easily wrinkle—don’t wear ‘em. Tailor them so that they fit well. sleek shoes. You can buy both sleek and comfortable shoes. Too long Black pants with round toe flats are the key to looking frumpy af. A low-profile classic minimally branded handbag. Well kept hair and nails. Natural makeup. I’m a big fan of pantyhose, but they aren’t a requirement.

    #12388

    trustn00ne07

    Im a flight attendant so being polished is a must.

    Little things that I do to look polished for work;

    Always have clean/polished shoes

    Well manicured nails- bare nails is better than chipped nail polish

    Apply hand cream often for soft cuticles and soft hands for when you shake hands

    Mints for fresh breath – esp after coffee and eating

    Hair in a style that suits me with my hair swept back off my face

    Light dewy makeup in neutral tones – no cakey lipstick.

    Steam cardigans and light fabric

    #12389

    eutamias21

    I work from home. It’s a good day when I put pants on.

    #12390

    typeALady

    Mid-level lawyer here: This is going to sound cliche AF, but I look polished when I am confident. I sit, stand, and walk with better posture, which makes my clothes sit better on me and I give off the aura of “I know what the hell I’m doing, now listen.”

    That and liquid eyeliner, aka my war paint.

    #12391

    wigglyandsplashed

    I’m still working on this myself, and feel like I still look messy a lot of the time, but I’ve been playing around with a “standard” makeup look for a while and think i’ve got it. I can do it within 10 minutes and know at least my face looks pretty and presentable throughout the day. I love playing with colors, but some days I am just so tired in the mornings and I wanted a look I could fall back on. To do that I basically just took the time to find an eye palette that works perfectly with my coloring. It has only 4 colors (didnt want to have to think too hard). I throw that on with a nice lipstick and as long as you stay hydrated and do regular skincare, you should look good.

    I wear earrings as well. Not dangly ones as depending on personal preference of whoever is looking at you they can look not great in an office scenario or be “too much”, but just small earrings (usually round) that fit into the lobe of my ear. Nothing obvious, but it looks like you put slightly more time into your look.

    Getting outfits down is a work in progress haha.

    #12392

    liand22

    Keeping on top of haircuts (I have a pixie), eyebrow grooming (wax when I get a cut), and simple, neutral makeup goes a long way. BB cream, mascara, nude lips and bam.

    A well fitting bra goes a long way to making tops look nicer.

    I tend more toward dresses – they are easy and look more pulled-together than separates for me as I am tall but all leg.

    #12393

    BooksAndCatsAnd

    I work in big law but not as an attorney.

    So normally, we (as staff) are business casual and a lot of people don’t give a single fuck – sweatshirts with slacks kind of place. When we head to the practice office, we need to actually have it together:

    – grooming: hair and makeup should be “you but better”, looking like you put in some work on both but not more than 20min each (max) and should merely enhance your natural features. If you don’t have the coloring to carry it and have it look natural, avoid bold lip/eye looks. Fake lashes will stand out in a bad way, but extensions with minimal other makeup are common. Nails need to be consistent and understated – clean, moisturized, no chips in any polish, no trendy shapes if you do acrylics (short-med almond is fine, aka make them look natural if you do them).

    – style: Tailored, higher quality pieces are important. Not necessarily higher price – my uniqlo pants work better than anything I’ve tried on from theory/boss! In terms of tailoring, this is the time that “dressing ones body type” is important. We each as women have areas that we probably don’t want our male coworkers attention drawn to. Do not be the woman other women are asked to speak to for clothing that is too figure conscious! If you have a nice bum, avoid tight pencil skirts that show it off, if you are busty, allow no more than max 1” of cleavage, if you have an hourglass figure then choose “figure skimming” shapes to conceal it somewhat. Don’t follow the advice of buying clothes too big as this will make you look sloppy, but make sure that the style you choose is one that makes you feel confident without feeling sexual.

    For me that means wearing boxier styles that might be categorized as “Vancouver basic” and triple checking that clothing doesn’t fit too consciously so that I don’t draw attention at the office. I change whenever I leave work into clothes that make me feel good about my body and show off my hard work athletically… my work clothes are meant to look stylish while drawing attention away from my womanliness. As an added bonus, this makes it likely you won’t get recognized outside of work. 🙂

    Personally, I love Aritzia, Nordstrom, and Uniqlo for their selection, comfort, and style. You really don’t need to spend a fortune on suiting in order to look business professional. (Although as an atty you likely need a couple high end suits for court).

    – undergarments: you need to make sure you have no “wardrobe malfunctions”… that means you NEVER have a visible bra strap or nipple. It’s worth the $$ to find a bra that doesn’t push you up too much, where the straps stay put, and you never have to worry about peek through. VPL shouldn’t be an issue as long as your clothes aren’t too tight and you’re not stuffing huge grannie panties into them. If you prefer huge panties, make sure your clothes account for them.

    – colors: Figure out a color palette that flatters you and stick to it – your work clothes should be a mix and match capsule in that sense. Thus, you’ll never be standing out for wearing colors that make you look sick, or clashing items, etc. Seasonal color analysis, while outdated, is helpful here (e.g. muted vs bright, cool vs warm) if you don’t know what flatters you. A black suit looks amazing on my best friend but makes me look like I’m attending my own funeral! People notice these things.

    Wearing colors that flatter you is a big part of curating your “executive” image.

    – accessories: following the theme of quality + style + attention to detail, make sure your accessories coordinate with your clothes, are well cared for, and don’t draw the wrong kind of attention. You can’t go wrong with a nice block heel, an understated watch, and small post earrings. Depending on your location and the rest of your style, you may be ok wearing more fun shoes, higher end watches, and/or bigger earrings. Rule of thumb: do the block heel/basic watch/post earrings thing for 3 months and see what other women in your office are doing. Don’t become the “craziest” in the office, but if all the other ladies make small talk over their fun shoes, that means you can participate. Caveat: don’t overstep your level… so if you’re an associate and no associates have a Rolex, don’t think you can wear yours just because you see it on a partner. Stuff like that can make people in high places angry with you – it’s petty but it happens.

    Ditto engagement/wedding rings or any other jewelry of value… it can rub the wrong way if you’re seen as showing off money that’s above your station. This varies office by office, refer to the 3 month guideline.

    – hygiene: make sure you’re not sweaty in the afternoons and that you don’t have an overwhelming scent. I keep emergency wet ones, deodorant, and an allergy friendly body spray at my desk. There is nothing grosser than someone who goes out to grab food and comes back sweaty and does nothing about it. I’d add these items to the “emergency touch up kits” others have mentioned.

    Also, take the best care of your skin, nutrition, hydration, and sleep you possibly can. Showing up with no makeup but clean/rested is better than showing up smudged/rumpled from the previous night’s adventure.

    – as others mentioned, have a suit jacket/blazer that goes with all your work clothes that you can leave at the office. You will need it unexpectedly. Depending on your location, it may be unlikely that people wear their jackets everyday, especially as a woman, especially if it’s a warm climate. You’ll still want that jacket if you get an opportunity to go to court, to sit in a client meeting, etc etc etc.

    Please know, I don’t mean to enforce these as “gender rules” … this is based on my own observations and the dress code laid out for where I personally work. I’m in a role where I end up hearing about people’s faux pas and I think everyone would have an easier time if these “unwritten rules” were just out in the open. In my office, we have a great diversity of people and I’ve seen these guidelines work for everyone – even those who aren’t gender normative.

    As an additional note, if you feel more comfortable wearing menswear pieces (loafers, Oxford shirts, suiting separates with pants, etc.) absolutely go for it! The important thing is to employ a great tailor so they look like “your clothes” and fit you impeccably. When tailored correctly, this look reads extremely well. In some jurisdictions, you may (for best results) need to keep a skirt and heels handy to change into for court, as offices are accepting of diversity in a way that judges (unfortunately) can be less likely to accept.

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