Fashion magazines target people every day with lists and charts telling them the latest trends and techniques to look better, skinnier, smarter, where to buy the hippest clothes or the latest shoes! If you’re a woman, you are probably bombarded more often than you like, and if you’re a man, you may not get the information that you really want to know! Due to the glut of information available, most people know the obvious things to do to look elegant or well groomed, such as getting a good haircut or wearing certain brand name clothes. However, this may lead people to overlook some simple, basic things that can be done RIGHT NOW to add that subtle flair and polish to your everyday look!
Renu Dalal-Jain, a certified image consultant and the owner of Flair Consulting in Philadelphia, PA, works with men and women to help them put their best personal face forward in social or corporate settings. She maintains that there are seven essential things any man or women can do, and often overlook, to help them present a well-groomed, neat, and elegant appearance to the world! And all this without spending a dime!
1) Keep your skin and lips well conditioned. Ashy knees, flaky skin and chapped lips do not look nice, and will make your skin look old and tired. This is especially important in colder weather. If you wear lipstick, it is imperative that you keep your lips moist, because chapped lips are even more apparent under color. Keep lip balm in your car and your bedside table and apply it whenever you get in the car and before going to bed at night.
2) Make sure your nails are well shaped and all a similar length. Nothing says you don’t care like ragged nails or nails that are different lengths! (Ladies, I know you worked hard to grow those nails but just because only one broke, you shouldn’t think nobody would notice!) If you polish your nails, keep your everyday color one shade brighter than your skin-tone. This looks professional and clean and makes your hands look elegant, especially if you wear rings. If you like brighter colors make sure you repair chipped polish right away! Chips in bright polish are extremely noticeable and make you look sloppy.
3) Make sure your clothes and accessories are in a similar color family – don’t wear shades of beige or brown clothing with black shoes or a white belt. As a rule of thumb, make sure your belt, shoes, and watchstrap are in the same color family. Sometimes a strikingly different purse or shoes can make a statement, but it has to be well planned. The article in question must be of good quality and in good condition, since you want people to notice it.
4) Your socks or hose must match either your shoes or your pants. Do not EVER wear blue socks with brown shoes, or black socks with sneakers! If you are wearing sling-back or open-back shoes, make sure your socks or hose are the color of your shoes or nude-colored. If you are wearing sandals, do NOT wear hose unless it is patterned (think fishnets) and “deliberately worn to make a trendy statement”.
5) Wear the highest length socks you can (at least mid to high calf-length). NOBODY wants to see shiny shins peeking out when you sit down!
6) Polish your shoes and clean your sneakers! The number one thing people forget to do when going out is to check their shoes for scuffs or dirt. Polished shoes show that you care about your appearance. The most expensive shoes in the world will look horrible if they are dirty or scuffed!
7) Keep your wallet or purse organized all the time. Nothing makes you look disorganized like an overstuffed wallet hanging on for dear life in your back pocket, or a purse bursting at the seams! Make yourself a system to keep the business cards, credit cards or receipts you don’t need all the time, in your briefcase or at home.
And a bonus: an understated use of scent (aftershave, cologne or perfume) shows that you take an extra step with your grooming and can have a positive effect not only on your own mood but on those around you. According to the Social Issues Research Center in Oxford, UK, subtle fragrances can have dramatic effects in improving your mood and sense of well-being. In addition, in experiments, subjects exposed to pleasant fragrances tend to give higher ‘attractiveness ratings’ to people in photographs. The regular use of pleasant fragrances helps to reduce mood disturbances in men and women.
Copyright © 2004 Renu Dalal-Jain, MS, CIC