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Keep Hair & Nails Tidy
“For me, it all starts with my hair,” says Erna Leon, founder of MERCER7. “If my hair is messy, there’s no way I’ll feel polished, even if my outfit is on point. I have regular keratin treatments to keep the frizz at bay and if I don't have time to blow-dry my own hair, a slicked back bun always does the trick.” The same goes for your nails, adds influencer Tijan Serena Mazour: “You don’t always need to pay for a manicure – in fact I always used to paint my own nails – but chipped colour always looks a little messy, so it’s important to keep them looking neat. Getting my nails done is ‘me’ time, and I always go somewhere local that doesn’t require advance bookings, so I can pop in around my children’s schedules.”
Invest In A Steamer
“The condition of your clothes goes a long way to looking put together,” says fashion influencer Nicole Ballardini. “They should fit well, be clean and, most importantly, ironed – there’s nothing worse than a creased shirt.” Erna agrees: “Do yourself a favour and invest in a steamer – an iron is great, but a handheld steamer is a game changer if you want to quickly straighten something out in a rush. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing clothes that cost £5 or £500 – they won't look good if you don't treat them right.”
Sticking to a tonal colour palette is one of the easiest ways to look polished with minimal effort. “Most of the time, I wear monochromatic outfits and if I do wear different colours, I stick to a maximum of three shades to keep things coherent,” explains Nicole. “I always talk about tonal dressing on my platform,” adds Erna. “It really does help you look more polished. Pick a neutral colour, like black or beige and build an outfit using pieces in similar shades.”
Choose Accessories Carefully
“Accessories will always help to finish of an outfit, so don’t underestimate their power,” says Nicole. “I prefer a simple look as a base, with strong accessories and layered jewellery to elevate everything.” Similarly, Erna believes a couple of great accessories can make all the difference. “In my opinion, more structured bags always feel a bit more polished, so look for to clean lines and a shape that doesn’t have too much slouch to it.” Erna also suggests investing in a good pair of sunglasses: “The right pair can make you feel more confident, without suggesting you’ve tried too hard.”
Check The Fit
“Sizing up, particularly with high-street pieces, is a great way to make your outfit look more expensive,” says Nicole. “That said, your clothes should still fit well – if you’re petite, becoming familiar with your local tailor is a good move, as you can then make sure everything you buy hangs perfectly on your body.” Tijan recommends sizing up in coats and jackets especially. “Generally speaking, outerwear and blazers look better when they’re on the more relaxed side – it’s a more modern look, plus it’s also more comfortable. Likewise, Erna suggests sizing up when it comes to tailoring. “A good suit is a must in every woman’s wardrobe – it instantly creates a polished silhouette – just make sure it isn’t too fitted.”
Add Something Vintage
For a bit of classic glamour and polish, Tijan recommends adding a vintage piece as a finishing touch. “Most of my favourite handbags are all vintage – last year I found an Hermès Constance from the 80s which makes every outfit feel special. Even the simplest looks are elevated when I use it. Otherwise, try adding some jewellery, a belt or silk scarf – Vestiaire Collective and Open for Vintage have a great selection at various price points.”
Have A Fallback Outfit
Even the most stylish women have days when they don’t know what to wear, but to avoid looking scruffy through getting dressed in a rush, have a go-to formula you know works for you. That might be a blazer and jeans, or head-to-toe neutrals like Erna, but keep one or two ideas to hand and you’ll never have an off day again. If you’re in need of some inspo, Tijan recommends doing a bit of research: “I like to save outfits in folders on Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration – I find it helps streamline my wardrobe and the getting ready process becomes much quicker.”
Look After Your Clothes
It goes without saying that looking after the pieces in your wardrobe will make them last longer, but ensuring they’re washed, ironed and cared for properly means they’ll always look fresh off the hanger. For example, avoid machine washing jeans too often as they’ll lose their shape quicker, and fold instead of hanging knitwear to keep them in their best shape.
Invest In Your Shoes
A good pair of shoes has the power to elevate the simplest of outfits, so if you invest in one thing, make it footwear. “I personally prefer a box fresh aesthetic when it comes to shoes, as a scruffy pair can ruin an otherwise smart outfit.” Says Erna. “Make sure you try and keep them looking as clean and tidy as possible, either by taking them in to be repaired or prepping with suede/leather protector.”
Avoid Designer Copies
Tempting though it might be to snap up a dupe of a cult favourite handbag or shoe, an obvious copy can sometimes cheapen your look. That doesn’t mean you always have to invest in the real deal – a simple, high street leather bag will always appear much chicer than a designer rip-off, so choose wisely and keep it classic.