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10 tips for looking your best

Tim Gunn, one of the most reputable voices in the fashion industry, has a list of ten essential items every woman must have in her wardrobe. They are:

  1. a basic black dress
  2. a trench coat
  3. classic dress pants
  4. a skirt
  5. a blazer
  6. a classic white shirt
  7. a day dress
  8. a cashmere sweater
  9. jeans
  10. a sweatsuit alternative

For the most part, I like this list. I’m no fashion maven, but I agree with about 80 percent of his suggestions (not sure a cashmere sweater is terribly practical for a mom of littles).

Britt guest posted here awhile back and suggested ten essential items every mom needs in her wardrobe. This list strikes a much more relevant chord with the mom lifestyle, while still nodding to being put together and ready to head out the door at any moment.

But what about the other stuff? Having the right clothes are important, but what about the other, tangible and intangible things that spruce up the busy mom?

From my experience, here are 10 “must haves” for feeling well and for outwardly looking your best.

1. A good night’s sleep.

We all know how important this is, and most of us never get enough, especially when we have babies. But all of us also know how much better we feel when we get enough. Sleep deprivation means dark circles, cloudier skin, and a lethargic attitude. Not the prettiest ever.

2. Plenty of water.

If you grab a glass of water when you’re thirsty, you’ve waited too long. Drink water almost nonstop, and you should be well hydrated. Your sink will be clearer, you’ll feel fuller and be less likely to snack, and your body will function at its best.

3. Good posture.

Most women slouch. If you’re sitting right now, make a point to straighten your back comfortably, rest your shoulders, and align your chin at a relaxed angle. There – isn’t that better? Good posture immediately shaves pounds of your frame, and it decreases stress to your body. Basic, regular exercises can help improve your posture.

4. Taking a shower and getting groomed.

Sounds crazy to actually put this on a list, but if you’re a mom with young children, you understand. There are seasons when it’s a minor miracle to take a shower, brush your teeth, and change out of your pajamas before noon. But doing so really does improve your mood, your productivity, and most obviously your appearance.

5. Smiling.

Is smiling your favorite? I can forget to smile – or even look pleasant – when I’m concentrating and hard at work. But I immediately feel better when I make a concentrated effort to smile, and others – like my husband and kids – relate to me more peacefully. You’ll look prettier, too.

6. Knowing your colors.

This idea sounds trite and shallow until you get the basic point. Liking a color only does so much if it just doesn’t jive with your skin tone. Once you know what works for you, it makes sense to stick with wearing those colors. It doesn’t matter how well something fits, or how much you like an outfit – if it just doesn’t work for you, it’ll only work against you. I was never a big purple fan, so I was really surprised to learn that plum and eggplant shades work well for me. Now I wear that color all the time. Real Simple has good advice on four colors that look good on everyone.

7. Finding a good haircut that frames your face and works with your hair type.

We discussed this one recently in the comments section – is a good quality haircut worth the oftentimes hefty price? Some times it is, at least a few times a year. When you have an experienced hair stylist who works with your hair type and not against it, you’ll be much more at peace with what God has given you up top. You may actually love your hair.

Photo by martinak15

8. Getting time outside.

Sunlight emits vitamin D, an essential vitamin that improves your mood (which is why Seasonal Affective Disorder is so common during the winter). This, combined with fresh air, a break from screen time, ambient sound, and natural color all equal an ideal environment for better health. Better health means a better outward appearance.

9. Exercising.

This is an area that simply does not come naturally to me, but I have first-hand experience with how much better I feel, look, and thrive when I get exercise. An important note for busy moms – some is better than none. If you struggle with perfectionism, like me, you tend to not do something at all if you can’t do it well. But even a walk around the block works wonders to clear your head and improve your mood. And when you’re physically working your body, it goes without saying that you feel better about your appearance.

10. Quality down time.

Another recent topic here on Simple Mom – quality down time (as opposed to just any old down time) means a better rested mom who truly loves her job. It’s easier to smile, to sleep, and to work hard – all great ingredients for a better outward appearance.

“Make It Work” in your life.

For the rest of this week, choose one of the 10 items, and make a deliberate effort to make them a regular part of your routine. Today, if you haven’t yet, take a shower and groom yourself after you read this post (and comment below, of course!). Or make a plan to take a walk around the block every day – you’ll knock out numbers 8, 9, and 10 at once. Or if you feel overwhelmed by these, simply write “smile” on a sticky note, and put it over the kitchen sink – let it remind you of one of the easiest beauty secrets around.

See if these improve your mood, your interaction with your kids and husband, and how you feel about your appearance.

What would you add to the list?

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Reading Time:

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  1. liz (

    Oh my. I love Tim Gunn, but I have none of his list except for 9 and 10. And I have a few skirts, too, but I never wear them. I think we have different standards about this in Alaska… 🙂

    I do love your list, and agree most of all with smiling, drinking water, and time outside. Good suggestions, all! I would add something about mental stimulation– literature, good conversation, games. Those are a must for me. 🙂
    .-= liz (´s last blog attempt at batch cooking =-.

  2. se7en

    I love this post I am uplifted just reading it… Right now I am headed out doors to get some peace and hang the laundry… fresh air and random thoughts all in one! That’s one ticked off the list, nine to go!!!
    .-= se7en´s last blog ..A Mother’s Alamanac: Se7en “Brilliant Baby” Posts… =-.

  3. Micha

    I think I would add patience, because mothers need it everywhere and it makes life nicer for the people around you.
    .-= Micha´s last blog ..Erntekorb / a basket full of vegetables =-.

  4. steadymom

    I have to agree with the haircut mention. A few months ago as a birthday present, my hubbie sent me for my most expensive cut ever – it is so wonderful and ended up being really worth it! I’m planning on going again, but just less frequently than I used to get it cut.

    .-= steadymom´s last blog ..Two Years =-.

  5. Abbie

    I can totally related to the grooming part. Before kids, spend hours in the bathroom. Now I try to rush out before something/someone blows up.

    I’d add, that a good healthy diet is important to looking good. I just added flax oil to my diet to help my hair and nails grow shiny again, and help improve my tired skin. This one I think is hard, but your body will thank you.

    Wonderful post Tsh, as always! Thanks.
    .-= Abbie´s last blog ..6 Great Places to Start Organizing Your Health =-.

  6. Chele

    I love these ideas! Since being at home, unless I have big plans… I take a shower at night and put a hat on in the morning. Sit in my pj’s for awhile and so on. I’ll do the getting a shower (in the morning) and grooming… I know it will help me with my day ahead. I’m going now!!
    .-= Chele´s last blog ..Friday’s Blessings =-.

  7. Stacie @

    I’m a believer in a good haircut too. I didn’t used to think it was important, but after I spent the money one time, that was it. I think I actually spend less money now on my hair because the haircuts last longer when I’m satisfied.
    .-= Stacie @´s last blog ..What Not To Do When Potty Training =-.

  8. Jen

    Loved this post! Needed the reminders….

  9. Liz

    I have to laugh because I am sitting here in my pj’s reading this! I usually don’t get a shower until about noon or 1. Glad to know I am not the only one. And I need to take the advice as well. 🙂
    .-= Liz´s last blog ..OOPS! I did it again. =-.

  10. w.

    These are wonderful reminders of taking care of ourselves – they focus me on things to foster inner beauty. What I would add to the list as a priority to look your best: inner peace. Not flighty-fancy-empty-your-mind-humming-detached inner peace, but the true peace that comes from a gentle and quiet spirit.

    A woman who knows she is loved no matter what has inner peace that radiates from within. When life’s challenges and changes come her way, she has a stillness, a fortitude that displays assurance that all will be well no matter the chaos around her. The woman with inner peace is not given to fits of temper, pouting, combativeness or anxiousness about the future.

    Inner peace, for many remarkable women of history, and many not-so-remarkable women like myself, can begin with what has come to be known as “daily devotions”. Savoring the riches of the Bible prayerfully before starting your day can give you a sense of being known and loved by God, the God who made you, who provides everything you enjoy, who brings challenges to test your dependence on Him and offers the deepest love imaginable freely to all who seek Him.

    I realize this is not a theology website, but just wanted to encourage you ladies who read this post to give the Bible a try in the morning for a little while each day…there is absolutely beautiful poetry in the pages of the Psalms, fantastic love stories in the book of Ruth and Song of Solomon, and an overall theme throughout the pages that show there is a blessing for doing good!

    As mothers we often sacrifice so much for our children, as wives we give up so much “independence” for our husbands, as daughters, we let go of trying to control our parents and submit to their wishes – these things are necessary for our own welfare and benefit of others. It’s called love. Love isn’t simply getting our own way, the deepest love comes when we, in an act of kindness, do something right for another person. Real love is noble, honorable and usually self-sacrificing. Even with our husbands, isn’t the best given to us when we first give ourselves completely over to them? Some of the most deeply satisfying things we do are those things we do for others.

    I have found the Bible supports this kind of love and found great encouragement there to press on day-by-day in doing what’s best for my family, when in many people’s eyes, (especially the media) it may look like I’m giving something up or perhaps people would tell me “you deserve” to _____________. Just fill in the blank with something selfish. Yet where would that leave my family if that was my mantra? The world tells me I deserve to cater to my own desires constantly, that I can “have it all”. No one can have it all and have inner peace. My own needs are important, but most often they come after my families needs. If I had thought of my parents first when I lived at home I would have saved myself a lot of grief. I didn’t have inner peace then…

    Inner peace gives you a sense that doing the best for others is the way to live, so you don’t get angry when things take a turn for the worst. If your plans are changed, you roll with it. When others are angry or belligerent, you don’t follow suit. You have inner peace. So take some quiet time in the morning and get alone with God. He can give you lasting, deep, inner peace – peace with Him and peace with everyone else. Inner peace brings a better quality of life, it is the sense of something good happening inside you from a Source outside of you…and it radiates into the lives of those you care about most.

  11. Jamie

    Good reminders for me as well. Love the 10 tips as well as what others have added in the comments. I know that my mental state is better when I get exercise and eat better. I’ve been gathering a list of stuff to do when there are free moments so that it becomes quality down time, like you said.
    .-= Jamie´s last blog ..Just Start =-.

  12. Mary-Jo

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks and really enjoy your refreshing outlook. Your posts are something I look forward to reading and looking at things a different way. Thank you.

    I don’t know much about Tim Gunn ~ however, what I do know about him is that I’m afraid to meet him and hear what he would have to say about my appearance!! I’m not nearly as put-together as he advocates! But, surprisingly, I have almost everything on his list (minus the cool weather essentials such as cashmere sweater, blazer, etc ~ there’s not much use for those in balmy Florida!). Guess I need to start pulling those items I do have out of the closet and use them more often ~ just in case I should bump into Timmy.

    I love your list ~ everything on there is something I’ve thought of in the past week that I need for myself. The thing on your list that seems to allude me most is sleep. And, I’m right there with you on the smile reminder. Sometimes, my kids or husband will ask me what’s wrong because I have such a serious or intense look on my face without even realizing it. I’m giving them the impression I’m unhappy about something when it’s quite the opposite. I need to relax, breathe and smile.

    I was just thinking this morning while running, that I’m overdue for a good haircut. The summer ponytail isn’t doing much to make me feel pulled together.

    One thing I would add to your list for any woman and/or mother is a network of close friends that will be there when things get crazy. Sometimes a phone call or dinner out with girlfriends just puts everything in perspective.

  13. Mrs. Smith

    I love the list of essentials! They are classic & will outlast trends, which means they will save me some $$!!
    .-= Mrs. Smith´s last blog ..How much the Smiths are in debt =-.

  14. Doodlebug's Mommy

    I would add to the haircut thing… a haircut that doesn’t have to be blowdried. With a six month old and a deployed husband there is NO WAY I have time to blowdry my hair. I just got it cut and it is so great because I just have to run my fingers through it a couple of times while it dries naturally and I’m good to go.

    Great post! I love the ideas. I need to work on the exercise one…
    .-= Doodlebug’s Mommy´s last blog ..Why Eat Local Foods =-.

  15. Julei

    I laughed at Tim’s list. My one question when shopping for clothes is, “Will I mind if this gets dirty?”

    I did enjoy the other reminders, especially smiling. I’d add “a few minutes of peace before the kids get up” (which is really hard ’cause I have early risers). If I can finish one cup of coffee without having to reheat it or dump it out, my day starts much better.

  16. Clutching to the Vine

    I like walking. It incorporates #8, #9, #10, and even #1. If I walk two miles in the morning, I sleep so much better. I did this through both pregnancies. Later I had a double jogging stroller and took both my boys on walks. The thing I loved was that it was good for me, but it was also really good for them. I didn’t have to plop them in front of a video to occupy them–they had lots to look at as we strolled the neighborhood. Now my dog is my walking partner–she wakes me at daybreak for our morning walk.
    .-= Clutching to the Vine´s last blog ..Sticking to Routines =-.

  17. Kimberly

    The posture thing is huge! About a year ago, my physical therapist really made me work on my posture and immediately people asked if I lost weight! Nope, just stood up straight and now I’m taller. You look bettter, plus my neck doesn’t hurt at night any more!
    .-= Kimberly´s last blog ..I told you it was hot! =-.

  18. amandaginn

    In order to find your blog…

    “I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.”

    Love that movie. And this blog!
    .-= amandaginn´s last blog ..The Beauty of Handmade =-.

  19. Kim @ whatsupbird

    I always feel good and pulled together when I wear a white blouse and black trousers.
    I have always felt that I spent too much on my fine,thin hair, but when I tried to go somewhere less expensive the results were not good.
    I have to add my quiet time to the list of what I need to do each day. Handing my day over to God and knowing I’m not alone keep me in check!
    .-= Kim @ whatsupbird´s last blog ..Upgrading my faith… =-.

  20. bethanyfphotography

    I just have to say that I love this blog. I always feel encouraged and uplifted after reading a post! 🙂 Thanks for what you do!!

  21. Chloe Alice Wilson

    Oh enough sleep – that is my number 1 need in life – without it I’m doomed, I can’t do a thing. And not just 7 or so hours – I need at least 10! Did anyone else read ‘Good Posture’ and suddenly sit up straighter at their PC??!! Can I also add ‘To Laugh’ – I’m lucky in that my husband is always making me laugh for some reason but when he was away for a few days and I wasn’t laughing all the time I found things got on top of me a lot more.
    Cheers, Chloe
    .-= Chloe Alice Wilson´s last blog ..Battle Strikers – 10 Things Every Parent Needs To Know =-.

  22. Jewelry Gal

    You can never go wrong wearing a unique piece of handmade jewelry to help you feel special.

  23. Megan (FriedOkra)

    Number 11, I think, is just that one special something that’s unique for every woman. Could be a pretty necklace that picks up the sparkle in her eyes, or a spritz of that perfume she wore on glorious, star-filled night with someone special, or that sexy plunging, slightly-impractical “foundational undergarment” that gives her sticky brown t-shirt a little va-va-voom from the inside out. Even just a sweet reminder from her partner or a friend that she’s gorgeous. Number 11 is that one thing that never fails to make a woman FEEL beautiful. Because feeling beautiful shines through every time.
    .-= Megan (FriedOkra)´s last blog ..This is Not a Book Review =-.

  24. Zengirl

    I do not have any of these dresses/outfits 🙁 but I do agree with your 10 list, for me to be a good mom (or anyone), they need these basic things. Lot of sleep deprivation, I tend to be less understanding and cranky 🙂
    Good goals to keep in mind. I will keep it posted on fridge, as I tend to lose my memories when living life with 2 kids.

    .-= Zengirl´s last blog ..7 ways your clutter is costing you =-.

  25. Tania

    Great tips, specially about the essential items in my wardrobe.
    😉 thank you!
    .-= Tania´s last blog ..El reto “Get Dressed” =-.

  26. Hyman

    As a mom of a one year old son, I would say that wardrobe list doesn’t suit me in the least 😀

    I found the BEST vneck, softest/flattering/easy tshirts ever and bought a ton of them. Good thing bc they are $10 a piece which isn’t bad IMO for a favorite t. I can go through 3 in one day bc boys are MESSY. lol.

    And flattering, stretchy pants – such as yoga/Pilates pants … I have my favorite ones that I feel great in and my husband says make my butt look great 😀 they’re really a must bc who can play on the floor comfortably in jeans???? maybe im just a big kid bc even when I was little I wanted my “stretch pants” not jeans- bc I could run faster lol.

    And sleep is important. I try to sleep when my son does – but sometimes im just too wired. 😀

  27. Beth


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