In my high school, the regional slang word tossed my way was “scurvy.” From biology to history, it passed through the lips of my peers. It was the word of choice for an unkempt individual. “Scurvy.” Considering my state of perpetual starvation, they could have been referring to my vitamin C deficiency, but that was probably a lost irony.
I certainly felt “scurvy.” My mother decided to move us onto an acreage with no running water or electricity, but there were plenty of farm animals and inbred cats. I was perpetually covered in animal hair, five weeks between showers, and reeking of second-hand smoke and first-hand perspiration. I was so greasy I could have been cold-pressed into a fine and abundant source of cooking oil.
Strangely, post-high school, I still felt “scurvy.” I had an income, a pet, a smoke-free home and daily showers, yet I still was… unkempt. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. There was just something not tightly kept together, and while I have long come to terms with my satan-given looks, I would always be disappointed when I glimpsed in the mirror. My shit was not “on fleek” as I had always yearned for it to be.
I had a thirtieth birthday recently. I went to a masquerade ball, danced, drank champagne, and had a grand old time. My friends had taken some candid pictures of me that turned up on facebook the next day. There I was, staring up at myself from the timeline feed, finger waves perfectly coiffed, skin matte yet dewy, not an eyelash astray. I looked completely put together, and it filled me with a sort of joy that didn’t feel superficial at all.
I am a strong proponent of “no right way to be, look, or dress.” But I still must admit: it felt good. It felt important. Because the ability to pull myself together and present myself the way I wanted to be seen has always been important to me. So I wanted to share what I have learned on my journey from scurvy teenager to well-kept adult. These are the tips — each an investment of just a little bit of time or money — I have on how to look put together.
1. Identify your eye shape.
Identifying your eye shape is the best diagnostic tool for figuring out what the fuck is going wrong with your makeup. I have hooded eyes and my mascara would always smudge onto the top of my “hood,” and I was flummoxed. Every time I google searched “mascara ending up on top,” I got useless advice like, “Look down when you apply it.” Now a quick search of “makeup for hooded eyes” has me equipped with my eyeshadow primer and waterproof mascara, or using my false eyelash technique for hooded eyes. So whatever case of runs, ripples, or raccoon eyes you have, identifying your eye shape is a fast track to solving your problem.
2. Clean your shoes.
Yeah, I know. Who knew you could get a warm washcloth and clean your flats? For years, I never considered smudgy shoes to be an issue. I just always figured, “they are shoes, they get dirty.” But your shoes are an important part of your presentation, so if you want to look put together, start a-wipin’.
3. Get a sweater shaver.
It is safe to say that the sweater shaver contributes a minimum of $300 a month to my income. My online Poshmark store is full of beautiful items, brought completely back to life by this little inexpensive device. Those “pills” that happen on your sweaters, skirts, and dresses can easily be buzzed, making your favorite cardigan look brand spanking new.
4. Get some skimmies.
It’s hard to feel put together when you are massively uncomfortable. I know that people love their Spanx, but in true Bridget Jones style, mine always unravel from the top like an unruly condom, and I find myself a sweaty, strangled, unhappy mess within a couple of hours of wearing them. Skimmies, on the other hand, are a gift from the Jockey Gods. Skimmies are slippy form-fitting shorts that are super lightweight and breathable. They provide a teeny tiny bit of support and prevent your chub rub. They make skirts and dresses a million times more comfortable and come in 21 colors. Oh, and they are like eight bucks. You are welcome.
5. Invest in a clothing steamer.
Seriously, who has time to iron their clothes? I feel like clothing irons are magical time sucks. There is no reason it should take an eternity to arrange your top, plug your iron in, wait for it to heat up, then carefully press out all the little wrinkles and then wait for your garment to cool. It takes for fucking ever. Unfortunately, most people just skip this step entirely and leave the house a bit wrinkled. Girl, get yourself a handheld clothing steamer. There is no hauling around ironing boards involved, just hang your item, give it a 30-second steam, and voila: wrinkle-free clothes!
Tiara Shelley is the creator of the popular blog Damn Girl Get Your Shit Together. When not writing, she owns and operates a ballroom dance studio in the Midwest.
Image via Unsplash