When I was pregnant with our first child, I marveled that new life was growing inside of me.
I had dreamed of getting married since I was a little girl, so I naturally welcomed this seemingly everyday miracle. I was in awe. I was a mother! But, even though I felt overwhelming gratitude and joy, I also contended with feeling conflicted about the changes developing in my body. It may sound surface, but it’s a reality that pregnant women face. It is more difficult for some than others, but regardless, it’s a topic worthy of acknowledgement. For me there was the fear of undoing progress.
You see, in the year prior to pregnancy, I had gotten help with my struggle with eating. I had learned a new way of thinking about food and eating which had led to a healthier outlook on both. With the help of others in similar shoes, I had arrived at a healthy weight and had found freedom in following a nutritious eating plan. Finally, I was able to maintain a weight that allowed me to wear anything in my closet. It was sweet relief. More on that in another post…
Back to the topic at hand. So, now I had become the incubator for a tiny life. Such joy! Eager to buy maternity clothes and wanting help with personal style while heading into nine months of expansion, I went to Barnes and Noble and flipped through a book on the subject.
While it would be months before I showed the glorious ‘baby bump,’ I extracted from that book what I still consider to be a golden nugget of information. Twenty plus years ago, it helped my pregnant self feel good and to this day, its wisdom applies to my post-five-babies, middle-aged self.
It is an easy tip to follow requiring only a measure of intentionality.
Here’s the tip:
Focus on your hair and shoes. Yep, that’s it! That is the shockingly simple nugget. And easy to remember, don’t you think? Most of us spend far too much mental energy trying to tackle everything at once. Impossible! And totally unnecessary. Go with me on this.
Imagine for a minute a woman whose personal style you admire. You could be thinking of a woman with any number of looks: sharp, pulled-together corporate, urban casual, sporty, prairie, up-style, East Village. The list could go on. The point is, this sound style advice of narrowing your focus to hair and shoes applies across the board, no matter what look you’re going for. So, imagine that stylish person, and with your mind’s eye, hone in on her hair. Now pan down to her shoes. I’m guessing that she qualifies as someone who maintains a fabulous haircut and always wears great shoes. Am I right?
Isn’t that interesting?! The truth is, when a woman sports a stylish do and nice looking shoes that fit her personal style, your eyes go to her hair and shoes and you think: she’s pulled together from head to toe. She carries herself with confidence. She must feel good about her appearance. She may not love every aspect of it, but she seems to be learning to appreciate dressing in a way that makes her feel good.
Now that we’ve set the stage for zeroing in on hair and shoes, let’s take a look at the hair category. Have you found a style that suits you best? Maybe you’re a ponytail person. A high one with a slight bump at the roots and a sleek low one are equally legitimate. Maybe you have curly hair that can look beach-worthy with the scrunching in of your favorite product. Or maybe, you like soft layers that a ten minute blow dry can put in place. Whatever your hairstyle, the goal is that you own it and love it.
You may be saying, but I don’t love my hairstyle. Well, let’s fix that! I get it: while you may feel frustrated by this, it’s a good realization and a great place to start. Here it makes sense to do some homework. Do a little research using the internet. Start by searching a phrase such as ‘short pretty woman’s haircut with light layers for straight hair.’ I just did that and returned a search including a result with 70 options! You will of course tailor your search to reflect your hair length and type as well as desired look.
Look for pictures of hairstyles that could work with your hair type and length. If there are 50 images and you like three, this is success! Screenshot pictures of the cuts you think might be an option. Share these with your stylist in a sort of consultation at your next haircut. If you want to make a change to a different hair stylist, talk to a friend whose hair you like. Who is her stylist? If the pricing suits you, schedule an appointment and go through the same exercise of getting professional input on potential hairstyles for you.
So, the first challenge is to establish your ‘do’ and the next is to keep your hair looking good. If you wear a ponytail, flat iron your hair, or curl it, you may not need frequent haircuts. Your style can look finished when your hair is at a variety of lengths. Bonus for you! However, if you’re like me, and you have a shorter style with some layers, you’ll want to schedule an appointment every 6 weeks or so.
If you have a really short cut, you may only want to go four weeks between haircuts. Whatever the schedule for keeping your hair style looking good, you’ll want to get those appointments on the calendar. Remember, I said that this would require a bit of intentionality!
The counterpart to good hair is good shoes. You may be asking, what does that even mean? Well, here again, your personal style will dictate the answer to this question. There are some basics, though, that apply across the board. For example, wear shoes that are in good shape. If they have holes, a lot of scuffs, or are dirty, either let them go or store them as your get-messy shoes. We all need ‘kick-around’ shoes for activities such as gardening, hunting for bugs with the little people in our lives, or running into the grocery store on a drizzly day.
Next, prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to the shoes in your wardrobe. It may be time that you cull your collection. Pare down and see if you have what you need. When you plan your outfit for the day, take an extra couple of minutes choosing the right shoes for the outfit. Don’t always reach for your Birkenstocks or Danskos! I know it’s tempting. Comfort is our friend. But try to go for comfort and style when reaching for the shoes that will complete your look. Remember, you want to look pulled together from top to bottom, so thinking through your shoe choice, in addition to your hairstyle, really does matter.
Well, there you have it. The golden nugget style secret that couldn’t be easier to get your head around. Hair and shoes! Two areas of focus. Two!
Now, square your shoulders, as my mother used to say, and walk into life with style and confidence. That’s what I call simple wisdom.