How to be polished

posted on: July 2, 2011

You know those people who always look like they take so good care of themselves? Their hair is nice, the clothes look easy to wear, but also stylish, and they seem to be so mysteriously happy in their own skin. In my mind I’ve always thought of these people as polished, and for a while now I’ve been wondering how they do it.

Yesterday I stumbled over a post from Already Pretty called Perfectly Polished, which had both great content and very interesting comments (yes, I read them all). It seems many people think “polished” equals “boring” or “perfect”, but I couldn’t disagree more. In my opinion, polished people simply know how to be well-groomed, how to take care of themselves and their clothes. And here’s how to do it.

Hair. You just can’t look bad when your hair looks good. A dramatic statement, but just look at the bottom pictures furthest to the left and furthest to the right here. Even though my makeup (and even expression) is pretty much the same, imagine the right picture with a pair of black sweatpants and a white button-down. Somehow it doesn’t look too shabby, right? Then put those clothes on the Maria to the left, with wet, limp hair. Yeah, that doesn’t look quite as good. If I have only ten minutes to make myself look presentable, I’ll spend eight of those on my hair, simply because it makes such a difference. You want to say “I made some effort, but didn’t spend three hours in the bathroom.

Face. Makeup is wonderful, but you don’t need a lot to look polished. In fact, too much or too complicated makeup pushes it over into I-made-a-serious-effort-land, and that’s definitely not necessary. Keep it simple. The most important things are actually your eyebrows. Well-shaped they make anyone look five times better. Badly done (either all-over the place or over-plucked), it doesn’t help what kind of makeup you put on, it will still look slightly off.

Nails. The picture is rather self-explanatory, I think. Keep them clean, keep them reasonably well-shaped and moisturized, and you’re all good. You don’t need nail polish at all, although it can be a nice touch.

The clothes. Now, here’s where many people mistake “polished” for “boring” or “classic”. I say there are other factors that are much more important than the style you choose, and the fit is on top of my list. Clothes that are too tight or too baggy will never look polished, ever. Yes, an over-sized t-shirt can work, but only if it suits your body. Also, clothes with the wrong fit will make you worry and fidget and adjust them constantly, which goes against anything associated with “polished”. You want clothes that you put on, and then can forget about for the rest of the day (except for when someone compliments them, of course). Next, the fabric. Very cheap nylon, fleece, denim that loses it shape after five minutes… you get the idea, they’re all bad. Say it with me: bad.

Accessories and jewelry. The simplest is to choose between statement pieces (and then choose only one, please), or small, personal touches. It doesn’t have to be the classic pearl necklace or tiny diamond studs to be considered polished, the important thing is that it suits your personality and your style in general. Again, cheap-looking materials are BAD. They tell the world that you don’t allow yourself to have nice things, which again speaks volumes about how you think about yourself in general. Polished people take care of themselves, both on the inside and outside.

It’s also important to care for your things. Even the cheapest polyester blouse can look so much better after it’s been ironed. It takes one minute, if that, to give your shoes a touch up with one of those quick-shine-blocks, and it makes such a difference. Remove lint, mend holes, treat your bags and shoes so they can handle a bit of rain. Hem pants so they don’t drag along the ground, getting dirty and ruined. It takes less time than you think, and once you know how to look after your items, they last a lot longer.

In short, be clean and well-cared for. “Polished” does not mean “boring” or “perfect”, it simply says that you are willing to make an effort. And the difference it makes is much bigger than the effort itself.

What does “polished” mean to you?

  • Maja Piraja

    I agree with every word. And also: learn which shapes that look good on you! Like me, I need to be kept away from anything that hides my waist. It will make me look like a square, unattractive human.

  • Tone

    Åh, dette må jeg bli flinkere til….

    • Maria

      Heh, det var definitivt ikke meningen å få folk til å føle seg slaskete, da! Ville bare tipse om små ting som gjør en stor forskjell :) Jeg føler meg alltid så mye bedre hvis disse tingene er litt i orden.

  • Johanna

    Helt enig på alt. Selv bruker jeg mest tid på å få øyenbrynene rett, så tar jeg bare på litt mascara. Ser mange jenter med tonnevis av sminke hver dag, ser slitsomt ut å måtte gjøre alt det hver morgen.
    Er ikke så flink til å ordne håret da, mitt ser ikke bra ut om det ikke er nyvasket, så annenhver dag blir det hestehale eller bun.

    • Maria

      Håret mitt var også sånn, helt til jeg ble lei nok til å prøve ut teorien om at å vaske det sjeldnere gjør at det ikke blir så fort skittent. Det så ikke spesielt fantastisk ut i en liten periode (jeg vasket håret kanskje hver fjerde eller femte dag i et par uker), men det hjalp VELDIG. Kanskje verdt å prøve ut hvis du synes det er slitsomt? :) Åh, og YouTube er full av fantastiske hår-tutorials, hvis du har lyst til å utvide stylingrepertoaret ditt!

  • Trajena

    Loving this post! You are of course one of the first ladies on my list of polished women (somewhere after Marion Cotillard but before Renée Zellweger), so having you impart your wisdom is very much appreciated. As for what I think “polished” entails, I’m going to continue my apparent streak of writing a comment of near novel length and make a list ;) :

    -Hair: You are so right! My hair hits the small of my back and when you don’t bother to style your hair when it’s that long, people notice! Your hair says so much about the look you want to portray that it deserves the first spot on your list.

    -Face/Makeup: Right again! Eyebrows are very important. But when I want to look polished(or just pretty), my magic word is “blush”. I love to emphasize my cheeks and bone structure. For me, “polished” is a dressed up way of saying “healthy” and almost nothing promotes good health and happiness than flushed cheeks. NOT in a dolly I-put-lipstick-on-my-cheeks way, but in a I-went-for-a-quick-jog-this-morning-and-didn’t-sweat way. If that made any sense…

    - Clothes: Fit is EVERYTHING! Okay, not everything but at least a good 80 per cent! It’s called an outFIT for a reason!

    -This is one that wasn’t on your list – Shoes: Footwear can make or break your outfit. If your just wearing jeans and a top and want to look a little nicer, you put on the patent flats rather than the red converse. Heels almost automatically “pump” it up.

    -Perfume: Not a big thing like your hair, but a hint of fragrance shows that you did go that extra step. Particularly if you have a trademark or personalized perfume. I mix a more floral perfume with a fruity body spray to blend both scents and make something unique.

    For me, “polished” means “healthy, happy and well-cared for” by way of pretty flushes, personalized perfume and shiny hair. I do love these how-to posts! Here’s hoping for more in the future!

    p.s.: I love the Hair photo montage. After reading the post I played a game trying to remember which picture went with which post in lostinaspotlessmind.com version 1 and 2. The fact that I know almost all of them isn’t creepy, right? Right? RIGHT?!

    • Maria

      I am on a list with Marion Cotillard? Darling, you just made my day! And I adore your comments, to me the whole point of a blog is to communicate with your readers :)

      And yeah, I forgot about shoes. And perfume. Oh, and bags! Not to mention colours (Cookie commented on that instantly after she’d read the post). Good thing I’ve got readers to remind me!

      ps: It’s not creepy at all, just adorable <3

  • Néa

    Oh, please teach me how to make my hair look pretty! I feel that no matter what I do it’s just … a big fat failure :(

    • Maria

      I actually have some hair-posts planned quite soon! I just need Maja to get here so I have someone with long hair on which to demonstrate some styles (and I can hopefully bribe her into working the camera for me when I want to demonstrate something myself ;) ). Stay tuned!

  • Gitte

    For meg betyr “polert” ren, velpleid, sunn, komfortabel og elegant. Når jeg ser polerte mennesker føler jeg at de har et slags lys rundt seg som gjør deg ekstra oppmerksomme på dem – det er vanskelig å ikke legge merke til hvor vel de føler seg og hvor godt de tar seg ut.

    Jeg tror jeg skal bruke litt mer tid på utseendet fremover. Det kan virke redde en dårlig dag kjenner jeg! Nå som jeg studerer, har jeg mer tid om morgen enn da jeg gikk på skole, og da er det bare å benytte muligheten!

    • Maria

      Ikke sant? Det er så fascinerende at noen kan virke så velpleid og elegant, men at det likevel ser så naturlig ut. Og å bruke litt tid på utseendet har definitivt reddet mange dårlige dager for meg – alt blir hakket bedre om man føler seg fin :)

  • Martine

    Elsker (jeg bruker nesten aldri dette ordet) bloggen din. Har fulgt den i over 1 år, men fortsatt ikke kommentert. Dette derimot er noe av det beste du har skrevet – og fortjener derfor også en kommentar.

    “polished” er for meg selve bildet på skjønnhet. Å se naturlig pen ut er noe av det viktigste for veldig mange kvinner i verden. Tipsene dine er så innlysende etter jeg leste dette innlegget, hvorfor har jeg ikke forstått dette før? Dette er banebrytende informasjon!

    Ellers vil jeg bare si at det nye designet ditt er fabulous! Du virker som ei strålende jente og jeg synes du er så pen – ja, du er polished.
    At du tørr å følge drømmen din er inspirerende! Keep up the good work girl!

    Klem Martine

    • Maria

      Åh, kjære! Du aner ikke hvor glad jeg blir av slike kommentarer <3 Tusen takk for at du har fulgt meg så lenge, og for alle de fine tingene du sier. It means the world, really.

      *klem tilbake*

  • Frøken Barmen

    For eit fint innlegg! Er så einig, så einig, det skal ikkje mykje pleie og stell til før ein kjenner seg tusen gongar betre på ein dårleg dag:)

    Akkurat uttrykket “polert” er eg litt allergisk mot, fordi det for meg betyr noko som er glatt og altfor planlagt. Eg føretrekk “velstelt”. Men eg ser poenget ditt i innlegget, det handlar om å ta vare på seg sjølv og gjere det beste ut av det ein har, utan at det ser ut som om ein har prøvd for hardt.

    For meg er forresten huda heilt avgjerande for om eg kjenner meg fin! Den er noko av det viktigaste å få stelt for min del. Litt consealer, solpudder og rouge, så er eg bortimot good to go:) Fin hud reddar eitkvart antrekk!

    • Maria

      Jeg vurderte faktisk å bruke ordet “groomed” i stedet for “polished”, men fant ut at “polished” passet best med hva jeg tenkte på. “Polert” høres merkelig nok helt annerledes ut, der er jeg helt enig med deg i at det blir veldig… glatt ;)

  • Fleurette

    Bra post! Helt enig med deg når det gjelder brynene og neglene!

    • Maria

      Tusen takk! Det er egentlig ganske små ting som skal til for at man føler seg fem ganger finere :)

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    [...] make an effort. A good rule of thumb is therefore to add elements that will make you look more polished. The importance of decent hair cannot be stressed enough (we’ve pretty much eliminated bad [...]

  • Charlotte

    Er kanskje veldig langt bak her nå. Men jeg fant nettopp bloggen din, så jeg liker å bla igjennom.
    Jeg må si at jeg liker bloggen din utrolig godt! Så mange flotte tips, og masse inspirasjon! Du ser forresten flotters ut i jeans. Wow!

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  • Tuva

    Fin blog du har. Oppdaget den i dag :) Har du noen tips til noen som kan hjelpe med øyenbryn i Oslo? Jeg har som deg kraftige bryn, og synes det er forferdelig vanskelig å vite hvordan jeg skal gå frem. Plukker for mye på egenhånd…. På forhand takk :)

    • Maria

      Hei Tuva! Og takk :D Jeg former brynene mine selv, faktisk, og har aldri fått gjort det her i Oslo, så har ingen steder å anbefale, desverre. Det som hjalp meg veldig var å ikke røre brynene mine i det hele tatt over en lengre periode (du kan lese mer om det her: http://lostinaspotlessmind.com/category/the-brow-mission/). Det krever en del viljestyrke, men jeg tror det virkelig kan være verdt det! Da ser du nemlig hvilken form brynene dine har i utgangspunktet, og så kan du (etter den lange pausen) forme de slik at de krever minst mulig vedlikehold. Ikke bare gjør det at man må nappe mindre generelt, men jeg synes også ofte at bryn blir _finest_ om de får følge sin naturlige form så mye som mulig :) Håper det var til hjelp!

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