How to Look Like You Have Your Shit Together (When You Really Don’t)


Once during my junior year of high school, my friend Kaddie told me something along the lines of, “You look so elegant and put together. But then you open your mouth.” To be fair, Kaddie had a point: I can be crude, my grasp of the English language is questionable despite it being my native (and only) tongue, and overall my life was then, as it is now, a mess. But as Kaddie acknowledged, you couldn’t tell that by looking at me. Because over the years I’ve picked a few tips and tricks to looking like I have my shit together. And although I may be many things, I like to think I’m not selfish, so I’m here to pass what I’ve learned onto you. Say you cry yourself to sleep one night (or two or three). Perhaps worse than the emotional distress that caused your tears in the first place is waking up with a face puffer than an eclair. If splashing your face with cold water doesn’t do the trick, give yourself a little facial massage (Into the Gloss has a great tutorial on Youtube). If you’re still feeling a little teary the following day, stick to waterproof mascara if you wear makeup. Although Lauren Conrad’s black tear streak on The Hills was iconic, in real life mascara tears are just messy and annoying. My favorite (easy) makeup trick to look put together is to wear a bold red lipstick. I prefer matte formulas because they’re long lasting and I don’t have to worry about getting it all over my face.

“Uniform dressing” is a phrase du jour that honestly I’m kind of sick of hearing. But! Here this concept of a go-to outfit with minimal variations comes in handy when you’re on the hot mess express. If you have a million options of what to wear, your already frazzled mind will probably implode. I’m not a neuroscientist, but I’m sure that’s the gist of it. Having a streamlined wardrobe with items that you know you’ll wear and feel good will give you one less thing to worry about the morning.

What to include in your uniform: comfortable items that you know you look good in. Nothing is worse than going throughout your day and finally getting a good look of your ensemble in a Walker bathroom mirror and realizing you look like a clown. For me, my uniform is pair of dark skinny jeans, a long sleeved top in either black, grey, or striped, black boots or sneakers, and depending on the weather a leather jacket or a heavier winter coat. Yes, it’s boring. But it’s fail-proof.

Even if you manage to put together a decent outfit, sometimes your hygiene is less than stellarwhen shit hits the fan in your life, you tend to smell like said shit. Fortunately other people don’t have to know that you haven’t showered in three days. Or they don’t have to know your “I’m just having one vodka soda” at the Tam on a Tuesday night translated into pounding five shots of Jameson until last call, and you didn’t have time to shower before your 10 a.m. the following morning. Most likely you’re going to smell like a mix of cigarette smoke, sweat, and shame. To avoid dirty looks from your classmates, there a couple steps to take.

Deodorant is obviously a given. Now normally I’m an advocate of using all-natural deodorant, but in this case you need the strongest shit in your arsenal. You need all the aluminum in the world to block the odor coming from your rank pits. I’m not saying this is the healthiest option, but neither is pounding hard liquor on a weekdayno judgment y’all, remember this is all from personal experience. If you haven’t done laundry in a while, you can always febreze your clothes in a pinch. Just make sure there are no stains on your clothes. Nothing says, “I’ve given up” like ambiguous stains on the front of your shirt.

Also, my hair is naturally oily. It’s gotten better now that I only wash it two-three times a week, but I still rely on dry shampoo. I have dark hair so sometimes if I get a little too heavy-handed with it I’ll have a greyish cast at my roots, but honestly my hair is already turning grey at the ripe age of twenty-two (From stress? Genetics? Who knows!). But if all else fails, throw a baseball cap on and hide those greasy roots, just like you hide your emotional anguish.

Photo by: Cameron Radenberg