Among the recent countless articles about "shopping your closet" and general recessionary-themed style advice, this article from the LA Times caught my eye the other day. Now I'll admit that I often find the LAT style ("Image") section to be celebrity-obsessed and usually outside of my frame of reference, preferring to profile the most avant-garde designers and hippest haberdasheries. But I thought they included some good suggestions, most of which don't require a large outlay of cash. I've cherry picked a few to share and expand upon. These small changes can make a big impact.
20 Ways to Upgrade Your Style
Ditch those jeans and step it up. OK, I'll agree with this one. I love my jeans, but LA is a town that takes "casual" to new heights, or rather, lows. For Pete's sake, if you're going to dinner at someplace like Crustacean, take a few moments to change out of your jeans, t-shirt and baseball cap! While I do wear jeans to work a couple days a week, I try to stick to my dark blue or black denim, and dress up with a jacket.
Invest in an evening bag. I heartily second this! Unless you're coming straight from work, don't shlep your Subaru-sized hobo out for drinks with the girls. There are some lovely clutches out there, but une femme strongly suggests one with a shoulder strap when you need both hands to juggle the drink, crudités, and business card.
Keep it clean. (Lose the embroidery, tattoo prints etc.) Not a problem, my style is generally simple and un-embellished anyway. Wish I still had those vintage beaded sweaters, though.
Grow back your eyebrows. Hah! Like I haven't been trying for the last 20 years??
Stop the 'homeless or Hollywood' hair. Thank you!!! How the lank-and-unwashed look ever gained traction I'll never understand. Remember when men's hair products used to be disparagingly referred to as "greasy kid's stuff"?
Stop for a shoeshine. OK, that one's in the "for the men" section, but keeping your shoes polished and repaired will go a long way to help project a posher image. Actually, one of my favorite chores is polishing shoes. I love the process, and the result.
Learn how to be a gentleman. I don't think this one has to be male-specific either. "Being prepared to produce cab fare for a tipsy friend, a clean handkerchief for a child's skinned knee, a kind word for the cashier," and being helpful in general are qualities we all can cultivate.
I have some of my own additions to this list.
Consider wearing shoes other than flip-flops. Even in weather that dips into the 30's, the flimsy rubber footwear is frequently seen on LA streets. There are shoes out there just as comfortable (if not more so) than flip-flops, which should be relegated to pool- and beach-side wear.
Pay attention to your your nails... even if you've cut back on the manicures. The LAT article mentions cuticles, but keeping nails themselves looking good (filed smooth, at even lengths--shorter looks better, IMO--and clean!) goes a long way to helping you look more pulled together.
Save the tracksuits and yoga wear for the track and yoga studio. I know, you want everyone to know you're committed to that fitness program, but perhaps it's time to re-introduce yourself to the concept of "street clothes."