Have you ever had one of those days? You know, when you leave the house without giving a thought to how you look, then suddenly, you run into a fellow mom and you wonder how she manages to look so well put together all the time?
It’s one thing to go to a wedding or a dressy event for which you must fix your hair and makeup and plan your outfit in advance. It’s another to get dolled up just to go to the grocery and bring the kids to school. Who actually does that? By the time you get the kids bathed, fed, clothed and out the door, you’re already two minutes late.
And since you’ll be out for “just this one quick thing” anyway, you close the door and step out, in denial of the fact that this one errand could lead to five more and you will run into someone inevitably.
I turned to some great moms I know who manage to ace both caring for their families and themselves, and came up with some handy tips!
1. Conceal and color.
One of my dear friends, Nicole Schulze-Lopez, always looks bright-eyed and fresh no matter what. She is busy with a toddler, a preschooler, teaching and the completion of her master’s degree in child psychology, yet every time I see her, there’s never a trace of stress on her face.
The magic formula for a fresh look? Concealer and lipstick. You don’t have to pile on the makeup, especially since the eyes are usually the main subject of attention, so if you can clear up the circles around it and add a splash of color to your lips to brighten up your face, you’re good. Total time? Two minutes, max.
2. Wear the right fit.
A quick text to one of my two much-loved “ates” in the Bantay Bata Adboard, Kaye Tinga, got me a good tip to share. Kaye is a mom to four kids ranging in age from three to 16, owner of W17 home store and co-chair of the annual Red Cross Ball, yet every time I see her, she is always in a chic and smart getup.
“When we gain weight, we tend to wear loose clothes,” she says. “Forget that! It just emphasizes what you are trying to hide. On any given day, a right fit—not tight!—looks better.”
3. Tuck it and cinch it.
“I’m a lift-it-and-cinch-it type of girl,” says Audrey Puckett-Chiu. If you meet Audrey in Hong Kong, you would be shocked to know that she has—count ’em—five sons! In between pregnancies and raising her boys, she’s into a number of businesses, including my dream job, designing clothes for her own brand, When We Were 5, with her sister.
She is a firm believer in showing a woman’s figure, perfect or otherwise, through a good fit, belts and whatever you may need under your outfit. Why, hello there Spanx and Victoria.
I’d like to add a clothing tip based on an observation I made just the other day. I saw a woman wearing your typical knee-length shorts and button-down polo, but whereas I’d usually throw it on for the grocery without thinking, this woman thoughtfully tucked her blouse in, neatly folded the sleeves, and cinched it with a belt.
I have to say, it made me think about how much nicer and smarter it would look if I consistently tucked in my shirts and used a belt.
4. Basic grooming
One mom I’ve never seen having an off day is Mika Lagdameo Martinez. Having two kids has not stopped her from continuing her modeling career or engaging in new pursuits such as Gourmet Pao, co-owning Elan modeling agency, and becoming a licensed money broker.
“Never let go of your personal style,” she says. “Being a mom doesn’t have to mean the end of looking good; in fact, it should inspire you to look better! Take time for regular visits to the salon for new looks, get a wax, keep your nails clean and polished. Don’t let go of that sexy woman in you!”
I read an article once in a magazine that said changing your look can be as easy as simply changing the part of your hair. If your hair is always up, leave it down. Conversely, if it’s always down, put it up. I’ve been wearing a ponytail for the last three years, so this week, I will bid adieu to the ponytail for my little experiment.
Outside, I’m going to leave my hair down, in a half-ponytail, or find time to set it with hot rollers for some body and volume or copy my daughter’s braids.
I can’t recall which hairstylist told me this, but he advised me to practice a quick and ready formal hairstyle that I can do on my own when the need arises. I braid my hair, then simply tuck it in with some hairpins and hairspray. It takes no more than five minutes and is an alternative to the regular bun.
6. Soft-set curls/blow-out/haircut
I had originally set out to find quick and easy tips that wouldn’t require any effort, but I kept getting the same replies. One friend suggested a “blow-out” treatment for perpetually blow-dried hair, while others talked about body and volume treatments. I was still unconvinced because the treatments seemed to take too much effort and time, but a text from my best friend Trisa Verzosa finally convinced me.
“You can’t expect everything to just fall into place,” Trisha says. “You have to go out and make a real effort.”
Trish’s seven-year-old is my godson and she owns Citizen, a successful restaurant-bar in Citygolf, and a Filipino restaurant on the same strip.
Despite her hectic schedule, I am amazed at how she always finds time to fix herself before she steps out. Or so I thought! Her beautiful curls and waves are apparently the product of a soft-set curls treatment that she had done in the salon. Though it takes quite a while (almost five hours!), she swears by the convenience and time it saves her on a daily basis.
7. Bling it on!
No, I don’t mean wearing your grandmother’s heirloom pieces. Your toddler will not distinguish between a diamond and a piece of trash when he flushes it down the toilet. However, a simple pair of classic pearls can bring back that “lady” feeling. A trendy, chunky necklace can jazz up even the simplest black shirt.
My former schoolmate, Amina Aranaz-Alunan, Aranaz Bags designer, Inquirer columnist, School of Fashion and Arts founder and directress and mother of three, says that “a pair of fun dangling earrings always does the trick” when trying to beat that losyang (frumpy) feeling.
And she’s right! All you have to do is open your drawer and pick something to put a little sparkle in your outfit and in your eyes.
8. Pop of color
Another former schoolmate, Ginny Lopez-Proximo, is a proud hands-on mother to newborn Gavin and toddler Lana. On any given day, you can find her taking care of her children or cooking up a storm for her family and taking care of all household concerns, while still looking like the fashionable girl she has always been.
She came up with this simple yet effective tip: “A pop of color through accessories can update a basic outfit. Maybe wear a bright pair of sandals, belt or bag.”
9. Hot heels
An overwhelming constant in the answers of my friends was hot heels. I had to clarify this, as I don’t wear towering sky-highs when I am carrying my kids for fear of toppling over. Most of the girls suggested platforms and comfortable wedges as an alternative to flats to kick up your outfit a notch or two when with the kids. You can then switch to stilettos at sundown when it’s time to kick back and relax with the hubby or girls.
I saved the best for last, as you can see. This winner of a tip comes from my other dear “ate” on the Bantay Bata Adboard, Nanette Medved-Po. Nanette is forever on the go for any one of her advocacies, yet these all take a back seat to her family.
I know that given her schedule, she doesn’t relish anything that takes too much of her time. Yet in all our meetings, she shows up, wearing her big trademark shades, looking no less than fab.
I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew she had a formula somehow. I asked her, it boiled down to one word: “Attitude!” No matter how stressed you are, how crazy your day is going, and how exhausted you are from lack of sleep, it’s mind over matter! Keep your thoughts positive, back straight, tummy tucked in, that smile on your face, and you’ll leave everyone wondering how you do it all.