Tim Gunn, one of the most reputable voices in the fashion industry, has a list of ten essential items every woman must have in her wardrobe. They are:

  1. a basic black dress
  2. a trench coat
  3. classic dress pants
  4. a skirt
  5. a blazer
  6. a classic white shirt
  7. a day dress
  8. a cashmere sweater
  9. jeans
  10. a sweatsuit alternative

For the most part, I like this list. I’m no fashion maven, but I agree with about 80 percent of his suggestions (not sure a cashmere sweater is terribly practical for a mom of littles).

Britt guest posted here awhile back and suggested ten essential items every mom needs in her wardrobe. This list strikes a much more relevant chord with the mom lifestyle, while still nodding to being put together and ready to head out the door at any moment.

But what about the other stuff? Having the right clothes are important, but what about the other, tangible and intangible things that spruce up the busy mom?

From my experience, here are 10 “must haves” for feeling well and for outwardly looking your best.

1. A good night’s sleep.

We all know how important this is, and most of us never get enough, especially when we have babies. But all of us also know how much better we feel when we get enough. Sleep deprivation means dark circles, cloudier skin, and a lethargic attitude. Not the prettiest ever.

2. Plenty of water.

If you grab a glass of water when you’re thirsty, you’ve waited too long. Drink water almost nonstop, and you should be well hydrated. Your sink will be clearer, you’ll feel fuller and be less likely to snack, and your body will function at its best.

3. Good posture.

Most women slouch. If you’re sitting right now, make a point to straighten your back comfortably, rest your shoulders, and align your chin at a relaxed angle. There – isn’t that better? Good posture immediately shaves pounds of your frame, and it decreases stress to your body. Basic, regular exercises can help improve your posture.

4. Taking a shower and getting groomed.

Sounds crazy to actually put this on a list, but if you’re a mom with young children, you understand. There are seasons when it’s a minor miracle to take a shower, brush your teeth, and change out of your pajamas before noon. But doing so really does improve your mood, your productivity, and most obviously your appearance.

5. Smiling.

Is smiling your favorite? I can forget to smile – or even look pleasant – when I’m concentrating and hard at work. But I immediately feel better when I make a concentrated effort to smile, and others – like my husband and kids – relate to me more peacefully. You’ll look prettier, too.

6. Knowing your colors.

This idea sounds trite and shallow until you get the basic point. Liking a color only does so much if it just doesn’t jive with your skin tone. Once you know what works for you, it makes sense to stick with wearing those colors. It doesn’t matter how well something fits, or how much you like an outfit – if it just doesn’t work for you, it’ll only work against you. I was never a big purple fan, so I was really surprised to learn that plum and eggplant shades work well for me. Now I wear that color all the time. Real Simple has good advice on four colors that look good on everyone.

7. Finding a good haircut that frames your face and works with your hair type.

We discussed this one recently in the comments section – is a good quality haircut worth the oftentimes hefty price? Some times it is, at least a few times a year. When you have an experienced hair stylist who works with your hair type and not against it, you’ll be much more at peace with what God has given you up top. You may actually love your hair.

Photo by martinak15

8. Getting time outside.

Sunlight emits vitamin D, an essential vitamin that improves your mood (which is why Seasonal Affective Disorder is so common during the winter). This, combined with fresh air, a break from screen time, ambient sound, and natural color all equal an ideal environment for better health. Better health means a better outward appearance.

9. Exercising.

This is an area that simply does not come naturally to me, but I have first-hand experience with how much better I feel, look, and thrive when I get exercise. An important note for busy moms – some is better than none. If you struggle with perfectionism, like me, you tend to not do something at all if you can’t do it well. But even a walk around the block works wonders to clear your head and improve your mood. And when you’re physically working your body, it goes without saying that you feel better about your appearance.

10. Quality down time.

Another recent topic here on Simple Mom – quality down time (as opposed to just any old down time) means a better rested mom who truly loves her job. It’s easier to smile, to sleep, and to work hard – all great ingredients for a better outward appearance.

“Make It Work” in your life.

For the rest of this week, choose one of the 10 items, and make a deliberate effort to make them a regular part of your routine. Today, if you haven’t yet, take a shower and groom yourself after you read this post (and comment below, of course!). Or make a plan to take a walk around the block every day – you’ll knock out numbers 8, 9, and 10 at once. Or if you feel overwhelmed by these, simply write “smile” on a sticky note, and put it over the kitchen sink – let it remind you of one of the easiest beauty secrets around.

See if these improve your mood, your interaction with your kids and husband, and how you feel about your appearance.

What would you add to the list?

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