Is There an Art to Looking “Put Together”?

I am on a journey to become more put-together.

To call it a journey is underselling this mountain I’ve barely begun to scale. You can’t just up and decide, as I did, that you’re going to be a whole new you and then expect immediate results. You can change habits through dedication and relentless practice, yes; I made myself a morning person thrice-over this way. But you can’t erupt into an advanced state of being at whim. Life would be far too easy if A BETTER YOUTM were a paper banner to run through, with a marching band that followed, drums pa-rum-ing, trumpets all up in the air to announce your system update.

I know all of this and yet, I needed something to change — fast. I am habitually late, consistently rushing, eternally overwhelmed and generally stressed. I spill things all the time. I forget birthdays, words and the names of my own friends. One time, a pal of mine ran into a pal of his, who was my industry acquaintance. They realized they both knew me through separate avenues. My friend reported back, in his thick Southern accent (imagine that in your head as you read this): “So-and-So says she just loves you, but that you are just insane over email!” And I couldn’t even be offended because I am. I have often, frequently, literally lost my mind. I lose my things (iPhone, credit cards, keys) a lot too.

For a while, I charmed myself into thinking it was part of my creative persona, that such drama fueled me. I thought it added personality to my writing, to my dinner conversations, to my clothes. But as my life has gotten increasingly busier and my adult and professional responsibilities increase, this hot mess routine of mine has become intolerable. Hence, the journey.

Because this likely will be the multi-part exploration that I feared, I began step one close to home. I asked three friends — women who I specifically admire for being so remarkably put together — for their advice and words of wisdom.

Jasmin Aujla

Jasmin Aujla is Man Repeller’s Senior Partnerships Strategist and one of the most composed human beings I have ever met. Here is the difference between Jasmin (who has cracked the code on casual-but-professional-but-cool dressing) and me: Jasmin and I had an off-site meeting together a few weeks ago. She arrived 15 minutes early, buying her enough time to grab coffee and wait in the lobby. I arrived with a mere three minutes to spare (I was terrified to be late to this one) and lost my glove in the process.

The most important takeaways from our conversation:

– She does not feel put together. In fact, she was shocked I thought of her for this story.

– She makes her bed every morning and washes her hair on Sundays because she likes to start the week “fresh.”   

– If she wakes up early on the weekend after a night of drinking, she does what she calls a “second-sleep”: she washes her face, brushes her teeth, moisturizes, changes her pajamas, fluffs the pillows, straightens out the bed sheets and gets back into bed to reset and wake up again, after an hour or so, far more refreshed.  

– She allows herself time to fully digest before replying to emails. This helps her craft thorough responses that result in far less back-and-forth for eternity.

Best piece of advice:

“Overestimate how long it will take you to arrive somewhere and leave earlier.”

Tiffany Reid

Tiffany Reid is the Senior Fashion Editor at Cosmopolitan and is as poised and polished as they come. I am that creepy friend who, every time I see her, asks, “Why do you always look so perfect?” But it goes beyond looking perfect. She exudes calm and a sense of confidence, of, “I’ve got this.”

The most important takeaways from our conversation:

– She not only feels messy sometimes, she looks back on old photos of herself where she felt “together” in the moment and realizes she was, in fact, not.

– She keeps a makeup bag and hairbrush at the office so that, if she doesn’t have time before she leaves for work, she can do it once she arrives (or later before an event). And by ensuring this bag stays at the office, it’s one less thing to shlep.

– She feels her best when she takes her time with things. She used to be frequently late, like me, until one day, a friend confronted her about it: “She told me that when I’m late, she feels as though I don’t respect her time, which hurts her feelings.” Thinking about time in the context of other people’s feelings changed her tardy habits almost immediately.

– She practices yoga regularly, meditates daily and notices a negative difference on days she skips.

Best piece of advice:

“Say no to things. And say yes to alone time. The more people you’re around, the more energy you absorb, so if you’re feeling all over the place, all that extra energy can throw you off balance.”

MaryKate Boylan

MaryKate Boylan is the Fashion Market Editor at Town and Country and the kind of person who everyone on the subway probably assumes is a ballet dancer. Her posture is excellent, she never has an eyebrow out of place, and her poker face under stress should be studied by scientists.

The most important takeaways from our conversation:

– She’s a self-described routine-oriented person who wakes up at the same time every day, even on vacation. Organization isn’t a learned skill for her but rather her inherent way of existing. And when it comes to getting dressed, she’s simply more comfortable — physically, mentally — in a thought-out outfit than she is in sweatpants. (All of which made me feel better because, given the whole “that’s life” mentality, I have to accept that for some people, being put together comes far more naturally. Not good or bad, just is.)

– She writes down absolutely everything, no matter how small a task, that she has to do, and she keeps her daily lists in a notebook that she references and updates throughout the day.

– She stays calm because she has learned over time that acting stressed has yet to help aid her in finding a problem’s solution.

Best piece of advice:

“Set deadlines for yourself: ‘By 3 p.m. I have to finish this story, by 5 p.m. I have to have completed [XYZ].’ Small windows to get things done help me more productive.”

I’m trying all of the above the moment I hit publish. Wish me luck, and please, either commiserate and/or share your tips for being a more put-together human being down below.

Amelia Diamond

Amelia Diamond

Amelia Diamond is a writer, creative consultant, and Man Repeller alumnus living in New York City.

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