How to Go From Frumpy to Fabulous

Let's be honest. I'm a few decades past weighing around 90 lbs and having twig arms like this model. This picture is just to illustrate a point, not to get anyone's hopes up about any trick that will turn a regular woman into a stylish waif.

But it is possible to look a little less like the Queen Mother without sacrificing your dignity and embarrassing your children by dressing like a trendy teenager. And come on, do any grown women really want to look like the Queen Mother or a teenager? Most likely not.

How do you do it? It's easy. You stop being matchy-matchy.

This sounds simple in theory, but if you were raised anytime during the JCPenney catalog heyday, it might go against some deep-seated fashion habits, but very few things will give the impression of style and confidence more than confidently wearing something unexpected.

So, instead of a scarf that matches your outfit, throw on a scarf that clearly doesn't match. When you wear a cardigan, wear it in an unexpected color. Throw on a pair of shoes that don't "go with" an outfit. Wear a colored pair of tights that have nothing at all in common with your dress. Or--gasp!!!--mix a couple of un-matching prints. You know, the kind your mom has been telling you to avoid since you were three years old.

You might think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Look at the Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters catalog. You'll find unexpected combinations that are fun and young, without being ridiculous. Then look at the older generation's mail-order catalog and everything will match perfectly.

Matching is great for your socks, for a set of dishes, or even for a family picture. But if you're a mom who's thinking you might be starting to look a little frumpy, be adventurous. Pull out something that isn't matchy-matchy and wear it with confidence.

(Image from Anthropologie at


Mindy said...

I'm always fascinated when I see a woman dressed unmatchy... I admire it, and think "I have to remember that!" I totally agree... except I even love the unmatchy family picture. :)

Christie said...

I totally agree. I think nowadays it's all about the pop of color or pattern. Excellent idea!

Lizzy said...

Karey, honey, you hit the nail on the head. Being a bonafide-cardcarrying-dyedinthewool baby boomer, I speak from experience...lots of it! Just because I was named after Q/E doesn't mean I have to look like her. I love scarves and I always match...TILL NOW. I'm gonna go wild! Thanks... :)

Tawnie J said...

Cute post. And every time I see you I think how cute you look and wonder where you get all your cute clothes!!!
You are a mom with style!

Suzanne said...

Awesome. Now I'm off to search out picture samples of un-matchy outfits. I guess I just don't pay enough attention! =)

Donna said...

I hadn't noticed. Uh oh!! I guess I should have, so now I will! Thanks!!

Cares and Mimi said...

You are so right!

Kristi said...

I am going to take your advice next time I don't wear "cleaning/work" clothes all Sunday.
I think you also just coined the phrase, "matchy-matchy". I like it.

missy said...

If only my closet wasn't full of solid colored t-shirts! I am so unadventurous when it comes to clothes. Too bad, too, because I love the look of the daring newer styles. Whenever I try to wear them, I feel so self-conscious and end up reverting to the same-old things. Maybe someday I'll learn to be brave.

By the way, the comment you left on my blog about your daughter having both of her legs seriously cracked me up. I laughed and laughed and then showed it to my daughter and laughed again. I'm happy we're blogging buddies. I like the way you think!

Stefani said...

HA! I couldn't agree more! Thanks for this post!

brooke said...

I totally agree..Boden is a great example as well...because no one wants to look like the funny!

Edonna said...

Not match perfectly? Noooooooooooooooooo. It's one thing I'm good at. I love to put beads on a string and earrings to match an outfit.
Yes, I come from that era too. But, I'm stepping out. I stand in front of teenagers daily and don't want to be stuck in a previous decade.
But I love colors that match. Even if it's by contrast.