How I’m Updating My Look & Fighting the Frump

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I’m updating my look so that I can fight my frumpiness and feel more put together — without spending a fortune. 

How I'm Updating My Look & Fighting the Frump | Life as Mom

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Are you looking to refresh your wardrobe, update your look, and fight the frump? Me, too! I realized that I’ve been letting things slide a little too much. I’m no longer that slim, trim 19-year old with a skinny bod and great skin who can get by in jeans and a t-shirt.

No, no I’m not.

I still have her habits, though. The messy bun, 10-year old jeans, and ill-fitting bras have been my good friends for quite some time. While I’m not giving them all up — I love the messy bun too much — I am updating my look and fighting the frump just a little more this season.

Here’s how:

How I’m Updating My Look & Fighting the Frump

I got a wake up call.

While it’s been several years that I’ve made a concerted effort on keeping my wardrobe in decent shape, it wasn’t until I appeared in a national commercial that I realized my efforts weren’t really working! I kinda got the hint this night, but the commercial of me in all my frumpiness kinda sealed the deal.

I’d been trying, but I realized I could up my game a bit and work a little harder on updating my look.

I got fitted for a bra.

As you may know, an ill-fitting bra is not only make you uncomfortable and wear on breast tissue, but it can also make you look fat and frumpy. Having a good bra is the foundation to looking great in your clothes.

I realized that most of my bras were over four years old. The recommendation is 8 months to a year, depending on how many you own and how often you rotate them. I knew things weren’t quite fitting like I thought they should. Turns out, I increased a cup size in the last four years. Yikes!

I’ve had three professional bra fittings in the last ten years, at Dillard’s, Macy’s, and Nordstrom. All were very good, but my Nordstrom bra fitting experience last week was the best I’ve had ever.

The bra fit specialist provided a camisole for me between bras so we didn’t have to get that up close and personal and she brought armfuls of bras until she found the one, the only one that worked for my weird body. (It’s complicated, but I explain it here.)

How I'm Updating My Look & Fighting the Frump | Life as Mom

If you can’t get to Nordstrom, seek out a mature female employee in the lingerie department of a nicer department store. She’s going to have much more knowledge than the sweet young thing at Victoria’s Secret. Know what I’m saying?

Do a little reading before you go:

In lieu of an in-person fitting, you can consult with The Bra Fit Advocate, Shannon, who provides a virtual bra fitting and shopping service for a small fee. She can help you find the right fit as well as bras within your budget.

I organized my closet.

While it wasn’t that long ago that I cleaned out my closet, already it was due for an overhaul. I had pretty much let everything slide over the summer. I also hadn’t done a great job with stain management; I had to retire several favorite t-shirts because of my neglect.

Having the closet organized anew and in good order makes me more excited about choosing flattering and fun clothing.

A collage of clothes items included in style challenge.

I invested in a styling guide.

I first heard about Get Your Pretty On last winter. I was a skeptic at first — because of the money. I didn’t think about it again until this month when I went back to the GYPO site and started poking around.

Things that stood out to me:

  • I like Alison’s style.
  • I love her Pretty Fix feature – this is a free “fix” to help you choose an on-trend outfit where subscription boxes may have failed you.
  • For $19, I could buy the 14-day starter capsule and really get a grip on how to mix and match. I’ve been preaching Mix and Match and capsule wardrobes for years, but this starter capsule really taught me a lot — especially the beauty of neutral basics and accessories. At $19, it’s a better education than a failed styling at Stitch Fix, of which I’ve had MANY.

I’m SUPER EXCITED about the Fall Style Challenge. I think the teaching will be worth the investment. Plus, it sounds like fun! Register now so you’re ready when the challenge starts.

You’ll receive a complete shopping list, 25 days of outfits, and access to a Facebook support group which is super fun. Every day for several weeks, starting September 18, you’ll receive a nightly email about how to put the pieces together in a fun and stylish way.

If you are fashion challenged like I am, this may be just the thing for you! I’m calling it “meal plans for clothes”. I’ll post my daily selfies on instagram so you can follow along.

How I'm Updating My Look & Fighting the Frump | Life as Mom

I bought some new clothes.

Once I bought the 14-day starter capsule from Get Your Pretty On, I started shopping online. Old Navy is my go-to for clothes, but I start by going through Ebates where I get a small percentage of the purchase back in cash. Be sure never to pay full price at Old Navy. They have a sale going almost every other week.

I also found that lots of the same clothes and shoes I might buy at a shoe or department store were available on Amazon with free shipping and free returns, sometimes even for less money. Win!

I also delved into the land of Thred Up, something that is totally new to me. It’s like an online thrift store. Check out my review of Thred Up here.

I’m not a fan of thrift stores and have never been able to make thrifting work for me, but I gave Thred Up a shot. I found some name brand items that I love for very cheap. Most, if not all, the pieces smelled heavily of fabric softener, so I did spend a fair amount of time in repeated washings and coming up with different magic potions to get out the odors. If you’re not deterred by that, use this link and you can get a $10 credit to try it out Thred Up.

This is an outfit I bought on Thred Up. The tshirt is Old Navy and the cargo pants are Loft. I paid less than half for each item. I already had the shoes and the necklace.

How I'm Updating My Look & Fighting the Frump | Life as Mom

I started experimenting.

Once I bought the GYPO starter capsule guide, I started experimenting, copying the style templates with pieces that I already owned and trying things out until my new purchases arrived. Some things just didn’t work out, but you don’t learn unless you experiment, right?

This picture makes me wonder if it’s cardigans or scarves that aren’t flattering on me. What do you think? I know this whole process is going to take some trial and error, so feel free to share your thoughts. Just be gentle. 😉

The Fall Style Challenge has me totally psyched. I’ve found some great pieces for updating my look and I’m thrilled at the prospect of feeling put together. My husband did a double take when he saw me in the above outfit and commented several times how much he liked the look. Who knew it could be this easy?!

I’m really happy about the ways that I’m updating my look and feeling more put together already.

How do YOU feel about your wardrobe and your current look?

How I'm Updating My Look & Fighting the Frump | Life as Mom

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  1. On the cardigan issue, I think its the tee. It hugs you funny around the waist. I have noticed for my apple shape, I have to have a blouse that doesn’t cling like old navy tees. Like a semi casual blouse. (I am a Loft addict, and I love their blouses!) You are beautiful!

  2. Avid consignment shopper here. Best tip I’ve found for getting the fabric softener smell out of your clothes is wash (with vinegar in the rinse if it really bad), dry as usual but then hang them out in the sunshine. Usually a few hours in the sun will get the smell out. Every once in a while I have to re-wash but it is rare. Not sure what it is but mother nature makes the best natural way to get rid of those smells!

    1. Thanks for the tip. I rinsed with vinegar each time, but some of the items still have the odor. I put the coat in the sunshine but that doesn’t seemed to have worked. I got a hum-dinger with the odors this round.

  3. Where is the pretty fix feature. I dont see it. And where do you see her style? I dont see any full length pics of her.

  4. I’m right there with you. I certainly need to work on the frump (weight, clothes, accessories, skin, hair). But, none of those come naturally to me, so it’s overwhelming. I started wearing just a bit of makeup a year ago and am pleased with how that has perked up my face a bit. It was doable, because it was the only change that I made. But, now I feel like I need to step up the pace. I look forward to following your journey and picking up some tips to implement. Photos really do show all of my problems, but I have noticed that there are “good” ways to stand, etc that some people use. It really seems to make a huge difference…how they hold their arms and where they position their feet, etc. Good luck on your journey I’ll be following along and working beside you.

  5. I agree with the person above who said you need more contrast in the shapes of garments. That said, as great as they are for pulling an outfit together they can be tricky. I haven’t been able to make shorter cardigans like the one you’re wearing work for me. Lately I’ve been experimenting with longer lengths. Last spring I picked up a version of this on clearance and it’s worked pretty well so far: Gray Heather

    I got this during the Nordstrom sale but haven’t had a chance to wear it because we’re having a warm fall:

    I’m in a season where I’m trying to transition out of being a mostly SAHM and make a pretty drastic career change so my wardrobe needs some work. Dressing up jeans, especially in the cooler months, is second nature to me but I’d like to walk around looking a little more “hirable”, so to speak. It’s a tricky balance in terms of figuring out the level of dress people in my new field adopt yet still having clothes that work for my current lifestyle. And I’m on a pretty strict budget because my husband is going to be laid off soon. It’s been tricky this fall. Don’t get me started on shoes!!

    I love the Viola outfit above, BTW. Very put together and youthful. But not in a bad way.

    In terms of fashion blogs, I highly recommend She has a Wardrobe From Scratch series as well as one about Building a Remixable Wardrobe that changed the way I shop. She’s dresses a bit more modest than many fashion bloggers and much more practical. She wears the same items many times and isn’t like the bloggers who do a sponsored post or one about ridiculous trends and then you never see those items again. It’s a much more practical approach.

    1. I’m sorry about the layoff. Hang in there! May your job search be short!

      Thanks for the input. I think you’re right about the sweaters. Length matters. Thanks for the links, too!

      1. We’ve suspected the layoff for awhile so have been preparing mentally, emotionally, and financially. It’s time to move on.

        Anyway, I forgot to mention that Stitch Fix didn’t work for me either. I have a larger frame and am difficult to fit and in general their clothing was a disaster on my body. I also think they really have only one Stitch Fix look with slight variations. Great if it works for you, and clearly there are many bloggers I’ve seen who look great in the their clothes, but they’re stuff just isn’t my style. Oh well.

        1. Glad you had some warning!

          I did my final Stitch Fix and it was finally in line with my style, but alas, not my budget. Oh well. Glad I’ve found some alternatives.

  6. Hi Jessica! Love the idea of Fighting the Frump! I had my wake up call not too long ago while making a family photo book, and realizing, with photographic proof, that this ol’ girl had let things slide too long. Besides more flattering clothing, I needed to pay some attention to my hair. Root Touch-up gave a quick and inexpensive fix with a big impact. Also, maybe I needed to do some arm exercises???

  7. Is the picture of the style challenge what’s in the capsule for fall? I tried it in the spring, but had way too much difficulty finding things. Or maybe it was Winter. I don’t remember, but had too much trouble and gave up. I still have all the documents though in case I want to try it again. I may give it another go if that is the fall capsule. I turned 40 in December, and I understand fighting the front. I work about half the year in contract gigs, in an office, so my wardrobe goes from casual to business casual and back a lot, and I just don’t know what I like sometimes. I will be following this for sure!

  8. If you were trying to upscale the shorts and T-shirt outfit, I agree that you needed something more structured than the cardigan. The shape of it might work OK with a different outfit — like tailored pants or something. In the Instagram picture, everything is all loose and knit. You need some contrast in your shapes. I also think the cardigan might be the wrong color for you to wear next to your face (although it’s hard to tell from that photo and your “enthusiastic” photographer, LOL).

    I am actually currently feeling pretty good about my wardrobe choices at age 47, almost 48. (I’ve started documenting them in a daily journal, much like I recorded in my high school diary what I wore every day … because I realized fashion is fun for me.) I paid for another reasonably priced style guide, MissusSmartyPants, a couple of years ago, and that helped me upgrade things (she does both your colors and recommendations for your personal shape).

    I’ve also been looking for real people fashion blogs; one of my favorites is Beth at I like her style and she often inspires me to put similar things together from my own wardrobe. I also like Pam at; she inspired me to think about my personal wardrobe requirements (comfortable, somewhat casual, classic).

    Living in Minnesota, I’m still on the lookout for a mature fashion blogger who experiences real winters, though! Especially since I’ve realized a lot of my fashion choices are based on practicality/the day’s schedule (e.g., the denim jacket and necklace could come off the outfit of knit slacks and gray V-neck T-shirt for yoga post-dentist visit, then go back on for the Girl Scout leader meeting immediately followiing; black jeans looked nice enough to wear to work with a long-sleeve T and socks and black loafers; I could change out the cardigan and loafers for a hoodie and tennis shoes for the adults against kids soccer game after work that night).

    Sorry so long; I’m just currently really interested in and having fun with this topic.

    1. Chat away! I will keep my eyes open for a cold weather fashion blogger. They have to be out there. What I Wore is in Indiana. That’s close to cold, right?

      Thanks for the links! I think this is a topic that many of us are working on, so it always helps to have more sources to look to for inspiration. Beth’s outfits are super cute!

  9. I would do a white or ivory top with the cardigan. I don’t care for the gray/taupe combo. I like doing a knot in my scarf so the long pieces hang together in the middle. Or you could wear a cardigan in more of a pop color from the scarf.

    Keep experimenting and trying to find what works for you! It may take some time to get used to new styles.

  10. My thoughts on the cardigan/scarf picture are that you should choose clothing that shows your waistline and not hides it. For your body shape, choose outfits that draw the eye up-and-down and not side-to-side (if that makes any sense). This might be why the Viola outfit looks more “right” for your style. Also, I really recommend knowing your color season. You can do a free quiz here It will help you decide which colors look best on you.

  11. I don’t like the cardigan in the picture . And I can’t wear them either. Scarf is cute though.
    Also I liked your hair when it was shorter. I think you would look super cute with a sassy new shorter haircut. I don’t hate the longer hair though.

  12. First off, I randomly saw you in that Aldi commercial and I was so excited! I thought you looked adorable! I yelled to my husband, “I know her! I read her blog everyday!”. lol Very cool!
    Second, I think it’s the cardigan, but only because of the color and the fact that you have it on with shorts. If you had trousers or jeans on I think this would be a great outfit! So I guess I mean it’s the color of the cardigan and the shorts — great outfit, just mismatched. 🙂
    Thanks for the suggestions. Going to check out the challenge right now!

  13. I think it’s the cardigan. I read somewhere that when in doubt choose a blazer over a cardigan. Also maybe tucking in the shirt?

    I think I have the opposite problem. My husband already makes comments and stares at virtually everything I wear. I am a modest, if not slightly frumpy dresser, but don’t want to encourage him any more!

    1. Better that he’s staring at you and not anyone else. 😉

      Yes, I’m working on the cardigan issue. I think it needs more structure in the shoulder. That whole instagram outfit was a little too drapey.