“I’m running late.” “Oh no, I forgot that’s tonight.” “I’ll never be ready on time.” How many times have you thought, texted or whined out loud these phrases? We’ve been dressing ourselves and doing our own hair and makeup for decades and yet it always feels like a marathon. Who needs the extra stress? Certainly not our heart, blood pressure or mood. You may not need all 10 of these solutions but even two or three will get you going on the double.
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PHOTO BY: BG023/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images; John Lamparski/WireImage; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter
1. Stick to a black and white wardrobe
These two neutrals top the dress-express plan. Since getting ready is often like Murphy’s Law (what can go wrong will go wrong), black and white offer a foolproof dress-slim strategy for every size and shape, especially if you do a one-color head-to-toe look. Sure, it’s an optical illusion but any extra pounds, bloat or bulges simply disappear, low-cost clothes appear fancier and what-goes-with-what is never an issue. You can pair tailored and casual, old and new, day and night pieces quickly for a stylish look. And when you want more of a mix simply wear black to de-emphasize and white to emphasize what you want to play down and play up. Another way to dress efficiently without the need for shape wear.
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PHOTO BY: Amazon; Target; Sephora; Target
2. Streamline your daily beauty routine
Skip complicated skin regimens, glam makeup and time-consuming hair styles and let multitaskers save time and steps. Four swaps will get you fresh and polished enough to face all but the dressiest situations: Trade your dryer for a blow-dry brush like the Hot Tools 24K Gold One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer ($44, amazon.com) to crunch wet-to-dry styling time in half; use a BB or CC cream like the tarte BB Tinted Treatment Primer Broad Spectrum SPF30 ($39, target.com) that works as moisturizer, makeup and sunscreen; ditch the usual liner and shadows for a chunky glide-on pencil like the Nudestix Magnetic Matte Waterproof Eye Color in Slate, Cocoa or Chocolate — Ulta Beauty ($26, amazon.com); and swipe on cheek/lip tint like the Ilia Multi-Stick Cream Blush + Lip Tint in Cheek to Cheek ($34, sephora.com) for a healthy radiant glow. Done!
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PHOTO BY: Nordstrom; JCPenney; Target
3. Get all your pants hemmed to one length
Just changing shoes pivots basic pants from day to night, work to weekend. However, having pants and jeans of varying lengths wrecks that get-ready plan. I know longer pants look great on models and in photos, but they require heels or at least equally high wedges. They can’t handle flats, which are our preferred shoe height. A consistent just-above-the-ankle-bone length gives you the most shoe flexibility. But don’t relax yet, even pants or jeans labeled “ankle” are not a one-length-fits-all deal. Most have a 27-inch inseam and that won’t suit everyone. Even jeans labeled “cropped” may be too long for women under 5 foot 2. Head to the tailor and get all your pants and jeans tweaked to the right length — even a half inch makes all the difference. Just don’t go too short; you don’t want capris. It will be so worth it in the long run.
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PHOTO BY: Target (2); Wayfair
4. Organize your closet and vanity for easy access
Make grab and go your mantra by color-grouping your clothes and keeping makeup, products and tools visible and handy. Containers like the mDesign Makeup Storage Organizer Vanity Tray, 2 Level ($20, target.com), Sonia Kashuk Countertop Makeup Tray Organizer – Clear ($13, target.com) and Devanae Hair Tool Organizer by Gracie Oaks ($130, wayfair.com) prevent last-minute scrambles for your styling spray or concealer. Think of how much time you waste looking for items in cabinets, unzipping cosmetic bags and searching for your new mascara. Next, hang all your clothes by color — all your black items from dresses to joggers together — regardless of shade, texture or fabric. Do the same with blues from jeans to navy blazer and so on. Then within each color group cluster like items together — all black jackets, all black pants. You will cut your get-ready time in half.
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PHOTO BY: Target; CVS; Amazon; Foster Grant; Target (2); Macy's
5. Keep your everyday bag clean, neat and packed to go
At the end of each day restock and refresh your handbag and/or tote for the next day. This means you’ll never spend time searching for your lipstick or car keys and always have essentials like fresh tissues, your wallet, cash and credit cards, sunglasses, meds, readers and breath mints when needed. Instead of rotating bags, choose one daily bag for the season.
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PHOTO BY: Raymond Hall/GC Images; Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Halo Collar; Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for BET+
6. Have a few sizeless solutions
Sizes 10, 12 and 14? Or M, L and 1X? Lifelong dieters often have a range of clothes sizes in their closet. We all go up and down a few pounds and that’s normal at 50. One of the keys to getting dressed faster is to have a few things with looser, more generous proportions that look totally fashionable but adjust to weight fluctuations. Topping the list are elastic-waist pull-on pants and skirts, flowy midi and maxi dresses, long tunics and popover tops.
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PHOTO BY: Eva-Katalin/E+/Getty Images
7. Do dress rehearsals
The secret to pulling looks together fast is to test them in front of your mirror before the moment you wear them. Stylists and fashion editors call this a run-through, and it saves valuable time. See it as an opportunity to try different combos, underpinnings and accessories without the pressure of a schedule. Set aside one leisurely afternoon every month or two. It’ll also give you a chance to evaluate any tailoring or dry-cleaning needs, shoe repairs and edit out items that no longer work.
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PHOTO BY: Amazon (4)
8. Keep an emergency kit in your closet
I have a bag of “panic preventers” hanging in my closet. You know the drill. Five minutes to go and your skirt hem is dangling, you’ve got deodorant stains on your new black top and you already feel the sting of blisters from your shoes. Sound familiar? As a fashion editor I’ve learned to be prepared with these five things that minimize disasters as they happen in seconds. Keep on call:
Hollywood Temporary Hem Tape ($9, amazon.com). Hypoallergenic, it comes in double-stick strips to secure low necklines, close gaps between buttons on shirts and blouses and fix pant, skirt or dress hems pronto.
Foot Petals Women’s TIP Toes Ball Cushion in Pink ($9, amazon.com). Cushioned inserts are designed for women’s shoes to pad and pamper the balls of the feet.
Gal Pal Deodorant Removers ($8 for a 2-pack, amazon.com). These really do swipe away stains made by deodorants, powder shadows, bronzers and sunscreens.
Sharpie Permanent Markers in Black ($7 for a 6-pack, amazon.com). Use to touch up scuffs and worn areas on black shoes and bags, from leather hobos to silk clutches.
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PHOTO BY: Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic; Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Deadline Hollywood; Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
9. Count on tailored jackets
Thrown on at the last minute they instantly elevate whatever you’re wearing to a polished, sophisticated level and add structure to your silhouette for a definite confidence boost. It’s the reason why even when our wardrobes have gone jeans-and-tee casual, we’re hanging on to our blazers. But if you’ve done a closet cleanup and donated your oldies due to size changes, outdated features like extreme shoulders or styles that no longer flatter your shape (too boxy or oversize, too long or cropped, too tight at the bust) sales are a perfect time to restock. You can’t go wrong with black or white since they work with everything.
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PHOTO BY: Raymond Hall/GC Images (2); Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
10. Get into jumpsuits
Sorry, fashionistas, but women with personal style never wear everything on the fashion menu. They favor one-piece solutions that get you out the door in seconds flat. Jumpsuits are a pant hybrid turning up in more closets now. They’re ideal for pants lovers, of course, come in a range of styles and fabrics from casual to super-dressy and work well with any shoe, bag or jacket you might add. Look for jumpsuits with a relaxed fit and a roomy straight or wide leg, and a top that’s not too clingy and works with your usual bra. It’s the ultimate simplifier.
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PHOTO BY: Sephora (2); Amazon
11. Use the 5-minute get-going plan
You honestly have minutes to that appointment/date/party or lunch… and you’re not home? Grab an ice cube and sweep it over your face — right over makeup is fine, too. Blot and dab your cheeks with some tinted lip balm or a red lipstick before doing your lips. Bend at the waist and run your fingers through your hair before flipping it back. Consider switching the part or doing a zigzag one to hide roots and add lift. Add some dewiness: Check your bag for a mini hand cream, an eye cream sample or even a hydrating sunscreen. Mix a dab in your palms and tap some on your cheekbones, brows, ends of hair and cuticles. Spritz or roll on some fragrance and you are ready to zoom.
Lois Joy Johnson is a beauty and style editor who focuses on women 50 and older. She was the beauty and style editor at Ladies’ Home Journal and a founding editor of More magazine. She has written three books: The Makeup Wakeup, The Wardrobe Wakeup and The Woman's Wakeup.