February 27, 2008

Each hit of the snooze is 5 getting-ready minutes lost.

...And often, I am willing to make that trade.

I have never been a morning person, but the time of my most intense worship of each passing morning minute spent wrapped in my flannel sheets was definitely during college. Like all intelligent undergraduates, I subsisted on salad, frozen yogurt, alcohol, caffeine, and 3-6 hours of sleep per night, on average. I would walk to class, seeing perfectly coiffed girls sauntering across the quad in expertly coordinated outfits and jeans sans wrinkles or salt stains, even heels, and I would formulate two theories: first, they are totally superficial and need to get gussied up for the cute frat guys in Econ 105. Second, they have no social life and would be jealous of the party I went to last night, if I told them about it. Though I'm sure they could have detected the signs.

But what I came to realize around mid-sophomore year was that these girls were neither social pariahs, nor MRS degree students (well, of course, some were). They simply had a morning routine that was effective and more importantly, efficient.

I wanted to learn the way. I would have rather gone about campus looking like this...

... rather than this.

Here are the steps I took to plan for a fast morning routine that yielded desirable (or even passable) results, even for an 8am lecture. And this isn't just for college girls; us career-bound alumni have to get up in the college version of the middle of the night for work, so this is even more valuable when there wasn't a kegger at Kappa Sigma last night.

1) Organize your closet/drawers. My dresser is: casual shirts, dressy shirts and tanks, jeans and trousers, and gym clothes on the bottom. My closet is arranged by category as well, with sweaters and skirts making up the bulk of the space. Keep shoes in a visible, accessible place. If you can't find anything in the morning, picking an outfit will be damn near impossible.

2) Pare down your makeup. I have a huge make-up bag, because I love to play with it. But on the average day, I use the same 3-6 products, so why dig through the whole bag to find my Clinique moisturizer? Keep the glitzy makeup in a separate place so you spend less time digging.

3) Keep a stash of clips, scarves and headbands near a mirror. They hide greasy roots or over-zealous product application.

4) If you have the time and freedom, place your dresser and mirror near the closet, so all your getting-ready-for-the-day stuff is in the same area. No running back and forth across the room!

5) Try to plan an outfit tonight to wear tomorrow. If it doesn't strike your fancy in the morning, you can always change it.

But alas, there are weeknights when we have late meetings, late bar nights, can't sleep, or feel sick and just want to crash into bed. Or perhaps your bedroom resembles Macy's during a 1-day sale. You have 10 minutes to get ready and dash out the door, and you have enough pride in yourself (and courtesy for others) to want to look respectable. What do you do?

The Dilemma: Closet full of clothes, nothing to wear, gotta jet in 10 minutes.
The Solution: Keep your closet stocked with basics (blazers, cardigans, oxfords) in neutral colors that you know match, and pick two that are appropriate for the day ahead. You can easily dress up this outfit effortlessly with a scarf, big necklace, or bright shoes.

The Dilemma: Your hair needs a fast fix.
The Solution: Wet your brush and brush your hair until it's damp. Work Garnier Surf Hair Texturizing Cream ($3.99) into your hair, working from the tips upward. Use your fingers to create a casual side part, or pull the waves off your face with a headband. This will create loose waves that keep their shape, and works really well if you have layers. So much better than the ol' twist-into-a-claw-clip routine. If your hair is still straight from yesterday but a little too shiny, brush on powder or matte bronzer to the roots, blast hair with the dryer to restore body, and grab a headband or scarf to hide roots.

The Dilemma: You haven't done laundry since the first Bush was in office, and you need a fast outfit you don't need to think about.
The Solution: Grab a casual dress. Easy to match, only one piece to throw on, and will look like you spent more time getting ready than you did.

The Dilemma: You have the dress, but your legs are slightly fuzzy.
The Solution: If you can't tell while standing in front of the mirror, rub on some shimmer lotion, like B&BW Coconut Lime Shimmer Body Cream ($12). The light reflection will both flatter your legs and hide blemishes and stubble. Just make sure you don't cross at the knee.

The Dilemma: You have 3 minutes to do your makeup and don't know what to cut out.
The Solution: Go minimal. Tinted moisturizer, cream blush, soft eye liner, mascara, lip gloss.

The Dilemma: You want to wear sandals but are in between pedicures.
The Solution: If they're peep-toes or only show a couple of nails, put on the shoes, and paint a fast coat only on the visible nails. Light colors won't show errors like mulberry will. And make sure to moisturize your heels and toes!

The Dilemma: Last night's debauchery is visible in your face.
The Solution: Wash your face with cold water to shrink pores and reduce redness. Drop some Visine in the eyes, and pat extra foundation or concealer on the apples of your cheeks, the sides of your nose, and under your eyes. Use navy liner to make your eyes look brighter, and extra blush or bronzer to warm up your skin.

I hope these have been helpful. Coming from a girl who took an hour to get ready in high school, to an if-necessary 15-minute routine ready for the office, I have a fair amount of experience in cutting time corners in the morning, without sacrificing too much. And of course, most days, you want to get up on time, shower, groom yourself and pick an outfit suitable for the weather, your day and your mood, and waltz out the door with a latte and a smile. After all, there's no substitute for a full beauty routine.

And sometimes, there's no substitute for an extra half-hour of sleep.


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