What does it mean to be “well groomed” today?

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In the last few weeks, a few people on social media have taken me to task for wearing sandals without (visible) polish on my toenails. It got me thinking about expectations about personal grooming, and how they are and aren’t changing for women.

Detail: Susan B wears brown St. Agni sandals and Chanel nail polish in Arancio Vibrante.

sandals | polish

The color I’m wearing above is Arancio Vibrante.

I almost never had (professional) manicures or pedicures until I moved to Los Angeles in my mid-30’s. I always kept my nails neat and short, but rarely attempted to apply polish myself, and wasn’t very good at it. It wasn’t something I thought about much, and neither did most of my friends.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t envy women with beautifully manicured nails. I don’t remember where I first heard it, but had absorbed the message that a pedicure/polish was a requirement for wearing sandals or open toe shoes. (Even my mother, who believed that bright nail polish was “tacky,” always wore a light pink on her toes in the summer.) Once I had access to relatively inexpensive nail salons, I jumped on the regular mani/pedi wagon for a few years.

Flash forward to 2020, when everything shut down including nail salons. I made a few stabs at applying polish, but mostly just skipped that last step of my home mani/pedi’s. After a few months, I noticed that my nails looked much healthier. So ever since, I give myself periodic breaks from wearing polish. It seems to keep my nails from getting cloudy and discolored.

Taking a more relaxed approach…

Anyhow, as I mentioned above, between letting my natural hair color grow out and going au naturel with my nails, I’ve been thinking about the expectations around personal grooming for women, expectations that men don’t face. It’s not just nails, but hair, hair removal, makeup, and even cosmetic procedures.

We’re told that as we age, “good grooming” becomes more essential than ever, but IMO, a full face of makeup and perfectly coiffed hair can feel a bit dated. A more relaxed, slightly under-done look feels more modern to me.

I find as I get older, I’m wanting to spend less time putting myself together. I’m wearing less makeup, and taking a more relaxed approach to my hair. I still want to look neat and clean, but don’t sweat every detail.

How about you? Has your approach to personal grooming changed over time? Do you find you’re doing more or less?

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J.Crew cotton boucle varsity cardigan white navy.

I really like the varsity look of this cotton boucle cardigan in off-white and navy. Sizes XX-Small to 3X.

J.Crew collarless denim jacket and leopard print slip skirt.

Both the collarless denim jacket and leopard slip skirt above are great looking pieces with lots of styling potential. You could wear that skirt now with a tee, and later with a sweater.

J.Crew classic ballet flats red.

Classic ballet flats, so fun in red!

J.Crew freshwater pearl gold link necklace.

An easy, goes-with-everything pearl necklace.

J.Crew Regent blazer wool, camel color.

I purchased this “Regent” blazer a few years ago, and it’s still one of my top 3 jackets. It’s available in the Camel shown above, also Navy and Black, sizes 00-24. Here’s your chance to nab one at 30% off, with good size availability.

Stay in touch.

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