How To Go From Frumpy to Fabulous

“I want to look frumpy today”, said no woman ever. Sadly, it’s all too easy to feel frumpy as we get older. Changes in lifestyle, retirement and health issues often mean a change in our wardrobes which can derail how confident we feel about our appearance.

When you look frumpy up in the dictionary it’s described as:

  • Dressed in an unattractive way
  • A girl or woman regarded as dull, plain or unfashionable
  • Clothing style that usually consists of bagging, careless clothing, sweatpants, large baggy t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc.

Enough said! We all know it when we see it. More importantly, we know when we want to change it. Today I’m going to share seven ways to help transform your appearance from frumpy to fabulous.

Let’s start with good grooming. These habits can make or break your look, no matter what you wear or spend on your clothes


Ensure you have a current hairstyle and it is clean every day. This can be hard if you’re struggling with health issues of your own or caring for loved ones, but this step goes a long way to banish feeling frumpy and will increase your confidence. There are tons of wonderful dry shampoos on the market if you need to short step this one. I apply this one to my clean hair  every day because it gives it extra volume.


A touch of pretty lipstick and blush can do wonders to perk up your appearance. Our eyebrows often thin and fade as we age so it makes a big difference when you fill them in. They help balance our face and frame your eyes. If you apply only one product to your eyes, brows will make the biggest difference.

This pencil is my all-time favorite. It never needs sharpening and draws tiny, hairlike lines that look very natural. I use the Taupe which is the best, non-orange pencil I’ve found for blondes. There are gels, powders and even brush-on tinted gels with tiny fibers to add volume.

Microblading is a popular option for women who struggle with an eyebrow pencil or powder and offers semi-permanent results. Be sure to do your research and ask for examples of her work because no one wants to resemble Groucho Marks.

Feet and Hands

Your feet can be one of the quickest ways to up your frumpy quotient. Remove chipped and old polish. Clean, short finger and toenails are better than jagged nails with worn-down polish that’s past it’s prime. Check the skin on your heels. Is it cracked and dry looking? If you have athletes foot, treat if. There are lots of great over the counter products to get rid of it. If the skin is just dry, slather lotion on each morning and night until the skin responds.


  • Ensure your clothes are clean, unstained and well cared for. They needn’t be expensive but they shouldn’t have loose threads, tears or open seams. Buy the best you can afford and focus on chic basics you can mix and match. A wardrobe of basics in flattering colors is a great base to build your wardrobe on.
  • Be sure your shoes aren’t scuffed and worn out. Get out of your athletic shoes! Save these for when you’re actually working out.
  • Update your bra. No matter what you wear, it will look better if you’re supported by a good bra.


  • Wear clothes that fit you, now. If you’ve put on 10 pounds, don’t cram yourself into tight clothes and expect to look or feel good in them. Either alter your clothes or buy new ones. Great fashion is available at all price points so don’t let budget stand in your way.
  • Oversized and shapeless clothing is not your friend. Proportion is the name of the game here. Ditch the baggy sweatshirt for a slimmer sweater. That slouchy sweater needs slim-fitting pants. A loose and full skirt or pants require the balance of a slimmer top which shows your shape.


Drab, colorless clothes can be unflattering on everyone. Choose clothes in colors that flatter your skin tone and bring light to your face. Wear colors that make you happy. If a color is wishy-washy at the store, it’ll be even worse at home. Wear tops that are the color of your eyes. It makes them sparkle and is always flattering.


Don’t forget to add some accessories. They needn’t be over the top, but nothing adds polish to an outfit the way a few well-placed accessories can. They signal that you took time with your appearance which is the antithesis of frumpy. Try new combinations and don’t limit yourself to one.

  • A statement earring and a brooch are two accessories that instantly project confidence.
  • A tiny strand of pearls can look dated so be sure to punch up the look a bit.
  • update eyeglass frames to a modern shape that flatters your face. Here’s how to choose.
  • Check your shoes and boots for wear. Update to a classic shape or style as needed.
  • update your handbag. Skip the canvas backpack. Use those for hiking.


Thanks for reading and remember to wear what makes you feel confident and fabulous!





This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.


  1. Diane
    December 20, 2019 / 10:22 pm

    Thank you for the reminders:) I would love to learn more about what clothing colors to choose, because I never knew to select tops to match my eyes.

  2. Vicki Mikola Dack
    December 17, 2019 / 9:45 pm

    And ditch those darn little back pack purses! Half the time they are not worn correctly in the first place. Great for hiking trails not for riding a bus nor walking down a main street!!

  3. Janis
    December 17, 2019 / 2:54 pm

    Great tips as always! It’s hard to imagine you ever looking frumpy. I also have fine, straight hair (much like yours) and have been cautioned to avoid washing and blow drying (especially using brush) every day. It would be great to get some tips on how to style (with products and/or clips) our hair on those non-wash and/or non-blow dry days. I would also love to learn more about microblading since my eyebrows have become mere whispers of their former selves.

    • Joanna
      December 17, 2019 / 5:30 pm

      Janis, dry shampoos are great for those days you don’t want, or don’t have the time to shower & dry your hair.

      • Lynda Davis
        August 3, 2020 / 4:17 pm

        I also have thin fair hair and I’ve found Moroccan Oil (the brand) Root Boost ads wonderful texture and body to my hair and it absolutely does not weigh it down. Makes it bouncier. It’s not cheap but worth the investment.

  4. Joanna
    December 17, 2019 / 2:48 pm

    I do all the above – clothes that fit my body, style & lifestyle, update my hair style often, pedicures regularly, good bras, new purses and shoes/booties to fit the trends but not the outlandish, crazy looking trends. The one thing that does make me feel frumpy on occasion is the fact I can’t wear heels anymore. I see all these beautiful pairs of footwear that add a little sex appeal to any outfit but can not go there. I know, #firstworldproblems

  5. Kay
    December 17, 2019 / 12:31 pm

    Well, my house burned down last month in the California wild fires, so I am building a new wardrobe from scratch. It’s a challenge. Thank god for good insurance so that I can afford it. One thing I have discovered it the “vintage” sites like Poshmark where I have been able to find EF replacements of things I had and loved. It’s a good place to look for quality stuff at lower prices (even if you don’t have to replace a whole wardrobe.)

    • Mary Ellen
      December 17, 2019 / 12:49 pm

      Kay, I’m so sorry you lost your home. I hope you can find some peace during this holiday season. Good luck find some good bargins replacing your wardrobe.

  6. Eve
    December 17, 2019 / 11:00 am

    This morning I have on a light green corduroy shirt, a grey cardigan, dark gray lined pants and black soft moccasins. It’s cold here. This is a step above the baggy sweatshirt and matching fleece lined pants with house shoes I once wore in winter. Small steps but how it makes you feel is priceless. If I can’t run down to the dollar general without changing then I probably shouldn’t be wearing it around the house. LOL
    Praying for those who have troubles this Christmas. Tough time of year for a lot of people.

  7. Connie
    December 17, 2019 / 10:44 am

    The eyebrows are so important. I always had thick, dark brows and despite looking in the mirror every morning hadn’t noticed they were very gray. My cousin suggested I get them dyed as she had. I do it myself using a small brush and 10 minute dye darker than my hair. I checked my sensitivity and am careful to not get close to my lids or eyes. I still fill in with a pencil as they are more sparse now. Brows really make a difference.

  8. Chris
    December 17, 2019 / 9:07 am

    Even though I’ve been retired for eight years, I find myself ‘saving’ my good clothes for a special outing. I dressed up (Nicer separates and jewelry) for no reason one day recently and my husband asked where I was going. My son said the same thing later that day. A good lesson learned.

  9. Teresa
    December 17, 2019 / 8:56 am

    Loved the posts and reminders to look your best. It does make us feel better.

  10. Mary Ellen
    December 17, 2019 / 7:50 am

    Love, love this post. I do well when leaving my home but I need to work on my appearance at home. My husband certainly doesn’t need to spend the day with Miss Frumpy 🙂
    I don’t find a link for your favorite brow pencil. Can you share what it is as this is an area I struggle with so I don’t do anything (yikes).
    Love your blog!

    • Jennifer
      December 17, 2019 / 8:43 am

      It’s all to easy to look frumpy at home. I have a post coming up on just that!
      Sorry, I forgot to add the pencil. This is my favorite eyebrow pencil https://shopstyle.it/l/bbRLv

      • Mary Ellen
        December 17, 2019 / 12:39 pm

        Thanks, Jennifer

  11. Gillian
    December 17, 2019 / 7:43 am

    Hello Jennifer, I really love this post, it says it all, I think I’ll print it out, frame it, and put it in my bathroom to remind me every morning of what I must do to always feel fabulous and not frumpy. Thanks very much, and Happy Christmas to you and your family.

    • Jennifer
      December 17, 2019 / 8:44 am

      Merry Christmas, Gillian

  12. Karen
    December 17, 2019 / 7:34 am

    Thanks fo a great post Jennifer. I love all of your tips but will also add that having younger women friends helps me to fight “frumpiness.”
    Have a wonderful day,

    • Jennifer
      December 17, 2019 / 8:55 am

      Younger friends and daughters, certainly helps. A lot!

  13. Eileen
    December 17, 2019 / 6:43 am

    I agree with you, and Kathy. Dressing better always gets better treatment. Things I do to not feel frumpy, makeup on, current hairstyle, nice bag, nice closed toe shoes, current clothes that fit my shape, current jewelry style, nails nice.

  14. Roxanne
    December 17, 2019 / 6:04 am

    Great tips! Once in awhile I decide I am going to take the day “off” and lie around in my PJs. By about 3:00, I always feel decidedly frumpy and depressed, and think “why did I do that”. I need someone’s opinion, wonderful ladies! I bought a cute red and black plaid jacket with a thin cream sweater underneath that has ice skaters on it to wear with dark wash jeans. In theory …. cute, but I keep thinking do I look like a lumberjack in this outfit? I’m tall with thin, narrow shoulders. Would it be too much to tie a thin, leopard scarf around my neck? Unexpected and cute? Or, what was she thinking?!?

    • Elena
      December 17, 2019 / 6:21 am

      Roxannne, your outfit sounds so ‘cool” and the added leopard scarf would shout cool AND savvy! Go for it; it sounds like fun!!!

      • Roxanne
        December 17, 2019 / 11:20 am

        Thanks Elena! I will give it a whirl and see if I get any compliments!

    • Jennifer
      December 17, 2019 / 6:22 am

      Hi Roxanne! If it were me, I’d add bright red lipstick, some pretty statement earrings (large) and pin a sparkly brooch to the jacket. I’ve never seen a lumberjack wear lipstick or a pin. It sounds like a great outfit and this is the perfect time to wear it!

      • Roxanne
        December 17, 2019 / 11:23 am

        Thank you Jennifer! I have a sparkly snowflake brooch I could add, and I was wearing red lipstick already. I’m like a little crow…I love sparkly!

  15. Kathy
    December 17, 2019 / 5:58 am

    This is exactly why I read your blog every day. Since I retired, I found myself slipping into frumpiness. Great reminders. I had a friend who lived in NYC. When his mother flew in to visit, she wore a suit and a hat. He asked her why she was so dressed up, she responded, people treat you better when you get older if you look nice. I keep that in mind whenever I leave the house.

  16. Cathy
    December 17, 2019 / 5:42 am

    Your emails always bring a smile to my face! Such sound And logical advice. Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday and a happy and healthy New Year.

    • Jennifer
      December 17, 2019 / 8:57 am

      Happy holidays, Cathy!

  17. Donna Nance
    December 17, 2019 / 5:27 am

    Jennifer, this post should be printed out and referred to often! Your readers always contribute excellent comments. I do believe Miss Sandy presented a challenge. 😉 I firmly believe we function better when we feel good about ourselves.

  18. Mary
    December 17, 2019 / 5:25 am

    Can you recommend some new handbags? Mine are veering into frumpy territory.

    • Angie
      December 17, 2019 / 6:49 am

      Michael Kors has some beautiful styles and great sales!

    • Jennifer
      December 17, 2019 / 8:58 am

      I can certainly do a post on bags. Circle bags are very popular. I also find it better to use a bag with some structure. Floppy, slouchy bags tend to look sloppy after a time.

  19. Mary
    December 17, 2019 / 5:23 am

    Jennifer, you never look frumpy. But thank you for the tips!

  20. Sandy
    December 17, 2019 / 5:02 am

    Wouldn’t it be fun if you did a post showing us a Frumpy Jennifer and then how to use these suggestions to become a Stylish Jennifer?

    • Roxanne
      December 17, 2019 / 5:42 am

      Yes! Great idea. Before & After photos are the best … and tell us HOW to get to After.
      Love your blog and reading your fans’ ideas.

    • Jennifer
      December 17, 2019 / 8:59 am

      Great idea Sandy!

  21. Marie
    December 17, 2019 / 5:01 am

    I used to bring my mother new lipsticks to wear when she was ill with cancer. She said they made her feel better.

    • Jennifer
      December 17, 2019 / 9:00 am

      That was sweet of you, Marie

  22. Linda
    December 17, 2019 / 4:55 am

    Great tips! I will retire at the end of May. Things are going to change, especially me. My husband cane down with sudden Onset Dementia after being hospitalized with Pneumonia. This isn’t the journey we planned but I intend to make the best of us both.

    • Jennifer
      December 17, 2019 / 6:25 am

      I’m so sorry Linda. That’s sad and scary news. Sending best wishes your way. Your attitude tells me you’re a wonderful woman and your husband is blessed to have you. Xx

  23. Kathy
    December 17, 2019 / 4:47 am

    I just started reading your blog. I have similar coloring, I deal with thinning hair and I have dry eyes! I just spent the last 30 minutes searching your past blogs for how you deal with these issues and found some useful tips. But, besides these issues, I feel grateful that none are life threatening. I have a friend, my age (59), in hospice, that is barely holding on and we hope she will make it to Christmas. Thank you for sharing your tips with us!

    • Philanthi
      December 17, 2019 / 5:28 am

      I’m so very sorry to hear about your friend. Praying for her and for you. ?♥️

    • Jennifer
      December 17, 2019 / 6:28 am

      We are fortunate to have our heath which is the most important thing of all! I’m so sorry about your friend, Kathy. That’s so very sad. Sending prayers for her and for you.

  24. Janet
    December 17, 2019 / 4:36 am

    Great tips/reminders! We all need some help from time to time when we are feeling low. I want to try that dry shampoo. My fine hair is always a struggle!

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