Look Good, Feel Good: 5 Cost Conscious Ways

Image courtesy of Hashem Abrishami

In previous articles, I have discussed just how deeply unemployment can affect a person’s self confidence.  And let’s face it, if you don’t feel good, you probably don’t look good.  You see, another downside of unemployment is that it can do damage to your good looks.

I’m certain many of you, as you read this, are shaking your heads or snickering while thinking, “I’ve got plenty more to worry about than what I look like right now.”  And you could be right, but you also might be wrong.  So keep reading.

At first, upon receiving the proverbial axe, the pink slip, you might, that following Monday morning, revel in the fact that you don’t have to wake up at 5:30am to take a shower, do your hair and put on a suit!!!  But several months down the long and winding road of unemployment, several months into wearing the same sweats or baggy jeans, over sized tee shirts and flip flops, you just feel like… well, like crap.  (You’re not looking so hot either. You know it, too.  You haven’t been to the gym or had your hair cut in months.)  And this is only in addition to how bad you feel mentally.

You might defend your new constant casual Friday attire by saying something like “well, I wore a suit almost every day for 10 years” or “why should I get dressed up in the morning to sit at home in front of a computer all day?” (Even though this is exactly what you use to do all day when you had job!)  And somewhere in the back of your mind, you might even feel like you don’t deserve to get up and get dressed up because you have lost your job.  You got laid off.  You’ve got nowhere to go and so evidently, you aren’t good enough to feel good about yourself.  You guilt yourself into believing that you are to blame and slumming about all day in your workout clothes or better yet, your pajamas, is your punishment.

Now, I myself have also succumbed to a less than fabulous uniform of black leggings and tank tops for the past year.  And I used to be in the fashion business.  Looking good was the golden rule.  “The Devil Wears Prada” is not just a movie.  And the color of choice not just because it is always chic, but most likely an overly dramatic symbol of my mourning the loss of what I thought was my identity.  My career.

Well, with all due respect, I’m going to say this… Stop being a martyr.

At least try.  I am.

Repeat after me: “When you look good, you feel good. And vice versa.”  Your external looks are a reflection of your internal beauty… of your self-confidence and your self-respect.  And if you aren’t feeling so good inside, you aren’t looking good outside.   And you will NEVER get a job this way.  Yes, you might be sitting at home stressing over your finances, sending out resumes and praying that someone will call with a job offer.  Praying that something/someone finally gives.  But it won’t be you.

From here on out we are not just sitting at home all day in our pajamas attempting to navigate the abyss of unemployment.  WE are getting ready to go on our next interview!  We are preparing ourselves to be prepared for that next big job!  And we are starting from the inside out.

Here are some simple and cost conscious ways you can give yourself a pre-interview mini makeover.  And a much needed confidence boost.

  • Keep a schedule. Get up at the same time every morning, the earlier the better (hint, hint) and eat breakfast almost immediately.  As you might have when you were working.  Read the paper or your emails, whatever it is… and then off you go!  Somewhere.  Have a destination in the morning so that you must get dressed whether it’s the gym, local coffee shop or maybe even a networking event.  A schedule helps you to remain structured and keeps you focused.  And waking up with the intent to go somewhere is motivating as well.
  • Get moving!!! Waking up and walking around in your pajamas all day is not the most motivating habits.  We can all agree on that.  The best way to really feel good about you is to take care of your health and wellness.  And I am a firm believer that you accomplish this through exercise.  I don’t care if you hike, walk, run the beach, lift weights, do yoga or play a sport… Just get moving!  Get your heart pumping and get that oxygen into your lungs.  Even if you were never a big exercise fiend during your career, and used it as a pretty believable excuse, well… here’s your chance!  There are free on-line workout videos, free or donation only yoga classes… and it won’t cost you a thing to walk your dog or go for a bike ride.  Get out there, get fit, boost your confidence and find that new job!
  • Get dressed up. Just one day a week, act like you have a job.  From the alarm clock, to the suit, to hair/make up… and sit down at your computer and start sending out that resume.  Dressed to impress with coffee cup in hand.  See this job search as your job.  And take it seriously.  I’ll bet you accomplish quite a bit that day.
  • Pamper yourself every once in a while. Maybe once a month, or every two weeks depending on your financial situation… and definitely before a big interview… treat yourself.  Whether you go get a manicure or do it yourself, maybe a nice clean shave at the barber shop or even a facial, just treat yourself.  There are even websites that shows you how to make your own beauty products!   Or to prep for that upcoming interview, maybe a new tie?  And here’s a secret for women… update your old suit with a shorter skirt hem, or new buttons on the jacket.  A little pampering will go a long way in boosting your self confidence, and you don’t have to break the bank to accomplish it. It’s alarming to think about spending a bit of money on yourself in such tough economic times, but see the $50 as an investment in yourself, in your career and in your future. 

And most importantly, the true golden rule…

  • SMILE. It is originally you, and completely free.  And it is priceless.

Like I said, you will never get a job with hunched shoulders, a brooding disposition and a disheveled look.  Yes, unemployment and a seemingly endless job search does a number on your self-esteem, but only if you let it.  Stop punishing yourself and moping about the house.  Start motivating and get out there.  INVEST in yourself… in your looks, your health, your well being.  And in your future by find that new job!

Don’t forget… smile.

“People seldom notice old clothes if you wear a big smile.”  Lee Mildon

Melisa Verrecchia is a freelance writer and former fashion diva.  She is also co-writing a book entitled: “Unemployed: The Single Girl’s Guide to Getting By in Los Angeles.”

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The Upside Of The Economic Downturn: Why Being Unemployed Isn’t So Bad

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