The definitive dressing guide to avoiding faff-factor  

Photo: Getty images 

Slip-off-the-shoulder bra straps and crotch-hovering tights? No, thanks. Style writer Alyson Walsh shares her tips for getting dressed effortlessly 

Added on

By Alyson Walsh on

The older I get, the less I want to faff around with clothes in the morning – or any other time of day, for that matter. What I want is an outfit with superb pull-on-and-go properties, so that once I’m dressed, that’s it. Absolutely no bother. Bra straps that slip off the shoulder, skimpy tights where the crotch ends up just above the knee or flush-inducing, man-made fabrics that turn me into a hot, menopausal mess? No. Thank. You. All of these things create extra faffage and are a major distraction from all the other stuff I need to do throughout the day. The aim when getting dressed is to be effortless and faff-free, to put clothes on and forget about them. Here’s my guide on how to do it.

Try stuff on

In a bit of a rush the other morning, I grabbed a favourite old leopard-print jersey top to go with my slouchy boyfriend jeans, not realising at the time of coupling that these two items were incompatible. I’ve got a long body and there was a gap at the midriff, so apart from being a bit chilly, I spent all day hoicking my jeans up and pulling my top down. Major faffage. The key to enjoying a faff-free existence is spending time figuring out what goes with what – it’s worth spending a free hour or so on a Sunday doing just this. Stand in front of a full-length mirror, put things on, take things off and work out what makes you feel good and what makes you look like you got dressed in the dark. Unlike the boyfriend jeans and leopard-print top debacle, outfits benefit from a little thought and coordination, rather than being slung together. And that is probably the reason why I own five jumpsuits.

Once you’ve found an outfit that works, stick with it

As with leftovers, outfits are better the next day, so once you’ve found an outfit that works, keep wearing it. This is not complacency – it’s common sense. “I could wear the same outfit fours days in a row,” says fashion stylist and beauty entrepreneur Linda Rodin, who, like me, is a fan of rewearing successful outfits. “You can change the whole look with a different colour shoe, a bootie or a sneaker.” Switch up the look by swapping jewellery, wearing a different pair of shoes or changing coats.

Invest in a pull-on-and-go top

Having a fail-safe item of clothing to turn to is more comforting than knowing you’ve got a lift home after a night out and massively helps eliminate faff. Mine is a pull-on-and-go top – something I can throw on with jeans and a pair of loafers if I’m ever in doubt. I like something with pattern, print or embroidery to whoop things up (Jigsaw, Velvet by Graham & Spencer and Boden are all good for these). As for shape, a classic men’s style shirt (in blue, not white) or pyjama-style shirts are easy to pair with jeans or wide-leg trousers.

Hanging on to a small bag without a handle and trying to do everything one-handed is a surefire way to end up losing your drink, your rag and your marbles

Get some fancy flats

When I left my job as a fashion editor 15 years ago, I instantly reduced the faff-factor by no longer having to carry an extra pair of shoes around with me, in a tote bag. I now take the zero-tolerance approach to sore feet (and have the Pinterest board to prove it). To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw: “If a woman rebels against high-heeled shoes, she should take care to do so in a pair of fancy flats,” and there are tons of gorgeous options, from cocktail trainers, velvet slippers, Moroccan babouche slippers, flatforms, kitten, block or mid-heels. In my opinion, flat shoes or boots and trainers are chicer anyway – no one looks glamorous when their feet hurt. Try Georgina Goodman and ViBi Venezia for slippers, By Far (which currently has a collaboration with Whistles) and Miista for mid-heels and boots, Boden for fancy flats and Rose Rankin for not-your-average trainers.

Buy a waterproof and layer up

Climate is another consideration when reducing faff – as the legendary fell walker and author Alfred Wainwright once said, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” At this time of year, that means a waterproof coat, preferably with a hood (check out this one from COS) and layering. A long-sleeve white, black or striped fitted T-shirt (Uniqlo, Gap and Arket are good for these) is the perfect starting point. You can put anything on over this base layer (dress, jumpsuit, dungarees, cardigan, jacket) and take the layers off again if the temperature changes. And fabric quality matters. It’s not just about how things fit, but how they feel. I have grown to love good-quality, natural fabrics with a little Lycra – they tend to drape better and last longer than cheaper alternatives.

Wear big undies (and the right bra)

I’m not going to bang on about bras, but a properly fitting one is not only more comfortable, but means no pinching, slipping or bulging – aka faff. In my experience, Figleaves and Bravissimo offer a great fittings services and range of styles. And thank God the thong is long gone – give me big pants any day of the week. Sizeable, stretch-cotton undies are cool and comfy – there’s no VPL, chafing or hitching and hoicking. My favourites are Standard Drawers, Baserange, GapBody and, of course, M&S.

And, finally, ditch the clutch bag

Someone gave me a clutch bag once and I wondered if they even knew me at all. Hanging on to a small bag without a handle and trying to do everything one-handed is a surefire way to end up losing your drink, your rag and your marbles.

Click here for the faff-free dressing edit 

Alyson Walsh blogs at That’s Not My Age and is the author of Know Your Style: Mix It, Match It, Love It, published by Hardie Grant.



Sign up

Love this? Sign up to receive our Today in 3 email, delivering the latest stories straight to your inbox every morning, plus all The Pool has to offer. You can manage your email subscription preferences at My Profile at any time

Photo: Getty images 
Tagged in:
fashion honestly
fashion advice
dress code

Tap below to add to your homescreen

Love The Pool? Support us and sign up to get your favourite stories straight to your inbox