[IMGCAP(1)]Depending on my schedule and the level of stress I’m under from work and life, sometimes getting out the door in the morning can be highly challenging. Between my two dogs that need to be walked and fed, taking a shower, choosing an outfit and the right accessories, applying makeup to conceal tired eyes, squeezing in breakfast and a chat with my husband, and taming a huge lion’s mane full of crazy morning hair, it’s a lot to accomplish in the early morning hours.

I always want to look my best and put together a polished and professional look, but often lack the time to do so. Image is very important in a business setting, and as a fashion fanatic, I want to put my best foot forward, especially if meeting with clients, community partners or vendors.

It makes me feel more confident to be dressed well and put together, and helps me feel comfortable and at ease in any setting.

With that said, I have compiled some helpful tips and tricks to assist readers in tightening up their morning routine; to quickly pull together a stylish look to take them out the door and on with their work day. In addition, keep reading to find out how one very lucky CPA or accounting professional can win $150 from Shop It To Me, an amazing fashion website featuring designer brands on sale… a favorite of mine to save time, explore, and purchase both classic staple items and new trends.

Shop It To Me is like a personal assistant for shopping, scouring the web for your favorite designer brands on sale, and, best of all… in your size!  No more hunting only to find your favorite item is sold out in your size.  Just pick your favorite brands, your sizes and decide how often you want to receive sale updates.

But first, a few tips:

Plan Ahead
Build outfits ahead of time
. If you have an hour or two on a weekend, a rainy day or some down time, go through your closet quickly, remove anything old, ill-fitting or out of style, and begin pairing up items as complete outfits. It will do some good to get rid of the items you no longer wear, and remind you of items you need to revisit. As you go along, choose the right accessories to match and try everything on to make sure it fits and works well together. When I have the time, I actually build out a few weeks’ worth of outfits and then hang them in my closet so all I have to do in the morning is pick one, already hanging and ready to go. By diving in and exploring my closet and creating full outfits, I actually get more wear out of everything that I have, and save a lot of time trying to pick something out in the morning.

Consult with Mother Nature and check the weather. Different temperatures and climates will make a big difference with what you choose to wear each morning. If you are traveling, make sure to research your destination and pack accordingly. Also remember that many offices have heating or cooling systems in place that may require certain clothing to feel comfortable (a sweater for frigid air conditioning, a sleeveless dress for the warm heat during winter).

Consider consulting your favorite weather-related smart phone app, the local paper or morning news to help plan what will be most weather appropriate items to save time. Have accessories like umbrellas, rain boots and inclement weather gear on hand so you don’t have to go digging for them when needed in the AM.

Locate and set out your essentials. Keys? Check. Laptop? Check. Purse? Check. Cell phone? Check. Cell phone charger? Check. Make sure you have everything you need for the next day easily accessible and easily located during a busy morning. It’s easy to get distracted by morning news, pets, children and life in general, so pack your bag or lay out the items you will need right by your outfit, or on a table by the front door so you don’t miss anything crucial, or waste time trying to find them when you meant to be out the door already.

Helpful tactics
Hair first, makeup next. While everyone has their own special routine in the morning, try doing your hair before you are dressed and then your makeup after. Using a hairdryer or other hair tools that use heat in a small bathroom with no fan or too small of a window can make you sweat or begin to feel uncomfortable, so try finalizing your hair style while you are wearing breathable fabrics or in a lightweight bathrobe. As for makeup, I can’t tell you how many times I have smudged it on my clothes as soon as I pull them on over my head, so consider dressing first and then “painting your face” after to avoid makeup stains.

Learn an easy up-do for bad hair days. Chic and stylish, a great up-do or chignon can camouflage a horrible hair day. Check out How to Do a 5-Minute Updo.

Masterful makeup and sensational skin tricks. Check out this read for an easy, flawless and fresh face in just five! Also, try and remove a few steps from your normal beauty routine if they are not absolutely necessary. You could shave off a few minutes and put them to better use (like having an extra moment or two to breathe and relax instead of stressful morning rushing around!).

Compare, contrast and consult with others! Check out these interesting polls from Glamour magazine, featuring reader thoughts on morning routines. How do you measure up?

Now, for some fun! We’re holding a contest to give some Fashion & Finance readers the chance to spruce up their work wardrobe!

About the contest: Shop It To Me is giving one Accounting Today reader $150 to spend through the site on their favorite brands.  

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To enter:

  • Comment on this blog post comments section or Accounting Today’s Facebook wall.  List a favorite work wardrobe tip, or quick thoughts on how to look stylish when getting ready in a hurry.
  • We'll randomly select one winner on Friday, June 15 and contact them soon after.
  • Selected winner must be a registered Shop It To Me member, so make sure to sign up today!
  • U.S. residents only

In the meantime, check out some great work appropriate apparel and accessories the team at Shop It To Me picked out especially for you, and start planning what you may buy if you win!!
Emily Alexandria Burns is a State University of New York Fashion Institute of Technology graduate and started her career in New York City working for companies including Giorgio Armani Le Collezioni, Christian Dior and Jones Apparel Group. She is now e-marketing communications specialist for Freed Maxick & Battaglia CPAs in Buffalo, N.Y., and recently named the Association for Accounting Marketing's 2011 "Rookie of the Year." Follow her on Twitter @FreedMaxickPR or email her at emily.burns@freedmaxick.com.