What Does Frumpy Mean? (9 Tips for How To Not Look Frumpy)

by | Tips, Hacks, & FAQ's, Wardrobe Wisdom & Style Tips | 0 comments

How do you know if the outfit you are wearing is chic or frumpy? What if you have trendy pieces but they don’t seem to work together? Are they actually frumpy? I love this blogging mama and her explanation for the word frumpy and how to avoid it! It’ll be easy to dress stylish and trendy after you read her tips! #momlife #outfits #clothes #style #fashion #capsule #wardrobe

Today’s blog post is for my wonderful readers who are new to the website OR have been around a while but are wondering “what does frumpy really mean?”

I want this post to give you some really helpful visuals and information, but I also want it to communicate my heart behind this blog, the community of women around it, and the products I create for us. 

Let’s get clear about our icon word “frumpy” means and what it doesn’t mean. Plus how not to look frumpy!

The word frumpy conjures up wrinkled noses and wary looks. Do you know what frumpy is? How do you define what makes an outfit or piece of clothing frumpy? This mama simply explains the word frumpy and gives 7 quick tips on how to avoid it! Dressing well has never been so easy! #momlife #outfits #style #fashion #mom #capsule #clothes

Video Format of this Post

What is a frumpy look?

What do you picture when you think of the word “frumpy”?

What do you feel? 

What synonyms come to mind? 

I’ve come to realize there can be some varied opinions about what this really is. And I’d love to hear your responses in the comments. 

In general though, I’ve found we all agree that we don’t want to be frumpy. (Which is why this community has grown so strong and united so quickly!)

Old-fashioned isn’t automatically frumpy

If you Google “definition of frumpy” you’ll find Google’s dictionary widget that offers synonyms like “old-fashioned” and “her mother’s frumpy clothes.” 

At some points I too have included “old-fashioned and dated” in my definition of frumpy.

This is because a dated wardrobe is often worn out and can look frumpy. Wearing on-trend clothes can be a component of freshening up your look. 

However, over time I’ve realized that kind of misses the mark.

You could technically have an old fashion style without looking frumpy. Also, dressing like your mom doesn’t automatically make you frumpy. The truth is trendy clothes can look frumpy too if they are ill-fitted, unkept, or mis-proportioned for your body.

Fighting the frump is more about taking care of your overall appearance and wearing clothes that fit and flatter you, regardless of your personal style.

Read: Why Dressing Well is Important

What frumpy DOES mean

Merriam Webster’s definition for frumpy gives a perfect break down of the word: 

What Does Frumpy Mean? Merriam Webster's definition for frumpy clothes and appearance

The Urban Dictionary offers a contemporary definition that really describes it well. Although I am not a fan of this site’s tendency towards crass content, sometimes their definitions are more helpful because they are based on cultural use rather than scholarly definitions.

What does frumpy mean? Urban dictionary's definition of frumpy clothing

Some synonyms for frumpy are:

  • baggy
  • shabby
  • sloppy
  • unkempt
  • mumsy
  • dowdy

In essence, clothing is frumpy when it:

  1. Is ill-fitted (usually, too large) or doesn’t compliment your particular body shape
  2. Is old and worn out (faded, stretched, lost its shape)
  3. Is unkept (wrinkled or dirty)
  4. Is mis-proportioned (no balance, all baggy, gives you an awkward appearance.)

Examples of frumpy clothes

Frumpy Clothes Definition - Define frump, what does it mean

Examples of frumpy mom look

These looks are frumpy because they are baggy, shapeless & sloppy.

But there are easy tweaks you can make to get rid of the frumpy look!

How do you know if the outfit you are wearing is chic or frumpy? What if you have trendy pieces but they don’t seem to work together? Are they actually frumpy? I love this blogging mama and her explanation for the word frumpy and how to avoid it! It’ll be easy to dress stylish and trendy after you read her tips! #momlife #outfits #clothes #style #fashion #capsule #wardrobe

Want to see how I fixed these outfits? Read: How To Not Dress Like a Frumpy Mom in the Spring & Summer

9 Quick Tips for How to Not Look Frumpy

Tips to fix a frumpy outfit. How to Not Look Frumpy - Frumpy Clothes Definition

  • Tip #1 Always balance your proportions (if wearing a slouchy shirt, wear fitted bottoms. If wearing a flowy skirt or pants, wear a fitted top.)
  • Tip #2 Wear slim profile shoes instead of bulky, old ones. (Time to get rid of those ratty old tennis shoes! Get my suggestions in the Stay-at-Home Moms’ Capsule Wardrobe)
  • Tip #3 Add a trendy piece to your outfit to freshen it up (Read our fall/winter and spring/summer reports on the current mom-friendly fashion trends)
  • Tip #4 Trade shapeless shirts for fitted ones with pretty details. (Get my suggestions in the Stay-at-Home Moms’ Capsule Wardrobe)
  • Tip #5 Hem your pants to the correct length. (Check out this cool trick for hemming without losing the original hem stitch.)
  • Tip #6 Make sure your outfit has shape and shows your curves (Celebrate your body shape girl!)
  • Tip #7 Get rid of pieces that are worn out and have lost their shape. (Get my suggestions for wardrobe updates in the Stay-at-Home Moms’ Capsule Wardrobe)
  • Tip #8 Prioritize your hair and makeup–you’ll look put together even if you’re just wearing joggers and a tee. (But I thought this was about clothes?! Read how simple hair+makeup defines your look)
  • Tip #9 Define the hemline on long shirts. (Try a partial front tuck or a knot at the front.)

For pictures and more details, read these posts:

How this blog helps you avoid “frumpy”

As a teenager and young adult I had always tried to dress well but I lacked the confidence to do so consistently. Becoming a mom only made things tougher…. I had less time to get ready for the day and less motivation too! 

It seemed like good luck when I’d put something together that was balanced, cute, stylish, and flattering. I didn’t like luck determining how I looked or felt about my clothes. I wanted confidence, simplicity, and joy.

I started this blog to help myself and other mamas attain the same: to refresh our wardrobes nearly effortlessly, simplify fashion, and get confident about what we wear each day.

Does that seem like an unattainable goal? 

If you feel intimidated by fashion, don’t know how to get rid of that “frumpy” feeling, and aren’t sure how to start updating your wardrobe, this blog is for you. 

I want you to think “Now THAT I can do!” after every blog post you read. I aim to make it THAT easy. 

Thousands of moms who would have said they had little “fashion savvy” prior to finding Frump Fighters have successfully used the tools here to completely turn things around. 

And their entire life has felt the positive ripple effects of re-prioritizing their self-care, for the better!

There’s no reason you can’t too! 

Get started with Step 1 in my Wardrobe Refresh Series!

When “You Do YOU” Is Unhelpful

“Girl, You do YOU!”

It’s a common affirmation that is used among women giving each other feedback on fashion. 

I do believe each person should eventually get to the point where they develop their own personal style. But when you show up at this blog BECAUSE you don’t want to keep dressing the way you’re dressing, this advice isn’t all that helpful. 

It oversimplifies things and leaves you back at square one.

So this advice is really only helpful for two types of people:

  1. Someone who is perfectly happy to wear whatever they so choose regardless of how it looks on them and what anyone says #thankyouverymuch. Frump Fighters isn’t really going to be their jam. And that’s fine! Please still be my friend!
  2. The second type of person that can take “You do you” and run with it is the one that is well-established in their style and knows how to dress their body type well. In this case, they should be encouraged to continue enjoying their own style because they have a firm grasp on the rules of fashion. 

If you do care about avoiding frumpy clothes but don’t know how, then rest assured. This blog isn’t just going to send you off empty handed. 

I want to be helpful in a very practical way.

Get started with Step 1 in my Wardrobe Refresh Series!

Clothes Don’t Define Us

It might seem out of place to have a section like this in a blog post about avoiding frumpy clothes.

But girl! Can I share my heart for a second? I know not everyone believes the same things I believe, but the only worthwhile effort is the authentic one, so let me me real with you.

While I run a blog about dressing well, I truly believe that
YOU are more than what you wear. (Matthew 6:25, Matthew 10:29-31, Psalm 139:13-18)

The importance of dressing well as a mom. You are more than what you wear.

I believe you were created in the image of God and THAT is where you value lies. 

Clothes don’t give us value. They just help shine forth the value that has always been there.

Take a house for example… it is valuable because of the love of family, the memories, and the rich life lived within its walls.

Why would we let the cobwebs take over, and the paint chip off, and the leaks spread across the ceiling when there is so much precious LIFE inside that home?

The clean rooms, the fresh paint, the roof repairs–they don’t decrease or increase the value of the family within the walls.

They just help showcase and nurture the wonderful thing happening inside. We care for our house because it’s a HOME.

In the same way, clothes don’t give value. They just showcase and celebrate the value that is there.

Read: Why Your Appearance Matters

How to Fight the Frump in YOUR Wardrobe

So now that we’re all clear on what frumpy monster we’re fighting, let’s get started!

Step 1:

Sign up for my free wardrobe essentials checklist and videos on how to refresh your mom wardrobe.

Step 2:

Read any of these related posts!


Share your thoughts!

Do you struggle with feeling frumpy? Does it help your mood when you like what you’re wearing?

Click here to leave your response.

About Corina