If you're femme-presenting, wear a dress. If you wear a dress, people always think you're dressed up. I have showed up to many a functions in a dress and no make-up, unbrushed hair, etc. and people were like, "Wow Mea you look so dressed up," and I was like "Thanks I didn't feel like putting on pants."
It's also good to just invest in one good pair of black pants. You can pair them with almost any shirt and still look nice. (And as long as they pass the sniff test, wear them every day lol)
If you have long enough hair, tie it up in a bun. You literally don't even have to brush your hair to do this. To do a neat bun, just pull your hair back like you're doing a pony tail, then twist it, then wrap it. Here is a good tutorial. The one I just described is the first one, but this video has some other buns too.
You don't need to layer on make-up to look like you put effort on your face. Sometimes, all you need is mascara and a lip gloss. This is something you can even do in under a minute in the bathroom at work if you don't have time to do it at home.
I use this stuff for dark circles. I have HORRIBLE dark circles, and applying a bit of this under your eyes makes a huge difference. This is a skin tint which is usually used for highlights, but I find it works miracles for dark circles.
For blotchy skin, there's not much you can do when you don't have time/spoons, but some of that is down to what products you use when washing your face? Idk about you but my skin is OILY AS HELL and has not calmed the f down since I started puberty. I have tried so many acne products and even prescription products, and nothing has worked for me except this face wash in combination with this toner. The face wash is great for lifting oils and deep cleaning, and the toner can help with blotchiness. I also use this moisturizer afterward. Even if you have oily skin, it's important to moisturize after stripping oils, otherwise your face will be like "NO OIL. MUST PRODUCE EXTRA OIL" and you'll be a french fry in a matter of hours, so drying out your face too much can actually lead to more break-outs. If you're the type to get really oily during the day, the oil-absorbing sheets like these go a long way.
I have a really hard time maintaining my appearance at work so I definitely understand the struggle!! Mea's made some really great points, so I'll just add a few things that I find help as well.
I personally find that when I haven't been able to shower in a few days and feel disgusting that it is much more comfortable spending the day in clothes that are looser fitting around areas that I sweat more. I find that way I am less worried about smelling and that little extra confidence makes a huge difference. The way you carry yourself has a huge impact on how other people see you. I always try to wash my face in the morning, even if I can't shower or do much else. It helps me to freshen up and feel and look less drained.
I find that small accessories really help to make me look more composed. A ribbon in the hair is usually enough to allude to having taken care in how you are presented. I have a hair tie that had a ribbon attached so it's no extra effort. And I can't agree more about the power of buns! So quick and easy and they can disguise the frizziest, oiliest and knottiest of hair.
When my skin isn't being agreeable but I don't have the energy to apply a full face of makeup I have found BB Creams and tinted moisturizers are really good for a bit of light, quick coverage to perk me up a bit.
When I was in college I didn't really have the funds for a bunch of stuff, but what I did invest in was a nice non heavy bb cream. On days with really bad blotchy skin, dark circles, and low spoons, I'd take it and put it in triangles under my eyes with my fingers and dab-blend it out, as well as put spots of it on my blotchier parts and db blend it out there too. You can use a sponge or a brush too, but when Im low on spoons, fingers were the easiest. If you dont have much money to spare, getting a decent bb cream that matches your skin as close as you can is really helpful because you can do a full face of it when you feel up to it, or just do spot control when you dont. I use the maybelline bb cream, its light, cheap, covers decently, and as long as theres no hard lines, its great for spot control.
(I wrote all this and then immediately saw jael beth's reply about bb cream, aaah sorry!!)
Other things I do for my face: I like to fill in my brows a lil bc I have thick messy ones so if i can quickly get them somewhat in line, it cleans up the look of my face immediately. Mascara is too mush for me on lowspoons days, so I'll usually messily line my eyes with a thick line using the same eyebrow pencil. Since the line is messy, I smudge the line with my fingers. Apparently it gives a "lightly smokey neutral look" haha
For hair, dry shampoo is a life saver! You can get the spray can kind or the powder kind, like lush's No Drought dry shampoo (its what I use). You dont need a lot and you sprinkle it on your greasier/visibly greasy parts of your scalp and comb it out. I've read that baby powder works the same way. Also- I personally dont have long enough hair for buns and even when I do I find them disagreeable, they just never look good on me D: If you're like me, you might like hair claw clips, like these
They're easy to take out and readjust throughout the day, and you can find pretty cheap decorative ones. I wear them a ton when I'm low on spoons & had to use a bunch of dry shampoo & consistently get comments on how it makes me look "classy" & "elegant" n junk like that. Necklaces, headbands, earings, the more distracting the better. When I'm feeling exceptionally crappy, I put on a floral headband and a big crystal necklace and no one really pays attention to my face or outfit. If my accessories are distracting in a good way, I can wear a black tshirt and dark jeans and come off as casual professional. Added bonus if you have a cool cardigan, jacket, whatever, a quick way to dress up a look
If you're worried about smell, essential oil perfume is really nice! They're usually not as heavy as other perfumes & usually dont bother others. I have a big bottle of aroma therapy "stress relief" that smells light & nice that ill spray on my face, plus a small vial of lavender scent I carry on the go that I can dab on my neck and wrists. (i have a sensitive nose but essential oil smells dont bother me. Obviously they might bother others so if you're working in a scent free place probably best not to)