After a brief search over StackExchange I’ve decided to ask my own question.
I’m looking for a word to describe someone who enjoys grooming themselves or taking care of their appearance, but without the negative connotations of words like ‘vain‘ or ‘self-conscious‘.
I’ve thought about some options already that I’m not very happy with:
Vain and self-conscious feel derogative, coquettish feels sexual or romantic and seems to describe the way someone behaves towards someone else, pretty/handsome or good looking seem to describe the way someone appears and not the way someone behaves.
Stylish and fashionable are close ones, but they seem to focus too much on clothing, and I’m talking more about grooming: combed hair, manicured nails, clean-shaven (especially a man), maybe with some makeup on (especially a woman), etc…
The context of what I’m trying to write would be something like this:
A woman who is the perfect blend of practical and ____.
Vain? Stylish? Fashionable? I’m not convinced… help!
It doesn’t really work in the OP’s sample sentence, but I would suggest well-groomed. If we tweak (quite radically, I’m afraid) the sample sentence we’d get
A well-groomed woman who epitomizes practical sense, and style.
A well-groomed person is very neat and tidy, and looks as if they have taken care over their appearance.
Collins also provides soigné as one of its synonyms, a French loanword which originally meant “to take good care of” (soigner) nowadays its meaning is closer to that of being elegant, chic, and well-groomed. Merriam-Webster says of it
It can also be used to describe people, as in an article about fashion designer Donna Karan: “Though her name is really pronounced ‘Karen,’ people said it with a glamorous continental inflection; it suited their image of a fashion designer: aloof, soigné, different from you and me.” (Josh Patner, The New York Times, April 11, 2004)
- ‘As he stops to arrange dinner with the soignée wife of a chap he was at nursery school with, I realise, not without envy, that to be a Venetian is to live in the world’s most beautiful and sophisticated village.’ (Oxford Dictionaries)