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I was trying to parse out whether separating yourself from vanity can be a release from a populist mindset and a transition to a more mature mindset. My thesis is that being less vain is more mature.

But then I thought of perfectly happy seeming people I know who are older and who still care about their appearance. I imagined if I were to ask them why they care so much they might say that the effort they put into looking good is a form of expression through, fashion, makeup, etc.

My question: what would be a good word to describe a healthy or creative habit of vanity?

I found vanity’s definition to be too negative and not an endearing term.

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    'Self esteem' describes the act of considering oneself to be worth something but in a sensible and balanced way, not over-estimating one's own worth. Neither 'vanity' nor 'self esteem' are restricted to the personal appearance and context is required to indicate the area within which the two characteristics operate. – Nigel J Sep 19 '18 at 12:06
  • Can you talk more about how you hope to use this word? You could go with 'self-expression' to talk about the act of expressing creativity through their attention to appearance. It's not a single word, but you could say 'she takes pride in her appearance' to replace 'she is vain', which has fewer negative connotations. – AlannaRose Sep 21 '18 at 22:57
  • The single-word-requests information page has a checklist at the bottom. Answering the questions in the checklist should make it easier for others to help. – AlannaRose Sep 21 '18 at 23:21
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    I think you may not understand vanity properly if you think taking care in one’s personal appearance makes you vain. “excessive pride in or admiration of one's own appearance or achievements – Jim Sep 22 '18 at 0:20
  • How about "dresser", "bureau", "wardrobe", "chiffonier"? – Hot Licks May 12 at 0:15
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How about 'self-admiration'? I'd say it's more P.C. and a bit nicer.

It's a bit like 'self-esteem', but closer in meaning to vanity.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/self-admiration

'self-admiration'- The admiration of oneself; undue pride in oneself or one's achievements

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