thoughts on style.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

dressing your age

lately i've had this sense of urgency to honestly re-evaluate my closet. i realize there are REAL problems in the world, i'm just telling you what's on my mind. college students have style, don't get me wrong, but most days i feel like i'm putting on a slightly more expensive version of what i wore to biochem. at some point shouldn't i be wearing grown up clothes? and what do grown up clothes entail?

i envision grown up clothes to include a wedge or a heel (which i never wear) and something in leather or animal print. i probably also just described a very stylish person.

i don't think you can change your sense of style no matter how hard you try and i'm not trying to do so. but i've reached a point where i no longer feel like myself in clothes i've owned for years. i have this old boden cardigan with huge wooden buttons that i LOVE. but when i put it on this year, i felt like a small child wearing this ridiculous cardigan with cartoonishly odd buttons. just like that.

i reach for different things lately while browsing which may have little to do with my age and more to do with the city's gradual influence on my wardrobe. i stick with a lot of neutrals, black in the winter, and comfortable shoes to walk for miles. instead of steering towards the polka dots i'm trying on cashmere sweaters and thinking it might be worth the investment.

i once read that your weekend attire defines your style since you likely aren't putting as much time/effort into clothing choices. that's not to say if you spend your weekend in sweats you are defined by that. but more to say that being comfortable and casual is very important to you.

at what point should i actually start dressing my age? or is that a ridiculous idea in the first place? i haven't quite figured it out.

photo by elizabeth weinberg.

24 comments:

Briana said...

You know, I often get dressed in clothes (or styles) I've worn for years and then look in the mirror and think, "You're 33. You look like you are trying to be 23." But then I buy more 'mature-looking' clothes and I feel like I am playing dress-up.

Becca said...

Hmm, this is tricky! I think we are caught in a weird in between around this age where culture strongly influences what some people look like and therefore what we should try to look like, but doesn't really give us the freedom to figure out that in between. Why not visit a thrift store and try a few new things on for size?

Kyla said...

I think I'm in this weird stage where I'm still sort-of dressing for college because my work doesn't require me to dress up in a power suit everyday, but I find myself wishing I could be a more polished version of myself. I think this age is a strange one, but it's all about doing what's comfortable for you and mixing polish with comfort. If you want to rock leopard print and a wedge, go for it! But if you want to rock something simpler, do that too!

sheri said...

Great post Rebecca - I wrote a similar one about a year ago. Being "ahem" further along in life, my style has been reinvented many times. It's frustrating to be where you're at right now because it feels almost like you have to scrap your whole wardrobe and start over. And living in NYC is definitely a factor - it seems like everyone is so effortlessly stylish and put together. For what it's worth I always admire what you're wearing when you post photos! :)

Kim said...

I really like your style and admire that you don't feel the pressure to succumb to heels if you don't like wearing them. Maybe you could start with a few simple pieces - a black sheath dress, black pencil skirt and a pair of kitten heels. But if you don't need to dress this way for your job, then this may not be necessary. LOFT has a lot of casual basics that still look polished, and the price points are pretty reasonable. I think we all go through phases of wanting to do a major closet edit. In the past few years, I've tried to focus purchasing "timeless" investment pieces to build upon going forward. Good luck, and have fun with it!

zivar said...

i am 31 and i know myself pretty well at this point, i know what works and what doesn't and i proceed with a bit of caution when something outside of this catches my eye. do i really like it? or does it look perfect on that person who has a completely different body type than myself.. etc.

i will never wear heels, i will never wear pleather pants, and you will probably never see me in those 1950's dresses. just not me.. good to settle into that reality.

jen said...

I work from home in Asheville, NC - a very laid back town with an "anything-goes" attitude towards wardrobe, appearance, etc. I feel I gravitate towards more polished clothing but I always feel overdressed and high maintenance when we go out, so I have been wearing lots of jeans, cotton tees, slip on flats to blend in more.
I feel like I'm basically wearing what I wore in college and I want to create a wardrobe based on tailored classics and then just update with accessories. Still haven't figured out how to pull that off...though I did figure out that high collared shirts look awful on me and got rid of all of them. Baby steps. :)

Monica L. Shulman said...

My motto is: wear what you like. That and always, always over-accessorize! :) I work from home and I'm a mom so if I'm indoors I'm all about the comfort. Jeans and t-shirts. But when we go out, even to the park/playground, I have to wear something that makes me feel more like myself bc the thought of being in an old ratty t-shirt or worse, yoga pants when NOT at yoga or the gym honestly depresses me.

Since I've gotten older I definitely have invested in higher quality pieces bc for one I can afford them now and for two, if you care for them properly they will last forever. Cashmere is a must in winter. It's warmer than anything else you can wear and it holds well and it is so comfortable. I have my version of your boden sweater and I wear it a little less than I used to when I was younger or first got it but I will never get rid of it bc it is so comfortable and I love to wear it at home.

I don't wear heels during the day as much as I used to bc they're just not practical for my life anymore but that doesn't mean I have to wear sneakers or hideous shoes. my clothing reflects my mood and how I feel about myself and I don't want to feel lazy stretchy pants-y all the time when I'm trying to be productive with my work and with my family.

We should go shopping again. I need black boots.

rebecca said...

monica-
thanks for the cashmere validation. :)

Lottie Simm said...

i would love to have cashmere in my wardrobe--shame about the price tag. but monica has persuaded me that maybe i would be saving money in the long run ;)

and sometimes i think my wardrobe symbolises two different people--i obviously have a dual style personality.

Ashley Doan said...

I have a few goals in mind before turning 30 in December, and getting rid of clothes I have labeled as "not appropriate to wear when I'm 30" is one of them.

I think you naturally go through a style evolution as the years go by, but this is a good thing! I can't imagine still wearing an over-sized Minnie Mouse shirt that hit past my knees but would knot it up so my huge inner thighs would show back in 5th grade (you're welcome for the visual) :)

I say change it up, but also keep some classic basics and just dress it up/style it differently.

LWP said...

I don't want to face the day when I'm too old to pull off Converse. But I've definitely noticed a change in my style as I near 30. I invest in nicer, more classic pieces.

shoegirl said...

Since moving to Europe, I've adopted the mindset that there's no such thing as 'dressing your age'. I see so many women over here that are so much more comfortable with their bodies and their clothes, no matter their size or age, and it's inspiring. If it's YOU and you love it, wear it.

Lately I've found so many of the classic, conservative clothes I've gravitated towards since high school bore me. I never really took a lot of fashion choices growing up (save the alternating neon socks in grade school). Now that I'm in my 30s, I'm finally ready to take some chances and push my style comfort zone. Life is too short not to wear what makes you happy and feel good about yourself. If you're 60 and have got killer legs, I say why not wear a miniskirt? And btw, Converse have no expiration date - they're classic!

curiouscovetous said...

This is so me. I have the added challenge of being a preschool teacher, and wanting to wear cute, put together outfits, but knowing I will get totally grubby by the end of the day...usually I end up trying to wear a cute cardigan and my Jack Purcells and leave it at that. But I always have my hair in a bun or ponytail, at work or not... I feel like I look really young and unsophisticated. Crack this conundrum for us, Rebecca!

Lena at A Crimson Kiss said...

It's funny–a lot of what's in my closet has been there, or some version of it, since high school. Sure I've edited out the stuff I don't love over time, but when I see a really fashionable woman with a stack of bracelets and fantastic heels that don't seem to cripple her, I want to go back home and try again.

Tara Celeste said...

I hear ya. As a mom who's often home or around friends and their kids, I tend to dress with only comfort in mind and almost never think of style. It hits me when I see photos of myself, and while I want to stay real I also want to look back and think I looked pretty good, not like a bum! Definitely something to think about, although like you said, there are certainly more important things to consider in life!

Stine said...

I work in an office in London and we have to dress smart from Monday to Thursday, Friday is 'dress down day' and it's crazy how happy it makes me to wake up Friday morning knowing that I can put jeans on. I still kind of have to dress it up of course but I just feel so much more 'me' with jeans on. I never been a suit kind of girl so I tend to wear slim fit trousers and a silk blouse, trying to mix it up with different belts, shoes and accessiories, leather jackets etc to make it less corporate. I definitvely prefer to wear heels in the office but it it's a killer running to the tube so recently I have started to wear trainers whilst travelling and just change in the office.

Cashmere has become so much more accessible in the past few years, it used to be sooo expensive but now they do have some nice affordable ones in Zara and Uniqlo. Definitively worth the investment.

Elizabeth Soule said...

I always admire your style that I've seen on the blog. But I understand the feeling of wanting to dress more grown up. It feels like I've done something responsible on the days I put thought into my outfit. I've noticed I'm not wearing all those Anthropologie tops and sweaters I purchased the past few years and am wearing more muted basics.

Go for the cashmere, go for classic, you can't ever go wrong with that.

The Bebebirds said...

I feel like everyone's style is always (and maybe should be)evolving. I am a nut for cardigans and that didn't happen until my mid-twenties. Who knows what thirty will bring! Whatever you're comfortable in at the time works...unless you're comfortable in something really ugly obviously, haha.

Brooke

Monica L. Shulman said...

So speaking of cashmere, you can indeed find more affordable pieces now but the key is the care. If you don't take care of it, it will pill eventually even if it's chanel. My mother has found cashmere even at costco. yes, COSTCO! And the sweaters are ridiculously soft and luxe and excellent quality. Look around for it and in the end, buying one or two sweaters in basic colors like black or gray or cream, will always be an investment. I am a huge fan of bluefly for great cashmere duds.

Lucent Imagery said...

Oh the timing of my reading this is hilarious! I literally just posted my spring shoe stock take an hour ago and then decided to pop over here. I have a pair of boots in that post that I've deemed "too young" for a 31 year old so they are on probation along with other pairs. I have begun to spend more on quality clothes in silk or cotton but find a cheaper fabric that doesn't irritate my skin is still important for those days I don't want to worry about getting stains when I lay on the grass in the parks. I'm getting to a style that works for me and looks good. My latest challenge has been preparing for another summer with my newfound allergy to sunscreen. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I believe as we get older it's best to refine and simplify, but overall be true to your own personal style!

Lauren Knight said...

So funny your story about your favorite sweater. I just pulled out my favorite dress from last fall (and several before that) and thought the exact same thing. Just, over it.

I struggle with style as a young mama. I think that despite having three kids, I find it very important to put in the effort to just care about what I'm wearing. Some days, I swear it is the difference between feeling like a rockstar and feeling like a schmuck.

evie dear said...

I like your style :)
I feel like I've lost my own style a bit, or maybe I'm still finding it? I'm 31 & mum of two & I'm trying not to be defined just by the 'mum' bit of me!

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