Please stop telling me what I can't wear in my 30s
Dear fashion editors,
I have something to get off my chest: I'm in my 30s, and I refuse to take any of your advice about the various ways I should be “updating” my wardrobe, developing a "signature" style, changing my shopping habits or investing in "timeless" basics. I'll wear whatever the hell I want. There, I said it.
I'm over being told I need to cease buying anything trendy and only shop "the classics." I'm bored of reading how I won't be taken seriously if I wear a short skirt. I'm sick of editors trying to turn me into a Jackie Kennedy Onassis prototype. I despise ballet flats. I’m not convinced you're any less of a woman if you don't own a trench coat. I hated pearls when I was 15, and I hate them now.
If I sound hostile, let me explain: Since I oversee a women's fashion site, I understand better than anyone that slightly hysterical headlines such as "The 10 Things You Should NEVER Wear Once You Turn 30" are enticing. You click them. I click them. We add them to our "style 101" Pinterest boards. Why? Because most women never tire of reading about the things we "shouldn’t" be doing, buying and wearing.
Here's the thing, though: Not only are these types of articles laughably cliché, but they’re also hypocritical. Without fail, they'll earnestly tell you it's time to start dressing for yourself and moving away from what other people think. To be your own woman! Take risks!
But, a few paragraphs down, the story will implore you to stop buying into fads, to take anything inexpensive, humorous or trend-driven to the trash, and to run like Usain Bolt to the nearest Barneys and start throwing all your newly-disposable income toward "upgrading your essentials."
Truthfully? I don’t want to! I’m perfectly thrilled with the things I own that you’d deem "essential:" The $49 cashmere sweater I got at Joe Fresh on sale, the black blazer with the perfectly padded shoulders I got at Zara and the black cropped BDG skinny jeans from Urban Outfitters I hoard by the dozen. That said, I’m equally as thrilled with the fun denim backpack covered in skull patches I got at Dolls Kill, the cute matching shorts set I got at Pixie Market and the floral platform sandals I got at ASOS. I will not — now or ever — exclusively start shopping in the "misses" department, which one article outright told me I should be doing.
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I'm not someone you'd consider particularly edgy, trend-setting or left of center, but I have a lot of fun with style. I also have a firm handle on style. It’s important for women of any age to understand that dressing has little to do with the year you were born, but rather everything to do with propriety. Would I show up to a wedding wearing the aforementioned matching set from Pixie Market? Of course not. Would I go on a job interview wearing the crazy multicolor sequin crop top that looks killer with high-waisted jeans and orange lipstick? Not a chance. Will I shelve those things for good because I’m no longer in my 20s? Get outta here.
I take issue with the idea that every woman who hits 30 is suddenly expected to morph into a corporate stereotype. Am I higher up in my career than I was at 23? Technically, sure. Back then I was working at a theater company for $100 a week trying to fulfill a dream that didn’t work out, so I took a different path. Granted, that path is creative and cool, but I personally don't feel my fashion choices after I turned 30 would have held me back from any job. I’m lucky I’m able to wear my checkered Vans to the office, but if I couldn't, I’d still find ways to express myself beyond a black Theory suit, a dainty little watch and a "forever" bag.
And while, yes, many people naturally make more money as they age, it's silly to assume that's universal. I have female friends who are lawyers at white-shoe firms, and I have female friends who are teachers, aspiring directors and jewelry makers who don’t have the money to run out and buy a "timeless" pair of Manolo Blahnik BB pumps because they’re in their third decade of life. And even if they could, not everyone wants a pair. Women find themselves in so many different places once they enter their 30s, and I think it's lazy to stick us into a dated one-style-fits-all box.
With each passing year, my excitement for shopping, personal style and finding new ways to stand out grows. Will I wear simple outfits that consist of things like a white button-down and a pair of black pants sometimes? Of course. But I also unapologetically follow trends. That's not to say I’m a slave to them — I certainly don't buy into every passing fad — but when I see one I like, I might head to H&M, Forever 21, & Other Stories or ASOS to try it out, and never worry I’m too "old" for it.
Same goes for things that might not be on trend, but are enticing to me, personally, no matter how bright, shiny, weird, kitschy or out there they are. The best part about that? I’m old enough to know that’s just the way I am. And I’ll continue to be that way until my right hand can no longer add that pink fur bag to my virtual cart.
This article originally appeared on StyleCaster.