Sometimes I feel like your 30s is the forgotten decade of life. Forget the awkward teenage years, nothing compares to that strange, uncomfortable feeling you get when you are called “ma’am” when you definitely feel like a “miss”. I feel out of place in Forever 21 (not to mention the fact that I don’t really fit in any of their clothes) and I’m definitely not ready for the Sears collection (well that’s gone now in Canada but you know what I mean). I feel stuck in between. In my head I’m 18 and carefree wearing whatever I want and looking fantastic but in reality I’m 32 and struggling to find my style again. I used to be obsessed with fashion so much so that I wanted to be a fashion buyer. I actually went to interviews for TK Maxx and Next to be a part of their graduate buyer program but apparently being a buyer a LOT more statistics and complicated maths and a lot less Rachel from Friends minimal work an fantastic wardrobe. However, as time has marched on I found that my love for fashion has kind of faded. Now I chose my stores based on budget and whether the clothes have the ability to cover my slightly squishy tummy. Most days I reach for jeans or leggings and a jumper. My 20 year old self would sneer at the state of me now. I PROMISED I would never wear sweatpants out in public, well, that rule has been out the window for several years now. I wore pants with an unidentified stain on them all day last week and didn’t notice. I need an intervention.
Why has this happened? Where is that girl who loved the latest trends? I know you’re in there somewhere Jo, you can come out now!
psst… check out my new post for 2020 thirty fashion tips!
When did I become retro?
I love American Eagle clothes and I shop there often but lately even my trusty AE is moving in a worryingly young direction (or maybe I’m moving in a worryingly old direction). When I saw a distressed band t shirt with a band from my teenage years on display on it I almost lost my damn mind. When did 2000s music warrant a retro t shirt? More to the point when did I become retro? What is happening? Stop the world I want to get off. I’ve bought a lot in Forever 21 but needing to size up 4 sizes is somewhat depressing when you’re already not feeling great about your postpartum shape. What we need is a Forever 30. Somewhere that has beautiful, affordable, fashion forward clothes with a little more Lycra and a slightly longer hemline. Tell me why someone has not invented this mecca yet?
You can still be fashionable and fabulous in your 30s
I know for many of you this goes without saying. I see so many people who are always immaculate that are my age and maybe I just got lazy somewhere between kid one and kid 2, but for a lot of women, the 30s is a weird transitional decade. You’re coming out of your 20s and the skin tight polyblends in the younger stores but you’re far too young for that wolf print turtle neck. It’s hard to know just where you fit and what fits you. A quick Google search for “what to wear in your 30s” brings up few results. It seems that most fashion blogs and websites focus on fashion hungry 20 somethings who crave fast fashion or more mature 40+ year olds who have the money to invest in high end fashion. “What about us lot in our 30s?” I want to shout at the computer. Does no one care about us because it is assumed that many of us are working hard at climbing the career ladder and/or having kids? We’re relevant too fashion world! Notice us! The few pages I have found offer somewhat outdated advice and seem to put us in sweater sets and pearls long before our time. I think it’s high time women in their 30s take back fashion.
Tips for finding your style in your 30s
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Tip 1 – It’s time to invest
As I tried to dive back into fashion I made the mistake of going super low end because I just wasn’t sure what I should be wearing and well, I’m just too old for cheap clothes. I don’t want to wear fabric that sparks every time I pull it over my head. I gasp at seams that don’t sit just right on my new body shape. Now I love a bargain don’t get me wrong. I often head straight to the sale rail at most stores to snap up a deal. When I get back to the UK I love to hit Primark to snap up a cute party dress. However, I just don’t have the patience anymore for tat and I think my everyday wardrobe and the key pieces in it need to reflect the fact that I have, despite my protestations, grown up.
We all have to budget, I get that and I’m not saying to hit Chanel and spend your mortgage but now is the time to invest in some key pieces that will last. You’ve done the hard time of crappy fake leather bags and shoes that rub your feet. You’re a grown up now and you can invest in a little bit of luxe. Besides, fast disposable fashion is a false economy. Can you honestly see you wearing those furry slip on shoes next season? No I thought not and more to the point if you didn’t shell out enough for them, they probably wont last. Things that you should really invest in are
A great leather handbag
I have this one from Tory Birch and it is an investment piece. I use it all the time and it’s big enough to fit alllll my stuff (what is it with your 30s that make you have more and more things?)
Here’s a cheaper dupe from Guess that’s just as fabulous
A killer pair of leather ankle boots
A leather jacket
A dressy wool coat to take you from work to a night out
Amazing skinny jeans
I am OBSESSED with American Eagle skinny jeans. I find they have amazing stretch, wash well and fit like a dream. The super skinny jegging style is my favourite! Plus they often have sales on jeans! Winner!
A slouchy white shirt that you can tuck in or knot
A well tailored classic white shirt
I think Ralph Lauren is the best for this. I love that the shirts are thick, well cut but still relaxed. I wear mine to work, with jeans and even with jean shorts! Such a versatile piece worth investing in.
Tip 2 – Play with fashion trends but don’t be a slave to them
It’s often said that your 20s are for experimenting with fashion but it is in your 30s that you really find your personal style. The fashion oracle that is Coco Chanel once said “Fashion fades, only style remains the same” and I believe that this should be your mantra for dressing in your 30s. I’m not saying that you have to be boring, but perhaps you need to think twice before shimmying into that pvc dress because it is THE RAGE. Like I said above, invest in some amazing day to day pieces that will see you through a few seasons but the fast fashion pieces are where you can go budget as you probably wont be wearing them more than a season. Have fun with them and use them to accentuate your own personal style. Look at textures, colours and accessories that are on trend and bring your own personal style to them.
Tip 3 – Break some fashion rules
I am a grown up, I have a mortgage and I
mostlyremember to pay my bills on time.
When researching this post I came across so many articles with “rules to follow in your 30s”. Well excuse me, I’m not sure who invented these rules but I don’t agree with the sweeping statements about what is not OK to wear in your 30s. We’ve followed rules our whole lives and now here we are as grown ups with a fresh set of restrictions placed on us. Not today Satan. I am a grown up, I have a mortgage and I mostly remember to pay my bills on time. Here are a few pearls of wisdom I came across.
No miniskirts – Come on, how outdated is this? If you want to show off your legs then you go for it. I personally like my legs best (more so when the old varicose isn’t acting up but age doesn’t come alone) and love showing them off. I’m not talking about a bum grazing mini but a 30s appropriate one. Slightly longer, maybe a little A line and definitely paired with something more modest on top. I am not ready to hang up the short skirts yet!
No leather skirts – whatever. I just bought one this past season and paired with a turtleneck, tights and ankle booties it is the cutest outfit. It isn’t pretty woman style but a softer, more expensive looking leather that hits just above the knee.
Stick to blouses not shirts – This one is going right out of the window. Look at Meghan Markle in her gorgeous crisp white oxford. Just take a look around Ralph Lauren and its abundance of shirts. I don’t think a beautiful shirt ever goes out of style and whilst I like the soft vibe of a blouse, I feel like sometimes they age you. A shirt and jeans is a fresh, downs to earth style that anyone can wear.
Tip 4 – Have fun and remember who you used to be
That 20 something girl is still in there. She might be hiding under sleep deprivation induced eye bags and layers of dry shampoo but she is in there. Fashion is meant to be fun and a way to express ourselves and just because we’re 30 doesn’t mean that we have to step into some little box and stay there. Sure we’re not 20 anymore but that’s OK. Life is meant to go forwards and not backwards. We’re older, so much wiser and are honing a sense of self that will see us through the next chapter in our life. It’s high time we used this confidence to capture a sense of style that tells the world who we are and that we’re not afraid to own it.
Stores for your 30s
So ladies, there you have it. You 30s don’t have to be a decade of embarrassing fashion mistakes and you certainly don’t have to resign yourself to frumpy, ageing clothes. The stores and fashion industry might have forgotten about us but we sure as hell haven’t forgotten who we are.
Stay fashionable, stay beautiful and for goodness sake take off the mumu.
5 thoughts on “What The Heck Do You Wear In Your 30s?”
Hi Joanna, I’m thankful I came across your blog this evening. I just turned 36 and had baby #4 a few weeks ago. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO WEAR (Not that I’ll be going out that much what with four kids but you know what I mean) I’m in the middle of spring cleaning and getting rid of 20’s clothes. Your blog made me feel better. Everything you said is exactly how I feel. Thanks for writing it. I’m walking away feeling a bit more confident in my choices.
Sorry for the late reply, Covid quarantine life got in the way and I couldn’t carve out a minute for my little blog! I’m so glad that you found it helpful! It is so hard to find what to wear at this phase of life. I am constantly asking if it’s too young or too old. All you can do is wear it with confidence and you will forever be fabulous! Congrats on baby number 4!!
I just came across this- you’ll be happy to know it was on page 2 of my google search! Your writing is great. I didn’t even skim! Good pep talk as I figure out year 33 dressing like a rainbow child. Eek. Rock on lady xo
Hi there! I just came across your blog and its refreshing to see the “where what you want” as opposed to a list of ridiculous rules! Im personally a HUGE fan of the “professional nerd” look, so I go for Loungefly handbags, name brand video game accessories and gear, chic but work appropriate super hero dresses, Disney and superhero jewelry from RockLove or Disney’s Enchanted Jewelry collection, and of course the t-shirts! I think what people forget because of society is that getting older doesnt mean having to lose our sense of who we are for the sake of pleasing societal standards.
Thank you for this blog!