Thought Catalog
May 16, 2012

Why 20-Somethings Need To Start Dressing Better

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The other night, as my roommate wandered around our living room in her bra, I realized for the first time just how impeccably flat her stomach was.”Oh my god,” I exclaimed. “your stomach is rock hard. Why don’t you ever show it off?” She looked at me with a mixture of disgust and embarrassment before responding, “I’m 25 years old, Ryan. I’m too old to wear a crop top.”

At first I thought she was just being shy but then I started to think that she might actually have a point. After spending most of our lives being able to dress however we pleased, we’re now entering a time when we actually have to start considering whether or not an outfit is age-appropriate. When you’re in your mid-20s though, this can be a surprisingly difficult thing to do. After all, what’s deemed age-appropriate for a 25-year-old? I’m not sure anyone has the answer to that. We just know what kind of clothing no longer feels natural for us to wear. In college, plaid shirts, sweatpants and cheap cupcake party dresses ran rampant. They were the unspoken uniform of the late teens and early 20-something girl (think Lux Lisbon mixed in with a little bit of an Adderall comedown) but when we graduated and had to start going on job interviews, we looked at our wardrobe and realized that we were screwed. Nothing in our closets screamed, “REAL ADULT PERSON WHO COULD EXCEL AT A FULL-TIME JOB AND MAYBE EVEN START FLOSSING.” Instead, we had clothes that said, “I HAVEN’T BEEN TO THE DENTIST IN A YEAR AND THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I HAVE GOING ON IS FINALS WEEK WHICH, LUCKILY FOR ME, YOU CAN WEAR UGGS TO!”

For some people, this reality check was just the push they needed to start stocking up on some quality basics. A sharp blazer, a nice pair of pants that would make your mom proud, and a good pair of shoes are things that both men and women should have in their closets, especially if they’re out of college and recently living la vida 9-to-5. But for others, such as myself, the transition to making more mature sartorial decisions has been difficult. We don’t want to let go of the rompers, the sweatpants worn out in public, the occasional #dark gold lamé bodysuits we keep just in case we get invited to a theme party. Now I’m not suggesting that we burn everything in our closets that could be perceived as youthful and start running into the arms of mom jeans. I just think that, as we get older, we should embrace an aesthetic that’s more  business on top (button-down shirt with a jacket) and casual on the bottom (black jeans). It’s sort of like the fashion equivalent of the mullet. It lets people know that you’re not a kid, not yet an adult who flosses.

I blame a big part of our unwillingness to stop dressing like trendy toddlers on this whole twee resurgence that’s been happening lately. Everywhere I look, there are grown adults fawning over teen fashion (Elle Fanning, Tavi, Suri Cruise) and taking cues from Clueless and The Craft. 45-year-old women wear giant bows in their hair and talk about having slumber parties while men wear tennis shoes and band t-shirts, even though their face resembles the crypt keeper. I mean, I get it. We’ve always been a youth-obsessed culture but it’s getting to be a bit much. We have to finally stop being so scared of adulthood and understand that dressing with a certain level of sophistication is not a bad thing. At first, it might feel like you’re playing dress up but eventually it will settle into who you are. That’s the coolest part about letting your personal style mature. You really find yourself starting to enjoy it and then it becomes an accurate reflection of who you are which, in my roommate’s case, is a 25-year-old who’s allergic to crop tops despite having a flawless “Genie In A Bottle” stomach. The nerve! TC mark

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