I turned 26 last November, which means I am officially in my late twenties. Scary! This means I have no excuse writing off behavior as being the effect of my twenties. I’m almost 30, who are we kidding. As soon as I got a full-time job with benefits (necessary post-college, especially if you’re drowning in loans like I am), I began to upgrade my whole person in little ways. I’m far from perfect and pulled-together, but I’ve been a 20something lady for long enough that I know what’s important. It’s just like that classic Beyonce song “Upgrade U.” Let me upgrade you, chicks.
1. Your underwear drawer.
At some point, you need to graduate from the butt-floss G-strings and Victoria’s Secret PINK thongs and boyshorts that you’ve had since 2009. Throw them out. You can buy new ones. Please do buy new ones. I used to do the 5 for $25 deal all the time, but since I splurged on 10 pairs of Hanky Panky black thongs I haven’t had to re-up my supply for almost two years. They’re far from cheap at $20 a pop, but they’re worth it. They retain their shape, never tear or pill and always look cute. I’m only saying that once you’re in your late twenties, you should probably stop wearing underwear with words on it.
2. Buy a bra that fits.
Do not go to Vic’s for this. Go to Nordstrom or a lingerie boutique, where the associates know what they’re doing and can fit you properly. They’ve gone through extensive training for this, so let them fit you. I was wearing a 34B when I should’ve been in a 32D. So … yeah. Getting fitted is important. Spend a little more on the bra you will wear most often, because an uncomfortable, cheap bra is one of the most annoying things I can think of. Once you have one that fits properly, you’ll be completely changed. Promise
3. Upgrade your bed.
You use it for sleep, for sex, for eating chips and watching TV … make it a paradise. Get some sheets with a high thread count. Overstock.com often has them for a reasonable price. I bought mine for $65 a few years ago and they’ve only gotten better and softer with age. Do the same with your comforter or duvet; a white down comforter will last you forever and keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer. Protect it with a cute duvet cover (H&M Home has good ones!) and you’re set. You’ll never wanna leave your bed.
4. Shoes that don’t fall apart.
Wear boots all the time? Quit buying the $20 Forever 21 special. Check out eBay or Craiglist for Fryes or something similar, or prowl your local consignment shops. Get something that will last you forever. Do the same with your flats; a black leather flat looks infinitely more grown-up than a patent leather one, or the strangely matte AND shiny version they sell at Target. Put a little money into your shoe closet, because good shoes won’t fuck up your feet.
5. Makeup that looks like YOU.
Matching foundation (if you wear it) to your skin tone is SO HARD. I’ve been wearing makeup for like ten years and it’s still a problem for me. This is why I go to a makeup artist or counter I trust and have them help me out. The lights at Sephora and Target can be misleading; I’ve walked out with something I think matches perfectly only to find it is waaaay pinker than I should be wearing. Nobody likes an orange-toned jawline. If you wear foundation every day, upgrade to a nicer brand like NARS or Make Up For Ever. They last longer and cover better than drugstore brands, though L’Oreal and CoverGirl have released some really awesome lines of their own lately that truly can compete with the more expensive stuff. Figure out a makeup look that makes you feel like a slightly-enhanced version of yourself and stick with it day-to-day. Invest in a few good brushes; they’ll help any eyeshadow or blush blend much better than the cheap version. My favorite are from realTechniques; they’re not super expensive and easily found at Ulta. I think the perfect daily makeup is good skin, polished brows, a little mascara, a pop of blush and some lip color. Once you figure out which products you need, this will take you less than ten minutes in the morning.
I know, I know. You’re like “LOL Kara, my dishes are fine!” But I think it’s a good idea in your mid-to-late twenties to get some dishes that you wouldn’t be embarrassed using for a group dinner or entertaining your parents and family with. You can get really cute matching sets at thrift stores; I see them all the time. Keep your favorite old coffee mugs, but get matching plates with no chips. At least get dishes in the same color family, so they don’t look like they’re from your ex-boyfriend’s college house.
7. One good handbag.
Buy all the cheap going-out clutches you want, but get one nice bag that won’t fall apart. Most people will tell you to go black with your “investment piece” (horrible phrase) but I say if you want bright blue or red, go for it.
8. Jeans that fit.
OMG, the first time I put on my Citizens of Humanity Rocket high-rise skinny jeans, I felt like my stars had lined up for that moment. They’re my perfect jean. I don’t wear any of my other jeans anymore, simply because they can’t match the perfection of my Citizens. I’ve worn them so many times they paid their own $220 price tag in full. I work for a boutique that specializes in designer denim, so helping ladies find their perfect jeans is one of my talents. I love the moment when a woman comes out in a pair that make her feel perfect. If you wear jeans often, as most of us do, go try on a few pairs. I recommend Citizens, Mother, AG and J. Brand. Your $25 skinnies are going to sag and stretch out permanently, while a more expensive pair will keep its shape better and is less likely to split in the crotch or the thigh. Plus, if you find a good fit, it’s pretty easy to find designer denim on sites like Gilt and eBay or resale shops. Good jeans without the $$$ price tag? No-brainer.
9. Cleaning supplies.
I write about this all the time, but seriously — keeping your space clean will enhance your whole life. Here’s what you MUST own: a broom, a dry Swiffer, a mop and bucket. (I don’t fuck with the wet Swiffer; it doesn’t work well enough.) You need dusting cloths and spray, bathroom cleaner, toilet cleaner, Mr. Clean or Lysol, Windex and a few rags or sponges to clean with. Clorox wipes are kind of wasteful but helpful in the bathroom. That’s it. Clean your shit up, girl.