Why 20-Somethings Need To Start Dressing Better

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

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • Blah

    What? We’re 25 not 45. I think you need to chill out, Ryan.

  • http://twoseconds.tumblr.com/ Jesse Vaughan


    • http://twitter.com/adamjk Adam

      get out of here

  • Rossmsciarrillo

    You should consider changing the name of this blog to Ryan O connell talks about gay stuff  in a gay way.

    Seriously, this used have thought provoking content, now it just seems like someones gay bestie has had a couple margaritas and is ranting about…(whatever gay besties talk about).

    I’m out of here.  Thanks for everything it’s been fun (on a diminishing level)

    • Pete

      So clothing is automatically gay stuff? He didn’t mention the word gay or anything sexuality related in this article…

    • N Looman

      Ross, you are negative person. Go away. 

  • http://baileypowell.com/ B

    Nah, I get what you’re saying. Too bad you didn’t rip on ridiculous hipster trends, though. That’s what I thought I was opening.

  • http://twitter.com/AllanStruthers Allan.S

    Stopped reading at the mention of Uggs. 

  • DCDenise

    If you can get away with it (and you should probably get a
    second opinion on that or even a third), and you’re in shape and look good in a
    belly shirt, why not? I see woman that are in their 40’s and 50’s and the look
    like late 20’s or 30’s. This ain’t you’re mothers body anymore!! (Is that
    creepy? you know what I mean!) But the most important thing is that you
    yourself are comfortable with what you wear. I also think that no matter what
    job you have, you should always try to look your best at work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarah-Silvas/1516402024 Sarah Silvas

    I love that your ad at the bottom left of this page is for an American Apparel Crop Top.

  • SAM


  • http://artfeedsmia.blogspot.com/ mia nguyen

    Ryan needs his own website.

    • Jmbaker

      I wish Ryan had his own Hot or Not blog.

      • http://artfeedsmia.blogspot.com/ mia nguyen

        I couldn’t agree more. HE JUST GETS IT.

      • http://artfeedsmia.blogspot.com/ mia nguyen

        I couldn’t agree more. HE JUST GETS IT.

  • http://twitter.com/imwithdband Eri

    Well, he’s not saying you should wear suits 24×7, people. He’s saying it wouldn’t kill us to have ONE outfit that shows we are a step closer to adulthood. 

    Personally, I think you are right although I must say I love wearing band shirts and black jeans but, whenever the possibility of a job interview shows up I start freaking out thinking “what the hell am I supposed to wear” 

    And saying in this blog they only write about gay stuff is stupid, he’s not the only writer, if you don’t like what he says then read someone else’s posts. 

  • Hannah

    People can wear whatever they’d like. Who cares if people think you’re an adult or not, as long as you know what you want? Why not dress according to your whims? This article makes me sad, I hope I’m not like this when I’m approaching 30. Ryan, take a long hard look at yourself.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jesperdahl Jesper Dahl

      Brought to you by Life Khaki from Haggar. This is sponsored content — presented by an advertiser, penned by us.”

      I’m pretty sure this has nothing to do with it. JK. It does.

    • guest

      Omg calm the f down basically he’s just saying that almost 30 year olds need to stop dressing like 18 year olds at a frat party. it wouldn’t kill people to dress a little more accordingly as they grow up. 

  • Chloe

    omg dude WHAT is your issue with flossing?  thanks for the visual of people with shit stuck between their teeth.

  • Stacy

    I go to concerts.  In the past couple months, I’ve been to see Sleigh Bells, Neon Indian, The Cults, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.  
    I go to college.  I’m majoring in Journalism with a minor in English.  I’m taking a full class load, plus summer school.  My goal is to become an entertainment writer.
    I throw parties.  My boyfriend and I have an great little house with what people can and have called a dance club in the basement–complete with DJ booth, crazy lights, dance floor, and bar.  
    I’m write.  I freelance, I intern for a popular alternative newspaper, I write for school, and I write for the pure passion and pleasure of it.  I consider myself (like any other writer) an artist.

    I’m 35 years old.  I wear whatever the hell I want, whenever I want, where ever I want, and  I act in whatever way makes me happy.  

    Just as there is bullying, slut-shaming, weight-shaming becoming big issues for us recently, there is also age-shaming.  Perhaps you should keep it in mind when you point your finger of judgment.

    Or, perhaps you should just remember that you’re a silly kid who probably doesn’t know who they are in life, and is likely very insecure and needing the approval of those around you, while people like me are adults with strong senses of self, and a comfort in their own skin (and clothes) that you’re likely a little jealous of.

    • Ilana

      shut the fuck up oh my godd

    • A 32 y/o

      Someone’s in denial about growing old

      • https://www.facebook.com/Hushpuppy76 Stacy

        I feel sorry for those who use the term “growing old”, because that’s exactly what they’ll do.  

    • Guest

      this wasn’t judgmental at all. why so sensitive and defensive?

    • Critical, Not Cynical!

      Ryan is a feminist. I see no slut shaming here.  Not every critical comment is attack on women. That should be a constructive term, no something you throw around when you have your 35 yr old undies in a bunch. 

  • Anonymous

    As long as you’re not being completely ridiculous (Madonna I’m talking to you) I see no reason to join the middle aged office crowd with their chinos and pencil skirts.  Why are Americans so keen to ‘grow up’ and get old?  You know you die after that right? 

    • http://twitter.com/AliPants Nosilla Remarc

      The ‘Amen’ was a reply to 
       Sorry I couldn’t delete comments.  TC, what’s up with that?

  • http://twitter.com/AliPants Nosilla Remarc

    I haven’t had a Genie in a Bottle stomach since, well, ever. 
    -25 year old

  • http://twitter.com/AliPants Nosilla Remarc


  • http://twitter.com/AliPants Nosilla Remarc


  • http://www.facebook.com/jesperdahl Jesper Dahl

    Am I the only one who noticed the Life Khaki banner ad placements?

    I’m going to assume that Ryan’s post is added value on top of impressions for a media buy.

    Pretty well done though.

    EDIT: I am an idiot who missed the super obvious disclaimer. My bad.

    • Darcy


    • Rose

      only media buyers notice media buys

      • http://www.facebook.com/jesperdahl Jesper Dahl

        Second Question: How many of the comments are written by the writers?

  • Guest

    Didn’t anyone notice this article was commissioned and  sponsored by a ‘what 25yos should start wearing’ clothing company?

  • Jessica

    i should never read your articles at work because i’m always trying to hard not to laugh out loud at my desk

  • Bee

    KANYE HATES  “a button-down shirt with a jacket”, so NO ryan o’connell

  • Mclift

    I’m a 26 year old dude who looks 16. Does that mean I can wear whatever I want until I turn 40?

    • Jenavy_jocks

      Im a 21 year old that looks like a 14…

    • Rachel

       I knew a guy like that and he wore a 3-piece suit to work everyday in a business casual workplace just so that people would take him seriously.

  • Acetygra

    Im almost 30 and there is no way in hell I am going to start dressing like a golfer in my free time! So my freetime uniform shall remain old jeans and my RAMONES tee’s. No khakis and Greg norman polos for me!

  • Jordan

    Adderrall reference?  Check.  #Dark?  Check.

    I do like your overall premise though.

  • Vic

    Although I value looking office appropriate whenever I go into work I do find it quite amusing that my co-workers talk about where they get their suits dry cleaned much like teens talk about where they got their atari wristbands.  Although the maturity level would appear to be higher it seems to hold the same level of absurdity and irrelevance.  

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