So, it was sort of a special day on Monday. Yeah... It was my birthday. And I had a terrific day! A Sunday afternoon tea party with friends, working at my new job for part of the day, spending the afternoon in one of my favorite areas, having some cupcakes from a highly recommended bakery, and just feeling so much love and gratitude. 33 years old, er, young. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! One of the things you should know about me is that I love to shop. I mean, really, really, really, REALLY love to shop. Especially for clothes. It wasn't always like that for me. For much of my life, clothing made for my body shape and size wasn't as beautiful, daring, or inclusive as it is now. Or at least slowly coming to be. I always gazed longingly at the clothes on the racks at the store that were made for the "skinny" girls, and wonder why it wasn't meant for curvy women like myself. And if I even tried something in my size that they had in stock, it wouldn't give me the same confidence or appeal as I thought it would be. There was even one time my sister picked out my confirmation dress, and I HATED it. It made me look older than I really was. (I probably burned it after that, but don't tell my mom.) I guess another important reason why I lost over 70 lbs is to fit in all of those clothes that I always wanted to wear, and feel the confidence and swagger that so many women had. And it definitely feels good to be in a size 0 jeans, or sometimes even a 2 if the jeans don't fit well. It feels good to be in an extra small to small shirt and sweater. But no matter what size I am, I love buying clothes. I love all the ways you can combine pieces and make an outfit that's suitable for your day, whether you're on the job or spending the day exploring the city. It can be a headache sometimes figuring what colors go with what clothing item or even the type of jewelry, but trust me when I say this - it's worth it. And it's especially important now in my 33rd year of life that clothing plays a vital role in my career and individuality. Not just because of my creativity and bubbliness, but it's because of my age. You see, when I turned 30 years old, I knew that there was a shift in my fashion perspective. It was time for me to start dressing like an adult. It was only recently when I found something interesting in terms how to dress in your 30s. Things like... *Ditch the leather mini skirts. *Buy blouses, not shirts. *Swap low-rise for high-waisted jeans. *Own more chinos than jeans. *Invest in cashmere sweaters. *Ditch the fake jewelry. *Swap the windbreaker for something serious. *Wear better tights. *Keep your sneakers at the gym. *Say goodbye to bodycon. *Get your clothes tailored. *Invest in well-made work-out clothes. *Keep everything wrinkle-free. And so on. (Don't worry, gentlemen. You aren't left out of this. There are things that you have to consider when you turn 30, like a nice pair of suede shoes, owning more than five ties, throwing away all of your hats, embracing white slacks or jeans, getting a pair of whole cuts, owning a suit that isn't solid, and so on.) In other words, I have to start investing in high-quality clothing now. I can't go to stores like Old Navy, Gap, Express, LOFT, Ann Taylor, Target, H&M, JC Penney, or any of those anymore. I now go to places like Banana Republic, Madewell, Everlane, Boden, Anthropologie, and more. It's definitely a shift for me, and I'm pretty sure it's a drastic change for many of you in your 30s. But here's the thing: even with all of these guidelines and rules for dressing your age, I've noticed that so many individuals don't follow them. Especially in the U.S. I spent much of last week observing and gazing at people I pass by and their clothing options, and there's a plethora of emotions I feel when I stroll. Confusion. Intrigue. Disgust. Awe. And there's lots more where those came from. I even thought back to a post I saw on Facebook several years ago where I saw a comparison photo of two couples. On the left side was a couple dress elegantly well and they were very happy. On the right side was a couple in the present side dressed very sloppily and were nonchalant. The caption at the top read this: "How did fashion go from this to this?" It definitely makes me scratch my head from time to time, and I'm sure it makes you wonder as well. That question stayed with me for a long time, and even now as you're reading this it's buzzing in my head. How did we as a country, or even as an evolving fashion entity, go from being well-dressed all the time, even in casual occasions, to now looking messy and not so put together? I'm sure there's a reason for this, such as people don't know how to dress anymore. But as Optimus Prime says quite frequently, there's more to this than meets the eye. I hope you're in the mood for a wardrobe overhaul, because I'm going to share with you my observations and reflections on fashion. We're going to look at potential thoughts and ideas as to why people in the 21st century don't dress as well as they did in centuries past, as well as how we can undergo a major wardrobe overhaul in our attitudes. You look gorgeous, darling.
I feel like I dress more like a European, specifically a British woman. I have a tendency to wear outfits that are business casual or creative business apparel that aligns with my career. No sign of me slouching in the fashion department. You won't catch me in torn jeans, athleisure, bodycon dresses, camisoles with bra straps showing, tops with too much cleavage, mini skirts, short shorts, or anything like that. I won't even wear Crocs! I guess I've always liked being well-dressed, even if it's a casual day or event. It makes me feel good. But as I'm going through my 30s, I have to go back to the basics with clothing pieces. And it's things that I didn't realize that were essential until now. I started my research from understanding how British women dressed with their essential clothing items, and integrated it into my fashion knowledge. I wonder if any of these came across your mind as I investigated this. *"A crisp white shirt is a British-girl essential for day or night." *"Wear heels during the day." *"Know you can't go wrong with a blazer and a striped shirt." *"Mix masculine with feminine." *"Don't shy away from bright colors." *"Keep jewelry simple." *"Throw on a leather biker jacket to toughen up an outfit." *"Wear wide-leg trousers to look effortless and chic." From there, I Googled all of the articles that asked the simple question: how do I dress in my 30s? And the results were numerous, but also incredibly helpful. Here's some ideas one article has for how to dress in your 30s. Clean Out Your Closet
This might be of the moment right now but cleaning out your closet is a good habit to start and to continue for the rest of your life. Your 20s can be a time of constant change, moving from city to city, job to job and that probably means you’ve accumulated a lot of excess. Take a minute to reset, refresh and get rid of all that stuff. Plus, you can probably shed the cobwebs of your past while you’re at it. Dress For The Job You Want
Maybe you’ve been at a job for too long, or maybe you’ve just started a new one. Either way, take this opportunity to revamp your workwear. Don’t overdo it—invest in key pieces that you can pair with items you already have or with accessories and blouses that stay true to your personality. Just be sure to: add silhouettes that play up your best features, make a statement with your shoes and wear blazers that say, “I’m the boss or I will be someday.” What’s Your Sign?
This might sound totally “out there” but what’s your sign? Are you a Scorpio? A Leo? Do you know? We’re not saying that you need to believe or buy into anything Zodiac-related, but if you’re looking to mix up your style and don’t know where to start, just look to the stars. It’s a fun, fresh way to let go of what you think you should wear and follow some unconventional advice. Wear Grown-Up Denim
Spend some money on denim in your 30s. We know you wear them every day, so put your money where you spend your most time—in your jeans. And, invest in a few pairs: high-waisted, wide leg, boyfriend and something on-trend that you can shake your head at in a few years. It’s okay—have some fun. Treat Yourself To A Leather Jacket
If you’ve been eyeing a leather jacket for a year or more, it’s time to just bite the bullet and buy it. You’ve tried it on a million times, you know it fits, you love the way it feels—you won’t regret it. And, if you consider the cost per wear, it practically pays for itself. You’ll be wearing it a lot. Trust us. Splurge On Classic Black Heels
Closed toe, open-toe, it doesn’t matter. Every woman needs a classic black heel, and there’s no time like the present to invest. The only rule of thumb? Take care of them! If you wear them every day to work, make best friends with a local cobbler. If you only wear them once in a while, you should take them in after every wear for a good shine. Invest In Tailored Pieces
When people hear tailored, they think one of two things: workwear or alterations. We mean neither. To own your style in your 30s you need to start investing in pieces that fit you—from trousers, to denim, to blouses, to blazers. Try a pencil skirt or midi-dress for once. Structured clothing can really make a difference. Buy An Enviable Event Dress
If you think events in your 30s will slow down, you’re wrong. You’ll still have plenty of weddings to attend, showers to show up to, and dinners out with friends. It’s a great idea to finally buy a dress that you can wear to them all. Invest in something either avant-garde or classic, just keep the color solid so you can give it versatility with your accessories and makeup. And if you need any other tips, you should donate anything you wore in college that has the logo or name of your alma mater on it, too short LBD (little black dress), and anything fringe. Yes, ANYTHING fringe. Say I show people I know who are in their 30s this list, or even those in their 20s, 40s, 50s, or even 60+. You know what I think they would do when they see the tips on how to dress their age? They would probably scoff, or in this case, say things like "yeah, no" or "hell no!" or "yeah right" or even "forget it!" But why? We know these articles mean well for people to live out their best lives through their clothes, and be well represented by their careers, personal lives, and overall mentality. And yet so many people in the U.S. choose not to follow this or any list on how to dress well for everyday life or special occasions, or both. It's a puzzlement, I tell you. My mom often tells me that it's because people in this country simply don't know how to dress well, especially after the earlier part of the 20th century. But is that really the only reason why individuals choose not to dress well on a regular basis? Or is there something more that comes from scoffing at lists telling people how to dress appropriately for their careers and lives? I think there might be something more than just a lack of desire to dress well. In fact, it's a combination of so many things that contribute to our nation's lack of fashion sense. The U.S. always dressed more casually than the European countries, even to the point of looking sloppy. I personally feel like I dress more like a British woman than an American woman, hence the stares I get from people I pass by on the sidewalks. If you ask me, everyone should have a guide or fashion book on how to properly dress for each season, and it includes a shopping list of the basic essentials that are vital to mixing and matching clothing options without being seen as gauche or messy. But then again, if every household had that book, one of two things might happen. One: people would research this guide thoroughly from top to bottom and look forward to all of the updates at the beginning of the year with the latest publication. Two: people would throw it out right away after only looking through a couple of pages. I get the feeling more people would lean towards throwing the book away after only looking or skimming through the pages. And the biggest reason for this? The price tag on many of the clothing options. No matter what occupation you have or how much money is in your account, clothing is expensive. It's especially evident for people of color and the lower and middle classes. There used to be a time that even if you couldn't afford the finest dress or suit, you could still purchase a decent piece of clothing or fabrics to make the outfits at home. As they say, times change, and so does the cost of things. What used to work for many centuries earlier is now in higher demand, or if it's that valued it would just be too costly to purchase to the point where only a small number of these items are produced. And if you know the current state of the world, patience is not a virtue many individuals have right now. And that leads to clothing being massed produced in shops and warehouses by seamstresses and tailors for little pay and a lack of quality. But what do we care? At least the clothing looks nice and it can be worn for the occasion(s) I need it for, even if it's going through the wash repeatedly. But what happens when the clothing starts to unravel, lose a button, or even rip to shreds after only one or two uses? There's a fine line between making clothing that is beautiful and makes you look good, and making clothing that is beautiful and high quality. More often than not, we prefer to get pieces that are readily available and looks good on us because we simply don't have the time or money to pay for well-made clothing items. Just because we need the shirts, blouses, dresses, trousers, and suits for our lives and careers doesn't mean we should sacrifice high quality for the sake of saving a couple of dollars. Unfortunately, that's exactly what it comes down to for so many individuals. Many individuals and families don't have the time or the money to purchase well-made clothing for themselves and their loved ones because they're busy focusing on more important things, like food, a roof over their heads, healthcare, and paying their bills. A shopping spree may not ever be in the cards for them. So, all they can afford is clothing that is cheaply made and can last for several wears or hopefully longer if they're lucky. Especially if the items are on sale and people can purchase multiple pieces for themselves and loved ones. When it comes to clothes, size matters for all of us because we want to not only look good, but also feel good. Sadly, many of the sizes that are out on the sales racks now don't always showcase the beauty and comfort people want to have. Especially if they're not all the same body shape. Prior to the 21st century, there was much discrimination against people who are plus sized or have curvy body shapes. Clothing for them didn't necessarily mean "beautiful" or "confident" or even "comfortable." These groups would have outfits that were baggy, dull, or even horrendous at times. The biggest reason for this? Many designers only picture their designs for people of a specific body shape and size, primarily those who are thin aka stick figures. There's not enough out there that caters to every body shape and size, and sometimes the fashion world would prefer to keep it that way. Some people are so insistent that only those who are stick figures or even thin enough to not be called fat are worthy to try on their clothes. And by doing so, they would purposely leave out those who are plus sized or have different body shapes other than what the designers imagine their clothes would look like on that specific group of people. And by doing so, many of the different body shapes and sizes struggle to find outfits that not only showcase their beauty, career status, or even fun side, but also find pieces that are comfortable for them without the sections of their bodies being seen in the wrong way that causes others to roll their eyes or scoff or even look down at their clothing options in a way that shames them. I think you know what I'm talking about. BODY SHAMING. The mentality that only a certain size or body shape should be wearing the pieces of clothing advertised on billboards, commercials, and online is reaching a fever pitch at this point. I honestly grew up in a generation of individuals who believed that being thin was the only way you can get all of the nice clothing and feel good, whereas being heavier or a different body shape would only get you the not-so-nice looking clothes. And if you tried the same items in your size, the sections of your body would pop out and be seen in a way that is disgusting to many individuals. In other words, plus sized/curvy bodies/not stick figures = UGLY. I've come to the conclusion that a big reason that people don't dress well in the U.S. like they used to all has to do with one word. REBELLION. Think about it. Throughout much of the earlier party of the 20th century or even earlier than that, fashion was pretty simple, not in the patterns and colors, but in the way that it's structured. Men wore trousers, dress shirts, ties, vests, and good shoes. Women wore dresses, crinolines, slips, pantyhose, tights, and good shoes. It was pretty self-explanatory on what was expected to be worn in society, no matter what your social status. That slowly started to change around the 1920s-1930s, when women started to wear dress pants, a trend started by Katherine Hepburn. But I think the real source of rebellion started in the mid to late 1950s, when James Dean started wearing leather jackets and the "bad boy" image came to light. And women were wearing cigarette pants with their outfits also changed with the times. Rock & roll may have also contributed to this. This change in styles and attitudes reached a turning point in the 1960s-1970s when the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and general demonstrations took over the minds and hearts of the youth during this time. You see where I'm getting at here? Slowly but surely the young people moved away from dressing well and started creating a fashion of their own, one that wasn't restrictive or put a façade on society. From there, designers catered to the youth and created fashions that were freer, edgier, and more authentic to this generation. It not only impacted clothing, but also hair. Throughout much of the 20th century, blacks had their hair straightened and gelled to perfection, without a single strand loose from their coiffure. Or they even wore wigs to cover up the messiness that was deemed unacceptable by the predominantly white society. That changed in the late 60s when more and more started to wear their hair naturally, which would be in the form of afros, braids, and more. Unfortunately, that may have worked against the blacks, Hispanics, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, and other persons of color. You see, as the demonstrations were going on, the media started to paint a picture of these groups of people as ruffians, uneducated, poor, unsuccessful, and many more adjectives that would be too demeaning to say. From there, whenever people of color were seen on the news in a negative way, that translated into the minds of these individuals as a way of their fashion choices being acceptable because of how they are being seen in the media. It's ingrained in their mentality that wearing pants down so low that your underwear is showing, having so much cleavage that your breasts are practically popping out, the outline of the thong or underwear or even butt crack showing when you bend over, short dresses, torn jeans, unlaced Air Jordans or sneakers, mismatched clothing patterns and colors, and so much more is okay and it makes you cool. And if you dressed well or looked put together without looking like a prostitute, you would be deemed "uppity" or even "white." There's a downside to rebellion in fashion, and it's all racial and mental. (This week's post took a lot of observing others and reflecting on this for many days, and I always enjoy sharing my thoughts and opinions on what I've experienced and seen in my life. However, we're not meant to agree on anything, and I respect your opinions if they're different from mine. What I will not tolerate is anything that is disrespectful, offensive, or cruel. No hate speech allowed! If I see any of that from you, I will block you.) You've seen how price, body image, and rebellion play a role in our fashion mentality in the U.S. At least from my perspective. And you also may realize that all three of these ideas are interconnected in some way. Which makes this question hard to answer: What do we do about it? The hard thing about the query is that there is no one definitive answer to solve this problem because of how complicated it is. But I believe that if we start from the basics and work our way up, the rest will fall into place. Let's start with price. It's true that cost has gone up in recent years, especially since 2020 due to a pandemic. But if fashion designers, stores, and brands begin to cater well-made, good looking clothing to those who are financially strapped without suggesting a store credit card, that's half the battle. High quality clothing shouldn't be exclusive. It should be inclusive. We know there are people and families who want to look their best in the jobs, schools, and day to day life. But they shouldn't have to sacrifice looking and feeling good just to save a couple of dollars. It is okay to sell good clothing that lasts longer than several months to EVERYONE without making it cheaply and too fast. Perhaps it's time to invest in materials that would be beneficial to everyone without skyrocketing prices. And maybe it's also time to ensure the individuals who are making these gorgeous pieces of clothing are paid well enough to live within, or even beyond their basic needs. Times have changed, as does prices. Shouldn't the hourly pay rate reflect that in some way? Now, onto body image. There is a growing movement called the body positivity path where more and more designers are creating clothing pieces and styles that aren't frumpy, baggy, dull, or even horrendous to individuals who are plus sized or curvy. In fact, it's encouraging all of us to see that every body size and shape matters, and we shouldn't judge on how a person looks. A better way to do this is to create clothing items that not only help these individuals look good, but also conform to their body shapes and not have any of the sections of their body they don't feel comfortable about pop out in a way that causes people to shame them. This goes back to clothing being made cheaply. No one should have to settle for less than well-made clothing for the sake of saving money, especially if there is a variety of body sizes and shapes out there. And no one should have to accept that certain designers only cater to the plus sized and curvy shapes. It's time for designers and brands to start accepting the fact that there is no one uniform body size and shape. It is okay for every body to wear your clothing items, and if you think that's not the case, then you're a fool. More and more designers are starting to become open minded with the possibilities of inspiring others to wear their brands for every body size and shape. It's not a crime to be open minded, especially if you want to reach the masses and be positive force of good in the world. Finally, let's talk about rebellion. It's true that so much of the rebellion from the fashion statutes came from the youth who wanted to chart off their own path and not become their parents. Unfortunately, much of the resistance from dressing in a sophisticated and put together way has made its way into the media, where people of color who are seen as dumb, unworthy, disrespectful, criminals, drug addicts, prostitutes, gang members, and more is viewed as hip by the youth of today. The problem with that is there is a growing movement to show people of color in a positive light, especially in light of Black Lives Matter, Stop AAPI Hate, Dreamers, and so much more demonstrations occurring in the world today. And one of the things they hope to change is the way the fashion is seen in the media worn by people of color. There's no easy way of doing this, but if directors, screenwriters, producers, actors, and especially costume designers in film, TV, and theatre start to recognize that stereotyping people of color based on assumptions isn't the way to go anymore, maybe there could be a beginning of having these minorities and underrepresented communities be seen in a way that is not threatening or demeaning to them. And by having actors portray characters that aren't a part of the status quo (i.e. drug addicts, prostitutes, gang members, etc.) and wear outfits that is viewed positively by people of color, it could potentially inspire the youth of today that it's okay to dress well and be sloppy for the sake of being "with it." It could even potentially flow into the minds and hearts of adults who grew up with these images and inspire them to dress well, which in turn will allow their offspring to see that it's okay to have nice clothing and look & feel good, without it being exclusive to a certain group of individuals. In layman's terms, the best way to turn the fashion world on its head and allow clothing to be made accessible to everyone is to lower the costs and use materials that are good for every body shape and size (and that is good for the planet as well), reach out to every body shape and size without being demeaning or restrictive in how clothes fit or the mentality of clothing only belonging to a certain group of individuals, and changing the way people are viewed in the media, particularly in film, TV, & theatre. It's all interconnected, and it's in no way an easy solution to solve the problems of how sloppy this nation has become lately. But the sooner we accept that things need to change for the better, the better things can become for everyone, especially for dressing well.
I may be more dressed like I'm a British girl or even a European on most occasions, but even I know something important about fashion that I wouldn't want to forget to share with you. Clothes can only do so much for you. It's what's on the INSIDE that matters. I may never know why or fully accept that people out there don't want to dress well, whether that's price, body size & shape, or even rebellion. But I do know that it's not what's on the outside that matters, but what's within an individual's heart and soul that shows us how truly unique and special they can be. We may go shopping at all of the hottest stores and buy the absolute best clothing pieces for our day to day lives, but what good is it if we don't have the character to illuminate what's on the outside? If you have the big name brands and styles that you flaunt wherever you go, but don't have the content of character to go along with it, then maybe it's time you had a major wardrobe overhaul from within. Look through the items of clothing you've kept in your closet for so long - arrogance, fear, hatred, prejudice, closed mindedness, resistance to change, stupidity, and so much more - and which can be thrown away (because donating these things to someone else is NEVER a good idea!). Start wearing pieces of clothing that can last for years, things like humility, compassion, vision, creativity, bravery, friendship, a good sense of humor, curiosity, boldness, kindness, and love. These are the items and qualities that matter to everyone you meet, no matter how you dress. If you're not wearing any of these high quality clothing pieces, then you're more than likely going to be poorly dressed and treated badly by others. And also embrace that not everyone is meant to have the same fashion sense, something that I need reminding on a regular basis. We're all individuals, and we deserve to think for ourselves. Especially if we want to inspire others. We may not be the most well-dressed nation in the world, but we should at least make an effort to do a major wardrobe overhaul from within ourselves in order to wear the clothing items and qualities that do matter to everyone. And when you wear them, I guarantee you will be the most well-dressed human being in the room. "Every day is a fashion show and the world is your runway. So always dress your best and walk with confidence." I think I'll go shopping now. Care to join me?