Your 20s can be both an exciting and tricky time. You're becoming a little more sure-footed and at the same time starting the scary task of striking out your own path. But what clothes you should wear in your 20s? While figuring out what you like and what suits your tastes and lifestyle, you will inevitably piece together your personal style. Do you tend to sway more towards preppy stripes and slicks of pink lipsticks, or do you rush towards earthy tunic cuts and bohemian prints? Maybe it's simplicity you crave and find yourself attracted to clean-lined cigarette pants and classic white shirts, or you've gone in the exact opposite direction and feel a spark every time you see something intimidatingly bold and trendy.
Whatever your style is — and no matter how many times you'll change it through the course of those 10 years — one thing that will stay pretty constant for all 20s out there are the style tips you learn in your 20s. A lot of them are chanced upon by embarrassing trial and error, others are gracefully stumbled across, while others are learned by observing and studying. Here are the seven styling tips you'll learn (and need to know) while in your 20s.
1. Bring It Down A Notch
When you don't know your personal style yet, it's tempting to go all-in and overdo it with the trend dabbling. While a suede skirt with a fringe jacket, chambray shirt, and bolero tie might seem appealing in the spread of an editorial, it can come off a little overzealous when out ordering a caramel macchiato. Sometimes going all-in will work, or sometimes it'll make you want to cringe and block the memory away. For example, when I was fresh out of college I was obsessed with looking like Lucille Ball. I wanted the full skirts, the head scarves, the petticoats, everything. Suffice it to say there are a few pictures on the Internet where I just want to slowly put my head down on the table.
A great tip to learn is that moderation is key — your style becomes more defined when you weave a trend through your wardrobe, rather than have it completely dominate it. Don't stop yourself trying out the trend no matter how bold or loud it is, just let yourself dip a toe in it before you paint yourself with from head to toe with one personality.
2. Know That Style Rules Are Meant To Be Broken
Style rules are helpful when you're just starting to figure out your tastes and are learning all the different ways you can bring pieces together. They're like little life rafts. Before overwhelming yourself with all the sartorial possibilities that are reserved for more advanced students, first focus on the beginner stuff and try not to mix equally busy patterns together and keep your brown and black accessories separate.
But after you get past the initial learning curve and feel more confident with your tastes and sartorial eye, ditch those style rules. According to Marie Southard Ospina, a fashion editor here at Bustle, staying away from horizontal stripes, avoiding bright colors, and being too scared to pattern mix are style fears we should all get over. As long as a pairing feels right, it is right.
3. Recognize There's No Such Thing As Dressing For Your Body Type
Again, rules for dressing for your body type or choosing so-called "flattering" cuts for your shape are great for people who are still figuring out how to be confident and proud in their own skin. Self-esteem calls for a tricky formula, and it takes time to appreciate and respect your body. But once you begin to feel more confident with the woman you're shaping up to be, you'll quickly learn that there are no rules that any type of body should follow.
If you want to wear it, you'll find a way. Short gals can wear maxi dresses, tall girls can wear sky-high heels, curvy girls can wear tight wiggle-dress numbers, and petite women can wear baggy, duvet-cover-sized clothes. Don't limit yourself.
4. Stop Buyer's Remorse And Dress For Your Lifestyle
After many pieces that were bought, ignored, and then donated with their tags still on in the first few years of your 20s, you'll finally learn that you won't wear something unless it fits your lifestyle. That means if you're a laid back type of gal that usually finds herself at her neighborhood bar on a Friday night, you probably won't have much need for that bandage dress you were tempted to buy. Take it from me, the gal whose idea of going out is wings and PBR. I own two bandage dresses and have never had a reason to rip off the tags... and they've been hanging in my closet since 2010. If you keep your lifestyle in mind while shopping and are honest with yourself about what you really will wear and what you won't, then your fashion mistakes will stay at a minimum.
5. Understand That A Wardrobe Without A Foundation Is Useless
When you first start out to figure out your style, it's tempting to just grab anything that strikes your fancy and feels like you're building up your closet. In reality, you end up grabbing pieces ad hoc and not thinking of how they would fit to create full outfits. I was guilty of this and had around 30 fun separates — and nothing to actually pair them with. I ended up with a bursting closet, but no outfits.
When you're figuring out your style, keep in mind that the secret to a proper wardrobe is to have a foundation of basics. Your closet basics are the workhorses of your wardrobe that make it possible to not only mix and match, but to have something to pair those louder, on-trend pieces with. Style blogger Anuschka Rees from Into Mind pointed out that a wardrobe foundation is great to begin with because it helps curate your style uniform. Without a trusty white collared top or timeless pair of black jeans, you'd never have anything to pair those culottes or split-side tunic with.
6. Give Yourself An Arsenal Of Accessories
While having dresses with personality and having interesting cuts of pants and tops alike is important, you'll learn that the real game changer lies in the accessories. According to style blogger Christine Cameron from My Style Pill, you can change the mood of one dress four different times if you only style it with a different rotation of accessories. For example, you can add some clunkier sandals or a pair of penny loafers to add a different touch to a traditionally feminine look, or make a simple outfit edgier with a leather jacket and oversized sunglasses.
This means that you can also try on different style personas as you try and figure out which one feels the most you. Instead of creating whole new closets every time you change styles, you change accessories instead — which is so much easier.
7. Know That You Can't Learn It Alone
While style can sometimes feel like something you innately possess and express, you'll eventually come to the un-romantic realization that it's more often perfected and advanced with practice and studying. In order to keep growing, you have to seek out inspiration and knowledge. Create mood boards that catch your favorite outfit ideas or details, read articles, follow fashion people and see what risky, avant garde styling tricks they're pulling that you might be able to make your own.
According to style blogger Anuschka Rees from Into Mind, the more you seek out these fashion inspirations, the more you'll notice that a particular style interests you more than others. For example, are you attracted to girly or bohemian things more? Preppy or minimalist? Things will start coming together.
The more you learn, the more comfortable you are trying new things. The more you try new things, the more creative and bold you get with your own style. You learn that even though you've figured out your look, you never stay static. So keep on changin'!