You may have heard the following bit of chatter: “30 is the new 21.” Things ain’t how they used to be; modern women are living a more youthful lifestyle than a generation ago, focusing on careers and waiting longer to settle down. This is something to celebrate—women of all ages have much more fashion freedom than their foremothers. But for those who want to embrace modernity with some loyalty to tradition, here are some tips for dressing for your decade in the new millennium.
The 20s is a highly formative age for most women. You may be in college when you hit 20 and by 29 be anywhere from still hacking away at a PhD to chasing toddlers around a suburban yard. This is the period in life—while you’re still learning who you are—to experiment with and discover your personal style. A preppy-sexy look is a staple of the early 20s—think khaki shorts with argyle knee socks, heels and a blazer. This is also your time to shine in a mini-dress or skinny jeans, but if you’re a little more conservative, you can still be just as fashion-forward yet more covered up in a retro look like a high-waisted sailor pant and vintage-inspired blouse.
Women in their 30s are often living very similar lives to those of their 20s contemporaries, but this is the decade to infuse touches of maturity and sophistication into your look. Carrie Bradshaw paved the way for the 30-something gal to bare all in a short skirt, but these should be chosen wisely; a skimpy top with a high-design concept lends cache, but it may be time to hang up that Aerosmith crop top. You also might be less inclined to suffer for fashion, so while women of every age look smashing in stilettos, you’re well within your rights to put a two-inch cap on heel height.
Being in your 40s doesn’t mean you need to trade in your little black dress for a matronly tracksuit. Women in their 40s nowadays are keeping it youthful in the latest denim styles, which pair with anything from a favorite tee to a slouchy sweater. Both styles are age-appropriate yet fashionable, but if you feel a little too exposed in that strapless sheath or cami, cardigans are a 40s woman’s best friend. A simple cardi lends a touch of maturity to almost any ensemble, and this season cardigans come in such a diverse range of lengths, fits and styles that you can layer up without dialing down your style.