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Entering your 30s can be overwhelming on many, many levels.
It’s easy to go into a tailspin and start reevaluating every aspect of your life when hitting your 30s.
If you’re feeling insecure about where you are in life with your job, your relationships, your family, it will probably take more than a day to figure those things out (and a really good therapist).
But one thing that’s actually a super easy fix? Updating your wardrobe.
Leaving your 20s is the perfect opportunity to update your wardrobe and take your outfits to the next level.
So if you’re wondering how to dress in your 30s, what wardrobe essentials you’ll need, and what outfits you’ll need to ditch, look no further.
Below, check out our guide on how to dress in your 30s. Not every piece of advice will work for everyone. After all, you can (and should!) still embrace your own personal style. But there are still many ways you can update and elevate your wardrobe.
Ok, let’s get started.
1. Go Through Your Closet
First things first, you need to go through your current wardrobe. What pieces do you love? What pieces do you not wear anymore? What pieces look way too worn? What pieces can still be salvaged?
Clothes often hold a lot of nostalgia and memories for us so it can be difficult to part with some of our things.
If you’re struggling with this process, you might need to look for already-proven methods like the KonMarie method or the extreme Swedish death cleaning method.
Another great thing about going through your closet is it will help you see where the gaps in your wardrobe are. If you’ve ever had that moment of “I have nothing to wear” (haven’t we all), then going through your closet might help you figure out why you feel this way.
Lastly, getting rid of all the clothes you no longer want or wear will help make your closet look a lot more inviting. Instead of seeing all the clothes you hate, you’ll get to focus on the clothes you love, even if that’s only a few pieces. After all, a few beloved pieces are better than a closet full of hated pieces.
2. Ditch Anything Too Worn
There are many ways to refresh your clothing, whether it’s with a sweater stone, a sewing kit, or otherwise. But let’s be real: there are some pieces that are just not salvageable. Even if you love a piece, if it’s no longer in good shape, it might be time to ditch it.
If it’s not a total goner, you can donate the piece to your local thrift shop. If the item is way too far gone, look for a local fabric donation bin. Many cities offer opportunities for people to donate things like clothes, sheets, and more and then will recycle the materials.
Some brands also have their own recycling programs where you can turn in your old clothes like H&M and Patagonia.
Lastly, if you’re clothes are still in great condition, you can try to make a little extra money by selling your clothes to places like Buffalo Exchange or Craigslist. One thing to be careful of: make sure you read the fine print on how much you’ll be compensated. Some places, like Buffalo Exchange, will offer you 20% of the new retail price. Meanwhile, places like ThredUp may only offer you 3% of the selling price.
3. Figure Out What You’re Missing
Once you’ve gone through your wardrobe, you should have a better idea of what items you’re missing. If you’re not quite sure, you can look at lists of wardrobe essentials to help you get started.
For example, things like a great-fitting bra, a perfect pair of jeans, and a little black dress or suit (depending on your style) will always be must-haves at any age.
4. Calculate Your Budget
Before you can start making any purchase, you have to figure out how much you can afford to spend.
If you’re the kind of person who loves to shop every month, take that into account when creating your monthly budget. If you prefer to shop once a season, take that into account as well.
The next thing you’ll need to figure out is *how* you want to spend your money.
Would you rather stay on top of the trends and buy more pieces at lower prices? Or would you prefer to invest in a few classic pieces that you can wear for years to come?
On top of looking at your clothing, you’ll need to consider accessories and how they fit into your budget. If you love jewelry then you’ll need to factor that into your spending.
5. Decide Your Priorities
If you’re operating on a limited budget (like most of us) you’ll need to decide your priorities.
Would you rather have quality over quantity? Is it important for you to try and stay on top of the trends? Are sustainability and environmental impact a deal-breaker for you?
Those are questions that only you can answer. So think about what you find most important and then spend accordingly.
6. Figure Out What Colors Look Best On You
Knowing what colors work for you and which ones don’t can be a total game-changer. After all, your clothes should work with you, not against you.
In order to determine your ideal color palette, consider things like your skin tone, eye color, and hair color. (PS — If you’re struggling with hair loss, try googling something like “all you need to know about hair loss treatments” to help get you started).
Knowing what your best colors are can also be super helpful when it comes to picking out your jewelry. General wisdom tells us that cooler skin tones will look best with silver and white gold as well as with gemstones like blue sapphire, amethysts, aquamarine, emerald, or ruby.
If you have a warmer skin tone, look for jewelry with yellow gold and gemstones like citrine, garnet, morganite, ruby, and peridot.
And, when in doubt, diamonds look good on *everyone*
7. Dress For Your Body Type
It can be super tempting to go with the trends. But the truth is that not everything is going to look good on anyone.
Determine your body type and dress accordingly. Pick outfits that will emphasize your greatest assets and will compliment your figure.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you *can’t* embrace current trends. There are plenty of ways to adapt the trends to fit your body shape and make it work. For example, creative cutouts are currently super popular right now. If this is something you want to try out, look for pieces with cutouts that will flatter your body and make you feel cool and confident.
8. Reevaluate Where You Shop
Shopping on a budget can majorly affect what brands you can purchase. Not all of us can afford to shop at places like Shopbop.
But just because you don’t have a ton to spend, doesn’t mean you have to scrape the bottom of the barrel.
Places like Zara, Target, Eloquii, ASOS, and H&M have a lot of cute things that are also very affordable.
Amazon also has an extremely large selection of clothing in every price range, but it does take quite a bit of searching and know-how to find the good stuff.
On top of that, you can keep an eye on major sales for brands that you love but might be just out of reach. For example, if you love the aesthetic of Madewell or J.Crew but can’t afford to spend $35 on a basic t-shirt, keep an eye on their sale section and you can score some great items at affordable prices.
Places you should probably ditch in your 30s? Forever21 (sorry but you’re definitely not 21 anymore) and Shein.
9. Take a Look at Your Work Wardrobe
Many of us have been enjoying the luxury of working from home, which means we only have to dress from the waist up for those pesky Zoom meetings. Meanwhile, others have us are returning to the office, which means a full outfit is required.
Regardless of your situation, you’ll need to start considering your professional aesthetic if you haven’t already.
If you’re the kind of person who embraces a work uniform, decide on what key pieces will make up that uniform and then build up your outfit from there. This might mean purchasing the perfect white button-up and black plans and then mixing it up by adding accessories like jewelry and shoes.
If you love to experiment with your workwear, try to find versatile pieces that will go with many things to make the most of every item.
10. Tailor Your Clothes
Tailoring your clothes can take a so-so dress to a stunning one. It can even make an inexpensive dress look expensive.
Obviously, not everyone can afford to get their clothes tailored. Most people in their 30s are still very much operating on a close budget, after all.
However, if you have a dress or a pair of jeans that you love and know you’ll get a lot of use out of, it might be worth it to get those items tailored so you know you have at least a few really great pieces in your wardrobe.
Having your clothes properly fitted to your frame can really make a profound difference in how we dress, especially for formal events. Having a dress that fits you to a tee can make all the difference.
11. Find a Really Great Bra
The whole “80% of women are wearing the wrong size” has been totally debunked. In fact, many people are moving away from the idea of the “correct” bra size since sizing is so inconsistent from brand to brand.
What’s more important, is to find a shape that flatters, regardless of what the label says. A great bra should make you feel comfortable and confident.
If you can find a brand that fits you really well, that would obviously be ideal. But even that’s hard to do.
Try to aim to get one really great skin-colored bra and one black one. Everything after that is just gravy.
12. Invest in a Classic Bag
Bag trends are constantly changing but there are some styles that will always be considered classic. Regardless of whether your a purse addict or not, make sure you have at least one really solid bag that can survive any season, any trend.
Black and brown leather bags will always be in style so try starting there.
13. Choose What Makes You Feel Confident
At the end of the day, the most important thing when updating your wardrobe is to choose things that make you feel comfortable and confident in your body. Clothes should make you feel good about yourself. End of story.