$6.64 – hm.com
I have a confession to make… I have spent my whole entire life caring way too much about other people’s opinions of me. At 34, I still feel the need to put forth a good image when I meet new people. I realize that by conventional wisdom, I’m not “old,” but I will admit that inching closer to middle age has made me quite confused about my own personal style. At this age, I no longer feel comfortable in the carefree looks of my youth, but I am not ready to walk around wearing Aunt Jackie from Roseanne hand-me-downs either. Thankfully, the forward thinkers of Gen X and Y who now run buying departments have thought about this conundrum, and the options that we have at this age are way better than they were 20 years ago.
I feel like I am beginning to successfully navigate the ins and outs of fashion in my early/mid 30s without looking like a tool (you know, Carrie Bradshaw in a tutu. Just No.). Although fashion is personal, so you should always follow your own rules, here are some things that I have found to be true along the way.
1. Less is more. When you’re in your 20s, sexy is showing as much skin as possible. I was in my early 20s during the X-Tina Dirrty years, and many young ladies in my generation showed up to the club in bikini tops and assless chaps. To which I say, you only get a finite amount of time in your life to rock that look without looking ridiculous, so why the hell not? However, when you get older, you realize that putting it all on the table doesn’t convey sexy the way a strategically placed slit can. If you truly want to own your sexy, choose a little to showcase, and let the imagination fill in the rest. Also, by your mid-30s, you learn the proper balance of accessories. Don’t wear every piece of jewelry. Choose a few key pieces and build your outfit around them.
2. Cheap is cheap. When you’re young and living on a Ramen budget, shopping for clothes at fast fashion stores make sense. When you’re older, they can still be fun places to shop, but you need to be more selective. Stores like Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, H&M and the like are perfect for basics, layering pieces and trends that you aren’t ready to commit to, but in your mid 30s, it’s time to start investing. Having a crisp, polished business suit, a tailored trench, a perfect LBD and more in your wardrobe helps you look more sophisticated. Invest in pieces that are classics and won’t go out of style.
3. Hand me downs are cool. The Great Recession coupled with Macklemore have made thrift shopping cool. But those of us in the know have been shopping there forever. If you don’t feel like forking over the equivalent of two car payments for a handbag, check out the selection at consignment stores. You can save considerably on gently used merchandise and nobody will know you didn’t pay top dollar for your new stuff. These stores will help you look great and still be able to make your student loan payments.
4. It’s okay not to be trendy. By this stage in life, you should have a pretty good idea about your body and what does and doesn’t look good on you. This is the age at which you start getting more comfortable in your own skin, so if something isn’t flattering, skip it. It is possible to wear clothes that fit you well without looking dated. Take some time to shop around, and consult a personal shopper or a stylist if you truly need help.
We all need to wear clothes, and some of us choose to use ours as a representation of our personalities. Transitioning in between life stages is tough for a lot of people, but clinging to youth ends up making us look older and more inane. If you find the transition frustrating, try replacing things one item at a time.
Having a crush on a coworker can make day-to-day life less monotonous, but in reality it’s the worst thing in the professional world. The. Worst.Thing. Ever. I get it… Once you leave college, you can’t just walk into a basketball game or a party and meet a whole bunch of single, potentially like minded people at once (that’s what bars are for). It’s also fun and exciting to have those butterflies. But acting on your crush can introduce a whole heap of problems. Office romances can work out, and some of them actually do. For most of us, they just do more damage than good. Here’s how.
Your boss hired a poised, confident person with the potential to kick ass and do a great job. Once you develop a work crush, your performance inevitably suffers. While you once toiled away double checking your work before turning it in before deadline, your days are now filled coming up with creative ways to “bump into” your crush. You watch his routine. You happen to go to the coffee shop/break room/copier when you know he’ll be there. All of this time spent calculating seriously deflates your productivity.
There is an old adage that states, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” If you aspire to occupy the corner office one day, people will need to take you seriously. When you started the job, you came looking sharp on a daily basis. Once you developed your crush, however, you started thinking of ways to enhance your assets to get dreamboat to notice you. You wear push up bras over blouses that are a skoach too small, or you wear skirts that are questionable in relation to the dress code. I know Bridget Jones got the boss by wearing a micro mini and a see through top. But everybody who has the power to get you to the corporate office will see through your little game.
So not every woman who develops an office crush will automatically revert to junior high school puppy love behavior. Some of us manage to keep it cool at the office and keep it under wraps. Harmless crushes are fine, but if you’re falling over the edge, the temptation to do something stupid can be overwhelming. This temptation is amplified by 90 billion once alcohol is introduced. Think about it… One too many margaritas at the company holiday party and you may find yourself leaving inappropriate messages on your crush’s voicemail. Having a few glasses of wine on a business trip with said coworker could lead to serious foot in mouth disease. At best it’s humiliating. At worst, you could get fired and slapped with a harassment suit.
As I said before, some office romances do work out. The key to these office romances is discretion. Even if you work in an office at which relationships with coworkers are not frowned upon, it’s still unprofessional to bring your personal business into the office. Think about it… None of your coworkers would appreciate you fooling around on their desk. They also don’t want to listen to your drama when they’re trying to get shit done. If you must indulge in an office tryst, keep it outside. Don’t let it interfere with your work. Or just compartmentalize your life and meet your significant other somewhere else. There are plenty of fish in the sea. Unless you’re in Wyoming. Nobody lives there.
To anyone who’s never been here, Denver is a pretty laid back town. This is the kind of place in which you go to the theater, and some of the patrons are wearing jeans. Not the dark, dressy ones either. Forgive me for sounding like Grandpa Simpson for a second, but when I was little, such fashion faux pas were not acceptable.
I grew up with a grandmother who had impeccable style. In old photos, my grandmother is smiling with her bowling league buds wearing a wool a-line skirt, a scarf, and pearls. It pains me to see people attending an evening musical in distressed denim. To me, fashion is all about personal expression, but it’s also meant to be beautiful. When I sit at home in my plaid pjs watching red carpet footage, I long for an occasion at which to wear an evening gown.
Such is the conundrum of living in such a casual, outdoorsy city. Yes, we do have blacktie events here, but I feel like they are more reserved for charity events. I want to live in a world where people put as much time and effort into going out to a high end restaurant as they do their weddings. I feel like people don’t take time to shine as much as they should.
When I don a cocktail dress and a pair of killer heels, I often feel over dressed. I’m not saying that we need to turn our city into Gossip Girl (although that would be fantastic for me), or that every business person in the city needs an Armani suit. I’m just saying that if you’re going out for a special occasion, please comb your hair, and leave the jeans in the closet for crying out loud.