While we don’t believe in following fashion “rules,” we do understand the desire to look age appropriate—especially within the workplace. The journey to discovering personal style and maneuvering the ever-present trends changes as we become older and wiser. Here, some style mantras to help you ease through any decade with confidence. –Angela Bobo
20s: Take a Risk
Risk does not mean risqué, especially between the hours of 9 to 5. This is the time to try out everything from culottes to crop tops and see what you feel your absolute best in. One day you might be scouring the $5 bins at the local thrift store and the next making your first major investment purchase at Saks. Mixing prints, textures and colors is a great way to find your own quirkiness. Draw inspiration from any and everywhere. So the next time someone asks what your style is, you will be able to proclaim “urban bohemian”—or whatever it may be—with conviction.
Printed Dress, $69.90; zara.com
Decoeur Lucite Clutch, $99; shopethica.com
Leather Moccasin with Chains, $129; zara.com
30s: Tailor the Trends
Having experimented a lot in your 20s, the most important thing is to stay true to the fashion flair that you honed in on during those years. You are fashionably mature enough to spot what trends to try and what to avoid. While you still want to have fun with fashion, it is wise to keep building your wardrobe with quality items versus quantity. Instead of piling on everything at once, pick one “now” piece to be the focal point of your outfit. Mixing high and low is another way to balance your carefully selected luxury items with your fast-fashion fixes in an effortless way.
Top with Faux Leather Cuffs, $69.90; zara.com
Rebecca Minkoff Blades Cut-Out Studs, $48; piperlime.com
Tibi Lace Plaid Ombre Skirt, $395; shopbop.com
40s : Perfect Your Personal Style
The period of discovery is over and you have managed to stock a wardrobe full of go-to pieces. At this point you have found a way to balance the requirements of a busy life and your wardrobe reflects that. It is important to work with outfits that can pull triple duty and carry you from a meeting to happy hour or your child’s piano recital. Focus on fit and tailoring to make sure that whatever you wear is able to function seamlessly in your life. That doesn’t mean that you have to ignore seasonal trends. Try basics in unique colors to add an element of fun. Jewelry is also key for keeping outfits fresh.
Knitted Hexagon Quilted Jumper, $72; topshop.com
MK Multi-Chain Link Toggle Necklace, $250; piperlime.com
Zip-back Crepe Pencil Skirt, $76; topshop.com
50s: Honor the Classics
You may not be comfortable showing as much skin as you used to, but there is still room to display your best assets. You most likely are not trying on distressed denim, but there is no need to resign yourself to khakis and mom jeans. Higher necklines and lower hemlines can still feel current when you pair hard and soft pieces with whimsical prints. A structured jacket is timeless and looks flirty when worn with a swingy skirt. Plus, nothing is more timeless than a crisp black-and-white look.
Olivia Mumford Tweed Jacket, $169; anntaylor.com
Kate Spade Seaport Stud Earring, $48; piperlime.com
Juniper Embroidery Full Skirt, $109; anntaylor.com