Wine gets better with age, and so too does personal style. Your 20s is a time for experimenting, but there's a certain comfort and confidence that comes with the way you approach dressing as you get older. Sure, you could try any trend that makes its way down the runway, but you don't feel the same FOMO when you decide to sit one out. Instead, you can cherry-pick what you feel good in — you own the trends instead of the other way around. Figuring out how to define personal style and what to wear in your 30s isn't just about devising a set list of "oks" and "not-oks." Instead, it's about accepting the fact that your sense of style is no longer a moving target. As you've grown and started to understand your own style instinct a little bit more intimately, you've learned more about how you want to define your own take.
Leveling up from dressing at 21 or 23 looks different for everyone, but below, six stylish women share snapshots of their own journeys. Through relationships, motherhood, and career changes, these fashion industry insiders share how they've seen their own personal take evolve, reflecting on what they've learned (and yes, what they regret too).
Your major takeaway: While it's easy to want to jump on every trend, to keep up with every post on Instagram, to compare yourself to friends and celebrities — at the end of the day, what you wear should be about how your clothing makes you feel. Read on to learn more about the journeys of other women navigating the way they dress now.
Marina Larroude, Fashion Director Of Barneys New York
"My personal style is always evolving. I don’t take it too seriously and like experimenting. In my early 30s I used to wear quirkier outfits," notes Larroude. The fashion director explains that journeying into motherhood has shifted her perspective when it comes to picking outfits, "I like beautiful and powerful clothes, but nothing too fussy or overthought. I have two kids now so there is no time to put complicated outfits together."
As for what Larroude wore at a younger age, "I’ve always been a risk taker and I’ve worn all of the trends under the sun since I was a teen, I’ve always had the most fun with fashion," she says. While she admits that when she was younger she was too self-conscious to wear more revealing items like crop tops, things have changed. "Only now in my late 30s I feel confident to wear sexier, powerful looks. I wish I was like that in my 20s."
Chrissy Rutherford, Senior Fashion Editor Of Harper's Bazaar
Defining personal style for Rutherford isn't cut and dry: "I think overall my style is very polished but it definitely changes — sometimes I want to wear a flirty mini dress, sometimes I want to wear a suit," she explains. Now that she's in her 30s she adds, "I’m more concerned about the fit of my clothes and just being comfortable without skimping on style."
The senior fashion editor explains that looking back, passing trends effected her way of dressing. "Having boobs was decidedly not-fashionable in the late aughts and I wanted to hide them a lot and [now] I wish I didn’t," she explains. And though she notes an early affinity for American Apparel's skin-tight mini dresses, she explains, "while I’m not shy about showing my body, what I consider sexy has definitely changed."
Dana Schwartz, Co-Founder Of The Hours Agency
"I really don’t have one style. I tend to wear and support emerging brands as much as possible mixed in with vintage," says Schwartz, who works with brands like Labucq and Anine Bing. "Now that I am into my 30s, style for me is very much about dressing for myself. In my 20s I thought more about who I was going to see and where I was going to go when getting dressed, and now that’s very much secondary. I know what works for me and what doesn’t. That’s part lifestyle and part knowing what flatters me and what I feel good in."
"Looking back on my closet years ago, it was filled with clothes that still had the tags on. I bought too much that didn’t fit into my lifestyle or wasn’t particularly comfortable so it just sat in my closet. Now that’s absurd to me — I can’t imagine investing in anything I’m not going to wear a lot. And when it comes to investing, I know what I’m prepared to really go in on, like outerwear, knits, great-fitting trousers, and well made blouses." Schwartz adds that she now tends to buy less, focusing on quality and longevity instead of feeling the need to jump on every trend." I should have been building more of a lifetime wardrobe and been less concerned about re-wearing things. Now, I think re-wearing things is the coolest."
Lauren Caruso, Managing Editor Of The Zoe Report
"My personal style is equal parts thoughtful and unfussy," Caruso explains. "But it hasn't always been like that. Now, I like to wear things I feel comfortable and stylish in, but never make me feel like I'm trying too hard — even if it took me half an hour to get dressed that morning. Since I turned 30, my style has become a bit more modest — I'm not buying into every trend, and I've become more choosy about the things that work for my body, and I'm more willing to invest in a timeless piece than I was in my twenties."
Looking back, Caruso notes that early pressure to road test trends has slowly given way. "I wish I could go back and tell my 20-something-year-old self that that I don't have to try out every new trend. I look so uncomfortable in old photos where I'm wearing crazy colors or trends that didn't work, just because some friend or salesperson told me it looked 'flattering' on me," she notes. "I'm just not here for that — to me, flattering means anything someone feels truly comfortable in. But I'm sure I defined it differently at age 22."
Katie Sturino, Founder Of The 12ish Style
"My personal style right now is very focussed around monochromatic dressing, mostly flat shoes, and always a touch sport and color," says Sturino. But, she notes that her personal may be different, but doesn't consider age the impetus. She explains, "During the end of my 20s I was very covered up and more modest, but in the last couple of years I have started taking more bodycon and skin-bearing risks."
The model and style blogger adds that when shopping now, she tries to focus less on fast-fashion trends and more on long-term pieces. "Invest in clothes, because in 5 years you're not going to wear any of the cheap [pieces] you bought, but you will wear the classics." Sturino adds that over time she's also increasingly turned to second-hand sites like The Real Real to help her curate her collection of classics.
Lyndsey Butler, Founder And Creative Director Of Veda
Today, Butler describes her personal style as inspired by a mix of both her heritage and current locale. "On most days I’m wearing a version of one of the following: a suit, vintage jeans and cowboy boots or a dress (most likely VEDA or vintage) and fun shoes. Let’s call it NYC CEO with Texas roots." She explains. This idea of uniform dressing is one that has developed over time, "when I was younger I wanted more variety, and put together different looks daily." But now, Butler explains the ease in sticking to a few key combinations.
Butler admits that today, she'd advise her younger self to be less fickle, "I would get sick of a piece of clothing very quickly only wearing it a couple of times," the designer says, adding, Now I’m much happier with a uniform and a simpler approach to getting dressed."