After the second person told me I could pass for a college student this past fall, I decided enough was enough. I may be the only woman who feels this way but I want to look my age or at least close to it. Hearing I could pass for a decade younger was not music to my ears whatsoever.
I'm the person who's happy when she's not carded at happy hour.
Am I in my 30s or a college student? I don't know! Oh wait. The 3rd picture is from my 10 year high school reunion. There's that.
No matter how I wear my hair (short hair, long, bangs), whether I wear contacts or glasses, wear minimal makeup or full face (which rarely happens), some people think I look around my age while an equal amount peg me for much younger. This has gone on my entire life.
I suppose now that I'm in my 30s it shouldn't bother me so much. But it does. This may be the fruit of everyone telling subversive me, "some day you'll appreciate it." OH NO I WON'T.
I decided to put in a call for help to my friend Megan of Fried Okra, who happens to do styling on the side.
"When I'm home for Christmas, can you give me tips on what to wear so I'll look my age?"
After she stopped laughing over my predicament, she graciously agreed to help me out because she's awesome. I joined her family for their traditional Southern New Year's Day meal. Afterward we headed to the computer to look at various stores' sites and discuss what I did and did not like.
We talked about flattering colors, the style of jeans I typically wear, and the functionality of my current wardrobe.
Then, the moment of truth. She had me take off the scarf wrapped around my neck and remove the extra cardigan I'd thrown on to fight the winter chill. She needed to get a good look at my body. There was a lot of bulk getting in the way.
I felt vulnerable without my layers. I sucked in my stomach, though it wasn't visible through the shirt and cardigan I still had on. My friend did what I asked of her. She offered me an honest and true assessment.
"You're cute but you want to look womanly. All that fabric gets in the way of your curves." As she spoke, the lightbulb went on. She was right. I hadn't realized my penchant for boho chic had evolved into something less certain.
I've always been drawn to hippie-inspired clothes and boho chic is a great spin on that. Somewhere along the way my love of layers had morphed into hiding. Did I not want to be seen?
Every woman can point to a body part she doesn't entirely love. I emphasize what I like and downplay what I don't. I'm self-conscious about my stomach but I love my legs and my decolletage. I rock dresses and heels on a regular basis but my day to day wardrobe tends to be very fabric-y and layer-y. I never thought I needed to hide behind my clothes. Did the modesty narrative somehow sneak in? It's weeks later and I'm still wondering what changed.
As to the rest, Megan empowered me. She gave me good tips I can incorporate into my existing wardrobe and I also have a better sense of what I need.
Megan suggested I buy straight leg jeans (think Matchstick) instead of skinnies or bootcut. She encouraged me to wear a heel whenever I can do it comfortably. (Read: not at work.) She told me not to wear more than one loose, flowy piece per outfit. No more puddles of fabric.
We talked about structured pieces and looked at various blazers and shirts. Some of this I already knew but hadn't conscientiously been looking for. It helped to have visual examples for the rest.
Megan's tips worked. A few days later a friend and I spontaneously hit up White House Black Market to find a blazer. I settled on a velvet number with great structure and military details. I could still wear a drapey piece underneath, without losing any definition.commit to myself in 2013.
This post is a part of The Insecurity Project.
What's your best style tip? And for serious, what lipstick might you recommend? Lipstick is my nemesis and all I want to do is find a good one.
(I'll be back to non-fashion topics next week, y'all. Never fear.)