You open up your Facebook page, and a reminder instantly pops up: Here’s what you were up to seven years ago. Social media sites highlight the crazy-amazing years of your early 20s, but along with those memories comes a reminder of the things you wore on all of your adventures. If you're like us, there were plenty of fashion moments that should have stayed in the past where they belong.
Now that we're (hopefully) a little wiser, we've learned a lesson or two about the things that we wore (and still wear today). Our editors spilled the major mistakes of their early 20s, in all their hilarious and sometimes awkward glory. Now, before you read them, say it with us: never again.
Read on to check out what we had to say, then chime in on your biggest regrets in regard to fashion!
"While it's still hard to completely ignore the allure of a discount when making purchasing decisions, I try to ask myself one question when buying a sale item: Would I buy this if it were full price? If the answer is no, I won't let myself buy it!" — Kat Collings, editor in chief
If you're going to take the plunge on something special, make sure it's a piece you love and will wear again.
"Mastering the art of the interview outfit is tricky. When I was in college, I didn't own a particularly professional wardrobe, and I'm sure that what I wore to my early internship interviews didn't score me any points. These days, my attitude is that it's always better to go too professional than not professional enough." — Aemilia Madden, editor
When it comes to picking an interview outfit, stick with at least one classic piece, like a midlength skirt.
"I was an assistant at a magazine in my early 20s and clearly wasn't raking in the big bucks. I could barely afford my rent (or my cereal), let alone the shoes I wanted. Well, because I was under the impression that I had to have the It shoes of the moment (hey, I was working full time in the fashion industry), I bought them anyway. (They were Christian Louboutin, by the way.) While they were (and still are!) incredibly beautiful, it's not smart to throw all of your money away. It's best to think about the future and only buy what you can afford—especially because you can buy so many gorgeous shoes these days at such affordable prices." — Bobby Schuessler, editorial director
Don't blow your budget on a trendy pair of shoes you can't afford; stores like Mango and Zara make great (and super-affordable) options.
"I've learned the hard way that it's very important to buy shoes that properly fit—especially heels. During my college days, I would go from party to party in shoes that were uncomfortable and probably the wrong size, but I didn't care as long as I looked chic! I've definitely done some damage to my bones and have unfortunate scars from loads of cuts and blisters (which are not so chic)." — Sarah King, community manager, INF
If you're planning a night out on the town, opt for a block heel or low heel that will help keep blisters at bay.
"I've bought clothing items that are too small, hoping they'll eventually fit, one too many times. Now that enough of them are hanging in my closet collecting dust, I think I've finally learned my lesson, but time will tell." — Nicole Akhtarzad, market editor
Dress for the present. You want to look your best in the moment—don't leave pieces you love gathering dust in your closet.
"While you can never go wrong with jeans and a top, there are so many outfit possibilities out there that I wish I'd explored a little more. I might've developed my personal style a little more quickly if I'd been more adventurous." — Allyson Payer, editor
While we'd consider jeans and a T-shirt a solid option for just about anything, don't be afraid to mix things up on occasion.
"In my early 20s, I bought so many going-out pieces from fast-fashion brands and failed to stock up on quality basics. I've learned to think twice before I pick up a quick $20 to $30 top, and instead focus on buying items I can wear to the office and beyond." — Michelle Scanga, managing editor
While your budget may limit what you're able to splurge on, saving for a few key pieces will save you money in the long run.
"I used to only buy weekend clothes versus office-appropriate clothing. This led to many struggles each weekday as I attempted to get ready for work with a closet of all casual items. Now I spend more money buying items I can wear both to work and on the weekend." — Lauren Eggertsen, associate editor
Missing the mark on workwear is a common mistake, but you can't go wrong with polished pieces that still have fun details.
"When I was in my early 20s and living in NYC, I couldn't fathom the thought of buying an ironing board/iron and storing it in my shoe box–size room, let alone actually ironing—so I didn't. Well, that was a mistake. It's never a good look to walk out in wrinkly clothes (especially when you work in fashion!). Yes, it was a hassle to iron, but if I could tell anything to my early-20s self, it would be Bobby, suck it up and iron." — Bobby Schuessler, editorial director
Wrinkled and crinkled clothing is not the way to go. Keep things polished by going the extra mile, especially when it comes to work clothes.
"There have been a few too many times when I've looked in the mirror and wondered, Is this outfit really me? It's taken time to learn what my style truly is, but now I know to embrace the trends that work for me instead of feeling the need to test them all." — Aemilia Madden, editor
Pick the trends that work for you, but don't feel the need to follow every single one. These cropped jeans look ultra-flattering and make for a great choice (if they're your thing).
"When I was younger, I would change my style for a first date based on what I thought my date would like. It's embarrassing to admit, but I'd often make my look more approachable and subtly more feminine. I stopped doing that when I realized I was conveying a much less interesting style persona that wasn't even truly me!" — Kat Collings, editor in chief
Whether it's embracing your inner cat lady or simply sticking with the classics, wear the pieces that make you feel your best.
"When I got my first job out of college, I was still living at home and didn't have any real expenses. I pretty much threw away my first paychecks on fast-fashion pieces and 'office-appropriate' clothes that weren't worth the investment since my real goal was eventually to work for a fashion publication. (Spoiler alert: I did.) I wish I had the insight to start spending more thoughtfully at a younger age and build a wardrobe that would stand the test of time a bit more. Still working on it!" — Gina Marinelli, senior news editor
Office wear doesn't have to be boring. A cool jacket can add a sophisticated touch to a simple look.
Now that you've heard all about our mistakes, read on for an outfit idea that's a genius decision instead (we promise)!
Opening Image: Collage Vintage