For the record, my 20s aren't over yet. I am currently 27 years old, but as I take time to think about approaching 30 and how I have evolved and grown over the years, I can't help but think back to all the ways my style has evolved as well. While my teenage years feel embarrassingly long ago now, I can distinctly remember certain cringey style moments and habits that were acceptable back then but needed some refining as I entered my 20s. Since I am almost through the thick of it, I figured it might be helpful to those of you still trying to sort out your personal style in your 20s if I share the six items that defined my style all through my 20s and hopefully beyond.
Most of the items ahead are basics by nature, but those are the items you should be prioritizing as you begin to build up a well-rounded wardrobe. Your 20s are a critical time in your life—so much changes and so fast, so having the proper pieces at the ready in your closet will help you define your personal style and save you from unneeded outfit stress.
Ahead, read up on the fashion items that helped me find my personal style in my 20s and that remain some of the smartest purchases I've made to date.
Blazers were certainly an article of clothing I had to get used to in my early 20s, but now, as a 27-year-old, I can't imagine what my wardrobe or personal style would be without them. Between more professional attire to sprucing up a casual jeans-and–tank top look, blazers have added a sense of sophistication to my wardrobe that it desperately needed as I left my teenage years.
When I was a teenager, it was all about skinny jeans. While the style is still prevalent today, as I've grown up, I prefer more straight-leg jeans, as for me, they feel more polished than skin-tight ones. Over the years, I have found that I can wear almost every kind of outfit with straight-leg jeans, and that is what has made them worth the investment time and again over the past seven (almost eight!) years. There is something about the more streamlined silhouette that reads elevated rather than laid-back, and I have yet to find a situation in my personal life where that has been a bad thing.
When I was a teenager, I felt like wearing heels was reserved for special occasions and special occasions only. But as I got a bit older, I realized that heels can be casual in their own right. This definitely took some time to get used to, but once I began incorporating low heels and sandals into every jeans-and-T-shirt look, for example, even my most basic wardrobe staples began to look more grown-up.
Never underestimate the impact jewelry can have on your outfit. I am saying this from personal experience. If it wasn't a random statement necklace or stacked bangles, everyday jewelry was not a part of my sartorial vocabulary in my teenage years. As I entered my 20s, I learned that the quick addition of a simple chain necklace or ring can give people the impression that you took the time to put yourself together that morning. Since your 20s might be the starting point of your career, first impressions can take on a different weight and importance.
Plain T-shirts aren't the most thrilling, I know, but I can promise you that stocking up on a few neutral colors will save you amid many outfit crises. What I learned about basic tees in my 20s was that there is a huge difference between having a few T-shirts somewhere in your drawer and hand-selecting the best versions in each color that you can wear and feel just as confident as you do when you put on a stunning blouse. When you have intentionally chosen T-shirts to build up your wardrobe, you'll feel like you're putting on a real shirt and not just some worn-in old tee.
Last but not least, we have the black dress. Do yourself a favor and stock up on a few classic black dresses that you can style up or down and that will always be in. This way, no matter what events life throws at you, your closet will be ready with the perfect black dress waiting for you.