Has anyone ever told you to “dress your age?” Hopefully not that bluntly. But many times, we receive feedback that we need to be “dressing more appropriately” or “dressing to our age.” What does that really mean?
How to Dress Age Appropriate for 2021
What Is “Dressing to Your Age”?
How does a 20-year-old dress differently compare to a 30-year-old? What does it mean to dress your age?
If you take it at face value, it isn’t very respectful. “Dressing your age” indicates that people reach a certain stage of life and are forced to mutate. But that’s not really what it means.
In general, when someone says, “dress your age,” what they’re saying is dress appropriate to the situation. Younger people tend not to be familiar with professional environments. They’re still learning social mores. Because of this, they often dress inappropriately. They may dress formally when the atmosphere is business casual or business casual when the atmosphere is formal.
These types of faux pas are forgivable in younger people because they are still learning the rules. People are hardly expected to jump fully formed into a career and know how to dress to every occasion. Most people don’t even know how to properly dress for a wedding or large event until they have reached their mid-20s.
So, when you hear “dress your age,” what you should really hear is “you’re old enough to know how to dress appropriately to your environment.”
But what if you don’t?
The truth is most of us learn lessons at different times. We might not know how to dress appropriately to our environment, especially if our environment is new.
The Environment of 2021:
And things are constantly changing.
The truth is 2021 is very different from 2011 or 2001. Today, people are way more lenient about how people can dress. As long as you look professional and polished, most people aren’t going to bat an eye if you’re a degree or two removed from the formality of the environment.
People are going to C-Suite meetings in t-shirts and jeans. And people are dressing up in vests and suits to get dinner. Self-expression has become far broader.
But it’s a delicate art to know how far you can push things. There are things you can do to determine the right way to dress:
- Take a look around you. What everyone around you is wearing is probably a good signal regarding what you should be wearing, too. Every company has a different culture, so it’s not always enough to keep dressing the way you have always dressed.
- Consider your goals. Okay, let’s say everyone around you is dressed casually. But what if they’re your staff — and you’re their supervisor? It’s possible it’s better to dress a little more upscale; after all, you’re trying to be confident and in charge. So, when you look around, make sure you’re looking at your peers.
- Dress for the job you want. You probably heard that before. But that doesn’t just mean dressing more formally. If you want a casual job and lets, you express yourself, dressing for it can help you move in that direction.
- When in doubt, ask. It can’t hurt to ask someone if you’re missing any social cues. And if you’re going to a specific event, it doesn’t hurt to ask, “What’s the dress code?” If you find the advice too vague, ask for feedback about specific outfits.
People often fall into the trap of continuing to dress the way they have always dressed. They go to their first job as they dressed in college. They go to their second job as they dressed at their first job. Over time, that means that you may find yourself wearing things that are simply ill-suited to your current station in life.
Updating Your Outfits to Your Age:
So, let’s say that you need to update your outfits in 2021. You should know that you probably don’t want to dress the way your mom or dad did at your age. Updating for 2021 is going to be radically different.
Part of this is because of “fast fashion.” People are more likely to have 20 cheap (but professional) ensembles than 2 costly ones. In the old days, people had six great outfits that they wore, and no one batted an eye. Today, people are more likely to notice if people circulate the same few outfits again and again.
But on the bright side, there’s far less of an emphasis on costly clothes. People no longer buy $400 hats even if they’re a manager unless they’re really high up there. Most people aren’t too concerned about the longevity of their clothing. In 2021, the emphasis on brands and quality is lower, and the emphasis on fun, fast fashion is higher than ever before.
When dressing your age, you shouldn’t be afraid of self-expression. 2021 welcomes individuality. While you want to follow the drummer’s beat in general, having a few accessories, having brighter colors, or having bold patterns can ensure that you stick out — especially to those you want to be noticed by.
Avoiding the Biggest Faux Pas:
What would really prompt someone to say, “dress your age?”
People are becoming more casual in general, especially those who work from home. If you’re working from home, you should still be dressing up; it helps give you a boost of confidence and focus.
Otherwise, it can mean that you aren’t taking care of your appearance. While you might be dressing “professionally,” perhaps your clothes aren’t ironed properly and look like they just came out of a pile. Maybe you aren’t taking the time to make sure things like your socks match, or maybe you seem lackluster — “without style.”
To a certain degree, adults are expected to be able to dress with confidence. A lack of this can be read as immaturity.
Otherwise, people may feel that you’re dressing in a too youthful or too alluring way. These are personal things that you need to consider. Above all, you should realize that not everyone is always right. If only one person has said that you are dressed too informally or too casually, it bears some consideration, but it may not merit changing your entire wardrobe. Look at yourself critically and value your own opinion as well. One person’s “immature” could be another person’s “daring.”
Are you ready to learn more about the image, fashion, and appropriate behavior, and pass that knowledge on to your clients? Contact the London Image Institute today to begin training for your career as an image consultant.
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