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Early thirties and I don't know what to wear

(25 Posts)
Abubu Thu 22-Oct-09 15:40:43

Hi everyone,

Ok I know this sounds stupid but at the age of 31 (almost 32!) I don't know anymore what to wear. I feel like I look like a frump every day and just don't even know what suits me anymore.

I have been looking around the office today and feel like everyone looks more fashionable, stylish, sexier etc today than me.
I made a joke of it at lunchtime and no one tried to disagree with me sad

What do you wear at this age to look good? I'm not sure if I should be trying to dress younger as I do think I dress too old for my age or whether this would make me look like mutton, or to stick with the stuff I like but just from a better quality of shop.

Plus I look at stuff in fashionable shops like Oasis or Asos and just don't like the look of it or don't think it would suit me.
Everything in fashion at the moment seems to highlight all the parts of my body I hate most.

Help! Where do all you 30 somethings shop, what kind of thing do you wear?

tvaerialmagpiebin Thu 22-Oct-09 15:45:15

I sympathise. I am 35 and have never really felt comfortable or stylish.

What sort of things do you usually wear? Could you just try a very small change, e.g. a scarf or necklace? Or try wearing something that you have in your wardrobe and rarely wear with something you wear a lot and feel comfortable and happy in.

I have to admit to clothes shopping almost entirely in supermarkets and wearing jeans every day, so hope someone more stylish comes along soon.

electra Thu 22-Oct-09 15:48:13

You're 31 and worried about looking like mutton?? I think that is a self-limiting belief! wink

I am 29 and shop in Oasis, ASOS, etc. The key is finding things that suit you that you are comfortable in. However, I have the following tips if you are trying to reinvent yourself;

Get a new hair style/colour. After I had my older girls my hair became less shiny and I now have semi-permanent colour put on which gives it a glossier look.

Have a look at your underwear and decide whether you're happy with it and if not, throw it away and buy new stuff, and if getting fitted for new bras I would recommend Bravissimo, not M&S...

You don't need loads of new clothes - just start with a capsule wardrobe - I think a really good pair of boots is helpful.

fishie Thu 22-Oct-09 15:48:40

what do you wear? dresses are good, nice coloured tights / leggings and boots voila you have an outfit.

Abubu Thu 22-Oct-09 15:49:28

Yes, I am also a supermarket clothes shopper and hate that. Or I buy off the internet without trying it on then decide to keep it even if I'm not that keen because I can't be bothered to do the returns.

Maybe I am just not investing enough time to actually go shopping and try things on to see what suits me. But I feel guilty enough about not seeing DDs during the week when i'm at work to then go off for several hours shopping at the weekend.

electra Thu 22-Oct-09 15:50:56

Agree, fishie

Abubu Thu 22-Oct-09 15:53:12

Hi again,

I am fairly short so struggle quite a lot to get things that are the right length. I tend to find petite fitting clothes, especially bottoms are always very boring work type stuff.

I must admit leggings have never even crossed my mind although I often look at them on other people and think they look lovely. I have rugby player legs so don't really want to show them off (plus a few months ago one of my colleagues said if you can remember them first time round you too old to wear leggings).

What makes up a capsule wardrobe?

Abubu Thu 22-Oct-09 16:01:33

I might try to get some more dresses.
I have avoided these over the years because they always seem to end up half way down my calf but i guess if I look round or get them shortened.

What's "in" at the moment - patterns / plain prints??

Sorry for all the questions. I really am a fashion dunce. To demonstrate, today I have on a dark pink long sleeved top from Next (which crinkles up about 5 minutes after you put it on) a long black ankle length skirt, really thick black woolly tights (really ashamed of that one, similar to what school girls used to wear) and some flat pumps. blush

PutDown Thu 22-Oct-09 16:05:31

Abubu,try Warehouse or Topshop for dresses as they are shorter.
I am 42 and like Warehouse silk dresses with leggings/tights.You could layer a fine long sleeved top underneath or boyfriend cardigan over.
Buy some long necklaces,Marks,Wallis,Topshop all good for these.

CybilEngineer Thu 22-Oct-09 16:05:38

Oh Abu,abu,abu. You have lost your style mojo. But don't worry, Auntie Cybil is here and if we're really lucky, Auntie MacaroonIncident might be along

Step one. Wht shape are you? You say you have 'rugby player legs' is that really true? Or are you on a downer in general?

Step 2. What coloring are you? (FWIW Pink and black look dreadful on everyone)

report back and we'll take it from there

Abubu Thu 22-Oct-09 16:12:53


Ok, my vital stats are:
5ft 2 - not too short I guess but I have a "long" top half and short bottom half, so I tend to try to find petite stuff for the bottom but top half is ok with regular sizing

I am an apple - my waist has always been big compared to my hips - which I always thought kind of cuts out any chance to wear any of the belted stuff that Gok Wan is always on about as stylish, I actually have no waist to show off

My calves aren't that slim and together with being not very long, hence the rugby player legs.

Boobs are reasonable, kind of medium sized (c cup)

I have light / medium skin, very dark shoulder length hair.


PutDown Thu 22-Oct-09 16:17:05

Def don't do long skirts.
They are so aging,particularly with flat shoes.
A line knee length skirts better,imo.
Also agree with cybil,pink and black awful.
Can you do grey and purple,or navy,instead?
Much more trendy.grin

Abubu Thu 22-Oct-09 16:19:28

Forgot to add i'm about a size 12/14.

Thanks for all the tips so far guys.

I don't quite know what possessed me to wear my long skirt, thick tights, flat shoes combo today...

CybilEngineer Thu 22-Oct-09 16:22:27

Ok. If I was you I would get everything OUt of my wardrobe first before you start buying anything else. look at it with a critical eye. Do you love it? does it fit? Is it bobbly with a broken zip? Sling what you don't love or wear.

Next think about what you need. I take it you work in an office...I would suggest a couple of dresses, a decent pair of trews and a skirt but NOT an ankle length one. If you can get things that will tone you will ahve loads of swap opportunities each day in your wardrobe. You could base it all around navy or black/grey for example, dark trousers (reasonably straight leg) and a couple of tops/cardi to go with. Big beads will draw attention from tummy.
not the most exciting top in the world but we are not aiming for London fashion week How useful would that be with black trews and a fab pair of leopard print ballet pumps or little kitten heels?
colourful dress to wear with little cardi, opaques and same shoes
I have only linked to Dp's. next do petite, so do Marks, get your basics right and build from there

CybilEngineer Thu 22-Oct-09 16:22:57

Argh no paragraphs, I do apologise, got carried away

CybilEngineer Thu 22-Oct-09 16:27:04

you can't go wrong with a dolly shoe especially if you are small and cute

stirlingstar Thu 22-Oct-09 16:31:05

Hi Abubu - you sound like me. I've never been very good at 'trendy'...

Cybil sounds like she knows what she's on about!

I had a crisis of image a couple of months ago (after 2 babies) - read around a few threads here and did some internet seraches on 'how to dress an apple' and on what a capsule wardrobe is. Thay were actually pretty helpful. I printed out the list from some site like (will check the address in a mo), worked out what I had that already fitted in to a plan, and went shopping for a defined(ish) list of other stuff. Took most of a day, and ended up mostly being in (a very big) M&S.

Have to say that since then I have stuck to the capsule plan about 95%, always have something to wear, and def look better turned out than I did before. And it wasn't that hard. I am pleasantly surprised by myself! Feel a bit like I'm stuck with a limitted colour/item set of stuff sometimes, then I look at the old stuff still in wardrobe (just in case...) and realise would be a much worse move to go back to it.

So - try it!

Abubu Thu 22-Oct-09 16:31:38

Thanks Cybil1
I love that dress. I would probably normally look at it and wonder if it was a bit too stylish for me but something definitely has to change as i'm fed up with looking like a 1980s Laura Ashley catalogue.

I think I do need to look at my wardrobe as it is literally bursting at the seams but there is very little in it that makes me actually feel good.


stirlingstar Thu 22-Oct-09 16:35:39

Here it is -

I based a plan on the picture about half way down the page that's got 3 tops / 4 bottoms / whatever on it. Somewhere on the site is a big version of it, I think.

Do I sound a bit geeky?? Well(ish, ish) dressed but geeky??

CybilEngineer Thu 22-Oct-09 16:36:49

Don't try and be fashionable it's exhausting. Find stuff you like that suits your shape and keep buying things like that. I would also sugest a swingy new haircut and a re look at your make up bag.

PutDown Thu 22-Oct-09 16:36:52

I like the purple dress too!
I would wear a long sleeved very fine cotton tee underneath in cream ,navy,grey or green,plus dolly shoes.
Then a long necklace in colour of the tee shirt,or shades of purple.

Abubu Thu 22-Oct-09 16:45:54

thanks Stirlingstar,
I'll give that go grin

alarkaspree Thu 22-Oct-09 16:46:19

I'd suggest going to a personal shopper at John Lewis or similar. They are free, they will suggest things that suit you, and they don't have any pre-conceptions about you.

I tend towards the frumpy myself, and I find I get nervous about buying things that are more stylish/interesting. A personal shopper would just give you stuff to try on, and help you decide if it looks good or not.

Also it is so efficient. You get a two-hour time slot and sit there drinking coffee while the shopper finds stuff for you to try on, and at the end you have clothes for the whole season!

If you're in/near London, I'd recommend Peter Jones.

Abubu Thu 22-Oct-09 16:57:01

Ooh good idea about the personal shopper. I always assumed you had to pay for that.

purplepeony Thu 22-Oct-09 17:42:02

surely you can just wear what you have always worn, but not try to look like a 16 year old?

Fashion nowadays is possibly the least ageist ever- 60 yr olds can wear the same as 30 yr olds as long as they look classy and not cheap- think Lulu and Twiggy!

Can't you just do jeans with layering, sweater dresses, skirts and boots, leggings and tunics?

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