10 Fashion Tips I Wish I Knew When I Was 20 – Forbes

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When I was in school, my favorite decade was the 1970s. Whenever I mentioned this to grown-ups, they would groan and wince. “The 70’s?” they said, “ugh.” I never understood their reactions. After all, the 70’s with those cool platform shoes, fabulous bell bottoms, fringe vests, and bright colors. What wasn’t to love?

Now after witnessing the return of the 80’s and 90’s, I begin to understand. The clothes I drooled and put myself into debt over, now make me cringe. Well, some of them do. Other pieces fill me with nostalgia and warm memories. It’s made me think about why what we loved to wear as kids can make us roll our eyes now.

Now I can watch re-runs of Friends and be reminded of those bland polyester velvet trimmed tops, the mom jeans, the crop tops, cat suits, and raw seams that were all the rage in the 90s and shake my head. What was I thinking? Didn’t I see how ugly so many of those pieces were? But no, at the time, I was blind. I loved those clothes with the lust and blind passion of the young. There is no way that anyone, could have talked me out of it because that’s the beauty and hubris of youth. You know what you know and you are absolutely certain you are right. It’s a beautiful thing in a way, if only it didn’t lead to so much stupidity.  Ask almost anyone and they’ll tell you they never want to go through their twenties again.

While I do miss the worry-free utter lack of regard for spending or an “eat as much cake and ice cream as I want” metabolism, there are a lot of things I’d tell my twenty-something self about fashion if I’d known then, what I know now.

FIGURE OUT YOUR STYLE and make it your own, and don’t be afraid to change it. You don’t want to be wearing 90s outfits 20 years from now. Trust me. Plus following trends is futile. By the time you’re in fashion, your out.

LOVE YOUR BODY. Those imagined micro-flaws don’t actually exist. Cherish and relish your vitality and health, your amazing metabolism and the fact that your body is the most beautiful it will ever be whether you can see it or not.

DON’T SPEND EVERY DOLLAR YOU MAKE ON CLOTHES. Spend on experiences you can cherish all your life like fun vacations, adventures, nights out. Save a little and make investments and live within your budget. Paying back credit cards is exhausting and no fun (not to mention, nearly impossible and infuriating when you think how many shoes you could buy with the interest).

BUY EXPENSIVE SHOES. But avoid lace-up sandals. You will eventually sprain an ankle and they will always hurt. $400 pairs of shoes are an investment and I still have them today. They don’t even make shoes like those for that price anymore.

BUY BASICS THAT YOU CAN LAYER WITH EVERYTHING ELSE. Yes, they are mind bogglingly boring, but you will spend a lot less money and less time struggling to put things together in your closet if you have slacks, tank tops, and sweaters in white, gray, cream and black. Seriously, no woman should be without these essentials. They go with everything. If nothing else, they are good for when you get dragged to boring events and want to pretend to be classic.

BUY 3 CLASSIC COATS FOR EACH SEASON. For some strange reason, it can seem like no matter how many coats you buy there’s always an outfit that none of them match. If you have a ¾ length, crop jacket and a Peacoat, in black, beige, gray or cream in classic fabrics for each season you’ll be okay 90% of the time. There will always be another layering piece you will need. It never fails.

FANNY PACKS never look good. Today’s stylish ones are getting a lot better, but do you ever really want all that bulk around your waist?

DON’T BUY HATS. They also have a funny way of looking fabulous in the store and not so great once you get home. Kind of like when the makeup lady at Sephora gives you a make-over, you buy $200 worth of make-up and never look quite as good again. Plus, you’ll almost never wear them because nowadays nobody wants hat head.

SPEND ON A FEW CHERISHED ACCESSORIES AND A COUPLE OF THE PERFECT HANDBAGS. Don’t be afraid to go big on some statement pieces when it comes to jewelry as they’ll dress up any outfit, even a potato sack while you’re paying off all those credit cards. A classic handbag will make people think you have style and refinement, even when what you are wearing cost 10 bucks at a vintage store.

DON’T WEAR SKIMPY CLOTHES. There’s a fine line between showing off what you have and showing everything you have. While you have every right to feel safe wearing whatever you want, it’s going to get you a lot of attention you have no idea how to handle. This attention will confuse you and keep you from connecting with your heart about the love you probably actually want.

If I’d known these things I could have saved myself time, money, and heartbreak. Of course, hindsight, is twenty-twenty.

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