How to dress like an adult, according to the fashion director of the New York Times

It doesn’t have to mean stuffy suits and well-polished, flat-footed brogues

You may have just graduated, started a new job or perhaps your worldview has simply started to mature; either way, whether you want to or not, you’re need to do some serious growing up in your 20s and this means your style should too.

While parting ways with your youthful wardrobe might feel scary, an adult wardrobe doesn’t have to mean stuffy suits and well-polished, flat-footed brogues.

Of course, upgrading your look does means you’re going to have to do some serious wardrobe rebuilding but luckily, Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Director of the New York Times is on hand to help.

She wrote: "As dressing rules have relaxed, and exercise has improved, some of the traditional realities that used to define adult dressing (covering up flappy upper arms or saggy knees, for example) no longer apply.

"But just because you can wear something — just because your legs are good enough, your stomach flat enough, your imagination wild enough, your self-image young enough — does not mean you should.”

So how are you supposed to dress? Well, her golden rules of grown-up garb promise to develop your look from collegiate to fully-fledged adult in just three steps.

Dress to impress, not distract

While you want to make a lasting impression with your style it’s important for it to not become the focus of attention. You want your friends or colleagues to remember what you say and not what your clothes say.

Firstly, it’s important to make sure you have the right fit; fiddling with loose straps, waistbands or pulling down a less than desirable hemline will only serve to make you look and feel uncomfortable.

Similarly, don’t wear anything too revealing. You want to be recognised for your ideas and not your body parts.

Play dress-up

Whether you feel grown-up or not doesn’t really matter when it comes to adult dressing instead it’s all about deciding on a role and dressing for the part. This applies more firmly to the workplace of course where you feel you need to be taking seriously.

If you're still youthful at heart, Vanessa suggests “playacting at adulthood until your inside catches up with your outside".

Simply put, if you want to give the impression that you’re a specific type of person, consider what they would wear and follow suit with that character in mind. Of course, with this in mind it’s still important to maintain a level of personality to your get-up.

(Getty Images

Take care of your clothes

Upkeep is so important when it comes to a grown-up wardrobe and a well-ironed shirt goes a long way. Whatever your style, making sure your clothes are in tip top condition avoiding stained, wrinkled or crumpled up garb like the plague. Vanessa says these are all a tell-tale sign that someone has “not gone out on their own just yet.”

Instead, learn to iron, sew, fold and invest in some good hangers. Looked after clothes reflect a person that’s valued, that’s independent, that’s grown-up.

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