On not dressing like a ‘grown up’

A couple of months ago I spent a morning at work admiring a senior colleague’s utterly immaculate all black ‘power femme’ outfit and wondered, as I often do, if I will ever get the hang of dressing like a grown up. You know, someone who always looks well turned out and appropriate in every setting.

Occasionally I long to be the person who favours clean lines and neutral tones, looking professional and elegant as well as timelessly stylish. I used to wonder if I should start dressing like a ‘grown up’ once I reached 40 – ditching all the bows, polkadots and novelty jewellery – but then I looked at the contents of my wardrobe and fell in love with each and every piece all over again.

How could I abandon my hair scarves? What would I do with my Tatty Devine gin bottle necklace? On the same day that I was coveting a life of monochrome chic and minimalist accessories, I had a moment of clarity. That evening, when I was sad that the Vivien of Holloway pirate top I’d ordered wouldn’t arrive in time for Amber Butchart’s book launch, I remembered that I had a daft vintage sailor dress I could wear instead.

Looking at myself in the mirror I realised that I will probably never dress as a grown up. Not on a permanent basis anyway. If I ever lose my childlike fascination with primary colours, plastic shoes and full skirts you can twirl in, I fear I won’t be me any more. We express our personality through our clothes and show how we’re feeling by what we choose to put on in the morning, so to obey some arbitrary age related dress code would feel like a lie.

I guess I’m lucky that my choice of job is currently one where I don’t have to dress a certain way, but work-appropriate attire is a whole other blog post!

Photograph, from the Nautical Chic launch party, by Luka Marchant.

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