I knew someone who used to claim that the “middle age crisis” was the follow-up to the “3-0 crisis”. A few weeks ago, I stood in front of the mirror, creatively brushing my crop to hide the gray and white sprouts at my temples. As I leaned over to tighten the ankle straps of my “comfort” sandals, I had a moment of panic. I am not that young anymore.
I am eagerly anticipating my thirties, in actuality. My late twenties seem characterized by the pervasive feeling that I am 80% of the way “there”—20% shy of self-actualization. And my wardrobe has reflected that 20% of uncertainty. Over the course of a decade, my wardrobe has progressed from stodgy and aging (when I lived in rural Maine and tried to hide in my own skin) to brave and bohemian (when I moved to the city and lost the baby fat) to hip(ster) and fashion-conscious (when I started styling/blogging/trying to be recognized “about town”). Fittingly, I am coming to the last stretch in the continuum—and my closet tells the sad story of someone who doesn’t know who she is, where she is, and how old she is (I’m 28 in two months plus change).
The good news is that I have the basics I always advise my clients to acquire, regardless of age—a body-skimming LBD, tailored blazers in navy and black, a pair of dark wash jeans, black trousers, and a well-fitting white shirt. The bad news is that most of my closet is full of frills, ruffles, eyelet, pastels, and too-high hemlines. I also have foot-compressing oxfords with giant bows, patent mary janes, and heart-bedecked tights. I have nary a pencil skirt or detail-free black pump in sight.
I have started purging (reselling or consigning) those cutesy-cute dresses that delight my eyes, but aren’t made for a 6’4″ professional writer (I keep my girly-girl predilections to Pinterest now). I have started to wear my Simple sneakers on my walks into work, and switch into my (comfort) heels in the office. I have narrowed the playing field to the earthy colors and subdued styles that I *actually like* to wear. And I have identified these truths about myself—I am whimsical but I’m modest; I’m feminine but I’m utilitarian; I live in the city but my heart will always be in the country woods. And as I am older, and know better than to think that clothes are my only identity signifier.
Truth is, I will likely continue my on-again, off-again affair with fashion. But perhaps it will be from a seat high on the sideline bleachers—an observer and a critic as opposed to a daring participant. And I will be snuggled in a 3/4 sleeved dusty-hued shift, lace-up cognac knee boots, an olive wool coat, and a floppy knit hat….more me in my clothing than I have EVER been. And completely timeless, ageless.