Dressing in your thirties as a woman can be tricky. There are a lot of challenges that come with this decade, and nailing your aesthetic as a grown woman is one of them.
While in your twenties, you may have been able to get away with wearing anything. In your thirties, however, the stakes are higher.
If you want to look your best and be taken seriously too, gone are the days when you could just throw on any old thing and run out the door (although, that wasn’t cool in your twenties either). You can’t just wear a dress that you know damn well is entirely too short or a shirt that is too tight and think that it’ll be fine for work (or any place for that matter).
In your thirties, how you dress says a lot about who you are.
The good news is that dressing in your thirties doesn’t have to be complicated. In this guide to dressing in your thirties as a woman, we’ll discuss how you should dress for this decade and how to make it work for you.
Is dressing differently in your thirties as a woman a thing?
Whether we like it or not, there are certain expectations of us as we get older. This is true not only for women, we also would expect a grown-ass man in his thirties to have leveled up his fashion sense from when he was in college.
Additionally, as we mature, don’t we also higher the standards for ourselves? Higher standards in how we dress, in how we behave, even in how we choose the men in our lives (ugh, especially that last one)?
“It’s taken me far too long to reach this point, but at 31, I think I’m finally done trying on crop tops in Topshop… suddenly I want to look polished and put together instead of scrappy…” writes Sarah Raphael in an article on Refinery29, How to Dress in Your Thirties. But it also comes as no surprise that the comments section of the article features a bevy of protesters…
“Lol, miss me with this crap. With the exception of going to work, I’ll continue to wear whatever the F I want…” writes one.
“Girl WHAT?!?! … Literally NO ONE [cares]. Don’t buy into this age-appropriate BS. Name me one memorable, disruptive, bold woman who has subscribed to that, clothes or otherwise. It will just make you self-conscious and THAT is the real killer here.” writes another.
I’M ON YOUTUBE!
Ladies, the truth is, age-appropriate dressing (as cliche as it may be) is absolutely a thing. And on this blog here, we’re totally here for it!
Exploring how to dress as a woman in her thirties isn’t at all a bad thing. In fact, it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to level up your wardrobe and look better than you ever have.
Is age-appropriate dressing an outdated concept?
It’s clear that women today, millennials especially, don’t like “boxes” or “rules”. And while I would defend any woman’s right to wear booty shorts and skin-tight dresses at any age, for many women, an internal shift does take place. A shift in taste, in lifestyle, in ambition, in maturity, and in how we wish to be perceived in the world.
What’s perplexing to me is the attitude of “wear whatever you want, do whatever you want, no one cares.” If we take for granted that “no one cares” (although that’s complete crap), what about yourself? Shouldn’t YOU care?
At 21, I had a free for all mindset, too. I’d leave the house in sweatpants and flip-flops regularly. And in the summer, if you couldn’t see the crease under my bum, my shorts obviously weren’t short enough.
But evolving into a woman in my 30s, having lived a little, traveled a lot, and matured as a woman — there are just certain things I don’t much care for anymore. Can you relate?
How To Dress In Your 30s As A Woman — 15 Tips For Dressing Well in Your Thirties
It’s an internal shift that manifests externally. That’s not to say conform, lose your personality, sex appeal, or anything else you value. That shift is a beautiful evolution that is to be embraced — in dressing well as a woman in her thirties, too.
Now, with all of that said, here are some tips on how to be a chic and well-dressed woman in her thirties.
1. Ditch graphic tees
I’m not saying you have to throw out your entire Hot Topic shirt collection. But maybe you can reserve them for… the back of your closet, or maybe for dusting. Being a well-dressed 30 something-year-old woman requires that you ditch the graphic tees and ditch anything else that turns your body into a walking advertising billboard.
As opposed to opting for cotton tees, mature style requires you to invest in some elegant blouses instead.
2. Upgrade your tank tops
While you’re ditching those graphic t-shirts, toss your cotton tanks and spaghetti strap tops too (yea, the Hollister ones you’ve been wearing since high school). Replace them with high-quality silk or satin alternatives. You can wear them under your jackets or as a sexy separate for night-outs.
3. Upgrade your shoe game
As a mature woman exploring how to dress in your 30s, your shoe game must change too (or at least it should). The crocs, the dirty sneakers, the rubber flip flops… yea, burn them.
A pair of comfortable and classy flats are an absolute necessity for a classic woman’s wardrobe. Soft ballet flats are okay, but a study, well-structured pair of flats with a tiny heel, instantly elevate any casual look. If comfort is a priority, a great pair of Chelsea boots can be casual, they can be chic, and they pair well with near any outfit.
4. Draw a line between your going-out heels and your work heels
Double duty heels? We think not. Your going-out heels should be a wildly different breed than the ones you wear for work.
Professional heels are best kept between kitten level and 4 inches (idc what anyone says, kitten heels are the best). You want to look strictly business at work, and not like your strutting down a catwalk. Break out your skyscraper stilettos for nights out.
5. Swap low-rise (skinny jeans too) for high-waisted jeans
While low-rise jeans can make you look shorter and wider, high-rise jeans are just everything, aren’t they? High-rise jeans look so sophisticated for women in their thirties. Additionally, high-rise jeans are also more flattering for every body type.
If you like to wear low-rise jeans, make sure that they are slim fit. Otherwise, it will be difficult for women in their thirties to pull off the look without looking dumpy or frumpy. Additionally, skinny jeans are just cheugy.
6. Own more slacks than jeans
While we love a great pair of jeans, for women in their thirties, slacks are just grown up and sexy. These semi-formal trouser options can be paired with everything.
Dress a pair of slacks down with a simple white cotton tee, or dress a pair of slacks up with a beautiful blouse and a well-structured blazer. With a solid collection of well-fitting slacks, you’ll be ready to go for any situation.
7. Embrace white slacks or jeans
Not only should you embrace slacks, don’t underestimate a pair of slacks or jeans in white. In the summer, white pants make you look super crisp, fresh, and put together. In the winter, a pair of white jeans can look very elegant and sophisticated.
8. Invest in the best outerwear
In your teen years, you can get away with frumpy hoodies and sweatshirts. Past that, you can do better boo. It’s totally worth it to splurge on some high-quality outerwear—be it a blazer, trench coat, or winter coat.
Whilst dressing in your thirties as a woman, you should be able to pass off your outerwear to the coat check at a nice restaurant without being embarrassed. Additionally, an elegant coat is a simple way to look oh-so classy.
9. Ditch the fake jewelry
If those cubic zirconia studs you bought yourself when you were 15 are still leaving a green ring around your ear, then it’s time to retire them.
Get rid of that fake jewelry you’ve been getting away with and only splurge on some real gems finally in your thirties. If it’s not quite in the budget… well, that’s what men are for darling (I’m just saying).
10. Invest in high-quality underwear
One of the best investments you can make as a grown woman in her 30s is your underwear — and investment is worth every penny. Whether that means getting a few new pairs of silk panties or investing in some great fitting bras, it’s definitely time to think about where your money is going!
Additionally, for the ladies in the back, panty lines are NOT OK people (I also rant on this in my guide on how to look polished)! And contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to go commando or wear underwear with an elastic band up your butt all day to avoid this faux pas. Shapewear is one great option for eliminating visible panty lines and also will snatch everything into place so your clothes look even better on you.
11. Splurge on your handbag in your thirties
That free shopping tote you snagged from Victoria’s Secret can’t be your catch-all bag anymore, even for running your errands. If the shoes make the man, the handbag makes the woman.
Consider shelling out some serious cash for a chic designer bag, like Prada or CÉLINE. It’s an investment that will serve you for years to come. If you a designer handbag ain’t on the budget either, here’s a list of some pretty chic designer bag dupes.
12. Keep your sneakers at the gym
Okay, they don’t physically have to be at the gym all the time. But understand that the only time running shoes are appropriate is while you’re running friend. They are not appropriate for any other activity, including wearing them to work.
Your sneakers will age faster if worn regularly too so that’s why it is best to keep them at the gym.
13. Say goodbye to bodycon
Bodycon dresses, bodycon skirts — just say no! And I don’t care how amazing your body is, let’s just leave those for the younger gals.
Replace the tight-hugging clubwear with a few chic, elegant, yet still form-flattering alternatives. Cocktail dresses are ideal for almost every formal or semi-formal occasion: weddings, work holiday parties, the office, even jury duty. They can be super sexy without being super skin-tight.
14. Get your clothes tailored
Clothing that doesn’t fit well is the antithesis of how to dress in your 30s as a woman. It makes you look frumpy and generally sloppy. As a sophisticated woman, every item of clothing that goes into your wardrobe should fit you well.
Keep in mind that even if an article does not fit well when bought off a rack, it can still be tailored for perfection! Simply bringing any ill-fitting dress, pants, or jacket to a tailor can instantly increase the item’s stylish level. Getting your clothing tailored is an easy way to refine your style and look like a million bucks.
15. Invest in quality workout outfits
Sure, it can be tempting to stock up on leggings at Forever 21 for $10 each or go crazy shopping on websites like SHEIN or websites like Hello Molly. But the truth is these fast fashion websites rarely offer high-quality items that will stand the test of time in your grown woman wardrobe — workout clothes don’t get a pass.
Wearing workout outfits you’re proud to be in is actually proven to help get you going to the gym more often. Additionally, a part of dressing well in your thirties as a woman is always putting your best foot forward — no matter what the occasion.
Bonus Tip: Wear what the hell you want!
This last tip for dressing well in your thirties might as well blow all of the aforementioned tips out of the water. I say if you’re fortunate enough to be in your thirties, what a blessing. While we live in a society where we’re expected to conform to certain norms (especially with how we dress) (especially as women), I believe it’s equally important to blaze your own trail in this one life.
With that said, wear what the hell you want friend!
Personally, I’ve suffered from many insecurities in my teen years and in my twenties. Although I of course still have certain insecurities, I’m also much more confident in this season of my life. And so with that said, while I want to look “polished and put together”, when I feel like it… I’ll wear what the hell I want — thank you very much! Not that you need my permission, but I encourage you to do the same too.
Takeaway on Dressing in Your Thirties As A Woman
Ladies, dressing well is important in your thirties. By dressing your best, you are communicating to the world who you are (and also indicating how to treat you). And so the next time you’re in the market for a new outfit, stop and consider what your wardrobe could say about who you are. Does it represent how you want to be seen?
Discovering how to dress in your 30s as a woman or “age-appropriate” doesn’t have to be constrictive. And I hope that these tips will help guide you in finding clothing that best suits your body type, lifestyle, and unique personality.
If any of these tips resonated with you be sure to check out my very well-reviewed course on Skillshare — The Capsule Wardrobe Formula: Elegant Personal Style for the Well Dressed Woman.
Until next time bombshell, stay fabulous! Xo