There’s this antiquated notion that once you turn 30, you have to toss out all your fun, trendy pieces and replace them with neutral color palettes, longer hems, and higher necklines. As you may have guessed, we’re here to call bullshit—and we’re not alone on this.
“As I have entered my thirties, I have become more in tune with who I am as a woman and how I like to dress. I’ve stopped dressing for other people or their approval,” says NYC-based fashion stylist and content creator Audree Kate López. “My goal is to wear outfits that make me feel confident, powerful, comfortable, and [true to] myself.” Sharing that sentiment, author, fashion editor, and stylist Caroline Vazzana says that “life is too short not to wear the fun, colorful pieces. And at the end of the day, no one is really judging you.”
With those two tidbits in mind, we’re here to walk you through how to dress in your 30s. While you admittedly may feel more inclined to embrace comfort and practicality in your wardrobe, Dailylook director of styling, Vivian Lee, emphasizes you don’t have to sacrifice style in the process. “There are plenty of stylish options that are also comfortable, like a pair of tailored trousers or a silk blouse,” she says.
Keep reading for 10 tips for dressing in your 30s—plus, stylish picks to try ASAP.
Create a Capsule Wardrobe—Then Build on It
Just because you’ve exited your 20s doesn’t mean you need to get rid of all your fun garments and accessories (or never buy new ones) in favor of a basic capsule wardrobe. That said, there are a handful of items that López says every wardrobe should have—30-something or not.
A great pair of jeans: “Preferably without distress or holes so you can dress them up,” she says.
A black blazer: “It can be worn professionally or as a layering piece day-to-day,” she explains, noting to opt for a boyfriend/slightly oversized fit so it feels less corporate and more posh.
A pair of white sneakers: “They go with everything in your closet and are effortless and comfortable,” she says.
Go-to black or white basic tees and tanks: “These will be great base layers for your wardrobe and will match almost any outfit,” she says.
Lightweight, versatile outerwear: Look for styles that you could easily pair with the majority of the items in your closet. “My suggestions are a leather jacket, denim jacket, and a trench coat,” López says. “They can be dressed up or down.”
A pair of trousers: Trousers are no longer just an office staple. “They can be styled for a night out and feel more put together than leggings on those ‘don’t want to get dressed’ days,” she says.
A little black dress: “Black is timeless—it can be worn year after year and never goes out of style,” López says. When looking for your perfect LBD, she says to pick a versatile style that can be worn on its own or layered. That way you can wear it to cocktail events, styled under a blazer for work functions, or dressed up for date night.
Neutral small crossbody bag: According to Lopez, no wardrobe is complete without a brown, black, or tan crossbody bag. “I wear mine multiple times per week—it’s my go-to bag that I can fit everything I need [for] a day. It’s small enough for a night out, and perfect for traveling."
Understand the Power of Accessories and Layering
You don’t have to go out and buy an entirely new wardrobe when you turn 30. Sometimes it’s as simple as incorporating a few new accessories and pieces of outerwear into your rotation.
“Accessories and an outerwear layer can completely transform the simplest outfits, like a T-shirt and jeans,” López says. “Current accessories and outerwear items that are trending this season include statement earrings, belts, trench coats, blazers, denim jackets, puffer vests, and leather jackets.”
Have a Couple Fool-Proof Outfits for Any Occasion
Sometimes dates or events pop up at the last minute. If you’re busy, the last thing you’ll want to do is waste time wondering what to wear. By having a few fool-proof outfits ready to go for any occasion, you won’t have to. “It will save time when you’re rushed out the door, take the stress out of the ‘I have nothing to wear’ saga, and save you from trying on 20 outfits before going back to option one,” López says. “In my roster, I have the following combinations: Work outfit, first date outfit, PMS/lazy work outfit, going-out outfit, and travel outfit.”
Fill Your Closet With Versatile Items
Just like having a capsule wardrobe of basics, stocking your closet with versatile items is key in your 30s—or any time you want to streamline the process of getting dressed. “You're likely busy with work, family, and other commitments, so having a wardrobe that can easily transition from day to night or from casual to formal is essential,” Lee says.
Pick and Choose Which Trends to Embrace
Let’s be honest: Not every trend is a winner, so don’t feel like you have to try it just for fashion’s sake. “If you love a trend, try it; if you don’t love it, ditch it; and if you think you’re too old for it (you’re wrong), adjust the trend to work for your body, personal style, and what you already have in your wardrobe,” López says. “For example, if you’re hesitant to try a baggy jean (the current Gen Z favorite), opt for a high-waisted version of a tailored wide-leg or straight-leg jean. You'll still dip your toe into the trend but have the comfort of the beloved millennial high waist.”
Another example? The return of the going-out top. “If you want something sexy for going out or date night, your options are not only crop tops or cut-outs. Try a sheer top with a lace bra, or a corset with a blazer,” López suggests. “It’s the perfect mix of sexy, covered, and comfortable.” (Of course, if you prefer to show a bit more skin, that’s totally cool, too.)
Stop Fixating on the Tag—Size up and Buy What Fits You
One of the best parts about getting older is that, generally, we start to feel more comfortable in our own skin. As such, López and Lee both urge all of us thirty-somethings to let go of the number (or letters) on the tag and buy what fits.
“Cut out the tags, forget the sizes, and buy the items that fit you and that make you feel your best,” López says. “Remember, clothing is made to fit our bodies, not the other way around.”
While on the topic of size, do yourself a favor and ditch the formerly-fitting clothes you’ve been holding onto for over a decade, ‘just in case.’ “If you have a closet full of clothing that fits you, it will make getting dressed more fun, less stressful, and [it will] look better on your body,” she explains.
Invest in Your Wardrobe
New fashion trends pop up on a near-daily basis, so adding them all to your closet can quickly make you go over budget. What’s more, trend-forward clothing falls under the umbrella of fast fashion, which means it typically isn’t the highest quality and likely won’t last for years to come.
“Fashion trends have such short life cycles now, so I always suggest investing in whatever your wardrobe staple is,” López says on the topic. “Is there an item that you wear pretty much every single day, week, or month after month? Maybe it’s a pair of jeans, a handbag, jewelry, a blazer, or jacket.” Whatever it is, López says to invest in the pieces that you’ll use the most.
When investing in your wardrobe, Lee says to keep fabrics in mind. “[In your 30s,] you’ll start to realize the importance of investing in high-quality pieces that will last for years,” she says. “That doesn't always mean breaking the bank. You can find great options at different price points, but the key is to pay attention to the fabric content and care instructions on clothing tags. This will help you pick out clothes that will last and stay looking good, wash after wash.”
Another tip López recommends when investing in your wardrobe? Think about the cost per wear. Say a trendy new puffer vest costs $200 or more. While that may feel steep, if you plan to wear it every day of the week while out and about on your hot girl walk, the price will quickly be justified.
Don’t Be Afraid to Play With Color
Yes, a 30-something wardrobe should be stocked with staples that can be paired with many different items, but it’s also important to have statement garments in there, too. “While timeless pieces are essential, don't be afraid to experiment with color,” Lee says. “Bold colors and prints can add personality to your outfits and help you stand out.”
Not ready to rock the year’s hottest colors like viva magenta? Wiggle them into your wardrobe with accessories, like shoes and bags.
...Or to Mix Prints
Once upon a time, you may have been told that one print is plenty. Nonsense! “I love mixing bold floral patterns or cool textures like sequins and feathers. If anything, turning 30 has just made me more confident in who I am and my style,” Vazzana says. “If you're trying to experiment or have fun with your style more, I'd suggest fun accessories like a bold shoe or bag.”
Create a Mood Board to Get Out of a Fashion Rut
If you’re not sure where to start, López suggests creating a moodboard to set the tone of your 30-something wardrobe. Think about the words, colors, and clothing categories that you gravitate most toward. Then, start creating.
While snipping images out of magazines to create a beautiful vision board is a nostalgic practice for so many, López says not to pigeonhole yourself to glossies when dreaming up your 30-something wardrobe. “Pull inspiration from influencers, celebrities, and the social media accounts of women who either look like you, have your body type, or embody your aspirational personal style,” she says. “This will help you see how the styles would fit your body type, how the colors would look on your skin tone, and inspire you to try things that you might not think would ‘work’ for you.”
The most important thing to remember when learning how to dress in your 30s is that it’s about you—not what’s trending or what other people think. “Wear what makes you feel confident and happy,” López says. “Listen to yourself about what makes you feel good.”