It often occurs in a single moment - that somewhat grim realisation that our youth has been taken away from us. A little nip, as if to remind us that things aren't quite the way that they used to be - or look. As time moves on and decades come and go, we're meant to bask in the comfort of our own skin, know our sense of style, and sit comfortably there.
Our teens, those freewheeling years that seem to steamroller rather effortlessly into our 20s, were the time for experimentation. We bleached out hair, chopped it off, wore skinny jeans and bought bucketloads of cheap jewellery. We felt cool in band T-shirts, "alternative" glasses and too much eyeliner - for none of it mattered, nothing was meant to be serious then.
Purchases were unbridled - rationale, reasoning and the old "cost-per-wear" nugget didn't come into the equation. And things were a lot simpler, in a way. Clothes were designed to be fun, a means of expression, a last-ditch offering of a carefree world, before we entered the somewhat murky pool of adulthood.
And then comes that nasty little nip. That niggling sense that it's time for an adult wardrobe. Somehow, overnight, the leather handbag that isn't quite real comes into question. Shoes that are too high suddenly appear silly. Short shorts, that hang precariously where they always have, abruptly beg for a second look. "Go on, I dare you," they heckle.
It's a difficult realisation, and one that seems to swoop in when we aren't looking. It doesn't apologise for it of course, and nor should you. Tough as it sounds, by our mid-to-late-30s, fashion seems to get a lot less interested in us. Or, to flip the coin, perhaps we get a lot less interested in it. Regardless, ideals change, and with it so do our wardrobe choices.
This is the perfect time to bid a final farewell to the person that we always wanted to be - the perfect you, the slim, toned version, the one that does yoga every day before training for that half-marathon. The one that floats about life in a sensible, ordered and creative manner, and gives themselves a smug little pat on the back, before slipping into (scented) Egyptian cotton sheets.
So things didn't quite work out that way. Funny that. Disappointingly, our radar often still bleeps with unease. There are, however, plusses to every minus. For the first time, we have a little more money to spend on ourselves - enabling us to enjoy investment purchases. There are a few key, quality pieces that we should have started collecting by now and continue to add to through life.
Let's start with basic materials. At a time when they are considered a wiser investment choice than others, more traditional assets win. Leather, gold, silver, cashmere, silk - all materials with inherent value. My advice: invest in a good bag, a few key pairs of shoes and, maybe surprisingly to some, underwear (often forgotten in the chain, which is a shame, as the right underwear can transform your entire shape).
Jewellery should be whittled down to a few key pieces - a good watch should last you a lifetime, so buy something worth keeping. You see, it's up to us to change the things that we can. What we really have to look at is size, cut, and (that old term again) cost-per-wear - not age. Sit comfortably with your lot, and start to enjoy your sense of style, instead of fighting for something that isn't. For the next decade will swoop in all too quickly, and you'll only wish that you had.
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