As kids, we had very few responsibilities on our day-to-day. We were responsible for breathing, eating the food that people around us had made available to us, and doing our best to communicate our needs and desires through words, sounds, or body gestures. We spent most of our time playing games, discovering things, and learning new words. Then we went to sleep to wake up the next morning and do it all over again.

Adult fashion is understanding that clothes serve a purpose and can communicate who we are and what we want to do. Image Courtesy of Pond 5.

Years passed. We grew up, and the list of responsibilities got larger. There is a balance on the credit card, food to be made or purchased, plants to be watered, and decisions to be made. Most of our time goes into working, forgetting to feed ourselves, discovering new expenses or things we need to purchase in the near future, and going to sleep to do it all over again.

The person that we were when we were kids is not the adult that we are now. A series of decisions, life-changing moments, memorable experiences, and pivotal relationships have made us who we are today. We are now an adult who makes their own decisions and focuses on designing their life rather than reacting to it.

The transition from being a kid to becoming an adult involves a variety of factors. Our body grows, our tone of voice changes, as well as our way of thinking and the overall aspects of our daily routine. However, there is an aspect of growing up that we often overlook or disregard, but it’s very important as young folks prepare to start college, enter the workforce, or begin to develop more meaningful relationships on a professional and personal level. Today, we will talk about growing up with adult clothes and the do’s and don’ts in this meaningful transition of clothes to start a new chapter in your life.

When do we become adults?

Adult fashion communicates to the world we are no longer kids. Image Courtesy of Getty Images

In most states of the US, kids become adults legally when they turn 18. But the transition does not happen over the night of our 18th Birthday eve. Some people take a little longer to figure out their career path, leave home, and make life decisions. Others had figured out their path since high school and are just eagerly waiting to be legally able to sign a lease and begin working.

This is an adult world, its problems are up to you! Creator Fred Rentschler, 1938. Image Courtesy of LOC.

An adult, according to Merriam-Webster, is someone who is fully developed and mature. In Political Fashion, we think of adults as any person, regardless of their age and education, who is ready to take responsibility for their decisions, accomplishments, and mistakes. So, if you identify as someone ready to take these steps, knowing that there will be ups and downs, wins and losses, errors, and accomplishments, let’s explore the do’s and don’ts when dressing up as an adult.

Do be neat

Heinz released a collection of ketchup stained second-hand clothing. The collection was not successful. Image Courtesy of Food and Wine. 

When we were kids, it was socially acceptable to play in the mud, scream and run under the summer sky, and come back home sweaty, with a shirt full of stains and shoes that saw the sunrise being white, turned into the darkest shade of brown.

As an adult, the rules have changed. A stain on a white shirt at work or even in college can totally change the perception that other people have of you. Think about how often you’ve seen a President with a stain on their shirt, only when something significant and unplanned had happened! The attention to detail you put in yourself when you get dressed is very important. So, if you have a hard time wearing white, avoid it at all costs. If you want to make a good impression with your classmates or coworkers, stay away from the tomato sauce or the red wine that can cause a visual catastrophe. No one is exempt from this kind of accident, but we can help ourselves by avoiding potential threats.

Dressing like an adult means accepting that no one is carrying a bag with extra clothes for you in case you need to change them. As an adult, you have the autonomy, privilege, and power to make decisions on your behalf and take good care of yourself. Treat your neat clothes with the same care that a mother has for her kids’ clothing.Don’t rely on graphic t-shirts

Hollister Back to School campaign 2011. Image Courtesy of Hollister. 

Every generation has had some sort of graphic fashion trend during their teen years. For some of us, it was the Abercrombie & Hollister logo mania. People wore these long brand names across their chests as if it were a school uniform. For those into gaming, the Hot Topic t-shirts were a staple in their closet. Call of Duty, Nintendo characters, and references to pop culture printed on a black t-shirt were the coolest ever.

But as with all great things, these graphic trends must be followed by an end period, or be reduced to casual settings at the very least.

It can be challenging to argue that we are an adult if we wear the same kind of clothes we wore when we were in high school.
It can be challenging for people to see we are not the same person we were ten years ago when our clothes say the opposite.

Our beloved graphic t-shirts can stay in a drawer for those times we are alone or with very intimate people in our lives. It’s not that we should be scared of being judged. It’s that we should focus on sending an assertive message with the clothes we are wearing.

Don’t rely on others for your fashion

Adult fashion is acknowledge your uniqueness when you choose your clothes. Image Courtesy of Phil Oh. 

It’s one thing to ask for advice or guidance when you are looking for your clothes. But it’s completely different to straight up ask others to buy you clothes because you don’t want to go to the store or because you believe clothes don’t matter and everything looks good on you.

There are so many thoughts and emotions that go through our brains when we are trying new clothes. The fit, the daydream of us walking out in those clothes, the hesitation of whether or not we would be using that piece of clothing in the long term. All these thoughts and emotions are valid, and they belong to you. So you are the only person who will be able to make this personal and profound connection with your clothes. Your parents, best friends, or stylist can give you a little push on what looks best or what aligns more with your style. But in the end, only two parties are involved in this relationship, and there is no room for more. It’s you, and it’s your clothes.

Don’t hide yourself behind the trends

Not all fashion trends represent everyone's personality. This is part of our uniqueness as humans. Image Courtesy of Glee.

There’s a common discrepancy between how we want fashion trends to look in us and how they actually look when we have them on.

In Political Fashion, we analyze upcoming trends and garments that can be particularly popular during a time in the year, knowing that there is no one size fits all and that each of these trends is subject to reinterpretation to whatever makes the most sense to the wearer.

Don’t let your inner child pick your clothes.

Our inner child often wants everything in all colors right now. Let your adult self pick the clothes you need. Image Courtesy of Maisonette. 

Think about spoiled kids walking into Target with their spoiling parents. All the kid needs to do is stretch their hand a little and make some noise, so the parents can grab whatever the kid wants and put it in the red shopping cart. Suddenly, the shopping cart is full of commercial crap that the kid will barely use. It was a waste of money. It was an irresponsible purchase caused by an irrational whim.

Adults buy their clothes knowing that it is fun and exciting to purchase new items. But there is also an element of rationality. The questions “where would I wear this? “Do I need it? “Can I afford it?” are some ways in which mature fashion shopping looks like. 

Do it for you!

Kevin Aviance uses fashion as a communication tool. Image Courtesy of the New York Times. 

The most important relationship you’ll have in your life is the one you have with yourself.

When we are dressing up, we are getting ready to interact with a bunch of people. We like some of them. Some others are just fine.

But let’s remember that we are not dressing up FOR them. We are dressing ourselves to communicate assertive messages TO them. We want to build those meaningful connections. We want to be seen and understood as an adult. We want to be validated for who we are and what we want to accomplish at work, at school, or in our community.

As kids, we were able to get what we wanted many times simply by asking for it, or if needed; we cried a little to push persuasion one step further. As adults, it will be harder to use the same strategy to get what we want. If we want people to take us seriously as new professionals entering the workforce, we have to work hard to get the preparation and skills needed, but we also have to dress up to be that person we want others to see in us.

Do press your clothes

Wrinkled clothes can make you be perceived as unprofessional or unqualified. Image Courtesy of Reader’s Digest. 

In most clothing stores, visual merchandisers will steam the clothes they put on the dress forms overnight so that everything looks visually attractive in the morning when the store opens its doors and people walk by the window displays. It only takes a few seconds to generate a first impression, and it’s 70% unlikely you will be able to change it after the impression has been made.

Pressing our clothes as adults is imperative regardless of the occasion we are using the clothes for. Maybe we are going to a wedding; maybe we’ll see a football game with friends; maybe we are seeing our significant other in a very casual setting. Shirts, tuxedos, dresses, t-shirts, jeans, sweatpants, and everything that goes around our body that can be pressed or steamed must be pressed or steamed. Pressed clothes make a big difference in the overall result.

Do be autonomous

As Barbie, who has her own house, clothes and sets boundaries, be autonomous. Image Courtesy of Barbie. 

As kids, it was very easy to blame the people around us for what we were feeling or living. Siblings taking our toys, teachers assigning us incomprehensible Math homework, and family reunions that took way more time than what we’d like them to. 

As an adult, we are responsible for the decisions we make, the money we spend, and the clothes we wear. Part of being an adult is knowing that there are people around us who will be able to support us, but still, we are the ones in charge of leading the way in life.

Adults wear their clothes, acknowledging what fashion entails. It’s the value of the first impression; it’s the respect we must have for dress codes and etiquette in social events and workplaces. It’s the celebration of our body and ourselves for being free people who have made the conscious decision to put together this specific combination of clothes. 

In Gossip Girl, we saw how each of the characters adapted the fashion trends of the time to their own styles. Image Courtesy of Max.