Serious question: When do we have to start dressing like a grown-up?

But I don’t wannnnnnaaaa.

When I think about it, I guess I’ve always looked slightly younger than my age.

When I was 24, people thought I was 22. When I was 26, people thought I was 22. Now, as I speed toward my 30th birthday, people think I’m…….. yep, 22. 

Let me get one thing straight, though. This is not an article about how lucky I am that I look younger than my age. Nor am I looking to tell you all the benefits of a new face cream I’m promoting. This is a cry for help. I’m Taylor Swift. I’m feelin’ 22, and I’m trapped here.

Lately, my ID is being checked as much as it was when it was actually fake. When I’m with my fiancé (who is a year younger than me, FYI), the nice scary bouncer will stop me and not him. He has a beard, whatever.

People look at me a bit weird when I tell them I’m getting married this year, as if I’m far too young and throwing my life away. Occasionally, when I’ve had an intern, I can feel them doing the maths, trying to figure out how I can have an intern already. And just last week, the girl who works at the bottle shop near my house got really embarrassed when she asked for my ID and realised I was born in 1987 AD, not 2001. 

(Side note: she probably should’ve known I was of legal age because the wine I was buying was a grown-up $24.99) 

If I’m honest, I thought it was my new skincare regime. That was, until I was recently turned away from a bar at a BOWLING ALLEY because I forgot my ID. I had one of those a-ha! moments Oprah talks about. I looked down at my purple Cons and denim overalls, touched my topknot, and it hit me. 

I dress like a teenager. 

It got me thinking: at what point do we need to dress our age? When should our outfit match the fanciness of the wine we’re buying?

I’d kind of thought about this when I was younger, too. I would look at my mum, and her friends, and wonder how they dressed when they were young and when they decided it was time to cut their hair into short mum styles. 

They say 27 is the universal age when your style finally transforms. You’ll notice this creeping up on you because you’ll start despising everything you own, and wondering what drugs you were on when you bought that heinous skirt. You’ll throw out most of your wardrobe, and start filling the gaps with expensive ‘investment items’ that you treat yourself to five times a year. 

I definitely experienced this changeover, to some extent. I can confirm I did start hating everything in my wardrobe. Knock-off designer products instantly repulsed me. I bought a real-life designer handbag. And in what felt like it was overnight, I got 50% more boring in the way I dress. In other words, I just couldn’t pull off a turban anymore. 

Alas, I’m still waiting for that day when I transform completely. That day when I wouldn’t be caught dead in anything but my Acne Studios leather jacket and Gucci loafers.

These days, most of my same-age counterparts all seem to dress… shall we say… age-appropriate. They’re wearing sharp black blazers over black wide-leg pants and mules that cost more than my monthly rent. They don’t wear Topshop sneakers with stars all over them and they don’t carry a phone case covered in unicorns. They’re bonafide grown-ups, and I imagine their monochrome wardrobe to be super neat and filled with matching wooden hangers.

Maybe it’s my new, 30-year-old wisdom, or maybe there is a meltdown bubbling just under the surface, but I’ve since realised it all doesn’t really matter. Like, who cares? What’s important, is that you give zero f*cks. Dress how you like, for as long as you like, until you don’t want to anymore. Then wear something different.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to wear my baby pink skinny jeans and T-shirt with a pizza slice on it, knowing that somewhere, sometime, there will be an Acne Studios leather jacket in my future. 

Illustration by Twylamae who makes very age-appropriate tees for people who dress 22-year-olds.

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