If your teens are all about rebellion and your 20s are for “finding yourself,” there’s an assured confidence that comes with dressing in your 30s. Something almost imperceptible happens at the stroke of midnight on your 30th birthday: whether you want to or not (and whether you’re even aware of it or not), you grow up, and your style evolves along with it. While much of this evolution happens very naturally, that isn’t always the case with our wardrobes. No longer solely a means of self-expression, our clothes take on new meaning as we get older. We tend to give more thought to where they come from and aim to make sounder long-term investments.
If that sounds like your life right now, then luckily, we’re here to help. When it comes to clothes, everyone can use a nudge towards adulthood from time to time. And trust us when we say that “mature” isn’t shorthand for “boring.” For this reason, we’ve come up with 20 pieces you should own by the time you’re 30 that will make getting dressed easier and leave you more time to do, well, grown-up things (and look incredibly chic in the process).
Style Notes: There are few pieces in a wardrobe that work as hard as jeans do. A great pair of well-fitting jeans can take you from day to night, from work to drinks and everywhere in between. The current jean du jour? The straight-leg. No matter which denim trends come and go, high-waisted, straight-fit jeans will always be in style.
We all remember the days of Britney Spears–inspired ultra-low-rise jeans. They had their moment in the sun, but for a longer-lasting option, reach for a pair of classic straight-leg jeans in a suitable mid-blue wash.
Oh, you didn’t already know? Marks and Spencer is a Who What Wear go-to for just about everything from boots to denim.
Style Notes: A dress that can go from day to night is a worthwhile investment. Whether you’re pairing it with trainers or elevating it with heels, a great midi dress is a true staple that will stand the test of time.
The perfect companion for trainers, boots or sandals, depending on the day ahead.
A knit midi is one of the most versatile items you can own.
Style Notes: We love you, knee-high boots, but the easiest way to elevate jeans or a dress to evening status is with a trusty pair of ankle boots. A good pair of black leather ankle boots is a forever piece, and if you’re looking for a contemporary spin, try a square toe over an almond toe.
Yes, there are thigh-highs, knee-highs and everything in between, but trusty ankle boots will be the most loyal. Get a great pair, and you’ll wear them many times. You’ll make endless trips to the cobbler’s because that’s what people in their 30s do.
White boots can lift an outfit and are even Sienna Miller approved. Plus, this style works especially well for those who are averse to high heels.
Style Notes: Jewellery instantly adds polish to any look. Take, for example, a simple white shirt and jeans: With gold accents, the outfit can be transformed into a considered look with a carefully curated feel.
An updated twist on a classic elevated in recycled gold and silver.
A piece of jewellery can be classic but on-trend. Look to brands like Missoma that create fashionable but timeless pieces you’ll wear forever.
Style Notes: To help limit fast-fashion consumption, invest in pieces that will last for years to come. Case in point: the black blazer. We wear them throughout autumn and winter with blue jeans and white tees, and we choose between daytime loafers and evening sandals depending on the dress code.
Here’s another Who What Wear favourite that can be worn in 100 different ways, making it a wise investment.
We all know The Frankie Shop blazers are elite in the fashion world, and you can never fail with black.
Style Notes: A classic beige trench coat is one piece that you’ll consistently wear all year round. In spring, it’s the perfect light layer for every day; on summer evenings, it’s ideal to wear over your shoulders; and in autumn, it looks particularly good with a chunky turtleneck. Just think of the cost per wear.
Trust us when we say that you’ll have zero regrets once you have one of these in your outerwear collection.
A trench is one of those pieces that looks effortlessly chic. If you invest in a good one, you’ll bring it out for years to come.
Style Notes: We don’t know anyone who has ever regretted buying a pair of these. Not only do they work for the office, but with trainers and a white T-shirt, they’re great for weekends. Honestly, tailored trousers with a flattering silhouette are the holy grail and might just replace your everyday jeans.
COS is a great place to start for slick tailoring at high-street prices.
The waistband on these trousers will adjust to your contours for a perfect fit.
Style Notes: It goes without saying that every wardrobe needs a pair of flat shoes for everyday wear. Choosing the right pair simply comes down to personal style, but we find that ballet flats, mules and chunky loafers add the most modern and elevated feel no matter what they’re styled with.
If ever there was an award for the trendsetting shoe to amass the biggest cult following, it would go to these.
Minimalist, chic and timeless, ballet flats always bring elegant energy no matter your age.
Style Notes: Instead of buying everything simply because it’s on-trend (ahem, minidresses), opt for pieces that flatter your figure and are a comfortable wear. Enter: the maxi dress. There isn’t a person who this simple yet dramatic style won’t suit. It’s the easiest way to turn up the drama for special occasions and evening events.
Style for warmer evenings with your favourite sandals, or wear with a blazer on cooler days.
And just like that, we’re convinced a red dress is the best item to buy right now.
Style Notes: For days when you rely on the “jeans-and-a-nice-top” combo, this is almost certainly the nice top in question. The silky finish will elevate jeans, trousers or skirts for all occasions.
Wear under blazers and dresses, over T-shirts or by itself with a pair of jeans.
This slinky camisole is the perfect goes-with-everything top.
Style Notes: You might not wear a statement piece every day, but in times when you just don’t know what to wear, introduce a printed skirt. Paired with a simple knit or oversized shirt, it will help solve sartorial dilemmas with minimal effort and does all the talking for you.
The midi length skirt will always be chic, try it out with knee-high boots.
A statement skirt doesn’t have to cost the earth. This animal print is a timeless pattern that can be worn with a white tee and trainers or a black satin top and heels.
Style Notes: Yes, you read that correctly. The luxe jogger has become ubiquitous amongst the fashion set and those of us who still predominantly work from home. If you style them in the right way—with a white shirt or blazer, for example—they can look less teenager and more grown-up. But if you want a nod to your ’90s youth, the cargo is having a moment, too.
Comfortable and chic.
Luxe loungewear? It has to be Commando. For ultimate cosy comfort, style this faux leather pair with a fluffy sweatshirt.
Style Notes: If summer taught us anything, it’s that short skirts aren’t off limits, but a good pencil skirt will work for many more occasions. It looks best with a sleek shirt tucked in as part of your workwear uniform, but you can also keep it casual with a tee and knee-high boots.
This is sculpted to fit you in all the right places.
For an out-of-office outfit, style it with your favourite jumper and trainers for a polished yet laid-back look.
Style Notes: If anything is guaranteed, it’s that when you hit your 30s, you will be invited to an abundance of engagement parties and, of course, weddings. Make sure you’re prepared for any soiree that shows up in your calendar by having that one “wow” dress you can bring out again and again.
A dress guaranteed to make an entrance every time. Just don’t upstage the bride.
This cobalt blue will suit every skin tone.
Style Notes: Okay, they might not be the sexiest thing on the list, but they are a wardrobe essential. While we’re in the colder months (or simply preparing for sudden downpours), a great pair of tights can make your spring and summer outfits feel autumn and winter appropriate.
We can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to throw a pair of tights into the bin due to too many holes. To save your wallet, invest in M&S, which have some of the best tights our editors have worn.
Calzedonia’s range of colours, patterns and deniers is unmatched, but we always keep a pair of skin-coloured tights in our wardrobes to avoid a bare-leg moment on cooler days.
Style Notes: A leather skirt will be your go-to when you have nothing to wear. Mini, maxi or pencil, it’s the do-it-all, grown-up skirt that will make you look instantly chic without even trying.
A classic style that you’ll wear for years to come.
The A-line shape works so well with a more fitted knit and sleek knee-high boots.
Style Notes: Your younger self may have reached for a pair of six-inch open-toed, stacked stilettos, but the versatile black heel is here to save the day. These go with everything, will never date and will create a confident posture rather than a “wobbling on heels for the first time” look. They’re a no-brainer.
We love pointed-toe shoes with wide-leg, tailored trousers to channel Victoria Beckham’s sleek style (for a fraction of the price).
Buy now and wear all spring, summer, autumn evening and winter party season.
Style Notes: We’ll concede: The roll-neck is the most versatile piece of clothing (second only to the white shirt, of course). And that’s what we need in our lives now: easy-to-throw-on pieces that always look incredible and feel comfy.
You can’t beat a cashmere knit, and this bright red style will be your hero item this season.
This slouchy fit is a more modern take on a classic piece—with a fluffy finish to add texture.
Style Notes: It’s the one you’ve been waiting for and the ultimate wardrobe must-have in your 30s: the humble sports shoe. Trainers are a timeless staple that can be worn with everything from tailoring to floaty dresses to miniskirts to leather trousers. We don’t know where we’d be without the easiest shoe in our closets. They’re beloved by everyone at every age.
“Cool” trainers are quite up to personal choice. But our favourites right now have to be New Balance sneakers.
The Samba’s easy, clean lines make them constantly coveted, and since they hit the fashion scene again recently, they have been a sell-out success.
This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated.