When I was younger, I made weird faces all day long; at the barre in ballet, in family photos—sorry, Mom—and I even frowned aggressively in class tests. I liked that it made people laugh, but my teachers always warned me that I would develop wrinkles early and look like I was 60 when I was 20.
Although I’m happy to report that I look my age, I still hear those fears of aging all over the place. My friends are frantically trying new sunscreens, comparing products’ collagen levels instead of their costs, and the number of times I’ve heard of baby botox and small fillers is too many to count. I fully understand fear, and I believe it is valid, but it was – and still isn’t – my fear.
Instead, I’m afraid my closet is getting old.
I’m not talking about aging in the sense of clothing being worn beyond the point of repair or aging as in dressing ‘too old’ or ‘too young’ – the style is ageless and constantly progressive; frankly, it bothers me when people stop exploring because they feel too old for the clothes they’re attracted to. Instead, I’m talking about aging in the sense that my clothes no longer suit my future.
Since starting college, the focus on my career and its possibilities has only grown. So, in an effort to compete for internships and LinkedIn connections, the way I buy has changed. It was no longer “How do I style this?” and “Where would I wear that?” but rather “Can I wear this in an office?” and “Would I feel comfortable wearing it to a networking event?”
Ever since I was young, I knew I needed my career to be exciting. And even though my ambitions weren’t necessarily to be Hannah Montana anymore, I realized that an office job that looked too much like “The Office” would be a nightmare for me. So, I chose my majors and jobs accordingly; cybersecurity is a new challenge every day, public relations feels like a puzzle that I get to work and rework, and athletics is simply exciting, from meeting Olympians to working days.
But during a midnight TikTok scroll, I came across one of my favorite style gurus, Mira Al-Momani: influencer, stylist and founder of nimastore. I thought, “She’s so lucky to be able to dress like this because of her job.” I decided in that split second that because her work was creative and not corporate, it meant she could continue to express herself that way, but I knew immediately that my thinking was outdated.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m going to show up to my corporate internship in the Diesel belted miniskirt and a NoDress poodle top, but I shouldn’t have to give up total individual style as I’m headed in the direction of more (compared to Al-Momani’s industry) American companies. After all, weekends and nights still exist. Even then, the workplace changes. Especially after the pandemic, many offices still offer completely remote positions or have relaxed dress codes for more casual attire.
I think that instead of looking for a compromise, I have to look for a balance. I can have my cake and eat it too, especially if I spend four years making it. And, I can follow Al-Momani and continue to explore fashion in the professional chapter of my life because fashion is for the individual. My style is, and always will be, for me, self-centered and focused on my own creative expression. Yours should be too.
So yeah, get that pencil skirt or those pants, but don’t forget to grab a fun pair of shoes or a flirty dress once in a while. Our clothes will outlive us and, one day, tell our story – what do you want yours to say about you?
It’s up to you… and your basket.
Hadyn Phillips is a sophomore who writes about fashion in the 21st century, specifically highlighting new trends and popular controversy. Her column, “That’s Fashion, Sweetie,” airs every Thursday.