Buys That Really Matter: The R29 Rites Of Fashion

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This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

We’d like to define the stages of our own lives by emotional and situational landmarks rather than our age (you know, moving out of your parent’s home, finally feeling like you’ve got this, knowing that you’re the wisest person in the room), but we’re ultimately kind of beholden to the numbers game. To be fair, there is a big difference between you at 25 and you at 35 in terms of how you feel about yourself, how you feel about the world, and — since we are a fashion site — how you feel about your style. 

Because fashion is as much a part of your life as a first pet, a new lover, or a much-deserved promotion, we’d like to present a little sartorial-milestone guide of sorts. Consider this the three investments we suggest you should be making in each decade (up to your 70s — after that, ladies, we think you have the wherewithal to make those choices on your own!). Here are the R29 rites of fashion — where do you fall on the timeline?


20s: Your 20s are all about self-discovery and figuring out what exactly your deal is. Are you a free spirit or a hard ass? A party girl or a hermit? Do you want to go to an office that requires a suit or would you rather work all day in your pajamas? Settling into your life requires figuring out the fashion items that will never let you down (even if the other things in your life sometimes do). Quality jeans, your first statement bag, and a necklace you’ll wear every single day will be the building blocks of your wardrobe. 

A Statement Bag — No matter how much you spend on it, make sure it’s something that you can take on interviews and out on the weekends.
Reed Krakoff Leather Tote, $1,190, available at My Theresa. 

Everyday Jewelry — Whether it’s a simple chain or a ring you’ll never take off, invest in a piece of jewelry that won’t turn your skin green.
Jennifer Meyer Gold Stick Necklace, $500, available at Barneys. 

Designer Jeans — Figure out which brand fits your tush the best. Then, splurge. Trust us, it’s worth it.
Marni Mid-Rise Jeans, $340, available at Net-a-Porter.


30s: Your life is just starting to really come together and you’re becoming comfortable justbeing the person you are and embracing your idiosyncrasies and preferences (as well as what you can’t stand). Maybe your love life and real estate situation are a little slow to develop, but no matter — your wardrobe is well within your control. That’s why you have to train your eye on serious staples with a touch of flair that will stand the test of time — and go everywhere you do, which is definitely UP. For this decade, pick up a solid white T-shirt that flatters your best assets, a pair of heels you’ve finally learned how to take care of, and a wallet you feel confident you’ll never forget at the bar.

A Perfectly Fitting White Tee — By now, you know that a white tee isn’t a shlubby afterthought. It’s a sophisticated way to make any outfit a little more casual. This is the time to spend a little more cash on a shirt that fits your body perfectly.
James Perse Standard White Shirt, $106, available at My Theresa. 

A Proper Wallet — Gone are the days of leaving your wallet behind. Get a nice, luxe option that fits everything you need.
Comme des Garcons Wallet, $566, available at Bird. 

Grown Up Heels — You’re grown-up enough to show your heels some TLC, so get a precious pair that doesn’t skimp on quality or pizzaz.
Manolo Blahnik Pointed Pump, $865, available at Neiman Marcus.


40s: All those distracting insecurities you might have felt as a younger woman in her 20s and 30s have washed away. You no longer feel the pressure of having to pretend like you have an awesome life, because you do. You finally get it: You’re the total package and what all your mentors told you way back when is actually TRUE: You can do and be anything. So, it’s high time you make sure your closet possesses the same power. From a good gown to a timepiece that’ll last, it’s time to choose a handful of pieces that mirror the babe that you are. 

A Cashmere Sweater — Stop wearing those itchy acrylic sweaters — you deserve more. A well-fitting cashmere sweater is a must.
Isabel Marant Phil Sweater, $369, available at Matches. 

A Watch — It’s ti-iiime. Go for broke with a beautiful timepiece you can one day pass on to the next generation.
Piaget Altiplano Watch, $24,000, available at Piaget 

A Good Gown — Your prom dress may have been a little lackluster, but the dress you can wear (and can afford!) in your 40s should be nothing short of spectacular.
Lanvin Brocade Gown, $4,634, available at Browns.


50s: Finally, work isn’t everything! But thankfully, neither is anything else, and that’s the best part of growing older and growing up. Thankfully, 50 sure ain’t what it used to be, so ladies at the pinnacle of life, wear your wisdom and your mad style like you mean it. Eclectic accessories and practical pieces with flair are your bread and butter. 

Costume Jewelry — Deck yourself in glittering, over-the-top jewels that are definitely not wallflowers.
Anton Heunis Cocktail Necklace, $735, available at Endless. 

Sunglasses — You haven’t accidentally sat on a pair of sunglasses in a decade, so treat yourself to something beautiful.
Mykita Alexandre Herchcovitch Sunglasses, $500, available at Opening Ceremony. 

A Duster Coat — A strong duster will be your best friend for two seasons out of the year.
Marni Duster Coat, $825, available at Marni.


60s: The mentor, the “older” woman — astrology calls her the crone and she’s the reason whyAdvanced Style is one of our favorite blogs out there, because THIS is how we want to grow up. As women in our 60s, we’ll want to wear clothing that speaks volumes about our courageous experience that, in some small part, has been earned through decades of good and bad fashion choices. Celebrate your spirit with the challenging pieces you never dared rock before:THE It-bag, a stunning suit, and a fur coat (faux or otherwise) that no one could ignore. 

A Classic It-Bag — It’s now or never. Really go for the gold and splurge on a bag that will never deplete in value. You deserve it.
Hermès Birkin Bag, $64,000, available at Moda Operandi. 

A Fashion Suit — Whether it’s a Le Smoking or a white linen set à la Bianca Jagger, now’s the time to really let the world know who wears the pants.
Stella McCartney Velez Skinny Pant, $595, available at Net-a-Porter; Mathilda Jacket, $1,945, available at Net-a-Porter. 

A “Fur” Coat — Fur didn’t really look right in your youth, but it feels perfectly appropriate right now. Opt for vintage (or faux) depending on your stance on fur. 
A.P.C. Rabbit Fur Coat, $1,985, available at La Garconne.

Click HERE to read more from Refinery29.

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