Most of my life I’ve looked older than my age. This was cool in high school when everyone wants to look older but is considerably less cool now. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been carded getting drinks and most of the high school girls I hang out with at church are confused about my age because I don’t act a whole lot like the married adult I am sometimes.
I used to think that changing the way I dress would help me to look and feel my own age and it did, just not in the ways I wanted it to. In college, I took my new found freedom of dress (before college I wore uniforms every day for school) and wore all the things I wished I could have worn in high school. While this did make me look more my age, I also found that I wasn’t taken seriously as much as I would have liked.
The way we present ourselves sends a message to the world about who we are and what we want. I’m not saying it’s time to go out and replace everything in your closet with a power suit (although if that’s what you want to do, more power to you…get it? power…ba dum tssss). But I think cleaning up our look with very little effort can go a long way. Even when we don’t feel like adults who know what we’re talking about, we can still command respect with amazingly small changes to our appearance. Here’s what I’m talking about:
- Wear clothes that FIT. This is a tough one for me since my weight has been fluctuating a lot in the last year or so. I realize that weight presents a challenge to this goal but I promise, wearing the right sizes makes such a huge impact because clothing that is too small or too large tends to look childish. Pick your clothes not by the size number (because we all know those are bogus and there is no standard) but by how they fit your body. This goes for jeans, too. If you find jeans that you love but are a few inches too long, it’s well worth the extra few bucks to get them hemmed to the proper length.
- Clean your glasses. I’ve worn glasses for the last 20 years of my life so I rarely notice when they’re smudgy and need a cleaning just because I’m so used to it. What I don’t typically think about is that even though I can see through smudges perfectly fine, other people can’t. Keep your glasses clean so that people can easily make eye contact with you without thinking about how nasty your life must be if your glasses are that gross.
- Keep your shoes clean, too. This is another one that’s hard for me because I kind of love my nasty, beat-up Converse. But they don’t look great. We don’t think about it often, but shoes probably take the greatest wear and tear out of all the items we wear regularly. Learn the proper way to take care of your shoes and you’ll look a lot more like you know things about life than like a grungy, angst-filled teenager (even if that teenager is your spirit animal).
- Speaking of wear and tear, retire items of clothing that have seen better days. Or at least don’t wear them in public. Items with pilling, fraying, holes, and tears are no good in your efforts to trick the world into believing your adulthood. Even if they’re some of your favorite pieces, it’s time to let go and find new pieces that you’ll love just as much.
- Roll your sleeves better. I know personally when I roll my sleeves, it’s usually because I’m hot and bothered about something (or because I live in Texas and it’s just always hot). But there are ways of rolling shirt sleeves that don’t make you look like the hot mess you may feel like when you go to roll ‘em up. It’s all about giving off a clean exterior, people!
- Take off your old makeup. Yeah, I know, you got in late last night and went straight to bed and your makeup this morning actually doesn’t look half bad. Wrong. Your skin does not appreciate when you go to bed without washing your face and overtime it will show. So, not only does day two makeup not usually look super professional, it will incur the wrath of your skin. Keep makeup remover wipes by your bed if that helps and learn about why your face does not appreciate going to bed dirty.
- Keep hair ties away from your wrist. Oof, this one is hard! I’m so guilty of constantly keeping a black hair tie on my right wrist, I had a tan line there this summer. I’ve heard it’s not awesome-looking to permanently wear hair ties like bracelets but I’m so accustomed to it, I don’t think to look anywhere BUT my wrist these days. However, hair ties have recently been linked to health issues like infections and issues with blood circulation. While you probably have no reason to worry, remember to keep your hair ties clean, wash your hands regularly, and try your best to decrease the amount of time that hair ties stay around your wrist. Also, stretch out new hair ties before keeping them on your wrist so that blood flow is never cut off.
- Ladies, put your bra straps away. I have always felt like this particular strategy for looking more respectable was a no-brainer but recently, it’s kind of come back in style to expose parts of your bra, particularly if it’s pretty and lacy. Keeping your undergarments under your clothes as they were designed to be looks more like you’re asking to be taken seriously than the alternative. And for that matter, wearing bras that fit well can change your look dramatically, not to mention raise your confidence level. So let your pretty bras be a confidence-boosting secret rather than showing them off to the world and notice the difference in how people react.
- Do away with chipping nail polish. Clean nails go a long way in presenting yourself well. Chipped nail polish gives off a young, immature vibe so either take the time to keep your nail polish looking salon fresh or make sure to remove it when it starts looking less than. Next time you go in for that handshake with clean nails you can feel a lot more like the adult you are rather than the kid you feel like.
How we present ourselves says a lot more about who we want to be than we realize most days. You don’t have to completely change your personal style to be taken seriously, though. These small little changes can go so far in showing the world who we are and what we want. What do you think? Have you tried any of these on your own? What was the response you noticed? I’d love to hear your stories about this!