AdviceStyle + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Summer Attire for 30-Somethings

Hi Belle,

With the heat and humidity of summer in DC fast approaching, I’m looking to update my wardrobe with a few cool,casual pieces that I can wear to concerts at Yards Park, Nats games, shows at Wolf Trap, etc.. I love skirts and dresses but it seems like so many summer styles tend to look fairly young in their design and prints. I’m 30 years old – I should no longer wear sundresses from the juniors’ section of Target.  But I also don’t want to wind up in khaki capri pants like my mother.  What do you suggest?

Thanks! Jaime

I celebrated (?) my 31st birthday a few weeks ago, so I know exactly what you’re talking about.  You don’t feel old, per se, but you do feel “too old” to do or wear certain things.  You certainly don’t see me breaking out a halter top mini-dress or slathering on hot pink eyeliner.  But that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t wear clothes that are vibrant and colorful, it just means you need to be more conscientious of cut and style.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 12.37.57 AM

From Left, J.Crew Swiss Dot Shirt ($88) and 4″ Chino Shorts ($35) // Modcloth Stroll Dress ($45) // Tory Burch Tunic ($275) and AE Skinny Jeans ($40) // Fringed Boho Scarf ($9) and Alexander Wang T-Dress ($94) // Quiksilver Chula Vista Maxi Dress ($60)

Look One. I love the look of a crisp white shirt and a pair of brightly colored shorts.  I chose a cotton voile Swiss dot, but a regular cotton button up will work too.  And I also love these looser-fitting ‘skort’ shorts from Loft.

This look is more stylish look than just a t-shirt and chino shorts, which always strikes me as a bit uninspired.  This look is more polished, and I like to roll the sleeves a bit, pop the collar just in the back and either tuck in the shirt or tie it together in the front.  To complete the outfit, I’d add a straw fedora, some tan sandals and a pair of aviators.

Look Two.  There is nothing wrong with wearing sundresses in your 30s.  Maybe not the full-skirted, mini-dresses with side cut-outs from Target, but a flirty sundress with a sophisticated cut is a great choice.  This verdant sundress with substantial straps and a cute shape would be lovely for a casual date or for just running errands and grabbing lunch.

I’m usually not a fan of the empire waist, but I really like this white sundress.  This blue jersey tank dress is nice too, and I really like the coral print on this Dorothy Perkins dress.

Petite? I adore the bright color of this printed dress.  Plus-size?  This printed dress is really cute.

Look Three.  Tory Burch’s tunics may not be cheap, but they have a California chic look that is perfect for women of any age.  Wear them with white denim or shorts for a crisp summer look.  They also make great swimsuit cover-ups.

Want a tunic in a lower price point?  I love the colors on this tunic and this one has a classic shape and pattern.

Look Four. On Saturday mornings when I need to pull myself out of bed and run to meet friends, a t-shirt dress with a scarf is my fall back outfit.  It’s comfortable, it’s easy and it has a relaxed style to it.

Alexander Wang makes a great t-shirt dress, but if you’re looking to spend less, Land’s End makes a dress with slightly longer sleeves and I love this striped dress from Nordstrom.  Petite ladies might like this dress from Velvet, and plus-size readers should check out this adorable Modcloth dress.

How great is this scarf? And at $9, too.  I also loved this bandana print scarf and this brightly colored mosaic scarf.

Look Five.  I am absolutely smitten with this cotton voile maxi dress from Quiksilver.  The embroidery, the cut of the straps, I love everything about it.  It’s just so light and airy.  This Kimchi Blue dress has a similar look, but a more substantial strap.

If this dress is a bit too revealing for your taste, this one has a v-neck and bright yellow stripe around the bottom.  I also liked this printed racerback maxi, and this striped jersey dress.

Learning to dress like a 30-plus-year-old isn’t all that difficult, though it feels like a massive paradigm shift.  Focus on finding pieces with bold colors but sophisticated cuts, and remember that as you age, fit becomes even more critical.

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  1. Lady Lawyer says:

    Even though I think I started shopping there when I was 12, I’ve found that Old Navy is still age-appropriate for summer clothes for me. The length of the dresses are modest, the patterns are basic (colors or easy stripes) and the fabrics are good for summer. Just got two dresses from there for hanging out on the weekends, and I’m really pleased with them. And they are cheap!

    June 12, 2013/Reply
  2. Joules says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the sundresses–just buy them from Ann Taylor loft or BR or some store with longer hem lines. That’s pretty much the only thing that’ll make a sundress look too young–it being too short. Otherwise, stick with dresses if you like ’em is what I say!

    Style by Joules

    June 12, 2013/Reply
  3. m says:

    I love these outfits! Well done, Belle.

    June 12, 2013/Reply
  4. E says:

    My new favorite age-appropriate, sleek, and affordable DC store is Massimo Dutti in Georgetown. It’s owned by Zara but is less edgy, more European equestrian? I’ve found some great pieces there.

    June 12, 2013/Reply