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Dressing at 22

Written by Mr. WellCultured, Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 in Q&As

I’m a thin 22-year old guy of moderate height (5’11”), and in need of new clothes and ideas of all kinds – casualwear, possible winter combos, and so on. However, Don Cherry (Canadian here) has better fashion sense than I do. What articles of clothing should I go and get before summer ends that won’t make me look like I’m still in high school? Let me know if there’s any issues. Thanks!

You’re actually at a perfect age to begin thinking about this. At 22 or so, you’ve finally stopped growing, your proportions are pretty much finalized (and since you’re thin now, it’s likely you’ll be thin in the future), and you’re just about ready to begin kicking into the workforce full force. With that being said, here are some basic tips to get you started:

First of all, ditch all teen labels pronto. This is one of the bigger issues most people have — they continue to wear stuff like Abercrombie into their twenties. Unless it fits really well or you simply cannot afford another better quality/better looking/more adult replacement, ditch whatever you have. Obviously, don’t go and burn your whole wardrobe at once, but try to, as much as possible, distance yourself from teen brands.

Second off, invest in clothing that’s more adult that works well in a variety of contexts. For example, a simple blazer (tan, navy, or black) can be dressed up for work, dressed down with jeans, and the like. Get rid of graphic t-shirts, and try to wear something other than a plain t-shirt most of the time. Dress shirts can be worn casually, pending they are well tailored and not terribly formal — invest in some good fitting oxford cloth button-down shirts, some colorful lighter dress shirts, and the like. Transition out of sneakers — a good pair of black or brown dress loafers, when not excessively dressy, can be worn with jeans, slacks, or even a suit. Get rid of most of your hoodies and the like — they are never flattering. The nice thing about dressing a bit classier is that a lot of your wardrobe will mesh with professional wear for work — meaning you’ll begin to outfit yourself with a decent wardrobe for the office, the classroom, and for out on the town. Naturally, no matter what you purchase, it should fit you well.

As for outfits, like the above, try to pair professional with casual. For an everyday outfit, try to pair good dark jeans (which tend to be more classy/adult) with well tailored but casual dress shirts and comfortable oxfords, boots, or similarly adult shoes. To dress it up, throw on a blazer. For cold weather, look into nice but casual wool coats like a nice pea coat or car coat, either of which you should get tailored to fit your body well. Nice sweaters are also a way to adapt to cold weather — v-necks in particular can be worn with ties for a nice preppy-ish look. Don’t be afraid to wear casual or dress pants out and around with a shirt or even a sweater, just make sure they are sufficiently casual (i.e. not from your suit). The combinations you can make with the aforementioned clothing items are pretty much limitless — you could wear a sweater with an oxford shirt and a blazer, a coat with a casual (slimmer) tie, just one of the shirts with the sleeves down or even rolled up, and the like.

Really, the key here is to show that you wear clothing because you want to look good, not because of some sort of odd peer pressure or pressure from your parents. Dress like you mean it and dress well.

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