Grown Up Style

What do you do when you decide you don't like most of your clothes any more (or, more accurately, when you decide your clothes don't represent who you are anymore)? If you're like me, you sell around half of your wardrobe and then wear a black and white stripy dress and two a-line skirts on very high rotation. 

The aforementioned stripy dress / one of said a-line skirts

I'm not entirely sure what shifted but something about my wardrobe just didn't suit the vision I wanted for my 25 (almost 26) year old self. It wasn't grown up enough. But what makes a grown up wardrobe? A quick google of 'grown up style' throws up  lots of images of crisp white shirts, neatly tailored trousers, blazers and clutch bags. Think Garance Dore or Sofia Coppola and their impeccable, sophisticated style. These are women who almost certainly own a selection of cashmere jumpers in soft hues, and who get their ready-to-wear pieces tailored to perfectly fit their delicate frames. But if I were to wear, say, a pair of black tapered trousers, a white shirt and a slate grey cashmere jumper I would feel like I were playing dress up. To coin a phrase from inimitable wordsmith Britney Spears, I'm not a girl, not yet a woman.

Another key element of grown up style is heels. A pair of subtly flared cropped jeans or a midi skirt looks divine layered over a pair of ankle boots with a six inch heel; but not quite so elegant with flats (unless you have the long, lean legs of a model). A good pair of heels can uplift an outfit from 'weird teenager' to 'eclectic style icon'. Unfortunately, I have neither the will nor the enthusiasm to even try to perfect my walk in heels anywhere over three inches, so I can't rely on their leg-elongating magic to elevate my wardrobe.

So what's the answer? Well, it's not to be found on the British highstreet (at least during AW15 anyway). My search for pieces that are tailored, well cut, yet still bright in colour or interesting in design has produced meagre results. Highstreet level e-comm had a slightly better selection. ASOS had a few nice pieces, possibly because there's such a vast quantity to choose from but, on the whole, trying to collate a wardrobe that is both bright and and grown up is not an easy task without either a whopping budget or a steady stream of designer freebies.

The likes of MSGM, House of Holland, Christopher Kane, Peter Pilotto and Miu Miu are experts at creating bold but refined separates for those who can afford to drop £400 - £3,000+ on a single garment. Indie designer labels are not to be forgotten of course (Phiney Pet and Kitty Joseph are two that spring to mind) as they are generally a goldmine for unbridled creativity and innovation but, again, prices can be high. (Although, as ever, I would always recommend spending money on a piece from an indie label over a piece from the highstreet when budget allows). The solution for the less flush among us is a mixture of shopping around, embracing vintage, and busting out the sewing machine to customise as necessary.

The perfect balance between fun and grown up is, I think, all about balance. A multi colour jacket in a classic cut; print trousers with a sleek blazer; crazy faux fur with a beautifully tailored coat; timeless pieces with bold prints. Grown up style isn't about ditching the fun, it's about having fun with your clothes in a new way.

Image credits: Harper's Bazaar / Who What Wear

Style Caster / Trendy Crew