Dove Magazine

How to dress your age

One thing affecting style choices that most women are unaware of is upbringing. In your 30s you will start to spend more time with your mother or the female elders of the clan. PHOTOS FILE

One thing affecting style choices that most women are unaware of is upbringing. In your 30s you will start to spend more time with your mother or the female elders of the clan. PHOTOS FILE

Hi Carol,

I am turning 30 in the next few weeks. Is there such a thing as dressing your age?


Hi MW,

Glad you asked. The answer is yes and no. Your birthday is going to be a seminal moment that happens gradually. In your 20s you embrace fast fashion.

Your tastes are whimsical and unpredictable. Likely, most of your current wardrobe is mitumba, what’s hot, cheap, peer-related, Beyonce-like and random. The 20s are more about fashion and less about style, figuring it out through a series of dead ends, trial and error, stacks of mismatched unwearables and head-scratching moments. This too, shall pass.

In your 30s you start to shop less mainly because you have less time to troll malls and stalls and are still smarting from the sting of unworn cringeworthy clothes.

Instead, you will start spending more money on stuff like bags, shoes and basic foundation pieces. You start to linger in the blacks and neutrals section. Shopping is no longer a hobby. It is retail therapy.

When you have a bad day at work, a bad date, a good date, a fight, a great day, an hour – you will find them to be predominant let’s-go-shopping triggers.

The difference is now you know where not to shop and have better synchronicity with your Style Team, vendors and suppliers who get you and are on speed dial.

A woman’s 30s comes with several universal shifts. One of the major changes in your 30s will be your income.

Earning more makes you surer of your worth, making you feel more at ease in your skin, phasing out the urge to experiment with music video trends and resorting to admiration of such gumption only from afar. Your career is beginning to take off. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.

There will be more exposure to C suite leaders and upper management if that is not already happening. It is also a time when women tend to embrace motherhood.

Your body shape has changed either because you are making smarter decisions about your health, or are not, or have had or are having kids.

Body changes affect self perception. All these add up and radically shift your wardrobe. Regardless of where in the body spectrum and confidence you fall, you will find it critical to invest in quality lingerie and shape wear, the latter being necessary for social engagements any modern professional woman attends.


One thing affecting style choices that most women are unaware of is upbringing. In your 30s you will start to spend more time with your mother or the female elders of the clan.

It will make you aware of who mum is, her ideas about aging, and, subsequently, aware of who you are, your ideas about aging and how much your mother or female elders of the clan and society has influenced you.

That will inspire you to upgrade your style icons and influences or adopt new ones. When you find yourself judging a woman for not dressing her age, that is a signal that you are responding to the appropriate social cues and have finally struck upon your idea of what you think should work. I can’t say I have attained such status yet. My style is rather oblivious to said cues.

For that reason I can only say it is best not to get hang up on a strong sense of politically correct behaviour because it limits your experience of fashion.

I would say, MW, go with your instinctive and actual gut. Chances are you are hitting your 30s first in your peer group.

That, or whoever got there first is not setting a glorious example thus far. Your 30s introduce you to a different social group and potential set of friends and opportunities. Purging your closet will become necessary. As is investing time in yourself.

Ditch the plastic, wood and copper trinkets and shop in a more sophisticated section of Maasai market. Buy stiletto pumps and phase out the platforms.

Go for fabric and cut and less for trends. Embrace your inner siren with dresses and skirts. Explore couture. Start anti-aging skin care if you hadn’t already.

Always wear sunscreen. Look for products with antioxidants. Improve the quality of your sleep. Drink more water and yes, I know this is boring, eat more fruits and veg. It is not only great for your skin, it ups your stamina, energy levels and the amazing life ahead.

And, hire good help. You want a cleaning lady who can take good care of your wardrobe when you are busy running the world. Finally, MW, let me know when you’re turning 40 so we can do this all over again. Happy 30th.

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