• Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

Rejecting the influence: the importance of finding personal style in your early twenties

ByAnna Claire Shuman

Mar 2, 2023
backlit image of multiple dresses on a rail.

Personal style is a tricky thing. Young people tend to set and follow the trends more closely than older adults, and adolescence is a time when many feel the most pressure to present a certain way in order to be accepted or praised by their community. 

In a world bursting at the seams with influencers peddling their Amazon storefronts and Shein codes, discerning what you actually like is getting harder and harder It is becoming a skill to have an opinion on fashion/lifestyle trends. And for the average Instagram using twenty-something-year-old, it’s probably doing a lot more harm than good. 

Coming out of your teens, where you were likely more self-conscious than you’ve ever been, the call to fit in beckons. On the tail end of puberty, you’re still wanting to give in to the masses, especially when the masses look so good on Pinterest. Except Pinterest isn’t real life, your bank account can’t afford another wardrobe overhaul, and your homepage will look completely different the next time you open the site. 

We all want to like our clothes. And we should like them for more than two months, despite what the alarmingly fast trend cycle is telling us. Part of growing up is finding out what will actually define your adulthood; dating people for longer than a couple of months, buying furniture that is going to last through the foreseeable future, getting tattoos as permanent markers of self-expression, and the list goes on and on. 

Fashion is an easy, largely accessible way to express oneself. As we exit our adolescence, and our bodies stop reliably changing and growing every 6-8 months, it becomes the time to invest in clothes that are going to last. But how are we supposed to spend more money on less clothes if everyone on TikTok has a completely new wardrobe every other week? This is where developing your own personal style becomes so important. 

I turned twenty in December and have pledged to almost exclusively buy better quality, lasting pieces in this decade of my life. I have already broken this little promise to myself a few times, but I needed a new going-out top and had no interest in spending more than £20. I wore that little top three or four times, and now I don’t like it anymore. I learned the very lesson I am trying to avoid; following every trend is unsustainable (in more ways than one) and makes me feel pretty terrible. Poorly made clothes are always going to look cheap, and not every trend is going to look good on me. It’s not always easy to accept, but there are always a few trends that I like on myself, and a hundred that I don’t. 

Self-acceptance has been a huge part of finding my own style. Understanding that I am always going to feel better in clothes that are the right size and shape for my body has been paramount to liking how I look. Going back through old photos of myself and realising what I still like on myself and what traps never to fall down again has helped me direct my more recent shopping to pieces I wear all the time, and genuinely love. I outfit repeat with glee. 

I don’t think I’ll ever fully escape the clutches of the trend cycles; I browse Vogue Runway like most do on Twitter, but finding and investing in wearable pieces that I genuinely love has so far allowed me to have a wardrobe full of well-made basics supplemented with the occasional new Zara purchase. And, to be honest, it’s improved my life. My clothes survive multiple washes in my (ancient) washing machine, they fit me properly, and I’ve been wearing them for months and months with no sign of liking them a thread less. 

I encourage everyone to look through their closet with the most critical of eyes, figure out what you actually like, and go from there. What do you find yourself coming back to week after week? Build off that. Oh, and delete Pinterest until you need inspiration for your next haircut. 

Image Credit: “16 elfe eco luxe fashion exposé” by Looking Glass is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.