Last week, the NY Times posted an interesting article about dressing – dressing like an adult, to be precise. Because while there used to be pretty strict guidelines on what was age-appropriate, these days anything goes. So what is dressing like an adult? Surprisingly enough, I thought the article provided some good guidelines:

1. Do not distract.

From what, you ask? From YOU. What you wear should draw attention to your person as a whole – YOU should be remembered over what you were wearing. That means that the people who met you will remember your personality, and what you think about things – not the straps you were fiddling with, the hemline you were pulling at, or the body part on display that just couldn’t be missed. 

2. Think of your clothes as costume. 

The author of the article described this one as figuring out your chosen role and dressing for the part; play-acting at what you want to be, if you will. I kind of agree and I kind of don’t – perhaps a better way to say it would be to represent your best self: because whether we like to admit it or not, the way we dress is a big communicator about who we are. Under this point I think appropriateness also comes in: have we worn the right thing for the particular situation? This means thinking about the weather, the time of day, how formal the event is and so on. An adult should have this down!

3. Learn to iron (and sew, and fold and invest in some good hangers).

I think this one is so great! Perhaps one of the most important factors in looking “put together”, and truly grown up, is the condition of your garments rather than the garments themselves. Are they clean and ironed, with no loose threads or missing buttons to be seen? True, this is not something that is expected of us but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a nice touch. I’ll always remember travelling in Spain, and being told that my wet hair – straight out of the shower as I always tended to leave the house – would actually be considered rude: a sign of disrespect for not having finished getting dressed before venturing out. Maybe this is a good reminder for adult dressing too. 

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.