Leicester, UK

24 Years of Style: My Life in Fashion So Far

As you're reading this post, I'll be celebrating my 24th anniversary of wearing clothes. That's right, I popped out of the womb and straight into a (super stylish) romper and bootie co-ord 24 years ago today. In that time, I have amassed a certain amount of knowledge about style. Well, I think that I have, anyway. From to poolside glam to winter woolies, I've learned from it all. That's why today, instead of the typical "24 things in 24 years" birthday posts that I often see circulated to celebrate bloggers' special days, I've decided to do mine a little differently. This post will feature just 8 pieces of advice that I've learned about all things fashion, clothing, and style before I reached my mid-twenties. This is no definitive guide to dressing - I've got a long way to go in my fashion evolution just yet - but I've still amassed a few fun tips that I'd like to share. Here's everything I've learned in 24 years of fashion.

What's in a name? Absolutely nothing 

When I was younger, the brand names that I wore were really important to me. I'd splurge way too much on a basic t-shirt from Hollister just because it had the brand name plastered over the front. Wearing a branded item made me feel like I was dressing "right". For younger me, it was a confidence booster. Nowadays, I pay very little attention to the brands I wear. My confidence comes from how good I feel in the outfit as opposed to which brand name is attached to it.

Abbey, wearing a yellow midi dress and straw hat, stands with her head down so that the brim of her hat can be seen
Straw Zipped Detail Shopper Bag: M&S

Looking stylish at the airport isn't all it's cracked up to be

When I was travelling to Italy one summer, I decided that I would finally be one of those women at the airport who look a million dollars in their holiday dresses even though they're about to board a plane. I planned my look meticulously beforehand and in my hotel room the morning before my flight, I felt fantastic as I put my gorgeous outfit on. However, it didn't feel quite as good when the strap snapped on my brand new shirt 5 minutes in, leaving me needing to hold my top up as I went through security. The effect of supreme airport style was somewhat ruined as I rushed to the nearest clothing shop in the departure lounge to find something else to wear, trying not to flash my bra to any fellow travellers before I could change. It's safe to say that I've never tried to look good in an airport again.

People are judgemental when it comes to what you wear

No matter how much we protest to the contrary, we are all guilty of judging a book by its cover. We know that it's not a good thing to assess someone based on their appearance but come on, we all do it anyway. Wearing a suit doesn't make me any better at my job or any more knowledgable about my PhD research but switching up my wardrobe to contain more professional pieces definitely gives the impression of increased confidence and capability. Rather than trying to argue that people don't judge you on what you wear, I've just accepted it as an unfortunate fact and tried to make it work to my advantage.

Abbey, wearing a yellow floaty dress, looks off to the left and touches the brim of her straw hat
Short Brim Floppy Hat: Unbranded (similar)

Before buying into new trends, remember gypsy skirts and ponchos

Remember the noughties when low-rise, baggy flared jeans, as well as gypsy skirts and ponchos were a thing? *shudder* I was the proud owner of all of those iconic pieces and now, I'm a little ashamed to have left the house in them. Thankfully, however, I never succumbed to the very on-trend 00's hairstyle which involved sweeping thick bangs all the way from the back of the head right across your forehead. But I will admit to having a very stripey set of highlights. If looking back to fashion from your childhood tells you anything, it's that trends mean very little. If there's any style tip I'd give my younger self, it's not to feel any pressure to keep up with what's "in" right now.

The blisters are never worth it

During my sixth form days, I used to wear the most ridiculous outfits to school. Skirts and tights even when it was snowing and high heels that I knew would rub my heels raw. Why? I don't really know. I'm not sure who I was trying to impress. Now, I'm all about staying comfy. I rarely ever wear heels and if I do, they're little ones that I know I can walk in all day. Gone are the days of not wearing a coat because my outfit looks better without it. I've learned that it doesn't matter how good you look if you feel rubbish - being cold and uncomfortable in the name of style just isn't worth it.

Abbey, seated on the pavement, wears a yellow floaty dress with cap sleeves, a straw handbag next to her
Black Bow Detail Ballerina Shoes: Fashion World *GIFTED*

Cleaning therapy is as good as retail therapy

We've all experienced the joy of waltzing out of a clothing shop with a brand new outfit in tow. It can really put a spring in your step. However, the impulse to buy buy BUY isn't always a fast track to improving a bad mood. In fact, these days I find that going through my wardrobe, weeding out older items to donate and pulling together new outfits using existing clothing pieces is a whole lot more satisfying than making new purchases. In a shop, I'll vacillate for ages about whether I should buy an item that I've got my eye on, weighing up in my head all of the existing pieces that I could wear it with, pondering the quality, mulling over the price, before usually deciding that I can't legitimise the purchase and leaving without it. In my own wardrobe, I have a lot more fun creating new combinations with items I've already got. It's so much more satisfying because I don't spend a penny!

The grass is always greener in somebody else's wardrobe 

That's how the saying goes, right? What I'm talking about here is style comparison, the act of lusting after someone else's wardrobe. I do this constantly on Instagram. I'm trying to "make it" (lol) as a fashion influencer myself, so I follow a lot of other style bloggers. They are some of the most creative and coolest people I know but they also inspire in me a lot of envy. "Why can't I look that good in front of a camera?" "Why aren't my outfits that polished?" "Why don't I have a handbag to match every nail colour too?" are questions that plague me regularly. What I've learned is that although there's always someone out there who will look better than you, you are still doing amazing just by looking like yourself.

A close up of Abbey's waist, showing the white circle print of her yellow dress and the straw texture of her bag
Araceli Print Midi Ruffle Dress: Fashion World *GIFTED*

Clothing really can change your view of the world

Yes, I know that the usual advice that's meted out when talking about an outfit changing your mindset is "put on a power dressing outfit teamed with a stereotypical bright red lipstick and you'll feel like you're ready to take over the world". But honestly, the more important day-changing influence that clothing can have is this one: Shoving on an incredibly cosy pair of pyjamas and fluffy slippers can make a bad day feel not quite so terrible. It might be the 48349 chocolate digestives that I eat whilst wearing the comfy outfit that really makes me feel better but I do feel that putting on a good fluffy dressing gown helps.

Thank you for joining me to celebrate my style birthday! What fashion tips would you give to your younger self? Leave them down below.

*The dress and shoes shown in this post were sent to me free of charge by Fashion World, in exchange for a blog post feature.