In your teens, your style mantra may have been “the shorter the better, the tighter the better.” In your 20’s, perhaps you voraciously read fashion magazines and blogs, jumping on every trend du jour quicker than you could say “fashion victim.” But, if the big 3-0 is on the horizon, you might be thinking that it’s time for a subtle wardrobe overhaul.
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Obviously, age is nothing but a number and it’s perfectly fine to still follow trends, but the way you approach them should be different as you age. Likewise, you might want to think about investing in some classic items that most women have a need for as they get older and more successful, like a chic pantsuit or a great pair of all-purpose heels.
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With that in mind, we’ve assembled 12 things every fashionable woman should consider owning by the time she’s 30. These are the pieces that you can and will have forever. They’re also the wardrobe stalwarts that’ll scream to the world that you’re smart, capable, and not a slave to trends because—whether you like to admit it or not—you’re often judged by what you wear, at least at first glance.
Above all else, these are the wardrobe staples that you’ve definitely earned, so why not enjoy the privilege?
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From a grown-up work bag to a go-to shade of lipstick, here are the 12 things every woman should own by 30.
A high-quality pump.
As you head into your 30's, you may want to think about investing in high-quality pumps to carry you pretty much everywhere, from work to cocktails. A classic, slightly pointed black heel looks amazing with everything, from a pair of blue jeans to a tailored suit, and will last way longer than all the cheap pairs you've filled your closet with.
Manolo Blahnik BB pump, $595; available at Bergdorf Goodman.
The perfect shade of lipstick for your skin tone.
At this point, you've probably sampled every lipstick color under the sun, and hopefully you've come across the shade that instantly boosts your appearance and brightens up your face. That's not to say you can't have fun trying new colors, but there should be that one go-to hue that you know will make you look and feel amazing every time you wear it.
Tom Ford lip color, $49; available at Nordstrom.
A piece of jewelry you bought for yourself.
Good jewelry given to you by anyone is great, but real jewelry that you bought for yourself (as a reward for a promotion, a big achievement, or just because you're awesome) is even better. Keep in mind that the concept of buying jewelry doesn't have to be cliché—if you're not the type to wear classic, dainty pieces, there are plenty of designers that make high-end jewelry that's edgy, statement-making, and just plain cool.
Jennifer Meyer set of three 18-karat gold diamond rings, $525; available at Barneys.
A killer black dress.
There's a reason why every woman of every type has that one perfect black dress that makes them feel amazing. Once you find one that fits you like a glove, don't be afraid to wear it often.
Alexander Wang draped stretch-crepe dress, $675; available at Net-a-Porter.
A grown-up work bag.
Enough with throwing your life into that free tote you got at a party four years ago, it's time for an upgrade. Splurge on—or start saving up for—that quality bag of your dreams. You won't regret it.
Salvatore Ferragamo leather handbag, $3,100; available at Salvatore Ferragamo boutiques nationwide 1-866-337-7242.
A modern pantsuit.
As a fashion girl, you've probably bought pieces like platforms and flirty cocktail dresses over that sensible pantsuit. Yes, it might not be the most exciting thing on a department store floor, but as you enter your 30's you're going to need it, whether you're heading off to the most important job interview of your life or because you just want to feel as polished as possible on any given day. The good news is that today's suits can be chic and modern—think skinny ankle trousers and sexy tailored blazers, as opposed to boot-cut black pants and dated jackets.
Theory stretch blazer, $395 and stretch bootcut pants, $275; available at Theory.
A black lace bra that you had fitted.
In your 20's you might have bought lingerie to impress the guys in your life, but in your 30's it's time you bought it for yourself. Before you do, it's worth getting a professional fitting so you know your exact size. From there, pick out a comfortable, sexy black lace bra.
A Fleur de Peau underwire bra, $70; available at Lille Boutique.
A go-to black-tie gown.
Between weddings and galas, it's always good to have one jaw-dropping gown on the ready. Forget the hackneyed rule that you can only wear a statement piece like this once, too. Buy something you love, and feel free to rock it as often as you can—there's something charming about a signature dressy look. Plus, you can always switch up your accessories, hair, and makeup.
Halston Heritage cotton and silk-blend faille gown, $725; available at Net-a-Porter.
A perfectly-fitted white button down.
As you get a bit older, you might notice that your style crushes have started to shift from Lauren Conrad to Carolina Herrera. That's when you'll discover that most women with a timeless sense of style have a penchant for perfectly fitted white button-down shirts that make everything look polished, from a dressy skirt to a pair of jeans.
Brooks Brothers Tailored Fit Non-Iron Oxford Dress Shirt, $98.50; available at Brooks Brothers.
A classic watch you'll have for the rest of your life.
Sure, you can shop trends at H&M and Zara with the best of them, but a watch is a piece that you're likely wearing every day, so have the one you wear be a nice one.
Baume & Mercier Hampton 10110, $2,100; available at Baume & Mercier.
A sensible piece of luggage.
It's time to get rid of that broken-down suitcase you've had since high school and upgrade to a durable piece of luggage that you aren't embarassed to pick up at baggage claim.
Rimowa Classic Flight Cabin Trolley IATA, $770; availalbe at Luggage Pros.
A signature fragrance.
Having great personal style can often be a subtle thing, and one of the key ingredients is having a signature scent that lingers even when you aren't in the room, or reminds people of you whenever they smell it.
Chloé Eau de Parfum, $105 for 1.7 oz; available at Sephora.