The 30s can be a peculiar age for women. In terms of dress, you'll want to convey a mature and refined image while also embracing your youthful appearance. This balance is difficult to achieve, especially when dressing for the workplace or a formal occasion. However, casual dress allows for greater flexibility in fashion choice.
T-Shirts and Blouses
Leave the colorful screen-printed T-shirts emblazoned with witty slogans at home, as these garments speak to a much younger teen or 20-something demographic. T-shirts should be simple and well-cut without being too revealing. A solid colored V-neck or swoop-neck shirt, although basic, allows for easy pairing with dark pants or other accessories. When selecting a blouse, choose light or pastel colors that accentuate your skin tone. As with any top, look for garments that are fitted, as this type of cut will complement your figure. Men's Oxford-style shirts are a great way to add a vintage touch to a look, as long as they are not too oversized.
Pants and Skirts
Khaki or dark-colored slacks add elegant understatement to any outfit. When selecting jeans, avoid styles that speak too loudly or are intended for a younger age group. Pass over jeans with excessive flaring of the legs (bell bottoms or boot-cuts), faux holes and tears or lots of artificial fading. Instead, opt for straight fitting or cuffed jeans with a clean cut and low pocket count—excess pockets add unnecessary bulk. Skirt length is relative to your body type, but avoid drastically short miniskirts. Pairing a skirt of mid-thigh length with stockings allows you to be casual, comfortable and refined at once.
Shoes and Heels
Several pairs of comfortable flats are nearly a necessity in any woman's wardrobe, as they are inexpensive and allow for easy color coordination. Black or dark-colored flats add a touch of sophistication to the classic "jeans and a T-shirt" combination. Though flats are a great all-purpose footwear, don't underestimate your worn pair of Chuck Taylors or other low-cut sneakers—these will add character to any look. A pair of leather sandals makes casual dress during summer and late spring simple—as long as your toes are ready for the attention. When choosing heels for casual wear, select a pair that is relatively low, balanced and easy to walk in. Avoid dramatic stilettos, as these are anything but casual.
Bags and Accessories
Opt for elegance over statement with your bag choice. A large, chunky designer bag is the choice of a teen or young 20-something and looks out of place around the arm of a grown and mature woman. Instead, choose compact handbags with clean lines and little, or well-placed, decorative flair. Look for neutral, solid colors that can be easily paired with the rest of your wardrobe. If you are wearing an understated outfit, you may complement it with jewelry that is a bit more flashy—but avoid going overboard. Your jewelry or accessories should help tie your entire look together, not dominate it.
Brandon Getty began writing professionally in 2008, with columns appearing in "Thrasher" magazine. He received a Bachelor of Arts in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lives in Stockton, Calif.