(I hope this is the appropriate place to ask.) I'm a 23 year old female, 5'2", and I look like I'm high school age or younger. But I am married and want people to think I'm an adult. I need new glasses and was hoping to get some that would make me look my age but I probably need more help than just glasses. I've heard that the best way to look older is to dress professionally, but that's just not practical for everyday. What are some tips to help me look my age?
I would say try to dress more practical rather than professional to appear your age. I'm in the same demographic as you, and I've found that just swapping to professional attire that doesn't suit your environment comes across as pretending to be a grown up. Swap out faded or torn jeans for jeans in good condition with a slightly higher waist(won't ride down when you sit). Wear clothing that doesn't have large amounts of writing or graphics. I wear glasses but I go for a more minimalistic look rather than a statement look.
Basically, start dressing for how you live your life rather than how you think the world should see you, and you'll find that ironically this is the best way for the world to accurately perceive you as an adult.
You need to crank up your observing dramatically. On your way to work/school/shopping, at work/school/shopping, in the stock photos that you see online and in articles, in any paper media you consume, in TV ads for floor cleaners or prescription meds or beer, look, really look at the people. Ask yourself:
- does that person look roughly within 10 years of my age?
- does that person look like a funloving high school student, or a serious adult who is married and definitely 23 or more?
- from the context of the ad (furniture in the background, price of the item being sold) or article (is it about investments or a new pot law?) or what you can overhear of the subway/grocery store conversation, or know of the person if it's a real person in your life, are the people you see in the demographic you want to be perceived as?
(You may gain some information from the men, but women will probably be your prime target.)
Now start to take note of the appearance of the people who appear to you to be married, in their late twenties, professional, etc. This is the image you want to project. Depending on where you live and what income group you want to be perceived as (artsy does not look like lawyer) you will see different things. Earring size. Hair style. Makeup colours. Nail length and decoration. Sure, maybe some easy stuff like bare midriff or torn jeans, but more seriously how tight are the clothes? Are they layered? Do things "go together" or is it a pair of neutral pants and a top, a skirt and a top? How high are the heels? Is everything black? Taupe? Beige? Are there bold colours? Big prints? Chunky necklaces? Bracelets? Are the purses large or small? And sure, what do their glasses look like?
Finally, don't feel you need permission to wear certain things. I used to envy women who wore floppy straw hats in the summer, especially with loose flowing dresses. I wished I could do that. One day, I realized they don't check for a permit at the stores that sell floppy straw hats. I bought one, and wore it like I meant it. It worked - not one person laughed at me for my affectation. If you want to wear more serious or expensive clothes, you need no permission. Just go buy some, and see what happens when you wear them.
The TV show What Not to Wear has covered this a number of times, often with smaller females who have this issue (some even were shopping in the kids department, but mostly dressing like they were still students).
If you can find those episodes online I think it would be a great reference in that Stacy and Clinton give the person various rules to follow when shopping, and they can be adapted to the situation and tastes of the individual.
Try doing different makeup tricks to make you look older. When I put on makeup the right way, I look 30 when I am 23. Also try to dress more professionally, for example instead of a t-shirt and jeans, wear a skirt. The longer the better for a skirt, but go for a loose skirt, not a tight one.