My birthday is just a few days away, so it’s timely that I was invited to contribute an article for this month’s Metro magazine titled “What I Would Tell My 21-Year Old Self” (together with the super beautiful & super admirable Tetta Matera) because it got me thinking about how much experience we gain with each additional candle placed on our birthday cake…

(Like the MTV series used to say, you think you know, but you have no idea…)

From where I currently sit, sketching out a couple of designs while mulling on the subject of my 21-year old self, I realize I’m nowhere close to where I thought I would be at this point in my life.  Fresh out of college, my 21-year old self thought she had it all figured out.  My future life had been planned and laid out like a ‘dress for success’ manual—arm oneself with focus, put on enough motivation, dress with determination, spritz on a little charm and success was guaranteed.  What I didn’t know then was that life was less like perfectly coordinated power dressing, and more like throwing together an artlessly mismatched, casually chic ensemble.

So what things do I know now that I would tell myself back then?

Try on Different Things

Take time to experiment and enjoy discovering things, about the world around you, about other people, about yourself. The things you want when you’re 12…24…36…48…changes.  Your look evolves, and more importantly, so does your outlook. The things that work for you when you’re in your twenties, from your hairstyle to your lifestyle, won’t stay the same.

Wear the Wrong Shoes

It’s not always about being Little Miss Perfect.  Obsessing about always getting everything “right” and being a perfectionist can be self-defeating.  Sometimes putting the shoe on the other foot gives you a fresh perspective you never would have considered.  Allowing for mistakes and learning from them gives you the room to grow.  Besides, the most perfect ensemble often comes from learning how to wear the wrong shoes the right way.

Add Color

Black & white might make a chic, fail-safe fashion combination, but seeing the world in that way can be very rigid and limiting.  Adding a little color—or a lot—to your life, and wardrobe, not only makes it less boring, but moving beyond contrasts and learning to appreciate the subtleties of grey, and the nuances of color, allows you to embrace and celebrate the many vibrant hues of the differences that surround you.

Edit, edit, edit

A big part of putting together an outfit or designing a collection is not what you add to it, but rather what you take away afterwards.  In the same manner, while ‘more is more’ is the dictum of life when you’re younger, left unchecked you will soon find yourself surrounded with a whole lot of junk.  Regularly sift through what works and what doesn’t…then pick up the stuff that you’ve outgrown, and let them go.

Find a Perfect Fit

Whether it’s a pair of jeans, a career or a lifetime partner, finding a fit that’s right for you can be a bit of a challenge.  After all, what’s perfect for someone else may not complement you at all.  A little trial and error, in addition to a few tweaks and adjustments, are likely to be necessary but are well worth the effort.  Because as you discover when you’re well beyond your twenties, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of something custom-fit to only you.

Published in this month’s issue of Metro magazine (available on magazine stands this October or downloadable on iPad)

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