Nikki’s Inbox: Too Old For Cute?

Hello there, Nikki! I have been a longtime reader and fan for years and am always impressed by your answers and wise insight! I hope you can help me too. Here’s the dilemma. I am a sophomore in college and turning 21 in a few weeks, and I absolutely LOVE cutesy fashion. I’m constantly in patterned tights and skater skirts and pastels and bold prints (like polka dots or stripes) and shirts featuring cartoon characters and whatnot (some of my favorite YesStyle brands are 59 Seconds and CLICK). BUT my wardrobe is totally different than anything else I see on campus. I often get stares and am even talked about by other girls from time to time. But, I don’t want to resort to the “college uniform” I’m so used to seeing: dark colored yoga pants, sweatshirts, etc. I believe another part of the problem is the fact that I’m very overweight. Although I am losing weight and am well on my way to my goal (have lost about 20 lbs. so far), I am 5’3.5″ and weigh about 160 lbs. So, I think that just adds to the weird factor. People see an overweight girl wearing “out of the norm” bright, cutesy clothes and see that as freakish. I don’t want to come across as too “weird” but I don’t want to completely sacrifice what I like either. So, tell me Nikki, am I too old for cute? Thanks for the help!

Sarah, 20/USA

Have you ever read the little bio that appears in every post of mine? My motto is “Love your body and never apologize for who you are.” And that’s my first and most important advice to you right now.

Age is just a number
Are you too old for “cute?” I don’t think anyone is too old or young for cute. But in context, I think what you’re asking is whether dressing up in cute outfits is okay when you’re in college and you feel the pressure of conforming to what other people think is the right way to dress, and the right way to look. Ignore the naysayers because who you should always listen to is yourself, and to a certain extent, me (because you asked me for advice, right?). 🙂

These probably look very familiar for you, Sarah.

You may not have heard of Linda Rodin, Lynn Dell Cohen or Yayoi Kusama, but these women are all above the age of 60 and they are FABULOUS. Ms. Kusama is fond of polka dots, like yourself, and even recently collaborated with Louis Vuitton for a line of eye-catching bags in her favorite theme.

What better way to celebrate your entry into the 20s than by introducing some changes to your signature cute style? Our bodies and personal preferences change as we grow older and while you’ll probably never lose your love for cute outfits, letting your personal style grow and mature isn’t a bad thing either.

Menswear With A Twist
Pastels, polka dots, skater skirts – you’re a girly girl through and through, Sarah. But have you ever thought of pulling off a menswear look? Androgyny is now becoming more mainstream and it’s no longer just a fad or limited to those who have masculine instincts. Anyone can dress in an androgynous style! Try a blouse or shirt with a whimsical print or pattern and pair it with a buttoned vest or scoopneck knit vest. Finish with a blazer or peacoat, plaid pants and suspenders. Give it your cute twist by aiming for a pastel blazer and crazy socks too. A pink blazer can still look great with cranberry red plaid pants or even with just plain gray. Ground your pastels and bright hues with neutrals to give it a more sophisticated touch.

Brights and pastels stand out when grounded with neutrals. A combination of womanly elegance can still be on show even if you’re rocking a menswear look.

Sweet And Structured? Why Not!
Your ruffled skirts and lacy blouses can also work with more architectural pieces like winter’s blazers, coats and jackets. An all-pink ensemble (sweater plus A-line or mini skirt) looks more classy with a peacoat or even a lovely capelet. Instead of your usual patterned tights, wear a pair with leather insets to add an edgy element and team with calf-length boots.

Your pastel sweaters and tops can also be worn with a bustier on top, if you’re willing to be daring. The bustier will emphasize your curves, and the upper body combo will look great with a full A-line skirt that streamlines your lower half . Top off with a pinstriped jacket and a beret, and you’ve got yourself a sweet and saucy vibe.

Play off contrasts between soft and dark colors, and short/cropped versus elongating vertical stripes.

Stars and pearls give your audience something to look at and marvel.

Small and Subtle Also Works
What if one day you wake up and decide to wear something completely typical like yoga pants and sweatshirts? That’s perfectly okay. You can always jazz it up with choice accessories that still have your signature cuteness: hats, fashion jewelry, watches, socks, bags, shoes. I like seeing the unexpected, like pink boots, a tiny stuffed owl pendant necklace, or even a pocket square shaped like a cat peeping out of the pocket.

Accessories will make you look shiny, shimmery and splendid!

Your way of dressing is how you express your creativity but I ask you to challenge yourself, Sarah. How can you create a cute outfit without resorting to your usual pieces? How will you transform the conventional college uniform of yoga pants and sweatshirts?

We are all different but different doesn’t always mean bad. Stay true to yourself!


P.S. If you’re sending a question, please don’t forget to include any helpful information about your body, your tastes or personality. You can include a photo (link only please) of yourself or your clothes (which I will never publish without your written approval). Thank you!

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