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How to be an adult: 9 things every grown-up should own

You don't have to get rid of your old stuff, but these additions will make you feel more grown up instantly

One of the defining characteristics of the millennial generation is that it was a bit slow to grow into adulthood. The word “adulting” entered the lexicon to describe any circumstance where a young person was required to perform a typical grown-up task, and it was occurrences like this that made many wonder whether young people would ever learn how to be an adult.

These days, it seems generally accepted that adulthood is less a number than a lifestyle. It’s something that is attained by living a certain way and owning certain things. To that end, here are a few things that everything grown-up should own.

A good watch

Garmin Venu Fitness Smartwatch for Men with side view.

These days, few people wear a watch to tell time — that’s what phones are for. Instead, modern watches are style accessories, multifaceted tech tools, or both. I think the best watch is one that also tracks and supports greater health and fitness, two key considerations all adults should make. With this in mind, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus is an outstanding watch thanks to its combination of sleek design, accurate fitness tracking, and solid smartwatch versatility.

A reliable wallet

VaultSkin Manhattan Card Wallet

When I was in my early twenties, it seemed like I was constantly paying for things with handfuls of crumpled bills that had been wedged in my pockets. Once the time for “adulting” hit, I knew it was time to get more organized — not only to make my cash less chaotic, but to corral the growing number of credit cards I was accumulating. The best wallets include RFID protection to prevent identity theft, so I suggest the Vaultskin Manhattan. It’s slim, durable, well-organized, and protective.

Sleek dress shoes

Salvatore Ferragamo cap toe oxfords.

Sneakers and flip-flops will forever have their place, but sometimes a grown-up needs to look the part, and that means having a pair of quality dress shoes. The best dress shoes are versatile enough to wear in a variety of situations, from business meetings to weddings to nights out on the town. A pair of quality Oxfords will do the trick, and the Cap Toe Oxfords from Salvatore Ferragamo are about as good as they come.

Quality trainers

Reebok nano x2.

Proper grown-ups pay attention to their health and fitness, particularly as they get older. Ideally, that means hitting the gym and getting in regular cardio. A pair of quality training shoes will suit both purposes, and the Reebok Nano X2s deliver. While they’re primarily geared toward weightlifting, they provide the versatility you need for running, a variety of sports, or even just walking around town.

Versatile luggage

Arlo Skye Zipper Carry-On Max with Front Pocket against a white background.

When you’re packing for a trip, you can just throw everything in a duffle bag or use the same old softshell suitcase you’ve had since you were too young to fly on your own, but when you’re a grown-up, style and practicality matter. That means getting a modern suitcase that boasts sleek design and smart features. I think the Arlo Skye Zipper Carry-On Max is the best carry-on suitcase ever made. It looks fantastic, is super durable, has plenty of solid organizational features, and even has a removeable power pack for charging devices on the go.

A more mature gym bag

Stuart & Lau Regime Gym Bag.

A quality gym bag will not only help to address the aforementioned grown-up inclination toward health and fitness, but it’s versatile enough to be a stylish around-town bag for pretty much any purpose. The Regimen bag from Stuart & Lau is about as great as a gym bag gets. Not only does it look great, but it’s also got a slew of smart design features like a built-in shoe pocket, a locker hook, plenty of pockets, a cavernous main compartment. Plus — and yes, it’s worth mentioning again—it looks amazing.

T-shirts that fit

Three The Classic tees.

T-shirts are ubiquitous in men’s fashion, but we tend to wear oversized, ill-fitted shirts with images on the front that were better left in high school and make us look like slobs. A well-fitted T-shirt, on the other hand, looks great and can be worn in an extremely wide variety of circumstances. We think True Classic makes the best t-shirts money can buy. Not only do they have an outstanding fit — particularly for muscular builds—but they’re also super soft and available in a rotating selection of slick colors.

Dress shirts that fit

Calvin Klein slim fit dress shirt.

Here again, we can’t overemphasize the importance of wearing clothes that actually fit your body. When it comes to dress shirts, that means knowing which dress shirt styles work for your head shape and making a solid brand pick. We’re going with the Calvin Klein Men’s Slim Fit Dress Shirt, which has a classic yet updated cut, fits well, and is wrinkle-resistant.

A trusty set of kitchen knives

Home Hero knife set.

Adults know how to cook for themselves, and accomplishing any form of quality cooking requires a great kitchen knife. A single kitchen knife will only go so far, though — you need a set of kitchen knives that offers the versatility and sharp edges you need to be a culinary master. Check out the Home Hero kitchen knife set. Not only is it equipped with quality knives at a reasonable price point, but the set also will look great on your kitchen counter.

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Nick Hilden
Nick Hilden is a lifestyle and culture writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Afar…
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