A man’s teenage years and twenties are all about experimenting with clothing and finding your style. By the time your thirties roll around, you should hopefully have a bit more disposable income to play around with and so you can upgrade some key pieces and enjoy the sensation of wearing clothes that are better cut, more durable and from the higher end of the fashion spectrum. You may become a new parent during this decade, so some of your fashion choices will be tempered by practicality – perhaps go easy on the luxury cashmere while you’re still interacting with babies or toddlers who could drop chocolate, ice lollies or spit down your back at any time.
However, once you hit your forties, your style really should reflect the fact that you have finally ‘arrived’, with a better job, car and house than ever before and your status as a successful business and family man firmly established. Now is the time to hone and finesse everything that experimenting with clothes has taught you over the years since you left your childhood days behind you. Now is the time to find out how to dress in your 40s.
The trick for knowing how should a 40-year-old man dress is to look less at fashion and more at style and what actually suits you, rather than what the latest edition of Vogue or GQ tells you to wear. For a start, your body may not be the same as it once was, and not quite so ripped as the male models used to showcase the latest fashions. Fashions for men over 40s tend to reflect the need for a little more ‘give’ in the cut and a more flattering cut overall to hide any problem areas. Trouser legs widen out from drainpipes to straight legs, for example, and slim-cut shirts are discarded for those with a little more material in them and interesting details around the collar to draw the eye away from a more rounded belly.
Details can make or break an outfit and you can discover your personality and style in the accessories as much, if not more than the main pieces in your wardrobe. Invest in good quality ties, belts, cufflinks and watch for the office and top-notch sunglasses, wallet and headgear for leisure times. Always buy as decent quality as you can afford, as the difference will really show for men in their 40s, especially with luxury items like leather gloves and jewellery. Pick colours that go well with more than one item in your wardrobe for versatility and value for money. Don’t get beguiled by fashion brands. If you prefer something else that you know will withstand wear and tear for longer, then go for that.
Sticking to a smaller palette of colours will help you create an effective capsule wardrobe that will work well in a wider variety of combinations of trousers, tops, suits and casual wear. This can also help you learn more about fashion for men over 40 and to pick out clothes more quickly in the morning that you know will go together and help you look tailored and well-groomed without taking too much time or effort. Start with two or three decent, bespoke suits in key colours like grey, black and navy-blue, for example, and add a couple of shirts and ties that you know will go well with each one. Do the same with your casual wear – choose a couple of pairs of jeans or chinos in versatile colours and then match a couple of jumpers and casual tops to them, without going overboard in quantity – remember that quality is better than quantity when it comes to choosing clothing in your fifth decade. Avoid overly edgy, clashing colours that don’t go with anything else and keep fashion logos and slogans as limited as possible. Don’t forget to think about shoes and belts to complete your capsule collection.
Of course, one secret to looking good after 40 is to try to stay as fit and trim as possible. This increases your options for choosing different styles and cuts of clothing that will flatter the figure and help you stay on trend. This is easier said than done. If your trim days are behind you, try not to fall into the trap of only wearing ‘comfortable’ trousers with elasticated waists, or over-sized t-shirts that hide a multitude of sins, but don’t do much to motivate yourself to stay in shape. If you do wear sports clothing, stick to good quality stuff with some form of tailoring to accentuate your waist or chest and not so old that any elasticity or shaping qualities are long gone.
Yes, we all know that 40 is the new 30 etc., etc…, but that is no excuse to pretend you are a teenager once again with that infamous ‘mid-life crisis’ wreaking havoc in your wardrobe. By all means hang on to your old band t-shirts and football strips, but maybe keep them for posterity in a drawer for your own reminiscences, rather than inflicting them on the world at large. If you hanker after a leather jacket once more, then go for it, but seek professional advice about choosing one that suits your current body shape and style, rather than pretending you can still pull off that lanky, teenage ‘rebel without a cause’ look. The same goes for hair dye. Only do this if you are prepared to invest in a proper job and choose tones to suit a more mature look.
Oh, and ditch the crocs. They never look good on anyone over the age of 13.
As well as choosing better quality clothing to keep pace with savvy 40-year-old men’s fashion and style choices, men should also be prepared to invest in decent grooming to complete the look. Finding a great barber or hairdresser, for example, who really understands the look you are going for and knows how to care for your hair, whatever its natural colour may be, is worth their weight in gold. Looking after your facial hair properly is key too, as it shows a level of self-care and effort that men and women alike will really appreciate. Invest in some good skin care and make sure that your fingernails are kept short and clean. If you haven’t been wearing a fragrance until now, consider starting, as a cool, confident signature scent on a man can be very attractive.
Just as women are encouraged to find and develop their own sense of personality through their clothing choices, so too can men gain a great deal of pleasure and self-confidence from discovering what looks great on them, and defining their own sense of style as they approach middle age. Despite what we have said in this guide to middle aged men fashion, there are no rules that must always be adhered to, apart from the age-old requirement for common sense.
Choose flattering colours, styles and cuts for your personal look and work out what makes you feel great when going out and about in different combinations. Ask friends and family for advice, but make up your own mind. Enjoy experimenting, but keep a good selection of solid back-up options for days when you are in a rush, or don’t want to think too much about how to dress in the morning. Above all, have fun trying out different fashions for men over 40. Clothes are meant to bring pleasure, not just warmth and coverage after all. Have fun with your clothes and show the world how 40-year-old men should be dressing by following these simple style rules and enjoying the self-confidence that comes with age and achievement.