Style Tips For Men 40+
by Anthony Starr
You might have a killer physique and you might not need Rogaine for baldness or Just For Men for gray, but if you’re over 40, you seriously need to think about how you’re dressing.
I believe that rules for dressing in your 40’s are slightly different from dressing in your 30’s and worlds apart from your 20’s. What you got away with in your youth won’t work now, so go through that closet and start tossing stuff. No more cargo shorts, T-shirts, destroyed denim, or baseball caps. It’s time to step up your game.
First thing, replace your denim with chinos—denim should be reserved for camping. Chinos come in a wide variety of colors and are generally made from 100-percent cotton. In the warmer months, consider linen chinos—and don’t worry about the wrinkles. That’s how they are supposed to look. You can pair chinos with a blazer, dress shirt, and tie for the office or a polo shirt and cardigan for the weekend.
Abandon all square-toe footwear immediately. These shoes were intended to appeal to a much younger generation. Instead, invest in a couple of high-quality cap toes, derbies, or wingtips. If you want to convey a sense of style, try monk straps or even Chelsea boots. For casual wear do not wear athletic shoes outside the gym, period. After you turn 40, you should only wear boat shoes, saddle shoes, loafers, or plain-toe oxfords. Suede is a nice option for the summer months, as are canvas shoes. No bright colors. Stick with brown, tan, oxblood, and black. Black shoes should only be worn with black slacks, however. All other colored pants, including navy and gray, should be accompanied by brown-toned shoes.
While polo shirts are a great go-to item and an acceptable replacement for T-shirts, they are reserved for casual wear. A dress shirt is more versatile, as it can be worn with chinos or a suit. This is especially true with a button-down collar, but spread collars look more professional. As you get older, stop wearing brightly colored and patterned shirts, with the exception of stripes or plaids. Likewise with suits and sport coats—nothing loud or gaudy. Invest in textured pieces such as tweed, herringbone, and windowpane in more muted colors. Nevertheless, if you feel like you’re swimming in a sea of brown, you can use accents such as brightly colored ties, pocket squares, and socks—but no novelty patterns, no matter what. If you thought bow ties and boutonnières were reserved for weddings, think again. These accessories are perfectly appropriate for everyday use and will make you stand out.
You’ve worked hard, so splurge a little on yourself. A Marlboro shearling-and-leather jacket might set you back a couple of grand, but it’s an investment that will keep you warm and last you years. While we are on coats, every well-dressed man should own a wool topcoat. Unlike car or pea coats, these are designed to fit over your suit—so do not buy an overcoat one size larger. These will keep you warm, protect your suit, and look stylish all at the same time.
If you attend a lot of black-tie events, do not rent a tuxedo, buy one. These should be 100-percent wool and in black exclusively. Only wear plain-toe, patent-leather shoes, again in black. If you want some variety, purchase a white dinner jacket to pair with the pants.
Bow ties, cummerbunds, and braces are all par for the course. Details such as cufflinks and boutonnières should not overpower your tux. They should enhance it. So keep things simple, yet tasteful. Top hats are traditionally worn with tuxedos, but can be a bit stuffy. Opt for a bowler hat instead. No fedoras or Homburg hats—they simply are not appropriate for black tie.
Now that you have a little more money in your bank account, you should invest in high-quality apparel and shoes. One-hundred-percent wool suits, sport coats, and slacks are going to last longer and look better than rayon or acetate. An all-cotton shirt is going to breath better and appear crisper than a blend or a synthetic one. Silk, cotton, or linen should be the only materials your ties or pocket squares are made from. No polyester. No exceptions. There is only one option when it comes to shoes, full-grain leather. You might need to spend $300 or more on pair of high quality shoes, but the good news is you won’t have to replace them for 10-plus years.
Absolutely no bling except your wedding band and a watch, and when it comes to watches, nothing too ostentatious. Keep it elegant. If you can afford to treat yourself to an Omega or Rolex, by all means do so. However if you’re saving for the yacht, Tissot or Movado are perfectly acceptable options.
Stores where you should shop are Nordstrom and Brooks Brothers for quality, Macy’s, Men’s Wearhouse, and Jos. A. Bank for price. Stores you should avoid after forty are Banana Republic, J. Crew, and Express.
In essence, at this stage in your life, you are probably settled in your career and are now looked up to by younger colleagues. Many of you are possibly married with children. You own a house, are driving the car you have always wanted, and are financially comfortable, so you need a style that will complement your life.
Anthony Starr has been involved in the fashion industry for over 35 years and a professional writer for 16. As a former Nordstrom employee, Starr is equipped with the knowledge of both men’s and women’s fashion and likes to share his knowledge and fashion sense with readers. He is excited to be a regular contributor to Silver Sage.