Richard is a professional writer and author. When he's not creating, he's actively pursuing his goal of becoming a handsome billionaire.
Men of a Certain Age
Most guys over 40 will admit that they don’t care about men’s fashion and that’s because most of those guys are married or in committed relationships and their significant others do all the caring. For the rest of us, transitioning from our 30s to our 40s is a real struggle when it comes to receiving fashion advice.
We look at the world differently now. Most of our goals have been met and we are reaching for new goals which are quite often centered on personal desires rather than professional accomplishments. The struggle comes from being comfortable while also denying that we are getting older. Some men want to regress rather than embrace their refinement.
We always hear that one should dress their age. We even find humor when we see older people dressing like teenagers. I know I do, and it is for that very reason that I actively pursue fashion tips for men over 40. I certainly don’t want to be the target of someone’s joke.
I may not have the answer for every fashion disaster but I do know enough to share these 8 fashion tips that will help any man over 40 rise above the crowd.
Advice for Men Over 40
- Avoid the fads and marketing ploys. Those work for guys in their teens and 20s but those guys are still experimenting with their style. Don’t wear sport caps high on your head and tilted to the side. Don’t wear $300 sneakers just because they’re endorsed by an iconic athlete. Don’t wear T-shirts with silly catch phrases that make a 40-year-old seem perverted or creepy.
- If you have clothes in your drawers and hanging in your closets that you haven’t worn in over a year, then you should probably consider donating them to charity. Yes, some styles cycle back eventually, but they usually come back with a slightly modern take. Some vintage clothing is an exception, not a rule. Even if you are hoping to fit into them again, chances are that by the time you can fit back into them, the style will have changed.
- Make sure your clothes are clean, wrinkle free, and have no tears, holes, or missing buttons, and they fit. Dirty and wrinkled clothing make you look lazy and lazy people are unattractive. Jeans with holes in the knees are juvenile and other tears and missing buttons make you look like a slob. Clothes that are too big or too tight are going to make you look lumpy.
- Give your jeans a rest and try out some trousers. Cotton or linen trousers with flat, not pleated, fronts will add comfort and style to your appearance. You can’t go wrong with beige or khaki, but you can go with a wide range of colors as long as they are solid colors. Don’t opt for loud patterns or multi-colored styles.
- Don’t forget your accessories. Tie clips, cuff links, watches, belts and shoes are important pieces for a total ensemble. Whatever you do, make sure the color of your belt matches the color of your dress shoes. And speaking of shoes, men in their 40s only wear sneakers and gym shoes when they are going to the gym or working out, they are not anytime casual shoes, and if you do wear gym shoes at least make sure they are clean and scuff free. Casual loafers are a better option for men our age.
- Don’t buy into the slim or fitted tags; they’re not going to give you that 25 year old body you once had. So, unless you are at the gym working out every day, a better option is to find a local tailor. Buying off the rack is not going to give you the best fitting or make you look like the models in the fashion magazines. A well-tailored jacket and pants will give you the exact look that fits your body. Do not wear baggy pants or pants with folded cuff. The bottom of the pant leg should only reach the top of your shoe. Conversely, pants that are too short and show off your unmatched socks will speak volumes about you.
- Keep yourself well groomed. A cleanly shaved face or a well trimmed beard shows that you take pride in yourself. You will also notice that if you are losing hair up top, you are most likely gaining hair in other places more rapidly. Keep an eye on that nose and ear hair and make sure your barber gets that hair on the back of the neck. Also, go easy on the fragrances because your aftershave, cologne, deodorant and body spray is not going to cover up your body odor and please don’t use them all at the same time.
- Work on your teeth. Teeth are the second thing most noticed by women, so if yours are yellow or stained or even rotting away, then it’s time for a trip to the dentist. Consider having a whitening procedure or, if you have to, implants. Think of it as an investment in your health because a healthy smile is an indication of a healthy person. Neglected teeth can lead to some serious health issues, such as gum disease and gingivitis. Plus, bad teeth can seriously put a damper on your confidence.
Wardrobe Essentials for Men Over 40
This will be far from conclusive but these are the essentials that men our age should have in their wardrobe and closet.
- Every man should own at least one tailored suit, preferably in a dark color. There are so many men’s suit shops that are offering two or three for the price of one, so when you see those deals take advantage of the savings. Unfortunately, men of our age see too many funerals popping up and if you don’t have a dark suit then what do you do? I would recommend purchasing at least three suits, a Navy Blue, a Charcoal Gray, and a Black. Don’t just buy off the rack, make sure that the suits are tailored to fit your body style.
- You will need at least three dress shirts but six would be better. Select three dress shirts with single barrel cuffs and 3 with French cuffs. The shirts with the French cuffs will allow you to show off your cuff links. Choose solid colors, white, pale blue, and something dark.
- Every wardrobe should have at least one blazer or sports coat. If you are only going to get one them make it black. Black pretty much goes with everything and you can wear your blazer with trousers or jeans. Add more colors when you can afford it and you can’t go wrong with a solid beige either.
- Every guy should own at least one pair of jeans. Make sure they are straight legged and not baggy or skinny jeans. They should be made from a strong and durable denim and be a dark blue. If you still have some stonewashed jeans in your closet then ditch them or donate them to an 80s museum.
- You should have at least four pairs of shoes. You do not want to be wearing the same dress shoes every day, the foot sweat will stretch and warp them. If you need dress shoes for work then select at least two pair of black and two pair of brown so that you can rotate them out. For casual attire, you will want a pair of Oxfords or a pair of loafers. Keep them free of dirt by cleaning them after each use and polishing them when needed. Also, apply some weatherproofing to protect them from rain and snow.
- Casual shirts are a matter of your own sense of style. Solid color Polo shirts are always a good choice. For me, I have an assortment of bowling style shirts and Hawaiian shirts both styles are made of silk and short sleeved. But an assortment of plaids and solid color button ups, in both long and short sleeve, should be in your closet.
- As far as accessories go, you need black and brown belts both for casual and formal wear, with small metal buckles. Don’t go for the large Western buckles or anything that is going to make you look like you’re a WWE fanatic. You will need at least one set of cuff links and a watch. Personally, I hate wearing a watch because my wrists are too big but on occasion and when going out on dates a watch is part of the ensemble. Select a plain watch with a metal or leather band. Do not wear your old Micky Mouse watch or that 80s Swatch that you still covet or any watch that looks like you won it at a carnival.
Any tips to share?
ali on February 19, 2018:
You give the nice tips about dressing of the groom. Make sure your clothes are clean, wrinkle free, and have no tears, holes, or missing buttons, and they fit. That is such a good tip.
Richard Bivins (author) from Charleston, SC on November 18, 2017:
Thank you for your opinion but it is just that, an opinion. I'm 48, the author, and would rather wear items that stylish and not make me look like an immature putz. Men over 40 that dress like their 20 y/o counterparts are reaching for a youth that will never return. Also, all men, slim or overweight, need to own at least one fine suit and it would hardly be a waste of money. Oh, and this author is also toned and in great physical shape. The difference is, I don't feel the need to dress like a teenager. Dressing stylish helps maintain a swagger that younger men lack.
edward on November 18, 2017:
very basic article!not bad but not very informative IMO! the author mentioned bowling shirts that is great if your obese or over 60. not sure of the authors age but not all 40 somethings are equal! IMO if you are in a different category at 45 than 35 you are probably becoming a fat slob!! by all means do not dress like a teenager, however take care of your body meaning diet and exercise and most clothes will look good on you. no disrespect meant but if i were to sit next to the author at my age of 44 you would notice a big difference. i am toned and good shape! always hard work but worth it. clothes will only look as good as the body there on! the finest suit on a fat man is still a fine suit on a fat man a complete waste of money!! plus if you travel globally you will find american men as a whole are some of the worst dressed in the world. what Americans call juvenile at 40 most Europeans call normal! just food for thought. stop trying to get old and fat and enjoy life and take care of yourself first and the clothes will look good later!
Paul on October 10, 2017:
Fit. There's nothing out there that fits. All those style tips are rubbish. There are no trousers that fit. When they fit they are blue jeans. Or the waist fits and they are too short. Or long enough and to thin. Or formally fitting, but I can't get them over my legs. Or they fit and are affordable and comfortable and the colour is OK, but after wearing them for a week they split open or wear thin in the seat.
Adil on April 26, 2017:
Good advise, i hust wake up to dress well at 47. I think every men should read it
Akhter Hussain (Bank of AJK-Pakistan) on November 16, 2016:
In 49 years so far of my life ..i had cared for fashion and style only between school and university studies time say when i was between age of 15 to 28 years. Then soon after marriage and regular job i hardly cared for wearing according to fashion advisers.. Today just happens to see this site. I have enjoyed and learned a lot and i shall care while making choices on what dress is good on which occasion in MY AGE.Thank you very much for this volunteer posting for your tips.It has helped me.. Akhter Hussain (Bank of Azad Kashmir-Pakistan)
Reluctant1 on June 13, 2016:
As casual wear, it's up to you. Personally, I would pass. If you are a lean fit, they're not ridiculous, but not exactly main stream. Having said that, there is respect to be found in stepping out on occasion. Keep them a dark colour and avoid textured or patterned shirts when wearing them. Again, personally, I sort them with suspenders or bow ties, they can work on the right frame. If you're a perfect, tall V shape, you will always be able to pull off more options than most. As always with any clothes, it's about how they fit you, the right fabric weight and cut can make them work. Most importantly, if you feel good in them, go ahead and own the crap out of them, just don't wear them to anything where nice jeans wouldn't be ok.
Noel on May 25, 2016:
Great stuff. Any word on corduroy pants?
Reluctant1 on May 08, 2016:
The only sure fire solution is to find yourself a sales person at two respectable men's clothing stores. Go in as the boss, because you are, and tell them your likes and dislikes without being completely closed to constructive suggestion. If you are intimidated for any reason, say so. Tell them you have an event or new job, whatever is true. They are there to work for you. Be willing to try on something you "know" isn't your deal, you might learn something. Feel them out. It is important that you trust that they aren't just telling you to buy this or that because of their commission. If they tell you it looks good and you don't quite agree, ask them why. They really are professionals and know clothing. I suggest two, not only to get a wider variety of options, but also to get that second opinion. If you are put in something and told you look great, again ask why. Use this info to get something similar on you at your second shop and see what you are told. This will not only help you get another opinion, it will also help you weed out any "fast cash" types who don't understand that you are looking for a long term advisor. Remember that you are the boss. You are the one with the money. You can and should, walk away if you are the slightest bit unsure. Just remember that it's ok to change your mind and try something out once more. Who are you? That's right, man, you're the boss.
Thomas on March 25, 2015:
Just the info I was looking for. I had my first tailored piece this past year and the complements were numerous. It really kicks up a simple piece.
I couldn't help but wonder if those encouraging the wearing of leather pants were doing so to get rid of competition in the single's scene.
liamhubpages on March 16, 2015:
For me, I'd suggest leather all the way. I think that every real men needs to have at least one leather jacket in his wardrobe, if not more. Some should also wear leather pants, since they look really good in them. Your thoughts on leather?
Richard Bivins (author) from Charleston, SC on January 03, 2015:
Liam, men over 40 can certainly pull off wearing leather jackets but I wold leave the pants for a costume party. Of course there are those in the PUA crowd that will swear that leather pants is akin to peacocking and if that is your goal then go for it. However, wearing them as casual attire is not going to turn heads.
liamhubpages on January 03, 2015:
Do you think men over 40 "can" wear and "pull of" wearing leather jackets and leather pants?
Laura Brown from Ontario, Canada on September 10, 2014:
Most men can look good if they put on a suit and take care to groom well.
Joey on August 11, 2014:
Great article (except the bowling shirts :) ).
ManUp on January 16, 2014:
I do agree with the concept of not following fashion fads like tight clothing on men and off the wall colors such as pink etc. I like to dress like a decent man and avoid the ultra feminist or macho male fashion ideologies.
However, I would certainly not have my trousers only reaching the top of my shoes - in general, the back crease should reach the top of the sole so that they look well while walking - you don't want them hanging around the ankles as you walk - this IMO looks horrible - you need to allow for movement - for this reason, long sleeves should also be long and wide enough (don't get carried away though) - sleeves that finish at the wrist are IMO too short - these should be rolled up about half way instead. Also, I'd do my best to ensure that the openings of my trousers are wide enough so that they sit nicely on the shoe with a proper break - this IMO is normal for men and looks well.
iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on December 01, 2013:
Thanks for your hub, this is something men in our age really need when it comes to dressing up and looking your best (and looking your age). I like some humor to your writing.
Another, it doesn't hurt if exercise should also be included. It will not only make you feel good but look good too (and a fit body will work on any outfit).
Sharing this one. Thanks :)