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The Best Style for Older Men: 2017 Edition

Updated on July 22, 2017
George Clooney is stylish at any age.
George Clooney is stylish at any age.

This review includes both specific articles of clothing, as well as information and thoughtful suggestions from some of the most forward-looking fashion blogs and sites out there. I especially like the advice given by the foremost journal of male style, Esquire Magazine. I hope this article gives you some usable ideas on how to dress well, and how us older men can still make a statement with our style decisions.

Shoe Choices for Older Men

What we wear on our feet depends, of course, on where we are. If you're like me, you work in a place that has at least some dress requirements. Unless those requirements include a paper hat, you'll likely need to make some of your own decisions, and it goes without saying that you'll aim to look as sharp as you can.

It's important to emphasize a basic principle of style for the older man: It's a million times better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. A younger man can get away with jeans and sockless topsiders in business casual settings, but older men should err on the side of proper and put on some classic flat-front kakhis and some good-looking shoes. With socks. Trust me, my fine-vintage friends -- we need to wear socks.

An Outstanding Pair of Shoes

I love these Cole Haan Cap Toe Oxfords. They're sleek, stylish, and they match with everything. They're also amazingly comfortable, which makes them an excellent choice for work shoes that don't make people think that you've given up on looking good. For more men's shoes that look sharp and feel great, have a look at my article listing the top 5 most comfortable dress shoes for men.

Style Tips: Does Aging Mean Losing Style?

No! But it does mean making some clean, clear decisions about how we want to look.

Start With Clean Basics

  • Older men like us are best off choosing one general look and then sticking to it. For example, if you feel good in a blazer and jeans, then don't ditch the look just because you're getting a little older. By all means, adapt it to fit your touch of gray.
  • Fitted, slim jeans in colors other than blue will always look sharp with a tailored blazer (avoid saggy "full cut" slacks and skinny jeans).
  • Select good, unpretentious shoes and a solid-color button-down shirt. If you're in the mood, a subtle patterned tie is always appropriate for older men, and it will pull your look together.
  • Finally, never wear white running shoes, unless you're running. And even then, consider some black or dark gray Nikes.

A Good-Looking, Affordable Suit

Our best bet for a suit one that's dependable, stylish, and can be adapted to fit different seasons and occasions. And ideally, it shouldn't be particularly expensive. I like this Azar suit. It's sleek, sharp, and very affordable. It also comes in a good range of sizes so us bigger men can still own a suit that's cut slim and looks sharp. Did I mention that it's very affordable? One of our best traits as older gentlemen is that we know the value of a dollar.

Reservoir Dogs, Looking Deadly

Reservoir Dogs: Rocking the vintage skinny tie look
Reservoir Dogs: Rocking the vintage skinny tie look

Style Don'ts for Older Men

Here are some questionable style choices men make:

  1. Skinny Jeans: Even if you're skinny, you should avoid them. We're older, and older men just look silly wearing these things. We are NOT the singer for Green Day.
  2. Logo/Graphic T-shirts: After age fifty, anything emblazoned across your chest looks desperate — especially "funny" Threadless designs.
  3. Hoodies: Bad for Bill Belichick, bad for all of us.
  4. Long Hair: If you're losing your hair, any style that's more than 1/2 inch long is a big no. Yes, I said it. I myself am losing my hair, and I keep it cut short. It's the only humane option.
  5. Wearing a Ponytail: If you still have your hair, anything that ties in the back should not even be an option (unless you own a yacht or produce pornos, in which case, go for it).
  6. Overalls: Don't. Even if you're a farmer.
  7. Blue Jeans and Running Shoes: This is my personal pet peeve. If you're going running, wear sweats. If you're going to work, wear grown-up shoes.

Cool Hand Luke, Looking Cool

Style Essentials for the Older Man: Quality, Not Quantity

It has been suggested — and I agree — that the most important thing about style for men past the age of fifty is quality and neatness. That's not to say that you need to spend an entire paycheck on a rack of Italian silk ties, but it does mean finding a few good ties and throwing down a few extra bucks for the quality. In general, your best policy is to buy a few very high-quality items and pair them in a variety of ways. It's always possible, if you think about it and, more importantly, care about it, to find ways to look better. We're not rich, but we're not quite as poor as we, perhaps, were as young men. It's perfectly acceptable to spend a little extra to look our age.

Ralph Lauren: A Model Older Male

At least one men's fashion blogger has pointed to Mr. Lauren as an excellent model for dressing in style as we age. Ralph Lauren is, of course, the style star who, in 1967, obtained the Polo brand from Brooks Brothers, along with its iconic button-down collar shirt. Lauren was born in 1939, which puts him comfortably beyond our required age of 50, but he's still one of the most stylish, not to mention one of the wealthiest, men in the entire world. He oversees a multibillion-dollar business, as well as a pretty sweet collection of rare cars.

You don't need to dress as elegantly as Ralph Lauren to succeed as a style-conscious older man, but following a few of his habits won't hurt. You can start with crisp, long-sleeve button-downs (it's fine to roll the sleeves up), good loafers or lace-ups, and a subtle but quality watch.


The War on Our Skin: How to Protect It

A recent study, published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, highlighted the incredible assault that our skin experiences every minute of every day. Aging skin is especially vulnerable, so men of our age need to be aware of the need to protect it. Some of the internal and external factors that affect our skin are genetics, cellular metabolism, hormones and metabolic processes, chronic light exposure, pollution, ionizing radiation, and chemicals. That's a full-on assault every day of the year. And if you're a little older, the effects are even worse. The redistribution of fat through gravity and the loss of bony skeleton support affects the shape and condition of your face.

When we've been on the planet for more than a few decades, it all adds up. Our skin has a little more "give" and a few more wrinkles. These are hard-earned marks of character, experience, and power, so why would you want to inject or cut them away? Treat your skin well with a quality moisturizer, and leave it at that. Let your face tell people that you've had an interesting life. I recommend the Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer with SPF 20. It is lightweight and protects you from aging sun rays.

Hair for Older Men: It's All in the Grooming

As we age, our hair and skin do some interesting things, but don't assume that all of them are bad! It's no tragedy if a man over fifty loses some, most, or even all of his hair. It comes with the territory, and there's nothing to be gained when an older man acquires a too-new head of hair. How you groom yourself must be grounded in reality. You show your confidence and power by embracing your age, not denying it. So keep thinning hair very short, and longer hair styled with restraint.

Trim Those Nose Hairs

We can dress and accessorize correctly for our age and do everything else right, but if we don't pay close attention to necessary grooming details, then everything else will be done in vain. As we get older, unfortunately, nose and ear hairs begin to proliferate. They may seem small, but trust me, people notice them. If there's one thing that makes an older man look old, it's out-of-control nose and ear hairs. These hairs grow faster and more wiry in older men, and if you don't stay ahead of them, pretty soon you'll look like a hairy old troll. Trim them back and you'll instantly be miles ahead of all the other men your age.

It takes a good hair trimmer to do the job, so please don't buy the cheapest model because these tend to yank and tug. While in some contexts that can be just fine, it's no fun at all when it comes to nose hairs. I have used both a low-quality and a professional-grade nose trimmer and there's really no comparison. The professional models snip hairs off with no pain.

Elements of Style: George Clooney in 'The American'

Think Twice About Men's Style and Aging

I'm a man who will not see 50 again, and I'm perfectly fine with that. I don't have my head in the sand, and I'm aware that dressing well as we age can be a little tricky. Last decade's suit and casual combos may not be appropriate anymore. But we can always do better, and as we gain years and wisdom, we also gain the power of experience. It seems to me that older men like us should dress in a way that reflects both our knowledge of how to do things and the fact that we still have the ability to do them. A tasteful, elegant, yet affordable style for older men isn't a mystery, but it does take attention to detail and the help of a few well-chosen sources.


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