As a busy family man with two kids, keeping up with fashion is rarely high up on my priority list. I usually wear whatever happens to be in the closet and barely look in the mirror before I leave the house in the morning.
However, after a recent outing to the movies with my kids, they told me they were embarrassed by my clothing. My Metallica t-shirt that I’ve had since the 90’s with my acid wash jeans weren’t up to scratch–according to them–and they strongly advised that I update my look. Although this was somewhat of a blow to my ego, I realized they were right. My current look was more than a little dated.
As my 40th birthday approached, I decided it was time I changed my look. I began to throw out much of my very dated wardrobe and replaced many items with more age appropriate attire. This recent experience made me notice that I am not alone in having fashion shortcomings. A lot of other men my age wear ridiculously age inappropriate clothes and rather than looking on trend they usually just look plain silly.
Not wearing Speedos over 40 may sound like a given, but you’d be surprised how many men over 40 still try to pull this look off on the beach – seemingly oblivious to their often-times horrendous beer guts. Unless you are planning on vacationing in Brazil any time soon, avoid this look like the plague.
That beloved sleeveless vest may have looked great when you were 25 and had bulging triceps, but now that you’re 40, a wife-beater will likely just make you look out of shape (think Tony Soprano) and probably a little creepy to boot. Trash this look and try sleeved t-shirts instead.
That “I’m with stupid” t-shirt may have been a great icebreaker a decade ago, but it probably doesn’t get a lot of laughs today. Act your age and avoid humor t-shirts once you reach the big four-oh. This doesn’t mean you can’t still crack jokes and be the life and soul of the party, it’s just generally a good idea to avoid branding jokes across your chest once you get past puberty.
Vintage clothes can look very chic on the young and hip, but once you arrive at the borders of middle agedom vintage apparel will likely make you look like a walking museum. Don’t waste your money on expensive vintage gear that reminds you of your lost youth and definitely throw out any clothes your mother bought you when you were still in high school. Try and wear new, fresh clothes that are age and era appropriate.
Tennis shoes are fine for the gym or the tennis court, but probably will make you look a little strange if paired with jeans or work pants once you get to 40. Swap your tennis shoes for sleek loafers or smart dress shoes. You don’t have to throw out your beloved sneakers or tennis shoes, just wear them in moderation and only for appropriate sports themed occasions.
As you can see, there are multiple looks and pieces of clothing that just aren’t going to work once you turn 40. What once may have been your best look has the potential to make you look odd and older than you are as you enter your fourth decade. You can still embrace fashion, but just remember to dress your age. Good luck!
Duncan King is a freelance writer and divides his time between visiting his kids at their New Hampshire Boarding School and working on his upcoming crime novel.