What’s the big deal?
Just look around the next time you’re at the mall or out to eat. Pay attention to how most men dress and you’ll start to see a pattern – baggy pants, disheveled attire, shirts blooming out of their jeans, and old sneakers. I understand that most guys don’t pay too much attention to how they dress, but for those who are ready to elevate their style and put a little pep in their outfits, here are 10 tips to get you on your way!
1. Do a Closet Cleanse
Look, if you’re like most guys you have stuff in your closet that you’ve had since your college days! And if you want to up your style game, it’s time to take some stuff to Goodwill. First, start by going through your closet and getting rid of anything you haven’t worn in years – old shirts, jackets, those shoes that are way overdue for the trash, etc. Just get rid of that stuff. Next, get rid of anything that doesn’t fit. If it’s too tight or too baggy, if it has holes or is stretched out, get rid of it. However, if you’re serious about losing some weight and you have a few items that are ONE SIZE smaller, keep them for inspiration (if they look good). Otherwise, get yourself a tax write off and donate them.
2. Get rid of the cuffed and pleated slacks
I’m sure back in 2001 you looked amazing in your pleated slacks with cuffs. And I know the guy at your local department store where you bought your pants told you they looked great. But that guy is long gone – and so is that style. It’s time to dump the pleats and cuffs.
Now, there’s always an exception to rule. Many European designers are bringing cuffs back. However, they are generally a wider cuff, the pants are a little shorter, and they typically only look good if you’re tall and slim. If that’s not you (and you know who you are!), then stick with flat front pants and no cuff. It’ll make you look sleeker and more polished.
3. Invest in quality shoes
Even a cheaper suit will be elevated if you wear a nice pair of shoes. And on the flip side, it’s nearly impossible to make a cheap pair of shoes look nice – or keep them looking nice for long. Now you might be tempted to think when buying an expensive pair of shoes that you’re only paying for a brand name. However, there’s a lot to be said for quality construction, customer service, the ability to have your shoes repaired or recrafted, and the overall fit and feel of a nice pair of shoes.
One of the best American shoe manufacturers around is Allen Edmonds. Every classy man should own a pair (or a few!) Allen Edmonds. Some of their most popular styles include:
- Park Avenue Cap-Toe Oxford
- Randolph Penny Loafers
- McAllister Wingtips
- Strands Cap-Toe with Brogueing
Whether you wear jeans, dress slacks or a suit, the foundation of your outfit is your shoes, and nothing ruins a great ensemble more than l looking down and seeing old shoes. And if you don’t want to polish your shoes yourself, at least take them once a month to your local shoe repair shop and have them shine them. You can usually get a basic shine and buff done for less than $10.
4. Dump those baggy jeans!
As a general observation, many men over 40 don’t know how to dress for their body type. They tend to reach for “relaxed fit” or “straight leg” jeans or “regular fit” dress pants. These often make your legs look too wide because they hang loose from your thighs, and they tend to bunch up around your ankles. And with relaxed fit jeans, often the seat of your jeans hangs down. They just look baggy.
Consider trying some “slim” fit jeans. And before you freak out, “slim” is not the same “skinny jeans.” No guy over 40 should wear skinny jeans. But slim just means that they are tapered from the thigh or knee down. They will be a little narrower around the ankle and make you look slimmer. Even if you have a larger waist, you can try slim cut jeans. And be sure to try on different brands from different stores. Every brand is going to have a different cut. For example, I can’t wear Levi’s slim cut pants because they are too tight around my hips, but I wear slim in every other brand I own.
Some of my favorite jeans are from 86A Jeans. Check them out! I wear them almost every day. You can save 20% of your order if you use the code “40Style” at checkout.
5. If it comes in a set, don’t buy it!
I’ve heard it said the only clothes you should buy in a set are shoes, socks and gloves. That’s good advice. You should never buy a tie and pocket square or a tie and shirt in a set, for example. For one, they are going to look cheap. It doesn’t matter where you buy them. Don’t do it.
6. Tailor your off-the-rack items
You don’t have to have your clothes custom made to have a nice, tailored look. Whether it’s a pair of slacks, a sport coat or a suit, consider having them tailored to better fit your shape. I often take the pants that I buy off the rack and have them hemmed – and I’ll have a strip of shirt grip sewn into the waistband to help hold my shirt in place. Also, you’ll generally want to have your jackets tailored to take up the sleeves or slim up the profile. These are all easy and affordable customizations that will elevate your outfit. If you purchase your suits or jackets in a higher end shop, they will typically provide these services for free or for a nominal fee. Finally, when trying on slim fit clothes – whether pants, jackets or suits – sometimes you’ll want to go up a size and then have them tailored down for the perfect fit.
7. Accessorize: Add some details
Now it’s time to accessorize. This is all about the details. Go ahead and cut the thread holding your front pocket closed and get a coordinating pocket square to go with your tie. Remember, the pocket square doesn’t have to be the same color. You might simply pull out a single color from your tie. And if you’re not sure how to fold it, check out a few YouTube videos.
You can also wear a lapel flower, a leather or beaded bracelet, a tie clip or even colored shoelaces. These things help elevate your look and give it a little extra pop. A nice watch can also be a great looking accessory.
8. Buy a navy or dark gray suit
Every guy should own a navy or dark charcoal suit – or at least a nice navy blazer. It’s versatile and will look great for more formal occasions and can easily be dressed down. Both will look amazing with walnut or brown shoes. If you can find a suite with a subtle pattern or texture, that will only add to the elegance of your look.
9. When you find something that fits, buy two of them!
I live by this rule! In fact, I typically buy more than two, especially if they are on sale. I recently bought 5 pair of Calvin Klein slacks that I found on clearance – in 3 different colors. They were originally $110/each, but I got them on sale for $29. I bought 2 pair in one store, drove to different location to buy another pair, and ordered 2 more online – all for the clearance price. I had all 5 hemmed and had shirt grip sewn into the waist for $20 each. Even after alterations, I got them less than half price! That’s a win. I did the same thing with shirts. I found these Tommy Hilfiger athletic cut dress shirts that fit incredibly well. When they went on sale at Macy’s, I bought 5 different patterns of the same shirt because I knew it fit great.
10. Mix some colors, textures or patterns to make your outfit pop
Don’t be afraid to mix it up a little bit with colors or patterns – and especially textures. Try a nice patterned shirt with your new navy blazer and slim cut jeans. That’s going to give you a modern, classy look. Or grab a tie or pocket square that has a nice pop of color as a statement piece. Just remember, you don’t want your colors or patterns to compete. Don’t put the same kind or size patterns on top of each other, but it’s perfectly fine to mix them up a little. As for textures, you can have fun with textured ties or jackets – or with with a nice wool pocket square. There are lots of ways to add depth and visual interest to your outfit. See what works – and ask your wife or girlfriend – and most of all, have fun!
This should go without saying, but it’s still a fashion best practice for your shoes and belt to match. If you’re wearing walnut shoes, for example, make sure you wear a nice looking walnut belt. These are often things you’ll want to buy at the same time to make sure the shades match. Also, an outfit can be elevated by having a couple of belts – one plain to wear with jeans and another dressier belt for slacks or to wear with a jacket. And like with any rule, there are exceptions. Today canvas belts are popular that won’t necessarily match your shoes, but don’t take it for granted. You want to coordinate your belt and shoes.
What did I miss?
Do you have any other fashion advice or tips? What mistakes do you see guys making? Leave a comment below and be sure to follow 40Something Style on Instagram!