A man’s wardrobe should undergo subtle shifts as he gets older and takes on different roles in life. To help you look great at every age, this year we’ll be offering guides to dressing sharp and casual in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond.
Your forties are when you start to carry yourself with some serious authority.
These days, it’s also not the fixed quantity that it used to be. Men in their 40s are often just as dynamic and adventurous as they were in their 20s and 30s, if not more so. You don’t have to dress like someone who’s settled into his job and is just waiting for retirement.
With a little luck, you’ve also got a bit more money to spend in your 40s than you did when you were younger. If you don’t, don’t worry about it — you can still look good. But if you do have an enjoyable disposable income, don’t be shy about making some nice wardrobe investments as you move into this decade of your life.
Casual in Your 40s: Needs and Wants
At any age, your “casual” wardrobe is your non-business wardrobe. It can even include some clothes that you do, in fact, go to work or do business in, just worn in ways that set them apart from your office outfits.
What your wardrobe isn’t, and what it especially shouldn’t be at this age, is sloppy. A man in his forties can do better than aged sweatshirts, and if he’s wearing ripped jeans, he’d better be in a band. And on-stage.
How you dress when no one’s requiring you to look any way in particular says a lot about you. As you enter (and, for that matter, exit) your forties, here are a few things you want to be thinking about:
This is the most important consideration for a man of any age, but it takes on special import as you age.
Bodies change. Sometimes they change for the better, and sometimes not, but either way you need to stay on top of it. A middle-aged man in a custom-tailored jacket that slims his silhouette down and squares his shoulders? Smashing. The same man in a jacket that pinches at the shoulders and sags at the waist? Not so ideal.
Your body type doesn’t matter. Getting the right fit for it does. And at your age, it’s time to turn the simple task of getting your clothes fitted into a practiced routine: find a tailor you like, get him your measurements, and take everything you buy to him for fitting.
Trousers, shirts, jackets, overcoats — if you’re going to be wearing it stylishly, get it adjusted. It’s the cheapest way to look good there is.
If you can afford it, take your best wardrobe pieces a step further by having them tailor-made from scratch. A good made-to-measure suit stands head and shoulders above even a well-adjusted one off the rack, and true bespoke — while pricy — puts you in a whole different class from other men.
Over forty is the time to start wearing your silver hairs with pride (even if you don’t actually have many yet to speak of). You’ve got the years to carry yourself with a little gravitas. Start doing it.
That doesn’t mean double-breasted suits at all times, of course. But it does make darker colors, richer cloths, and sturdier cuts a good idea — a little more of the esquire, and a little less of the dandy.
Be willing to expend the little extra bit of time, money, or effort that you didn’t in your younger years to get things just right. Press your shirts more often. Perfect a fancy, three-pointed pocket square fold. Wear a scarf that highlights your eyes. It’s all about the little things at this point.
It goes without saying that this is also a good time to be leaving behind the edgier fashions, even ones that you’ve pulled off in the past. A savvy dresser probably canstill wear red Converse sneakers with a suit jacket in his forties — but he doesn’t need to, and he’d be better-served by something more restrained.
Don’t mourn the flashy fashions. Exceed them.
You’re hopefully reaching a time of life when your body won’t be doing too much more changing in shape or size. You might put on or lose a little weight as you age, and we’re all going to shrink at least a bit, but for the most part you can hope that clothes you buy in your 40s will still fit in your 60s.
That means that it’s time to start investing in some pieces with serious lifespans. Buy less frequently but more exclusively than you did in your 20s and 30s, so that you’re creating a small core of top-quality garments to go with your general staples and older remnants.