Three Items (and One Grooming Habit) Every Man in His 30s Should Own
A Proper Dress Watch
It doesn’t have to be a R80 000 luxury watch, but you need a watch with a proper metal or leather band.
Keep it simple, classic, and not too chunky, and if you want to make matching easy on yourself down the line, get one that can be swapped out to multiple bands without using a screwdriver. That way you can switch back and forth between a black leather band and a brown leather band to match the shoes and belt you’re wearing.
A Respectable Wallet
No more pulling out a tattered billfold exploding with receipts, if you please. It’s time to own something slim, leather, and intact. Prune its contents as often as you need to keep it from ruining the line of your trousers.
And absolutely no nylon or velcro sports wallets at your age, with the exception of “safety” or travel wallets clipped to your body when you’re traveling abroad.
Shoes for Every Occasion
At a minimum, a man can get by with only two or three pairs of shoes, but they need to be exactly the right kind — and it’ll be easier on the wear-and-tear if you have a few more to choose from.
You realistically need a pair of plain black leather shoes for business dealings and high-formality events, at least one pair of brown leather shoes for when you want to look more casual but still dressy, and two or three casual options for social wear.
Invest in some quality and don’t be shy about adding to the collection. Is a really nice pair of boaters that you only wear three months out of the year worth R1000 or more? Absolutely, if they look great when you wear them.
A Grown-Up Haircut
Can you glance in a mirror, run a comb through your hair, and be ready for the most important interview of your life?
If not, time to change your hairstyle. You don’t want something that takes a ton of maintenance and is capable of falling apart into a mess of tangles or straw-ends by quitting time. This is also a decent age to start moving away from dyes, if you’d been using them in your younger days — whether or not you’re going gray. It’s your hair; own it.
By the same token, be honest about it when you start going bald. Get a short, classic cut that doesn’t try to comb over or layer on top of the bald spot, or go contemporary and shave the whole thing. Anything that isn’t ashamed is fine, but avoid the creeping comb-over like the plague.
Looks the 30-Something Man Should Always Avoid
Give up now and don’t even try — these are a few things you should never be wearing once you’ve passed the big three-oh. If you’re wearing these you’re doing it wrong:
- “Athletic” gear (outside the gym). Under Armour or heather-gray T-shirts, mesh shorts, tank tops, sweatpants, pop-off training pants, athletic shoes — stop wearing them outside the gym. No one’s going to mistake you for a college student at your age, so you just look like a man who never learned to dress better than a college student. If you’re not working out, there’s no reason to be wearing jock clothes.
- Runway fashions. It’s time to stop following the bleeding edge of fashion, if you ever did. There’s nothing wrong with looking trendy if it’s your pleasure, but give up on looking experimental. Bizarre color/style combinations, wild fabrics and patterns, and hairstyles that take an hour and a pound of product to arrange are hard to pull off even when you’re a young man, and nigh near impossible when you start to get on in age.
- Ties without a jacket. Seriously, there’s nothing that says “I work in a cubicle” louder and clearer than slacks, a dress shirt, and a necktie with no jacket. Do you want to look like your life is over already? Then don’t wear a collared shirt and tie without also throwing a jacket on.
- Team jerseys. Unless you’re at the game itself, you’re too old to be wearing a hockey, football, or soccer jersey. Other sports are right out too, while we’re at it.
Beyond that, let your taste and your social circumstances guide your “yes” and “no” lists. If you hang with a deeply artsy crowd where experimental fashions are de rigueur, maybe stay clear of conservative classics like a navy blazer with khakis. If you’re schmoozing with buddies from a law firm, a bright plaid jacket and Converse sneakers probably aren’t the way to go.
Use a little common sense, but above all else have some faith in your sense of self — know who you are, and dress like it.
Written By Antonio Centeno
Founder, Real Men Real Style