Fashion for men over 30 is all about using old standards in a new way. The classic blazer is a wardrobe staple, for example, but wearing a deconstructed version in linen or cotton stands will be more comfortable and original. Take items you love and look for new colours, fabrics and shapes to expand your options.
Master the Art of Layering
Scarves are a great way to layer.
The number one strategy for adding sophistication to your wardrobe is to work in layers. Mix fabric and colours in unexpected combinations to add depth and distinction to your look. For example, instead of wearing a simple blue dress shirt and navy slacks, make the look more interesting by adding a black-and-white block-stripe half-zip sweater to the mix. For date night, instead of wearing an untucked sport shirt and jeans, wear your jeans with a tattoo-inspired graphic print T-shirt and unstructured blazer. The idea is to avoid a look that's all about tailored work pieces, or all about casual, unstructured pieces. Mix elements of each for a look that's modern, easy and age-appropriate.
Invest in a Classic
A classic two-button, three-piece suit is one of the best fashion investments you can make. Although many men hesitate to wear suit pieces separately, it's the best way to stretch your dollar. If you can afford to buy only one suit, pick a classic extra-fine merino wool version in a versatile, season-less colour like charcoal grey or navy. Your suit jacket will layer over dress shirts, V-neck sweaters, cardigans and T-shirts, making them all more polished in an instant. Your suit vest turns a casual look into something hip and edgy. The suit trousers pair perfectly with sweaters or sport shirts for the office's casual days. Having these three tailored pieces to mix in with your existing wardrobe staples elevates your entire look and multiplies your options.
Update Your Denim
Dark denim is a classic look.
Denim styles evolve year after year as jeans get wider or narrower, darker or lighter, higher-waisted or lower-waisted. J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons tells Details magazine, "...men need to keep updating their wardrobe, because change is subtle. For example, denim is getting slimmer. If you're wearing jeans from two years ago, they probably don't look current."
A few general rules apply for denim. Dark washes are dressier, while lighter washes are more casual. A relaxed fit is fine, but the days of baggy denim are over. Avoid washes with too many effects: whiskers, dye splotches, creases, holes, rips or razoring can look fine in small doses, but you should never wear a pair that's been treated with all of the above. Just like your suit trousers, your denim trousers should break properly at the top of your shoe and hit the point where the heel of your shoe meets the upper. (Hint: Your socks should never show when you're walking.) It's OK to cuff your denim if your footwear is rugged (think work boots) or beachy (think flip-flops). If you're wearing dress shoes or oxfords, cuffs are off limits.
- Men's Journal; 4 Ways to Wear a 3-Piece Suit; Nicole Cusick, Dylan Coulter and Patti O'Brien; September 2008
- Details magazine Rules of Style: J. Crew's Jenna Lyons
- Getty Thinkstock