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How to dress in your 40’s

The best way to dress in your 40’s

If forty is the new thirty these days, how do you know what is considered appropriate to wear? In your twenties, you can be more playful with colour, make a few mistakes, drop in a Hawaiian shirt or two. But if you try that in your thirties, you’re showing signs that you’re headed down a road to no return. By the time you are in your early thirties you’re starting to feel more confident, and probably notice that you tend to buy fairly similar cuts of clothing, but in varying shades. In your forties, you’re usually well settled into your career, the kids are starting to grow up a little, so time and money is not quite as tight as they may have been a decade earlier. In theory, by your forties you should have it all worked out. It seems not.

Now is the time to really invest in an effective wardrobe – but don’t be afraid to ask for advice. A lot of men in their forties come to me asking how they can look age appropriate and avoid looking tragic or like they are trying too hard. Invariably I rattle off a mantra that applies to most ages: classic is always best, just keep your look crisp and clean. There is no need to be afraid of colour though. Black can be rather aging, so you’re best to steer clear of it as much as possible and opt for a blue with warmth and a little vibrancy – it’s far more flattering.

To make your wardrobe work more effectively, you’ll need to take a step back and evaluate your lifestyle. You already know what you like to do on the weekends, and you know that you spend five days (or more, if you’re unlucky) in the office, so you know what your basic needs are. But there are a few additional questions you’ll need to ask yourself: How often do I wear a suit? How many weddings/special occasions do I go to? How often do I travel and where to? Each person has different wardrobe staple needs so it’s important to answer these questions before you go shopping.

A basic guide to a forty-something man’s wardrobe

For the purposes of this very general guide, I’m going to assume that he is a businessman who works in the city, has a couple of children, flies with his work for business and socialises at sports events. His wardrobe should comprise:

Smart tailored business suits (at least four).

Don’t waste money going to shops that are offering a sale. Invest in a suit that fits you to perfection with a cut that compliments your shape and a fabric that will last. A bespoke and made-to-measure suit will stand you in good stead for many years.

Grey suit

Business shirts in a mix of blue and white (around eight). Pink rarely looks sharp and crisp for work or casual wear and these colours will work more effectively with all of your other items.

Classic white double cuff shirt
Classic white double cuff shirt

One suit for travel/summer. Most Men wear the same suit all year round. Even if the office or hotel has air conditioning, isn’t it nice to feel a lightness on your skin in summer? A crease-free (they do exist) lightweight suit is the perfect travel companion that you can throw into your suitcase and know it will look great at the other end. The best bit is that you can wear the jacket with jeans in the evening, teamed with a white shirt and smart casual shoes.

Shoes. Smart, black shoes for work; elegant, Italian styled shoes for the evening; chocolate brown brogues that can be worn for work or at the weekend; and casual loafers in an understated colour.

T-shirts. You can’t go wrong with white T-shirts: they look great on men and can be worn on their own or under cashmere or wool V-neck jumpers.

Jeans. Slim fitting, and always indigo or at least a darker shade. Light jeans go wrong very quickly.

Sweater. V-necks or soft round necks look the best. They avoid closing up the neck too much, and space around the neck draws the eyes downwards, elongating your frame. This beautiful merino v-neck will do the trick.

Merino v-neck sweater
Merino wool sweater

Blazers. An essential in every man’s wardrobe these days. Ideal for casual work days, weekend wear, and sporting events, a simple blazer like this navy textured slim-line version is a smart investment.

Textured navy blazer

Smart-casual trousers. Choose flannel or smart cotton trousers as these look great worn with blazers and sweaters.

Rich blue chinos
Rich blue chinos

An Overcoat. More often than not, this is the one purchase where men often choose something cheap that doesn’t fit particularly well. It’s the outer layer protecting, and hinting at, all of your gorgeous new clothes underneath, so they need to be wrapped up in something incredible, do they not? Try a lightweight Mac or structured covert coat which can be worn casually and for work.

Country Retreat double breasted covert coat

Start creating your new wardrobe today with these tips:

  • Go through everything you own and ask these three questions: When was the last time you wore it? Does it suit you? Does it look good? If the answers are “Can’t remember”, “No” and “No”, say goodbye.
  • Clean out your ties. If most people are anything to go by, the majority of your ties have likely sat in your wardrobe for years. You only really need a maximum of five ties. Keep them simple – a splash of colour is fine but a cartoon character is not!
  • Start thinking about how you want to look and feel in your clothes. Imagine a scenario where you are wearing your perfect outfit. Do you want to feel sexy? Is it confidence and comfort you are after? Flip through some magazines or browse online to find images of outfits and celebrities that you admire that fit this vision.

Make these changes and watch the compliments roll in.

You’ll find more inspiration for dressing over 40 in my post Designing a suit for a British style expert which details how I created a navy-blue corduroy suit for style blogger The Grey Fox.

And remember, if you’re still struggling we’re here to help, so do contact us at info@alexandrawoodbespoke.co.uk 

Main photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash