Dressing well for your age and what to avoid

Dressing well for your age and what to avoid

Q. This week you mentioned that an older man should avoid clothing that looks like he is trying to hide his age. I’m proud of my age and that I’m holding up “well,” but I do understand your point. Can you explain what I need to avoid?

A. I appreciate your openness to adjusting your wardrobe to look your best and to present yourself realistically. Such a change often has positives that a man may not notice – comments by others will change from “he’s got to be kidding” to “he always looks just right.” So, what am I warning against? Let me suggest a few no-no’s. 

  • Wearing ripped or faded jeans. The first thought that comes to others’ minds when seeing these is not “He’s hip”; it’s “Dad jeans.” If you must wear jeans, then choose ones with a classic, dark-wash, that are neither too short nor too tight. The reason jeans are considered such a classic look is their consistency, not any given day’s new look for teenagers.
  • Wearing loud-colored, splashy-printed ties. These really do date a man. Handsome neckties still remain in today’s more casual-dress world by presenting a businesslike, classic look. But wild ties from the 1980s, 1990s, and ties from no era do nothing to support that image.
  • Untucking your dress shirts. Certainly, this is an area in which I am in disagreement with many . . . but those pulling it off successfully (or who think they are) are much younger men. The only shirts that look right untucked on a man who is over 40 are knits.
  • Buttoning the bottom button. Suit jackets (Both single-breasted and double-breasted), blazers, sport jackets, and vests, all should be worn with the bottom button left unfastened. There is a long-established history for this rule that well-dressed men all seem to know. 
  • Wearing sneakers with dressy “adult” clothes. This is the sort of mistake that makes others question a man’s good judgment.  
  • Wearing dark socks and leather shoes with shorts. This is the ultimate “old nerd” look. Wearing shorts is one of the few times when white socks (or no-socks) is the best look.
  • Allowing the top of your undershirt to show when wearing an open-at-the-neck dress shirt. This style went out too long ago. The best solution is to buy a few V-neck undershirts.
  • Even worse, exposing too much chest (with or without hair). Only the top two buttons should be left open by any man not sporting an incredibly young physique and at a vacation resort . . . (and those men would be better served letting others wonder what’s under that shirt). 
  • Wearing gold chains, bracelets, and other gaudy jewelry. We are many decades removed from the short, unfortunate period when this was a style. Subtle wedding bands, nice cuff links, and a fine watch should be the extent of your jewelry.

There are other examples of looks that men try in an attempt to look younger and/or “with it.” To some extent, you already know what they are when you look at other men and react; but many is the man who thinks he can pull off what he recognizes as wrong on others. Do be truthful – and you seem to be open to the truth – you can’t.  

Please send your men’s dress and grooming questions and comments to MALE CALL: Lois.Fenton@prodigy.net

Categories: Male Call