‘Forty is the new thirty!’ It is the phrase that is bound to be bowled at everyone on their 40th. More often associated with the term ‘midlife’ and at times followed by the dreaded word ‘crisis’, turning forty doesn’t always seem fun. However, instead of going out for a duck, hit a six and prove the phrase right – forty is the new thirty and it’s a great time to be noticed.
Continuing on from our ‘Dressing Your Age: Thirties’ article, we progress into the future with tips and advice on how to look your best; hopefully making you feel your best too. Indeed that is the point, clothes should help to improve your mood, be an extension of your personality and of course, be stylish. So don’t hold back from rejecting some of the general advice given today – if it doesn’t make you feel and look the very best you can be, the clothes aren’t doing what they were designed for.
It’s time to throw the whole wardrobe out, right? Not quite. In fact, the majority of your clothes from your thirties should be able to make the transition into the next decade with ease, even if that means extending the waistline on some trousers. Actually, dressing in the forties can be considered easier than any previous age. Keeping up with the Louis Vuittons next-door isn’t as important anymore – leave that to the youngsters.
Now is the time to be introducing more and more of the classics into an outfit. Think a simple, traditional double-breasted jacket, a ‘King’s Speech’ style overcoat and silk scarf. It’s these timeless items that will never go out of Vogue and work well at all ages when worn correctly. It’s a simple formula that doesn’t have to change each and every season – easy.
Naturally, some new trends will still be able to be implemented. This season sees an influx of yet more rollnecks, which are timeless, elegant and mature – yet will add fashion brownie points. However, these transitional trends are much less important now and the way to look your best consistently will be through simplicity; consider style rather than fashion.
Although more often aimed at the younger generation, lookbooks from designers and stores can be really inspiring and easily adapted to cater for someone older. Here I choose some looks that could relate, or have some items that could relate, to the forty age bracket.
Notice how it isn’t a time to give up colour completely, it just needs to be more considered. Try to stick to deep classic hues such as burgundy, camel and bottle green. In fact, much like in your thirties, a shot of colour can give your outfits a youthful spin without coming across as ‘try hard’. How about updating your trench in an olive green, throwing on a burgundy blazer or utilising camel chinos/trousers? These essential pieces will always be smart and sophisticated, so injecting a shot of colour can help identify you as an individual.
As we mentioned in the thirties article, the ‘Riviera Chic’ look is one that flatters all ages – so your slim white chinos, jeans and shorts can (and should) still be utilised right the way through your forties.
Getting older doesn’t just mean making the switch from Radio 1 to Radio 4, it’s also time to switch to materials that are considered investments. The essential basics like jumpers, trousers or cardigans should be given a luxurious update. It’s a time for cashmere jumpers that look both relaxed and indulgent, items that can be worked under a suit jacket as easily as with a pair of jeans. Buy a couple of these basics in a range of (muted) colours to ensure variance and provide the versatility to coordinate with any outfit. Experimenting with textures and cut (like cable knits or a shawl-neck) can also add a touch of youth to your outfit and keep things diverse.
For the lazy weekend wardrobe, t-shirts and jeans are still very acceptable but need updating. T-shirts should fit well to the body and be minimal – no bold, boisterous detailing or brash colouring – keep things simple and you’ll remain stylish. Jeans should be kept slim and in a raw denim. It’s important to get the footwear right here, making a pair of jeans casual, not sloppy. Think a pair of loafers, boat shoes or brogues and you’ll keep on the smart-casual line.
Trousers could also merit this luxury upgrade. Cotton or linen trousers add maturity, style awareness and comfort, keeping far enough away from the drop crotch chino wearing youth but close enough to promote a youthful, effortless appearance. Again, invest in a range of colours to keep variety and make sure they are tailored closely to the leg for a clean, modern silhouette.
Waistcoats are perfect for anyone who has lost that thin, youthful appearance – which can often be the case by 40. The waistcoat will keep everything streamlined, even after a hefty three course meal, and can be worn either formally, or in a Pete Doherty style casual look.
Like accessories, the waistcoat can inject some colour and be kept modern through a good cut and new detailing. The Paul Smith number below has a purple back and the Topman piece has some interesting panelling detail, giving a classic piece a contemporary twist.
For outerwear, choose a trench coat. The great thing about the trench is that it’s associated equally between the younger and older generation, so the right trench can knock back the years. A trench coat can provide a seamless transition from business meeting to going to watch the football – so make sure you invest in a nice one in a versatile colour.
At forty, a man should still be able to wear the camel trench he had in his thirties. However, if looking to invest in a piece for the far future, a navy trench coat will keep you looking your best, as it’s more complimentary to the older gentleman.
A long trench coat should be worn by men with tall, slim frames; this will accentuate your body type, whilst negating the dreaded ‘lanky’ effect by breaking up the vertical lines. For the shorter or larger gent, try a cropped piece that fits the body perfectly. It should make you look slimmer and your legs longer, whilst the cropped cut will make you look younger.
Remember that it is cut and detailing that will keep you looking neat and professional, not the designer label.
The time for adventurous colour is never over, but it all got a bit more grown-up. Avoid the bold and bright because these will make you look older – instead, use accessories to apply some flair and a splash of colour.
Be sure to keep a nice array of pocket squares. Wearing the same white hanky is strictly forbidden, always has been. They can be used to inject some colour and by following our guide here, they also show attention to detail (the mark of a well dressed gentleman) and youthful flair.
In a similar way, socks can give the occasional peak of colour and add some fun to a serious suit. This doesn’t mean neon hues or those novelty things from your aunt, they should be a considered finishing touch to your outfit and either compliment, coordinate or contrast against the overall colour scheme.
The same goes for ties. By the 40s, I personally would try to step things up in the sartorial stakes by opting for mainly woollen, textured or silk ties. Popular on the catwalk, these look great, add a tactile element to your outfit and will separate you from the rest in the office. When adding colour through a tie, be careful not to choose something garish – play it safe and opt for a bold primary colour like red or green.
In the second part of our 30s article, we discussed how a hat that suits your face shape can become one of your trademarks. Moving into the 40s, the hat is still something that you must look into, however, here I would like to discuss other key outerwear accessories; gloves and scarves. Look at the lookbook below to see how these accessories can really alter an outfit to produce a different feel and style:
A pair of supple leather gloves keeps your hands warm, never go out of fashion and always looks stylish – what’s not to love? Worn with a camel overcoat or trench, a pair of black gloves can bring a pop of contrast and a look of sophistication. Leather gloves in different colours, like green or red, can be an unusual touch and are certainly worth considering. When looking to buy a pair of leather gloves, why not opt for a pair of driving gloves that are both practical and stylish?
Remember however that leather gloves don’t fit into every outfit seamlessly. In more casual outfits, a pair of woollen gloves can often look better than their leather counterparts, and also more youthful. Woollen gloves are definitely more playful, so why not opt for a bold coloured glove or a pair made of an interesting, unusual material?
For scarves, the latest trends such as the snood or the oversize knit scarf might look better on the twenty/thirty year-olds. However, there are still some great options – which are just as unique – that can be interpreted into the forty year-olds’ wardrobe.
The silk scarf is an elegant accessory that can provide both a shot of individuality and character into an aready refined outfit. They fit in with our focus on ‘luxury’ items, whilst simultaneously acting as the perfect finishing touch. We have already detailed why you should own one and how to wear it both casually and formally – so all that is left now is to pick your choice of colour and pattern.
Alternatively, if you are looking to play it safe, scarves should be kept classic and simple – a good camel or deep burgundy/blue scarf will work with most outfits.
Harken back to the sixties and the time of JFK in America and you will see how the same rules apply today as they did then. JFK kept his style simple and clean (clearly of extra importance for a president) and cut a very relaxed figure.
Above he can be seen wearing the luxurious casual wear discussed earlier; the soft cashmere keeping his style fresh and relaxed yet neat and professional. JFK’s slender figure is complemented perfectly by his well-tailored suits, keeping him looking younger and stylish.
Take a look at our full analysis of the timeless style icon here.
There are always things that are out there to tempt you into looking ‘cooler’. It’s always wise to take someone along whilst shopping to give a second opinion, and be prepared to ask a shop assistant for their view as well. Many are very knowledgeable not only about the clothes they sell, but about fashion in general. Here are some general tips to guide you before hitting the stores.
Although Matt Smith’s Doctor Who may be bringing tweed and bow ties back into fashion and street style blogs around the world, don’t get carried away and delve into that tweed jacket from your 20s. It looked good then but will need updating now. When trends like tweed return, they return with a modern twist; such as the cut of the jacket. If wanting to wear these new/old looks, invest in a new piece that keeps you looking modern, instead of ‘past it’.
When taking inspiration from modern culture, be sure not to jump right in and try to reproduce the exact look – from the designer label to the shoe laces. The last thing anyone wants is for someone in the street to point and say, ‘Look, Doctor Who actually does age!’ The key is to only take the pieces that fit in with your personal style and are relevant to your age range – this is often enough to work around successfully. Doctor Who’s tweed and bowtie can work well in the forties, but not with the army boots and chinos.
Before anyone thinks I’m going to say ‘Don’t wear a suit!’ after having bigged it up earlier – that’s not gonna happen. Here I would just like to enforce the ideal of having a well-rounded wardrobe; something versatile and adaptable that doesn’t mean wearing the same pieces all the time. We at FashionBeans often call this the Capsule Wardrobe.
One of the most common traps that men fall into as they get older is wearing their business wear as casual wear. Although it may be your best suit, it doesn’t always make it your best casual or evening wear. Be sure to buy other suits for evening wear and keep your weekend and business wardrobes separate. Of course there will be pieces that cross over between the two, but a selection of different casual jumpers, shirts and shoes that can be mixed and matched with parts of your business wear will allow you to create new looks and outfits regularly.
We’ve travelled through the decade, guided by the good-ship FashionBeans and come out a whole lot more fashionable. I hope you’ve enjoyed the article and feel more confident in stepping onto the high-street.
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