Growing Old Gracefully
With age comes wisdom, a greater appreciation of the world and a better understanding of yourself. Having said that, age also seems to set up some rather irritating mental barriers to personal style.
Why, for instance, do certain items that you’ve worn for years suddenly make you feel like you subscribe to Top Gear Magazine? It makes no sense at all, but it’s a common trait of the ageing process that we all experience.
As a man’s personal style becomes more and more his social and professional currency, we asked Topman’s 30-year-old Online Editor, Daniel Copley, to walk us through some of his own age-induced style anxieties. And offer us some solutions.
1. Beard Baggage
The Problem: “I’ve had a beard for several years now. I first grew it in my mid-twenties, kept it throughout the hipster-fication of facial hair and even stood my ground across last year’s ‘peak beard’ backlash.
“During that time though, I’ve put on a fair amount of chins and now dare not remove it for fear of showing my older, jowlier, considerably more grizzled, face to the world.”
The Solution: You’ve probably got another season or more left in the beard, so keep it while the weather is cold. Take advantage of the New Year’s health focus and then take the leap and go clean-shaven for summer.
Hopefully by that time the beach diet will have kicked in and you’ll have got rid of a few of the chins.
2. Catwalk Trends
The Problem: “Glaswegian-pirate-luxe? Nightclub-doorman-chic? 1990s-revival? The older I get, the more cynical I am towards catwalk trends, finding it harder to see them fitting into my own style, or vice versa.
“What would have, only a few years ago, seemed like an incredibly exciting and perfectly logical seasonal style update, now seems like four parts lunacy mixed with three parts p*ss-take. As such, for me, it has become harder to personally buy into cutting-edge fashion.”
The Solution: Most catwalk looks are, by their very nature, not meant to translate directly into wearable day-to-day pieces. Instead, take note of general colour and cut trends, and look to incorporate these into your personal wardrobe where appropriate.
3. Leather Jackets
The Problem: “The leather jacket is supposed to be shorthand for a ‘don’t-give-a-f*ck’ rebellious attitude, meaning that it’s impossible not to look cool in one. Right? Wrong. All of sudden, after hitting thirty, I’m feeling less Marlon Brando and more Ireland’s 24/7 sunglasses wearing, world saving, iTunes infiltrating Bono.”
The Solution: Don’t worry too much if you’re not feeling the leather jacket at the moment – with SS15 comes suede bombers and Harringtons. They’re just as cool as a leather biker and have got absolutely nothing to do with U2.
Image: Massimo Dutti December 2013
The Problem: “I practically lived in hoodies during my university days – they were a valid style selection for almost any occasion.
“Now, however, when I slip one on it looks like something I’m just wearing in the interim before getting dressed properly. The kind of thing you’d wear as you buckle the kids into the Range Rover before dropping them off at the local elementary.”
The Solution: Upgrade your basics. There are a number of great brands producing luxurious staples – you can’t get much better than Sunspel in my eyes. By opting for a crew neck sweatshirt instead, preferably in grey marl, you also tap directly into a heritage classic.
If it’s good enough for Steve McQueen…
5. Fine Knitwear
The Problem: “As we get older our metabolism slows, and we men, y’know, earn ourselves a little beer gut. Which is nothing to be ashamed of. Except, perhaps, when you want to wear a piece of fine, slim-fitted knitwear such as a merino roll neck.
“These pieces have a tendency to be a little tight by their nature, and sometimes, just sometimes, highlighting your paunch.”
The Solution: Hide the paunch with layering. Either wear a buttoned-up cardigan over the roll-neck or have your merino crew neck one size larger with a longer length t-shirt underneath.
Image: M&S Best of british AW15
6. Trainers with Suits
The Problem: “When I’m wearing my Stan Smiths with my suit trousers, I want it to be recognised as a style statement in its own right – a modern day re-imagining of the principles of tailoring, if you like.
“What I realise though, is actually I look like a commuter that keeps a pair of work shoes under his desk to change into when he arrives at the office.”
The Solution: The key to nailing this look is making sure your sneakers are in box fresh condition and not too chunky. There are a number of premium brands producing luxury leather monochrome styles – Common Projects and Erik Schedin are great – for a smarter, more considered look.
Image: Zara 2014
7. Beanies & Caps
The Problem: “How did this happen? I realise now, by looking through old pictures of myself, that a man’s ability to wear a beanie hat or baseball cap is intrinsically linked to his age.
“Once you start to coast above and beyond thirty, a baseball cap can make you look like an American tourist and a beanie a football coach in training.”
The Solution: This season is all about wide-brimmed hats, a style that’s not only on-trend but also looks better on slightly older guys. Sorted.
Image: Whistles AW14
Got any age-induced style anxieties you would like to share or want solutions for?
Let us know in the comments section…