With the notable exception of Moses, time and tide waits for no man. So having already outlined what to chuck when you turn 30, we’re moving on more swiftly than a winged chariot.
The Bible says that when you become a man, you put away childish things. We say: dispose of them altogether. If any of the below are still in your rotation when you hit the big four-O, then it’s time to KonMari your act up, sharpish. This is (what to ditch when) 40.
1. Skinny Jeans
There’s mutton dressed as lamb, and then there’s past-its-sell-by meat that’s been wrapped in cling film in a desperate attempt to extend its shelf life.
“I would never recommend skinny jeans to any of my clients over 40,” says Daniel Rhone, personal shopping consultant at Selfridges. (Avail yourself of his services by e-mailing email@example.com.) “Unless they were Keith Richards.”
Papa may have been a Rolling Stone, but you are not. Squeeze yourself into skin-tight clothing and you risk resembling a badly packed sausage – or worse, exposing yours.
For men of a certain vintage, it’s not about jumping on bandwagons. You won’t look hip, you’ll just break one.
“For a lot of the gents I work with on a day-to-day basis, I preach how you can take elements from ‘fashionable trends’ and tweak them so they work for you,” says Rhone. “For example, the idea of a more flattering shape can be found in the form of a slim-cut jean.”
The aim is for your denim to skim your thigh, not be sprayed on, with the crucial factor being tapering from the knee down: “That creates a clean, sharp finish to show off your beautiful suede monk-straps.” Not your Yeezy Boosts (see below).
- Acne Studios Max Stay Cash Jean Black
- He By Mango Slim-fit Dark Wash Tim Jeans
- He By Mango Slim-fit Dark Wash Jan Jeans
- Reiss Stuge Slim-fit Jeans Indigo
- Reiss Fugee Slim-fit Jeans
- Tom Ford Slim-fit Washed-denim Jeans
- Nudie Jeans Grim Tim Slim-fit Organic Dry Denim Jeans
- Levis Kobori 501 Slim-fit Denim Jeans
- Frame Slim-fit Stretch-denim Jeans
To speak plainly, visible brand names are a no-(lo)go when you’re into your fifth decade.
“Simplicity is key,” says Eric Down, style director at Men’s Health magazine. “You should have got the lust for look-at-me-clothes out of your system in your twenties. If you didn’t, now is not the time to rock up to work in head-to-toe Gucci.”
It’s possible to dress unfussily without being ‘basic’. Rather than names, it’s all about buying better-quality pieces that whisper their superiority through fabric and fit.
“No one likes a show-off, or the #richkidsofinstagram, so don’t shout about your labels,” says Down. “If people know, they know; if they don’t, then their opinion isn’t one you should care about. A quiet nod of approval from a fellow connoisseur is worth a hundred thumbs-up emojis.” Besides, you’re too old to be a rich kid, granddad.
That doesn’t mean you have to dress boringly, though: “By all means have a statement piece, but don’t go for the obvious street style bait, and keep everything else toned down.”
- He By Mango Slim-fit Unstructured Cotton Blazer
- Reiss Tate B Wool And Linen Blazer Charcoal
- Reiss Mansion Merino Polo Shirt Airforce Blue
- John Smedley Marcus Crew Neck Merino Wool Sweater
- Uniqlo Men Extra Fine Merino V Neck Cardigan
- Reiss Bless Crew Neck T-shirt Racing Green
- Reiss Spirito Pique Cotton Polo Shirt White
- He By Mango Slim-fit End-on-end Shirt
- Uniqlo Men Oxford Slim Fit Long Sleeve Shirt
3. Esoteric Trainers
Being a keen sneakerhead past the age of 40 is really not so different from being a trainspotter, or having a spare room occupied by a legion of painstakingly handpainted Warhammer 40,000 figurines.
Either way, you should really have found something healthier and more productive to spend your time on by now, if not your money. Like starting a family, say. Or serial-killing.
“Avoid bulkier styles and stick with sleeker, more minimal styles from brands like Common Projects,” says Olie Arnold, style director at Mr Porter. This is in step with the above advice to buy superior-quality staples that aren’t festooned with in-your-face logos.
Another rule of big toe is to stick with styles that have stood the test of time, like Adidas Stan Smiths and Gazelles, Converse All-Stars or Jack Purcells. They’re classic – like you – and ageless – unlike you.
Also, nobody will suspect that you scoured the internet or queued up overnight to acquire them. Or forced your kids to do it for you. Which brings us to…
- Selected Homme Dylan Leather Trainers
- Reiss Jack Purcell Signature Jack Purcell Sneakers Navy
- He By Mango Lace-up Sneakers
- Converse – All Star Low-top Leather Trainers
- Common Projects Original Achilles Leather Sneakers
- John Lobb Leather Sneakers
- Acne Studios Adrian Sneaker White
- Etq. Low Top 1 Sneaker Desert Taupe
- Adidas Stan Smith Running White & New Navy
4. Edgy Haircuts
Firstly, congratulations: you still have hair.
But with great coverage comes great responsibility: namely, not to abuse your power by shearing your fleece into some sort of extreme undercut or asymmetrical hairdresser mullet. Rather than hide your advancing years, it will only serve to highlight them – as will highlights.
Enlist in dad’s army. Like most military-derived items in menswear, battle-tested haircuts – short back and sides, high and tight, even a modified buzz cut that’s slightly longer on top – are never going to be discharged from fashion, if not always in the vanguard of it. Think Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds.
‘Defence cuts’ also invariably involve clippering on the flanks and at the rear, so you can keep some of your edge without scaring the mums at the school gates.
Paying an inflated sum for a bog-standard Hanes T-shirt with Supreme or Palace screen-printed on it directly contravenes the quality/logo principles that we’ve outlined above. And if it’s something that your offspring – hypothetical or otherwise – would buy then, like Riggs and Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon, you are officially too old for this shit.
“If you think your teenage son or nephew might wear it, let it go,” says Down. “David Beckham has come perilously close to mutton/lamb territory as Brooklyn upstages him on social media, but he’s David Beckham – he survived the sarong – so he gets away with it. Just.”
Pause for thought. “Before you rinse the kids’ university fund on Gosha, Vetements or Balenciaga by Demna, take a breath and ask yourself, ‘Would I be better off buying some great clobber from COS?'” says Down. “Answer: yes, you would. Go to COS.”
Sportswear isn’t totally out of bounds – you just have to play it right. “If you have a six-pack past 40, good for you, but lycra’s for the gym and only the gym,” adds Down. “Ditch the muscle vest. If I can see your nipples and you aren’t Magic Mike, then we have a problem.”
With ‘athleisure’ – as with everything else – think plain, think well-fitting (not tight) and maybe also think a more upmarket material such as cashmere. Just don’t actually train in your £2,000 Loro Piana goat-beard tracksuit, as Vladimir Putin memorably did. Like his terrible exercise form, that is very much the wrong kind of flex.
- Topman Black Tracksuit Top
- Rag & Bone Loopback Cotton-jersey Zip-up Sweatshirt
- Suitsupply Navy Hoodie
- Reiss Melody Quilted Zip Cardigan Grey
- J.crew Wallace & Barnes Indigo-dyed Loopback Cotton-jersey Sweatshirt
- J.crew Garment-dyed Loopback Cotton-jersey Sweatshirt
- Reiss Chapel Ribbed Polo Shirt Navy
- Club Monaco Loopback Cotton-jersey Sweatpants
- Next Black Pleated Joggers
Still got it? Already lost it?
Voice your age-related style concerns in the comments below.