How To Dress Your Age - 40s

June 01, 2015

From our great friends at GQ magazine and Nick Carvell.. We bring you the 'How To Dress Your Age' series.. A brief guide from 20 to 60 and beyond of how to dress your age, look great and feel even better.. 

HOW TO DRESS YOUR AGE - 40's

When it comes to clothing, there's a fundamental difference between "fashion" and "style" - and the key to dressing in your 40s is to favour the latter. In short, it's time to finesse everything you've learned over the past two decades (and filter out some of the more questionable purchases).

What's important this decade to to pay real attention to fit. Unless you're hitting the gym every day, you're probably going to have to relax your fits slightly from those drainpipe shapes you wore in your 20s and 30s. That said, don't immediately assume a bigger size is what's necessary (remember how good Steve Carrell's baggy, 40-something character looked when Ryan Gosling's character dressed him up right in Crazy Stupid Love?). There's no need to go overboard when you go shopping; simply make it your default to go to straight leg jeans instead of the slim ones - and for god's sake don't buy stonewash rinses.

Also make sure you really invest in the details this decade. As your style settles down and you find yourself wearing more of a uniform both casually and professionally, it's your accessories that will really add personality. Choose a palette of colours that work for you and keep it in mind when you're shopping. And while you might not be able to bust out the full-on print shirts without looking a little try-hard, don't be afraid of deploying patterns in small bursts with your ties, pocket squares and scarves. Also think of the accessories you might have had little need to spend money on in younger years: really good leather gloves, a selection of smart hats, jewellery, and matching luggage that doesn't fall apart when it gets thrown in the hold.

Finally, if you haven't done so yet, now's the time to start that watch collection.

You've spent your 30s getting to where you are; this new decade is all about celebrating that success - and what better place to start than with your wardrobe? Here's GQ's pointers for how to dress in your 40s...

How to dress in your 40s: 5 golden rules

1) Edit (and upgrade) your wardrobe
You have spent 20 years building up a solid armoury of attire, so it's understandable if some of those items have fallen out of regular rotation. If you haven't worn something for a few years, give it to a charity shop. If you find you wear one item a lot, perhaps invest in a couple of alternatives for it so it gets a rest once in a while. And take stock of any gaps that might need plugging. Also take the opportunity to upgrade not only the items in your wardrobe, but also the wardrobe itself. Buy a wardrobe that's big enough to store all your things so they don't crumple up against each other and, if you haven't done so already, invest in wooden coat hangers, fabric suit bags and plastic boxes for your shoes (Muji make very good ones).

2) Don't assume you need a bigger size (but DO adjust your fits)
You're not 20 anymore (thank God), so chances are those clothes you used to wear when you were 20 are not appropriate any longer. However, don't assume that means you should start going for the next size up! Usually this will only mean that the seams of your suits need letting out ever so slightly (a minor alteration that can make all the difference), or that you need to choose a straight leg selvedge rather than a slim fit (no bootcut, please).

3) Approach sportswear with caution
Sportswear is dominating menswear right now - and while injecting a dose of it into your wardrobe can freshen up your downtime attire, investing in this look too heavily in your 40s can end up giving off a bit of a PE teacher vibe. If you want to do it right, eschew the baseball hats and backpacks and invest in cool designer trainers from the likes of Diesel or Hugo Boss in pared-down colours, worn with a loopback or cashmere jumper and indigo jeans on the weekend.

4) Perfect your wrist action
You might have one or two watches in your repertoire, but now's the time to take it to the next level. If you haven't done so already, your 40th birthday is a great time to treat yourself to your first high-end watch - and by that we mean the sort that you can pass down to your son one day (see some superb examples in the GQ Watch Guide 2015). Also invest in jewellery that complements it, whatever you're into - whether that be a ring or a small stack of bracelets that you can wear on your downtime which feature subtle stones or highly-polished beads and metals.

5) Settle on your haircut
No more mohawks - the days of experimenting are behind you. When it comes to your haircut, decide on what works best for your hair type and face shape, and find a barber who gets it right every time. That's one less thing to worry about.