The great Italian poet Dante famously wrote that upon reaching middle age he found himself lost in a dark forest of moral, spiritual and existential crisis. For all our readers out there who’ve past the 40 year mark, we hope you’re dealing with aging a little better than Senor Alighieri. But even though you may be halfway through your own life’s journey, you’re never too old to care about your appearance and look your best.
Of course we realize that many men at, or beyond, middle age will find this easier said than done. Changes in your body, mind and personal style will all have a huge impact on what you can, and should, wear as you get older.
Probably the biggest fashion-influencing physical change that most men over 40 have to deal with is their weight. For lots of reasons, both internal and external, most older guys will notice the addition of some added girth around the gut.
If you just can’t seem to shake that spare tire, our advice to you is the same as we would give to any man struggling with his weight – wear things that fit and invest in some striped or light checks to create the illusion of length in your upper body. Here older men with the means to afford high quality or tailor made shirts have a decided advantage over their younger, less well-off peers.
In addition to weight gain, changes to skin and hair can also effect which kinds of clothes will suit you best. With age it’s possible that your skin may have become darker, redder, lighter or more transparent since you first settled on which colors look good on you. Unless you’ve been doing some serious bronzing over the past decade or two, you may just have to make some simple adjustments to the shade and hue of the clothing you buy – olive green may suddenly look better on you than forest green, for example. Fortunately for all silver foxes out there, grey (even if it’s in your hair) goes well with just about anything.
But, changes to one’s appearance aside, another major clothing related barrier most men over 40 come up against is a sense of increasing estrangement from the world or retail fashion. The clothing industry is notoriously youth-oriented, and as you get older you may feel shocked to find that you can no longer shop in the same stores you once loved without people assuming you’re going through some kind of crisis. Also, as you may have noticed, the few stores that do cater to a more mature clientele probably aren’t going to be setting the world on fire with their designs.
Our hunch is that for most middle aged men, your closet is pretty well stocked with the standard, traditional colors: blue, white, black, tan, maybe with the odd bit of flannel here and there. These versatile colors are excellent for older men, don’t get us wrong, but getting old doesn’t mean you always have to settle for the predictable. Why not try pink or purple or turquoise even?
Men over 40 have just as much a right to experiment with color and style as anyone else. Of course not every new style or trend may be for you, but at least you should have the option to try new things. Here again is where a tailor well stocked with a variety of different fabrics and patterns can be essential if you want to break free from the narrow selection retailers are willing to give mature shoppers.
In the end, choosing the right shirt for men over 40 is not so different than it is for any younger man. Sure, an older man may look better in classic colors and style, but regardless of your age the most important thing is to just feel comfortable in what you wear and confident in your clothing choices.