I was asked recently what clothes a man at 40 (ish) should have at his disposal. What clothes give a 40 something guy a good foundation for casual style? It got my 42 year old grey matter going through the gears. If I had had to leave the country in a Jason Bourne-like hurry, then what would join my unmarked bills in the holdall (you must be kidding if you think I would leave my best gear behind). The building blocks of style for an older guy then. The stuff that you can build several outfits from. Here is what I came up with and some recommendations for where you can get the stuff if you need to;
Oxford shirt- (Try A Day’s March, Asket, J Crew or Polo Ralph Lauren)
Quintessential style at 40 comes in the form of an Oxford shirt, especially in the summer months.
With origins in Scotland (like me then), not Oxford, it will sit well with almost anything. Sunday lunch to dress down Friday to a Monday wandering around a foreign city. It will work up your style levels in a low key manner.
Polo shirt- (Try Sunspel)
A navy polo shirt is a smart-casual staple. A range of fits means a fit is out there for us all. A slim fit Riviera Sunspel polo is my choice for smart style in short sleeves.
Polo shirts can look sloppy if too big, but unless you want that look for flipping a few burgers outside (understandable), there are plenty around that should flatter when you want to look a bit more structured. Smart enough to wear with shorts during the day and with trousers and a blazer or jacket at night.
Fitted Tee- (Try The White t-shirt company, Sir Plus, Sunspel)
Great t-shirts will always be on the money for cool. Go organic cotton if you can. Try it on. Let the sleeves graze those biceps and get out to the closest beach, beer garden or park. White, grey and navy are the obvious choices. A rich blue or orange will make you stand out from the crowd if that’s your thing.
Wear alone or with your favourite leather jacket. In winter they will form the foundation for your layers.
Denim-(Try Nudie jeans)
Light denim in the summer. Dark denim in the winter. Coming around to this theory a bit. I have been in dark denim for 8 months now. Some of it quite heavy selvedge. They are well established, but they carry a legacy of bad weather associations and boil the legs off me when the sun does show its face, so thinking light blue or blue-grey for the summer.
Anyway, have a couple of good pairs to hand and the basics are covered for denim days. I currently have my eye on a pair of summery Nudie jeans. Why the heck not eh?
Chinos (Try NN07, J Crew, Asket or Paul Smith)
I throw twill trousers in here as well. Sand coloured, wider-fitting twill troos (see my Universal Works pair below) can be an alternative to slim fitting chinos. I can’t have everything slim fitting in my 40s I suppose. The weather here will have to improve by a fair degree before they come into play of course. When it does, match these trousers with any of the above tops for a cool, off duty look when you are collecting a coffee and pastry on a Saturday morning. Add Raybans for the ultimate urbane look.
Blazer (Try Reiss, Paul Smith, Massimo Dutti)
Old school style never dies. A blazer or jacket will always prove worthy. An absolute must for your casual style. Smart casual too. Think of all the greats of Hollywood past and you can picture most of them in a blazer of some description. The beauty is that they look great on us mere commoners too. Even over 40!
Preppy with a polo or Oxford shirt or more minimalist with a fitted t-shirt, you decide. Grey, navy, green or black all work well and offer versaitility.
Black Leather jacket (Try ASOS or All Saints)
I have recent experience of choosing one of these. Tried a good few on. Procrastinated. Did a little more browsing until the winter sales were nearly over. Then after much deliberation I took the plunge and picked up a beauty. It was worth the effort.
Tip here is go for one that almost feels slightly too small as it will stretch over years of wear. A good t-shirt of absolutely any colour will do here (black leather is not a fussy bedfellow). Just take your time choosing and you’ll want to wear it every single day.
Smart shoe (Try Tods, Kurt Geiger, Grenson)
Summer can barely register as a season here, so boots are nearly always on duty. Brogues likewise are designed for the rain (celtic origins again), can be heavy and a tad sweaty for warmer days. That leaves loafers, driving shoes and other lighter formal shoes.
The former two can be worn sockless or with nifty no show socks which feels quite liberating when the breeze tickles the ankles. The latter shall be kept for work and rainy expeditions.
I think that covers the bases. If I missed anything you think should make the list, do drop me a line.
Keep staying stylish,