So now your forty, and according to cultural cliché your supposed to be at the point at which you’re veering into a “mid-life crisis” territory. This myth shouldn’t stop you from exercising a bit of flair when it comes to getting dressed. What you have to remember in this decade is the fundamental difference between “fashion” and “style” – and the key in your forties is to favour the latter. It’s time to finesse all the lessons you’ve learned over the past two decades and filter out some of the questionable purchases.
In this phase of your life it’s key to focus your attention on fit. Your probably going to have to relax your fits, unless your hitting the gym everyday. That said, don’t assume a bigger size! There’s no need to go overboard and go for the baggy look. I’m talking along the lines of making your default straight leg instead of the slim ones you’ve revelled in the last two decades.
Also make sure you really invest in details this decade. 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 causally 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.
You’ve spent your thirties getting to where you are; this new decade is all about celebrating that success!
The rules of how to dress in your forties:
1) Settle on your haircut
The days of experimenting are behind you. No more mohawks!! The friendship and rapport you’ve built with your barber over the years will show it’s true worth. You need to decide on what best works for your hair type and face shape. It’s one less thing to worry about.
2) Don’t make assumptions on size
Yes you’re no longer in your twenties, so chances are the clothes you wore during that decade are still relevant or appropriate. Don’t assume you need to be automatically going for the next size up! This means opting for a straight leg as a default instead of a slim fit…NO BOOTCUT PLEASE! With tailoring this requires the seams letting out slightly which is a minor alteration that can make all the difference.
3) Edit & 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.
Essential items for the forties
- Formal Tailoring – can make a reliable bedrock of every outfit in this decade, for example a well-cut jacket being both flattering to the figure and age-appropriate can be invaluable. This doesn’t mean I’m talking about looking like a banker. Instead invest in contrasting separates in order to retain a subtle edge. e.g. a navy double breasted blazer paired with a sand-colour chino and avoid fustiness by wearing a T-shirt instead of shirt.
- Bespoke suit – celebrate your success in the by investing. You’ll never have anything fits you better every time you slip it on.
- Lounge wear – for the last couple of decades I’m sure you’ve got away with those t-shirts and joggers which will never pass the front door but now it’s time to invest also in your after hours attire. Buy yourself a selection of soft white T-shirts in both long and short sleeves and light lounge trousers or thigh-length shorts.
Throw away before you hit forty:
You should know by now what to keep and what throw, if you still need assistance at this point then you haven’t paying attention.
Read ARE YOU DRESSING YOUR AGE? THE THIRTIES to see what style hurdles you have to navigate to survive your Thirties.