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Fashion Forward Over Forty | Middle Age Style

alpha_m_image_consultingAs if turning 40 isn’t tough enough, having to wrap our heads around all the changes taking place with our bodies, health and image can be pretty overwhelming, not to mention a serious attack on the old ego. It’s difficult making the adjustments because in our minds we’re still 20 years old. But, it eventually gets to a point when we’re the only one seeing ourselves that age, and we need to step up and take care of business… as painful as it may be.

In addition to all the health and exercise tips men of a certain age are confronted with, we’re now expected to become fashion minded. Seriously? There’s enough on our plates without having to worry about something that never much mattered to us, but with the world changing along with our waistlines, as Bob Dylan put it, “You better start swimming, or you’ll sink like a stone. For the times, they are a-changin”. As we mature, our wardrobe should keep pace, reflecting the men we are; the men we’ve become.

In this competitive world, we, regardless of age, need every advantage we can find in order to maintain our status in both the professional and personal arenas. Wearing current, respectable, age appropriate clothing is one way to ensure our success. Our wardrobe reflects who we are, and has the ability to impact people’s perception of us. It communicates an instant message to whomever we’re interacting with. Naturally, we all want to have an attractive and polished image when applying for a job, dating, meeting new people, at work – anytime. Clothing tells others whether to take us seriously or not. It may seem trivial, but I can’t stress the power of clothing enough.

Since so many are unsure of where to begin this new venture, I’ve come up with some simple, yet, imperative tips and suggestions for the fashion challenged male over 40.

To start, let me share a very basic rule of thumb, that if you keep in mind, you’ll never go wrong. You’re 40 and over, not 20 anymore. Ouch, that stung! Sorry, but if you let that mantra be your guide while making wardrobe decisions, half the battle is won. When you’re in doubt whether a certain outfit or article of clothing is age appropriate, ask yourself if it’s something you’ve seen on 20 year olds, or if you would have worn it when you were that age. If you answer no to both questions, you’re on the right track. Let’s get started.

Fashion Tips

Forget yesteryear, no matter how great it was, or how much you still identify with it. Memories and photos are the only things you should be holding onto… not your collection of Grateful Dead t-shirts! Not that anything’s wrong with wearing favorite threads around the house, or while doing yard work and washing the car, but keep them tucked away until it’s safe to bring them out – not when your wife’s co-worker is coming over for dinner. Hey, I’m a guy, and I get the significance certain clothes have, so I actually encourage keeping a few pieces of the “for your eyes only” clothing and wearing them at the appropriate times.

Another fashion trap to avoid is when old styles recycle and come back into vogue. Bell bottoms were great back in the day, but chances are they’re not the best style for your present body type - not to mention they’re a very youthful pant, resulting in looking age inappropriate. Aim to choose clothing that’s timeless and not faddish.

Always wear clothes that fit properly, whether at work or play. If you’re like most men, our sizes change as we mature, so be sure to update this aspect of your wardrobe, as well. A button up shirt with gaping button holes, or a snug collar, is not only uncomfortable, but doesn’t present a pretty picture. Waistbands that are too tight cut into our waistline, causing the waist to hangover the belt, emphasizing weight gain. As tough as it to buy a larger size, you’ll actually look thinner wearing clothing that fits properly, versus stuffing yourself into clothes that are too tight. At the same time, avoid clothing that’s too large. Baggy clothes make us look larger than we are, as opposed to wearing clothes that fit. Clothing can both hide and accentuates our features. Choosing the right styles in the correct size will achieve the goal you’re after.

Two very important points I’d like to mention when shopping for a suit: try on the different styles of jackets, and see which compliment your body type. If you’ve put a few pounds on around your middle, a three button jacket will most likely look best. Avoid pants with pleats, and choose flat front pants. This rule applies to both suit pants and slacks. The flat front will give you a smooth, unbroken line, which is more slimming than pleats; which tend to make our waist appear larger and our legs shorter.

Make sure you eliminate any clothing that’s torn or stained. You can be dressed to the hilt, but a damaged piece of clothing will undermine the sharpest outfit and polished image we want to portray.

Less is more when it comes to colors and patterns. Think “sophisticated” when it comes time to buy clothing. Solid colors are a safe bet, and increase the number of outfits you can put together; however, tastefully printed shirts with coordinating colors can achieve this, as well. Aim to wear subtle patterns and stripes when not choosing solid colors; don’t forget this applies to suits and ties, also. Own shoes and belts that not only match each other in color and style, but match whichever outfit you’re wearing. Be sure to include basic black and brown footwear and belts in your accessory arsenal. Keep your wardrobe simple and timely, and it will reflect the worldly man you are.

I often see men of all ages making the mistake of wearing business attire to social functions. Business is business, and while at work, your clothes should reflect a business mode and mentality; however, when in a more casual environment, your clothes should represent that situation, as well. This is the time to let style and creativity guide your presentation by wearing more relaxed and approachable clothing. Instead of wearing a conventional or conservative navy suit to dinner, mix it up with a pair of slacks, a comfortable dress shirt or turtleneck, maybe even a sweater vest, a sports jacket or cardigan, and a casual pair of shoes like loafers. Business garb should be kept for exactly that. Allow yourself to express the style savvy guy you are the rest of the time. I promise you’ll have more fun!

Reaching our forties and beyond is really an incredible chapter in life. It’s a time when so many things come together for us, and we finally become the confident and powerful men we’ve strived to be our whole lives. There’s so much to show for the years of hard work, the failures and successes, and all the experience that’s responsible for evolving us into phenomenal men. Embrace this time, and allow your outward image to project your inner self. You will command the respect and admiration you deserve; not to mention feel like a million bucks!

by Aaron Marino

Pete and Pedro

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