You just turned 30. Which means you’re a proper grown-up now. Work’s going alright; you can finally afford to not live on a diet consisting solely of instant noodles, but you’re certainly no baller.
While your mum no longer cuts the crusts off of your fish finger sandwiches, you’re not quite ready to retire to the drawing room with your Labrador Cecil in the evening, clutching a newspaper and sporting your favourite smoking jacket.
So where does that leave your wardrobe? How do you walk the tightrope that is post-twenties dressing without looking like an over-the-hill has-been, or worse – a textbook case of early mid-life crisis?
Rather than tell you exactly what to wear now, these are some of the items that categorically shouldn’t be in your rotation on entering your third decade. Even if you do feel young at heart.
Chunky Skate Shoes
To any skating enthusiast that came of age in the early noughties, owning this beast of a sneaker was crucial to mastering ollies and kickflips in a quest to trump Tony Hawk. Now? Not so much.
“Sure, back then they were painfully cool, but then again, so were sneakers with teeny-tiny wheels on. Remember those?,” says Chris Gove, founder of British menswear brand Percival. The fundamental design flaw inherent to this type of shoe is that they look as awkward and clunky with skinny jeans as they do with a relaxed trouser.
Since the heyday of Jackass and Limp Bizkit, skate shoes have gone mainstream, even going as far to become a bonafide trend. Though while some can work, others need to be bailed on.
Six-inch wide footwear and low-slung baggy jeans? Out. Slimmed-down silhouettes in premium materials? In. Think models like the Vans Old Skool and Converse One Star, both of which are fuss-free designs that complement skinny jeans and ankle-swingers alike, while retaining some half-pipe credibility.
At some point circa 2005, beanies went from Usher-tight to oversized. It was a look that David Beckham himself wholeheartedly embraced and, as with most trends Golden Balls gets behind, it blew right up. Soon, any metrosexual worth his Swarovski ear stud and deep V-neck tee was opting for preposterously oversized headwear to top it off.
“A slouchy beanie makes every outfit instantly sloppier,” says Brooke Philips, lead stylist at men’s personal shopping service Thread. And she’s right – now that you’ve hit the big 3-0, there’s no room for this student halls brand of slovenliness.
It’s not the beanie itself that’s the problem. It’s the baggy. Much more age-appropriate is headwear that fits. “A snug-fitting cable or ribbed-knit beanie does the same job,” says Philips. “It’s also warmer, more comfortable and looks sharper than something with a lot of flop.”
Alternatively, if you’re worried that wearing a beanie of any kind is going to make it look like you’re en route to rob Macaulay Culkin’s house, opt for a winter-ready leather or wool baseball cap in its place.
Novelty underwear is a rite of passage for most men. When you’re a teenager, it’s the go-to Christmas gift for relatives intent on finding skivvies that’ll give you a chuckle. But we’re still not laughing.
Hopefully by you’ll have had the sense to leave trunks that declare you a ‘Beer Monster’ or baggy boxer shorts emblazoned with the warning ‘In Case Of Emergency, Pull Down’ far, far behind you. At mum and dad’s. Along with those saucy lad’s mag posters.
Underwear should cover your buttocks, not make you the butt of jokes. “Plain boxer briefs combine the best of both worlds, they’re suited to most body types and hold everything in place without drawing too much attention,” says Mr Porter style director Olie Arnold.
Comfort, support and breathability are the key boxes to tick when shopping for new sausage skins, all of which can be achieved by favouring soft and lightweight fabrics like cotton, jersey and silk. As for colours, steer dark which will help you match them to most trousers and save on the almightily boring task of washing white and dark undies separately.
Let’s face it, you aren’t Head Boy anymore. head of sales, head of marketing or head shelf stacker maybe, but not Head Boy. So, slip off that university hoodie, take it outside, read its last rites and bury it. Deep, deep in the ground. The only person that cares you went to Oxford is your nan.
“Where you went to college or university should no longer define you,” says Philips. “However, there’s no need to banish jersey entirely.”
To compete with the big boys these days, all you need is a simple sweatshirt. A plain version boasts more versatility than anything logo-laden, given it can be made Friday-appropriate with a white button-down and slim tailored trousers, or pub-appropriate with a white T-shirt and slim jeans. However, if your wardrobe leans more casual, there’s nothing stopping you from spicing things up.
The crucial point here is quality. Whether it’s a throw-on-and-go sweatshirt or a hoodie used to dress up a camel coat, spend that little extra to get premium materials like loopback cotton-jersey or French terry cloth, solid hardware and a construction that won’t see it relegated to Netflix sessions anytime soon.
Naff Band T-Shirts
A potentially divisive one for any proud musos, so we’ll clarify what we mean exactly: retro re-issues of iconic band tees like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon are currently having a moment in menswear.
At the other end of the acceptability spectrum, insisting on wearing that tired, misshapen Kaiser Chiefs T-shirt you splurged far too much money on at Glastonbury in 2005 is the mark of a man trapped forever in a state of adolescence.
Graphic tees aren’t condemned entirely, but there are a few caveats when it comes to wearing one. “Two rules should be considered,” says Arnold. “Firstly, keep it simple, and secondly, keep it casual. Slim jeans and Converse with your favourite tee are perfect wears for a lazy weekend or spot of Sunday lunch.”
Probably the worst thing you can do with a band tee is try to dress it up: throwing brogues and/or a blazer into the mix will instantly transform you from ultra-cool to ultra-supply-teacher. Not so rock ‘n’ roll.