What Not To Wear If You’re Over 40

Style and confidence as you age is all about embracing what you have and presenting a classy, refined look.

Here's a list of what you should avoid wearing if you are over the age of 40.


Dressing well as you age is more about what not to wear, than it is about the exact items to wear.

Anything Trendy

Unless you really know what you’re doing, you should avoid trendy items because they change often, and wearing an out-of-trend item can make you look like you're trying too hard and are out-of-touch. So it comes with requirements and pitfalls if you're not willing to really stay on top of trends and plunk down the cash.

When in doubt, lean toward timeless styles and classic, neutral colors that are fitted (not too tight or loose) to your body. Things like a white t-shirt, blue jeans, white sneakers. This is what the Essential Caspule Wardrobe app is all about.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t inject personality into your outfits. You're just a little off if you think trendy or loud colors and patterns will do that. Instead, add an accessory or two:

  • Watch

  • Sunglasses

  • Jewelry

Henley Shirts

Henleys are an item that can look flattering on a guy, but the problem is that they only work on a really small percentage of men. You have to be in incredible shape to pull them off. If you're bigger and muscular (size medium or up) and well-built and have a low body fat percentage, then go nuts.

If that's not you, there's still many great alternatives to choose from like t-shirts, polos, crewneck sweaters, and cardigans. These always look good on every age and body type.

For more insight into how your clothes should fit specifically for your age, height, body type, and skin tone, check out the Essential Capsule Wardrobe App.

Leather Jackets

Most men over 40 should not be wearing leather jackets, especially biker and moto or cafe racer style jackets. Unless you're literally on a motorcycle, in which case those are worn for safety, these are the quintessential ‘mid-life crisis’ jackets and should never be worn in any other situation.

The one exception are suede bomber jackets because the fit is flattering on all men and the luxurious fabric lends itself well to men 40 and over.

Bad Facial Hair 

Though not an item of clothing, this really is a style move that all men over a certain age should avoid. At this stage in your life, you should know what types of facial hair look good on you, and you really shouldn’t be trying to rock beards or ‘taches that are overly trendy. 

The worst offender, by far, is the soul patch. It's the leather jacket of facial hair - see the previous point if you missed it. Instead, stick to a classic beard, mustache or stubble. Everything else is for younger guys (or no one!)

Novelty Accessories

There's no excuse for wearing overly cartoonish or bright and loud colored accessories with your outfits. 

At this point in your life, less is more, and when it comes to your accessories you should be going for classic, refined pieces that are not overly ornate or distracting. Your clothing should tell the world who you are, without the need for a graphic t-shirt with some juvenile proclamations or products, cartoon ties or colored shoelaces. Scale back and let subtlety be your friend.

Graphic T-Shirts

Nothing makes you look more like a manchild than wearing t-shirts with logos, slogans, or cartoons plastered on them. A man of taste and refinement (and over the age of 15) doesn't need to tell the world what he's into or use the clothing equivalent of billboards.

Graphic tees steal attention from the rest of your outfit and should be left in your teenage past. The only exceptions are band or sport team shirts when attending concerts or sporting events because that's the only time it makes sense to show your support. For every other casual scenario, stick with a well-fitting crewneck t-shirt in a neutral color as it's much more flattering on a man of your age.

Baggy Clothing 

Speaking of well-fitting t-shirts, don’t you think it’s time to leave baggy clothing to teenagers and college students? Yes, it may be trendy now, but you hopefully read above regarding a man of your age chasing trends and the many pitfalls.

It's crucial that your clothes fit your body well if you want to be taken seriously by others. This means they should not be overly baggy and there should be no bunching in the sleeves of your sweaters or the legs of your pants. If your clothes do not fit you, then you have two options; get them altered by a tailor or get better-fitting ones.

Sandals & Slides

If you’re still flip-flopping around in a pair of sandals, thongs or slides then you really need to question your life decisions.

The only exception is for when you’re by a body of water, like at the beach, pool or on a boat. Otherwise, stick to timeless footwear options, like low-top sneakers, lace-up boots, or classic dress shoes. However, whatever shoe you go with, make sure you’re not pairing them with...

White Socks

Don't think you're being picked on here, white socks look bad on all men of all ages. They never stay white for long and when they turn that grayish, stained shade, it not only looks horrible, it drags down the rest of your look. If the sock is visible at any time - don't wear them. So that means virtually always.

Always go for a dark neutral color, like black, gray, or navy but also feel free to play around with other colors and patterns. Since they’re not always visible, socks can be a fun way to show off some personality and can be a great conversation starter.

Sports Sunglasses

Your sunglasses are one of the accessories that can instantly add a level of style and refinement to your outfit - Unless they’re sports sunglasses. 

There is definitely a time and place for these sunglasses, like the golf course, the running track, cycle route etc. But to wear them with your everyday outfits is a big mistake because they're a utilitarian item that are designed to protect your eyes when engaged in physical activities. Also, they’re ugly as hell.

Instead, stick with a classic pair of shades with a square or round frame, and colorwise, you really can’t go wrong with black, brown, or tortoiseshell.

Bad Jeans

When you think of timeless menswear items, there’s a good chance a classic pair of dark-wash (indigo) jeans is one of the first things that comes to mind. However, there's so many guys 40 and over wearing jeans that are either too bright in color, are distressed (rips, tears, and holes), or fit incorrectly.

A timeless pair of dark-wash jeans will always look good on guys of every age and frame and if you go too light with the color (light blue, or even worse, white), then you run the risk of looking like you're dressing too young and age-inappropriate.

Make sure you get the right fit. If you have a slim-to-average build, then go for a slim-fit jean, and if you’re a larger/muscular guy then opt for a straight fit. Avoid skinny, relaxed, and bootcut jeans, as these are impossible to pull off unless you really know what you are doing. And if you're reading articles like this, you're not there yet.

To learn more about building an age and body-appropriate wardrobe, check out the Essential Capsule Wardrobe App.

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