There are a lot of great things about being 40. You know exactly who you are, you’re likely in the prime of your career, and you finally have enough cash (or have learned how to save strategically) to treat yourself to the finer things in life. But the way you shop now can and should be different from how you did in your 20s and 30s.
You’ve evolved, and so has your taste—hopefully. If you’re a member of the 40-plus club and you’re thinking about buying one of the items below, step back, put your wallet away, and give yourself a reality check. You can thank us later. And for more on what not to have, check out the 20 Things No Woman Over 40 Should Have In Her Home.
High-Top Fashion Sneakers
Sure, you should definitely invest in a new pair of classic white kicks as we change over into spring; the athleisure look is way cool—still. But the moon-boots (pictured) that are currently all over the runway? Do yourself and your friends a favor and take a pass. And for more advice on getting older, know that This Is What Happens to Your Face Shape After 40.
A New Video Gaming System
Sorry, guys. We know it’s 2018 and video games are part of your life—and likely have been since the 1980s. (Hey: We can’t wait for the film adaptation of Ready Player One, as well.) But unlike other childhood activities such as skateboarding—which is totally fine for older men to continue doing well into advanced age, given that it’s exercise and a great way to bond with your kid—video gaming is something that you’d be smart to leave in the past. Seriously. Call us jerks, but we can think of 352,032,202 better, more productive ways to disport yourself during your brief time on earth than playing League of Legends. And speaking of parenthood, don’t miss these 40 Parenting Hacks for Raising an Amazing Kid.
Even if you don’t want to plunk down for a fancy Gillette, there are wonderful companies like the Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s that both offer monthly razors at a low price. So there’s no use to buy Bic disposables—ever! And for more great advice on getting older, here are the 40 Best Ways to Look Younger After 40.
Plastic or Rubber Shoes of Any Sort
This includes flip flops, Crocs, and any other silhouette that comes in plastic form. Plastic is not an acceptable shoe material, especially for a fully-fledged adult. The only exception? High quality rain boots if you live in a damp climate. And you don’t even really need those, either. You can always opt for these 8 Stylish Dress Shoes That Will Survive the Elements.
Ultra Skimpy Swimsuits
Hey, we’re not saying you shouldn’t wear a bikini or those trendy above-the-knee swim trunks, but we are saying the time for Speedos and super cheeky swim bottoms is over. If you want to show off your body (and there’s no reason you shouldn’t), keep it classy. And for more warm weather advice, learn how to Beat the Summer Sun With These 10 Skin Care Products.
Red Solo Cups
Your college days are long gone, my friend. If you’re having a party, use proper glassware, or at least spring for some non-frat-house-chic disposable cups. Also, if you’re throwing a party, here’s how to know Exactly How Much Alcohol You Should Drink.
A Yellow Ride
Nothing screams midlife crisis quite like an expensive, ugly car. To be fair, ugly cars are never cool—no matter how old you are. But if you’re over 40, that’s when the super bright sports car—or super bright Hummer—takes on an extra try-hard vibe that you definitely want to avoid. If you must buy a flashy, fast car, at least go for something sophisticated and subdued. Just be sure to avoid the 30 Worst Cars of the Last 30 Years—Ranked.
The Cheapest Liquor
Whether you’re hosting people at your home, buying a drink at a bar, or grabbing something at the liquor store to enjoy on your own, stop automatically searching for the cheapest thing you can find. Even if that means you can’t drink as much as you once used to, that’s okay. Remember: Hangovers feel that much worse in your fifth decade. For help, try making one of these 15 Classy Two-Ingredient Cocktails You Can Make in 15 Seconds.
Cookbooks You’ll Never Use
Cook at home regularly and use cookbooks to do it? Great, go ahead and buy all the cookbooks. But if you hardly ever set foot in your kitchen or you always look up recipes online, there’s no reason to accumulate unnecessary clutter just because it was on the sales rack at Barnes & Noble. Looking for some great recipe #inspo? Steal Bobby Flay’s Top Steak-Cooking Secret.
If you’re over 40, we’d strongly advise you to not use your daughter’s old Jansport. And if you’re dead-set on double-or-single-strapping it, we’d advise you to try one of these 8 Great Office Ready Backpacks.
A Discount Mattress
We’re not talking about the direct-to-consumer ones here—those are fine. But you shouldn’t be walking into a mattress store, looking at the $300 model meant for college kids, and say, “I’ll take it!” A decent mattress should last you between 7 and 10 years, by which time you could be 50-plus. Don’t you want to be comfortable? And for more help with your sleeping situation, know that This Is Why You Should Change Your Pillow Immediately.
A Fidget Spinner
High White Socks
This one might come as a shock, but think about the last time you saw someone wearing white socks that looked good. If you can think of an instance, it was probably an NBA player—or that hipster barista at your coffee shop—not someone from the over-40 set. Opt for legwear in neutrals like black, navy, and brown, or go for a sophisticated pattern.
Sporty Sunglasses That Aren’t Actually for Sports
Look, if you’re a serious cyclist or runner, go ahead and buy some sporty shades for your training days. But under no circumstances should people over 40 be wearing super sporty, technical sunglasses with their everyday clothing—unless they’re going for that “uncool parent” vibe, of course. We’d advise you to pick up some sleek shades in a classic silhouette and call it a day. For some great styles for you, check out these amazingly stylish options.
At-Home Hair Dye
There are just so many ways this can go wrong. Spring to see a well-vetted hair colorist and you’ll be wondering why you didn’t do it sooner. Also filed under no-no’s: Hair dye in unnatural colors. This trend is not over the over 40 set. And while we’re on fashion and beauty trends, don’t miss the 40 Things No Woman Should Ever Wear to Work.
A Bean Bag Chair
Can you even sit on this comfortably anymore? Do you even want to try? This does not seem like a sensible investment.
Anything With a Bow on It
This one mostly applies to women, but guys, this is definitely solid advice for you, too. Clothing, hair accessories, bags, shoes—anything with a bow is a no.
At this point in your life, there’s just no excuse for having a suitcase that can’t handle some serious travel. Now, you don’t have drop a thousand bucks on the newest, fanciest hard case, but invest in something classic with wheels to up your chances of tolerable travel experiences. And when you’ve got your sparkling new luggage, be sure to fill it with the 10 Travel Essentials Worth an Extra Bag.
We’ll make this one simple for you: Go to the eye doctor, get a real prescription, and then pick out a pair of glasses that doesn’t look like it came from CVS. You’ll be able to see and up your style cred.
Shoes You Like But Aren’t Comfortable
Find yourself sitting in the shoe department with a pair that looks great, but doesn’t feel so amazing? Let’s be honest: If they’re not comfortable, you’re not going to wear them, so what’s the point?!
Seriously? There are much better things to spend your money on. Newsflash: No one cares how many followers you have. You’re not an 18-year-old aspiring model; you’re a 40-year-old adult. Instead, consider these 20 Ways to Make Your Instagram Way More Compelling.
Plants You Know You’ll Kill
If you haven’t developed a green thumb by now, it’s probably not going to happen.
In most cases, these are a colossal ripoff, and you could get much better value for your money just going on a regular vacation. Plus, do you really want to spend your vacation with a bunch of other people who got suckered into buying a timeshare? We think not.
Anything Your Friends Are Selling
Essential oils? Tupperware? Cosmetics? Supplements? While some of these products may have their relative merits, mid-level marketing schemes can get sticky when your friends try to recruit you to join them. Say no kindly, but firmly.
A Table at a Nightclub
Are you really hitting the clubs after 40?
Too Much Fast Fashion
Ladies, Forever 21 got its name for a reason. But it’s not just Forever 21 you should skip. You might find the odd treasure at fast fashion retailers, but when you hit 40, the majority of your wardrobe should be things you truly care about with lasting value beyond a single season.
Cowboy boots, studded boots, thigh-high boots… They might have looked cool in decades past, but now they’re just costume-y. To look as sophisticated as you feel, stick with the classics: Chelsea boots, riding boots, and clean ankle boots. Period.
As Seen on TV Products
Hate to break it to you, but you’re now in the target demographic for everything sold on TV. So if you see a commercial for something and find yourself thinking, “Oh, maybe I should by that,” think twice!
We’d all like to be a charming European, but, sadly, it’s time for a real car that won’t get you killed.
Cheap White Shirts
These should be cycled out of your closet by the time you hit 40. It’s not that you can’t wear white tees, but more about picking them carefully. On the list of what to avoid: t-shirts that come in multipacks for less than 20 bucks, and sale-rack shirts or button downs that will make your expensive suit look less than expensive.
A Fanny Pack
Yes, they’re coming back into style. No, they’re not for you.
A New Type of Underwear
Whatever you’ve been wearing for the past 40 years is probably just fine. Now’s not the time to suddenly decide you’re a “briefs guy” or a “thong girl.” If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it!
A Ringback Tone
There’s no better way to make yourself look old than having one of these. And if you already have one that you’re getting charged for monthly? Cancel it ASAP.
Jeans in “Interesting” Washes
Nope, nope, nope. Fading, distressing, ombré effects, non-neutral colors—these are all a hard pass.
In-App Game Purchases
Look, we know a lot of people like to Candy Crush it. But spending money on this embarrassing habit? Stop it!
A Spring Break Hotel Deal Package
Sure, it might be a good deal, but do you really want to be surrounded by drunk coeds or, worse, school-aged children on holiday break? Skip the impulse to save to take advantage of special discounts and opt to travel on an off-peak week. It’s likely you can find something for the same price—or better. And if you’re looking for more travel recs, here are the 15 Best Under-the-Radar American Escapes.
We really hope this one goes without saying.
“Smart Gadgets” That Are Totally Useless
A belt with a built-in USB-charger? A smart water bottle that reminds you to drink water? An umbrella that helps you hail a taxi? Heaven help you if you need any of those.
Even if it takes you back to your summer of love glory days, say “thanks, but no thanks” to anything in this bohemian pattern.
Intentionally Ugly Holiday Sweaters
Just leave this one to the kids. At this point, people might think you’re serious. For more on style, read up on 38 Things No Man Over 40 Should Wear.
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