30 Best Tips for Dressing Well in Your 30s
You grew up. Now it's time for your wardrobe to.
In your 20s, you can get away with a lot, sartorially speaking. You’re fit and fetching; anything you wear, no matter how ill-advised, comes across as a failed style swerve at worst. But once you pass 30, those swerves—the mismatched patterns, the unflattering silhouettes—aren’t as acceptable as they once were. Basically, now that you’ve grown up, it’s high time for your wardrobe to as well. With that in mind, we’ve cobbled together 30 trinkets of sage fashion advice to help you help you learn how to dress in your 30s. Follow them to a tee, look in your closest mirror, and rejoice. And whenever you decide to reboot your wardrobe, don’t miss the 30 Best Ways to Save Money on Clothes.
Pay more than $75 for your wallet
Toss the velcro and nylon into the bin. If you’re not shelling out more than $75 for your wallet, then it doesn’t deserve to house all of your cash and credit cards inside. A low-quality wallet is a window into a man’s soul (and his bank account!). If you want to play it safe, a plain black or saddle brown leather wallet is always an acceptable go-to. But you could also choose the designer route and spring for a Mont Blanc or a Hermes, which will show off your true adult status. And if you’re on the tail-end of your 30s, be sure you know the 40 Tips For Dressing Well In Your 40s.
Ditch the leather mini skirts
It wouldn’t be a list of how to dress in your 30s without a few things you should toss. Now that you’re in your 30s, a few more bolts of fabric are necessary. Switch out those mini skirts from your college days for a classic, always-appropriate pencil skirt. And if it’s leather? Don’t even think about it. For more things you should slash from your wardrobe, check out the 30 Ugliest Dresses of 2017.
Own a suit that isn’t solid
Now that you’re in your 30s, you’re significantly more established in your career—and that requires dressing the part, which means wearing something more interesting than just plain-old navy or charcoal. And you needn’t dash off to Hong Kong or Savile Row to buy something great: Consider something great off-the-rack from J. Crew, Suit Supply, or Tallia Orange.
To ensure a certain level of professionalism, we recommend anything Glen check or light brown tweed. A patterned suit will also work wonders for making sure you don’t get lost in the crowd at a wedding—and it will help distinguish you as the superior candidate in job interviews. And when you’re older and even more established, you’ll be ready go full bespoke: It’s one of the 40 Best Tips for Dressing Well in Your 40s.
Upgrade your camisole
Long gone are the days, ladies, when you could pack five cotton camis in your shopping cart for a sweet deal of $20. Opt for a higher-end camisole that’s slinky, silky, or partly made of lace. And to take care of it—and all of your clothing—be sure you know the Best Way to Load a Washing Machine.
Get yourself a pair of whole-cuts
In your 30s, your shoe game totally changes. Gents, keeping a pair of Oxfords on-hand is good, safekeeping practice. But to truly elevate your foot game, spring for a pair of whole-cuts—an extravagant footwear option that’s cut out of one singular piece of leather. It’s a classy way to subtly upgrade your run-of-the-mill wingtips.
Buy blouses, not shirts
No one is telling you to outright ditch that Justin Bieber concert tank you paid $50 for. We’re just saying you should keep it neatly stacked in the back of your drawer and wear it to bed only—or maybe the gym (because it’s definitely on the list of what not to wear after 30). When shopping for tops, you should be exclusively looking at blouses and sweaters—not t-shirts.
Memorize the rules about buttoning
Gents, when you hit 30, there are only two numbers you need to know: zero and two. That’s how many buttons should be undone on any shirt at any point. Just leaving one button undone is too ’90s business-casual staid; three or more is… Just no. But two buttons is the perfect balance between laissez faire and, well, buttoned-up. While opting for zero buttons shows off trendy sensibilities, as long as you have the right (i.e., shallow-collared) shirt. And yes, when we say any shirt, we mean it: From your army of polos to your everyday button-ups to your trusty henley.
Draw a line between your going-out heels and your work heels
It’s no longer appropriate to possess heels that do double-duty. Your going-out heels should be a wildly different breed than your professional heels. Office heels are best kept to the kitten level. And if you have anything leopard? Don’t even think about it. That print ranks among the 40 Things No Woman Should Ever Wear to Work.
Swap low-rise for high-waisted jeans
It’s a more mature look, and high-waisted jeans are just more flattering for everyone.
Embrace white slacks or jeans
Most guys in their 20s cling to their three pairs of pants: Their trusty jeans, their trusty jeans, and their trusty jeans. (If they’re truly creative, they’ll have a few pairs of chinos.) In your 30s, you should not only embrace nicer slacks (more on that later), but you should invest in one really great pair of white pants. In the summer, you’ll never look so crisp and put-together.
Get fancy with your footwear
Far too many guys in their 20s wear loafers that are far too plain and stuffy (see: penny loafers, or simple old boat shoes). One of the best ways to ramp up your look in your 30s is to add a little flair: try a pair with tassels or a great, flashy buckle. And if it’s summertime, consider one of the 30 Coolest Pairs of Slip-On Shoes for Summer.
Own more chinos than jeans
Once you’re in your 30s, getting away with jeans in the office—even on casual Friday—can be a risky maneuver. Pick up an army of chinos in a variety of colors; these semi-formal options can be paired with everything, from a beat-up tee to a bespoke blazer. And with your newly stocked wardrobe, you’ll be ready to go for any situation.
Invest in more quality outerwear
In your 20s, you can get away with skimping on the cold-weather outerwear, opting for your Northface you used to wear on the quad in college. In your 30s, you need to do better. It’s worth it to splurge on some quality outerwear—say, a fur-collared car coat—which you can pass off to the coatcheck at a nice restaurant without being embarrassed. And if you’re actually hitting up some fine dining, read up on the 19 Fancy Menu Phrases Everyone Needs to Know.
Invest in cashmere sweaters
Merino wool is fine and all. But once you’re in your 30s, it’s time to elevate your fine knits to soft and sumptuous cashmere. Not only is cashmere is made from a more high-quality (and comfortable!) fiber, it will also make you look better. (Seriously.) Plus, cashmere is an excellent investment; it’s a long-lasting fiber that’s well-known for its durability.
If you’re wearing denim, spring for selvedge
Sayonara, acid-washed! Selvedge denim is a thicker, more durable iteration of everyone’s favorite fabric. At first, a pair of selvedge jeans will feel unnaturally, uncomfortably stiff. But over time, the jeans will grow and change, contorting to your body like a glove. If jeans are still going to be part of you wardrobe through your 30s, only wear the best of the best.
Ditch the fake jewelry
If those cubic zirconia studs you got for Christmas when you were 15 are still leaving a green ring around your ear, then it’s time to retire them. Get rid of that fake jewelry you’ve been getting away with all this time and only splurge for the real stuff. And, gentlemen, if you’re doing some “special shopping” any time soon, know the 20 Best Engagement Rings for Every Budget.
Swap the windbreaker for something serious
It’s past the time when it’s socially acceptable to dash through the rain and show up to work sopping wet on rainy days. A trench coat is simultaneously a fashionable and practical solution to the (sometimes literally) soggy mess of your 20s. Shell out for a high-quality trench—think: Burberry—and you’ll have it for life.
Wear better tights
First, make you sure you take care of your tights. As in, they actually need to be washed, not just thrown back in your drawer after wearing. Secondly, you need to throw out any bold-patterned stockings you may own—pretty much yesterday. Follow this rule: Black, gray, and Swiss-dot only.
Kill Basically All of Your Hats
You may only wear a hat to a sporting event or if it’s subarctic out. And if you own a fedora? Come on, man. You know better. And this doubly goes when you hit 40. We know: Here are the 50 Things No Man Over 40 Should Own.
Wear ankle-length pants to the office
Now that you’re 30, it’s less about the skinny jeans and more about trousers with a tapered ankle.
Own more than 5 ties
Long gone are the days where the wide, brash, loud power tie reigned. Now, you can choose from countless options. Thin or thick; silk or knit; solid or stripes; dotted or patterned. Rock a collection that sports a little bit of everything. Just remember to tie the thing properly. Here’s How to Tie A Tie Perfectly Every Time.
Shell out some cash for your bag
That free tote you nabbed from a New Yorker subscription can’t be your catch-all bag anymore, even if you’re running errands. Consider picking up a genuine leather tote from Madewell (or go for a vegan leather option if that’s your preference) or shelling out for a designer bag, like Coach or CÉLINE.
Keep your sneakers at the gym
Okay, they don’t physically have to be at the gym, stuffed in a dank locker. You just have to understand that the only time gym sneakers are appropriate is at the gym.
Say goodbye to bodycon
Bodycon dresses, bodycon skirts—adios! Replace the tight-hugging club wear with a few chic, yet form-flattering, cocktail dresses. Cocktail dresses are ideal for most every formal or semi-formal occasion: weddings, work holiday parties, the office, even jury duty.
Buy suede shoes
Wearing this flashier fabric is one of the easiest ways in the world to effortlessly raise your style game. If you go blue suede? Double the points, brother.
Treat your shoe collection like a savings account
There are a few things you should invest in. A mattress. A well-rounded stock portfolio. And a shoe collection. Buy kicking up the price point on each pair of shoes you pick up, you’re bound to stock your shoe closet with kicks that will last longer, look sharper, and smell better. (Yes, really. Higher quality leather is more odor-repellant than the stuff you’ll pick up at your local DSW.)
Spring for two quality watches
Every man should own two watches minimum: one lavish (to impress clients and coworkers), one casual (for everyone else). You’re covered for every occasion. For some timepiece ideas, check out the 7 Must-Have New Vintage-Inspired Watches.
Get your clothes tailored
If you’re wondering what not to wear after 30, it’s anything that’s not tailored. This is a mistake most 20-somethings make—and it’s fine then. But in your 30s, this slip-up is just no longer acceptable. Your clothes should fit you well. Bringing an ill-fitting suit or a poorly contouring dress to a tailor can instantly increase the item’s classiness level. By getting clothing tailored, you look like a million bucks. (Literally. Good tailoring can even give off the impression of custom-made pieces.)
Buy a leather jacket
But if you’re going to wear a leather jacket, wear a leather jacket. Ditch the Zara knockoff and pick up an All Saints or RL Ralph Lauren. You’ve come so far from the fleece you wore in college.
Invest in well-made work-out clothes
Sure, it can be tempting to stock up on leggings or gym shorts at Marshall’s for $10 each. But get this: Wearing workout clothes you’re proud to be in is actually proven to help get you going to the gym more often. In fact, this tactic for how to dress in your 30s is just one of the 20 Science-Backed Ways to Motivate Yourself to Lose Weight.
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