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I’m wondering if I am too old for my casual dress attire. I’m 41 but tend to look much younger as I keep in shape and have a full head of hair without going grey yet (just my beard, but I’m clean shaven). I enjoy my youthful appearance, but don’t what to look out of place if I dress too young .
I typically like to wear jeans with a trim un-tucked button down shirt (7 diamonds, Calibrate or Boss) and keep a fairly conservative style (nothing fancy). I’m in reasonable shape at 5’11” 170lbs, but wondering if I’m just too old to be dressing this way. I think my shirts look stupid tucked into jeans, and don’t know if I need to chuck the jeans all together and go business casual on the weekends too?
My friends my age are all getting heavier, going bald or graying and tuck cheap off the rack shirts into jeans and I feel like I look out of place sometimes. Any thoughts?
Oooh, 41, eh? ‘Bout to kick the bucket? Wondering when you’re gonna croak? Well you’ve lived a good life, my friend, take comfort in that at least. (Is the sarcasm getting through, David?) I think you should go on dressing the way you’ve been dressing, but before we get to that point, let’s talk about why your friends might be dressing differently than you.
Your friends may be tucking their shirts into jeans because they are, as you mentioned, getting heavier, and they don’t want their beer belly swaying in the wind underneath the shirt. But this would be the case whether they were 31 or 41–it’s a matter of weight gain, not age (although the two, unfortunately, do go hand in hand). As for their choice in clothing–“cheap off the rack shirts”–this may also be because they’ve gained weight. Taking care in your appearance is a sign of self-respect and confidence, and often (though not always) with weight gain, those two things diminish a bit. Their motivation to seek out high quality clothing may not be there.
It may not be an issue of weight gain at all, but simply a lack of interest. They just don’t care that much about clothing anymore. They’ve seen enough fads; they’ve been in enough fitting rooms. Maybe it seems vapid and unimportant next to their careers and families and hobbies; maybe they simply have no time to worry about whether their outfit is on-trend. Whether it’s weight gain or lack of interest, my point is that none of your friends are saying to themselves when they get dressed in the morning, “Man, I’d rather wear a pair of tailored wool trousers and a fine merino sweater and a pair of wingtips, but since I’m halfway to 80 you know what that means–stonewashed jeans and that booster club t-shirt from my son’s school.” They aren’t wearing what they’re wearing simply because they’re getting older; they’re wearing what they’re wearing because their bodies have changed or they don’t value style anymore, both of which can be attributed to aging, but are not the same thing as age. You follow me?
You’re not in the same boat as your friends. You still want to look sharp. I say bravo! You’re not too old to wear jeans (but not these, please). You’re not too old to wear untucked button down shirts. Don’t force yourself into tucked-in flannels just because your friends are.
As far as feeling out of place…this issue seems no different than the readers who have chimed in over the past year and a half about being called out by friends and coworkers for being “so dressed up.” If you put a lot of care into your appearance, you will inevitably feel out of place at times because–to make a generalization, but one that I feel is true–most people don’t give a damn what they put on their bodies. Next time you’re at the grocery store, look around. You’ve got the teenager in her pajama pants and slippers over near the deli; you’ve got the 30-year-old dude in a t-shirt with holes at the armpits; you’ve got the 45-year-old woman wearing no bra and a sweatshirt that goes down to her knees. Next to this crowd, anyone with access to a mirror would be out of place. Accept that you like what you like, and wear it well.
Finally, if all this doesn’t convince you–my grandma is 92. She wears jeans. Yes, she has them laundered at the dry cleaners and they are pressed right down the middle of the leg, but she’s got ’em. If Granny can, you can.
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