As 2017 begins I find myself closer to 50 than 40, and that means change. I pay closer attention to my diet, my children are becoming teenagers and words like “investments” have entered my vocabulary. Lately I’ve also been taking a good look at something else — my wardrobe.
I’ve always been a “jeans and T-shirt” kind of guy. A baseball hat and a pair of sneakers have rounded out the look that has been my unofficial uniform since I was in high school. It’s casual and comfortable, but there is one little problem — I’m not in high school anymore.
To paraphrase 1 Corinthians 13:11, it’s time to put childish things behind me. In this case, the wardrobe of my youth. In this article, I’ll describe how to organize a respectable wardrobe for a man in his 40s. I’m not an expert in the world of fashion or style (see the previous paragraph for proof), so I scoured the internet for some direction, which I’ll share with you here.
Step one is to edit the wardrobe. I suggest actually laying everything out on the bed to get a good overview of what you’ve got. First, note items that you haven’t worn regularly because of size, condition or style, and set them aside. Next, ID the items that you’ve kept around for their sentimental value but stopped wearing long ago. Finally, anything that’s simply worn out – those old sneakers, for example – go in yet another pile. With that done, it’s time to say goodbye.
You’ve got several options here. Items in good condition can be donated to local charities. Clothing that someone wouldn’t buy in their current condition should be re-purposed as rags, dress-ups for the kids or even “work clothes” for painting, gardening, engine repair, etc. Additionally, some Goodwill stores recycle these well-worn clothes to be used again, but in a different form.
As for the sentimental T-shirts, here are a few ides for dealing with those. A few years ago, my wife took several of mine and made them into a beautiful quilt that I keep on the bed each winter.
Lastly, consider handing down anything that’s still decent to your kids. My 13-year-old looks pretty cool in dad’s old Van Halen T-shirt.
Be honest about size
Well not size as the number printed on the clothing tag. I’m talking about how the item fits. I mentioned the fact that I’m not 18 anymore. Back then I played soccer and my shape was a bit different from what it is today. That said, I’ve bid goodbye to the slim-cut jeans, pants, and shirts that I wore long ago. Now, this doesn’t mean that I need to start going up in size. In some cases it means simply moving from a slim-fit to straight-leg style.
Items your closet should have
At this age, you want to be prepared for several eventualities, from a clothing perspective that is. Weekend events could bring anything from weddings to softball games. Here’s what you should have around so you’re not scrambling at the last second.
- A suit. One that fits and looks good.
- A nice hat. It might sound silly, but my wife is sick of the sweat-stained Red Sox hat that I love so much. I recently got one of those tweed caps and it looks a lot better.
- Decent loungewear. A 20-year-old can get away with brightly logoed boxers and a T-shirt on Saturday mornings. I have several pairs of what I call “lounge pants” (essentially flannel drawstring pants) and decent, solid-color tees. Just don’t wear your lounge pants out of the house. Ever.
- Dress shirts. Somewhere between three and six of them depending on your lifestyle.
- Shoes. Sneakers are for kids. Have a brown pair and a black pair, something casual and something dressy.
- Socks. Invest in a few pairs of quality black and brown dress socks that won’t slide down your legs and wrinkle up between your toes. Leave the white gym socks for the gym.
- Accessories. Get a brown and a black belt and a couple of good quality ties that coordinate with your dress shirts and suit.
- Pants. Have at least one decent pair of jeans and a few pairs of casual pants in your regular rotation.
As I said, I’m not fashion expert. But I do want to dress like an adult. With a little effort, you too can organize a respectable wardrobe. We “men of a certain age” have to stick together, and look like grown-ups while we do.