Man About Town: ‘Am I just too old to wear this’?

Patrick McCloughney


Patrick McCloughney


Man About Town: ‘Am I just too old to wear this’?

When it comes to suits shiny material and busting seams are not a good look so box clever

THE expression “mutton dressed as lamb” is a truly horrible put-down. If being compared to an old, clapped-out piece of sheep-meat isn't insulting enough, the implication that you are also a deluded failure ought to do the trick. It's notable, though, that it's an insult that's usually applied exclusively to women. So, us guys don't really need to worry about dressing our age? Right?

Allow me to puncture that sense of security. In recent years we men have shown ourselves to be just as eager as the fairer sex to cling to the vestments of our youth - or to adopt the vestments of today's youth. And in ever-more-contemptible ways. We now have a small army of guys suffering sartorial midlife crises.

I'm not trying to be ageist, mind you. In fact, I think that stylish silver foxes should be celebrated.

Jeff Goldblum, Nick Wooster and Ian McKellen are rightly considered style icons and while it may that they rip up the rule book of dressing age-appropriately, you'll rarely see them breaking any of the suggested guidelines I'm about to impart.

The advice is simple: while dressing for your body shape and personal style are paramount, knowing when certain things are past their style sell-by-dates is also very important. Here's a little bit of help with that…


Under 25: Bands & Slogans

Unless you work for an intelligence-driven and threat-focused national security organization, a t-shirt that says 'FBI (Female Booby Inspector)' is not OK. But a less explicit graphic tee is permissible, as are vintage band tees, even if bought from an online or high street retailer. Your youthful idealism also permits the wearing of woke political views.

25 to 39: Logos

Getting a permanent job and saving for a mortgage probably has made you more mature/conservative, while the 'vintage' band t-shirts in Zara depressingly feature album covers that you bought when they were first released. The good news is you can still wear rock a tee that's adorned with the logo of the company that made it. But, bigger isn't better when it comes to the size of the logo.

40 & Over: Plain

If you're thinking about how to find work experience for your daughter in Transition year, slogans and logos are a no-no, and vintage band tees will make you look like a roadie. Keep it simple and stick to plain tees in good-quality fabrics that hug your figure rather than cling to it.


Under 25: Ripped

Like the rock stars and skateboarders that made them popular, ripped jeans are only ever cool when you're young. Even then, don't judge the older folk who'll quip: “can you not afford to buy a new pair of jeans?”

25 to 39: Distressed

By now, your parents have stopped giving you their input on your style choices and have started forcefully pressing cash into your palm and asking if “you're OK for everything?”

You're not yet too old to have a sweet fade in your hairstyle or your selvedge denims.

40 & Over: Solid

Overly faded jeans merely serve as a metaphor for your youth, so any wear and tear on your denim should be kept to a minimum. Keep your jeans free from rips and fades and get used to being the person asking the question: “can you not afford to buy a new pair of jeans?”


Under 25: Hype

At this age, you can still follow trends and get away with dressing like a teenager, even if you're not quite a teen any longer. If you feel compelled to camp out overnight and spend your student loan and the latest Yeezy drop then work away.

25 to 39: Contemporary

At this point in life, you can't really afford to be late for work because you were queuing for the latest sneaker drop and you probably have more important things to do than scour eBay for rare designer collaborations. Look to contemporary staples like Air Max, Gazelles & Vans.

Over 40: Classic

At this point, your choice of trainers should have stood the test of time as well as you have so stick to classics like Stan Smiths, Converse and the less adolescent versions of Vans. Swerve bright colours and overly elaborate design for muted tones and little or no logos.


Under 25: Skinny

You're still young enough and fit enough to squeeze into a suit that looks like it's been painted on, so enjoy it. Thin lapels and trousers cropped to your shins all signal that you're wearing a two-piece as a fashion statement, no as part of an employee dress code.

25 to 39: Slim

Even if you've stayed in shape and can still fit into the cling-film tailoring of your youth, you'll likely look like you forgot to come home from the 2014 Galway Races. So ditch the schoolboy look and graduate to a suit cut that demonstrates that you now possess maturity, substance and non-parental income.

Over 40: Classic

By now you should have realised that, whether they're thin or thick, lapels that stray too far beyond three or so inches will date even the best suit horribly, and you by association. Shiny material and busting seams are not a good look so box clever.


Under 25: Cheap & Cheerful

At this point in your life, it's OK to not care about wristwear yet so, for now, something plastic with a calculator function will suffice as a placeholder that you don't mind losing or breaking.

25 to 35: Pretend

You have things to do and people to see, and you need to be on time so you're starting look at watches differently. While you might be dressing for the job you want, you might not yet have the earning power for the watch you want so in the meantime, look to a quartz fashion watch or a minimalist dress watch.

Over 40: Proper

If you want to hold your head – and your wrist – up high in certain circles then you're going to have to push the boat out on price. I'm talking a few hundred euros at least. If you want something you'll leave in a will to your offspring then add a zero.