Entering your 30s can be a time of discovery and re-discovery as you cautiously approach a new phase in life. You eventually let go of what mattered to the younger you but, as anyone already in their 30s will tell you, there is so much to look forward to. What you might not be aware of are the great things that come during this decade. And that goes for style.
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With the benefits that come with experience, knowledge, a higher wage bracket, and perhaps a bit of wisdom, it’s a period where you can really hone your wardrobe to the best it can be.
As your preferences change, so too do styling habits you once had. Rather than deprioritising how you dress, knowing how a man should dress in his 30s can open up a range of new style possibilities.
1. It's time to grow up
After years of experimenting, copying, or even occasional embarrassment, a few major differences form between men in their 20s and those in their 30s when it comes to style.
These are experience, income and taste. Experience means you’ve got a better idea of what to wear and this can give you confidence. Higher income – and different spending habits – also means you worry less about the price and rather choose what you really want.
You’ve also had more time to develop your sartorial tastes. After having seen many seasons come and go, trends and fads go in and out, you’re less likely to buy an item because a celebrity wore it, but rather because it fits into your overall wardrobe and expression of style.
These factors all give more weight and purpose to your choices, and that’s something to feel good about.
2. Identity matters
While you spent your 20s trying different styles and taking risks to test the boundaries, by the time you’re in your 30s it should be a lot clearer what your personal style is all about. This not only means you’re more self-assured when buying new items, but also more consistent in what you decide to wear.
Perhaps by now there are a couple of standard outfits that are your go-tos for work and socialising. Developing a core set of outfits is important. You should also enjoy wearing them and feel that they’re an accurate representation of your tastes. And don’t be afraid to re-buy or repair core wardrobe items.
If you like wearing black T-shirts then why not buy five of your favourite? It makes integrating them into multiple outfits easier and you also know what to expect every time.
There should also be a clear distinction between work attire and what you wear outside of a professional setting. This shows that you not only prize your style enough to not be lazy, but that you’ve put the time and thought into what you’d like to wear at the weekends.
3. Invest in quality
While you don’t need to buy items that will last a lifetime, your 30s is a great opportunity to buy higher quality attire. Assuming you now command a higher income, it’s less of a financial burden to drop a large sum on a hand-made overcoat or designer boots for winter.
Opting for quality really does make a massive difference to not only your look and the longevity of your clothing, but also in how it feels to wear. In your 30s, you know how much nicer it feels to wear quality items.
This feeling, and the prioritising of your personal taste, mean that price and hype are lesser factors than in your 20s. Buy less, but make it better when you do.
4. Do suits right
Wearing suits is nothing new for a man in his 30s. You mightn’t call yourself an expert, but you have the confidence to dress formally and can tie a tie in the dark if needed.
This decade will be about fine-tuning your suit game rather than experimenting, with the plus being that you need to think less about how to look good. There are a few points that can help you do this.
So you’re focused on buying quality. Although you can get inside a suit for an extremely low price if you wanted to, spending more will net you a better suit that lasts longer. If you can get it tailored, even better.
Have a selection of black, navy and grey suits to broaden your styling options. Also go for a variety of materials and patterns along with fabric weights to keep you covered in both the warmer and cooler months.
5. Develop an eye for details
One of the distinguishing factors we attain as our tastes mature is that we progress from the focusing on big-picture elements and instead devote more time to the details.
When you know your labels, your cuts, your colours and so on, then you can start being more subtle with your styling. Your 30s is the ideal time to practise this as you develop distinctive tweaks unique to you.
You might want to begin using one highlight colour, perhaps something off-kilter like a bright orange. You could do exactly the same with patterns like houndstooth or pinstripes. But perhaps the most obvious elements to play with here are your accessories.
Taking the time to select watches, cufflinks, belts and hats doesn’t just allow you to develop looks with your maturing style, they also enable you to communicate your tastes and know-how without saying a word.
6. Dressing for Romance
Whether you’ve got date plans coming up or are just going out for fun, dressing for romantic situations is as important as when you were younger. When you’re in your 30s – in a long-term relationship or otherwise – it’s all too easy to let your guard down.
But there’s no need to go over the top to try and make a good impression. You aren’t trying to dress like a hotshot. Understatement is usually much sexier and shows depth of character better than bling ever does.
So definitely dress sharply with the collar and dress shoes if it feels right, but don’t forget that simple, tailored outfits and high quality accessories will feel great to wear and also send the right message to whoever is sitting across the table.
7. Key pieces for your 30s
Tailoring your wardrobe for this decade is as much about knowing what you do like as much as what you don’t. Even if you’ve got a long list of go-to items, we’ve got a few suggestions as well.
The first is to get a suit that isn’t one solid colour. While pinstripes might convey mafia vibes more than you’re comfortable with, here you could opt for tweed or check patterns.
If your wardrobe is filled with jeans then add some chinos in. Buy a quality woollen overcoat for winter. Get some casually-cut blazers that can be dressed down both for work and weekends. You can wear these with the chinos, or some tailored pants as well.
If sneakers are also becoming less of a religion than what they were in your 20s, grab some handmade brogues or boots to take their place.