Forget the miracle elixirs, hair dye, & pretend interest in Disclosure. In the latest edition of A Gentleman’s Guide, we check out a few cunning style choices to turn back the clock:
- Photograph Adam Katz Sinding
There is a fine line to tread when dressing younger. Step too far the wrong side of it in some down-wiv-da-kidz costume and it looks try-hard and tragic. You don’t want to be, as Mr Michael Hainey, US GQ’s editor-at-large puts it, “the businessman at the convention who, in order to go out for the night, somehow believes the cool move is to wear a hooded sweatshirt”. Done well, however, and with subtlety, dressing younger can take years off both how you look and feel. Mr Terry Jones, the 70-year-old founder of i-D magazine, somehow always looks cool in sneakers and casualwear. Sir Paul Smith, 69, usually wears a suit, but does so in a way that looks fresh and modern.
The ageing process is usually kinder to men than women, and there are many men who look better the older they get – we’re looking enviously at you, Messrs George Clooney and Robert Downey Jr. It is not all down to genetics (or treatments). Good grooming plays an important part, as we outline here. And barbers usually advise their more mature clients to keep things neat and short. The more white hair you have on your head and your face, the older you will look. Likewise, diet and exercise are crucial. “While a well-tailored suit can flatter your physique, the inconvenient truth is that clothes always look better on guys who are in good shape,” says Mr Hainey.
The good news is there are several deceptively simple ways to inject youth into your look without the need for anything drastic, and they’ll work no matter what age you are. MR PORTER stylists Messrs Dan May, Olie Arnold and Mitchell Belk have joined forces to suggest some straightforward tips, as exemplified by the following well-dressed gentlemen of a certain age.
COMBINE THE POWER OF DENIM AND CAMEL
- Mr Simone Marchetti. Photograph Marie-Paola Bertrand-Hillion/Press Association Images
From your forties onwards, denim is still your friend, as long as you avoid the dreaded baggy “dad jeans” or go too far the other way by wearing anything uncomfortably tight. “Cut out super-skinny, and invest in some peg-style jeans – looser at top and tapered at bottom,” says Mr Arnold. Acne Studios and Levi’s do great options. “The denim should always be dark, no rips, just clean,” says Mr Frank Muytjens, menswear director atJ.Crew and a man in his mid-fifties who incorporates denim into his everyday look very successfully. “Turn them up twice to show a bit of ankle, sock or boot,” he says. Mr Muytjens is also a staunch advocate of pairing camel and denim. “There is something about the colour and texture contrast of camel cashmere or wool and blue jeans that always works,” he says. Camel coats and blue denim never go out of style, but they are a particularly pin-sharp pairing right now, as demonstrated above by Mr Simone Marchetti, deputy editor in chief of d.repubblica.it. Try wearing a cashmere or wool camel topcoat over a light blue denim jacket or with a grey jersey sweatshirt and indigo denim jeans for a look that will look effortlessly cool whether you’re 55 or 25.
MIX UP THE FORMALITY OF YOUR OUTER LAYERS
- Mr Michael Hainey. Photograph YoungJun Koo/Lickerish Ltd
Wear a military or mod-style parka or a down-filled Arctic parka with tailoring, as demonstrated here by GQ editor-at-large Mr Michael Hainey. Likewise contrast a formal topcoat, such as a Crombie or double-breasted overcoat, with jeans and white tennis sneakers. “The high-low, formal-casual combination of the two worlds coming together helps to balance the look so it is neither too young nor too ageing,” says Mr Belk. Incidentally, Mr Hainey is also a skilled exponent of the knitted tie-with-button-down-collar combo, which is less ageing than wearing a silk tie with a dress shirt.
HARNESS THE IMPACT OF ONE “POP” COLOUR
- Mr Alessandro Squarzi. Photograph IMaxTree
A bright colour can keep your outfits vibrant, but use sparingly. Most of your look should be muted and tonal, which allows the one colour to stand out. It’s easiest to work this in via an accessory such as socks, tie, pocket square, scarf or the frames of your glasses or sunglasses. Here, entrepreneur and talent scout Mr Alessandro Squarzi is feeling bolder, wearing a bright red rollneck sweater, the colour of which is echoed in his socks. And this brings us neatly to another tip about using knitwear – a fine-gauge cardigan, a cashmere crew neck or a rollneck – to soften and break up tailoring. It serves as a stylish and less stiff alternative to a shirt and tie or open-neck collar.
THROW ON A LIGHTWEIGHT SCARF
- Photograph George Elder
A polka-dot silk or lightweight cotton scarf can be worn several different ways to help bring a look together in a raffishly understated manner. “It can line the lapels of your jacket and just peep out to add pattern and colour in a subtle way, similar to the effect of a pocket square, but less fussy,” says Mr Muytjens. “You can also tie it loosely around the neck, or even wear it neckerchief- or cravat-style inside an open-collared shirt.”
REMOVE THE PADDING
- Photograph Adam Katz Sinding
“Soft, unstructured and unlined tailoring is your wardrobe workhorse,” says Mr Arnold. Such pieces make for an excellent halfway house between the ageing formality of ablazer and the youthfulness of a hooded sweatshirt or bomber jacket, and in a neutral colour such as navy or grey are extremely versatile. “Another effective way to inject some youth is to substitute one item for its younger-brother equivalent,” says Mr Belk. You should therefore wear a jersey sweatshirt in place of a sweater, tapered sweatpants instead of tailored trousers, or a chambray button-down or grandad-collar shirt (see above) in place of a formal dress shirt. “You could also try letting the shirt tails hang out, which breaks up the look and conveys a sense of youthful rebellion,” says Mr Muytjens.
DRESS DOWN WITH CLASSIC SNEAKERS
- Photograph Scott Schuman/The Sartorialist
You could try dialling down the formality even further by top-and-tailing your unstructured tailoring with a beanie and/or a pair of sneakers. We’re not talking about the clumpy gym shoes you see some men wearing on their commute. “A man of a certain age should think more in terms of a classic silhouette than a fashion sneaker,” advises Mr May. “The sneakers should be super-clean and timeless, such as adidas Stan Smiths, Converse Jack Purcells or Common Projects Achilles, or retro in style, such asVans.” Trouser length is important here. “The hems of formal trousers should be altered to sit on your shoes with no break, so that you just see a flash of sock or ankle when you walk,” says Mr Arnold.