Middle-aged dad’s guide to summer dressing

summer dressing menAs the weather begins to warm up (she says optimistically) and our thoughts turn to summer dressing, I thought it might be time for a few words of advice for the men in our lives, on how to approach the coming months.

Middle aged men can have a hard time when it comes to dressing, particularly in the Summer, as it can be tricky to find the right flesh to fabric ratio, length of shorts, relevant footwear and most importantly, age appropriate look.

As you know we don’t like too many rules when it comes to clothes, but there are certain things which are clearly wrong when it comes to middle-aged style and unless you are married to David Beckham or an Italian, most of our menfolk need a little guidance as they age.

David Beckham while not strictly middle-aged, is the perfect example of a man who exudes style from every orifice. While some women might find that level of self awareness and grooming unattractive in a man, in my eyes, he can do no wrong. He gets both casual and formal completely right and has clearly passed his innate sense of style onto his boys.

David Beckham

David Beckham and a stylish Italian

David is also one of only a handful of men that can carry off a vest and unless your partner/brother/dad is a DB body double, South American drug dealer, or pro skater Jason Dill, a vest is to be avoided at all costs. Tommy Lee may be able to cavort on Venice beach with Pamela Anderson and look good in a vest, but the majority of British men will look more Eddie Yates in Hilda’s living room after a long shift on the bins.

jason Dil and Eddie Yeates

Jason Dil and Eddie Yates

So just what should M.A.D bear in mind when putting together the essential summer wardrobe?

When it comes to t-shirts, simple neutral colours such as black, white, grey or navy and perhaps even pale blue are fine. Pastel and bright colours are not. Stripe combinations ditto. Keeping it clean and simple from either Margaret Howell, Uniqlo or the Gap, avoids awkward fashionable (not fashionable) colour choices.

Football tops or sportswear (apart from when doing actual sports) are unacceptable – always

Ditto flip flops, unless they are poolside and even then, a more covered up pool slide is a more attractive option. No man (apart from my husband  – but thats another story) has nice feet and no-one wants to see them ever – especially not at work!

Shirts again should be kept simple and clean. Pastels and bright colours are ok here however, but only in checks or gingham. Stripe pastel shirts (along with ironic ties and socks) are too “Wolf of Wall Street” should be avoided.

Bright coloured trousers and shorts are a tricky one unless you are the super cool (young) hipsters in the top image, European, or the posh bloke from Googlebox (God, I love that programme). Bright shorts are easier to pull off on holiday and bright trousers are ok if you are a Lord or live in the country, but generally navy, black or stone narrow leg chino style trousers and tailored shorts work best.

Shorts should be narrow, but not tight (therefore gay, which is fab, but not on the father of your children) and on, or just above the knee – any shorter is venturing into Joey Essex territory and we all know how wrong that would be!

For a modern look, a rolled up trouser leg, no socks and a Grenson brogue says contemporary smart casual, but still manly.

Denim should be detail free and clean. High quality Japanese selvedge demin (Albarn, APC, Margaret Howell) is ideal, but if you can’t persuade your man that £200 is good value for a pair of jeans, Uniqlo dark wash work equally well.

Knitwear also should also ideally be high quality and simple, ditto sweatshirts – in fact the general rule of thumb for successful middle-aged male dressing is “less is more”. There really is nothing more ageing than a man who likes a pint rather than the gym, wearing all the latest Top Man trends in one outfit.

We call them “Brighton Dads” in our house, which is probably a bit mean. But you know the sort. Worked in advertising but recently it’s been all about viral online marketing, spends more time in Shoreditch House than is good for his relationship and favours Opening Ceremony sunglasses, Obey t-shirts, mid calf length Abbercrombie shorts and carries (rather than rides) a Palace skateboard at weekends.

Brogues no socksFinally, all else fails and your man steadfastly refuses to listen to your advice, point him in the direction of your gay best friend. Their shopping trip may end up in a seedy bar in the east end, downing Yager Bombs and dancing to Boys Own, but you can guarantee the next day he will look and smell totally fabulous.

For more style advice for men over forty, check out the excellent Grey Fox Blog.


  • Craig Thomas says:

    And I’m pleased I can still do the rolled-up trouser look: I was afraid that might be a bit tired/hipsterish.
    I have to say, it’s pretty bloody difficult to find appropriate clothes when you’re a gentleman of a certain age. But if you’re lucky enough to live by a Uniqlo, Banana Republic, HE by Mango (although their sizes are a little, er, compact), you can find a fe decent pieces. And you can get away with some Howies farms (especially the Merino base layers in winter).
    My tip for this summer? Linen shirts from Uniqlo – and only £30.

  • Jane says:

    Thanks Craig – I think you may need to write a guest post at some point?
    J x

  • esmeralda says:

    Check. Check. Check (etc) for Mr E as well. And young E, despite being 20 next week and off to art school, follows the same safe, classic, monochrome(ish) pattern. Yes, it works. But then I see Richard Rogers maybe being interviewed and, well, OK, not Michael Portillo … but I wonder why men are not allowed to dress in other than Men’s Colours (blue, black, maroon and natural)? Why don’t they rebel?

  • Jane says:

    Esmerelda I agree re Richard Rogers, he rocks a coloured trouser like no other. Advanced Style for men anyone?

    J x

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