Enter the silver shoppers

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Step away from the untucked shirts and pointy shoes – when you reach 50, it's time for an image overhaul, says Oliver Horton. The good news is that it's easy to look grown-up and stylish

For men, shopping in their teens and 20s may be a straightforward business.

But, as womenswear buyers are constantly reminded, time takes its toll. What was once fun and empowering – buying the latest labels at one's favourite store – is death warmed up decades later. Some are happy to relinquish responsibility to their wives. Others choose simply not to engage. That might explain the uniform of lumpy cargo pants and drab check shirts out in force at this summer's family gatherings, not to mention why my handsome younger brother is often attired in a shade best described as "sludge".

Fifty is a milestone regardless of gender. This year's crop includes George Clooney and designer Tom Ford, who both dress well in that Hollywood way. But if you're based in Hemel Hempstead, George and Tom aren't necessarily the most helpful role models. "I see the struggle of people ageing through their clothes," Roland Mouret, a fashion designer, says. "The guy who still wears really baggy jeans where you see a bit of the pants, or a [baseball] cap at 40, 45 – he is really pushing it. Or they wear a black jacket with a pair of jeans and pointy shoes and, okay, let's keep the shirt out. The notion for straight men is: shirt out means relax time."

Mouret's menswear line, MR by Roland Mouret, addresses the mature man with reworked standards. His colour choice, pleats and pattern cutting are genius. But the garments are simple and elegant.

Mouret says: "It's fascinating to be bombarded by men's fashion stresses. They know themselves as young people, but they don't trust themselves as mature men. Sean Connery understands it. They had their youth as sex symbols and they had to become men with maturity."

My brother-in-law, Ryder, gave up smoking in his mid-40s, hit the gym to counteract weight gain and at 49 looks buff and handsome (so he claims on Match.com). But his outfits are stuck in the early 1990s: black Levi's, Doc Martens or sports shoes, baggy T-shirts.

What doesn't help is that his local shops are chain stores that confuse being fit with dressing loud. Ryder drives a Jaguar XJ8; one might argue that he needs a wardrobe with similar high-calibre specifications.

Shoes are where most men shoot themselves in the foot. Call it the horror beneath the ankle. The difficulty of seeking a shoe when all you really want to wear is a pair of trainers results in so many heinous hybrids.

I introduced Ryder to Tricker's, a Northampton-based shoemaker established in 1829. He chose a pair of classic tan brogues, which would be good with chinos and even better with jeans. At Russell & Bromley we found a sneaker substitute in Sebago deck shoes, a summer all-rounder. Immediately Ryder looked more pulled together, with no change to his clothes at all.

"Older men fall most foul in the casual arena," the Barbour menswear design manager Gary Janes says.

"No movie star wore casual clothes better than Steve McQueen. Emulating his approach to dressing and combining timeless and classic garments such as trench coats, Barbour wax jackets, button-down oxford shirts, Levi 501s and loafers, is a great leap in the right direction."

As a photographer, Ryder's working wardrobe is full of denim. He wanted selvedge, to turn up the cuff and flash that connoisseur's stripe on the inner seam. Taking his budget into account we visited Uniqlo, where he bought two pairs of selvedge jeans, in indigo and dry black. For double denim chic, he sought out a jacket from Wrangler. And for quality English cool, we picked two shirts at Oliver Spencer, one check and one micro-herringbone.

 

I started getting compliments," Ryder says. "One woman yelled across a party because she was so excited about my brogues. The coolest guy in town asked about my denim jacket." A friend-of-the-family, Rob, is a couple of years past 50, has two boys under 10 and his wardrobe has been low on his list of priorities until now. Our first stop was Paul Smith's Sale shop on Avery Row in London, where Rob toyed with a parka, but bought a sweater in fresh summery purple and a youthful cut. Colour has endless potential for the older man. The right shade can brighten up a look and it's worth taking a little time to find what tones work.

Rob didn't expect to spend more than half of his £300 budget on an pair of brown Red Wing work boots but we'd tried a few shoes "just for fun" and these seemed to tick the box. It was a wise choice. They will last a decade, he'll wear them every day and we had just enough money left for a pair of jeans.

"Men underestimate the importance of fit," Brian Duffy, president of Ralph Lauren Europe, says. "Women know exactly what fits them and what compliments them, but guys don't think about it enough. It's about not wearing a shirt that's too big under a jacket that's too tight. And you put the whole lot together and it looks all wrong. How many guys buy things without trying them on?" Rob's preferred style of jeans is black Levi's 501. They're a design classic, but not for nothing are they known as "anti-fit" – they skim the body without being baggy but they don't cling.

For a modern sense of versatility, blue trumps black every time. Levi's has a broad range of fits, and the 504 standard gave Rob a slimmer, sleeker silhouette. "They take 20 years off him," his wife told me later.

Mission accomplished.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - Python / Node / C / Go

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: *Flexible working in a relaxed ...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bookkeeper

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This accountancy firm have an e...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Developer / Mobile Apps / Java / C# / HTML 5 / JS

    £17000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Junior Mobile Application Devel...

    Recruitment Genius: LGV Driver - Category C or C+E

    £23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national Company that manu...

    Day In a Page

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?