We know, we know — age is just a number. And we couldn’t be bigger proponents of the forever-young mentality. You may be climbing over the proverbial hill, but still feeling barely legal — however, that doesn’t mean you should dress like you are 21. We hate to break it to you, but you may just be too, ahem, old to wear certain things. Some trends are simply too juvenile and only come across as try-hard — or “thirsty,” as the kids these days are saying.
We have your short list of seven sartorial signs that probably mean you’re not dressing your age. Ours words of wisdom? Retire these pieces immediately if you still happen to be wearing any of them. It’s high time you grow up and graduate to handsome, new territory.
1. Logo and humor T-shirts
If you’re not still hitting the books as an undergrad, then it’s time to take a permanent study break from heavily logo’d tees and humor shirts that are a dime a dozen among the younger set. You’re at an age now where you don’t need your shirts to do the talking — nor do you need to be an unpaid advertisement for a particular logo-happy brand.
Not all message and graphic T-shirts are off limits, though. Certain designer-inspired tees and other edgier statements can look cool yet still age-appropriate with a pair of jeans or worn under a tailored jacket for a more trendsetting spin on the standard suiting. Just make sure the potty humor is left at home.
2. Ripped and torn clothing
Yes, sometimes the trendy “designer” jeans are made to look quite lived-in with holes ripped through and a good amount of fading. You will likely pay dearly for such denim distress, too. Let us give you a word of advice: don’t. Frayed edges and worn fabrics may come with a certain stylish cachet. And while a 20-year-old — or a particularly trendy male fashionisto — may be able to pull off this sort of ragged-cool styling, oftentimes the effect translates as messy, not modern. Head to the gym instead for your ripped-and-shredded effect.
3. Embellished jeans
Bedazzled butts are questionable for any age bracket. But, they might as well be a walking billboard for a midlife crisis among men who wear them on the daily. This particular species of denim is juvenile at best and desperately try-hard at its worst. Invest in a solid pair of jeans with back pockets that don’t boast a flash. Your back side will look far better without the bling.
4. Sweats and wife-beater tank tops
We know that athleisure is officially a thing now. The word has earned its place in the dictionary and this athletic wear-inspired trend has likely earned a spot in your closet. However, while many forms of polished, off-duty workout attire are suitable for all ages, the athleisure lifestyle does not give you free reign to don sweatpants and a wife-beater tank. Sweats are sloppy; wear a tailored pair of joggers, instead. As for that wife-beater, just say no.
5. Low-slung pants and wallet chains
Perhaps one of the more inappropriate pieces of attire you can put on is a pair of sagging pants that droop way below the waistline. They aren’t a good look for anyone — whether you’re in high school or celebrating your 30-year high-school reunion. Add the wallet chain that is prevalent among the low-slung pants brigade, and you have even more of a fashion faux pas.
6. Vintage clothing
If you have a particular affinity for shopping the vintage circuit, then we urge caution. There is much to be celebrated about sartorial statements from another era. But, it’s far more challenging for the slightly more mature gentleman to pull off a throwback look than for his female counterpart. If you’re not careful, you could appear as if you’re living in the past — and that’s not a good look for anyone. So, even if it reminds you of your high school days, it’s probably best to bring a fresh, new perspective into your daily wardrobe with age- and era-appropriate outfits. It’s more modern, literally.
7. Tennis shoes
Tennis shoes are tricky, especially since the footwear has significantly grown up from its more juvenile past with notable, high-fashion designers each proffering their own interpretation of the sporty shoe. Not to be confused with performance-driven athletic shoes for those gym sessions, this type of sneaker finds its relevance in casual, street-style wear. And with fabrications including everything from luxe leathers to embossed skins, those sneakers have a sophisticated new lease on life.
That said, worn incorrectly with jeans or trousers, they can still send the wrong message if you’re part of the over 40 set. The most important thing to remember is that the shoes must look authentic — not just like you’re trying to be one of the skater boys. Stick to the sleeker, monochromatic varieties of the fancy tennies, and keep the over-the-top designer high-tops (and the fire-engine red kicks) for the kids.