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Written by Colin Ma
At this stage of a man's life it is all about wearing multiple hats and playing different roles in life. How do you then merge all your different roles and styles into one comprehensive wardrobe?
It can be difficult to have your style all figured out; to balance being a parent with being a businessman, or being a free spirit with needing to dress formally.
But it’s all about letting your personal style grow with you, so you don’t need to sacrifice something you love and you don’t need to look like you’re reliving your teen years either.
Fashion for Men Over 30 - Styling Rules and Tips
By the time you reach your thirties, you don’t want to be dealing with picking your clothing every day. With a job, a family, or any number of other responsibilities, there’s less time for all of that.
Before we get into the details of how to dress as a man in your 30s, lets start with some high-level guides:
Give Back to Yourself
You’re fine with wearing older clothing when you’re in your twenties, or with having a whole slew of mismatched items. But when you reach your thirties, you have the money and the ability to dress a little nicer and treat yourself.
Pick out clothing items that will last and look great, and that will give you that sense of style you’ve been looking for.
No More Experimenting
As a general rule of thumb, your 30s are when your style should remain constant. You don’t want to be trying out new styles when it’s much more difficult to brush off your embarrassment in the office or at a parent meeting.
Look more for styles that are meant to last—in other words, styles that are timeless. Give the risky seasonal trends a miss and stay with the classic wardrobe staples that will not fail you.
Focus on Quality
Quality over quantity - that should certainly be your style mantra for how to dress in your 30s as a man. You should have decided on your main wardrobe staples by now so there’s no need to fill your wardrobe with tons of clothes that you aren’t sure you’d wear again.
You might have been avoiding buying things that were too expensive when you were in your twenties. Now that you’re in your thirties, these higher quality threads are better made to last.
It might be more expensive than you’re used to, but these types of items will look better for longer rather than getting holes after a few months.
Quality threads will also feel better and look better and they often prove to be a worthy investment.
How to Dress Casual in Your 30s
Sure, we did advise you to put an end to the experimenting. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on style entirely. Focus more on choosing higher quality materials like 100% cotton t-shirts and better fit instead of loud, seasonal colors and styles.
In this way, you can actually take your casual wear up a notch and give it an extra touch of formality and maturity. Making your casual wear a notch more formal is a lot more apt for men in their 30s.
You’ll be able to nail the concept of "smart casual" and not fall short of it.
Know Which Brands and Labels Work
After all that experimenting in your 20’s, you should know by now which brands and labels truly work for you. Always have your main staple brands on hand; the ones that fit your body shape and style well. Don’t be afraid to stock up on them and buy extras for your wardrobe.
There’s nothing at all boring about sticking with the same brands. It’s just knowing what works for you and investing in the labels that never fail you.
Dressing for Warmer Weather
As a man in your 30’s, how should you dress for warmer seasons? In your youth, you probably didn’t think twice about lounging around sans your shirt - the very definition of hip, youthful comfort. But in your more mature 30’s now, you’d want to dress appropriately for the heat.
Be sure to stock up on a good pair of swimming shorts that still look good enough for a bar. Cotton t-shirts and leather sandals are also great options that take you up a notch above mere slippers.
Things to Avoid
In general, there are a few things a man in his thirties should always avoid too. By this age, items like athletic gear tend to look a little tacky if you’re not planning on wearing them to the gym. You’ll look more like you’re trying to relive your college years than work out.
You should avoid wearing things like team jerseys too. While these are fine when you’re at a game or hosting some people to watch a game, you don’t want to look like you didn’t try too much when you woke up in the morning.
In general, avoid loud prints. It doesn’t mean you have to forgo interesting designs though. To add a touch of sophistication to your outfits, go for patterns instead. Classic patterns like checks or flannel shirts will do the trick.
Always make sure you pick your outfit according the dress code.
Essentials that Every Man in His 30’s Should Have
In general, there are a few things that you should always have in your wardrobe by the time you hit your thirties. These are key items that every man will be thankful to own no matter what dress code.
The Casual Suit
You might already have a suit that you love, but your thirties are the time to really pick out a suit that will be the staple of your wardrobe. Choose casual jackets that you can wear out in the evenings or that you’re comfortable wearing to the office.
Generally, this means picking out a nice casual suit jacket in grey or dark blue suit, which will look good on you and fit your measurements well.
Avoid padded suits or suits that are too stiff. The last thing you want to do is look old-fashioned in your suit. Go for a suited look that is smart, sleek and sharp. This is always a great smart casual look that can work for a variety of events and occasions.
Pick out a sport jacket or a blazer to help with your style. These jackets are something you can wear casually, but still look good in, and that you can pair with many different types of clothing. Wear your dinner suit over a t-shirt or with a pair of dark jeans.
Here's also a guide on the difference between a dress shirt and sport shirt.
This is one of the best items for your wardrobe when you live in a colder place. You can wear it over your casual clothing to make any outfit look better, and will of course be staying warm too when you venture out into the cold. Be sure to invest in tailoring your overcoat so it will give you the best fit.
Avoid overcoats that look way too rigid and structured. Again, as with your suit, you’d want to go for a smart and sharp look; not something that screams stiff and old-fashioned.
Summer Casual Clothes
You have your overcoat for the winter, but now you need your casual clothing for the summer. Look for a couple of short-sleeved t shirts that are a good mix of good-looking and casual, and don’t forget a pair of lightweight pants like a pair of khakis or slacks. Skip the wool slacks and go for a lightweight material. Grab a pair of leather loafers too, or maybe leather sandals for more casual events.
You don’t need to have the nicest leather shoes out there, but you can’t be wearing your sneakers around everywhere you go. To look a little sharper, you can easily pick out a nice pair of shoes or boots and switch them with your sneakers. The right pair of shoes can make any outfit look that much better.
Having at least one pair of black leather shoes for any meetings or formal events is always a safe bet. If you want to go for a look that is not too formal yet not too casual, brown leather shoes are your answer.
We have a whole guide on dress shoes we'd recommend men to have.
The Right Bottoms
Jeans were probably your best friend in your 20’s and thankfully, you don’t have to ditch them. But to switch things up a little, try different denim styles. Classic blue, dark grey or blue are all suitable colors to try.
Besides your ever comfortable jeans, also add some chinos or pants to your wardrobe. They are casual enough for a family day out yet still sophisticated enough for a semi-formal meeting with colleagues outside of work. Khaki pants are also a great option; they look dressy enough but are still comfortable and casual.
As for the fit of your pants, avoid skinny fits. Instead, reach for straight or tapered cuts.
Pair your dark jeans with a dress shirt to make an outfit go from casual to business casual. Dark jeans are always a great pant to have in your closet due to its versatility. In the same vein, here's how we'd wear a dress shirt under a sweater for a similar look.
You may not want to buy a super expensive dress watch, and that’s perfectly fine. You should have a proper dress watch though, which includes a metal or leather band.
These watches are simple and classic, and can be worn with almost any outfit at any season. Similarly, the dress watch doesn’t have to come at a high price tag. In today’s market, you can get extremely trendy watch options at under $200.
Keep it classy and minimalistic so it will easily match with any outfit. Some watches even allow you to swap the bands so you could conveniently customize your watch to go with your look.
While we’re at it, make sure that you have a good, decent wallet on you too. You want something slim and grown up, and you’ll want to always make sure that you keep it organized. The right wallet will be great for any occasion.
Definitely steer clear of velcro wallets that are reminiscent of your younger years; these wallets simply do not present a mature or professional image.
Other great accessories you don’t want to forget include some fashionable cufflinks to go with your suit, sunglasses to protect your eyes while completing your look and a good variety of ties.
As a man in your 30’s, you’d find that ties always come in handy, whether at work or for an event. This is our favorite collection of slim fit ties from Nimble Made.
Picking the Right Dress Shirts
When figuring out how to dress in your 30’s as a guy, you can never underestimate the importance of the right dress shirt. Your shirt is usually the first thing people notice about you, so don’t discount what a good shirt can do for your style. While you might not have to wear a suit every day, you do need to wear a shirt. So first off, make sure that your shirt fits well.
Check that any dress shirt you wear fits snugly but not with a tapered waist. You don’t want that collar to be too tight either, so make sure you can fit two fingers in between the collar and your neck. The seams of your shoulders should like up well with your shoulders, while your cuffs should fit comfortably at your wrist. In general, your shirt shouldn’t be too big on you or too fitted.
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As for what shirt you should buy, it’s all about picking the right shirt for the right occasion. In general though, you should have one or two plain white dress shirts. These are super casual and you might think they’re a little boring, but these are perfect for both formal and informal occasions.
Don’t forget about having a few patterned dress shirts to spruce up your style too. You may be in your thirties, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up your style. Don’t go overboard either though. Think about buying a dress shirt with stripes or with a pattern on it. You can also choose a few nicer polo shirts too, which are great for warmer weather.
Then, you’ve got your work shirts. You’ll need both long and short-sleeved options that will give you a casual sort of look that’s still perfect for a more formal work environment. Even if your shirt is a little formal too, you can always roll up your shirt sleeves and pop that first button to dress down.
Dressing Tips for Casual Fashion
When you’re in your thirties, casual is a little different than it was in your twenties. You can still have a little bit of formal style in your casual clothing, and can even choose to wear a suit casually if that’s what you feel comfortable in.
It’s all about wearing clothing that feels good on you and that fit your personality, but we have a few tips to help you look good no matter what you wear.
First off, vary your look. You don’t want to be the guy that always wears sweaters or that wears the same hat everywhere you go. You want to vary your looks just a little bit, even if you’re just adding in new colors or another watch. So, if you’re a jeans kind of guy, wear your jeans, but don’t be afraid to add in some khakis or chinos too. You don’t need to wear the same pants all the time.
The same goes for your shirts. You can still wear your t shirts, but mix it up with some casual collared shirts like polos or patterned shirts. For anything you wear, make sure that it has some style to it and isn’t just the same things you used to wear in college.
No matter what you wear, check that it looks good on you too. Everything should have a good fit and should be something that feels good when you wear it. This is what casual fashion is all about, after all.
The Importance of Grooming
Looking after your dress sense and your wardrobe comes hand in hand with your grooming. After all, you want to look great on all fronts. Slacking on the grooming front won’t do you any favors with your overall fashion.
You might not have a skincare routine. Now is the time. Be sure to moisturize, exfoliate your skin and keep your hair and beard in check. Grooming is an important part of the entire puzzle to help you tie in your overall look.
Your 30’s isn’t a time to throw out fashion and reach for boring pieces. It’s a time to ditch the fashion experiments of your youth, the trend disasters and the outfits that way too informal and casual.
Look upon this time as your chance to take your wardrobe up a notch with better fit, higher quality materials and a sense of sophistication and maturity. This is the time for you to re-evaluate your fashion and wardrobe so be sure to enjoy the process!
Frequently asked questions about how to dress in your 30s as a man
How should men dress in their thirties?
In their thirties, men should aim for a polished and put-together look by opting for tailored clothing, combining classic styles with contemporary pieces, and paying attention to fit and quality.
How does a mature man dress?
A mature man typically dresses in a refined and sophisticated fashion, embracing timeless styles, investing in quality garments, and paying attention to fit, coordination, and grooming.
How to dress smartly as a man?
To dress smartly as a man, focus on well-fitted garments that flatter your body type, incorporate stylish accessories such as a quality watch or pocket square, and pay attention to grooming details like neat hair and polished shoes.