You’re no longer in your 20s, so you can’t dress like a college boy anymore. However, you’re not yet in your 40s, so middle age hasn’t caught up to you. You are now in the years, which is the peak of your life. It’s time to learn how to dress in your 30s.
You may not be taken seriously if you dress as if you were in your 20s. You will be viewed as inexperienced or immature. You may also be viewed as immature or inexperienced if you dress up like you’re much older than your actual age You are no longer an up-and-coming or worthy of being invested.
This article will help you to find the perfect balance between middle-aged and young men, as well as how to dress in your 30s.
#1. The Best Look is a Varied One
What doesn’t impress anyone? Being “the _____ guy”. The guy who wears sweaters all the time. The guy who wears a stupid fedora everywhere, regardless of what his other outfits are. The guy who wears suspenders every day, even with a belt. This guy.
A less unusual but equally interesting option is the guy who wears jeans, a non-descript shirt, and sneakers when he doesn’t have to dress up.
Do not be one of these guys.
Variating your look can make you stand out to everyone. You can make your look unique by using new fabrics, colors, styles, and articles of clothing.
It is equally important to figure out who you really are and what style man you want to be.
Your wardrobe may be based on simple staples if you haven’t done any style. Let’s look at these staples and see what you can do with them.
- Blue jeans – These are great, but not always the best. They look great when they are dark and fitted. You can also add corduroys and khakis or colored chinos to your collection. Many men wear the same style of trousers every day. A man who changes his look is always noticed.
- T-shirts – Don’t toss your plain white undershirts. But, you can get rid of baggy tees that have graphic logos and designs. These are for younger men and you’re learning to dress in your 30s, not your 20s. Instead, wear casual collared shirts: polos, short-sleeved workshirts, and patterned dress tops. These shirts give you more style without being too formal.
- Sweatshirts – For mountain climbing, save your college hoodies and wear sweatshirts. Light sweaters and cardigans are better than heavy layers such as jean or leather jackets.
- Coats – You can also make a nylon or generic canvas coat a sturdy sportcoat, or blazer. They’ll last until the snow begins to fall if you have a sweater under them. A wool overcoat is a must for those snowy days.
- Sneakers – These shoes are meant for gym use. You can wear leather shoes outside the gym’s walls. Brogues, casual loafers, and boots work well. Leather work shoes are also a good choice. Converse All-Stars are a great example of colored canvas sneakers. However, unless you play in a band, they’re not for you.
#2. Items Every Man in His 30s Should Own
Here are some timeless basics that will never go out of style when you start to figure out your look for the 30’s.
- Coats and jackets – These are your top layers. They define your appearance from afar, as they are the most prominent features people see.
- Blazers – At least one navy blazer is a must. You can be a little stiff looking with all the brass buttons. It’s a dress you can wear when you feel respectable. A suit is too formal. You’ll be surprised at how many times you use it once you own one.
- Sports jackets – A blazer’s more casual cousin. These jackets in textured weaves are great for both fall and spring. These versatile weaves can be used in any social setting.
- Cardigans and sweaters – They can be purchased in plain or solid colors, and will make a great match. Gray and earth tones are timeless. Sweaters are an excellent choice for defining your style in your 30’s. You can choose from a variety of styles and colors to show off your personality without sacrificing a lot of versatility.
- Waxed field jackets- Barbour is the best-known brand for waxed jackets, but there are many imitations. Although it is expensive, a good jacket will keep you looking sharp even in the worst weather. You don’t want it to be too loose or making you appear slouched.
- Overcoats that are long – A puffy nylon-shell parka can’t be worn over a well-made suit or blazer. A decent dark wool overcoat should reach your knees. There are many styles to choose from: polo and chesterfield coats for formality, or polo for more casual style. Trenchcoats are perfect for a rugged, working-class look. You can choose your favorite, but make sure you have one.
- Leather jackets – If you can find one that you like and it is high quality, it will be worth the cost. You don’t have to love it, the quality is poor, or it’s too tight (leather is not adjustable). It doesn’t need to be stuffy to learn how to dress in your 30s. The best way to maintain a cool and youthful look while still looking great is with a leather jacket.
Pants and trousers
Remember what we said about variety. It’s true. This is especially true for pants. You’ll be able to get rid of the “jeans every other day” mentality and have a more defined appearance than most of your peers. These are some great options.
- Corduroys are essentially the same as jeans, but they are less common and more colorful. These are for younger men who prefer to work in earth tones and deeper shades.
- Chinos don’t need to be boring. They can be slimmed and tailored in a light color, or paired with other colors than the standard office-casual light blue. They are a classic item that every man should have. However, they can make you look older if you don’t do it right. It’s not about dressing like your father, but how you can dress in your 30s.
- Wool slacks: If you have only one pair of wool slacks, the classic medium-gray Flannel is your best bet. Don’t stop there. You can dress up any outfit with wool slacks, in anything from charcoal gray to houndstooth check.
- Jeans: They should still be in your closet. There should be only a few of them, and they should be dark, tailored, and contrast-stitched to add visual interest. For manual labor, plain ol’ jeans work fine. Just change them out once you’re done.
Tops and Shirts
A small shirt change can make a big difference in how you dress in your 30s. A decent dress shirt with a light-colored pattern is a good way to show people you care about your appearance, and not just wear the easiest option. These are some great places to start:
- Plain white dress shirts. You should own at least one or two. These shirts aren’t flashy but can be worn when you’re at your most formal. You can also wear them with your more flashy pants or jackets. They are worth having because of their versatility.
- Patterned dress shirt – Your bulk should have some character. Consider light, narrow stripes instead of solids and check patterns over white backgrounds. While a few button-down collars are acceptable, the majority of collars should be spread or point collars. This is a more formal look.
- Work shirts – Long- or short-sleeved, these shirts are more structured than formal shirts but still feature the button front and turndown collar. These shirts are great for casual and working-class looks. You can use them when a formal dress shirt is too formal. But, you can also “dress down” a traditional dress shirt by rolling up the sleeves and popping the top button.
- Polo shirts are a safe and comfortable choice for warm weather. There is no reason to not own one or more. These can help you look younger and fitter when you’re learning how to dress in your 30s.
- T-shirts – If you have any, make sure they are well-fitted and solid-colored. There is nothing wrong with pairing them with dark, well-fitting jeans once in a while. This should not be a default look, but a one-time thing.
- Henley shirts are a slightly more stylish alternative to the T shirt. They have a smaller button opening at the top and no turndown collar. This shirt is great for those who want a casual look but want to be noticed.
There are many options for shirts. Don’t be afraid of mixing and matching and exploring other possibilities. Avoid T-shirts that are designed for younger men, particularly those with graphic designs (yes, even those from American).
Never underestimate the power of shoes. An aging jock is a man wearing dark jeans, a tight white T shirt and sneakers. A style icon is the same guy wearing the same jeans, T-shirt and dark leather shoes with his work shoes. The shoes are the most important wardrobe upgrade that every aspiring dresser must make.
- Shoes for work – Dr. Martens is a good example. A sole made of solid rubber and plain, dark-colored leather. Bam. You’re done. It looks great with jeans. Contrast stitching can be fun but is optional. You can raise them to the ankle, and they will be a work boot. They have the exact same styling role.
- Chukka, or desert boots – These are low-cut boots with a crepe rubber sole. They also have a distinctive two or four eyelet lacing system. This timeless classic is a must-have. It looks great with jeans, corduroys and khakis as well as chinos and some wool slacks.
- Dress boots – Leather boots in smoother colors. These boots are higher and more formal than chukkas but they are also more rugged and casual than regular shoes. This is a great way to keep dry and good-looking in rainy weather without having to resort to galoshes.
- Brogues – Toled leather shoes with decorative holes punched in the uppers. Your safe, default dress-casual staple. You can add a little flair to your look by getting them in wingtip (sometimes referred to as a “full-brogue”).
- Saddle shoes – Two-tone leather shoes This highly polished shine gives them a touch of 1950s rock n roll. To keep them from becoming a costume item, you can pair them with suede or muted topgrain leather.
- Loafers – Comfortable leather slip-on loafers. They are lightweight, comfortable, and perfect for driving. They can be worn with or without socks depending on the weather conditions and your outfit.
- Oxfords – The high-formality option. They can be worn with suits or with your more formal slacks or blazers.
Last note about footwear: If you are in your thirties you can stop listening to the jokes about women only owning multiple pairs of shoes. A man needs at least three to four pairs of shoes, but most men can use twice as many.
With a few accent pieces, a simple core wardrobe can be transformed into a unique personal style. Take our previous example of a man wearing dark jeans and a white shirt. You can create a completely new look by adding a wide brown leather belt and a rodeo buckle to your outfit. Start building a collection by finding the right accents.
- Belts are essential. You should have a plain brown and plain black belt. They can be fitted with interchangeable buckles if they are. You can also add any other accessories that you like — there are many options.
- Watches – Ideally, you shouldn’t look at your phone to check the time. If you have the option, get a dress and casual watch.
- If you are wearing a suit/sports/blazer jacket, pocket squares are a must. You look clueless and waste a chance by leaving the breast pocket empty. Stick a square of plain white in the breast pocket. If you aren’t in a formal business setting, feel free to experiment with color and pattern.
Pens – If you’re old enough, you can have a nice, metal pen to tuck into your suits or blazers. When you take it out to sign something, it makes a statement. A cheap plastic pen is also a choice, but it won’t make the statement you want.
#3. Dressing for Special Occasions
Now you have a basic outline of your wardrobe. Although you don’t have to own all the items we listed, it’s a good idea to own most of them.
It is a separate skill to put them together. It’s an easy skill to master once you learn how to dress in your 30s. Think about the dress code or standards that are required for the venue you are attending, then think about what look you want to portray.
Business attire: Dressing for work
You may want to consider getting out your business suits if you have climbed up the ranks and achieved some authority or respect in your workplace. You are likely more experienced in your 30s than those in their 20s and have been steadily climbing up the ladder.
These are not all jobs that men will choose to do. The majority of men won’t. However, if you’re a member of the suit-wearing men’s class, don’t wear the same two off the rack suits from Men’s Wearhouse.
If you find yourself wearing a suit every day, save enough money to buy two or three more nice tailored suits. If you don’t have the budget for bespoke, you might consider making your own. Or you could look into traveling two-day tailoring events to find a great deal.
This look requires dark suits in business-style — dark colors with minimal patterning or texture. Plain or lightly patterned white dress shirts, as well as good silk neckties. Oxford dress shoes with matching belts
Avoid these: Too casual button-down shirts, mismatched leathers and just about anything else that isn’t the timeless business options above. Instead of straying from the standard, express your individuality in the quality and accent pieces of your suit.
Dressing for work: Business casual
A business casual work environment is more popular than one that’s formal. You may call it “business casual”, or “relaxed business attire,” however, the idea is the same: dark, crisp jeans at the casual end and wool slacks, blazers, and collared tops at the more formal end.
In a casual business setting, you have lots of flexibility. Take advantage of this flexibility. Varietate your outfits so you don’t wear the same “uniform”, to work every day. You can wear khakis with a blue button down, but not every day.
If there are younger men working, try to be a bit more sharp than them. A jacket is a must, as well as a pair of stylish leather shoes. Even a necktie can be worn from time to time, provided they are not necessary. This outfit will help you distinguish yourself from younger men at work.
This look requires a variety of jacket and trouser styles. To complete the look, you will need light-colored or lightly-patterned dress shirts. Shoes made of leather. For jackets, you can use pocket squares. You can also incorporate sweaters into this look.
This look is not for you if you don’t like suits, brightly colored shirts or trousers, blue jeans (even good ones), and cloth shoes.
Dressing for Work: Hands on Labor
Some people don’t work in an office. Do you have to be conscious of your appearance during work hours if you work remotely or in a factory?
Yes, it is qualified. First, dress with safety and functionality in mind! It’s a good idea for men to keep their work clothes neat and sharp.
Think in business terms. A guy wearing brown cotton pants and a shirt will impress customers more than someone in jeans and a Tshirt. This is especially true if he has a clipboard and appears busy while talking to customers. Do it if it is worth it.
This look requires clean, unworn jeans or sturdy cotton pants. Work shirts and polos with soft collars are good options. If leather is not an option, you can opt for plain, dark-colored synthetic boots or leather work boots. This look is not recommended for those wearing overalls or coveralls. Anything that is stained or badly ripped. T-shirts.
Dressing for yourself: Daytime chores
It is important to update your wardrobe so you can look your best even if there aren’t any special events. It’s impossible to predict who you might run into, and it’s always fun to be dressed better than the men around.
A casual but elegant style is a great choice for the man who’s just starting to learn how to dress in his 30s. Avoid anything careless or sloppy, especially anything that is loose and slouched. You can look great in slim jeans, lightweight sweaters and casual collared tops. Casual jackets are also good choices.
You will need: Anything neat and well-fitted. Top layers include jackets, sweaters, and light coats. Casual dress shirts, solid-colored T-shirts, Henleys, or other relaxed styles. Trousers come in many styles. Jeans are fine but should be dark and well-fitted.
You want to be a bit more polished and dressed up when you go out at night than you are during the day. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should wear business clothes. Your clothes must be both “socially” and “dressy.”
It’s actually better to wear jeans and a Tshirt in most social situations than a business suit with a tie. Although there are some formal events that require men to wear ties, most people don’t need them.
Evening casual suits are rare these days. However, if you do have one, social events at night are a great time to wear it. A casual jacket and dark jeans are also good choices. This is where you can make your look a little more fun. A T-shirt underneath a suit jacket, or a pair canvas sneakers with nice wool trousers is possible.
This look requires simple, dark jackets (sports or suit). Dark, fitted jeans and other pants. There are many options for shirts, both with collars and without. Comfortable casual footwear in good condition.
This look is best avoided: Business casual. Plain collared shirts with plain khakis, or other casual dress-casual pants. Shoes for the gym, such as colored rubber/cloth shoes. T-shirts that have logos or other non-artistic graphics, such as school or brand names or logos.
Romance or Dating: Dressing for Romance
It turns out that the clothes you wear to impress a date are the same clothes you wear when you’re searching for someone to date. They are, at least if you’re honest about your intentions.
Many men in their 30s have let their standards slip when learning how to dress. This includes married and committed guys. Avoid falling for this trap. You should not pretend that the opinions of others are important to you.
To be romantic, you should look smart, sophisticated, dark, and elegant. Try to be minimalist. It is very appealing to be understated, especially when it comes to a tailored fit.
This look requires dark, tailored trousers and jackets. Light-colored collared shirt (white with light patterning is also a good choice). Good leather shoes with matching belts. If you like jewelry, some modest jewelry is possible. A little bit of decent cologne, but nothing too expensive and not more than a small amount on the neck. Boring work clothes are not recommended. Jeans and T-shirts. Gym shoes. Too much pink, too many colognes. Too much of anything. Keep it simple, stupid.
These simple rules will help you to look your best in your 30s.