There are plenty of minimum age limits (drinking, driving, gambling), but nowhere near enough maximum ones. So given that forcing myopic septuagenarians to retake their driving test is outside our purview, We have decided to impose some suggested restrictions on key menswear items to prevent car crashes of the mutton-dressed-as-lamb or badly packed sausage variety.
Now, these are merely guidelines, and there are always exceptions to every style rule. But it’s usually Pharrell, who doesn’t seem to be subject to the same process of organic decay as the rest of us. While dressing for your body shape and your personal taste is paramount, it’s also stylish to know when you’ve unwittingly past certain buy-by dates.
Under 25: Ripped
Despite it being a popular trend, some would argue that ripped jeans are only ever cool if you’ve earned the holes. One thing that can be agreed on, however, is that like a rock star or skateboarder, they’re only ever cool when you’re young. Even then, understand that your dad will quip: “Can’t you afford to buy new jeans?”
Between 25 And 35: Distressed
By this age, your old man has stopped satirising your style choices and instead started surreptitiously pressing cash into your palm while saying, “If you need anything, let me know.”
You’re too old to hang out at the half pipe, but not so beset by responsibilities that you can’t dedicate half a year to developing some sweet fades on shuttle-loom Japanese selvedge.
Over 35: Plain
Aggressively faded jeans merely advertise that your glories have too, so any wear and tear on your denim should, like that on your face, be kept to a minimum.
By this point, you may have fathered one or more children, depending on just how tight those ripped skinnies were. In which case, good luck trying not to wash your selvedge for six months.
Under 25: Slogan/Band
Apart from rescuing cats for the RSPCA, a T-shirt that says ‘Pussy Patrol’ is never OK. But a less explicit graphic example is permissible, as is vintage band merch, even if bought new from a high-street retailer.
Your youthful idealism also excuses the wearing of political views, even if you’re about as woke as the Pepsi marketing department.
Between 25 And 35: Logo
Getting a job and scrabbling for a toehold on the property ladder has probably made you more conservative, while the new ‘vintage’ band T-shirts on the high street depressingly feature groups that you listened to when they first came out. But you can still rock a lit label’s logo to show that you’re down with the work experience kids. And say “lit”.
Over 35: No-Go
You’re thinking about how to wangle work experience for your kids, logos are no-gos and vintage band T-shirts make you look like a roadie. Stick to plain examples in good-quality fabrics (e.g Supima cotton) that hug your figure flatteringly rather than suffocate or drown it. The only bands on your T-shirt should be stripes – white or not.
Under 25: Hype
This is the age when you fall completely and irrationally in love with things, and also when you can get away with looking like a teenager, even if you’re not quite one any longer. So if you feel compelled to blow your student loan on the latest kicks – and camp out overnight for the privilege – then fill your boots, snowflake.
Between 25 And 35: Contemporary
It’s unbecoming to queue for the newest drops, not to mention impractical, what with work and all. But you haven’t got so many better things to do with your life that you can’t scour eBay for a rare colourway, or stump up for designer collaborations and argue that the superior materials and craftsmanship make them totally worth the extra money.
Over 35: Classic
If you’ve successfully staved off a dadbod, then a Nike Flyknit might still fly. But you should be leaving the latest releases uncopped in favour of traditional styles such as Stan Smiths, Converse Jack Purcells and the less adolescent Vans, plus swerving bright colours for muted tones or white. As a rule, your kicks should have stood the test of time for as long as you have.
Under 25: Ironic
Either you don’t care about watches yet or you’re counting down the seconds until an elderly relative kicks the bucket and bequeaths you a Patek Philippe. So, for now, something bright and plastic or with a calculator function will suffice as a placeholder that you don’t mind breaking or losing on a drunken night out.
Between 25 And 35: Pretend
You have places to be, and punctually at that. You’re also eyeing up watches. But while you’re dressing for the job you want, you don’t have the earning power for a grail watch, and the old codger is alive and ticking. On the other hand, at least your quartz fashion watch or minimalist Scandinavian wrist candy proves that you’re not an old-timer.
Over 35: Proper
Some will insist that if it’s not mechanical, then it shouldn’t touch skin. Many more others won’t clock that you only spent $150 on an archetypal dress or sports watch from a respectable non-Swiss brand.
If you want to hold your wrist up high in certain circles, though, or hand what’s on it down to your offspring, then add a zero.
Under 25: Skinny
You’re still able to squeeze into suits cut so sharply that they could draw blood, or certainly restrict its flow to parts of your compressed anatomy, so enjoy it. Thin lapels and jackets cropped to your armpits all signal that you’re wearing a two-piece as a fashion statement, not because it’s stipulated in an employee handbook.
Between 25 And 35: Slim
Even if you can still fit into the eye-wateringly tight tailoring of your youth, you look like you’re going to the prom that you probably bought it for, or a bad nightclub. So you shed the schoolboy aesthetic and graduate to a cut that demonstrates in more ways than one that you’re yet to hit middle age – but have a bit more substance about you.
Over 35: Classic
Having witnessed one or two swings of the fashion pendulum, by now you’ve realised that, whether they’re too thin or fat, lapels that stray too far beyond the safe zone of three or so inches will date a suit horribly, and you by extension.
Bumfreezer suit jackets and trousers busting at the seams meanwhile are anything but elegant.