In this detailed men’s style guide, we cover how men should dress in their thirties from smart casual to business casual and formal wear, showing you how to expand upon the basics you already have in your wardrobe and find the perfect line between young and mature.
Aging into your thirties means you might be starting to feel more settled and comfortable in your look. While still young, you’ve matured and built on the things established in the previous decade. You want to have some sort of default style without boxing yourself in, and likely have the bigger budget to execute it. A man’s thirties are a time to put into practice all the knowledge gleaned and lessons learned from his twenties. Especially if you took style risks, you’ve probably worked out at least some of what works for you and what doesn’t when it comes to your clothing. If your twenties were a time for exploration, now is the time for evolution.
Honing Your Look
These early middle years can be the prime of a man’s life. Whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder or starting a family, you should have a better understanding of yourself and your tastes. Your thirties mean developing a more personal look that is less about making an impression and more about solidifying your style and dressing consistently.
At this age, fashionable, appropriate choices can bring about a certain social gravitas – if you dress like you’re in your 20s, you may not be taken as seriously. Conversely, if you dress much older than you are, you may be seen as past your prime. You’re looking to enliven your wardrobe with every new purchase, as it’s always possible to grow up without growing old.
If you have a respectable wardrobe already assembled, you should have some key staple pieces that you can grab without much thought. If you haven’t done much stylish dressing yet, the basics might be a large percentage of your closet. Don’t fret if you’re still beginning to develop your style – the perfect time to start is the present. It’s all about high quality over quantity for men in their thirties, so here are the basics to work from:
The power of a good shirt is often underestimated in creating a put-together outfit. Instead of a baggy and effort-free option, choose a well-fitting shirt that will add some subtle sophistication. Here are some options:
- T-shirts – You don’t have to toss your plain white undershirts, but think about investing in some white or other neutral t-shirts with a little bit of a structure to them or from a higher quality brand. You should be moving away from graphic logos and designs and gravitating towards the classic. Casual collared shirts are also a good choice: short-sleeved work shirts, polos, and other smarter options will instantly level up your wardrobe. Pair them with dark jeans to have a bit more finesse without being overdressed.
A short sleeve dress shirt is a great way to elevate your style as you progress into your thirties.
- Plain white dress shirts – Own at least one or two of these. They're extremely versatile, whether you’re going for a more formal look with a suit or want to pair them with flashier pants and jackets.
A white dress shirt should be a staple in every dapper gentleman’s wardrobe. Courtesy of www.eduaspirant.com
- Patterned/light colored dress shirts – A good way to add some personality is in the choosing of patterned or other colored dress shirts. Think narrow striping or check patterns. Have a small range with button down collars and others with point or spread collars for a dressier look.
Patterned dress shirts are a great way to elevate your style game in your thirties. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Having a variety of sharp, tailored pants is crucial to how men in their 30’s should dress. Smart casual outfits can range anywhere from dark, neat jeans to slacks and blazers, and so it’s important to mix it up. Rather than jeans every day, get ahead of your peers by investing in some more sophisticated options:
- Chinos – Keep them slim and fitted, in a nice light hue, and pair them with different patterns and colors. They can always be dressed down with a t-shirt or dressed up for the office.
Courtesy of www.whatmyboyfriendwore.com
- Slacks/trousers – Trousers are a must for your wardrobe, and can polish up any look. Go for charcoal gray or darker colors at the start, then expand your closet with other colors or patterns. Once you have the basics, you can spring for higher quality fabrics like wool.
Darker colored trousers can create a truly sophisticated look. Courtesy of www.hespokestyle.com
- Jeans – Yes, they should still be in your wardrobe. But there should only be a few pairs, and they should be dark and close-fitted. There’s nothing wrong with wearing jeans, but they should be one style of many rather than the default. Mix it up with other pants for a more varied look.
A pair of well fitted dark denim jeans can elevate your look in your 30’s! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Jackets and Suits
- Blazers – Own at least one traditional navy blazer. When a suit is too formal and a buttoned shirt needs an extra something, a blazer is a great choice for rounding out a cool, refined look.
Courtesy of www.hespokestyle.com
- Well-tailored suit – If done right, one good suit can cover a variety of your social needs. From work to weddings, a plain navy suit in a wool-cotton mix with half-lining is the most versatile. The color and structure is light enough to wear in the summer, or can be layered with a stylish overcoat for the colder months.
A well tailored suit – a necessary staple in every aspiring dapper gentleman’s wardrobe! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Once you have the basics down, you can branch out a bit more. Spending a little more on a few key pieces will lift your entire look. Men in their 30’s might have more room for luxury, which means nicer fabrics, bespoke or designer pieces, and an overall more upscale vibe.
As well as upgrading your basics, you should add expansions in the form of extra versions or variations of the things that you wear most often. To freshen things up, invest in more formal casualwear and more casual formalwear for some variety.
As your top layer, your outerwear can often define your look. Especially in the colder months, it can be crucial not to overlook. Here are the investments and upgrades you can make:
- Trench coat– These are a stylish option for chilly days, and are easy to find from high end brands.
Few items enhance aesthetic appeal like a trench coat can! Courtesy of www.s-gents.com
- Coats - Upgrade a generic canvas or nylon coat to a sturdy sport coat or blazer. With a sweater underneath, they'll hold up throughout the fall. A nice wool overcoat should take over in the winter.
- Sports jackets – The blazer's dressed-down cousin. Opt for dark neutral colors for the most versatility.
A well fitted sports jacket can instantly elevate your look! Courtesy of www.tailor.com.au
- Sweaters and cardigans – Ditch the college hoodies and buy these instead for a sharper look. It’s hard to go wrong with plain, solid colors like gray and earth tones. When defining how to dress in your 30's, sweaters are a good place to find variety.
Out goes the hoodie. In comes the sweater. Courtesy of www.llbean.com
- Waxed field jackets – Easy to layer and will keep you comfortable in all kinds of weather. A good one is pricey, but it keeps you looking sharp in all elements. Pay attention to the fit in order to avoid looking slouchy.
Waxed field jackets make for casual, effortless style. Courtesy of www.thursdayboots.com
- Long overcoats – For when you need to layer over a good suit or blazer, pick up a decent, dark wool overcoat that falls to around your knees. There are lots of styles like the more formal Chesterfields or stylish polo coats.
Whether you are donning a suit or something more casual, a long overcoat will have you looking the part!
- Leather jackets – Learning how to dress in your 30's doesn't have to get stuffy. A leather jacket is the best way to keep the young and cool look, just make sure you spring for high quality leather and a good fit.
Courtesy of www.realmenrealstyle.com
If there's one underrated wardrobe upgrade every aspiring stylish man in his 30s should work on, it's the shoes. Instead of sneakers, opt for leather shoes most of the time. Casual loafers, brogues, and boots all work well. A funky sneaker can be fun, but they’ll be harder to pull off as you age.
- Work shoes – Plain, dark-colored leather with a solid rubber sole, contrast stitching optional. These are a basic option that can be upgraded to higher quality.
- Loafers – Comfortable leather slip-on shoes. They’re lightweight and more casual, but still sharper than a sneaker and versatile with several outfits and seasons.
Courtesy of www.beckettsimonon.com
- Oxfords – For the more formal occasions. Wear them with suits and with your dressier slacks and blazers.
Black Cap Toe Oxfords are the perfect complement for formal wear. Courtesy of www.suitsupply.com
- Brogues – Tooled leather shoes with decorative hole patterns punched in the uppers, a dress-casual staple. For more flair, get them in wingtip (sometimes called a “full brogue”).
The highly versatile men’s brogues can work with both chinos or dark denim! Courtesy of www.rydale.com
- Chukka or desert boots – Low, rugged boots with a crepe rubber sole and a distinctive two- or four-eyelet lacing system. Works great with jeans, corduroys, khakis, chinos, or even some slacks.
Chukka Boots make for absolutely effortless style. Courtesy of www.themodestman.com
- Dress boots – Smooth leather boots. Higher and dressier than chukkas, but a little more relaxed than dress shoes. A great way to stay good-looking but dry in rainy weather without resorting to galoshes.
Oh those dress boots! How could you possibly say no to purchasing those! Courtesy of www.portlandleathergoods.com
- Saddle shoes – Two-tone leather shoes. Go with suede or a muted topgrain leather to keep them from looking too costume-y.
Your 30’s are a good time to start expanding your collection of suits. That old trusty suit in the back of your closet did its job long enough, but now it’s time to spring for a few more options. Invest in some suits for seasonal affairs like weddings, each of them well-tailored. Consider bespoke suits that will especially flatter your individual tastes and body type.
An investment in one bespoke suit in your 30’s is well worth the effort! Courtesy of www.michaelandrews.com
Adding Premium Accessories
Adding accent pieces to a more curated collection is a great way to add some flair and personality. Accessories can often complete an outfit, so pick a combination of unique and classic pieces that can be added to different outfits you already own. Here are some examples:
- Watch – start off with a basic steel variety and work your way up to something more luxurious, or splurge right out of the gate on something that will last a lifetime.
- Cufflinks – for business attire and formal events, having some nice cufflinks will have you looking especially polished.
- Wallets – a nice leather or minimalist wallet goes with any outfit, and is a piece that demonstrates an attention to detail.
- Silk Ties – A well manufactured, well crafted silk tie, composed of high quality silk and interlining, can result in exquisite drape and an enviable knot! Now who wouldn’t want that!
The Dark Knot’s Domaso Grenadine Brown Silk Tie. Perfect for daily work, an important presentation or that next wedding reception! Higher quality silk ties are highly versatile and can be worn across a range of occasions! Courtesy of www.thedarkknot.com
Leather bags and hats are also options for more casual days when you want a little something extra. Choosing a signature cologne can also add some sophistication to any outfit.
Use these upgrades and accessories to evolve your personal style and stand out from the crowd. You can still dress boldly with colors, patterns, and textures, but incorporating classic, quality pieces will ensure your style stays age-appropriate. Feel free to push boundaries, but learn the rules before you try to break them. Re-up on your staples, upgrade where possible, and sprinkle in some hero pieces that will take your look over the edge.
Courtesy of www.gentlemanwithin.com
Choosing Favorite Brands
After you’ve learned what works for fit and style, the next step is to develop more of a consideration for brands. In cultivating some favorite staples, you can achieve a more signature style. Picking a denim brand and cut of choice, for example, will cement your look and make the shopping process easier. If you find a designer you really like, splurge on a few pieces that you know you’ll get a lot of wear from.
Decluttering and Streamlining
As you continue to build up a cohesive and stylish wardrobe, you should also be decluttering where you can and streamlining your process. Replace your beat-up shoes and stained t-shirts regularly for a crisp finish to your look.
Putting together an outfit with more ease will save you time as you continue to develop your career and family life. Following this guide will help ensure sartorial success no matter the occasion, making choosing your ensemble a breeze. Automating this process and getting a routine down should contribute to a sensible style you can rely on to get ahead in your thirties.
And that's a wrap for this one. We hope that you have enjoyed reading this article as much as we did writing it!