Reader Question: Fashion and Age


Nigel, London: How would you recommend that a slightly older man with an interest in youth-driven fashion incorporates this into his daily attire? Jeans, for example – some are so skinny they make you look even older than you are.

Men’s style is and has always been about subtlety. The wearing of suede rather than patent leather shoes to a black-tie occasion was enough to draw howls of protest in the past. Today, the best dressed men are often those whose clothes are simply well cut, well fitted or individual in small, subtle ways.

The individuals highlighted in my previous posting are a good example. These Italian gentlemen will use a sombre or conservative background as a means to express themselves elsewhere – in purple driving shoes, for instance, or an oversized watch.

Gianni Agnelli, pictured, is also a great (and well-used) example. His quirks, such as wearing his tie outside this sweater, his watch over his shirt cuff or his monk-front shoes unbuckled have become so adopted by others they have lost most of their originality. Yet they retain their appeal, and everyone wishes they had such individuality of their own.

These are the kind of subtleties one might take up to be more Italian. If one wants to adopt more youthful Anglo-American trends, the key is to do so again with subtlety.

Your suit jacket, for example. One with slightly narrower lapels, a slightly shorter body and just one or two buttons will be instantly more contemporary. Don’t go over the top: narrower, but not narrow lapels; a body that is a little less than half your height, but not on the scale of a ‘bum-freezer’.

These are the kind of things one will not notice at first glance. Certainly not the particulars. But they will notice a more youthful look, perhaps even trendy.

Ideally, the suit would be designed by yourself to these specifications. But you’ll have no trouble finding many suits of this cut or similar to it in the stores today. The key is to try and compare all, and to go for the subtlest you can find.

Another example. Jeans that are straight, not skinny; in a very dark indigo; an inch or so short of touching the ground. Perhaps even with a dark stitching. Contemporary but not extreme.

There are many others. Clean, new Converse trainers with a suit (the key is that Converse are just as narrow and neat as formal shoes. Most trainers are too chunky or rough.)

I hope this helps Nigel.


Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at He has too many suits.


  1. Nicola Linza says:

    I agree with you on all points here Simon. I would like to add (and maybe this is the Italian in me) that it is total confidence that allows a man complete style freedom, without it he is chained. It is the deciding factor for a man, at any age, between looking foolish or incredible. I recently saw a middle-aged guy with silver hair who was the most stylish man I have seen in many years, (the image of Gianni Agnelli wearing high boots with a suit came to mind.) This guy was unreal cool in edgy jeans, a minimal sweater, and designer black boots. He looked absolutely fantastic.

  2. Since my days as a City Trader in the 1980’s and 1990’s I have always considered Gianni Agnelli to be the cornerstone of style, he always made it look effortless and never contrived. I think that Diego Della Valle (Mr Tod’s) has inherited a similar way to mix classic with casual. When done well I think that it captures a perfect age-less look, that transcends fashion. I recently completed a caricature of Agnelli in which I tried to include as many of his style-quirks as possible.


    Phil 🙂
    (ps only just found your blog Simon – SPEZZATURA ! )