You aren’t alone if you struggle to figure out how to dress in your 30s.
It’s a perfectly natural issue to scuffle with; you’ve matured but certainly don’t feel old and stuffy.
Now that I’m in my 30s, I love being able to ditch the style chaos of my 20s. I have learned how to walk that sweet line of always looking appropriate while still feeling in front of fashion trends.
Perhaps I’m biased, but dressing in your 30s is the best of style.
Style Tips for Dressing Well in Your 30s
Congratulations – you are now a mature adult.
What exactly does that mean? You are no longer a young adult, but definitely not middle age yet!
This is a fantastic transitional decade; embrace all the possibilities! You can straddle the styles between youthful dressing while adding a dash of maturity to your fashion choices.
Embrace the Transition
When you’re in your 30s, you are entirely in the mode of building up your career and relationships. This means you have less time to think about or invest in your wardrobe.
You have a better sense of who you are now; your fashion experiments of your 20s should be behind you now. You’ve learned what you’re comfortable in, what looks good on you, and what styles you should avoid.
Now that you’re a bit more settled in your life, it’s time to settle your wardrobe. You want to be taken seriously in your 30s, and your clothing needs to reflect that.
But this doesn’t mean your sense of style needs to be boring! However, it should be more refined and a bit less flashy than it was in your youth.
Level Up Your Wardrobe
You aren’t a fashion beginner at this point. It’s time to invest in some high-quality essential pieces.
Not only can you afford them better now, but you are also responsible enough to give them the care they need.
Replace the baggy T-shirts, distressed denim, and hoodies. Make a statement with your clothing that doesn’t involve only wanting to play video games.
Embrace tailored clothing and better brand names. These don’t just last longer, but they also can go far in defining your style.
Clothes Must Fit Your Body Type
If you don’t know your body type, this is an ideal time to figure that out. Different styles and designs work better on various body shapes.
When you know your basic shape and how clothing can flatter or work against your body, you’ll find it easier to select pieces.
Any body shape can embrace a tailored look; it’s all about how your clothing sits on you.
Visiting a tailor is an excellent idea to ensure these garments fit you in all the right ways. A tailor may even be able to help you determine what cut flatters you best.
Less is More
Men in their 30s have more confidence in themselves than they ever did. The beauty of this means that you don’t feel the need to try as hard to impress people; you’ve already done it!
You can relax. Don’t go wild with accessorizing; keep it minimal. This includes wearing cologne. You should only have a hint of your scent that follows you.
And you should certainly stop wearing attire with large company logos on it.
You don’t need to advertise for them. It’s time to start promoting for yourself, and that’s best done with an understated approach.
Which Clothing Items Are a Must-Have in Your 30s
Once you hit your 30s, the best way to ensure you achieve your “look” is to build a base wardrobe.
Having a foundation of certain essentials means mixing and matching pieces to create several outfits or building off one staple piece.
When you’ve got your essentials, dressing will always be a snap. You’ll never need to worry about having the “right” clothing.
Base pieces make up most of your outfits, so plan accordingly.
Jackets and Coats
Whether you’re tossing on an outer layer for formality or warmth, remember that it needs to enhance your ensemble.
The wrong top layer can bring your entire outfit down.
- Suit Jacket: This article may be part of a complete suit but may also be worn separately. Keep in mind that a suit jacket isn’t normally weather-appropriate and isn’t intended as outerwear. But it pairs well with different-colored dress pants when you need a semi-formal style.
- Blazer: Blazers are one of the most helpful articles for outfit transformation. A structured blazer elevates your outfit for a business casual event, while an unstructured one lends a more informal vibe to your day. Invest in at least one solid blazer because that will be far more versatile than one with a pattern; you can’t go wrong with navy!
- Sports Jacket: The sports jacket is less dressy. You can swap out an unstructured blazer for a sports coat. It comes in many different fabric choices; wool is terrific for a slightly dressier effect, but a light, loose weave is excellent for warmer weather. However, the lighter the fabric, the more casual the outfit!
- Overcoat: No matter how debonair you look in your suit, you’ll need to keep warm in frigid temperatures. Invest in a long, dark overcoat that will complement your suits. Wool is the warmest, but you can go slightly lighter with merino or cashmere. Overcoats help you stay warm while keeping your suit classy!
- Bomber Jacket: These stylish jackets are typically made of leather, but if that feels too hardcore for your tastes, you can also get one in nylon or wool. Bombers are the perfect way to keep your outfit casual, but they aren’t sloppy. They are well suited for smart-casual styles.
- Trench Coat: Here’s a classic throwback that never looks stuffy. When you need some light layering over your suit, this coat will keep you warm and dry, making this a valuable piece in the spring. Trench coats are usually long, falling below the knee, keeping more of your suit dry.
Shirts and Tops
The garment that covers your torso may be the most important indication of how dressy your outfit is.
Thankfully, you have a massive range of options of shirts that are very dressy, very casual, and all levels in between.
- White Button-Up Dress Shirt: You simply can’t go through your 30s without a professional formal dress shirt. It always helps to have a few on hand. White dress shirts go with all your suits but can be an MVP in almost any outfit. Consider it your blank canvas to build most outfits around.
- Colored Dress Shirt: A light blue button-up is super versatile, but dark blue and pale pink also work in several variations. Toss in a black dress shirt for your funkier dressed-up looks!
- Patterned Dress Shirts: These shirts add some individuality to your attire. Smaller prints are dressier than large ones, especially on a white background. They can be the base for a terrific smart-casual outfit.
- Polo: This iconic shirt is the foundation of any good business casual wardrobe. It’s another versatile piece that pairs well with a sports jacket, jeans, or chinos. It’s a simple yet effective and easy garment to build an outfit out of.
- T-shirts: You don’t need to forfeit t-shirts when you grow up; you just need to upgrade your tee game. It’s time to ditch the baggy shirts with graphics. The key is to choose one that’s a good fit and a solid color, helping this staple to grow with you.
Whether dressing to impress at a formal affair or kicking it casual for the weekend, you’ll notice a few simple rules that your pants should follow.
Pay attention to the fit, stick with a tailored look, and always avoid anything baggy or sagging. A slight break at the ankles is almost always your best length.
- Dress trousers: If you only invest in one pair of dress trousers, they should be dark wool dress pants. If possible, investing in a few pairs isn’t a bad idea: charcoal, black, and navy.
- Chinos: You can’t do business casual without chino pants! These add effortless charm and uplift any casual outfit. They make the ideal complement to any smart or business casual outfit.
- Cords: Just below chinos but above jeans informality, corduroys build an old-school outfit that is easy to add a contemporary spin to. Make these a staple for fall and winter weather, and always look cozy. Brown corduroys are highly versatile!
- Jeans: Adulthood doesn’t have to deprive you of all your comforts. A good pair of jeans are timeless. As with all your other pants, these should be fitted. Dark or medium shades are best, as they make a nicer presentation. You can even dress them up somewhat.
Ok, you’re getting older, so your footwear should reflect that. Thankfully, there are many stylish yet comfortable ways to keep your feet looking nice.
The right shoe will make your outfit. It can even take your outfit from day to night – truly!
- Oxfords and derby shoes: These shoes are a must. Ideally, black Oxfords are the number one choice for all your professional and formal needs. Though these are the top two dressiest shoes, you can wear them for many dress needs.
- Loafers: Incredibly stylish shoes are both comfortable and dressy. Pick leather loafers when matching with formal attire or suede loafers when wearing them casually.
- Monk straps: These shoes can be dressy (though never formal!) and make a very modern, stylized addition to any suit. But monk straps can also create a very slick effect for a smart casual outfit. Wondering whether to go with a single or double strap? That’s up to you! Keep in mind that single monk straps are the more formal version.
- Chelsea boots: Heard the term “suited and booted?” Yeah, that’s what Chelsea boots are for! These boots make your suit feel sleeker and more urban. However, they’re also hot with jeans and a tee, too!
- Sneakers: If you’re allowed to keep your T-shirt and jeans, you should still be allowed sneakers. But avoid athletic sneakers unless you’re playing a sport. Stick with plain white or cream fashion sneakers and avoid any crazy detailing!
Remember how I said earlier, “Less is more?” Here’s a great area to keep that rule in mind. Pick a couple of accessories, and save the rest for another outfit.
A belt is always a great place to start. You mainly need two styles of belts: a dress belt and a casual belt.
You can probably have just a brown casual belt, but one in black and brown for your dress needs is a smart idea.
Watches will never go out of style, so adding one is a nice touch. Invest in a nice dress watch, but don’t forget about having a casual one, as well. (And a smartwatch doesn’t count!)
Finally, consider purchasing a couple of pocket squares. This is the chance to branch out and add a unique flourish to your outfit.
In case nobody has told you yet, it’s time to put away your Axe body spray. Instead, purchase a cologne that’s meant for grown men.
Find your signature scent so that people can connect with you when they smell it. Know what scents work well for you and complement your style.
Learning how to smell good is all part of finding the style that suits you best!
Outfit Ideas on How to Dress in Your 30s
Ideally, you should be able to go into your closet and put together an outfit for any occasion or dress code requirement. (Oh, yeah, you should probably invest in a tuxedo for yourself!)
When stepping out, it helps to know which pieces are appropriate for how you should dress, especially when you need to make a good impression.
From office events to engagement parties to brunch dates, you’ve got this covered!
Dressing for Business Professional Environments
In your 30s, you’ve got to start dressing for success (if you aren’t doing it already). The business world won’t take people who don’t dress up to professional standards seriously.
If you find yourself in a role that expects a suit daily, don’t skimp! Invest in a handful of high-quality suits that fit very well.
Pair your suit with a white dress shirt and dark brown Oxford or derby shoes. Don’t forget a nice dark tie to round out the look.
Dressing Business Casual
Business casual is by far the most popular work dress code.
And that’s great news! Business casual is flexible and transferrable to other environments! You have several choices to mix things up.
You could pair a blazer with chinos and a polo T-shirt or a patterned dress shirt (sans tie, naturally). Brogues, loafers, or chukka boots go well with this style.
Another option would be dress trousers and a dress shirt with derby shoes. Again, leave off the tie!
Or, you could experiment with dark jeans and a crew or V-neck sweater over a collared shirt with Chelsea boots or sneakers.
Use this option sparingly, perhaps on casual Fridays. On how to hear a sweater over a dress shirt properly, read this guide.
Hands-on-Labor Job Clothing
No matter your job, you can still put some effort into dressing well and instilling fashion into your workwear.
Obviously, you don’t want to overdress for hands-on work, but you don’t need to give up on style.
Start with a good pair of unripped jeans or cotton work pants. Pair them with a polo shirt or a flannel in colder or outdoor weather.
For example, you can finish with a pair of leather boots, either work boots or chukka boots. You can find footwear that’s suitable and still nice looking.
Dressing for Evening Socializing
You don’t have to go overboard for a night out, but you should certainly have some extra “oomph” in your evening clothes.
You might wear nice clothes to work, but those don’t let you cut loose; they’re too stuffy for fun.
For a casual evening out, wear dark jeans that hug your body, a button-up dress shirt with a print, or a form-fitting t-shirt under a dark jacket.
Sneakers, Chelsea boots, or brogues put a nice button on this outfit.
If your plans call for something a little dressier, pair a low-key suit with a snug t-shirt.
How to Dress for a Date Night in Your 30s
Date night is an occasion where you’re definitely looking to make an impression. Again, you don’t need to resort to boring work clothes but should put forth your nicest effort.
For this setting, you can’t go wrong with a pair of separates. Combine dark dress pants with a white, blue, or pink button-up.
Top this with a blazer or a thin pullover. Dress shoes like brogues or monk straps will add a dash of personality.
Dressing for Personal Occasions
You should still dress nicely even when running personal errands. You never know who you’ll run into; at the very least, it gives you good practice in developing your wardrobe sense.
Slip on some good jeans, chinos, or corduroy pants. From there, add a fitted t-shirt, Henley shirt, sweater, or button-down shirt.
You can get comfortable with different footwear choices: chukkas, canvas sneakers, or loafers.
Hi, I’m Alex, and I’ve studied and specialized in styling in Rome. Through my writing, I want to help men dress well and learn the purpose and significance of suits and other formal attire. My final goal is to make men more confident in their wardrobe choice and life in general.