Learning how to get even better at dressing in your 40s is, without question, one of menswear’s biggest mysteries. While your 30s was about experimentation, your 40s is about honing all those skills and keeping it simple – but still with just enough fun to keep things fresh.

For the fourth decade of your life, one of the most important things that need to do is to pay real attention to fit. Real, proper attention. Unless you’re hitting the gym every single day, you’re probably going to have to think about your changing shape. You should also think of the accessories you might have had little need to spend money on in your youth. We’re talking about a really good pair of leather gloves and matching luggage that doesn’t look like it’s lost a fight with the carousel. This is also the time to really invest in those truly timeless pieces, like the watch collection that you’ve always dreamed of, or those loafers you’ve been eyeing up for years.

So, in this GQ guide, we’ll be going through some of the golden rules of how to dress in your 40s, and a closer look at some of the dudes who are doing it, and doing it well.

How to dress in your 40s

#1: Time for an upgrade

Since breaking free from uni, you’ve spent 20-odd years building up a solid armoury of attire, so it’s understandable if some of those items have fallen out of regular rotation. If you haven’t worn something for a few years, consider donating it to a charity shop. If you find you wear one item a lot, maybe invest in a couple of alternatives so it gets a rest once in a while. And take stock of any gaps that might need plugging.

Also, take the opportunity to upgrade not only the items in your wardrobe, but also the wardrobe itself. Buy one that’s big enough to store all your stuff so they don’t crumple up against each other and, if you haven’t done so already, get yourself some decent wooden coat hangers, fabric suit bags, and plastic boxes for all of your shoes.

#2: Find your fit

We sat down with international style icon and good-looking man Johannes Huebl, 46, to chat about how to dress in your 40s. “You should have a good idea of certain fits and styles that suit you and your body type,” says Huebl. “Tailoring will always be an exact and age-appropriate choice, as well as alterations on off-the-peg options.”

So, if there’s a few pieces you haven’t worn in a while because they just don’t fit right, go back and get them slightly adjusted. Usually, this will only mean that the seams of your suits need letting out ever so slightly (a small alteration that can make a big difference), or that you need to choose a straight leg selvedge rather than a slim fit (no bootcut, please).

#3: Sportswear is for sports

It’s no secret that sportswear is absolutely dominating the menswearverse right now, and while injecting a dose of it into your wardrobe can freshen up your downtime fits, investing in this look too heavily in your 40s can end up giving off a bit of a PE teacher vibe, which isn’t a good look.

If you want to do it right, try and steer clear from baseball caps and backpacks and look for some cool designer sneakers from the likes of Prada and Valentino. Don’t go for anything too bold and brash. Instead, they should be very understated and very low-key, with paired down colour palettes. If you must own a hoodie, go for one without any graphics or patterns and preferably made from more refined fabrics such as cashmere or wool. Cotton is so last decade.

#4: Watch yourself

You might already have one or two watches in your collection, but now’s the time to take it to the next level. If you haven’t done so already, your 40th birthday is a great time to treat yourself to your first high-end timepiece – and by that, we mean the sort that you can pass down to your kids one day (if you want any, that is).

Also, invest in some jewellery that complements it. Whether that’s a signet ring or a small stack of bracelets, make sure that these are made from materials that will actually last, like gold, platinum, or titanium. If you’re feeling extra boujee, subtle stones and highly-polished beads should be on your radar, too.

#5: Get your locks on lock

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: you need a haircut that is a genuine representation of your age. If you wore a mohawk in your 20s or even your 30s, it’s time to lay off the hairspray and gel, and let those locks chill out a bit. While we fully appreciate (and respect) your personal aesthetic and identity, the days of experimenting are wayway behind you.

When it comes to choosing a new haircut, you need to consider your hair type as well as your face shape. If you’re struggling, find a barber who gets it right every time. That’s one less thing for you to worry about.

#6: Don’t try too hard

There is a tendency with guys around this age to burn up in a flaming fashion wreckage, more commonly known as a mid-life crisis. The ‘I’ve still got it’ attitude tips the balance too far, and you end up looking like a very bright, mismatched plea for help, driving an equally-as-bright Porsche that you spent way too much money on.

So be expressive, get savvy with your colour matches, but don’t dig out some of the mad garms that you wore in your 20s to try and relive the good ol’ days. Get older, get wiser, get cooler.

Well-dressed men in their 40s

If you’re looking for some inspo on how to dress in your 40s, just take a look at some of the dudes who are doing it right. David Beckham knows what works for him – tailored suits and muscle-hug knits – as does Mark Ronson who has traded in the vivid pink suiting for chic, neutral gear. Hollywood’s very own Sterling K Brown? He’s mastered the art of muted colours and timeless patterns.

David Beckham

David Beckham, 48

We frequently pray at the precipice of David Beckham , but this is no PR push or spon con – it’s simply because he dresses well. He’s the hero of growing old gracefully and growing into your style with maturity. If you look to no other, look to Beckham for inspiration. All hail the king.

Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal, 43

Not only is Jake Gyllenhaal one helluva actor, he’s also one of the best-dressed guys out there. While he’s blessed with a full head of hair, rather than going for something wild, he’s swept his locks all the way back for a classic, Old Hollywood kinda vibe.

Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson, 48

As well as producing a cavalcade of incredible pop bangers, Mark Ronson has accrued a reputation for some award-winning airport chic looks, sharp red carpet style, and DJ after-party fit. Occasionally outrageous, but always cool.

Sterling K Brown

Sterling K Brown, 47

Sterling K Brown just gets it. The This Is Us actor toes a fine line between being conservative with his dress and still having fun. Not his black brogues with a slight pop of colour. Age-appropriate. Prince of Wales check. Perfect when paired with an all-black fit.