by Michael Macko



Recently, while scrolling through my Facebook feed of cute kitten videos and the obligatory jealousy-causing posts from exotic locales (Oh no: there’s UberChopper gridlock in Cannes!), I came across a post, “When Old People Dress Like Hipsters.” I held my breath and scrolled through the 21 photos, mostly from Pitti Uomo (The Sartorialist loves a grizzled Italian), breathing a sigh of relief that I wasn’t included.

But what does it actually mean these days for men to dress their age? If 50 is the new 30, and Barneys is using Christie Brinkley and Pat Cleveland in its new SS/15 ad campaign “Better than Ever,” and an 80-year-old Joan Didion is the new face of Cèline, and 69-year-old Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs, then why can’t a man over 40 wear a summer scarf and not cause an internet sensation? After all, for years we’ve had the double standard to our advantage: men were told we get better with age; even model Aiden Shaw (whose image is included in the mentioned piece) didn’t start modeling until 45, an age when most female models are well into retirement.

I think a large part of this confusion lies with the industry itself. “We want to skew younger, but not alienate our existing customer” has been the mantra of most menswear brands for the past few years, for at least as long as men have been the new women. So models are younger, fits get slimmer, prices remain high, so even if I can afford it, I don’t know if I can wear it without risk of looking like “mutton dressed like lamb.”

Personally, I don’t think I dress my age, which is 51, but what does a 50-year old-man dress like? Or rather, what is a 50-year-old man expected by society to wear? Double-pleated khakis, a navy blazer and a blue oxford shirt? I’m someone who works in menswear because I love fashion. I love to shop, to go to the tailor and have things altered, to work with designers on having things custom made. I worked in menswear when I’ve been fat, and when I’ve been sample size. I’ve worked in corporate environments and very relaxed ones. (As I type this, I’m wearing Free City sweatpants and a James Perse long-sleeve French terry T-shirt, both covered in dog hair.)

I spoke with one of the people photographed in the article mentioned: Michael Rubin, designer/founder of menswear brand Krammer & Stoudt. “I thought the piece was funny, but the truth is: there’s less and less lifestyle separation between the man in his 50s and the man in his 20s. Middle-aged men still surf, skate, listen to punk, rock or EDM (electronic dance music) and so on. It’s one of the things I’m trying to address with Krammer & Stoudt.”

As for me, I’ve discovered that with age, more important than what I wear is the confidence with which I wear it. I now know my body, what looks good and what doesn’t. I don’t look good in polo shirts and prefer T-shirts; I prefer a cardigan to a crewneck. I used to suffer to wear the uncomfortable “footwear of the season;” now my shoe wardrobe comprises mainly Birkenstocks, vintage Nikes and Vans. I now choose comfort first, or at least a close second.