Does the man fit the clothes?

If I’m honest, I’ve never really been at the cutting edge of fashion. Instead, I’ve tended to be a few steps behind. I wouldn’t call myself unfashionable by any means, and if I were to try and describe my tastes it would probably be ‘classic, timeless casual’, although I realise I sound like a complete knob even typing those words in that order, so maybe I should just try and forget the idea of categorising. I’m a casual guy, happy with jeans and a t-shirt, am relatively slim (although my love-handles are starting to develop handles of their own) and, height-wise am on the short side (I’m 5 foot 7).

But the situation is that I am also now in my early/mid-thirties and don’t really have much of an idea of what I SHOULD wear. I still like to look good and relatively trendy, although this has to be on a budget. Part of the reason I stopped reading men’s magazines was because the ‘style’ sections seemed to assume that everyone can spend £300 on a jumper, £250 on a ‘man bag’ and would be happy to walk around dressed like a sailor or a participant in a Tilda Swinton lookalike competition.

Anyway, going back to the beginning, the reason for me asking what I should wear is thus: Just after Christmas, I was walking around a shopping centre in Sheffield with Mrs.D and briefly caught sight of myself in one of the shop mirrors. That day, I was wearing a Hollister hoodie and suddenly  thought to myself ‘I’m too old for this’ as I had, five minutes earlier, seen a queue outside the Hollister store which mainly consisted of teenagers, students and early twenty-somethings. Most of these youthful-looking creatures were accompanied by harassed parents wondering why it looks so sodding dark inside Hollister stores. Personally, I have a theory that it’s so you are not too easily startled by the sight of a shirtless bloke called Chad standing around with curiously erect nipples. But anyway…

Whilst my wife reckons the Hollister hoodie looks nice on me, I can’t help but feel that I need to let it go. After all, Wikipedia states that the Hollister brand was originally marketed for the 14-18 age-bracket. Now I know it has grown in popularity and that people of ages beyond that bracket wear the brand. However, I think that, being closer to 40 that 20, it perhaps isn’t fitting for ME to wear it. So, the big question is – what do fashionable men in their thirties (and on a budget) wear? And what should they wear? Because, let’s face it, we appear to be in some sort of fashion twilight-zone. That is, too old for Hollister, Jack Wills, Superdry and their ilk, but too young for ‘Blue Harbour’ from M&S, any brand with the word ‘Cotton’ in the title, or anything that you would purchase from a mail order catalogue.

I used to like GAP, but their clothes to me appear very stretchy and lose their shape easily. I do buy formal shirts from Next to wear at work, but I find their casual stuff a little dull if I’m honest. The last time I went into Topman, I walked out after realising my increasing squidginess precluded me from wearing anything that was skinny-fit, so I put that firmly in the ‘too old for…’ bracket as well. Which leaves me in a quandary. Do I buy more overpriced stuff and just wash it more regularly? Try and cling on to my fading youth with younger brands? Or maybe accept the inevitable and start looking in M&S for something other than a chicken sandwich and a £3 packet of sliced mango. If you have any suggestions, answers on a postcard please. Or maybe on the back of a catalogue instead…

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