You've spent your 20s experimenting with your style - now's the time to lock it down. By the time you hit this decade you know what you like when it comes to clothes, however what's key with how to dress in your 30s is coming up with a list of go-to labels that fit both your personal aesthetic and your body. Let's face it, as you inevitably move into a higher paying job leading a team - and perhaps even start a family - you will probably have less time to spend picking out matching things before you head out every morning, let alone shopping for them in the first place. When you know exactly what to get from where you'll be able to save time by getting basics delivered straight to your desk through the magic of the internet. This decade you need an arsenal of clothes at hand so buy well and buy in bulk.
And while jeans and (smart) trainers will still feature heavily on a weekend, suits will become increasingly important this decade as, unless you work in an industry with a strict uniform, your workplace and off-duty wardrobes will begin to merge. While last decade was about being smart when you needed to be in the office, this decade is about being smart 24/7 - who knows when the CEO will call you into his office or those clients from Japan need entertaining at the last minute?
It's also a time to take a more 360 approach to your grooming regime. Grooming isn't just about getting your haircut anymore - start thinking about your skin too.
However, this is also a decade to start giving back to yourself. You got the basics down in your 20s, so use your 30s to invest in the occasional item you use all the time that's going to last you - and look damn good doing it. Trend-led items like designer trainers are a great addidtion to your ouvre, but make sure you also set some funds aside for classics: a beautifully-made everyday bag for work, a go-anywhere overcoat or an umbrella you didn't panic-buy in a sudden downpour.
In short, it's time to grow up - just a little bit. Here's how to do it in style...
Well-dressed British men in their 30s
David Gandy, 38
See all of David Gandy's best outfits in his GQ Style File.
Jamie Bell, 32
Nick Grimshaw, 33
Riz Ahmed, 35
Eddie Redmayne, 33
See all of Eddie Redmayne's best outfits in his GQ Style File.
And later this year...
Alfred Enoch, currently 29
How to dress in your 30s: 5 golden rules
1) Get to know which labels work for you
Come up with a core selection of shops that stock staples that fit without the need for altering them - whether that's T-shirts from Sunspel or button-downs from J Crew. Then start buying in them in bulk so you always have enough on hand in the morning. Order online and get them delivered straight to your office so you don't spend your lunchtime or weekend hitting the shops.
2) Make suits the backbone of your wardrobe
You bought your first decent suit in your 20s, now's the time to get a few more options in. Invest in good quality grey, navy and black suits at the very minimum, then expand into a few bolder colours, materials or patterns (tweed and checks are particularly versatile) as well as different weights for winter and summer.
Remember: a suit is not just a suit, it is also a blazer and trousers that can be split up and worn casually with denim, chinos and T-shirts, not to mention jackets or trousers from other suits.
Make sure each item is tailored so it works in its own right (if you wear your trousers slightly slimmer casually, get your suit trousers tapered similarly to ensure you wear them outside of the office too).
3) Get your head around Casual Friday
Casual Friday causes a dilemma: you don't want to turn up to work underdressed, but equally you don't want to be overdressed when everyone else is dressing down - especially important when you're leading a team of your peers, but are also still trying to seem professional to your superiors. As a general rule, avoid a suit at all costs - with smart shoes it will look like you've forgotten your tie, with a T-shirt and trainers it will look too casual. The best thing is to come up with a uniform made from well-fitted separates - smart indigo jeans or flat-front trousers, a wool blazer, an unbuttoned button-down (with a thin crew or V-neck jumper over the top if it's cold), and a pair of smart brown shoes (ideally double monk-traps or loafers). Start with that, then inject personality with your accessories (such as colourful socks).
4) Master warm weather in style
Gone are the days of whipping your shirt off and lying in the park in a pair of jeans - you should still look like a grown-up in hot weather, whether that be on the beach or a sudden heatwave on home shores. First stop is a decent pair of swimmers that can also double as actual shorts at the bar (Orlebar Brown or Frescobol Carioca are both solid options). After that look our for shirts, suits and trousers in cotton or linen-cotton mixes, and summer-appropriate loafers for smart events. Leather sandals or suede espadrilles make ideal alternatives to flip-flops - and are far more pleasing on the eye if you have hairy toes (you know who you are, guys).
5) Invest in standout items
Now's the time to start adding items to your wardrobe that are going to last you a lifetime. Start out with items that you're going to use a lot, and invest in the best you can buy. We're talking about those kind of items that you only really need one of such as bags (whether that be for work or a weekend away), a go-anywhere trench coat, silver cufflinks, a proper umbrella (such as those from London Undercover) or a high-end leather wallet. This is also a good time to start expanding your shoe collection from your basic few pairs to others that suit your fancy, whether that be sleek trainers or various varieties of smarter shoes like loafers, Derbies or Oxfords.
Items you should buy in your 30s
The days of boardies are now behind you, time to get something a little sleeker for beside the pool. Whether you go for something patterned or plain (although we'd suggest navy is a good starting colour), make sure you choose something that hits above the knee or, most preferably, at mid-thigh. Ideally look for something without a visible drawstring that you can also wear to the bar with a white shirt or flannel polo and leather sandals after beach time is over.
Whether you need to wear glasses everyday or only when the sun comes out, by the time you hit 30 you'll realise that one pair of specs is not enough. Use these ten years to up your eyewear game and invest in a variety of frames that you can wear for different occasions - a good starting point would be for one black, one tortoiseshell and one clear acetate pair (and possibly a lighter, metal-framed pair for summer). The key is to get the right shape for your face - as a general rule go for a frame shape opposite to your face shape (round faces should go for more angular frames and vice versa).
As with eyewear, one coat will no longer see you through - time to get some variety in your outerwear wardrobe. A basic start would be three good quality coats: two for winter (tan and black) and one for summer (you don't get much more versatile than a lightweight beige trench coat).
A dinner suit (or two)
Whether it's weddings or work occasions, you'll probably be invited to an increasing number of black-tie events in this decade - so it pays to invest in a decent dinner suit and get it tailored so that you know it will fit like a glove. The classic option is, of course, a peak lapel black iteration, but we would also suggest you seriously consider midnight blue too (perhaps in a shawl lapel).
Remember to stock up on a marcella dinner shirt, bow tie (and learn how to tie it properly), shirt studs, black silk socks and patent lace-ups or slip-ons too - and for god's sake don't forget a cummerbund.
Spend your 30s upgrading your basics. While light Merino wool is perfect for layering or for chillier autumn days, there's nothing quite like super-soft cashmere in the colder months. If you spend a lot of time in the air for business, a cashmere hoodie is quite possibly the wisest investment you can make in this decade.
A work bag
First impressions count - and it doesn't matter how much effort you've put into getting your suit perfectly fitted if you turn up to an important meeting with one of those free bags you got from the gym slung over your shoulder. Now's the time to buy a bag that not only looks impressive, but also works for a variety of everyday events. Our advice? Go for a smart, preferably leather tote or small carryall that will work just as well in the workplace as it will on the weekend. Invest wisely and invest well.
Your signature scent
Chances are you spent your 20s using all manner of toiletries that were gifts - now's the time to decide on your favourites and stick to them. Pick a key note or smell you like (are you more into woody, aquatic, floral or fresher scents?) and try out a few options in a department store. It's also worth investing in other grooming products with the same base notes too, so you don't clash scents in the morning (eg, oud, lavender, musk, amber etc).
Want to learn more about scent? Read the complete GQ Fragrance Guide.
Don't get us wrong, your skin looks great right now - and that's why you should start using a moisturiser to protect it. Invest in something that's not only going to keep your skin taught and help prevent excess wrinkles before they properly set in, but also go for something with an SPF that will protect your face from the aging effect of sun exposure.
- Baseball caps
- Logo/band shirts
- Shell-based jewellery
- Totes or backpacks you've received free with anything