ManLand: 10 essential smart casual wardrobe items for men over 30

Editor’s note: Mr SY goes back to work today after a few days off. He’s been very handy to have around. Have acquainted him with the school run. It even managed to rain so he felt the full effect of my daily routine. He also realised he hadn’t given his ManLand space much love here on the blog so he belted out this post for me. Keeper.

I’ve had a few days at home recently, out of the office and away for the shirts and ties.

Apart from allowing me to hit a heap of those little domestic jobs that us men like to invent, it also forced me to draw from my plain-clothes wardrobe for a while. My civvies if you like.

And this got me thinking about the theme for this post. What essentials do men around my age and older need to have in the cupboard to enable them to dress casually but without looking like a try-hard 20-something hipster, a surfer bum or an old man?

To put a bit more context around my musings, I am definitely too old to do all the buttons done up on a paisley shirt and wear skinny jeans. But I am also too young to slip into chinos in a sensible shade of beige, a nice collared shirt and a set of deck shoes …

So what should blokes like me wear?

Without trying to sound completely like The Stylist, I’ve compiled a list 10 essential smart casual wardrobe items for men over 30.

10 smart casual essentials for men over 30

1. Cool t-shirts. I love t-shirts of all kinds. When I was younger it was all about which brand was emblazoned across the front or the back. But these days I tend to be more selective about the cut, the colour and how that complements what else I have to wear and what the shirt can say about me. Fun, funky logos are cool as long as they are not too garish. I bought a couple of tees from the Saturday’s Surf NYC shop in Soho during our trip to New York this time last year. They are still my favourites because they not only look cool and are a bit individual but also remind me of a fantastic trip. That’s what a great t-shirt can do for you. Pictured: Saturday’s Surf tee

2. A hoodie. On those cold days when you are braving the elements there is something very comforting about throwing on a hoodie that is going to keep the wind off your neck. You can get the hoodie wrong if you choose something too young for your age bracket but, done right, the hoodie can work nicely with jeans. Pictured: Country Road hoodie

3. Flannelette shirt. I am drawing on flannelette shirts more and more these days. Particularly in the cooler months in Queensland where it gets a bit fresh but not completely nipple crippling. And I don’t mean those dirty “flannos” we used to wear to parties as grunged-up youth in the 90s, but rather a comfortable shirt that you can chuck over a t-shirt with jeans or shorts, roll the sleeves up if you have to, and get about your business without any fuss. Pictured: St Goliath long-sleeve shirt

4. A quality jacket/coat. Whether it is slick leather or a black woollen, a good quality jacket is well worth the investment. They are quality pieces that are styled and constructed to last and remain fashionable. They provide the warmth to allow you to function on those really cold nights without having to wear so many layers you expire when you get inside. They can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Pictured: Politix coat

5. Gingham shirt. Whether it is in the country or a more urban environment, I love a good quality gingham shirt. They just look really crisp and clean, go great with jeans or more dressy pants or even shorts and again can get you out of trouble for a variety of different occasions. All my shirts would be a variety of gingham if I didn’t have to pass muster with the creative department at SY HQ. Pictured: Herringbone shirt

Footwear

I’ve got three key pairs of casual shoes that I know will get me out of trouble on most, if not all social occasions.

6. RM Williams boots. Dress them with a suit or dress them down with jeans, Australia’s favourite boot is equally at home in the bush or in a more urban environment. I’m always comfortable when I go out in my RMs because I know they won’t let me down. They’re comfortable and durable and clean up a treat, no matter where you take them. Pictured: RM Williams boots

7. Desert boots. The trusty desert boot has made more come backs than Johnny Farnham and I can remember my Grandfather telling me about the original pairs he got around in North Africa during the Second World War. But regardless of their heritage they keep coming back because they just bloody work. They are as comfy as sneakers, go with virtually any long pant and can manage a weekend kids sporting mission or a dinner out with the lady with equal ease if done right. Pictured: Clarks Originals

8. Casual Converse or Vans. Versatile and comfortable all year round, a trusty pair of “Chucks” Converse All Star Chuck Taylors or Vans will keep a bit of youth in your look without being out of place among the other blokes. Pictured: Men’s Chuck Taylors

9. Cargo/drill shorts. At our age, the board short look has pretty much passed us by. Sure they work for actually entering the water, but otherwise those days are passed. Nowadays, I prefer to work with a couple of key pairs of shorts that I can match with t-shirts or collared shirts depending on whether I am going to be knocking around with the family or meeting up with others to be “social”. I tend to prefer darker colours; olive green and navy are staples. The cut is also crucial. I used to wear my shorts long and baggy but have taken on The Stylist’s advice more recently and selected cuts that are more fitted and above the knee. Pictured: Billabong walkshort

10. A couple of pairs of jeans.  I say a couple because I reckon these days a man can benefit from having two different cuts of denim … and maybe even different colours. This thinking is well advanced from my younger years when (like most men) I thought you had A pair of jeans that you wore with everything, regardless of the occasion. I prefer my jeans on the darker side of blue at the moment and I have a straight leg that can be dressed up and a more relaxed fit that works in any casual situation. Pictured: Levis jeans

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In the bathroom

I’m using these three products every day and highly recommend.

Mr SY's current fave men's beauty products

1. Body Shop For Men Maca Root Face Scrub 125ml $20.95: This scrub also contains Peruvian maca root to soothe your skin and crushed brazil nut to exfoliate those troublesome pores and leave you feeling clean and fresh. Like the shave cream, it is non-greasy and very easy to work with.

2. The Body Shop For Men Maca Root Shave Cream 200ml $15.95:  I have a new favourite shaving cream after my first test of this product. A mate of mine put me on to it (well, his wife actually) and I am really glad she did. Made with Peruvian maca root, The Body Shop For Men shave cream is so easy to work with, non-greasy and helps produce a great shave. I got a great tip from the sales assistant at the Brisbane City Store too. When using the tub, leave the lid unscrewed so that the product can dry slightly in the air. When you dab it with a wet shaving brush you will actually use less (about the size of a 10c piece is fine) and still produce a good foam. I also have a tube for my travel wash bag.

3. Garnier Fructis Style Disorder Mattifying Paste 80ml SRP $9.95: Disorder paste is the first product texturising paste from Garnier Fructis that you can use to create shape or mess-up your style without greasiness. The product is very easy use, with a neat dispenser nozzle that helps you to control and minimise how much you use each time. The paste is easy to work through your hair and does produce a matte effect without grease. Available at supermarkets, discount department stores and selected pharmacies.

Tell me, if there’s a man in your life, what’s he most likely to pull out of his wardrobe and wear for casual occasions? Any men’s bathroom products he swears by?

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  • justin

    Your search for high quality
    fabric casual mens tops ends at our
    store with all types of shirts which makes you look elegant and stylish.

  • mary_j_j

    Desert boots!! I don’t think I’ve seen those for so so many years! I remember one of the darlings I used to babysit, when I commented on his “new boots”, replying “ugly little things aren’t they?” My darling husband has a problem differentiating between his work attire (he builds websites, so there is no dress code) and home – he seems to wear collared shirts all the time. I need to get him out shopping without the kids I think! Thank you for the inspiration.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Your welcome – and desert boots seem to be one of those things that comes back!

  • Kathryn

    This is a good list of essentials. Thanks Mr SY. I really did not know you could get flannies that look that good. Worth investigating and talking to the hubby about. We won’t, however, be talking about hoodies……

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Definitely worth talking and I’m with you on the hoodies – I much prefer a knit or sweatshirt!

  • Julie

    Brilliant! Thanks so much for this post Mr SY! My husband is in this age group and I reckon he dresses nicely (when he ditches his work gear and round-home tatty gear that is!) but there are some great tips in here – I can see him in your 2 shirt suggestions and I’m going to file away those Body Shop tips for Chrissie presents for all the lads – thankyou!!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Great Mr SY is helping out Julie … and yes, great Christmas pressies there! Are we really talking about Christmas yet?!

  • http://www.lovemeagainboutique.com.au/ Bev – Love Me Again Boutique

    Great choices Mr SY…The Maca Root Scrub and Shave Cream sound right up Jonny’s street. He adores products {not that he admits to it that often – hee hee!}

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I think he’ll love them!

  • cilosophy.blogspot.com

    My fella is a good dresser and groomer and smells good, so I leave him to his own devices.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Absolutely … don’t mess with what’s not broken!

  • http://www.onthesamepageblog.com/ Alla

    Your hubby is funny! and yesssss there ARE actually differences in clothes for men, yes it’s all tees, shirts and pants but they do differ. I got a reminder last week going shopping with my 14 yr old brother and indeed, the stuff we picked out would not be something my husband would wear. Similarly I had to drag my dad out of the ‘old ppl’s” shop because he got into those chino’s way too early! (he sports nice butt defining levi’s now). Love the shoe picks!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Coloured chinos are fine, but maybe that’s not what your dad would be into!

      • http://www.onthesamepageblog.com/ Alla

        oh no Nikki, he was wearing “banana shaped” khaki pants pulled up to his chest… eeek…. and he still got the bod – being ex weightlifter. speaking of colored chinos, i’d like some… :)

  • Mindy Roestenburg

    This has come at the perfect time for our household. My husband was just asking me on Sunday night if his clothes were making him look old. We were getting ready to go out for a casual family dinner and he had on chinos, a coloured shirt and boat shoes, oh dear…
    There is quite a large age gap with us and he is 57 but as we have a two and a half year old and almost four year old neither of us think of him as that number and he wants to try and stay young for the kids but without looking like a try-hard.
    He is not the best clothes shopper so I often end up buying things for him but find it really tricky to find some kind of in between style that is neither too young or makes him look old.
    I found myself thinking, if only there was a SY for men. Now that I am starting to improve my style, he is feeling a bit left behind.
    I think I need to take him on a jeans shopping expedition to try and find some that suit him. I have resorted to buying a couple of pairs of chinos lately as he is so fussy with jeans it’s almost impossible to find ones that he thinks are comfortable. Now we have a Myer here I might have to take him to check out the Levi’s and hope we can find some he loves.
    Maybe you could get Mr SY to throw together the occasional ‘Keeping it real’ post too.
    Thanks for the great suggestions Mr SY

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh Mindy, yes do take him on the journey with you … these suggestions would be a start and I’ll run your Keeping it Real idea past Mr SY!

  • Johanne Taylor

    Great list! Looks pretty close to my husband’s casual wardrobe.
    As we are in Sydney, he also gets lost of wear out of a fine knit, light weight merino wool jumper. He has one in charcoal that he can layer with either short or long sleeve t-shirts or collared shirts, and add a jacket when it’s really cold (like when we’re visiting Melbourne).
    His casual shoes of choice are from Camper, he has some comfortable but funky boots and shoes from this Spanish brand.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      The fine knit is essential Johanne … and Mr SY does own them but because of our mild weather probably wears them more for work in winter over a business shirt and under a suit jacket.

  • Jo

    I’m so glad you compiled this selection of clothing, Kester. So many of the men in my life – including my dad, 27-year old brother and 31-year old boyfriend – all seem to have slightly altered versions of their wardrobes when they were teenagers. Cargo pants + t-shirt + thongs.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Good luck with getting them to extend their wardrobe scope!

  • Kelly

    Great selection! Love the converse option, my partner just got some and they are his go to shoes now. He also thinks he wants a pair of desert boots (I told him he does) so I will get him to check those out. You two really have this styling thing down pat!! ;-)

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Mr SY has always loved shopping for clothes … makes it very easy for me to justify my own shopping ;)

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    I like your style Mr Styling You ,yes I think it gets harder for blokes to dress cool over 30,and not looking like their sons, mine is 50 but I agree with your choices,I really love the desert boots I recently got my man to buy a pair to go with his jeans and pants and guess what he loves them.My man does not use products in the bathroom only a razor but he does use deodorant and hairspray to keep his grey straight hair in place.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Big plus on the desert boots – never go out of style!

  • Arrjaydub

    Nice work Mr SY – i approve. Chuck a pair of coloured laces and a bowtie in there and you’re good to go.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Of course! How could he have left those vital pieces out!!

  • http://bookgrrl.wordpress.com/ Steph McGlinchey | bookgrrl

    Hubby has short back and sides, so no need for hair products, but he swears by the Body Shop for Men Maca root range! He needs some new shoes, so this will give him a few ideas :).

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Mr SY is a new fan of this Body Shop range – good luck with the shoe “suggesting”!

  • Trudi

    Great post Mr SY. My hubby is into tshirts and jeans and maybe a touch of class with a knit jumper or cool funky shoes. It would be great to hear about some new mens brands people have found. The choice in the stores is often limited

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Yes, would be great … maybe I’ll put Mr SY on that mission for next month!

  • vegemitevix

    Perfect. Sending this to my man (39) who has recently relocated from the UK Down Under, and he just doesn’t know ‘what to wear’. LOL

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Tricky transition … this should help! Bloke-to-bloke advice.