Is It Time to Dress Like a Middle-Aged Dad?

middle aged clothingToday I went clothes shopping in the fuddy-duddy section of Kohl’s – and I liked it.

Clothes shopping charts the changes in a man better than most measuring sticks. As a teen I tried to emulate my older brother’s wardrobe, leaving little room for my own personality to emerge.

Years later I embraced my inner Mr. Blackwell – without the fey put downs.

These days I feel like an invader in the men’s clothing section. Hip-hop inspired clothes leave me cold, as do aggressive patterns and jeans meant to sink below the waistline. I look – and look – at the clothes in the “Medium” section and often walk away without a single shirt to so much as try on.

Maybe it’s the store. Can’t be me.

So when my latest trip to Kohl’s left me unmoved I took a few tentative steps toward the “other” men’s section. I saw gents in their 60s inspecting the racks, clothes that all looked the same to me. The colors were occasionally bold, but the styles were traditional, even respectful of the customer.

Boring, to be blunt.

I kept on looking, feeling more depressed with every generic Polo shirt I pushed aside. I finally found a button-downed shirt that caught me eye – the colors were bold, the design sophisticated. It’s the kind of handsome shirt I thought I’d be wearing in my middle age. Then again, I just turned 45.

I threw the shirt in the shopping cart and headed for the checkout aisle. The more I looked at the Arrow-brand shirt, crumpled at the bottom of the cart,  the less insecure I felt about the purchase.

Growing old gracefully means accepting your limitations without cutting off your options. I’ll still shop in trendy clothes stores even if it means my success rate shrinks with every passing year. If I can’t tell a shirt is too young for me I know my wife will gently talk me out of it in a way that spares my feelings. And if I happen to find myself shopping alongside more seasoned customers I won’t give in to my insecurities.

I might even ask one of them if the shirt in my hand will make me look too young.

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