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Fashion Crimes – 5 Things That No Man Over 35 Should Ever Wear

Eight years ago I wrote this article detailing the 17 Things No Man Over 35 Should Still Be Doing. 

It was by far the most widely-read and polarising thing I’ve ever written. Well, apart from the Best Man’s Speech that got me thrown out of a wedding. It was published by Lifehacker and the comments went off like a rocket with outraged blokes SCREAMING IN CAPITAL LETTERS that nobody was going to tell them how to live their lives or what to do.

My favourite comment was this simple beauty: “Ben Ford can suck my d***,” to which I found the author’s email address and replied, asking if it was a genuine offer. He went quiet after that.

The irony, of course, is that I myself was, indeed, guilty of a few of the misdemeanours listed in the article, and the list was really just a reminder / checklist for me to keep myself on the straight and narrow.

However, when it comes to sartorial know-how, I like to keep my finger on the pulse and tread the right path between ‘street-smart dandy with a finger on the pulse’ and slovenly old dude, or worse, ‘old dude who thinks he has a finger on the pulse.’ And with that in mind, and safe in the knowledge that I shall never fall victim to these heinous fashion crimes, I bring you the almost-definitive list of fashion faux-pas’ that all Dads of a certain vintage should try to avoid.

You’re most welcome.

1. Budgie Smugglers

Aka Dick Togs aka Speedos etc

Beloved of salty old sea-dogs who convene, belly-first, of an early morn all year round at the beaches down the Eastern seaboard of Australia for an ice-cold dip, the humble swimming trunk is not altogether bad or without its place.

Ocean swimmers, the aforementioned veterans, and kids under 12, however, are about the only group who can get away with wearing the things.

Because the cold, hard, fact of the matter is this: there is not a single man, aged between 12 – 55 who looks better in Budgies than they do in a well-cut swimming short.

And, no, it’s not quirky, witty or in any way irreverent. 

2. Birkenstocks

Ah, the Birkie – adored by lazy hipsters who usually pair them with enough linen to render the flax plant an endangered species.

Ubiquitous more through the absence of anything else than good looks, it’s a strange phenom in which the shoe almost, but not quite, depicts a state of mind or approach to life. It tells the story that I’m unoriginal but trying to fit in.

If you see a couple in his & hers Birkies, run for the hills as sanctimony levels will be running white-hot.

3. RM Williams With Suit Trousers

Like Birkenstocks, RM’s have become the lazy go-to of blokes who want to fit in and not waste too much time selecting footwear. 

Nothing too much wrong with that apart from the fact that laziness breeds homogeny, to the extent that a walk through the City on any given lunchtime reveals that at least 50% of the male population is wearing the exact same damned boot.

This mightn’t be a problem for some, or many, and I fully accept I may well be the outlier who’s brain hurts when I’m drowning in a sea of faux Aussie country boots. 

However, there is a truly unforgivable crime that some RM-wearers commit, a crime almost as heinous as thinking the Budgie looks good on you when you’re in your late 20’s, and that’s wearing the RM country boot with formal suit trousers.

4. Backwards Caps

Might look cool on a young whipper-snapper with razor-sharp cheekbones.

Most definitely does not look cool on a 35+ year old chap who doesn’t even have long hair.

Instead it says “I like to flout convention and be rebellious,” (in the most timid and non-convention-flouting way imaginable).

5. Wrap-around Sports Sunglasses

A triathlete can get away with these. Just about.

Nobody else can. 

Aaannndddd when they’re paired with a business shirt, we’ve hit a new nadir of fashion-crime.

That is, until we see old mate walk into the bar wearing the Oakleys with a polo shirt, collar freshly-popped. Shoot me now.

Bonus Item

6. Hunter wellies in the City

This one is probably more the preserve of the female reader. Let it not be said I don’t look out for the sisters.

Gumboots have no place in City life. They are country footwear.

Striding proudly through the damp & gloomy city centre in these plastic monstrosities marks you out as a bit of a try-hard. Sorry, love.

I’m not even sure any of the power supermodels of the 90’s could pull these off in a busy metropolis, no matter how much it’s been raining.

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