Men's Wardrobe Essentials for Your 30s

Making the Dirty 30 look good

By Style Girlfriend | Last Updated: Jan 9 2020

We’re breaking down the style must-haves for your twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties (and beyond). Below, the #SGapproved guys’ wardrobe essentials for your 30s…

Catch up on the wardrobe essentials for your 20s

Charcoal Suit

In your twenties, you’re fresh out of school, bright eyed and bushy tailed. When you were applying for jobs, you were new to the industry and your interview attire reflected your junior status. By the time thirty comes knocking, you’ve gained ten years (!) of experience. At this stage, plenty of jobs you’ll want will require you to look the part.

Meaning: you gotta have a suit.

Even if you don’t wear suits every day to work, events will come up where a suit is necessary. Outside of work, you’re likely to hit a point where almost every other weekend you’ll have a friend or family member’s wedding to attend. For these events, a suit is a must. And a good charcoal suit will look just as sharp in that performance review with your SVP as on the dance floor when you’re cutting a rug at your cousin’s nuptials.

Charcoal suits have a softness that pairs well with black as well as brown leathers and also looks great with any shirt/tie combination you throw at it. Charcoal is dark enough to convey the importance of an event, but can be lightened up to be daytime appropriate.

Look for a suit made from a wool “fresco.” Wool fresco is a wool with tightly twisted yarns that allow them to have an open weave pattern, making the material more durable as well as more breathable. To the touch, some wool frescos are going to see a bit coarser than other types of suiting fabrics – this is what you want. It allows the fabric to breathe and more easily wick moisture away.

A wool fresco suit will last much longer than very soft, silk wool suits and is less susceptible to crotch blowouts in the pants.


Brown Dress Shoes

Once you have the suit, you need to get the right pair of shoes.

Brown cap toe dress shoes are a versatile choice that will look great dressed up or down. Cap toe dress shoes get their name from the simple stitch across the toe box (above), giving a cap finish to the shoe. The cap can be done with a simple stitch or with a punch-out pattern called broguing.

Look for a style with a natural, rounded toe shape for the most versatility. Toes that are too angular don’t pair well with more casual looks. A brown captoe dress shoe looks just as good with jeans and an oxford shirt as it does with a suit.

Look for a shoe made from full grain leather. Full grain leather is leather made from the top-most layer of the animal hide, just below the hair. It is the most durable part of the hide. Minor nicks can be buffed and polished out of full grain leathers. Most quality shoe makers will use calfskin uppers on their dress shoes to give a supple feel but also able to take a beating.

As for the shade, dark brown is the way to go if you’re going to have just one pair. Like black, a dark brown will maintain a professional feel with a charcoal suit, but the softness of brown pairs better with denim or chinos than black, making it a more versatile shade.

After the upper, look for a quality outsole in your dress shoes.

The outsole determines much of the overall comfort of a shoe as well as its lifespan. There are a few ways to attach an outsole to the upper, but the tried and true method is a Goodyear welt.

Goodyear-welted shoes have a strip of leather, rubber, or plaster sewn around the base of the uppers. This piece is the welt. The outsole is then stitched to the welt. The beauty of a Goodyear welt is, in addition to being more secure than just glue, it allows the sole to be replaced.

Replacing the sole of a shoe – as opposed to replacing the shoe itself – saves you money and the hassle of constantly breaking in new shoes. With proper care, a pair of Goodyear-welted shoe can last decades before they need to be replaced.


The ultimate men’s dress shoe breakdown

Stylish Swim Trunks

A simple pair of well-fitting swim trunks is something every guy should have by the time he’s thirty. Few things are sadder than going to the beach and seeing a grown man in a pair of board shorts with a crazy print. Thankfully, there’s plenty of middle ground between uber-youthful trunks and a Speedo. 

As a rule of thumb, swim trunks should hit the top of the knee and above. Anything longer and you’ll look like you decided to take a quick dip after a rousing game of pick-up basketball. 

When it comes to pattern and color, less is more. A classic black, blue, or red looks great on everyone. As for style, more and more brands are making swim trunks that resemble shorts in cuts that are more flattering and mature than your run-of-the-mill boardshort. Features like a zippered fly and side-tabs add nice sartorial details.


Good Luggage

{Away Travel carry-on in green}

Really good luggage is an absolute must in your thirties. As you progress in your career, you may be required  to travel for work, and that Nike duffle bag you got playing club rugby in college isn’t going to cut it.

TSA rules have essentially broken the world of luggage into two categories: checked bags and carry-ons.

It’s good to have one of each.

As a rule of thumb, checkable bags will generally carry a long weekend’s worth of clothing (2-3 outfits, 1-2 pairs of shoes, and your dopp kit). A simple rollerboard or weekender in black, navy, or brown in nylon or canvas is a solid choice for a carry-on.

Any bag that can carry more than that will likely need to be checked. There’s no need to show up to the airport with a trolley full of steam trunks. If you can, get the larger version of your roller for your checked luggage option. Girls like a guy that pays attention to the small details. Lastly, remember that durability is key and you’ll get what you pay for. Spending a more for a bag with sturdier wheels and a thicker exterior will allow your luggage to travel with you longer.


A Stylish Key Fob

With age comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes keys. You’ll pick up keys for everything, from your office to your home or apartment to your gym locker.

As with everything in menswear, the devil’s in the details. A nice key chain (or fob) will keep you organized without making you look like a janitor.

A simple leather lanyard is a great option that will help keep your keys together and easy to find. Small touches, like embossing your initials in the leather, are both stylish and useful should you lose them.