The five style rules every man over 50 should break

brad Pitt, Stanley Tucci, Jeff Goldblum, Charles Dance
brad Pitt, Stanley Tucci, Jeff Goldblum, Charles Dance

A few years ago at a soirée, I met a man of a certain vintage sporting an opulent jacquard suit, princely evening slippers and a twinkle in his eye. He told me he’d spent his life in corporate suits, conforming to expectations while raising a family. Now in his mid-60s and, realising he’d spent his life dressing like his father, he’d decided on a reset.

Men are creatures of fashion habit and, especially when younger, tend to find safety by blending into the herd. They stick to perceived rules – there’s a reason that Hardy Amies’ ABC of Men’s Fashion is regarded as seminal style reading. A crisp white shirt and classic grey suit will always be elegant, but who wants to go to their grave never having worn anything expressive or fun?

Which is why a recent round of figures in the public eye are such a joy to behold, having ditched uniformity in favour of more vibrant outfits. At work, a palette of grey and navy may be necessary, but why not take a few style risks? Of course, knowing the rules and how to bend them is half the battle...

The ‘if in doubt, wear navy’ rule

We say: be bold in technicolour

Jeff Goldblum - Daniele Venturelli/WireImage
Jeff Goldblum - Daniele Venturelli/WireImage

At 69, Jeff Goldblum has evolved into one of Hollywood’s most stylish men, and it’s all thanks to his love of bold pattern and colour – note the gold metallics here.

Older gents can benefit from a touch of bright colour; grey hair looks great with pastels, metallics and caramel tones, and sallow complexions benefit from the lift. It helps that Goldblum has maintained his svelte frame – but men of all shapes and sizes can benefit from a brighter shirt or sweater.

Velvet blazer, £245, houseofbruar.com; Shipton wool sweater, £185, johnsmedley.com
Velvet blazer, £245, houseofbruar.com; Shipton wool sweater, £185, johnsmedley.com

Velvet blazer, £245, houseofbruar.com; Shipton wool sweater, £185, johnsmedley.com

The ‘white shirt is the backbone of your wardrobe’ rule

We say: embrace the power of print

Damian Lewis and girlfriend Alison Mosshart - KGC-339/TIDNY-13
Damian Lewis and girlfriend Alison Mosshart - KGC-339/TIDNY-13

An impeccable white shirt is a thing of quiet, masculine beauty. But if you spend your working life in one, it’s worth broadening your horizons. Take Damian Lewis, for example, looking fresh in a patterned shirt at 51.

It’s not the full-blown Hawaiian affair, just a touch of splashy print, setting a more relaxed mood for off-duty days.

Nudie Jeans shirt, £100, mrporter.com; Ridley shirt, £171, orlebarbrown.com
Nudie Jeans shirt, £100, mrporter.com; Ridley shirt, £171, orlebarbrown.com

Nudie Jeans shirt, £100, mrporter.com; Ridley shirt, £171, orlebarbrown.com

The ‘always wear freshly pressed’ rule

We say: take it easy

Brad Pitt - Han Myung-Gu/WireImage
Brad Pitt - Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

Many of us recall Sunday evenings spent ironing shirts and running trousers through a Corby press, but these days, it’s more acceptable – admired, even – to wear looser, freer fabrics.

Brad Pitt, 58, has undergone a style renaissance, wearing linen head to toe, which lends a bohemian appeal. Seersucker is another fabric that’s light and doesn’t require starching.

We’re not saying one should become slovenly, but just think of the time you’ll free up.

Seersucker shirt, £32.99, zara.com; linen trousers, £59.95, massimodutti.com
Seersucker shirt, £32.99, zara.com; linen trousers, £59.95, massimodutti.com

Seersucker shirt, £32.99, zara.com; linen trousers, £59.95, massimodutti.com

The ‘tie is man’s best friend’ rule

We say: don’t be tied to one accessory

Charles Dance - Karwai Tang
Charles Dance - Karwai Tang

Nicky Haslam, authority on all things stylish, once recalled a dress code from a high society grande dame that demanded guests wear a handsome silk scarf in lieu of a tie.

Many men are wedded to the former, but a tightly-fastened collar isn’t the only way to look dapper, as demonstrated by Charles Dance; a scarf is a raffish, easy way to add a special something to your evening attire without the fuss and fiddle of a tie.

Bird of Paradise silk scarf, £195, drakes.com; silk scarf, £25, hawesandcurtis.co.uk
Bird of Paradise silk scarf, £195, drakes.com; silk scarf, £25, hawesandcurtis.co.uk

Bird of Paradise silk scarf, £195, drakes.com; silk scarf, £25, hawesandcurtis.co.uk

The ‘formal occasions demand formal shoes’ rule

We say: trainers can be smart as well as casual

Stanley Tucci - David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images
Stanley Tucci - David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

There’s a soothing ceremony to polishing a handsome pair of shoes, but men’s footwear has evolved in the past decade, and there’s no longer a division between smart and casual.

The former – such as Oxfords and Derbys – will always have their place in a man’s wardrobe, but trainers can be just as stylish; see Stanley Tucci’s neat white sneakers at Wimbledon.

They look dynamic and, when worn with a polo shirt, bring a suit bang up to date.

Stan Smith trainers, £80, adidas.com; leather trainers, £220, grenson.com
Stan Smith trainers, £80, adidas.com; leather trainers, £220, grenson.com

Stan Smith trainers, £80, adidas.com; leather trainers, £220, grenson.com