This following is a guest post by Megan Collins of Style Girlfriend.

Consider this all too familiar scene for me:

Out to dinner, with a table full of friends, the waiter goes down the line taking our drink orders. When my turn arrives, I ask for my beverage of choice (either an IPA or a vodka soda depending on how my day has gone), bookending the request with a polite “please” and “thank you.” Almost without fail, the waiter pauses, shifts uncomfortably and says, “Gre-e-e-a-a-t…can I see an ID?”

I used to get mad. I used to demand the waiter explain why he hadn’t carded anyone else at the table but me, knowing full well the reason. It’s because, while my body chugs along in the upper 20s, my face froze at some point in the upper teens.

boy in suitIt’s fine. I mean, it’s fine. I’ve been told many times that, in thirty years, I’ll be glad to have a “youthful-looking” face. For now, though, the issue forced me to consider how to dress my age even when I don’t look it.

The rules I follow work for guys as well. Whether your issue is a baby face, or you feel like you just aren’t being taken seriously at the office, there’s plenty you can do with your wardrobe to shake off the “kid” vibe you give off.

Know your size

The quickest way to look like a little kid is to be drowning in your clothes. Us ladies do not want to think of our little brother wearing hand-me-downs when we look at you. If your shirt is too long, or your pants are too billowy, we will notice. Find clothes that fit. Wear. Repeat.

Tuck your shirt in

If the shirt you’re wearing is long enough to be tucked, tuck it. Dress shirts. Polo shirts with long torsos. Oxford shirts. Really, the more grown-up your closet, the more tops you’ll have that are supposed to be worn tucked. Don’t worry, you will not automatically become your father. You will look nice. And handsome. And grown-up.

Have a “thing”

Oh c’mon, don’t make it gross. I just mean, be that guy that wears blazer to work even though he doesn’t have to. Or a pocket square. Or wingtips. Notice the trend?

Grown man clothes are the best kind of clothes for having a signature style move. Wearing sweatshirts all the time is not a “thing.” It’s being lazy. Wearing dirty, untied sneakers is not a thing. It’s being schlubby.

For me, I try to wear lipstick whenever I can, since there’s not many tweens walking around sporting a bold red lip (and if they are, their parents should probably re-consider how they’re raising them).

Keep a muted color palette

I love pink. As much as I fought it growing up, I came around to a bright, cheery pink somewhere around the time I realized I could never wear it out of the house. Why? Because it makes me look like I’m auditioning for a reboot of Punky Brewster.

I don’t want to quash your color dreams, but if you’re worried about looking like a kid, you might have to give up the primary colors. Not to say you can’t do accents, but I’d avoid a big pop of color on top. If the shade comes in a Crayola box – one of the little, ten crayon packs – avoid it as a solid in your wardrobe.

Skip the sneakers

When I want to look dressed up in a grown-up way, I throw on as tall of a heel as I can manage. Wearing heels is something I never did as a little kid (I’m no Suri Cruise), so wearing them now reminds me that, yes, in fact, I am of legal drinking age and pay into a 401(k).

Even if your lifestyle allows for a permanent rotation of Vans, Chucks, and workout sneakers, step out of the sneakers every once in a while. I’m not even saying go straight to a dress shoe. Start at a desert boot and work your way up from there.

 

Got other tips to avoid looking like a kid in your clothes? Leave ’em in the comments!

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PUBLISHED March 26, 2012


Megan is editor of Style Girlfriend, a site about guys' style from a girl's perspective. She lives in New York City and gets lots of inspiration for articles (on what to wear and what definitely NOT to wear) while waiting for the train. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.



  • Thanks for the share Megan. I’ll definitely be following Style Girlfriend from now on. 

    Being in our late twenties and beyond puts a lot of responsibility on us when we’re trying to look “grown up”. We’re not allowed a lazy look, everything has to be crisp, deliberate and thought out otherwise we look like we stepped out of the dorm. 

    Fit is the number one factor. Baggy was the way we lived our lives ten or so years ago. The more fabric the better. For some it was just the style, for others it was a means to cover up a poor body image. Whatever the reason baggy was an addiction that a lot of men had to kick. 

    Colors are one of my favorite aspects of fashion now. But color is intimidating to a lot of men because they’re unsure of the rules. How does this go with that sort of thing. Also, they grew up thinking earth tones were the limit as far as color goes, maybe blue if they’re feeling frisky. As grown ups we get to do what we want. Grab color, show now fear. Never be afraid to make a mistake. 

    Great article. Thanks again.

    Christopher
    The-approach.org

    •  Love this advice! Definitely agree that a lot of guys don’t go outside their comfort zone because they’re afraid of making a mistake. Hopefully folks like me and Barron can help them avoid making *too* big of mistakes when they do decide to try something new 🙂

  • Derek

    Holy crap, I thought Barron wrote this at first, then I got to the part about lipstick and was way too confused hahaha.

    • If anyone could make it work, it’s Barron. The man’s got skills. 🙂 Then the next thing you know we’re all trying to rock lipstick.

    • That’s a good thing; I’m glad Megan’s writing style meshes well at EG. Actually that’s the reason I ask her to contribute articles in the first place, other than the fact that she knows what dudes should be putting on their bods. And I figure it’s good for a dude to get a woman’s perspective once in a while (who isn’t his mom).

    •  That’s hilarious 🙂

  • Greg_S

    I agree with pretty much everything here. However, I think the color idea is along the lines of what Barron wrote recently: add a splash of color. I think it works well when done correctly. I particularly like to add a bit of color to casual summer wear or with my casual ties (a purple polo here and there or a yellow paisley tie, etc).

  • Arkhangael

    Hi Megan,
    If there’s one thing I’ve been lucky about, it’s to be taken seriously, even if I have almost always been the young one among my workmates/best friends. Maybe it was the way I behave or dress, or just being awesomely handsome when I was younger. 🙂
    Seriously, I have always been attended to by waiters as the ‘maitre de cérémonie’ at restaurants or by whoever is in charge when we attended social gatherings.
    I also got handed the bills all the time. Maybe they mistook me for the Mac Daddy?
    It certainly has to have something to do with the way I treat people first..

    Yours truly,

    Arkhangael

  • AF

    For a lot of men, just taking their existing wardrobe and having a tailor run through it can be enough. 

    • Perhaps, but if a guy has a bunch of inexpensive, ill-fitting clothing in the first place, it probably wouldn’t be worth it to get everything tailored, since tailoring can get expensive. I think it makes more sense to invest the money one would spend on a tailor and buy better fitting, better quality pieces to replace the ill-fitting, inexpensive stuff. At the same time, get rid of the stuff one no longer wears.

      • Oxford Cloth & Canvas

         I actually disagree. Sure, if one’s clothes are *really* cheap or ill-fitting, it’s probably best to just get rid of it. But I think that buying inexpensive but reasonable-quality garments (think Lands End, for example) and getting them tailored will produce a better fit and will, ultimately, look better than great-quality clothes off the rack. Factor alterations into your clothes budget and the price of any given garment.

        • We’re on the same page. In fact I always endorse Lands’ End (Canvas) and similar types of stores because I think they’re at a reasonable price point / quality.

          Like for example, this suit I picked up a year or two ago: http://www.effortlessgent.com/the-endorsement-l-l-bean-signature-plain-weave-suiting/

          It really depends on what’s in the guy’s closet. 

  • It’s harder for me, since I’m sized like a 13 year old boy. 

  • Abdul

    One more way to look grown up, grow some facial hair.
    Not a huge beard, something small and well kept. I started growing something like this guy (just the facial hair, not the gelled hair and piercings) when I was 16 and I stopped getting carded everywhere. (I also shaved my head and started working out, so that probably helped to). 
    Now I either keep a thin beard, or a goatee. I keep it around the length of a #1. I still often get handed the bill at restaurants and rarely get carded. 

    • larry ramirez

      I agree, I wasn’t able to grow facial hair growing up, now I keep a light beard or a light stubble and rarely get carded. It also helps if you ask the right questions, when I was younger I’d ask “What kind of beers do you have?”. Now I ask, “What do you have on tap?”. A simple change in wording makes you sound like you know what you’re talking about.

    •  this is definitely one I didn’t consider 🙂 but yes, facial hair – so long as it’s well-maintained – can definitely add a grown up air to your look!

  • Abdul

    Chin Strap guy
    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/17/19458714_9640686506.jpg
    Me with goatee http://m4.licdn.com/media/p/3/000/0c9/005/3c27870.jpg

  • Being the guy that wears a blazer when he doesn’t have to would be pretty cool. I’m upset that my profession will mean I pretty much never wear a blazer, but for the time being in PT school I’m fine being seen as the kid that dresses well when everyone else is in sweats and stressed out. Gotta work with what ya got.

    • What’s your profession? I could’ve said the same about my last company (a shirt with buttons was considered dressy), but I still wore ties and blazers and stuff all the time.

      • I’m still in school, but in two years I should be a practicing physical therapist. Sure I can dress great for presentations of research and what not, but on a day to day basis… not so much. The setting I most likely see myself in would be outpatient rehab, so that would mean I need a ton of khakis and company polos. Bland.

  • minh nguyen

    Hi Megan. Thanks for the article. One question: I am kinda short guy, so do you think I should tuck my polo shirts in? I tried in front of mirror, and it looked like it made me shorter. Of course, I will tuck my shirt in at work, but for casual days, I am not sure if it looks good on me. What do you think?

    • I’m not Megan, but I’d say if the torso is long and meant to be tucked in, tuck it in. I prefer fitted polos that don’t require any tucking personally. And if you’re worried about looking shorter, NOT tucking in a long polo will definitely make you look shorter. Or at least more kiddy.