Stylish older men prove age is no barrier for fashion

Men's fashion magazines usually feature 20-something men with open shirts and narrow-gazed eyes. As you turn the pages, there's almost a complete absence of anyone over 40 years old.

However, men in their 50s, 60s and even 70s, don't necessarily stick to their gardening gear, as we've explored in stories on senior style legends such as Neale Whitaker or Nick Wooster

Some men in more senior age groups were interested in fashion as teenagers, while others have discovered its appeal only in their 50s.

Urban planner Frank Bosco grew up around stylish fashion. His mother Tina made his clothes, assisted by his aunt who was a seamstress. "Mum always thought it was important to dress well and take pride in one's appearance," he says.

While Bosco now wears expertly-cut Zegna or Hugo Boss suits to work, on the weekend he gravitates towards bright colours. Mustard and pink are sometimes combined, as well as burgundy and blue.

"I'm not a psychedelic nut-case, but wearing colour is liberating," says Bosco, who sees black as a default colour and safe rather than adventurous. Bosco regularly travels overseas to cities such as London and is guided by his daughter Louise, who develops products for leading accessory designer Anya Hindmarch. "Louise used to offer me suggestions, but now I am more than confident to make my own choices."

At age 59, Bosco is certainly not planning to become a wallflower as another decade ticks over. "I enjoy wearing great clothes and I feel comfortable wearing colour irrespective of age," he says.

Late bloomer

Unlike Bosco, Peter Wilson, aged 72, came to fashion later in life. His partner Margaret regularly gravitated towards Japanese designer fashion, but Wilson was happy to get around in clothes he'd worn for years  until his early 60s. "Margaret was tired of me wearing what she describes as 'dog-walking gear' and over a period of time, suggested trying on clothes by Comme des Garcons."


Now when Wilson goes out, even walking his dog, it's more than likely he'll be seen in a wide-brimmed hat and long coat. Trousers will either be baggy or fitted. And hues are usually dark, from black and white to grey. 

"Dressing well really makes you feel so much better," says Wilson, who sometimes gets stopped in the street by considerably younger men wanting to know where he bought his gear. "I'm certainly not a fashion guru, but I no longer look for other people's advice when I go shopping for clothes," he says, naming Melbourne store Eastern Market as one on his radar.

While clothes from some of the high fashion stores will "empty one's wallet", according to Wilson, "at my age, you tend not to wear out clothing as quickly as younger guys."

Life of style

Architect Mark O'Dwyer was attracted to fashion while studying in the late 1970s. One of his designs was a coat that morphed into a tent. Fast-forward three decades and O'Dwyer regularly travels overseas to some of the world's fashion capitals: Tokyo, Paris and London. 

Issey Miyake is ranked at the top of O'Dwyer's list, while Belgian designer Dries Van Noten comes a close second. "Miyake's fabrics are great against your skin and they are wonderful just to look at. Dries always creates an interesting colour palette, with the most unusual combinations."

Aged 53, O'Dwyer's interest in fashion hasn't slowed down. His wardrobe, for example, includes five business suits designed by Christian Lacroix. "Lacroix never just creates a navy suit. There's always a subtle point of difference, even if it's a certain strip or colourway that you've never seen before," he says.

While O'Dwyer is still keen to buy Australian-made clothes, he values the bespoke rather than the mass-produced. "I love wearing Emmett shirts (England) and shoes by Hechsung (France). You can almost see the fingers working away on each piece."

Following suit

Leading Sydney art curator Roger Leong attributes this interest in fashion to the allure of youth. "Younger men have driven the revival of tailoring and more formal dressing over the past decade. This has put older men on notice. They have had to ditch the Levis and sneakers and smarten up their act. I think the older men have enjoyed the ride," he says.

And though men in their 50s, 60s and 70s might not feature in fashion spreads, they can still show a singular confidence in dressing up, O'Dwyer says.

"Just because I'm in my 50s doesn't mean I can't enjoy going to fashion exhibitions, films, and of course wearing great designer fashion."