What David Beckham can teach the midlife man about style

The star marked his 47th birthday this week, but what makes his wardrobe so enduring?

When most men are segueing into “safe” territory in how the dress (and developing a bit of a paunch), Beckham clearly still enjoys fashion Credit: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The man who defined the metrosexual of the early Noughties has turned 47. Yes, David Beckham – whose style hits and misses is longer than the most storied of almanacs – is decidedly middle-aged, but what’s surprising, and encouraging for all men of that vintage, is just how comfortable he is with his sense of style now.

Beckham, more than any other man in recent years, has changed how British men dress; whether you like it or not, he’s had an effect on your wardrobe through the “trickle down” effect of trends that eventually reach the general public. 

His early years were hallmarked by a kind of experimentalism that we hadn’t seen in a (straight) man in the late Nineties – the sarong, the cornrows (which would likely see him cancelled today), the glitzy crucifixes, shiny suits and creaking matching leathers worn alongside his other half, the artist formerly known as Posh Spice.

The Beckhams have put these days far behind them Credit: Justin Goff\\UK Press via Getty Images

Were they always informed choices? No, but at least he was a young man daring to break out of the fashion box and experiment in dressing, and in doing so he paved the way for legions of young men in how they approached style. 

Beckham’s sartorial evolution has been a slow burn, from gauche footballer to something that most men his age can relate to – smart tailoring and good knitwear. Yet occasionally he does still push the boat out and wear something likely to embarrass the kids. When most men are segueing into “safe” territory in how the dress (and developing a bit of a paunch), Beckham clearly still enjoys fashion. 

Beckham at his son’s nuptials in Miami last month Credit: LCD/Shutterstock

“My style has evolved,” he once told me, upon the unveiling of his now-defunct fashion line Kent & Curwen (which was excellent, by the way). “You start to dress in a different way as you grow older. Over the years, I’ve worn things that I look back now and think: ‘Why did you wear that?’” 

Certainly, not all of his midlife style choices have been up to standard – Beckham’s fond of a bit of Peaky Blinders costumery and some the country attire he has been snapped in around his Cotswolds abode is straight out Last of the Summer Wine. 

So what can he teach the middle-aged man? The key is to know what suits you and then to refine it. For Mr B, that’s lightweight, relaxed suiting in summery tones, as well as structured, serious black tie when the occasion calls for it. The silliness he leaves to his sons these days in favour of a more grown-up, refined approach – great knitwear instead of too-tight shirts, for instance.

Over the tattoos we shall draw a discreet veil, but for the main part Beckham’s style leading the charge in acting as a prime example of great British style. 

Blend it like Beckham

Who is your male midlife style icon? Let us know in the comments section below