How not to dress like an old man

Earlier this week I read Dan Lyons LinkedIn Post on ageism in Silicon Valley. It’s a great article and I highly recommend it to readers of all ages, especially those of you light in the years department.

I commented on Dan’s post that it was up to us ‘persons of age’ to combat the stereotypes, so here is one way we can do that — by not dressing like old guys. Women I think are generally better at this than men and you certainly don’t need my advice. In fact, I’m counting on you to help us out here.

So how do I not dress like an old man?

First rule, do not try to dress like a young man. No hip hugger jeans, surfer shorts, muscle shirts, and under no circumstances whatsoever should you even think about a Speedo bathing suit.

Let’s start with the hair. Cut it. Regularly. And while you’re at it, get the nose and ear hairs clipped along with the eyebrows. If you are starting to go bald, embrace it and shave your hair to stubble or down to the scalp. If you are going gray, flaunt it. Think Bruce Willis (age 60), Michael Keaton (63), and Samuel Jackson (66). Nothing screams ‘insecure male’ like the comb over, not to mention it just looks ridiculous.

Growing up, men don’t generally pay much attention to clothing style. We tend to buy off the rack what the other guys are wearing and that’s that. Whatever was in fashion in our late 20s, early 30s is where we tend to get stuck. Don’t stay stuck. Experiment a little. Think about how you want to look. Older male movie stars and musicians are good for inspiration. Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen actually dress better now than they did in their youth. Just search ‘images George Clooney’ or whoever you think is cool and take note of what they wear.

Whatever style you prefer, wear clothes that fit. That gets a lot harder as you get older because the fashion industry doesn’t bother making cloths for men over about 23. That’s why so many men over 40 end up looking like Forest Gump. Buy quality and get it altered so it fits. People pick up on bad fit unconsciously and it biases their impression.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on cloths or have a walk-in closet full of threads. Check out second hand clothing stores wherever you go. You can often pick up top quality gear in good nick for a fraction of what you would pay retail.

Last point: get fit. No amount of style or designer labels can make a beer gut look good. And don’t give me that “I’m too old” malarkey. One of my elder buddies went back to the gym at age 74. In 18 months he lost about 20 kilos. He’s got muscle tone and a spring in his step that wasn’t there when I first met him. And he dresses well. When people look at him, they don’t say, “there’s an old man”, they say there’s an interesting guy”. That’s our goal guys. Now go get a haircut.