Little girls want to look older – that’s me in my Mum’s Nylon nightdress, feather trimmed bed jacket, gold slippers and sunglasses. Then once we are older we want to look younger. Perhaps we all just want to be 19 forever.
Beautiful young people are fit, straight-backed with good muscle tone. They have fresh complexions, bright, glossy hair and strong white teeth. They are energetic and curious and open to what the world has to offer. And when they get their A level result they leap into the air. Yea!
If we can retain these qualities, and hopefully marry them with wisdom and compassion, then we will look youthful into old age. I realise I am covering a sensitive topic. If your life is hard and your health is compromised some of this may seem glib. It is not meant to be – just some ideas that may be worth considering, and perhaps make you smile.
- Body shape: We find slimness gorgeous because it is a youthful body shape, and one that is hard to achieve and maintain as we age. Putting on weight is not inevitable but staying trim requires an active life and healthy diet. If you are overweight a well-chosen wardrobe will enhance you, but good muscle tone and a lower BMI will make you look even better. This 72-year-old man works out. I am not recommending an extreme look, just indicating that you can develop good muscle tone at any age. This is not a health and fitness blog.
- Posture: A youthful body posture is lithe, flexible and straight. A physically strong body combined with yoga or Pilates will help preserve good posture and prevent bone and muscle wastage.
- Hair colour: Greying hair is a sign of ageing, so it is no surprise that many women, and increasing numbers of men, resort to hair dye. Personally I think dyed hair, unless it is very subtle (ie slightly lighter and the same tone as your natural colour), is ageing. Ultra-blonde, extensions, and the Zebra stripes are allpasse, and will age you. So avoid all peculiar hair colours such as maroon or orange. Grey hair is very fashionable at the moment, so maybe give natural a try.
- Hair cut: Long hair is great for young women but unless it is very well-tended can drag down an older woman. Long hair on older men is ridiculous; if you arereceeding too it looks like your hair piece has slipped. A huge fringe to cover your wrinkles doesn’t really work either.Following trends is important, otherwise you get caught in the past – go for a modern hair cut and visit your hairdresser at least four to six times a year. Men need to go every 6-8 weeks. A hairdresser you trust will help you to choose a cut that makes the most of your face shape.
Apart from a nice cut Jamie has full eyebrows (which may be subtly made up). Eyebrows frame your eyes and unfortunately often lose their colour and density with age. They don’t need plucking and could use a little extra definition instead. Don’t use a hard pencil on them. Men may experience the opposite problem – their eyebrows get bushier and bushier (like Denis Healy). Ask your hair dresser to sort them out.
- Hair products If you use hair gel, setting lotions, Brylcream, mousse, hairspray or putty keep it imperceptible. Same goes for straighteners and blow drying. Hair is supposed to move and be soft to touch, not sticky, oily, crispy or stiff.
- Balding This is a fact of life for a significant proportion of men. All the solutions are worse than the problem – hair transplants, comb-overs and wigs. The old monk or “egg in the nest” look is just sad. Cut it short and enjoy it – it does not undermine your sex appeal. And don’t feel you have to grow a beard to compensate.
- Make up Older women do benefit from wearing a little make up. Again keep the colours close to your natural shades. Avoid bronzers, contouring,sunbeds, false eye lashes. Good skin (rosy from fresh air and exercise), adequatelymoisturised, is far more attractive than thick foundation,blusher,claggymascara, obvious lip pencil, etc. Heavy make up emphasises wrinkles, and dark lipstick which bleeds into lines around your mouth is just scary. As ismascara on the lower eye lashes.
- Clothes that fit Clothes that are too tight are ageing. If you are bigger than you want to be please don’t squash yourself into tight clothes. Your health and comfort will suffer. You don’t want too loose either. Get the right size, or make your own clothes to fit your shape. Nothing looks better.
- Stylish clothes
- Many women (less so men) find their skin looses its tone – in which case cover it up with sleeves, tights and reasonably high necklines.
- Don’t ignore fashion but choose what suits you from what is current.
- If you go into Topshop/Topman or Zara and try to find an outfit that will make you look young you may be disappointed. They are cut for young figures and manufacturers skimp on the fabric. The grain may be off, the skirt too short, the menswear is for immature frames, the tops won’t tuck in etc. So go to better quality shops and just get the odd item from the trendiest shops.
- If you stick with a look you had when you were young you will inevitably look dated and stuck in a time warp.
- If you adopt a look you think is suitable for your age that would be a disaster. The Mail has good advice on this, and here are their pictures of Linda Kelsey (age 60) wearing a shapeless bias dress and a comfy, unstructured brown cardigan. This mid calf length is particularly ageing and should be avoided. Same for the horrible shoes. In the second photograph Linda has a fitted dress which is considerably better. The colour is vibrant, the length just right and the neutral shoes are classic. Personally I don’t like the cut away shoulders which I think emphasises her rather large shoulders but overall the look is so much more youthful.
- Teeth. Your teeth are nearly as old as you are. They get damaged and stained as you age and it is important to see your dentist regularly. Personally I feel that the “perfect teeth” worn by Americans are so obviously “false” that they look like dentures. That’s cultural. So long as your teeth are in good shape, clean and healthy that is probably enough. But broken, stained teeth, unhealthy gums andbreath really need attention.
- Footwear Dad trainers, orthopaedic sandals, trashy heels, librarian shoes, anything with Velcro – choose classic shoes, elegant heels and stylish boots.
- Facelifts and other surgery Wrinkles start in our 20s so get used to it. They are a sign of life and not worth worrying about. Keep out of the sun most of the time, and get enough sleep. There are more fun things to do in life than have unnecessary surgery – the best face lift is a smile. If you want to feel good about how you look search “face lift” images on the internet – it’s a truly horrible industry.
- Attitude: Excitement and enthusiasm are attitudes of mind associated with youth, before life grinds you down. So a positive, outgoing approach where we see the fun in life rather than focusing on our difficulties can make older people appear younger. A youthful mentality implies a willingness to try something new, to play, to be effortlessly active.