Seven ways to improve the silhouette as a man matures
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Seven ways to improve the silhouette as a man matures

Oct 19, 2023

Q I have been relatively lucky in not gaining much weight over the years, but of course my body tone is not the same as in my 20s. When I look at photos of myself in polos, they seem to accent a paunch that otherwise isn't too embarrassing. Are polos something I should avoid in my mid-50s, and what else might I not be noticing, but others would?

A There are men who are seemingly well dressed, but can strike us as not quite right. As you were keen to recognize in the mirror, often the issue that a lot of people see, but don't exactly know why they notice, is "age-inappropriate" dressing. A key component of this is that most people think of themselves as the person they once were, and not as the person they are now.

While it is more common -- unfair as it might be -- for the world to be acutely aware of women who dress "too young," men, too, make age-inappropriate choices. A lot of those errors are connected with the very one you mentioned -- weight redistribution. Even though there may not be any real how-to-dress reason for an older man to avoid wearing knit polo shirts, his body may be telling him something different. If a knit polo shirt tends to cling to his body in a way that accents the overhang of his belly at the waistline (minor or major), then he would be wise to devise some method to cover his beltline and disguise this flaw. One way is to wear the polo untucked. A more refined camouflage method is to add a jacket or a shirt-worn-as-a-jacket. Layering a sweater over the polo also works. All are simple and effective.

But the polo shirt/paunch is not the only problem area. As you suggest, here are seven basic tenets to looking your best and improving your silhouette as you mature:

Wear dark colors (and neutral colors) to appear taller, thinner and younger.

Wear clothes that fit you well, that are not cut too big and baggy or too tight and clinging. Have your clothes tailored so they fit you now. Don't wear items that "used to fit" if you are now a different size.

If you're going to make a slight mistake, dress "up" a bit too much, rather than dressing too "down/informally."

Don't choose clothes that look like you're trying too hard to look young, such as message T-shirts and sports-related casual wear. They can make you look old and foolish!

It is better to have a small number of traditional garments that are costly and will last a long time than a closet full of eye-catching, inexpensive alternatives.

When you want to look sharp, some items instantly upgrade your image. Garments to own include: a navy blazer, a leather bomber jacket, a crisp button-down shirt, a polo shirt with collar, chinos, dark jeans, quality leather loafers. Avoid flashy designs and loud colors.

Avoid too-low-cut shirts that show your chest (and chest hair). While this look may work for your son (or grandson), it is no longer right for you. Leave only one or two buttons open on a dress shirt that you are wearing casually. And forget any chains you may be tempted to add.

Don't wear pants that are torn, ripped, frayed or tattered. This is a style that many people consider ill-conceived even for young guys, but you should definitely avoid it at your age.

Don't wear trousers that are cut too short, like the young kids do. On the other hand, don't make the old man's mistake of wearing too-long pants that puddle around the ankles. Invest in a few high-quality, go-to trousers as a basis for your casual combinations.

As to hair: get a good haircut (perhaps at a hair salon rather than a barber shop). Opt for a shorter cut instead of trying to hide balding spots with a comb-over. You'll look more up-to-date. Also keep any facial hair smoothly groomed and neatly trimmed.

To summarize, yes, there definitely are some styles that just aren't right for older men. The goal is to find clothing that suits your age. Leave the messy hair, message-printed T-shirts and distressed clothes for the young guys. If you're wondering if a look is too young for you, it probably is.

Please send your men's dress and grooming questions and comments to MALE CALL:

[email protected]

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