Ask A Woman: Looking older without looking old
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I work in a world in which public impressions are vital to success, and most of my colleagues are in their late thirties through sixties, with a heavy emphasis on the older-crowd. I’m currently undertaking a large career-step forward, which I’ve gotten a lot of support-for from the aforementioned ‘elders’. There are a few exceptions, and one of the areas that these dissenters target me on is my age and youthful appearance.
I’m 28, but often told I look 4-5 years younger than that. I make a point to ensure that I always give off a mature appearance (suits when appropriate; slim sweaters, tailored button-downs, slim chinos/Levis514s in casual situations,the occasional blazer/sport coat, etc). Most of the guys I work with dress in sizes too large, wear non-tailored clothing, etc. It’s bad…and I do not want to have to dress like that.
Also, I recently was told that I should gain ten pounds and grow a mustache. (I’m 5’11”, about 155 lbs, and typically clean-shaven.)
I’ve considered wearing blazers and sport coats more-frequently, and growing some stubble… but honestly, I prefer the JFK-look to the Brad Pitt. I’m open to other options. And honestly, the comments regarding the fit/finish of my clothing puzzle me a bit. It’s not like I dress as a skinny-jean wearing hipster (not that there is anything wrong with that). I seem to receive many compliments on how I look from friends whom have great personal style, as well as women whom I think are stunningly beautiful… so I would like to think that I’m doing something correct 😉
Your help is very much appreciated,
Hey, remember that time I was so youthful looking and people told me to gain weight and I had the admiration of stunningly beautiful women? Man, that was a rough patch.
Sorry, Adam, I couldn’t help myself. Truthfully, I think you’re doing everything you can to age yourself. Let’s examine the evidence: “suits when appropriate; slim sweaters, tailored button-downs, slim chinos/Levis514s in casual situations,the occasional blazer/sport coat.” I mean, it’s going to be hard to age this look even further without putting you in Grandpa’s high waters and Uncle Artie’s orthopedic shoes. Still, I’ll cover some of the areas you’ve already mentioned.
Facial hair: If you can grow a respectable beard, this will almost certainly age you. If you can only grow patches, this will almost certainly make you look like that kid from 7th grade who went through puberty early. Although you’ve expressed a preference for a clean-shaven look, it’s worth a try to see how people react to you with facial hair. If you decide you hate it more than you hate being mistaken for someone younger, you can easily shave it off.
Weight gain: It will come as no surprise that people tend to thicken up as the years go by. It sounds like you’re a slim fellow so that is only contributing to your young appearance. I seriously dislike making any recommendations about body size, but since you brought it up…yes, gaining weight would help make you look older. If you decide to go this route, do it in a healthy way–not with extra thick malts and channel surfing–perhaps under the guidance of a nutritionist and personal trainer.
Here’s a secret about the advice-column business. Sometimes the answer to a question is not so much about information as it is about validation. Adam, your clothing choices and fit are appropriate both to what you like to wear, and to what is acceptable in your profession. You simply look young. It just means you have something in common with Matthew Broderick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Michael Cera:
I have to say, it sounds like life isn’t so bad anyway. You’re successful in your work despite your youthful appearance. You enjoy cultivating your personal style. You have the respect of your friends, and the accolades of hot chicks. This situation falls under the auspices of the Serenity Prayer. Accept that you’ve done what you can, and the rest is outside your control. Treat people’s reaction to your appearance with humor and grace. Prove them wrong by kicking ass in your career. Time will make its mark on your face and body soon enough.
By the way, kudos to you for staying away from the sad sartorial choices your peers have made. Frankly, I’m surprised that men in their late 20s are still wearing baggy, ill-fitting clothing. Sigh. My work here is never done.
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