En español | Attention, dudes: This is the season to put your best self forward. It's time to lose the ear hair, crazy eyebrows, rough skin and belly-busting jeans. If anyone reading this has a comb-over, straggly beard or gym sneakers — you are overdue for an upgrade. No more showing up at Aunt Julie's, your neighborhood bash or a festive restaurant looking like you're ready to shovel the walk (even if you are). Here's what you need to know:
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1. Be groomed. Whether you're clean-shaven, working a three-day stubble or sporting some sort of facial hair, make sure you look neat and fresh. Keep beards — from goatee to full circle — trimmed and conditioned just like your head hair. (FYI: If you think a beard conceals a saggy neck and jawline, know that a close-cropped beard does the job, too, and looks well-kept.) Trim nose, ear and brow hair. Grizzly ear and nose sproutings are not appealing, so use a magnifying mirror and small blunt-tip grooming scissors to clip — or let a barber do it. Brush up brows with a clean toothbrush, and trim tips of extra long hairs above the brow line. Don't forget to file, clean and moisturize nails.
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2. Let your gray rock ... and your hairline, too. Graying and thinning hair are normal, regardless of gender. There's nothing shameful about it. Trying to hide skimpy hair with a comb-over or a long straggly ponytail just emphasizes the obvious. Crop whatever's left in a close-cut short look or just wear your receding hairline with attitude. Own your gray, too. Dyeing your hair doesn't do you justice. C'mon, even Jon Bon Jovi and Paul McCartney are gray!
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3. Freshen your face. Looking healthy is part of the seasonal prep. Sensitive, red, splotchy, sun-damaged, dry or dehydrated skin calls for some quick DIY changes — starting today. Who couldn't use a welcoming “You look great!"? Upgrade to an extra moisturizing shower gel like Dove Men+Care Body and Face Wash for Dry Skin ($11, cvs.com) or a hydrating soap like CeraVe Hydrating Cleansing Bar ($8, cvs.com), and switch to a facial moisturizer with SPF 30+ like Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion SPF 30 ($11, cvs.com) or Garnier SkinActive Moisture Bomb Moisturizer SPF 30 ($18, cvs.com).
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4. Assess your personal hygiene. One thing that separates the great-looking guys from the rest is a fantastic smile — and it's also why celebs make dental care a priority. To stave off bad breath, try to rinse, brush and floss ASAP after drinking and eating; carry breath mints for emergencies; and apply lip balm to keep dry winter lips soothed and smooth. Holiday time is perfect to start a DIY teeth-whitening regimen with at-home strips, or to see your dentist for a cleaning to really tackle dingy yellow or gray teeth. And at the party watch out for red wine, coffee, tea, richly colored sauces and berries — since they do stain.
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5. Update your glasses. If you wear glasses and haven't gotten a recent pair, now's the moment. A bold angular frame with rounded edges in black or tortoise immediately gives your face structure and emphasizes your eyes. If your brows have gone white or silver, or your eyes have receded or sag a bit, let glasses restore color and shape. They add personality and character to every face. A thicker, heavier frame tends to flatter big faces and strong features, while a thinner frame works for narrow faces and smaller features (but that's just a general guide, not a rule). Go with what feels comfortable for you.
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6. Aim for not too dressed down, not too dressed up. Don't give up your jeans to party, but add some polished pieces so it looks like you tried. One easy solution that works anywhere day or night and makes you look contemporary is to layer a button-down shirt (it can even be chambray or plaid flannel) and blazer over your tee, and swap your sneakers for lace-ups, ankle boots, loafers or suede desert boots. For a more casual look, swap the blazer for a sweater; to go edgier, wear a leather jacket over your tee and add a scarf toned to both. And if you can't give up your sneakers? Try matching them to your pants or jacket for a more unified look.
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PHOTO BY: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images, Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images, David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Lacoste
7. Choose darker jeans for the holidays. Black or dark blue jeans look dressier than lighter washes or medium blues and way cooler than chinos, but they can sub for pants in all but the dressiest situations. Choose a straight-leg style in your best fit (slim, regular, relaxed) and wear them with all your black tops or with other neutrals — like gray, brown or navy — for a modern look. Go the traditional route with a sweater and/or blazer, or try a dark shirt untucked. While faded distressed blue jeans look great on mature men, keep them for summer and weekends home hanging out in laid-back situations — unless you're Ralph Lauren.
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8. Style your clothes to look slimmer. Everyone does this now to hide bellies, love handles and holiday weight gain, so don't be shy. A blazer adds structure to your upper body and camouflages a soft middle, so make it your holiday buddy. You'll get a similar upper-body boost from a bomber or leather jacket that can handle indoor wear. Another trick is dressing monochromatically — head-to-toe in one color. It makes choosing what to wear so much easier (and it makes you look taller and slimmer, too).
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9. Take the stuffing out of suits and tailored pants. When the event is more dressed up (like New Year's Eve), take a suit down to street-level by not wearing a tie. Shake it up with an edgy dark shirt in black, navy or charcoal gray instead of crisp white or preppy pinstripes. Mix things up and pair a navy suit with an olive shirt and brown shoes like Owen Wilson. Or add an unexpected bottom line with cowboy boots like Bruce Springsteen, or sneakers (yes, this is when they come in!) like Jamie Foxx.
10. Final Words: I know you know this, but try to get more shut-eye during these weeks. When you snooze skin, cells regenerate. You look better, your cortisol stress levels, and weight stays controlled (no midnight fridge raids!). So, turn off all electronic devices early. And not to nag, but before you go to any party or social event make sure your shoes are cleaned of dirt and scuffs.
Happy Holidays to all!
For more beauty and style tips for women age 50-plus, check out The Makeup Wakeup: Revitalizing Your Look at Any Age by Lois Joy Johnson and Sandy Linter.
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