Men over 50 do think about their looks and clothes. They may not say so, but watch any man examining his two-day stubble or nose hairs in the mirror or deciding whether to tuck in a shirt or leave it out — and see for yourself! Tell a guy “You're so great at that!” and he quietly nods or denies it; tell him “You look great!” and he lights up like a Christmas tree. Appearance is a confidence thing, and wanting to look good for oneself and others is a healthy goal (for any gender!). Here's a spring/summer ‘21 cheat sheet for grownup guys with a sunny attitude.
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PHOTO BY: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for SAG-AFTRA Foundation; Daniele Venturelli/Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images; Ian Gavan/Getty Images
1. Treat yourself to new sunglasses and glasses.
If you do one thing right now, make bold black or tortoise frames your first seasonal update. You'll wear them daily with everything from swimsuits to jeans, especially if you get frames with transitional lenses that go from clear indoors to dark outdoors. Though all get high marks for style, three hot styles are worth the splurge. Choose from topline glasses (the top of the frame is a darker color) for a subtle eye-opening lift, angular frames with a squared/rectangle shape to restore structure and definition to a softened jawline or full face, or round frames (also angular ones with rounded bottoms) to add width and dimension to a long or thin face.
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PHOTO BY: Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty Images; Paul Archuleta/Getty Images; RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
2. Know when to tuck, half-tuck or untuck.
So, your diet and exercise plan hasn't kicked in yet, and it's time to shed layers. Any shirt or tee can be worn untucked to hide a belly or flabby torso ... so long as they are cut straight across at the bottom. Long, curved traditional tails don't cut it! If you don't feel neat unless your tee is tucked in, try tucking only the front (known as a half-tuck) or wear an open shirt or blazer (the latter is for dressier days or nights) over a tucked-in tee for camouflage. For a little extra coverage on the beach, try topping off your swimsuit with a tank top or rash guard over your swimsuit.
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PHOTO BY: Old Navy (2); Alex Mill; Everlane; Target
3. Try new pant-and-shirt combos fit for you.
There are two tricks to making guys 50 and older look contemporary in clothes old and new — and neither one involves a jogger pant or ripped jeans! One tip is to always mix tailored and casual sporty pieces. For example, instead of wearing chinos with a traditional button-down and loafers, pair them with an athleisure polo, a striped tee, a sweatshirt or a fancier linen shirt ... and sneakers. The second tip is to stick to body-friendly fits and not get suckered into trendy silhouettes. Take a look at any men's retail site or store, and it's filled with an expanded range of narrowly cut jeans, shirts, tees and pants that are challenging (to say the least) to mature bodies. Simply skip any pant or shirt labeled skinny, slim or tapered and head for those labeled straight, classic, loose, athletic, regular or relaxed.
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4. Cut or shave your hair.
Women have plenty of summer hair solutions (from ponytails to short bobs), but what about men? They have hot weather options, too. The first thing not to do if you're going bald is panic and wear a baseball cap 24/7, a combover, a piece or a stringy ponytail. The best solution is to clip your skimpy locks short or shave your head. Besides, a smooth scalp, a fuzzy buzz cut or cropped locks are cool physically and aesthetically. If your hair is thinning but still there, keep it shortish but tousled with a little styling cream or pomade to camouflage sparse spots in style. And that gray? It's edgy now, too, and way sexier than an obviously dyed pate any day.
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5. Trim your beard and manscape your body.
Face and body fur are a to-be or not-to-be issue. Plenty of older guys are keeping their winter/pandemic stubble or beards to ease up on shaving, compensate for hair loss or hide anything from a double chin to wrinkles! Opting for stubble or a shorter beard (around three-quarters of an inch) makes seasonal sense, but body hair — especially back hair — is a very personal issue, so go with your gut. To clean things up a bit before going shirtless, go to a day spa salon for a pro wax and six weeks of smoothness. It's much easier and less painful than shaving or a depilatory at home. And last but not least, get a barber to trim your ear, nose and brow hairs on an as-needed basis. Like having spinach in your teeth, everyone notices these sproutings, but no one tells you to do it. Well ... I will!
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PHOTO BY: Victor Chavez/Getty Images; Target (4)
6. Wash your face, apply SPF 30+ and wear a hat.
Men 50-plus worry about skin cancer and pigmentation changes after decades in the sun but slack off on skin care in summer. Don't use hot weather, humidity, sweat or your beard and stubble as an excuse. Make this routine a daily ritual. Use a soothing, nourishing cleanser like Dove Men+Care Hydrate + Facial Cleanser ($5, target.com) or King C. Gillette Men's Beard and Face Wash with Coconut Water ($13, target.com), depending on your hair situation; followed by a nongreasy hydrating sunscreen like Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 ($16, target.com) or Everyday Humans Resting Beach Face Sunscreen Serum SPF 30 ($18, target.com) on all exposed skin. Be sure to apply sunscreen to your face, neck, hands, shaved or sparse-haired head and scruff or beard area at skin level if the beard is not lush. No excuses. Add a straw fedora or panama for more protection than a baseball cap can deliver. Ears and neck are hot spots for skin cancer, so be safe.
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PHOTO BY: Target (2); Ulta Beauty
7. Smell good all over.
A sweaty body, stinky armpits and funky feet are a problem since heat and moisture amplify smells. Obviously daily showers, clean clothes and aired-out shoes are a first line of defense. Opt for lighter, looser-fitting clothes (try going up a size in T-shirts); a lightly scented body wash like Goodfellow & Co No.3 Moroccan Mint & Cedar 2-in-1 Shampoo & Body Wash ($6, target.com); a deodorant to combat wetness like Schmidt's Sage + Vetiver Hemp Seed Oil Natural Deodorant Stick ($8, target.com); or an antiperspirant/deodorant like Jack Black Pit Boss Antiperspirant & Deodorant ($19, ulta.com) to counteract underarm wetness and odor. You can even apply a stick deodorant to the soles of your feet.
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PHOTO BY: Walgreens; Zappos (2)
8. Pay attention to foot health and sandals.
Thick toenails and foot rashes are not something to show off, but men are prime candidates for foot fungus, athlete's foot and toenail infections. Just walking barefoot around pools and locker rooms in that moist, warm environment makes their tootsies ripe for gross conditions. Eight things can make a difference: Wash feet daily and dry between toes; wear moisture-wicking socks with sneakers; apply an antifungal cream when necessary (OTC or Rx); sprinkle feet and inside of shoes with cornstarch or an odor-fighting powder like Dr. Scholl's Odor-X Odor Fighting Spray Powder ($7, walgreens.com); slip odor-control insoles in all your shoes; wear pool sandals in locker rooms; trim toenails with clippers straight across to prevent ingrown nails; and get a pair of waterproof slides like the Birkenstock Barbados Essentials in Ultra Blue EVA ($40, zappos.com) or SKECHERS Performance Go Consistent Sandal - 229030 ($32, zappos.com) instead of flimsy flip-flops. They'll keep feet protected and won't irritate spaces between toes.
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PHOTO BY: Chubbies; Old Navy; Target
9. Get a beach look going.
This summer as we resume hanging out at the pool or beach in swimsuits, pandemic weight gain is on a lot of minds. Mid-length swim trunks that are about two or three inches above your knees show just the right amount of thigh, look good no matter how you sit (even if you man spread) and add a trim, straight silhouette to every body. Don't get too hung up on the inseam length, since suit lengths vary on each body with its own proportions despite the stats. A swimsuit, however, is the one basic where you can go a little wilder with color and prints. You'll be easier to spot in a crowd, too! This summer try something new like the Old Navy Solid-Color Swim Trunks for Men — 8-Inch Inseam in Lemonade ($25, oldnavy.gap.com), Speedo Men's 9-Inch Marina Long Volley Swim Trunks ($30, target.com) or Chubbies The Buds 7-Inch Faded Stretch with Zipper Back Pocket ($70, chubbiesshorts.com).
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PHOTO BY: Steve Granitz/WireImage; Joe Maher/Getty Images; David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images
10. Pull it all together with color.
Most guys’ summer clothes are a mash-up of neutral colors and bits and pieces from years past. Instead of making random daily choices, get strategic about color. Wear untucked tees and shirts in dark colors like navy, black and charcoal gray to instantly minimize a less-than-taut torso or belly. To look slimmer and more polished in casual clothes, tone tops to bottoms or just stay in the same color group. You might wear medium wash blue jeans with a blue linen shirt, or olive cargo shorts with a dark green tee, for example. On the other hand, a strong contrast — beige pants and a black top or a white top with navy bottoms — can elevate basics with a sharp, sophisticated look.
Final word: Guys, you can be bald, out of shape and wearing baggy board shorts and still radiate good health, energy and sex appeal. You can be fit as a pro athlete, tall and trim with rock-star hair and wearing a skintight wet suit and look unhealthy, fatigued and as unappealing as melted ice cream. A smile, a sense of humor and an ability to make eye contact (lift those sunglasses!) go a long way.
Lois Joy Johnson is a beauty and style editor who focuses on women 50 and older. She was the beauty and style editor at Ladies’ Home Journal and a founding editor of More magazine. She has written three books: The Makeup Wakeup, The Wardrobe Wakeup and The Woman's Wakeup.
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