When I was in my early twenties and living in France, I had the opportunity to attend a New Year’s Eve dinner at a famous artist’s residence in Fontainebleau, about an hour outside of Paris. A friend was living with the artist’s daughter, so we had a coveted spot at the long dinner table that included relatives of the Matisse and Picasso family. For an aspiring young writer like me, this was a heady, awesome event.
The artist himself was a bit like The Most Interesting Man In the World. He pointed to the head of the pigeon course that was still on my plate, told me, “the brain is the best part” and then showed me how to dissect its skull and produce that pistachio-sized nugget of yumminess. When he cracked open some ancient bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac, he quietly instructed us: “You don’t drink good wine, you eat it.” Later, when he explained the secret of aging was to always clip your ear and nose hair and stand up straight, we took it as sage-like truth.
Since then, a bunch of comments from smart girlfriends, life experience, psychologists, lifestyle experts and educators later, I have assembled a list of things one must do in order to age, to mature, with style and grace and without turning into Andy Rooney (God rest his giant eyebrowed soul). Read, do and steadily morph into a silver fox…
Take a look in the mirror, and if your jeans happen to fit like James Van Der Beek’s in Varsity Blues, it’s time for a wardrobe upgrade.
1. Clip Your Nose and Ear Hair
You know those things you might have found gross in your old uncle, such as small shrubberies sprouting out of his ears and nose? Dude, it’s genetic, check your own ears! Do you really think it’s attractive to your girlfriend, wife, possible dates or even friends? Sure your buddies and mother will love you either way, but they’ll probably love you even if you degenerate into a grotesque, aging slacker doing bong shots on your parents’ tattered couch at 50. Avoid that.
2. Stand Up Straight
Slumped shoulders and bad posture aren’t only unattractive, but also mounting clinical evidence suggests that this body behavior directly affects your psychology, your mood, your sense of self and your self confidence. The Dutch behavioral scientist Erik Peper, who studies how posture affects us, found that aside from literally changing our hormones, when we sit up straight we are actually think more positively. Similarly, if we skip during a break, we can actually boost our energy levels as opposed to a slow, slumped walk that can drain us of our energy. So chin up and hup-hup-hup!
3. Wear Clothes That Fit
Fashion comes and goes but proper fit always trumps trends. You might not have a skinny jean body, so don’t push it, they’re too tight and look it! You think your grandfather is the only one who looks odd in his over-sized shirts, pants and coats? You want that happy medium of clothes that are close to the body line without necessarily hugging it. Take a look in the mirror, and if your jeans happen to fit like James Van Der Beek’s in Varsity Blues, it’s time for a wardrobe upgrade.
4. Get Your Hair Cut Properly
Clip the ponytail … unless you can really pull it off. (And unless you’re Willie Nelson, you probably can’t.) Good haircuts are often expensive but once you get one and can establish a great look for yourself, take a picture and find a more reasonable haircutter to replicate it. Obviously, shorter hair is easier to maintain. Your haircut is one of the things people notice first. It can also give you a confidence boost.. And remember: Messy hair can be a cool look, but greasy messy hair isn’t a look, it’s a warning.
5. Invest in Quality Footwear
A very hip, smart and exceedingly posh girlfriend once told me: “With a little self confidence you can get away with wearing almost anything… as long as you have great shoes.” Over the years I have observed that this is true. Great shoes can be pricey so they don’t all have to be great. But at least one stylish pair—and we’re not talking sneakers—will open doors from dive bars to elegant restaurants.
6. Be Kind
In a world filled with fuckedupness, being kind can almost seem like an alien notion. But it is not. You might think of yourself as kind and compassionate, but it is easy to forget to walk the walk. For compassion it’s essential to put yourself in someone else’s position. For kindness it’s equally essential to be able to count your blessings and live in some version of gratefulness. But there are also literally actions you can take to cultivate kindness. Generosity can take many forms. From random acts of kindness as disparate as holding a door open for a stranger to offering to take care of someone or help them out, doing good never gets old.
Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it makes everyone else more alive. Curiosity keeps you young, no matter how old you get.
7. Stay Curious
Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it makes everyone else more alive. As Dorothy Parker said, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” Curiosity keeps you young, no matter how old you get. It also keeps you open. He who is curious and open has a twinkle in his eyes. Twinkles are attractive. He is an interested person, and we all know how tiring a person can be when they are mostly focused on being interesting. We all appreciate a person who asks questions over one who won’t shut up, no?
8. Keep in Some Sort of Shape
This one should be obvious: Maintain your fucking health. Most things can be made a whole lot better with two gigantic but easy to-do fixes: a good diet and exercise. Get those two things right a lot of this other stuff will come so much easier…