The 7 Biggest Mistakes Men Over 40 Make

Last week, I focused on the 12 ways for women not to become invisible after 40.  This week, it’s a version of that for the men.

I say version because as men get older they don’t become invisible. In fact, they start to stand out for the overly comfortable way they dress. The New York Times had a great article about this, referencing the play, Superior Donuts.  In it, middle-aged Arthur says, “I haven’t dated in a long time.” The much younger Franco deadpans, “That’s hard to believe, the way you dress and everything.” Arthur retorts, “I like to be comfortable.” Franco smirks: “You might be comfortable naked, but that don’t mean it looks good.”

Picture of Jon Hamm

Channeling your inner Don Draper is easier than you think.

40+ men, it does not have to be this way. Because compared to women,  it is sooo ridiculously easy for you to mojo up your style.

Why I wish I were a man
It’s not just that men get the vast majority of the income, executive positions, and political power.  I wish I were a man because by doing just one thing that takes 5 seconds, they can go from being a 4 to a 7.  Or a 6 to a 9.

Men, you are complete idiots if  you don’t do this one thing

Get a tailored blue blazer. Just toss on your blazer over a white shirt and jeans and — shazam!  Your whole look changes. If you put it over a patterned shirt and nicer pants, it is an even bigger transformation. And, if you want to go all Don Draper, add a pocket square (a colorful little bit of silk you put in the outside pocket). Do not skip the tailored step. No matter what type of shape you’re in, you’ll look slimmer and taller if it’s tailored.

You’re also idiots if you omit these 6 tips

  1. Smile.  Men don’t smile nearly as much as women, so when they do, everyone (especially women) really notices.  It’s totally unfair that men get so much attention for something that is almost the default expression for women.
  2. Update your glasses. Whether prescription or sunglasses, it’s not enough for them just to be functional.  Unless they are are the cool retro type, you need to update your frames.  Men over 40 often neglect to do this because they hate change and it seems too foo-foo.
  3. Get a haircut, become friends with a hair product, and embrace your baldness. Oh my gosh — the one area where men finally are at a disadvantage.  If you have hair, make the most of it with a great cut and hair products. Always, get a good hair stylist that focuses on men.  If you’re balding, go with it. Once again, talk to a stylist who can help you.
  4. Diversify your friendships. If you’re straight, you need to expand your circle and include some gay men and straight women friends. Gays, you already have women friends and some straight acquaintances;  you need to become closer friends with some key straight guys.  And to round out the whole kumbaya circle, everyone should be friends with lesbians. You will become much more interesting — and everyone finds that’s sexy.
  5. Ask a woman questions, then shut up and really listen. Did you know that most women will keep a running score of how many questions you’ve asked compared to how many she’s asked?  Most men don’t ask that many questions.  When you ask and really listen to the answer, everyone thinks you’re much better looking and charming than when you were just talking about yourself.
  6. Lift weights.   I’m ending this the same way I ended the women’s list.  Lift weights because it will get you in shape faster than cardio (although do that, too) and everything looks better on a nicely muscled frame.  Plus, when you feel in shape and strong, you move with so much more confidence.  And what’s more stylish than that?

At least half of you reading this right now are women.  I know it’s unfair that men have these uber-easy short cuts but the good news is that it’s much more straightforward for you to get your guy to make these changes.  And the bonus — if a woman is with a good looking man, she is perceived to be better looking herself.

Thanks to David McKnight of DAMstyle for contributing to the style tips.

Photo credit:  NBC Photos Dana Edelson

Got some more suggestions for men to get their style mojo going?  Add them in the comments.

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  • qwertyevan

    i think it is a bit harsh to call men idiots if they dont own a blue blazer…

    • kim

      Oh, laugh a little! She wrote this for men. Men rarely understand when a woman is subtle. You must be direct! Idiot was the perfect choice to use.

      • Raaammmiiiiazz110011

        oh kim your so idiot it makes me laugh :)

      • Deschutes Maple

        Thanks you idiot :-D

  • MayaQueenOfAnything

    i think there should be 8 biggest mistakes that men make…they fart wayyyyy too much and dont even say excuse me!!!!!!

  • nan

    I think I want to rephrase your ? to does my significant other have style? In fact, does he have muscle? Looking at my driveway right now I would say definitely yes!

    • Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      Yes, nan, lots of the driveways around here (in the first week of february, the good ol’ northeast) show major muscle, thanks for pointing that out!

  • kim

    Great article, Susan. I howled at the latter parts of numbers 4 & 5. Hilarious!!! My only addition would be for men to be selective about their SOCKS!!! It’s so ridiculously obvious to women that NOBODY of any gender should ever wear colored socks with white running/tennis shoes and ditto for wearing white athletic socks with loafers, wingtips, or any other shoe that is primarily leather and dark. I’ve seen fairly nicely dressed men do the funky socks thing and they look like idiots! Yes, men, you can undo that great haircut, new glasses (oh, that was a GOOD one, Susan!), and well fitting navy blazer with the wrong socks…someone’s gotta tell ya! The wrong glasses (10 years old) actually drop your IQ by 20 points!

    • Susan Kim

      Good point about the socks. I was so bewildered by why men would do this that I actually asked a few of them. Basically, it comes down to laundry. Seriously. The dress/colored socks with the tennis shoes– I was told this saves on laundry– no need to wash 2 pairs of socks. For the athletic socks with dress shoes– they said they ran out of clean dress socks.

  • Deschutes Maple

    Shallow, superficial article that misses the mark about aging. The rude register of the author is off putting. Her suggestions seem so obvious it belies she hardly put any thought into what she typed. Was it all typed up last min while on the way to work in traffic?

  • Blair Wardoff

    I don’t want to put anyone down because I think alot of people in this part of their lives can appreciate this and there is good advice, but I agree with qwertyevan, I don’t think men needed to be referred to as idiots, I don’t think that was necessary. The tone as a whole is at least somewhat biased, especially when you compare this to the article for females… I mean the male version, we are called Idiots, were told to “shut up and listen”, women should be annoyed by how easy men have it…Maybe I live in a rush-rush ‘time is money” part of the country were things are impersonal, and I’m sure its different in middle American, where people are friendlier, but I dont think very many women here have a smile as a default expression, and its not even like I live in this Soviet-era communist country or some Claymation town where The Burgermeister has banned all toy making. With that being said AS A WHOLE, an attractive women will probably receive 500,000x more attention and complements over their lifespan. Its pretty much entirely women who have told me that. (obviously not every women can get attention like that, Its awful and I wont discount how they must feel, its not easy for them. At the same time attractive women at a certain age are literally SHOWERED in attention, they are absolutely praised for even the most trivial accomplishments, you can watch it happen over & over again there is just no comparison.) I understand that women have struggles and experience injustice. I respect that they want to create change and raise awareness, but just because women have been victimized DOES NOT mean men are without their own struggles, not at all. When we talk about men or we talk about women we are talking about BILLIONS OF PEOPLE, you can’t put that many people into the same category. Women may not get as much attention at a certain age, but at the same time, for the man who is unattractive, or has reached a certain age, something as simple as letting a young women know that another line seems to be moving faster at the grocery store, can get him seen as a this dangerous “Creep” like hes some borderline sexual deviant or something lusting over young women. While Im not at that age, Ive heard this from COUNTLESS people, male and female. At the end of the day I dont want to make ANYONE feel bad, because Men and Women BOTH have our struggles, when all is said and done we are all HUMAN BEINGS, and we need to pay attention to HOW WE TREAT EACH OTHER.

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