Looking and feeling younger is a boon to anyone over 21 with a proper ID in today's ageist culture, as Pamela Redmond Satran knows full well. She's the New Jersey-based writer of "How Not to Act Old," a best-selling manifesto on slowing down the clock.
"We care (about age) because in a lot of cases it involves our livelihood. So many companies have this youth hunger," she said. "I called my book 'How Not to Act Old' because it's not like you want to act 22 or 32 or fool anybody. You just don't want to act old. Old means out of it, lame, marginal. I don't think anyone wants to be any of those things."
No indeed. So, to not act old you need to think young — or younger — and do it with all the guile and strategy your (real) age has blessed you with. Satran tells you how to trick the clock:
Don't be dowdy
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Don't be the gray pigeon of the fashion roost, but don't be a clueless peacock either. Pick energizing colors, flattering cuts and interesting textures that seem fresh yet long-lasting. You want to keep it youthful instead of young. Big difference there: "Youthful" is a kicky skirt of whatever length necessary to flatter the leg; "young" is a too-short or too-tight skirt that starkly reveals any bumps, wrinkles or bags. Aim for a polished 40- or 50- or 60-something, not a clownish 26. Edit your look ruthlessly; let your perennial favorites speak with, perhaps, one or two accessories of the moment as punctuation.
Speaking of gray
Ladies, put down the DIY bottle and get thee to a professional colorist who'll work with your skin tone, your facial structure and your hairstyle to guarantee you look your best. (If you choose to stay gray, get and maintain the best cut you can afford to play up your choice as a deliberate, artistic statement.) "Don't let them cut it all off," urges Satran. "You always look younger with longer hair." Men, go gray or go bald. Either is better than the oh-so-obvious dye job. Keep your look clean and true; totally rake away any hint of a comb-over.
Bone up on technology
Satran recommends that you collar the nearest 14-year-old boy to teach you. Here are some of the lessons she learned: Text with your thumbs instead of your index finger. "Younger people think that's dorky," she said. Don't leave voice mails. "Young people won't return it because they won't listen to it," Satran added. "Hang up; they'll check for missed calls."
Tweet, but don't be a twit
Catch on to the smart birds flying around the social media sphere and follow their example. As for Facebook, Satran says not to post your official company photo on your profile page; too formal, too stiff. Better to post your own casual photo. (Safran recommends holding the camera over your head and looking up at the lens to get the most flattering shot.)
Keep up to date with current and cultural events. No one is forcing you to watch "Jersey Shore," but do have an idea who Snooki is. That's what Google and Wikipedia are for.