Years ago, I interviewed the lovely Doris Roberts, an accomplished actress, perhaps best known for her role as Marie Barrone in Everybody Loves Raymond.
A mature woman, we were talking off camera about clothing. She leaned over to me and said, “Honey, there comes a time in your life when you dress to conceal rather than reveal.” She may not have been the first to say it but God bless her for tellin’ me. The point Doris was making is that there comes a time in everyone’s life when we can no longer pull off “cute” and must opt for a look that is more suitable for our age. Unfortunately knowing exactly when that point occurs presents a bit of a problem…
You’ll recall a few weeks back we discussed this very topic in our GEM Debate “Can You Wear A Mini-Skirt After 35?” That piece was based on a poll of two thousand women who gave their opinions on when a woman should stop wearing items like mini-skirts, ponytails, even bathing suits. I gave my opinion within the piece but I do think the point was lost on some. It’s not whether you can wear a mini or not but really about whether those clothes are age appropriate. It’s not about having great legs or a perky butt, but more about how you want people to perceive you and the type of image you are trying to portray. And it’s not just for the ladies; I said then and will reiterate now, the same goes for men. Now there are photos to prove my point!
Today’s Daily Beast features a photo gallery of male celebrities who are fond of showing off their so-called “man cleavage”. The roll call includes Simon Cowell, Adrien Brody and Mickey Rourke but let’s not pretend this is a new fashion trend as much as a resurgence (Miami Vice anyone?) However, what I once thought was simultaneously cool and hot back then, now I’m just sort of cool on altogether.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some men who can pull the look off, namely those whose pecs that are not bigger than my B cup. And if said pecs are part of a chiseled midsection instead of resting on a Buddha belly I’m all for it. And here’s where some of you are gonna howl; the pecs must also belong to a guy younger than 35.
Now HANG ON! Hear me out. I’m not saying there are not men over 35 who COULDN’T pull the look off. The question is should they try? Now this may be a vast over-simplification but here goes…
When you are younger, everything is nice and taut and revealing your body parts, even a little over revealing, can be chalked up to the fact that you have not lived long enough to know any better. But when you are a “man of a certain age” and you have real accomplishments on your resume, you have more tools in your arsenal. You’ve had some success in business, a bit of life experience and you can carry on a conversation on myriad topics. There’s no real need to show all the goodies in an effort to attract someone; you can do that in ways that don’t appeal to the id-driven, carnal side of human nature. As is the case with women, it’s about how you want people to see you.
For me, mature women AND men showing too much skin, just look silly and desperate. It also signals someone who’s either a) having trouble transitioning to the next phase of their life or b) doesn’t own a full-length mirror. Neither of those is good but at least one can be fixed with a quick trip to Target.
I’ll let you thumb through the Daily Beast gallery and draw your own conclusions but there are some guys in there who very definitely need to button up. Someone ought to tell them there are few things hotter than a good looking man, who clearly frequents the gym but lets his bulging chest keep us guessing as to how much he can bench press. Besides, the imagination is more forgiving than a camera ever will be.
But what about you – do you think men should give up the “man-cleavage” after a certain age? What age is that?
And what are the other style rules for aging guys? Can mature men get away with earrings? Long hair like Fabio? Tight jeans? Start commenting everyone…