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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What's really cool...

Sherrie Mathieson has a book out titled “Forever Cool: How to Achieve Ageless, Youthful, and Modern Personal Style.” Apparently this book is aimed at Baby Boomers who are struggling with remaining “cool” as they age, or at least their perception of themselves as “cool”. The book is quite popular with Boomers and likely has some good advice for those who have not significantly changed their wardrobes or their “look” for the past 10-15 years.

One review I saw mentioned how un-cool it is (and looks) for the aging Boomer to continue to try to wear the tight jeans look or to go to loose fitting everything to try to hide middle-age spread. I would hasten to add that Boomer men, or even seniors who continue to bite on the “Just For Men” hair coloring ads, look even more ridiculous than if they just shaved their heads. An 80 year old “dude” with black, “Just for Men” hair comes off like someone wearing a really bad hairpiece. And, I’ve never understood the thing about not wearing socks with your loafers in the summer. Maybe that’s OK with boat shoes; but, to put bare feet into an expensive pair of Italian loafers has never made sense to me. But, I guess some think it’s cool.

In reading the reviews, it appears that the clothing advice is sound – updating your wardrobe without trying to imitate today’s youth. Mathieson has the good sense to advise sticking to the classics, but keeping them updated with modern fabrics and cuts. Things like the width of ties change every few years, so they need to be constantly updated. She does advise that today’s Boomers dress in age-appropriate clothing. It’s an ugly thought to try to imagine a 50-something Boomer wearing baggy hip hop pants that start below his rear end. – let’s not go there.

Mathieson picks out some icons from our current society to analyze, including President Bush (whom she says is cool in his blue shirts) and two Bills – Clinton (cool) and Gates (un-cool in his patterned shirts). No mention of Warren Buffet (likely beyond cool in whatever he wants to wear). Hillary Clinton gets the “dowdy” cut from Mathieson, while Laura Bush is “borderline” cool. Clint Eastwood is labeled cool, but Meryl Streep is called un-cool when not in a role.

I think I’d be happier with the title of the book if it was just ‘Forever Cool: How to Achieve Modern Personal Style.” We’re not ageless and never will be and as you get older, eventually you reach a level of maturity where being Youthful is no longer a goal or concern. Get comfortable with your age and stage in life and then you’ll find it easier to be cool with and about yourself and others will see you as cool, too.

Self-confidence and comfort with who you are is what leads to the wardrobe and other choices that show the world that you’re cool. If middle-age spread has prevailed over your infrequent trips to the gym, buy bigger clothes! You’ll look a lot cooler in a new, properly fitting outfit than by trying to continue to shoehorn yourself into those old tight fitting clothes from yesterday.

There are also tons of other things and possessions that people buy to try to look cool. Those who are truly cool don’t spend a lot of time or money on things just because they think or hope that others will think that they are cool because they own them. I usually think of that guy on the TV commercial who’s in hock up to his eyeballs, so that he can have the new car the biggest house, the club membership and all of the other possessions that he points out. In the end, he’s crying “Help Me!” So are lots of other “cool” people right now as the sheriff comes to evict them from their big, impressive, foreclosed homes.

So, maybe I’m doomed to be forever un-cool in the eyes of some; but, I’m comfortable with who I am. I’m comfortable with where I am in life and with the family and the home and the faith that I have. My personal style is unlikely to turn many heads, but I don’t feel bad when I look in the mirror. I get to Kohl’s for their occasional sales (every Wednesday is senior discount day) so my wardrobe stays somewhat updated and I don’t mind my graying hair. Middle-age spread got to me well before middle age, so I’ve been buying the bigger cloths for years anyway. I have no desire to be seen as youthful. I’d much rather be seen as someone with experience, wisdom and maturity that you can trust. If that’s cool with you, I’m cool with it, too.

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