Wage War on Ageing

Roll back the years, no Botox or surgery required


Lauren Hutton. Picture / Craig Barritt

Whether you’re 25 — or a little older — one of the most effective ways to pile on the years is to settle into a comfortable, familiar, snuggly rut. I’ve known 5-year-olds who won’t be parted from the dungarees they first slipped into when they were 3. This is not healthy. Wearing the same thing in exactly the same permutations, day after day isn’t only dispiriting.

If it wasn’t very flattering to begin with, it’s self-sabotaging. Sometimes an incremental tweak can be your ladder out of that rut. Other times, more radical action may be required. But however dramatic, it should never be painful. That would be ageing.

1. Frame it

Your face, bless it, deserves decent glasses. Whether you only wear them when you’re in the middle of the Gobi Desert or you need major ocular help locating your bedside table in the morning, glasses are as much a style investment as a health one. Fashion is your ally here. Trends in glasses move at a glacial pace so investing in a fashionable pair will ensure you look current for some time to come. Opt for bold statements — they hide a multitude of dark bags — and cats’ eye frames contour the face upwards. Dark, chunky frames shouldn’t work with pale or grey hair. But they do.

2. Flash some ankle

A little nude skin looks remarkably youthful. Temperatures needn’t be tropical — ankles, though bony, are strangely temperature resistant and, with a good heel, they’ll make even jeans look elegant and evening appropriate. You can be in a thermal vest and leggings yet happily bare your ankles.

3. Switch your perfume

You may have worn Opium ever since your first boyfriend gave it to you, but a lighter (not sweeter) scent can affect your mood. Celine Roux, fragrance director at Jo Malone, says “women feel youthful and energised by uplifting scents”.

Something as fundamental as swapping perfume can nudge you into other changes. If you love neutral and brown eye-shadows, take counsel from Chanel makeup artist Kay Montano and try a violet instead, which is “softer and more flattering — you can layer it to create a smoky eye at night”. Move from tawny to pink blushes and dump the foundation, or at least only dab it on the areas where you need it — usually around the nose. As for dark eye-bags — go French and ignore them. It’s more effective than messing around with cake-y concealers.

4. Fray it or fringe it

These are fashion details your innate common sense and good taste may tell you to avoid. Ignore your common sense — it sometimes lacks adventure. (Deliberately) frayed edges can have a remarkable softening effect on clothes, especially around necklines, and make an otherwise classic piece more playful. Fringing should, however, be confined to bags, or a swishy shoe tassel. Sounds faddy but neither trend goes out of fashion for long.

5. Shoulders back

Current postural thinking also focuses on pulling the abs in and up and lifting from the waist. Past the age of 12 or so, humans have an overwhelming urge to sink into their hips, culminating, as the years pass, in postural slump and chicken-neck, aka leaning forward to peer at your phone or screen (get that prescription updated).

“Just when we’d developed strategies to avert RSI from keyboard and mouse use, we’re seeing a whole new raft of problems caused by mobile usage,” says physiotherapist Kate Hunt. Sit back in your chair and sit tall. Take frequent breaks from your desk and if in doubt, try the Alexander Technique. Definitely do Pilates. Good posture is the most youthful asset you can have — infinitely more elegant than a frozen, wrinkle-free brow.

Back to posture: “I try to suck my belly in. Everyone should do that ... even if you’re just going out to dinner with your boyfriend you should try and suck it in.” The wise words of, not Jean Brodie, but Katy Perry.

6. Avoid haircuts based on The Toblerone

Not all bobs are equal. The Bad (aka choppy) Bob is youthful. The Toblerone bob (aka the Pob, after Victoria Beckham, in her Posh days) is chin length at the front, yet barely grazes the tops of the ears at the back. It’s also very wedgy. This is good for chocolate, but confusing for hair and supremely unflattering. If choppy is not your thing, try a neat, boyish crop — excellent for cheekbones.

7. Do a jewellery audit

Another painless way to update your look; current jewellery can be as bold as a breastplate — a necklace statement — or as discreet as a teeny diamond ear-cuff. Don’t wear anything because you feel you have to — occasionally it’s good to remove all your jewellery for a few days and see what you miss. Try switching rings around — even engagement rings — which will encourage you to experiment.

8. Get serious (but efficient) about your beauty routine

Two minutes in the morning and evening can make a huge difference. Ditch expensive exfoliators and begin with some gentle skin-brushing in circular motions around the eyes, working inwards. After that, cleanse and apply your oils, then using your finger pads, tap lightly around your eyes, and use upward strokes along your cheeks. Rub your fingers horizontally across the vertical lines between your eyebrows and vertically across your forehead lines. Then pinch the skin along your jaw-line. Even if your grandmother swore by it, don’t slap the skin forwards under your chin unless you like the turkey neck look. Finally, apply moisturiser.

9. Shine on

Duchess satin, good quality silks and even patent are all friends to the complexion, even if they add bulk to the body. Wear them on the top half and keep the cut simple. A satin T-shirt is an excellent youth booster.

10. A word about trainers

Comfort-wise, they can’t be beaten. That in itself will take years off your face. Aesthetically they haven’t always made the heart soar, but recently trainers have had the full couture treatment — from bling, floral trims, to chic, minimalist monochromes. If it seems crazy to pay as much for a pair as you would for evening shoes, unscramble your brain: embellished trainers are evening shoes — and day shoes.

— The Daily Telegraph

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