How Not To Look Old

May 3, 2009 · 2 comments

I’m just going to have to get the ugly facts on the table right up front.

I have bought and read the book How Not To Look Old.

I love it.

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I’ve learned tons. I have been through both my shoe and clothing closets with a gritty determination I normally reserve for removing burnt-on lasagna from a favorite casserole dish. (It happens, on occasion.) I’ve dumped dark lipsticks I had worn just the week before. I had Jafar cut in bangs. I’ve bought more new face goop than I have ever owned before so I can look like I still don’t need it.

I liked the straight up, “Girls, we’re gonna call a wrinkle a wrinkle” writing. She knows that women want to buy a little tub of reasonably priced pink froth, pat it on their face, and look better, thinner, AND younger.

“Diet and exercise are essential to staying healthy over the long haul. There isn’t a woman alive who doesn’t already know that. Eating salmon and doing yoga are good things for sure, but they won’t give instant results. Other anti-aging books tell you to run a bath, light a candle, chant and practice acceptance. Not this one. We want real, visible, results.” Speaking on behalf of all over-the-long-haulers of a certain age, I say, “Sign us up!”

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You’ll note the shift to the plural pronoun there. I decided it was such a great asset that I would give copies to all my long-haulish friends. And that’s when it got tricky. How do you give women in the salmon/yoga/candle/acceptance stage of life a book with the title How Not To Look Old staring them right in the face? Trust me, it’s not as easy as it looks.

But I love my friends, so I decided to brave the possibility of offense. Having given away at least 12 copies so far, I’d like to share what I’ve learned.

1. Order drinks. Make sure at least half a Cosmo is down the hatch before before handing it over.

2. Wrap it. The gentle alcohol buzz, coupled with the pleasure of tugging on bows and peeling back tape, will still be fresh by the time the implication of the title sinks in.

3. Avoid saying things like, “This is for you! It’s great. Hope you enjoy it.” All true statements, but coupled with the title, you may find yourself sitting alone at a table with two half-consumed Cosmos, a huge plate of nachos, and the bill. It’s much better to consider something like, “You don’t need what I’m about to give you. However, you have given me so much great advice over the years, I know you’ll have other friends you’ll want to loan this to. Think of this as a gift for your library.”

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4. Finally, immediately flip to the chapter on how to buy great jeans. Highlight the section on how to recognize “mommy jeans” in your own closet, and kill them. Point out you can learn how to choose the right shoes for your perfect jeans, what kind of pockets and how high up, etc. Most importantly, have a sticky note on the “Brilliant Buys” pages that give specifics on where to buy all the brands mentioned at a wide range of prices. Then slide quickly to, “And look! It’s the same thing for the chapters on glasses, hair, make-up, underwear….”

How not to look old in your underwear?

By the time you take a breath, she’s ordered two fresh Cosmos and is canceling her evening appointments. She’s got some reading to do. And, she’s still your friend.

I write this today because the book is coming out in paperback in just a week or so. You will buy this book (if I haven’t bought it for you already). And then you’ll want to share it with your friends. And now you know how it’s done.


Update: October 27, 2014

Still no equivalent book and set of lessons for men (are we surprised, shocked, and appalled?) but a steady flow of good reads on the topic for women:


How to Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor’s Secrets to Getting Gorgeous without Breaking the Bank


The Wardrobe Wakeup: Your Guide to Looking Fabulous at Any Age


How to Never Look Fat Again: Over 1,000 Ways to Dress Thinner–Without Dieting!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous May 9, 2009 at 11:12 am

Is there an equivalent book and set of lessons for men?

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rickandkathy May 10, 2009 at 8:17 am

Beyond “don’t wear a hat when driving” and “avoid hitching your belt directly under your nipples,” I am sad to say I think you’re on your own. So far… Where there’s a demographic, there’s a book. Hang in there.

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