How to Age with Grace: for Men

For young men who have stepped into young adulthood only to find they've somehow missed the style bus: A guide to navigating aging and looking good, while building a framework for yourself that lasts and finding confidence in the world as a new adult.
Profile picture of Uchechi Princewill

Created by Uchechi Princewill

Published on Mar 18, 2024
man wearing a suit
Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

How to Age with Grace: for Men

There comes a time in every young person’s life when they’re forced to confront the fact that somewhere along the line, they grew up. Teenage fashion stops being appealing. Style becomes something everyone seems to have picked up while you weren’t looking. You get the idea your body has gone through all the major changes it can stomach for the next decade or two, and what you’ve got to work with is what you’ve got right now. And at least to me, it seems like the women have come out on the other side of this experience looking distinctly better off. Looking like they’ve got, not just an idea of what this grown version of them will end up looking like, feeling like, in their 30s and 40s, but also the road to get there. 

So, for those young men who got to the party late and are still wondering how to start, here’s how to age with grace: for men.

Number one: Dressing gracefully

Contrary to what you might think, no one dresses well by accident. Yes, there are one or two people out of every thousand born with ridiculously good physicality who seem to be able to make everything work, and for whom every article of clothing is simply an accessory to the perfect-from-every-angle face they walk around with. But everyone else who looks good in their clothes had to work for it, no matter what they tell you. Dressing to suit your body and your personality while looking good is a skill, and it’s as difficult and time-consuming in the beginning as any other skill. In the same way, however, it becomes almost effortless once you get the hang of it. And the only time you really think about it is when you’re trying something new or experimenting. For a guy who’s just starting out, the biggest mistake you can make is thinking you know exactly what you look good in already. That you don’t like suits or formal wear, or don’t like jeans, don’t like flannel, don’t like khaki, don’t like leather shoes, don’t like anything that isn’t tight to the body etc. Or even worse, there’s a celebrity you like whose dress sense you’ve decided to wholly import. It might work, but it already puts a limit on you. 

If you haven’t tried something that was made or designed to fit you, you have no idea how it looks on you, or if that look is something you’ll fall in love with. And that discovery is what a hatred for formal wear because of an ill-fitting suit you were forced to wear as a teenager steals from you. The same goes for ill-fitting jeans or khakis. Or old-fashioned shoes worn with clothes that don’t match. They made you look foolish as a kid because they didn’t fit you, not because they were a bad out-of-fashion choice. You’re a grown man now. You can handle a fitting. You can handle working with a tailor or picking up a bit of skill yourself. And its worth the investment (if you can afford it of course).

Dressing well is, first of all, about information and the desire to learn the basic principles of fit and fabric. For this, I recommend following a few menswear enthusiasts and experts. @dieworkwear on Twitter is a good one. He not only tells you what he likes but helps you understand the principles that make them good outfits. I’ve never bought anything he’s recommended (because buying from those outlets was impractical for where I’m located), but applying the principles behind his recommendations to clothing I could find around me has drastically improved my dress sense.

Number two: Putting effort into your skincare

It is worth it to invest some time, effort, and money into your skincare. Take it from me; I struggled with acne as a teenager and still deal with it as a young adult. But there is a marked difference in how physically attractive and confident I feel —now compared to before. And a big part of that was my decision to make my skin as healthy as possible. I made the mistake, in my late teens, of trying almost every anti-acne product I could find, all sorts of medicated soaps, looking for the quickest, most effective way to deal with one of my biggest insecurities. I came out of that phase looking worse than when I entered it. My acne was bigger, my face had more scars, and my skin barrier was damaged and dried out. That’s all changed now, because I found some invaluable advice that switched my focus from anti-acne/fighting bad skin to skin care. My journey had to become more about caring for my skin—my skin in particular—than chasing all the problems I had with it. The acne, the hyperpigmentation, handling all of that would come as part of a natural progression in my skincare journey rather than as the main focus of it. I was trying to get rid of my acne as quickly as possible and spent most of my late teen years struggling with what I looked like. But things only changed when I settled down and thought, “I’ve been this way for years. What’s a few months of gentle work? I can take the slow and steady route if it gives me results.” I found the subreddit r/SkincareAddiction, and in the first pinned post, found The ScA Routine and started there. I found a great local skincare consultant to guide me through the information I acquired. After following their advice, establishing my skin type, my skin issues, and discovering what I should and shouldn’t use, as well as how to judge products by myself, I went through four months of the most basic skincare, establishing my routine and repairing my battered skin barrier before I used a single product directed at my acne. Even just that basic routine, before the acne treatment, helped me more than years of aggressive skin medication ever did. And now, two years in, I look and feel better than I ever have. Everyone's skin is going to be different so take some time to figure out what works for you, and don't trust every skin care product being sold to you online. I would recommend consulting with a dermatologist if you are able to.

I have a bit more advice to give. In making sure I put enough detail in each step to get you started, this piece has ended up a bit longer than I intended. So, I’m going to write a second part to this, that’ll include the next three pieces of advice I have for aging gracefully. So, here’s what you do now: Act on the above. These first two pieces are enough of a rabbit hole for you to fall into before I put up the next three. And also, they serve as a foundation of sorts, for the rest. Approaching the best version of yourself while you’re young is not just possible, it is imminent. Staying close to that best version even as you age, while being healthy and confident, is also possible, especially if you understand the basic principles.

I wish you the best in your journey. And I know you’ll age with grace.

More for you