Not only can you be attractive in your fifties, says Linda Franklin, you can be more attractive than than you have ever been. She tells us how (and it's not all to do with the way you look)
“If you were hot, you can always be hot; age has nothing to do with it,” a younger lover once said to me. And I believe you can get hot as you mature – hotter, in fact, than you were before.
As a gorgeous woman I know says: “Every year is another year in which to improve.”
The first thing is to banish all stereotypes from your mind: mature guys these days really aren’t Victor Meldrews and older men aren’t grumpy, so long as they stay, or become, curious about life and develop their creativity.
Being hot as you get older is all about having a sense of wonder and being open to new ideas: channel Brian Eno (who went from freaky to fabulous), Johnny Depp, Tom Ford, Daniel Day Lewis, George Clooney, David Bowie and the rest.
Take the time to develop the art of listening to and being interested in others. It ups your hot points no end.
The hottest commodity, of course, is a sense of humour. But if you don’t have one, it’s hard to develop (and please don’t learn a string of jokes). Choosing – and it is a choice – to be easy-going and good fun is enough.
Women can decide to become their best now if they accept the differences that come with ageing. There is something sad about striving to be forever young. You can’t stop time’s changes, so chill and accept them.
“We have to be able to grow up,” says model Lauren Hutton. “Our wrinkles are our medals of the passage of life.”
In the growing-up is where the mature woman really scores: happy in her own skin and relaxed company. It’s so much nicer to be with someone who takes the long view and is no longer ruled by hormones. Drama queens are boring.
However, you do have to adapt and stop relying on what worked before but no longer does. Assess your appeal for what it is now, delete what’s out of time and accentuate what you’ve really got going on.
For instance, a women who acts helpless and expects to be looked after – waits coyly for drinks to be brought and so on – is far less appealing than a competent woman with agency. Think Mrs Robinson directly to the barman: “I will have a martini!” Grown-up trumps little girl every time.
Women become more alluring if they have more to fall back on than just looks. Annie Lennox is more appealing now that she’s done so much to help others with her charity work. Kristin Scott Thomas seems to care less about her body image than about her body of work, comfortable with being able to do plain and beautiful on screen.
Like Hutton, Scott Thomas accepts that we can be less than plastic-perfect all the time and still be hot. As she says about wrinkles: “[They’re] something that tells a story of experience. And that experience can be sexy. It is something to be admired…”
In contrast, a lot of my friends don’t feel they’re able to even show their sexuality and fear that part of their life is over, especially if they have adult kids who vocalise distaste for the idea of hot parents (their own, that is; they do see it in other people’s parents, of course).
But Scott Thomas’ brand of full-blooded sensuousness shows that serious, grown-up sex is in a different league to what mere youth gets up to. We just have to be what we really are and claim our mature sexuality, wrinkles and all.
Part of that is putting out of your mind the proscriptions our generation grew up with. “Mutton dressed up as lamb,” is just bitchy behaviour modification. So chuck it.
I spent years with this warning from an ad copywriter: “Knees show a woman’s age more than her face.” So better keep them hidden. Then I realised this is just untrue, because legs look good for years. And anyway, so what? So I’m older: get over it.
Of course, you have to camouflage the bits that do you no favours and capitalise on other assets. I recently saw Goldie Hawn on a chat show, looking great – and she’s got ten years on most of us. She wore a simple dark dress and cardi, but pulled the shoulders down to reveal the tops of her arms: sexy without trying too hard.
She accessorised for glitz and oomph: big jewellery and long black leather boots with spike heels. And most of all she was on the ball and funny, revelling in her femininity. Goldie had the guys dancing, and of course there was some slackness around her mouth, but she was still luscious. The overall effect of her look and sparkling personality was knock-out.
For men, the requirement is simply to acquire the gloss and sheen of the well cared-for. So that’s a toned body, the annihilation of rogue nose, ears and brow hair (cut unruly brow hairs to lie flat) and the banishment of stale and lived-in smells. Remember that, for men and women alike, much of hotness lies in your facial expression: you really do get the face you deserve in your fifties.
As for invisibility, if you want to be noticed, just dress up, clack your heels, jangle your bracelets, wear something eye-catching and look at people in an open, friendly way. Women of our age were taught to look away modestly, but it’s eye contact that gets you noticed. If you want a positive reaction give a big, confident smile.
We’re old enough to do that now without trouble. We’ve had our time of getting attention without trying, or even wanting it, much of the time. Now we have the power to decide who notices us. It’s our gift to choose to be hot, and how hot, and when we want to be. It’s one of the great bonuses of being this age in this time.