Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Old dogs don't wear watches

I'll be off line for until Friday, and will respond to comments then.

The Toronto Globe and Mail published an article by Wallace Immen for those of us 50:
"How Not to Look Like an Old Fogey on the Job" on December 18, 2009.

Preying on the fear and insecurity of the times, the piece counsels old dogs how to hang onto our relevance amid two generation's worth of heel-nippy pups at the office.

In a nutshell, so as not to tax your waning memory: Keep current in technology, don't try to use current slang
(which will not be hip by the time it issues from your snaggletoothed maw), lose the '70s hairstyle, don't slouch. Unless you want to be led to an ice floe, avoid use of any finger but your thumb on your BlackBerry.

But what galled most was the advice to not wear a wristwatch. An accompanying sidebar, "The Dos and Don'ts of Trying to Act Younger" warned,
"Wristwatches have become passé anachronisms for a generation that looks to their phone to tell them the time."

Dadgummit, what in tarnation? Just when I finally got the hang of them Roman numerals. A few days later, the New York Times featured a huge ad for a $150 J. Crew Timex military watch. Guess that's for the young buck to wear when his phone (do NOT call it a "cell phone") is recharging.

Canadia
n image consultant Catherine Bell was one of the experts consulted. She said, "Both women and men should realize that looser versions of what they see in fashion magazines will camouflage bodies that may no longer be in perfect tone."

Anyone know a good tent-maker? For those of you not in my part of the world, Bell's hom
e, Kingston Ontario, is a good gray university town whose other main industry is several large prisons. The local population hardly represent the beau monde.

Although some men and women muster Olympian discipline to stay bow-taut at 50+, do you think that the typical mature body needs to be camouflaged?

I am an older worker, and my age shows; at times I am irrevocably out of it. For a year, I thought it was "Charles" Barkley and called the duo "he". I thought Salvia was an island. I leave voice mail rather than texting, and insist that meetings begin on time.


You are also not to say "in my time", or flaunt your experience. So I'll keep mum about dating Iggy in our teens. But I'm confident that someone still does wanna be my dog.

Do you worry about fitting in with younger colleagues? Do you consciously try to act or look younger at work?

27 comments:

Gwen said...

Well, really, I *don't* wear a watch. I have some nice ones, but the beautiful sculptural bangle I got for college graduation fell apart years ago and none of the others are pretty enough to be worth the irritation of something at my wrist while I'm typing.

Watches are a status symbol now (especially for men - and I sometimes think half the status boost is from being buff enough to lift an arm with a ten pounds of gears on it), not a necessity.

For me, watches are just another accessory, like scarves, where I'll never make enough money to afford the beautiful status symbol versions, and I can't be motivated for long to try to develop the habit of wearing a mass-market version.

Jane W. said...

I *loathe* these articles. I don't worry about looking or acting younger at work, as my company has what our HR person calls "an aging workforce" (as opposed to an immortal one?).

Whatever happened to articles about earning the respect of more seasoned colleagues? Oops! There I go, talking about "my day."

Mardel said...

Is not wearing a watch going to make anyone believe one is younger than one's face and body indicate? Increasingly I would say do what is appropriate for your office and don't worry about it. A watch is just an accessory, you love it or you don't. You are "young" if you are interested, and not if you are stuck in your ways to the exclusion of all else.

Oh, but I do, mostly use my thumbs on my iPhone, although occasionally I don't. Anyone can tell I belong on ice flow by the way I squint at the tiny print through my glasses.

I'm not sure this fascination with chasing after the illusion of eternal youth is one of the brighter aspects of our culture. Although I'll admit I'm as worried as anyone about not looking fusty.

LPC said...

In my 40's, due to genetics, I could pass for late 30's. I worked for a dot.com. Something about being surrounded by 20-year olds made me want to look younger. I cut my hair short, dyed it for the first time in my life, wore groovy clothes. They made me VP. I hope it had nothing to do with the look, but who knows. Now, if someone told me I had to try to look young, beyond what I want to do for my own sense of self? Eff them, as the young ones would say. How's that for staying up to date? Ooh, really gets my testosterone pumping, these articles....

Anonymous said...

Heck if I'm giving up wearing a watch for anyone! I feel positively nekkid unless I've got a solid, easy to read time piece on my left wrist.

Belle de Ville said...

My posse of assistants includes a 32 year old, a 28 year old and a 24 year old and thankfully I don't feel compelled to emulate their style.

I have some nice watches but I don't wear them unless I'm seeing clients or at a social function. Why would I need a watch when I sit in front of a computer screen with a clock all day long.
Oh, and I have the timex military style watch, and older version, not j crew and I love it.

Still, with downsizing looming all around us I do feel that it is important to have a look and personna that is youthfull. Business managers equate youth with energy and ideas. It's the ugly truth.

Frugal Scholar said...

I love my watch--and really need it when I teach. My students are always trying to surreptitiously check the time on their cell phones--it's very obvious and distracting and it takes a while. I always tell them what time it is (with a glance) while they are still trying to check their cell phones.

a little sewing on the side said...

I try as hard as possible to just be myself. Let's face it, we can't fool anybody into thinking we are younger, so I avoid botox or dying my hair.

I DO expend effort to stay current with technology, current events, trends and fashion. Like mardel says, I try not to get stuck in my ways and stay interested.

I find that it's only a few people who seem to think I am invisible due to my age. Most people respond to interest and curiosity, no matter your age.

As for watches, I never wear them, I do rely on all the other gadgets around me to tell me what time it is. Just a comfor thing for me since I am typing on a keyboard much of the time (I work in IT)

Always a good read at your blog! Keep up the great work

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I have a men's watch which I wear on occasion...and I am not an old dog! A wearer of tent dresses NOT!
Reminds me of Mumu's many years ago...
I do not think much of this article!

Gauss said...

What a silly article! I wear a watch because it is beautiful, elegant and has sentimental value for me. It's part of my "basic" jewelry, together with my wedding ring and another ring. As another commenter has mentioned, one can easily and surreptitiously tell the time on a watch, much easier than on a phone.

I'm in my 20s and I love your blog.

metscan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa said...

I'm still waiting for someone to write an article for the under 30 crowd entitled "How Not to Look Gay...as in Stupid". It would include some helpful advice such as:
Pull up your pants
Lose the flip-flops
Stop saying like every 5 seconds
Read a newspaper
And, STOP saying no problem instead of your welcome.
Wouldn't that be a hoot!

crunchycon said...

Um, no. I am a corporate trainer north of age 50 who trains managers decades younger than I, and yes, they're into technology. If I call a timed break, I have them "check your phone, check your Treo or go old school like me -- check your wristwatch and be back in x minutes." A little humor goes further toward bridging perceived gaps than adopting unwanted technology. Don't get me wrong - I love technology, but personally don't feel the need to be quite as connected 24/7 as others do.

metscan said...

Duchesse: Sleeping a night over this post of yours, I find it all making perfect sense. I´m not working in a business world, but am in contact with people younger than me. I´m planning to take into practice: a) the language, b) the phone, c) the dressing, d) I´ll try to keep up with the technology-within my limits, e) no more talk about how it was when I was young, f) the wristwatch-but I will wear my Cartier, as a part of my jewelry, as it is so pretty!

Deja Pseu said...

I love wristwatches and have a few I rotate. So there. :-p

I do not try to look "younger" at work, but do try to look current (not "trendy" but not outdated).

Even when I was much younger, my style was always a bit more conservative than my contemporaries(not comfortable with flashing a lot of skin or tight clothing) so I don't feel I need to change it up much now. Good fit, good tailoring when needed is much better than "camouflage!"

Duchesse said...

Gwen: Watches are nearly the only jewelry men (at least more conservative) ones can wear, so I'm indulgent of their fondness- though the ones the size of a burger look odd to me.

Jane W: I'm curious about your sector, as most aging workforces are trying to fill those retirements.

Mardel: So true, I have to sit in front to hear everything and read a Powerpoint!

LPC: I started working in a feisty dot-com when I was 50 and was I worried! They did call me "Maude"- I had the short hair and am tall with a big frame like Bea Arthur's. Occasionally their blithe entitlement mentality got to me (what, no giveaway trips to Europe this month?) but with the fall of so many dot-comes, that righted itself.

Anonymous: I wear a watch too!

Belle: I know men in their 50s who have had eye jobs (and maybe more) for that reason, but I think it is more prevalent in urban US than Canada.

Frugal: I agree- hauling out a phone is so obvious. Most of my professor friends abhor phones b/c they think- accurately or not- that students are texting rather than learning.

A little sewing: I stepped in it recently, being "too outspoken" about the amount a 21 year old woman was spending on her money- I know her financial situation, huge debts. She was spending $2000 on the cake alone, and my jaw dropped. That is my downfall, I think I know better. Have to watch my face.

hostess: I had a fit over this, it was so condescending and prescriptive.

Gauss: Thanks so much, and I too admire watches- would not give one up to 'fit in'.

Lisa: Oh, brilliant!
We can have fun with additions:
- Your hair should be on your head, not stuck to your lip gloss
- Stop telling me I am blocking your career advancement and pay attention to the quality of your work

crunchycon: Humour is a wonderful buffer! I like to say "Anything that rings, beeps or (wink) vibrates".

metscan: Please adopt only what you wish. Remember our favoirite elder teachers? Mine was "old fashioned" but we found it charming. I still carry a Filofax!

Pseu: You comment really made me think. Among the youngest workers, I find myself drawn to the more conservatively dressed, or the blue-haired,tatted-up "out there" ones. The In Style clones make the impression on me (strictly subjective) that they do not have an original thought in their heads.

Duchesse said...

a little sewing: Whoops, truly a Freudian slip, thae 21 year old was "spending on her wedding". She is about to rack up over $85,000 in debt because she wants to be a "princess for a day".

lagatta à montréal said...

I thought image consultant Catherine Bell's comments, both fuzzy and fusty, give us reason to appreciate the precision of Imogen's "Inside Out Style.

Bell's comments could have meant anything from tents and lumpy suiting to the obvious fact that catwalk and glossy magazine looks usually have to be toned down a bit for the workplace, WHATEVER the age or body type of the workers. In practical terms, they were useless.

$85 000 to be a "wedding princess"? Wouldn't paying down the new couple's mortgage be a better foundation for their marriage? I'm glad the 21-year-olds I know are nothing like that. Some of my younger friends (a bit older than that, having completed medical studies) are now in Haiti as Doctors (and Nurses) without borders. I like fun and folies, but...

A Little Sewing, I do think there is a difference in how people perceive me when I colour my hair and when I leave it grey. I don't know whether they think I look "older" with the greys or just not caring any more, but I do get a lot more patronising comments and attitudes, so I'm sticking to the colour. It makes me happier anyway.

Botox is another matter...

Duchesse said...

lagatta: This young woman is not typical of those I know, which is why my disapproval showed! The other 50+s in that office are in shock but a bit more discreet than I was.

I appreciate Imogen's precision too!

metscan said...

Oh but Duchesse, I really like the new`rules´. My exception is, that I will wear jeans whenever I feel like it.I will wear high heels too. I carry an agenda along, but will transfer all the important phone numbers to my `phone´. But I won´t wear faux anything, excluding the jewelry by Louise Treschow ( the ones in my blog ). No embossed crocodile or lizard for me either. I prefer only signed pieces concerning glass art and sculptures too, and rather buy unique jewelry, if I can afford it. I am a snob, of which I´m well aware of.

Duchesse said...

metscan: Your insistence on the well-made, authentic and quality articles are not limited to your generation. Many young people who save until they can have items of the quality they require.

However, few young people can buy *everything* of the best quality, so many have, for example, the best electronics but not shoes, or vice versa.

metscan said...

Duchesse: I have been young once too ;), and remember, that money was indeed scarce. I made the compromise to buy just little of the best I then could afford. I still make compromises. I hope nobody is getting a shallow picture of me.

Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP said...

I don't consider myself that old. I love wrist watches, they are a personality piece. Not wearing a watch may make a 20 year old think you're slightly younger, but is that really important? Plus you can be way more discreet about checking the time on your watch than your phone (most of the time).

I hate texting, give me a full size keyboard so I can type an email fast, or I'll call you so it's not a back and forth event. I don't get why so many love to text. My friends no that I'm not that into it, they text me, i call them back.

Helen said...

Lately I've been more and more tempted to wear a wristwatch as a reaction against the ubiquity of cell phones.

Why shouldn't I wear a watch? They can be quite attractive. I'm 22, if it makes a difference.

Duchesse said...

Imogen: I don't text or tweet either.

Helen: You do know this blog is for 50+ women? And you are very welcome here! Watches still have a function, and that function has nothing to do with age.

日月神教-任我行 said...
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日月神教-任我行 said...
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