Fanciable at 55:
Fitness and Fashion Sense Keeping Men Sexy
THEY may have once been branded as past their sell-by-date and considered too old to capture the attention of the objects of their affection.
But now more mature men who look after their appearance and model themselves on "silver foxes" like Sir Sean Connery can expect to attract women well into their 50s.
In the 1980s, few women would have bothered to pay attention to any man over the age of 45, according to a survey by the department store chain Debenhams.
However, a greater emphasis on dressing well and keeping fit has enabled men to rely on their looks to draw in admiring potential partners until they are at least 55 years old.
"Older men are now remaining more attractive to women for longer than ever before," said Ruth Attridge, spokeswoman for Debenhams. "They are increasingly seen as eligible, prospective partners rather than old bores with little energy left to catch the female eye.
"The simple fact is that older men no longer dress, look or act like granddads."
Baldness is no longer a stigma and even a hint of a beer belly will not put off a woman - if the man has taken care of his appearance in other ways - according to the 1,000 women questioned by the store.
Experts believe the change stems from the fact that women are marrying - and having children - later, narrowing the age gap. Other theories include the fact that older men are likely to be more financially stable and provide more security.
But while actors such as Sir Sean, 80, 50-year-old Colin Firth, Sir Anthony Hopkins, 72 and 61-year-old Prince Charles are considered acceptable role models for wannabe attractive older men, women are less keen on 69-year-old nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow, 57-year-old actor Mickey Rourke and Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall, 50.
Margot Medhurst, founder of the Edinburgh-based dating agency Yours Sincerely, agreed. "Perhaps the thing is that men like Peter Stringfellow have characteristics such as long hair and medallions that women don't appreciate as they get older, while the men that women do find attractive are generally quite smart and well turned out," she said.
"I think the things you think are quite attractive and daring when you're young, as you get older you just think they look like dorks. I don't think anyone can argue that Peter Stringfellow and Mickey Rourke haven't exactly aged well."
And Ms Medhurst is convinced that age is no longer a barrier.
"I think the fact that older men are getting more attractive is absolutely right," she added. "Back in 1979 when I first started out, I had no-one who was 50-plus on my books - and now that age group is my biggest category.
The thing is that men now live longer and they take care of themselves - that means women notice them more."
While classic-cut jeans, well-made leather shoes and a decent dinner jacket are flattering on any older man, according to Debenhams's personal shoppers, those of a certain age should avoid flashy ties, loud shirts and male jewellery such as ID bracelets.
Other no-nos for mature gentlemen include baseball caps, slogan T-shirts and Simon Cowell-style high-waisted trousers.
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