AW on Ageism: Q&A with Tony Parsons

Posted 20/09/2019 09:02

Men's style

"You need to embrace your real age, and not look back with longing at some long-lost glory days. It is not losing your youth that should worry a man – it's losing his love for life, his vitality, his joy...."

How do you feel about getting older?

I guess I feel grateful. I am 65 and you get to a point where you realise that the alternative to getting older is not staying young – the alternative to getting older is falling off your perch. So I am happy to stick around this world for as long as I can, and suck as much juice out of life as I can before I finally have to change my cosmic address.

Have you changed the way you dress as you get older, and how?

I think you are forced to change. Because you realise that some of the stuff you loved as a kid are not the kind of things you love now. There are shirts I adored as a young man that seem cheap and nasty to me now. Someone at GQ once said that the biggest mistake British men make with their clothes is that they don’t fit properly – that really struck the chord of truth with me, and I could see how I had worn stuff that was too tight or baggy – or just badly made. So I try to swerve that poor-fit mistake now. I will not wear anything that doesn’t fit as it should. But I don’t have any rules about jeans or T-shirts or any of that stuff – I think if you keep the weight off, you can wear what you like. Although I must admit I cringe when I see men wearing shorts in the city. I would never do that. But then I wouldn’t have worn shorts in the city when I was 19.

Do you feel there is too much pressure to look younger these days?

Not really – some stuff is clearly made for a 17-year-old male model in Milan with the bodyweight of a box of After Eight Mints. So he is welcome to it! I feel no obligation to wear the gaudy rubbish that young sprog is sporting! I just think we all need to make the most of what God gave us. There is an old maxim for men – I made it up, actually – “weight off, hair on, cock hard.” I think if you can adhere to that maxim, you will not go far wrong. Keep the weight off, keep your hair on, and keep your cock hard. I am not sure what else you need, apart from a few quid in the bank. Age doesn’t matter unless you are a cheese. It truly doesn’t. But you need to embrace your real age, and not look back with longing at some long-lost glory days. It is not losing your youth that should worry a man – it's losing his love for life, his vitality, his joy. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the now. This is a great time to be alive. In fact, it is always a great time to be alive.

What’s your response to the guidance on how to address over a certain age?

I think you just have to listen to your inner voice. That is the only guidance you need if you have an IQ higher than your inside leg measurement. One of the good things about getting older is that you don’t really give a damn what the world thinks. Because even a long life is over very quickly. We are the stuff that dreams are made of, and our little lives are rounded by a sleep. Wear what you want, if it makes you happy.

Where do you seek inspiration?

I think once you decide to never be bored – because life is too short to ever be bored – then inspiration is all around. You just have to be open to it when it comes. I find other men inspirational – Steve McQueen wearing a white roll-neck, Harrison Ford in a blue blazer in Paris in the eighties, Barack Obama wearing a black Rag&Bone Manston bomber jacket to a basketball game. Men who are confident in their own personal style are always inspirational.

Where do you buy clothes and is it different from when you were younger?

It is different because I am on a bigger budget. I have just had a couple of bomber jackets sent over from New York – one from Schott, one from Rag&Bone – because I couldn’t get what I was looking for in London. And, when I was young, it would never even have crossed my mind that I could have a bomber jacket or two sent across from New York. I grew up wearing Ben Sherman’s, Levi Sta Pres, DMs. Then I was a punk wearing stuff I had been given by Sex, buying zippy trousers at Anthony Price and leather jackets from Lewis Leathers - it would be odd if I still wore that stuff! And I get my suits made at Alexandra Wood in Savile Row but even when I was a little suedehead teenager, I was getting two-tone tonic mohair suits made for me. I think it evolves – you drift away from Armani but find you have stuck with Prada, you come home to Fred Perry and never leave Lacoste when it is summer. A lot of it is if the designers can still come up with the goods.

Are there certain aspects you look for in clothes that you might not have before?

I am looking for a long-term relationship with clothes rather than a brief fling. I have had enough one-night stands – wear something once and then ship it to Oxfam – to last me a lifetime. I have a very expensive jumper that I bought from Prada in Tokyo – but I have had it for 15 years. That’s the kind of clothes I go for now – stuff that I can wear until it falls to bits. I am not really interested in fashion – I am interested in great clothes that will look good and feel right as I move through this life. I think most men feel the same about their kit.