The Crush Letter No 119

. 12 min read

Dish Stanley writes The Crush Letter, a free weekly newsletter that gives an honest, joyful look at life, love and culture for those over 50. Dish believes midlife (and later) is a lot hotter than they said it would be. Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.

Hello Crush,

Hope your Fourth of July gatherings and celebrations were a blast.

I subscribe to a daily newsletter called the Wisdom Well, which is put out by Chip Conley and his Modern Elders Academy. It is a philosophical and optimistic consideration of this stage of our lives. Chip is a generous, sentient, good-hearted “Modern Elder." Somebody to emulate. He includes a lot of guest posts in his newsletter so I had written him to ask to include one of mine, “Let’s Cool It With the Idea That Women Age Out of Hot.”

I’m thrilled that he did a few days ago. I’m re-publishing it below.

And that's a cue to say "Welcome, Wisdom Well Readers!" We love having you here. I know a lot of you came over for our PrimeCrush Sex Toy Tester Report, and I assure you we will be getting a full report out for you (and all our CRUSH Readers) soon.

In other action, I got a lot of feedback this week from CRUSH Readers responding to my Culture / Comments piece on WSJ’s article about what is sexy in men’s style. I am rerunning that today with just a bit of your feedback. As I write this I am sitting beside the pool at a cherished friend's beautiful and warm home, trying to live up to my aspirations of appreciating every moment in a cherished friend's company. So I will have to pull together some of that feedback into a story for you for a future Crush Letter.

Enjoy this week's Letter.

If you're new here (welcome!), I'm Dish, the Master of Ceremonies. For more about me and why we're here go here.

In This Letter.   +Culture / Comments. A WSJ poll on what is sexy in men's style definitely won't turn you on. Dish has thoughts.  +Dear Dish...   Sneakers aren’t hot on men over 50? Pfffft.   +So You’ve Decided to Meet Some New Friends or Lovers? Cool, Cool. My (Eclectic & Highly Idiosyncratic) Red Flags. By Dish Stanley Know that I've been out doing just this - making new friends, dating, making friends out of men I'd rather be dating. In other words, opening up my heart and making myself vulnerable to the whole damn parade. I'll help where I can.   +Heat vs. Warmth By Dish Stanley Why can't she be hot, too?   +Social Media I Loved This Week.     +Our Song of the Week   You're driving me mad

Culture / Comments. By Dish Stanley

A place to share loose thoughts & stray ramblings on what's happening. It's a new thing! Stay tuned as it evolves.

{Reshare from our June 24th CRUSH Letter}

A WSJ poll on what is sexy in men's style yields dull (read: unsexy) responses. The results won't turn you on.

WSJ's recent article Men's Style: What's Sexy, What's Not? Our Poll Results May Surprise You, just dropped yesterday and despite the eyebrow-raising title, it is anything but surprising. The reporting is based on a "nationally representative sample" of more than 2,000 adults taken earlier in June. And while I wasn't expecting a lot, it gave surprising little. Let me save you the trouble of reading what you already know: What's not sexy on men? Short shorts, ankles, baggy clothing, red clothing (one wonders how red, in particular, came up?) and jewelry. Leaving one to two buttons undone on a dress shirt is sexy, but three? Not so much. What did WSJ respondents find sexy? "Biceps" are the sexiest body part. "A James Dean style t-shirt with well-fitting jeans" is the sexiest outfit (with a suit being runner-up). Black clothes are considered sexy (I'm shocked!), as are glasses.

They stubbed their collective toes on some things. A couple of things that the respondents got entirely wrong IMHO relate to men's footwear. They say Birkenstocks on men aren't sexy. I would quibble with that because I think some men can pull them off with the right outfit (relaxed comfort) and in the right context (like a summer music festival).  In fact, I recently caught up over coffee with a stylish male friend - he's handsome, fit, well-groomed and tends toward an urban, updated clean, modern classic look. I asked him to share his views on Birks. "They've reached classic status and I think they're a solid look with jeans and a crisp white tee, for instance." He wears them, in other words. He's sexy. Enough said.

The other area where the respondents got off on the wrong foot?  Only 22% of the respondents think men over 50 look sexy in sneakers. WTF? Those respondents are waaaaaay out of touch. Men over 50 look super hot in a pair of sneakers, WSJ people. Especially if they're cool in some way (for instance, these minimal, clean and dark Oliver Cabell's look great with jeans and a classic navy cashmere sweater). Classics like a pair of Nike's with a simple swoosh would also work. I recently went for coffee with a very handsome gentleman who was wearing On Cloud sneakers without socks, paired with classic cotton khaki shorts, a comfortably worn-in polo (no label) and a go0d-l00king, straightforward (but not ostentatious) watch. To my eyes he looked very, very fine. Sexy even. The Birkenstock-wearing friend noted above favors New Balance sneakers with jeans. As a performance sneaker, they read "slightly more athletic" than your average street Nike's. That fits his personality. Let's say a guy is coming over for a casual one-on-one dinner at your place. Since it's not a dinner party, personally I'd love to see him show up in something that reads I made an effort (since I'm cooking him dinner) and I pulled myself together -- but I'm also relaxed. Sneakers with some well-fitting jeans and a crisp shirt say just that.

And let's not forget the sneakerheads. Statement sneakers are so confident (read: hot) for men, and as a way to show abundant personal style they're easy and fun. The instagram account of @jaadiee, where photographer Jannik takes shots of his sneakerhead grandfather are all the proof you need. Admittedly, he goes further than your typical sneakerhead but he's got the strut to pull it off. And obviously, his wife is into it. Would you want to grab a drink with him? Yes! He looks confident, interesting and warm. End of discussion.

All of which brings us to the biggest gripe I have with WSJ's poll. A defined, confident personal style that aligns with a man's personality is sexy. It says "I know who I am and what I'm into." In contrast, the poll responses are dull, predictable, dated and formulaic. They box men in, sadly, when men already have narrower sartorial options for self-expression than women. Formulaic is only hot when it is a formula that a particular man has developed for himself that says who he is. A guy who has that is as sexy as it comes.

Thanks for your love notes, Crushes!

Dear Dish...

Dear Dish:

Sneakers aren’t hot on men over 50? Pfffft. I guess those poll takers haven’t left the house for quite some time, or seen an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. The term “sneakerhead” entered the lexicon in the late 80’s and sneakers have been cool as a lifestyle footwear for ordinary guys for at least a decade. George Clooney here, case in point.

-- Greg

Dear Dish:

To whomever answered that sneakers aren't sexy on men after 50: Well, that's fine by me because I guess that leaves Richard Gere all to me.

-- Miranda

So You’ve Decided to Meet Some New Friends or Lovers? Cool, Cool. My (Eclectic & Highly Idiosyncratic) Red Flags. By Dish Stanley

Considering opening up your life up to meet new people - for love, friendship or even just as a paddleball or bridge partner? It's an exhilirating and exhausting investment of time, energy and, potentially, emotion. Do you have to? Nope. We all have plenty of reasons to just stay inside.  But if you are considering it, you'll want it to be worth the hassle.  Know that I've been out doing just this - making new friends, dating, making friends out of men I'd rather be dating. In other words, opening up my heart and making myself vulnerable to the whole damn parade.

In this new periodic series I share my ongoing list of eclectic and highly idiosyncratic red flags that signal "sooner or later, this person is going to become very. very. annoying." Don't let me derail you on your road to a fuller life!  But don't say I didn't warn you.

Got some Red Flags of your own for people who no doubt will become annoying friends or lovers? I'd love to hear them at

Heat vs. Warmth By Dish Stanley

Republishing from the Wisdom Well July 2, 2023.

Let’s Cool It With the Idea That Women Age Out of Hot

A close female friend over 50 recently told me about bumping into a former high school boyfriend. They shared a friendly conversation catching up. As they parted, he commented that while she wasn’t the “hottie” she once was, she was so much warmer.

He truly meant it as a compliment, and she accepted it in that spirit.

But also, ouch.

In so very many ways we women of a certain age are bombarded with the message about our diminishing sexual aura. Its familiarity is, sadly, a big reason that my friend was able to accept her former boyfriend’s complicated compliment with such grace.

Another reason, of course, is that she loved hearing about her warmth. Warmth speaks to the sustained work she’s done to cultivate an open, courageous, vulnerable heart. In other words, her warmth is, ironically, the outgrowth of her wisdom, growth and maturity.

But can’t she be hot, too?

Because by hot, what we are talking about is simply getting noticed, feeling desired and having the ability to turn our lover (or lovers?) on. Why would anyone ever want to give that up?

And why are warmth and heat mutually exclusive solely for women after 55?

I believe the reason many of us women of a certain age were so disappointed with the recent reboot of one of our favorite shows, Sex In the City, was that the characters whose pluckiness and sexiness we had become so invested in in their 30’s became unrecognizable as depicted in their 50’s. In And Just Like That, it was as if core parts of themselves just vanished with the passing years.

That portrayal hits at our biggest, deepest fear as we age. That we might feel as vital, curious, beautiful, daring, joyful, awake and sexy as we ever were. (Indeed, I certainly do.) But to others we become invisible.

The irony, of course, is that for many of us, we are having the most open, fearless, enjoyable sex of our lives. Even the New York Times has begun to report on it. What is “hot” if it’s not great sex?

Thankfully we are beginning to see more female characters over 50 who are powerful, daring, edgy. Most notably, in Season 3 of Emily In Paris, Sylvie Gatreau. Played by the 59- year old Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, Sylvie is a powerhouse media executive who launches her own advertising agency while, in her personal life, choosing between her much younger lover and her husband. She is a multi-faceted female character who is decisive, principled, ruthless, selfish, vulnerable, loving, arrogant, chic and very sexy.

Sylvie’s role evolved from a thinly sketched side character at the series’ start to center stage in the latest season, where she steals the show. I mean that literally. Not just because she outshines the star in a series written about a post-college American woman in Paris, but also because Leroy-Beaulieu had been discouraged for the part. The casting director had said that they were looking for a much younger woman. As I’ve written, ‘Merci’! To Emily In Paris for One of the Most Compelling Women in Pop Culture, what makes Sylvie so intriguing is that she owns her maturity and heat in equal measure.

Hopefully we will see more characters like Sylvie in pop culture, and it will have an impact on the pervasive, outdated idea that women can’t be hot after 50+. That bullshit needs to cool off.

Social Media I Loved This Week





Song Of The Week

Magnolia By Eric Clapton & Friends (Feat. John Mayer)

Thank you to CRUSH Reader kt for sending over this easy, breezy summery tune from The Breeze album put out by Eric Clapton and a lot of other cool artists in 2014 as a tribute to JJ Cale a year after his death.  There are some knock-out covers on the album, including Clapton's version of Call Me the Breeze and I Got the Same Old Blues featuring Clapton and Tom Petty (heart, full stop) but Magnolia is for sure the most summery offering. Thanks for your solid recommendations, kt. You're the bomb.

Listen Here

Some Past Stories You Don't Want To Miss:

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If you love the practice of using apps to quench anxiety or drift off to sleep you might—big “might”!—love using this one. When I started the process of writing this review, I hadn’t realized I’d actually downloaded the Calm app years ago and never used it--quickly
This article was originally published in John Mellencamp: American Paintings and Assemblages, published in 2023 by Rizzoli, and is reprinted with their permission. In his early twenties, having just graduated from Vincennes University in his home state of Indiana, John Mellencamp went to New York t…
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In our monthly DEVOUR column we share all the things we think you should eat up. Read. An midlife memoir to encourage you to write your own story. You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith is an uplifting midlife memoir that chronicles her emotional recovery following the dissolution

Have a happy week, CRUSHes. Thanks for your notes! Write me at

Dish Stanley XO,

The Crush Letter
The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter from Dish Stanley curating articles & intelligence on everything love & connection - friendship, romance, self-love, sex. If you’d like to take a look at some of our best stories go to Read Us. Want the Dish?


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