“When you don’t dress like everybody else you don’t have to think like everybody else” Iris Apfel
The above quote from the “geriatric starlet,” as she refers to herself, shared many of her accumulated wisdom over her long life with us. She is one of many role models that not only inspired me to write my book, H.A.G.S. with Attitude: A philosophy for ageing, but also informing the underlying principles of my styling business.
The quote reflects the mantra of the importance of attitude that runs throughout my book and styling approach as the golden thread. Without fail, the women I encountered on my journey as part of my research all shared an attitude of ‘can do’. Of equal importance is that they were true to themselves despite the fact that they may represent a view of the world not shared by the majority of society.
As I argue in my book, at some stage society tends to lump us all together in one category thereby erasing any individuality we may have in terms of personality, style, body shape, etc., etc. Overnight we are seen as a different species; objects associated with decline and not living the normal day to day life of those younger than us.
The flamboyant and unique personal style of Iris matches her attitude and approach to life. Any form of media you care to consult with styling advice for midlife and beyond, lists all of the items that should be avoided when you reach this exalted age. I leave it to your imagination as to the response Iris Apfel would have offered to such so called universal truths… Quite!
In my professional capacity as Coach and Stylist, my purpose is equally to inspire and motivate women to discover the clothes that reflect their personal style. I also encourage my clients not to be dictated to by the misplaced admonishments of the fashion police. Afterall, who decides what is appropriate and what isn’t? By which authority does an external ‘expert’ make a blanket decision as to what suits women over a certain age?
It can be very difficult to dare to be different, especially when your peers pass judgement on your difference, trying their utmost in persuading you to conform. Ask yourself whether it is about you or them? Might there be some resentment on their part that, unlike them, you are willing to be different?
Yet, we are all different, even if we share the same age or have known someone most of our life. We have our own unique experiences, preferences, body shapes, taste in clothing among other things. Furthermore, different colours will suit us even if we share the same colour palette.
It is my mission to encourage women to get to know who they are at this stage of their lives, which will determine the clothes they will be drawn to in order to reflect their unique persona and the message they want to communicate to others.
Take the time therefore to engage in self-reflection and get to know yourself. Having got a better understanding of what you are attracted to and why, will allow you to select the style that will be congruent with the message you choose to convey to the wider world. Above all, you will have a greater sense of confidence.