Stylish Senior Fashionistas

By Marilyn Murray Willison

September 14, 2018 4 min read

If you're a female baby boomer who refuses to dress your age or wear age-appropriate clothes, then we have something in common. For years, my friends have teased me about the size of my wardrobe and my life-long inability to quit being (pardon the expression) a label whore. If it's anything by Oscar de la Renta or Valentino, I can't help but swoon. And if the shoes are by Stuart Weitzman or Manolo Blahnik, then I'm convinced that they really, really want to come home with me.

Now, I ask you, is this any way for a rational septuagenarian to behave? Evidently yes, because I've recently learned that when it comes to high-fashion senior citizens, there's a whole new glamorous world of what are now called "Insta-grans."

A perfect example of the new mature type of stylish trendsetter is 64-year-old Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services professor Lyn Slater, who has become an Instagram idol. You can check out her love of Comme des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto styles on the Accidental Aging website, where she blogs about the joys of "aging with audacity."

Years ago, it would have been unthinkable for a woman in her 70s or 80s to be invested in stylish trends, but today it is almost the norm. "The Elastic Generation" is a 2018 survey conducted by J. Walter Thomson of 55- to-72-year-old women in England to better understand how to reach this changing market segment. According to the survey, a woman in her 50s "might be a grandmother or a new mother. ... She might be an entrepreneur, a wild motorcyclist or a multi-marathon runner. Her lifestyle is not governed by her age but by her values and the things she cares about."

A perfect example of this new type of aging fashionista would be Jenny Kee, @jennykeeoz, a 71-year-old Australian knitwear designer and artist. Equally unconventional is 83-year-old former Playboy bunny Dorrie Jacobson, @seniorstylebible, who began modeling lacy black lingerie on her Senior Style Bible Instagram account last year. Another notable member of this stylish sorority is 89-year-old Helen Ruth Elam Van Winkle, @baddiewinkle. Believe it or not, she has millions of followers and has been paid to showcase brands like Smirnoff and Got2B hair products.

Elon Musk's mother, Maye Musk, 70, recently modeled for Concept Korea, as well as a cosmetics line. And Isabella Rossellini, 65, is again the face of Lancome after being released from her contract two decades ago — allegedly because she was too old to effectively represent beauty products. Obviously, the way we as a society see beauty has really changed.

Professor Slater has been able to monetize her "senior stylish" reputation thanks to CVS, the Spanish retailer Mango, a music video with Charlotte Gainsbourg and publishers who want to publish her posts. For additional inspiration, check out what 63-year-old Sarah-Jane Adams, @saramaijewels, is up to, and enjoy 94-year-old Emiko Mori's page, @1000wave.

How wonderful that fashion truly is ageless!

Marilyn Murray Willison has had a varied career as a six-time nonfiction author, columnist, motivational speaker and journalist in both the U.K. and the U.S. She is the author of The Self-Empowered Woman blog and the award-winning memoir "One Woman, Four Decades, Eight Wishes." She can be reached at www.marilynwillison.com. To find out more about Marilyn and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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