A Woman of a Celebrated Age


If you’re a woman of a ‘certain age’ like me, you may find yourself occasionally teetering on that precarious edge between fabulous and frumpy. But, take heart grand dames and watch this inspiring documentary (available on itunes) about legendary fashion icon, 93 year-old Iris Apfel. Says Ann Hornaday (Washington Post, 2015): “Iris serves as a spirited, often dazzling primer in how to fight the dying of the light and feel fabulous while doing it.”

Magnolia Pictures

Even better are Iris’s own words:

“If you can’t be pretty, you have to learn to make yourself attractive. I found that all the pretty girls I went to high school with came to middle age as frumps, because they just got by with their pretty faces, so they never developed anything. They never learned how to be interesting.”

“It’s better to be happy than well-dressed.”

from 40+ Style

“Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self-expression and, above all, attitude.”

“When you’re somebody like myself, in order to get around and be attractive, you have to develop something, you have to learn something, you have to do something. So you become a bit more interesting.”

And interesting Iris has become! Particularly inspiring are her diverse interests including interior design, weaving, religious vestments, and of course — couture costume jewelry, of which she is said to own the largest collection in the United States.

In 2011, Architectural Digest featured the Apfels’ uniquely styled apartment.

Of course, while Iris obviously teeters nowhere near ‘frumpy’ — she is certainly eccentric. At one point in the film, when they visit the storage warehouse —  if you didn’t know you were looking at an iconic ‘collection’ — you might think this was an episode of ‘Hoarders’!  You might also question Iris’s capacity for warmth and compassion if it weren’t for the sweet displays of tenderness toward Carl, her husband whose 100th birthday celebration is included in the film and who passed away in August 2015.


I think my two favourite take-aways from this documentary are the value of original thinking and the challenge to always grow. But Iris says it best:

“When you don’t dress like everybody else, you don’t have to think like everybody else.”

“If you don’t learn constantly, you don’t grow and you will wither. Too many people wither on the vine. Sure, it gets a little harder as you get older, but new experiences and new challenges keep it fresh.”


Words to live by as we begin a new year. If you’re taking on a new challenge in 2016, please leave me a comment!




A Woman of a Celebrated Age

3 thoughts on “A Woman of a Celebrated Age

  1. Carolyn G says:

    I’m going out to buy glasses soon. My eyes are done trying to focus on their own. I have a hard time with putting even sunglasses on so this will be a challenge. Iris has inspired me! Thanks Julie for introducing me to Iris. My glasses will be a new experience and a new challenge but I will try to embrace it with style!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, those are killer glasses, huh? Like instant style-makers! I know you’re going to rock which ever ones you choose, just like everything else in your ‘collection’. Yeah, let’s start referring to our ‘stuff’ as our ‘collections’…


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