These Older Women Will Forever Change the Way You Think About Fashion

The forthcoming documentary Advanced Style spotlights a group of inspiring women who don't allow their ages to dictate their fashion choices.

A few of the filmmakers' favorite subjects

Street style is really nothing new. From Berlin to New York to Mexico City to the suburbs, regular people have long been hopping out of bed, adorning themselves in clothing that make them happy, and peacocking down the street. But modern street style culture, like its refined older sister high fashion, is yet another victim of Western culture’s obsession with youth—young women in particular.


Our male gaze-driven society has made sure to hammer home the idea that women only have value up until their first wrinkle appears. The images that bombard men and women daily carries a subtle message that aging means you should defer to earth tones, bring down the hemlines, and generally make yourself invisible.

Ari Seth Cohen, the inspired blogger behind the wildly popular Advanced Style website-tuned-book and Lina Plioplyte, director of its brand new feature-length incarnation, find that notion to be utterly ridiculous.

“The average woman is so beaten down and so indoctrinated and besieged. Everywhere she looks there are pictures of sweet young things,” 93-year-old style icon Iris Apfel, the subject of a 2005 exhibit at the Costume Institute, tells Plioplyte. “[They’re] wearing these gorgeous clothes and all this makeup and everything else. Now, how could you possibly look like that?”

There's always time to live it up in New York

Plioplyte, 30, and Cohen, 34, met at a coffee shop shortly after having both moved to New York City. She, originally from Lithuania, and he, a student from San Diego, struck up a charmed friendship that day. Cohen mentioned to the budding filmmaker that he was interested in starting a photo blog about elders with style and the journalist-turned-documentarian volunteered to make short videos of the ladies he was training his lens on.

“I’d like to pick their brain about style,” Plioplyte mused at the time. Six years, one book, and an inspiring Kickstarter campaign later they have a movement on their hands.

Equal parts fashion documentary and empowering punk manifesto, Advanced Style has humungous heart. Plioplyte and Cohen followed the lives of more than a dozen sartorially bold New Yorkers over the age of 60 for the film, eventually whittling the pool down to seven captivating subjects. Plioplyte made sure to portray the inspirational women as real people—not hackneyed archetypes.

“Being 30 sometimes I’m still like, ‘Oh no there’s another wrinkle!’ Seeing these women flaunting their experiences on their faces—their freckles and wrinkles, their wisdom. Everything tells a story,” Plioplyte explains over the phone. “Every day means something and growing old is a beautiful thing and a privilege.”

Tajah Murdock

From 67-year-old DIY queen, yogi, and newly-in-love Debra Rapoport, who thrifts and personally constructs all of her eclectic pieces, to 81-year-old Jacquie "Tajah" Murdock, original Apollo Theater dancer and current—legally blind—Lanvin model, these women refuse to give in to ageism.

“These are real women who are actually not perfect,” Plioplyte says. “I needed to show them as real individuals.”

Tziporah Salamon, 62, darling of the New York fashion scene and a favorite subject of renowned street style photographer Bill Cunningham, asserts that she still can’t seem to land a job as a restaurant hostess due to her age. Salamon also wishes to marry a man with children one day, since she has none of her own. “The hats, the bags, the shoes, the jackets, all of that. They were my children,” she explains with barely a hint of regret.

Boutique owner and all-around firecracker, Lynn Dell, 81, is particularly candid, devilishly confessing past marital infidelities while fixing lunch for her blind husband of 61 years in the next room.

Nonagenarian Zelda Kaplan, a classy lady who believes “good style improves the environment for everybody,” traveled around the globe seeking out cloth for her tailor-made ensembles for years. Her particularly touching storyline is one that you’ll have to see for yourself to appreciate.

Perhaps the most active and electric of the gang is 94-year-old redhead Ilona Royce Smithkin. A tiny Polish woman who fashions her trademark fake eyelashes from clippings of her own hair, Smithkin has a gigantic personality and appetite for life. She is an accomplished painter and teacher, cabaret singer, and world traveler who says she only came into her own “about maybe 12, 10, 13 years ago.” She didn’t used to be so comfortable in her skin.

Joyce Carpati

“I would call myself now an artist,” she declares to Plioplyte. “At one time I had no self confidence and I did not think that I could do anything. But seeing so much art around and seeing what I can do and what I’ve learned and represent, I am an artist. And I’m a teacher.”

But don’t think that loud ensembles, zany patterns, and over-the-top accessories characterize all of the featured women’s individual styles. Eighty-year old Joyce Carpati, a trained opera singer and retired magazine industry professional who pioneered a place for women in the business, tends to stick to a few classics—pearls, Chanel, and a “good suit.”

“Ladies, life gets better. It’s up to you. Don’t think about aging,” she advises. “Just go ahead, look good and enjoy the moment.”

Advanced Style opens in select U.S. cities on September 26th.

Articles

We've all felt lonely at some point in our lives. It's a human experience as universal as happiness, sadness or even hunger. But there's been a growing trend of studies and other evidence suggesting that Americans, and people in general, are feeling more lonely than ever.

It's easy to blame technology and the way our increasingly online lives have further isolated us from "real" human interactions. The Internet once held seemingly limitless promise for bringing us together but seems to be doing just the opposite.

Except that's apparently not true at all. A major study from Cigna on loneliness found that feelings of isolation and loneliness are on the rise amongst Americans but the numbers are nearly identical amongst those who use social media and those who don't. Perhaps more importantly, the study found five common traits amongst those who don't feel lonely.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
WITI Milwaukee

Joey Grundl, a pizza delivery driver for a Domino's Pizza in Waldo, Wisconsin, is being hailed as a hero for noticing a kidnapped woman's subtle cry for help.

The delivery man was sent to a woman's house to deliver a pie when her ex-boyfriend, Dean Hoffman, opened the door. Grundl looked over his shoulder and saw a middle-aged woman with a black eye standing behind Hoffman. She appeared to be mouthing the words: "Call the police."

"I gave him his pizza and then I noticed behind him was his girlfriend," Grundl told WITI Milwaukee. "She pointed to a black eye that was quite visible. She mouthed the words, 'Call the police.'"

Keep Reading Show less
Good News


Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Facebook: kktv11news

A post on the Murdered by Words subreddit is going viral for the perfect way a poster shut down a knee-jerk "double-standard!" claim.

It began when a Redditor posted a 2015 Buzzfeed article story about a single dad who took cosmetology lessons to learn how to do his daughter's hair.

Most people would see the story as something positive. A dad goes out of his way to learn a skill that makes his daughter look fabulous.

Keep Reading Show less
Lifestyle