After my recent post about finding beauty in imperfection, I came across Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style blog. According to a note in the sidebar, he roams “the streets of New York looking for the most stylish and creative older folks” to photograph. He shares these photos on his blog, as well as video interviews. He says, “Respect your elders and let these ladies and gents teach you a thing or two about living life to the fullest.”
In one post he explains that he “started the blog in order to change people’s perception of aging and show that there is much fun to be had once you reach 80, 90 and 100 years old. Women often tell [him] that after 40 they have started to feel invisible…girls have reached out to tell [him] that they look forward to growing old like the Advanced Style ladies. Older women have commented that [his] photos have given them the permission to dress up and feel good about themselves.”
He’s also working on a documentary film titled Advanced Style which presents “portraits of women aging gracefully with tremendous spirit [that] will challenge conventional ideas about beauty, growing old, and Western culture’s increasing obsession with youth.”
If my mother was still alive, she’d celebrate her 85th birthday this year. I like to think Ari Seth Cohen would have picked her out of the crowd to photograph, too. She wasn’t extravagant, but she loved color, walked with her head held high (because ladies should have good posture), owned dozens of purses and scarves, and never left the house without wearing a bright shade of lipstick and a spray of perfume.
There is something remarkable about people who dress in their own unconventional way, regardless of what anyone else thinks. It speaks of freedom and courage (and maybe rebellion). Seeing someone – especially an elderly someone – dressed in classic elegance or crazy colors and patterns always makes me smile. Not because I think they look funny but because I know they must be the most interesting people to get to know. They have stories to tell and something to say to the rest of us.
Do you know someone from the “wise and silver-haired set” who you’ll never forget because of their own special style?