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Lifestyle & Travel

The "Idiosyncratic Fashionistas" Are Style Influencers in Their Sixties

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When Valerie and Jean walked down the streets of Manhattan, clad in their colorful vintage garb, they’d often be greeted by questions from admiring strangers: “Where’s the party? Are you designers?”

“After we’d answer no to those questions,” Valerie says, “they’d ask us if we had a blog. Jean and I thought, ‘Who would read a blog about two sixty-something ladies if we did have one?’”

The answer to that question turned out to be, lots of people. In 2009, Jean and Valerie, both of whom go by their first name, launched their style blog Idiosyncratic Fashionistas, which evolved into an Instagram account of the same name in 2013.

The friends, who met at a vintage fashion show in 2008, now have some 30,000 followers who are taking inspiration from how the two are defying the adage to “age gracefully.” Instead, they’re documenting their experience through photos and commentary in what they call “aging with verve.”

“What’s interesting to Jean and me,” Valerie says, “is that we’ve had young people come up to us or write to us saying, ‘I was afraid of getting old until I saw you.’ We’ve been exemplars of ‘get old and be bold.’ We don’t believe that women need to become invisible or shrinking violets as they age. We invert that stereotype.

“If people think that how we dress is unbecoming or inappropriate, they’re free to look away. I don’t mind that. After all, I didn’t grow old for nothing. I’ve acquired a good amount of wisdom and I’m going to stay stylish, active and relevant.”

Here’s what Valerie thinks you need to know to find your own idiosyncratic style:

There is appropriate dress and inappropriate dress at any age. It’s important that that we don’t make it just about women of a certain age. If a young woman wears a caftan that Elizabeth Taylor might have worn in her ‘70s, people won’t say she’s not dressing appropriately for her age.

That said, I’m personally not going to bare my midriff or wear a miniskirt. If I’m going to a funeral I’ll wear black, and if I’m attending a wedding, I won’t wear white

Bodies change over time. I think it’s more useful when you’re shopping for clothes to ask yourself, ‘does this fit my body?’ rather than does it fit your age. Let’s get away from age shaming.

Comfort and style are not mutually exclusive. Clothing can be both. I don’t wear anything that’s very tight; I find that tight stuff hurts. And, I think it’s fine to embrace elasticized waists. You can still be stylish. If I’m running out to the grocery store, I won’t be wearing sweatpants, but I might be wearing comfortable harem pants and an old Andy Warhol t-shirt. That makes me happy.

Clothes are a form of self-expression. You can’t go out naked so you might as well enjoy what you’re wearing.  I think you need to find the textures, colors, fabrics and shapes that work for you. Not everything will fit you. I’ve learned there are certain designers who design for my body and others who don’t. I don’t like shopping at stores that are filled with rack after rack of the same thing in different sizes. That’s why I prefer shopping vintage sales and second-hand shops

Valerie adds, “One advantage of getting older is that I’ve had a lot of time to find out what I like and what looks good on me. I probably don’t have anything in my closet that doesn’t look good and feel good.”

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