Do We Lose The Longing For Self-Expression As We Age?

It is the opinion of some that as we age, we should become more conservative and not express ourselves in the same ways. I once had a woman email me to say that her grandchildren didn’t want her to dress colorfully any more.They thought that she was too old to wear clothing that would make her stand out in anyway.The problem with this is that the longing for personal expression, and the need to be creative don’t end at a certain age. 91 year old Ilona Royce Smithkin will tell you that she still feels young inside. It is only when she feels a slight pain, that she is reminded of her age.

The streets of New York are a wonderful place to look for inspiration. I love to walk around and scan crowds of people passing by, looking for something that catches my eye.  Whether its a woman with neon dyed hair, or another with a great pair of purple glasses or still another with arms full of handmade accessories.There is something glorious to see on every corner.

What I love about the ladies I photograph is that age has allowed them a renewed sense of freedom.Their rule, is that there are no rules.They dress for themselves and feel comfortable in their own skin.That’s not to say that they would all dye their hair pink or don eccentric accessories. They do what is right for them and wear what makes them feel good.As 80 year old Joyce says,” To age is a privilege”. I hope that the images I present are a reminder that we should never stop living life to the fullest and never stop having fun.

  • Those Prada glasses are the most stunning accessory I have seen lately.
    And I think what Joyce said nailed it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I think as we become older, we become much more wiser… I hope to have half the confidence that these ladies show while pulling off such amazing looks. But, it's not about the latest bag to them, or the right pair of boots for the season. It's their soul and inner self that comes out making them glow and have a grace that us in our 20 to 30 somethings only dream to carry so well.

    So, I would say it's sad that younger generations try to tell elders how to look and dress, when they have earned everything over the years – and we all deserve to be who we want to be as a birth right. If anything – these younger folk only wish to pull off any look…

    In reality, they can – but who cares what people wear? I honestly just complimented a cross-dresser and how beautiful his dress was and how much I wanted to own it myself! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Fashion is a freedom of speech without saying a word.

    Rock it, ladies!


  • I hid myself in today's fashions until I found this site. Now I finally feel free to be me, and to wear my favorite vintage wool hats or jewelry or stylish faux fur stole with my suits. Thank you, Ari, for creating a blog to remind us that we are each and every one unique and should feel free to express ourselves as we desire, not to follow some 'today's fashion' and look like everyone else.

  • Fashion should be fun, whatever your age – and your photos are the perfect reminder!

  • LOVE this post! Great way to start the day.

  • Anonymous

    I've been reflecting on this very concept. Sadly, i have found as I age that, yes, my desire to express my individuality has dimmed.
    I mourn for that joi de vivre, that zest for life.

  • To wear colorful, tasteful, beautiful and bold is not the same as trying desperately to dress like a teenager, or being afraid to be "Aunt". The ladies you're shooting are perfect role models!

  • ari

    Anonymous, You still have so much to offer and share. You are more "you" than you have ever been! My 91 year old friend says, " You can always seek inspiration in others, but always be authentically you."


  • We absolutely adore this post!!! It is written so beautifully, but definitely holds true. The idea that one may lose a sense of self-expression with age, is unfortunately understandable – but a totally rotten idea, nonetheless. We agree with you, Ari!!! We also love that these ladies (and gents) live by the rule that 'there are no rules'. Dressing for yourself and having the idea that to age is a privilege is just so fantastic.

    Wardrobe Stylists, NYC.


  • This blog makes me so happy! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Diversity ftw!

  • so much in love with the first picture, it is like a picture perfect! the colors look so amazing together! i have no idea if she intentionally matched the color of the sunnies with the lipstick, but it looks amazing

  • Both your blog and the wonderful ladies you feature are so inspirational. It warms my heart to see fashion does not fade as we age. Would be nice to see a few advanced stylish gentlemen too and their perspective on fashion and life ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ari,

    This post is wonderful, very well written and basically perfect for me. Your last sentence: "I hope that the images I present are a reminder that we should never stop living life to the fullest and never stop having fun"., got me thinking that being young is really a mental state and that life must have to be fun! Like we said her: La vida hay que gozarsela! This blog is more than fashion ladies is about creativity and self expression, is simply inspiring to me.

  • Me want Prada sunglasses.

    No, really, give up creativity in dress as we age? Why don't I just sit in a lazy boy rocker and watch my programs right now? You don't have to dress funky — color can look very chic!

  • How sad for that lady whose descendents want her to not stand out in any way. It seems rather age-ist, like saying she needs to fade away, to be like wallpaper, to be embarrassed to be old. I think if anyone said that to me, I'd cut them out of my will! You have a lovely blog full of lovely people.

  • that woman's grandchildren gave her terrible (and unwise) advice! i hope she reconsiders and dresses exactly as she pleases.
    great pics, ari. these woman are expressing themselves beautifully.

  • Such an inspiration,and wise words dear Ari.
    Your pics are getting better and better.
    I am so glad that you have an eye for us all.

  • Most definitely, words to live by. We should never stifle our desire to self express. And no one should try to get us to do it. Shame on them for thinking that with age comes the need to dress in dowdy colors or cut our hair a certain way. I would love to own a pair of Prada glasses that are half as chic as the one this lovely lady has on. She looks incredible and I will be ecstatic if I can look half as good as she does, not when I'm older, but right now! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ilona is my idol. I love her spirit, her creativity, her elan. She inspires me. So does this blog!!

  • Outfit 31 gave Advanced Style the Kreativ Blogger Award!!! Enjoy! Keep up the great work!!!

  • Sometimes younger people think we should just disappear when we age. They don't believe anyone wants/needs to look at "old", "overweight", or "whatever doesn't fit their definition of beauty", anyway.

    But what we gain with age is the ability to shrug off the expectations others hold of us and be ourselves. I'm not quite as "advanced" as most of your lovely ladies, but they are my heroines and role models. I want to be like them when I "grow up"… or perhaps never grow up at all. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I love this site. The ladies featured on this site truly know who they are and are so expressive with their style. I find it inspiring to see the sort of confidence they have in embracing their style. Style isn't dictated by age.

  • I love all your "Ladie's" and the youngness that they feel. I also like that they express their innermost feelings and an "You be who you want to be, and I'll be who I am." I gotta tell you Ari, since I've been coming here to your fab blog, I too have added items to my wardrobe, which really isn't a lot but scarves and gloves and even red lipstick. Some day I'll do a post with my red lipstick, scarf, and gloves for my bloggie friends to see. ๐Ÿ™‚ Take care.

  • Thank you Ari for starting this website and celebrating the older generations style. Self expression needs to be celebrated at every age. I think self expression needs to be as unique as the individual and that is what makes Advanced Age so special. No one is trying to copy or follow anyone else so you get to see what true self expression really ia all about.

  • This is such a great topic! I was working on something similar…"Dressing for your age" and what does that mean anymore. I don't know if the ladies you photograph are aware of how inspirational they are to other women. They create this new image of how a 60,70,80+ CAN look.


  • I totally want to be these ladies when I grow up. ๐Ÿ™‚ They are amazing, beautiful, and so inspiring. Love this blog.

  • whenever vogue does an age issue i get all excited and check out their suggestions for women 35-135. with both wintour and coddington approaching 80 it is an effin' scandal to see what they recommend for women of a certain age. "classic" is the word they keep using.

    we get it, b**y*****s.

    pardon my french. polychrome old ladies 4eva!

  • Lovely stylish ladies! Love it!

  • I love these ladies and their wonderful looks! I hope I can look halfway as amazing as they do when I am their age!!! I don't look half as amazing as they do yet, so hopefully that's something to look forward to when i age ๐Ÿ˜›

    I think it's wonderful for people not to lose their sense of style, and even become more daring!!! I would love to meet them and tell them how inspiring they are!

  • Amazing glasses! I love your blog!

  • prada sunglasses look so great to the lady!

  • Those pictures couldnยดt be more beautiful!!!!!
    Love your blog Ari…

  • Hi! happy days!:) Loves from Turkey!:)


  • Hi Ari, (I do not write English very well, I hope you can understand me)
    First I want to congratulate the blog! I love, and I'm here every day to read and see your posts! I made a link to your blog, come visit me! If not to your liking, please contact me! Thank you. Kisses and much success. Congratulations on the beautiful work you do.

  • They look wonderful and are great role models to look up to and to aspire to be like when you age. Who cares if they don't look like 'conventional grandmothers'?


    Maria Onorio

  • Anonymous

    That grandma needs to move to the Village and leave those snotty, tasteless children behind. Dictating how someone may dress is the same as dictating how they may live. It goes against the soul. I am so much more alive in my 60s, and am inspired by Ari's ladies and commenters.

  • I would be proud to step out with a fabulously stylish grandparent like the folks you photograph. I hope I age with such style!

  • No-one needs permission to wear what they want. Really – what's the worst that can happen? You can change your clothes if you change your mind. As to the example you gave of someone being 'told' what 'they' thought was suitable – sheesh – what kind of passive-aggressive feckwittage is that? I hope that lady turned around and spent the inheritance on something beautiful and vibrant to wear – or something she took pleasure from. Who would want to see someone literally fade away? Gah!!

  • Oh my good!! Incredible style. I love the first picture, very elegant. And the last, are amazing. Combination colours, clothes, bracelets…etnichs, classicals…

    Un saludo,

  • just love your blog and congrats on the nomination

  • Great post, Ari, with perfect photos to illustrate the points you were making. My mother keeps telling me that when I'm her age (75) I won't feel the need to make the same amount of effort when I get dressed in the morning as I do now. I just tell her that I plan to keep making an effort, and expressing myself til the day I die!

  • Wow. the prada glasses look gorgeous on pretty lady…age is no bar for fashionable people…
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  • The answer is a resounding NO. I find that I can express myself more, dare more to myself, am more eager to play with colors and just have FUN with dressing!

  • When you age you have lived through so many fashion trends and styles. At that age you should be able to set your own style.

  • To age gracefully should never mean to stop being oneself. It should instead epitomize the ever evolving style of a woman. How can a woman stuck in a style that no longer expresses who she feels she is be graceful? I don't think it's possible. Knowing how horrible it feels, actually FEELS, when I put on something that I just don't think looks good, or just doesn't sit right with who I am today, I cannot imagine being coerced by loved ones to leave myself in that uncomfortable place and then be expected to be hospitable, cheery and gracefull. Also, I am not the same as I was when I was 15, 25 or even 35. I am comfortable in different hair styles, clothes and even makeup styles. It's not about standing out or getting attention, it's about giving oneself permission to BE.

  • The Prada sunglasses are way to cool! & love the accessories from the last photo ๐Ÿ™‚

    xoxo Balazs

  • I love all three of these ladies looks! They stand out in a crowd in the best way.

    I'm only 42 (almost 43!) but I have found that as I have gotten older I care less about what other people think of how I dress. Funny thing is, I've started dressing better, and I get more compliments on my style because of it! I've even had a couple of people copy my style!

    One of my goals when I reach these lady's age is to have a long silver braid down to my butt. I've seen so many style & fashion blogs & articles that say that when you reach 40, you need to have your hair no longer than shoulder length, and that just above the ear is even better! How silly! I will be glad to once again be going against the fashion.

    What's that phrase? Fashion is for a season, style is forever.

  • I really have never been able to afford fashion. I don't like someone telling me what's in style. I would find what I like…….and that is what ever suits my fancy.

  • The punk lady looks AWESOME! like a priestess, a monk.
    (no-nonsense punk attitude + no-nonsense elder attitude)