Life Lessons From 95-Year-Old Fashion Icon Iris Apfel

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At 95, American interior designer, businesswoman, fashion icon, self-anointed ‘geriatric starlet,’ and badass Iris Apfel shows no signs of slowing down. A character in her own right, with signature oversized glasses, chunky necklaces, and a quirky, unconventional and artisanal style that matches her wit and charm, the white-haired demi-god of advanced style is an inspiration to all of us at Forward Forty.

A flea-market enthusiast, Apfel is known for her more-is-more approach to accessories, her ability to mix roadside finds with designer digs, and her radical take on layering that results in the most unimaginable of outfits.

The inspiration of style exhibits all of the the world, including one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that jump-started her famedom in 2005, Apfel is also an accomplished restorer, having worked on projects at the White House for nine presidents, a lecturer who landed her first gig at 90, and the star of the eponymous documentary Iris. 

Is there anything she cannot do?

To celebrate the legend that is Iris, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite sassy quips that she’s said on everything from style to rules, love, and life.


 On Beauty

Being attractive lasts longer than being pretty. I’m not pretty, and I’ll never be pretty, but it doesn’t matter. I have something much better. I have style.

 On Plastic Surgery

Unless you have a nose like Pinocchio or, God forbid, you’re in an accident or fire or something, (it’s not worth it). You pay all this money, you go through all this pain, and you don’t know what you’re going to look like when you get finished. You could come out looking like a Picasso painting.

On Dealing With Fame

Oh it’s very surprising to me. I can’t get over it, I still don’t believe it. I went to Brazil last year, and all these kids were jumping all over me at the airport. I couldn’t believe it. And they photographed me for Vogue and all kinds of stuff. I mean they carry on with me like I invented Penicillin.

On Style

Copying someone else’s style is not being stylish. Style implies attitude, mostly, and originality. And if you don’t have those two, well, you’re done.

On Life

You have to try it. You only have one trip, you’ve got to remember that.

On Aging

I don’t see anything so wrong with a wrinkle. It’s kind of a badge of courage. If you’re lucky enough to get old, I think you should celebrate it.

On Rules

I don’t have any rules because I’d only be breaking them, so it’s a waste of time.

On Individuality

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

On Material Things

It’s better to be happy than well-dressed.
Iris Apfel

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