You might have never heard of the name Norma Kamali, but there’s a lot you’ve got to thank her for. The notoriously private, endlessly eclectic, and timelessly classic designer is the brains (and brawns) behind some of your favourite active and comfort wear styles.
The pioneer of the ‘sleeping bag’ garment, the ubiquitous shoulder pad, sweatshirts, and athleisure wear, Norma Kamali is as frank with her words as she is bold with her designs.
She’s definitely one of the edgiest 71-year-olds we’ve ever seen, with striking cheekbones, jet black hair, and an all-black wardrobe that’s the definition of chic.
Aside from her sartorial contributions, Norma is also a big proponent of daily workouts, clean eating, and holistic wellness, so it’s no surprise we absolutely love her.
Here are 12 of our favourite things she’s said on being fashionable, fierce, and fit.
ON FEELING GOOD
A woman who feels good about herself is invincible. On a good day, when you feel it’s all working, it’s like, Get out of my way because it’s going to happen today. I feel great!
ON HER FASHION ORIGINS
When I was 16, I used to sneak out and go dancing in places where 16-year-olds weren’t allowed…in NY…and I would sow myself into my pants because I didn’t know how to put a zipper in a pants. And if I went to ladies’ room, I would have a seam ripper, and a needle and thread, so I could sow myself back into my pants! Because they were very fitted, and there were no stretch fabrics at that time.
ON STAYING HEALTHY
If I do something and it makes me look good, I’m prone to want to keep doing it. Everything I started researching had to do with how to look better. I think the secret is to not want to be young but to be the best at where you are in your life. That has a lot to do with fitness and health.
ON WORKPLACE FASHION
If you work in a law office, and if you prove that you’re a capable lady who can do your job as well as anyone (you probably have to prove that you can do it a little bit better), you can wear what you want. I’m not talking about low cut, with tits and ass; I’m talking about any style, any color. If your performance commands respect, why shouldn’t you wear bright red if that’s what you like?”
ON THE SECRET TO LOOKING TIMELESS
I have cucumber juice and chlorophyll everyday. No pills, unless you count vitamin D3 mega doses and fish oil. I love massages, especially Thai massage, and I work out everyday—and on Sunday!—for two to three hours. I believe if you feel good about yourself, physically, mentally, and emotionally, you are truly empowered, and you can always feel female no matter your age!
ON CHEAT DAYS
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be a sentence, it can be something you love to do.
ON THE ‘ATHLEISURE’ WEAR TREND
I’m the kind of person who goes to a party in the clothes I work out in. I had a blind date with the guy I’m seeing now, and I wore an outfit that I wear to the gym. It was a tank top with a hoodie, and I wore it with printed leggings and heels. It didn’t even occur to me that I shouldn’t wear it. I don’t want to put on anything else. I’m comfortable in it. I feel great in it…It’s about comfort and how you feel, and I don’t think there should be a line between activewear and ready-to-wear. If you’re dressed like you’re going to work out all the time, you’re more physical with your body.
ON BEING 71
“71 is a number that I certainly can’t relate to in any way”
ON FIGURING OUT A PERSONAL STYLE
I think you’ll really know your style when your wardrobe is a collection of all your favorite things and is a statement about who you are. When you can look at your closet and say, “That’s it.” There’s something really satisfying about knowing that about yourself. You can express yourself truthfully and with confidence.
Meditation to me can be as simple as sitting quietly in a room and just not thinking about anything. Sometimes I do that during the day. I’ll go to the bathroom, I’ll put the lid down, turn off the lights, and I’ll sit there and just really kind of quiet myself down, think about the space I’m in, and then stop thinking and let myself just go into the space. It’s the best secret I have that I’d like to share with everyone. No one will bother you in the bathroom. Just go in there and do that whenever you need to.
ON FASHION OVER HEALTH
There isn’t a piece of clothing that is more valuable than you and how you feel about yourself.
Don’t not give 150%. The key is to really just give everything. Like, really, really give it all, so that you get back a ton. I think that’s what the misunderstanding is. When you’re younger, you just want to get, but you don’t get unless you really put a lot into it.”
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