For all those who are tired of seeing style and fashion presented solely as a young woman's game, behold "Advanced Style."
Out in May from PowerHouse Books, this collection of street-fashion photographs of the over-60 set is a joy.
Although few of the subjects photographed on the streets of New York City reveal precisely how old they are, they offer lessons in confidence and style that women of all ages will appreciate, which is exactly why Ari Seth Cohen started Advanced Style, the blog that inspired the book.
Among the stylish figures in the book is the elegant and refined Rose, age 100, pictured in a paisley caftan, Hermes belt and oversized beads. Her credo? "If everyone is wearing it, then it's not for me." Alice, posing in a men's tweed jacket, jodhpurs, boots, fingerless gloves and a silk scarf, says, "Fie on women in sneakers and sweats." Then there's Debra, in electric-blue sunglasses and brocade pants, who approaches getting dressed like an art project and says, "Tomorrow is another day and another look."
Cohen combs the city looking for elder style on the street. "It's fun to hang out outside the Carlysle Hotel," he says, which is where he snapped a photo of actress Elaine Stritch wearing one of her signature menswear-inspired looks. "But I don't spend too much time on the Upper East Side because a lot of the women there have had a lot of plastic surgery."
"Advanced Style" is about embracing one's age, not fighting it, he says. "In society, women are told to back down from fashion as they get older, and they become invisible. I got an email from one woman who said her grandkids were embarrassed by the way she dresses. ... She showed them my blog, and they changed their minds."
He has learned that there really is no such thing as age-appropriate dressing. The book features its fair share of traditional houndstooth suits, silk scarves and sensible shoes, but it also has women in artsy hats and colorful turbans.
"Some women think fashion should be more proper, others don't care at all. If someone is comfortable and confident, that's what matters," Cohen says. "I like to have a mix of eccentric and elegant in the blog and book, because I'm attracted to both extremes."
Cohen grew up in San Diego, where he spent many afternoons with his grandmothers, Bluma and Helen, watching old movies, trying on clothes and going through scrapbooks of photos showing people dressed to the nines.