That phrase was never an oxymoron, but lately I am noticing ever more beautiful elders.
This one I've even met: she's Kay, mother of my dear friend Susan. Is she not a goddess? Let's parse her style so we can emulate it: everything she's wearing could be worn by her daughter, also a beauty. There's no "little old lady" insipid pastels, no jewelry acquired before cars had seatbelts, no orthopedic shoes.
Best of all, that smile, and a presence suffused by joie de vivre.
|Kay, age 89|
Kay's ensemble is absolutely of the minute; I think that's the key to her chic.
|The entire ensemble|
|Now that's a good-looking family!|
Like mother, like daughter! Here's Kay with Susan, 60ish. Both wear vibrant colour and modern, bold jewelry– the same look flatters each generation. (I'm beginning to catch on that as I age, I could leaven my habitual neutrals with colourful accessories.)
People who refer to certain clothing items as "old lady" might meditate on these shots, and for good measure, consider this photo of her grandmother, kindly provided by Rubiatonta, originally posted on her blog Rubi Sez. Another elegant elder, she is 98 and, according to Rubi, able to make a racy double entendre with the best of them.
|Mrs. B in Marni|
Above, the ultimate in octagenarian chic, the renowned British fashion merchant Joan Burstein, "Mrs. B", over 80, in a Marni tunic, part of a fabulous feature showing what she wore for a month, in British Vogue. (Thank you Josephine, aka "chicatanyage", who writes the blog Chic at Any Age for posting the link to this.)
|Mrs. B's earrings|
The bags! The jewelry! If Mrs. B is your model, better start saving now.
There are women like this in every community, and don't for a minute think they don't care about how they look anymore.
A commenter pointed out on The Sartorialist that the elders shot by Scott Shuman were dressing snappily before we were born. Calling them "adorable" or "cute" (as other commenters had) infantalizes, neuters and diminishes their substance.
There is certain behaviour I have observed in a few elder women, an eye-batting coyness, a reversion to adolescent giggles and flirtatiousness. (I suspect this is a coping mechanism for loss of independence). But the vast majority of elder women are not cute.
|La voie lactée by Geneviève Cadieux|
A final image: the sultry red lips of this mature woman hover over Montreal.
"La voie lactée" by Geneviève Cadieux sits atop Le Musée d'art contemporain; a version will appear in the Paris Metro at Saint-Lazare. The lips belong to her mother, a family friend; we will see the piece when it is installed in October.
I applaud both cities for choosing this celebration of authentic age, with its distinct beauty and for once eschewing the easy allure of the unlined face.