Blog: Style Gets Better With Age
Ari Seth Cohen can't be featured on his own blog for another 20 years.
Cohen, who is 29 and works in a museum, is the founder of Advanced Style, a street style blog with a twist. Cohen's subjects are stylish, confident and exuberantly dressed. They also are over 50 -- sometimes twice that.
The blog features photographs and short interviews with women and occasionally men Cohen runs into on the streets of New York. He often references his late grandmother and best friend, Bluma, whom he credits with his appreciation for the "wise and silver-haired set."
In an interview with SecondAct, Cohen talks about why personal style "advances with age" and makes his case for gloves and hats. He also picks a few of his favorite photos and shares the stories behind the subjects.
SA: You are in your twenties. Why did you start Advanced Style?
AC: I started Advanced Style to bring attention to older people and show that beauty, style and creativity don't end at a certain age. Older people are made to feel invisible in our society. I hope to inspire people to look at aging in a new, more positive light.
SA: Can you describe your modus operandi?
AC: I walk around the streets of New York looking for people to photograph. I'm always on the lookout for gray hair and great accessories. When I see someone who catches my eye, I usually approach them with a compliment, explain my project and then ask if I can take their photograph. People always tell me that I made their day, which makes what I do very rewarding.
SA: What do you look for when choosing your subjects?
AC: It's hard to describe, but I like to photograph people with a personal sense of style. My subjects are all very active and vital. They have so many stories to tell, and style is just a starting point.
SA: What is the most challenging part?
AC: The people I meet aren't used to being asked for their photographs, so it takes a lot of time and explaining. I have to earn their trust. Many people still don't embrace their age, but I try and only feature those who would be happy being on a site with other wonderful, stylish older people.
SA: On your blog you write, "Respect your elders and let these ladies and gents teach you a thing or two about living life to the fullest. Advanced Style offers proof from the wise and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age." What do your subjects offer that the typical 20-year-old fashionista doesn't?
AC: They have experience and know what looks good on their bodies. They also have great fashion advice, things that they have learned throughout the years. The people I photograph don't rely on trends. They have their own personal style and feel comfortable in their own skin.
SA: What item of clothing (or way of wearing something) do you wish would make a comeback?
AC: Hats, gloves, the glamour and elegance of the 30s, 40s and 50s.
SA: What's the best piece of advice -- style-related or otherwise -- that you have gotten from one of your subjects?
AC: To embrace life and enjoy every day. My friend Ruth, who is turning 100 in a few days, always says, "Celebrate every day, and don't look at the calendar."
SA: What's next for Advanced Style?
AC: I am working on a book of my photos, which will be out Spring 2012. I am also working on an Advanced Style documentary featuring some of the ladies from the blog.
Ari Cohen picks out five of his favorite outfits and explains the stories behind the wearer and the pieces.
1. Lynn Dell (above) is almost 80.
She dresses up every day. She owns a store called Off Broadway on the Upper West Side where she tells her clients, "Life is your stage, and you must dress for the theater of your life every day."
2. Zelda Kaplan (above) is 95.
She designs all of her clothing out of hand-woven fabrics she has collected from all over the world.
3. Rose (above) is 99.
She has great style and she loves being an individual. If someone tells her that everyone is wearing something, she responds, "Well then it's not for me."
4. Jacquie Tajah Murdock (above) is 81.
She loves fashion and likes things that are elegant and feminine. She danced at the Apollo Theater in her youth and still performs.
5. Ilona Royce Smithkin (above) is 91.
She says she loves bright colors because they have the power to brighten her spirit.
Mengfei Chen is a writer and researcher at SecondAct.com.