Life lessons from a 102 year-young fashionista

Accidental icon, decorator and fashion stylist, Iris Apfel was born in 1921 and passed away last month at the age of 102. This inspirational businesswoman taught us all a thing or two about living with purpose and transforming your life at any age

Fashion + Retirement - An unlikely combination

What’s a fashion icon got to do with retirement?
More than you’d think! Iris once said that retirement was a fate worse than death. But it’s really what Iris did in her retirement years that never went out of style. Self-dubbed ‘geriatric starlet’, Iris was in her 80’s when she first reached celebrity status in the fashion world and in her late 90’s when she became a model. 

Iris' Top Tips

Laugh off the little things

Her number one tip for aging was that “a sense of humour is absolutely necessary”. She didn’t mean this in the sense of joking around, but rather in “being able to look at all the silly little things and how foolish they are and how many important things we really don’t pay enough attention to”. Focusing on the things most important to us is critical. Her key to staying young, was thinking young.

Take Action - One Step at a Time

Remember, you only fail if you don’t try. “Sometimes you just have to take action, even if it is a small step.” Iris was a big believer in giving things a go and figuring it all out along the way. Don’t overthink things. 

Get Comfortable Outside  your Comfort Zone

Another tip was to ‘get comfortable outside of your comfort zone’. Iris was never afraid to try new things, as demonstrated in her life – from travelling the world in search of fabrics when she ran a successful textiles business with her husband, to working as an interior designer for the White House, launching a make-up collection, becoming a model and being honoured as her very own barbie doll.  

Embrace Your Wrinkles

We all have to contend with getting older and looking older but wear your wrinkles like ‘a badge of courage’. Iris didn’t see anything wrong with wrinkles or see the point in trying to look younger – “when you’re seventy-five and you get a face-lift, nobody is going to think you are thirty”.

The Importance of Lifelong Learning

Iris led a vibrant, interesting life and had a varied, long-lasting career that saw her pivot and change across the decades and continue learning and growing through-out. She said “If you don't learn constantly, you don't grow, and you will wither. Too many people wither on the vine. Sure, it gets a little harder as you get older, but new experiences and new challenges keep it fresh.”

Iris proved that achieving goals, transforming and living your best life at any age is not only possible, but inspirational. It’s never too late!

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Remembering Iris Apfel ( – Good morning America 2 March 2024
Iris Apfel's 20 Best Quotes ( - 2 March 2024
Fashion icon Iris Apfel dies at 102 ( – Abc news 3 March 2024
10 life lessons from 96-year-old Iris Apfel ( – 30 March 2018
Iris Apfel obituary | Design | The Guardian – 4 March 2024


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Information correct as at 24 April 2024.