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Iris Apfel Warns on the Homogenization of the World and Looking Like an Old Turtle

By Sixty and Me October 03, 2017 News

Wearing her signature oversized black rimmed glasses, red lipstick, and a large necklace bearing a theatrical mask in what can only be described as a “statement piece”, Iris Apfel sat down with CNN on her first visit to Hong Kong to share her thoughts on just about everything.

Developing a Heart for Art

With an education in art and art history, Apfel began her career as an interior designer. In 1948, she and husband Carl Apfel created the textile firm Old World Weavers and Iris became famous for her “classic but over the top” designs, as she once described her work to the London Evening Standard.

Over the past 60+ years, Apfel has inspired the interior design and fashion worlds with her whimsical approach to the mixing and matching of colors, textures, and patterns.  Her personal touch and creativity has been added to restoration work at the White House under nine U.S. presidents.

But the inspiration won’t stop there.

Apfel currently has a number of projects in the works including a book of her musings, a new clothing line, and becoming the image of the next Barbie doll, something Apfel finds “hilarious”.

Knowing What’s Appropriate

At the age of 96, Apfel calls herself, “the world’s oldest living teenager”. But don’t think this self-proclaimed “geriatric starlet” thinks that she needs to style herself like one.

Apfel says she only wears makeup when she goes on camera, otherwise she looks “awful”. She says that makeup makes older women look “aged”, especially when they apply green or blue eyeshadow, making women look like “an old turtle”. She’s very much against older women trying to make themselves look much younger.

Whether you agree with this fashion advice or not, Apfel has more where that came from.

“You don’t have to fall into a pit and look like an old fuddy duddy,” Apfel told CNN, “but you certainly have to be appropriate.” She shares that she finds it quite inappropriate and “ridiculous” when people wear gym clothes to a dinner party.

Fashion faux pas are not the only inappropriate decisions in Ms. Apfel’s opinion. Social media gets a big thumbs down from the fashion icon, as well.

“Social media has ruined the social and inner life of most young people,” Apfel said. The outspoken entrepreneur went on to add that she thinks it is “kinda revolting” that people post pictures of what they had for breakfast for the rest of the world to view. She spared no words to point out that she’s not fond of social media at all and that it’s a huge “waste of time”, conveying confusion as to why so many people continue to crave so much information about the lives of others.

Daring to be Different

Perhaps her biggest beef of all is with the current homogenization of the world, stating that it’s become “very boring”. She values the uniqueness and individuality that makes each of us different.

“It takes time and effort to know who you are,” shares Apfel. “Be yourself. Open up your head… If you get to know yourself, you’ll be open to all kinds of wonderful experiences.”

She should know. With over nine decades of getting to know herself, Ms. Apfel has had some of the most wonderful experiences of all.


Do you agree with Iris Apfel’s fashion advice for older women? How do you feel about social media? Do you feel that you have opened your mind and gotten to know yourself over the years? Join the conversation!

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Sixty and Me is a community of over 500,000 women over 60 founded by Margaret Manning. Our editorial team publishes articles on lifestyle topics including fashion, dating, retirement and money.

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