This Is What Ageless Style Looks Like

Ari Seth Cohen has changed the way we think about getting older. And, we're not talking miracle face creams and retirement savings plans. Instead, he's introduced us to a world of ladies so irreverent and stylish, it's only with a second glance that we notice they are a certain age. Specifically, 60 years old and over.
But, in their turbans, statement jewels, and boas, the women of Advanced Style represent so much more than an age bracket. With their big-time glamour and artful blends of color, they're testaments to the power of personal style and importance of celebrating individual quirkiness. More importantly, this group of women understands that growing older opens more doors — perhaps even closet doors? — than it closes. Like Lanvin campaigns, for example.
There may be no better celebration of superior-with-age style than Cohen's upcoming documentary, but we think the photos ahead are certainly a start. Click on for our one-on-ones with the coolest style stars we know.
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Photographed by Ari Seth Cohen.
Lynn Dell, 80

How would you describe your own personal style?
“Very easy. I walk the talk. I am the Countess of Glamour. I live it, I breathe it, my store is it. I love very simple, high-style clothes with lots of glamorous accessories. I usually have my head wrapped. I am the queen of turbans and hats. I love large jewelry and bold, architectural statements. I dress for the theater of my life — that’s been my shop’s mantra for over 50 years. No matter what you do, dress for the theater of your life every day.”
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What would you say are the three items in your closet that you cherish the most? “Everything I own, would you believe it? Everything I own — and I have 10 closets.”

  Ten closets?
“Ah, yes. They’re not big ones! I love everything I have. I change it sometimes, but I always go back to something I love. It’s like a painting, my wardrobe. I keep layering colors on, and I love doing it.”
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Photographed by Ari Seth Cohen.
If you could trade closets with anyone in the world, who would it be?
“Oh, that’s a very interesting question! To tell you the truth, I love my own, but Diana Vreeland. She’s not here anymore, but I love what she did. The old glamorous women with style — something you don’t see anymore because fashion today is all about ‘me, too; me, too.’ Style says ‘only me.’ I love a collection of beautiful things, but I’m really quite happy with my own things.”
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Photographed by Ari Seth Cohen.
What was something you loved to wear in your twenties?
“My bikini that I looked sensational in, but no more!”

  How has your style evolved with age?
“It’s very interesting. I think I’m more brazen now and not so concerned with what people think. You know when you’re young and you worry about your figure — did I lose a pound, did I gain a pound? But, now, I have such a good time! I just want to look wonderful and be healthy. I’m not going to show my arms if they’re not wonderful. I think women should take a good look at themselves in the mirror and accentuate the positive. I’m very happy with what I can wear. I know what to cover and what not to show. If you have good taste, and you’re an artist (because anyone who dresses well is really an artist), you take the canvas, figure out what you can add on to, and keep doing it. After a while, you’ll learn exactly what’s wonderful for you. It takes me two minutes to get dressed because I know exactly what works.”
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Photographed by Ari Seth Cohen.
Tziporah Salamon, 63

How would you describe your own personal style?
“Well, when I see something beautiful that somehow resonates with me — not everything that’s beautiful resonates with me. I’m very particular about what I purchase and acquire, so if there’s some sort of chemistry and pull that makes me feel it’s a match, I’ll buy it and build an outfit around the item. I never wear just an item. I never go into a store and buy head-to-toe and call it a day. For me, it’s a painting. I start with whatever inspires me, the one item, and I make an outfit out of that item. The fun is the assembly to make the painting. It takes me a lot years, sometimes months, but it takes a lot of thought, planning, hunting, and thinking. All the elements have to work together. And, by all the elements, I mean the shoes, the socks, the pants, the top, the jacket, the scarf, the shawl, if there’s an outer coat over that if it’s cold, the sunglasses, the pocketbook, the gloves, the earrings, the bracelets — everything has to work with that one item that caught my eye.”
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Photographed by Ari Seth Cohen.
If you could trade closets with anyone in the world, who would it be?
“That’s a good question. Maybe Coco Chanel? Maybe the Duchess of Windsor? I’m not sure, though, because I’m so partial to my own. I have the most amazing collection of Oriental clothes I’ve ever seen. I’m sure there’s someone out there who matches me, but I haven’t seen them, so I can’t say. My own wardrobe makes me quite happy. It’s always expanding, and I’ll always find more because God is very good to me. He always gives me more of the treasures. Today, I was wearing a Turkish coat from the 1800s that I’ve never seen anything like before. I found it in a little vintage store in California. I have a collection of coats that I scored at a thrift store. I’m not typical. I don’t go to Bergdorf’s to buy Alexander McQueen. Those are the women I’m supposed to be envying and switch with, but I’d rather have what I have than Alexander McQueen."
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Photographed by Ari Seth Cohen.
What was your favorite thing to wear in your 20s?
“Let’s see, where was I in my 20s? I was a Berkeley hippie wearing a lot of jeans and peasant blouses. To this day, I love Hungarian peasant blouses. I wore a lot of Mexican blouses, too, but more Hungarian. I wore a lot of denim skirts and jeans always with an embroidered blouse with big earrings and hair scarfs and corky sandals.”

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And, what’s your favorite thing to wear now?
“The Chinese clothes I own. I love those. I love my Japanese clothes. I have one outfit of Japanese clothes from the 1920s — kimonos that I can layer. I love the Turkish coat I just bought. I’ll probably live in that. It’s stripped. I have so many vintage pieces I love."
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How do you think your style has evolved as you've gotten older?
“Well, I was a hippie in my 20s (a really good one at that). I was very colorful with big skirts and jeans. Then I moved here when I was 29. I moved to New York to pursue fashion. My fashion sense really evolved and became much stronger. I was very influenced by designers. My first job was at Barneys on 17th Street. I was very influenced by the Japanese. To this day, the Japanese are my favorite. If I’m buying new, I’ll buy Junya Watanabe or Comme des Garçons. I was very influenced by them and invested in those pieces. Then, I discovered antique clothes and started collecting. I was collecting '20s, '30s, and Edwardian pieces. I started mixing them in my 30s (vintage and Japanese). Whatever money I had, I spent on Wantanabe, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, or this designer from the '80s called Matsuda (a fabulous designer). I nixed the designer pieces for vintage, though. Then I really honed in on vintage and became a serious collector. For 33 years, I’m 63 and I’ve been collecting. God bless me, I’ve kept them. That’s why [I keep them] in storage!”
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Jacquie Tajah Murdock, 83

How would you describe your own personal style?
“Unique. I have my own way of putting things together.”

Can you give us an example?
“I like high fashion, and I like dressing up. I put things together that seem to fit together. People are always stopping me and telling me I look lovely. I wore a beret this morning that was in Marie Claire China and a Patricia Fields coat from the '70s or '80s, a very different one-of-a-kind piece from a then-up-and-coming designer. By putting that hat, the coat, and a suit together, I got my picture taken."
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What are some of your favorite items in your closet you cherish the most?
“My Black Diamond mink coat. I have so many that it’s very difficult to choose one over the other. I have a lot of clothes from Paris, you know. I have a lot of evening wear — more than daytime wear!

What was your favorite thing to wear in your 20s?
“I don’t know! I’m a previous dancer, and I never wore jeans. In my time, women didn’t wear jeans — women couldn’t wear pants! I loved wearing coats.”
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How do you think your style has evolved as you've gotten older?
“I don’t think it’s changed that much because I’ve stayed the same size. I’m five-foot-10 and about 125 pounds. All my clothes fit me from the '70s straight through. I buy clothes as I see them. If I like it, I buy it, and when the right time comes, I wear it. I have black velvet for the winter. I have very fancy evening dresses. Sometimes, I go to little shops, but not too often.”
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Joyce Carpati, 80

How would you describe your own personal style?
“I’ve always enjoyed simplicity and adding lovely things. I think with simplicity, you have a blackboard that you put every color you write with on. You can add anything to black. I love black.”

Do you usually wear black?
“Yes, and then I add something outstanding to it. Perhaps I put a necklace on in a certain way or form that’s attractive.”
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If you could trade closets with anyone else in the world, who would it be?
“I think it would have to be Mercedes Bass. She’s a socialite, and she’s an old woman with glorious clothes. She gives a lot of money to the Metropolitan Opera. I’ve never seen clothes on a women dressed in such a fashion as her. All the young people should know her because she’s such a personality.”

What was your latest big splurge?
“Yes! It was a gorgeous pair of red-suede shoes. I bought them in Paris not too long ago. They’re Thierry Rabotin.”
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What was your favorite item you would wear in your 20s?
“I think it would have been the same things I wear now! I love a beautiful suit. When I was in business and college, I would always have a beautiful suit. I still have them, too. I’m way up there, as you know. I wore one recently, and when I walked into a store near the United Nations with some very well-dressed women there, a woman said, ‘That suit is gorgeous, Madame.’ I told her it’s 30 years old, and she said you never see anything like that anymore. It really is gorgeous.”

How do you think your style has evolved as you've gotten older?
“I think it has remained the same. I’ve always tried to do something elegant with what I have. I like things that stand out. When I walk anywhere, someone will say to me, ‘Madame, you have style.’ I was at the Metropolitan Opera the other week, and a couple told me, ‘Madame, you have wonderful style.’ It was because I wore a necklace a special way with a beautiful pin I have. I was wearing a beautiful red, loose Donna Karan coat — very flared, large. It was gorgeous! I’ve been told I have great style.”
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Ilona Royce Smithkin, 93

How would you describe your own personal style?
“My personal style is relaxed, very comfortable, and colorful. I love to make color combinations. If I have slacks in blue, I’ll add blue scarves. If I have something in beige, I add something in beige in a hat, a scarf, anything. I love colors. Any color is beautiful, but some combinations are terrible. You have to be careful with what you choose.”

What are the best and worst color combinations?
“Well, that’s a good question, because there are hundreds of combinations. I’m an artist at 93-years-old and still working on paintings. I’m enjoying every bit of it. But, I use my knowledge of painting to help my style. If you have blue, add more blue. If your top is different, you add the blue on the bottom somehow. You add the same color to repeat it.”

So, it’s about mixing the same colors?
“Once you have one large piece — be it the top or the bottom — repeat one color to bring it together. It’s like a family, then. If you have a family you never see, you haven’t seen your other family!”
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What are the three items in your closet you cherish the most?
“I love cashmere. I like beige and grays. I have a cashmere sweater, silk slacks, and scarves that coordinate with them. Those are the three items I wear all the time.”

What was your latest big splurge?
“A very colorful boa. I wore it for the Karen Walker campaign.”
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If you could trade closets with anyone in the world, who would it be?
“I would not like to do that because I have a specific taste, and other people have different tastes. But, if I had to choose, it’d be Marlene Dietrich because she had wonderful clothes. She was elegant and even grand. I would trust her judgment, and usually I don’t trust other people’s judgment because they make too many boo-boos for my taste. Here’s an example: If you have running shoes and a diamond-studded evening gown, it looks like your bottom half is running away from your top!”
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How do you think your style has evolved as you've gotten older?
“I know really who I am. I’m not floundering around anymore. I know exactly what looks good on me. I like either kimono style or loose things, very comfortable things."

You're an artist, so does your style reflect your work?
“I have become much stronger in my color use. I’m much more daring. I know more what I’m doing. I’m much more sure of myself, and that has a lot to do with your style. Let’s say you’re a delicate person. You’re going to dress more delicately because it fits you better. If you’re strong, you can afford to pair strong colors together because you yourself are strong. The same goes for painting. If I’m painting a strong person, the strokes are strong. If I’m painting a delicate and vulnerable person, I do them softly. If I put a powerful dress on them, you don’t see their delicate face and features. I believe people should dress as individuals and not for fashion."