4 Feisty Senior Style Stars School Us

For many of us, the first lessons in senior style came from our parents, grandparents, or the cool next-door neighbor who taught us how to play gin rummy. And, while we may have quickly learned that the fashion industry seems to favor youth instead, there's been a change over the past few years that's nothing short of exhilarating.
Models like Lauren Hutton (70 years old) and Carmen Dell'Orefice (82 years old) are fronting campaigns, and sites like Advanced Style have become a source of regular inspiration. (Thank you for that, Ari Seth Cohen.) It seems the world is not only paying attention to how seniors dress, but it's finally giving this generation the attention and respect it deserves.
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And, it was our chance to learn a thing or two — directly from the style stars we've been admiring. So, we invited four ladies to school our very own fashion team. While we — being in our 20s and 30s — may be used to testing the waters as far as fashion goes, as it turns out, our sense of sartorial adventure is nothin' compared to what we'd embrace in our 60s, 80s, or 90s. To prove it, our editors put their looks in the hands of some seasoned stylists and got an entirely new perspective — not to mention some real, no-B.S. insight. Ahead, check out what happened when these feisty muses gave us a major makeover.
Hair and makeup by Ashleigh Ciucci.
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
Ilona Royce Smithkin, 93, artist

My style in three words:
“Personal (very personal), comfortable, and inventive.”

Who or what has been the biggest influence on the way you dress?
“It wasn’t fashion from outside, it was what I felt looks good on me. I've tried a lot of things that I didn’t like what they looked like, and when I liked it, I knew it was me."

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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
Leeann Duggan, style features editor

My style in three words:
"Marlo Thomas wannabe."

How do you think your style will be different 50 years from now?
"By the time I'm 80, I hope to reclaim my deep love of clashing colors and kooky prints (currently dormant because the '70s clown look isn't super profesh). But, I want to get more comfortable with volume and layering since my collection of vintage, micro tennis skirts is probably not gonna work for me when I'm flashing my AARP card. Oh, and I also hope to figure out how to wear jewelry. I love the look of it but can't stand how it feels when I wear it. By the time I'm 80, I hope to have a bangle collection to rival Iris Apfel's."
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
What do you think about the way younger generations dress today?
Ilona: “Some have terribly tacky taste, and some dress beautifully. But, I think you find that at any time in any town in any country that some people have natural good taste, and some people try to imitate. You can never imitate somebody else because they’re not you.”
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
Tell us what you dressed your editor in! Why did you pick this look?
Ilona: “She was extremely nice and cooperative and pretty and very easy to be with. I think Leeann would look good in anything; she has the figure and the face for it, so anything she wears she would look very nice in.”

Tell us about your makeover! What'd you think of the look? How far outside your comfort zone were you? Would you ever wear this look again?
Leeann: "I loved my makeover! The delightful Ilona took my sea-of-black basics that I currently live in and gave me a much-needed soupçon of drama, courtesy of colorful accessories. Just watching Ilona twist two contrasting scarves together and nonchalantly throw them on or seeing her repurpose a homemade capelet as a skirt — everything she did was a lesson in panache. I'm not completely sure I've 'earned' the eccentric look yet — but you can bet I see a future in leopard-print shift dresses for myself."
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
What's one of your most powerful qualities that makes you you?
Ilona: “I have more than one quality, but I think one of my great pluses is my ability to paint and express myself and saying what I’m feeling in painting or in writing. The good things, the bad things, sometimes when I feel terrible, I try to write it down, and afterward, I analyze it and feel better after.

“Also, I’m open. Whatever I find, I don’t have preconceived ideas; whatever I find, I will find the best. When I meet someone, I always look for the best. Everyone has something special."

What's the best piece of advice you picked up from your stylist?
Leeann: "Literally everything Ilona said was full of so much warmth and wisdom, I found myself wishing I'd tape-recorded her. I think the most important thing she taught me was to not doubt myself — to hear this extraordinary woman say that, until a few years ago, she thought of herself as 'nothing special' was amazing. As she told me when I tried to copy her elegant, theatrical poses, 'Darling, you can only be yourself. And, you are wonderful.' I love you, Ilona!"
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
Joyce Carpati, 81, opera singer and former Hearst ad sales manager

My style in three words:
“Elegant, simple, and unusual.”

Who or what has been the biggest influence on the way you dress?
“I think European women have always influenced me. I admire very much the French actress Catherine Deneuve. I liked her very much. I think these women have something very special. They don’t try to overdo anything. They take what they have, and they run with it. And, of course, the Italian actresses, too.”
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
Annie Georgia Greenberg, style editor

My style in three words:
"Babysitters Club soiree."

How do you think your style will be different 50 years from now?
"I think it's safe to say I'll wear fewer crop tops in 50 years — for everyone's sake. I hope to really nail a specific 'look.' And, honestly, channel Joyce."
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
What do you think about the way younger generations dress today?
Joyce: “I love what the young people are doing today. I love the experimental things they do; I don’t think they’re doing anything wrong because the way you come to great fashion and wonderful fashion is to try everything, and if I think something isn’t that great, it’s fine. Something better comes from it. I love the shoes they wear — it’s marvelous. I love what they’re doing with hair; I see the braid is coming back — I think they got it from me! They’re doing things that are different and that should be tried.”
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
Tell us what you dressed your editor in! Why did you pick this look?
Joyce: “I had seen a photo of Annie, and I saw she was a very pretty girl, and I thought I’d bring some lovely European things. And, one was an Emmanuelle Khanh dress that was very simple but had great lines — as I told you, I like simplicity. I thought it would be perfect for her, and it surely was. I had some wonderful high-heeled shoes by Roger Vivier, which you will not see again, and she had the pearls that I love and that wonderful piece that I gave her for her hair.”

Tell us about your makeover! What'd you think of the final look? How far outside your comfort zone were you?
Annie: "I L-O-V-E-D it. Joyce is a goddess, and I really wanted to follow her lead. I wish I could have walked away with the whole thing. She knows what's going on, has a perspective, and, yet, also has fun. Killing it."
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
What is one of your most powerful qualities that makes you you?
Joyce: "I think the things that I wear are things that really suit me. Usually, the pieces of jewelry that I have, they are outstanding — you don’t see them all the time. And, I feel the same way about any clothes. It doesn’t have to be something that is of today. Of course, everything I’m wearing is perhaps from yesterday. I think I know what’s good for me. It’s not that I feel that I’m a special person, but I know that those unusual things are what I like. What I look for is individuality.”

What's the best piece of advice you picked up from your stylist?
Annie: "Love yourself. Love your style. There's no reason to be unhappy. You make yourself happy."
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
Lynn Dell, 81, owner of Off Broadway Boutique

My style in three words:
“Elegant, glamorous, and enjoyable.”

Who or what has been the biggest influence on the way you dress?
“I watched so many movies when I was a little girl — Lana Turner, Ginger Rogers, all the glamorous stars. They’re who I looked up to. They’re who I saw, but Diana Vreeland, to me, is a fashion image. She’s wonderful. Anybody who has style, their own individual style, because I believe in being yourself and enjoying it. Celebrate it! Have fun with it. Don’t take things so seriously.”
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
Gina Marinelli, associate fashion features editor

My style in three words:
"Feminine, never fussy."

How do you think your style will be different 50 years from now?
"I think my style is still going through a bit of an evolution, so it's hard to predict exactly. I love short hems, so I suppose those might get a bit longer? Ideally, I'll up the bold prints, never go a day without a statement piece of jewelry, and keep wearing fitted silhouettes for as long as I feel good in 'em."
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
What do you think about the way young people are dressing today?
Lynn: “I think it’s a shame. The dirty jeans, the ripped jeans, the sloppiness. The way you look is the way you present yourself. Take a little time, look at yourself in the mirror, and say, 'It’s nice to see you.' Think about how you present yourself. It’s so important.”  
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
Tell us what you dressed your editor in! Why did you pick this look?
Lynn: “I thought she was gorgeous. I thought she was a young version of me. I think she's great as she is. But, it’s wonderful having fun giving her a little bit of me. The whole thing is about having fun and putting the things together. The turquoise and color changes your whole personality. It makes you feel so wonderful.”  

Tell us about your makeover! What'd you think of the final look? How far outside your comfort zone were you?
Gina: "It was amazing! I was giddy to see all the bright-colored wraps and tons of jewelry that Lynn brought in for me. We decided to go with a look inspired by her Karen Walker campaign, which is one of my all-time favorites. I'm no newbie when it comes to bright hues — be it clothes or lipsticks — but the stacks on stacks of accessories was definitely much more than I typically wear. I think I'd need to climb my way up slowly to reach Lynn's accessory level — starting with the bangles and working up to the turban, which was a first for me."
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
What is the most important quality you have that makes you you?
Lynn: “I’m alive and into everything. I’m alive, and I’m living. I want to know about everything: the beauty, your life, your everything. I’m interesting in everything.”

What's the best piece of advice you picked up from your stylist?
Gina: "More is more! Lynn is so fearless when it comes to her personal style. One of her mottos is 'Dress for the theater of your life,' and I find that so inspiring. It's not about putting on a show or playing a character, but doing whatever makes you feel happy and treating each day like it's special because, well, it is."
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
Alice Carey, 65, writer

My style in three words:
“Vintage, masculine, and plain.”

Who or what has been the biggest influence on the way you dress?
“Well, I think it’s more profound than that. I’m Irish. I was raised in Ireland and its bad climate. The men wearing tweed jackets always impressed me. Tweed is great because tweed repels the rain. At some point in and around the ‘80s, I got a vintage coat — somebody threw it out! I realized that I looked great in men’s clothing. So, I kept wearing them. I put men’s trousers on for this shoot; the jacket I have is from a female designer, but it’s based on a man’s look. I think it’s the men’s clothes from Ireland in the ‘50s and ‘60s that inspire me.”
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
Connie Wang, style director

My style in three words:
"Japanese fisherman clown-ette."

How do you think your style will be different 50 years from now?
"I only think it's going to get more extreme. Bigger proportions, crazier clashing, shorter bangs — and I'll probably START wearing more heels, just for the fact that I'll probably develop the inner zen to allow myself to walk more slowly." 
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
What do you think about the way younger generations dress today?
Alice: “Dreadful! They’re not dressing. It’s like they go to Kmart, the H and…whatever it is, and they plop on a hat, and they schlunk around. There’s no idea of what makes you beautiful.

"I think younger women have really got to mentor themselves and look at some beautiful outfits in the old magazines. Go back to old Vogues, go back to old Ladies' Home Journals, and go back to the old movies. I think they have to look at themselves outside of the 21st century."
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
Tell us what you dressed your editor in! Why did you pick this outfit?
Alice: “I’ve a lovely story about it, actually. New York magazine did their "Best Bets" about six to seven years ago. They mentioned the thrift shop at City Opera on 23rd Street. And, didn’t a woman who was the hatcheck girl at the famous nightclub, The Stork Club (which you see in the vintage movies), didn’t she bequeath all her clothes to the New York City Opera Thrift Shop? New York magazine said not to come if you’re not between the sizes of eight and 10. Myself and a group of ladies were there at nine in the morning! There were racks of ‘70s clothes with some ‘60s thrown in. I bought four outfits, and the dress Connie wore is one of them. That’s a vintage ‘70s ensemble from the wonderful department store Bonwit Teller. It’s just like what Jackie Kennedy would wear."

Tell us about your makeover! What'd you think of the final look? How far outside your comfort zone were you? 
Connie: "I feel like it was kismet that I got matched with Alice. Her tomboy sensibilities and minimalist POV was perfectly matched to mine. I loved that the suit — a vintage two-piece from the '70s — had such a story behind it. I felt totally comfortable and confident and could have worn it around for the rest of the week, had Alice let me."
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Photographed by Sunny Shokrae; Hair and makeup by Ashleigh Ciucci.
What is one of your most powerful qualities that makes you you?
Alice: “I’m completely outspoken, and I don’t give a sh*t what anybody thinks. That is the truth. I am my own person. I was an only child. I’ve been pretty much alone all my life, and I’ve no one out there to please but myself. I don’t have to make nice to anybody, like a mother or a sister. My husband, God bless him, he’s a saint, but I think that’s it. I’m really outspoken, and I say what I think.”  

What's the best piece of advice you picked up from your seasoned stylist?
Connie: "Embrace haircut accidents. I freaked out about my too-short bangs until I heard her recount her happy accident with her haircut. I've started to embrace the bowl-cut vibe — it's ugly-pretty in the best of ways!"
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