9 Honest Beauty Lessons From Iris Apfel

by Gina Jones 2

When I reach the age of 95, I hope I'm still smashing it sartorially the way that Iris Apfel has been doing for years. In her Oct. 20 interview with Karley Sciortino (the genius behind and now a regular Vogue columnist), the institution that is Iris Apfel gives Sciortino 95 years worth of beauty advice. Even now, at the age of 22, I'm nowhere near the levels of fabulous, fantastic, or fashion-forward that Apfel has been nonchalantly pulling off since before my parents were born. This queen of style has truly helped turn heads and trump stereotypes about older women in fashion and in the media.

As Madonna said in a Feb. 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, ageism is one form of discrimination that all women have to suffer through. "They're judging me by my age. I don't understand. I'm trying to get my head around it. Because women, generally, when they reach a certain age, have accepted that they're not allowed to behave a certain way. But I don't follow the rules. I never did, and I'm not going to start," she told the publication.

The refusal to accept the dark combination of sexism and ageism is a message that Iris Apfel has been championing for years. Not only has Apfel had her own MAC collection, modeled for Alexis Bittar, and launched a glasses collection with Eyebobs, but she's also the star of her own documentary by noted filmmaker Albert Maysles (it's currently available to stream on Netflix, should you need any style inspiration).

Here are the best gems from her IDGAF-filled interview that you should consider applying to your own clothing style and lifestyle.

1. "If the way I look displeases you, that's your problem, not mine."

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"You can’t please everybody. If you try to be everything to everybody, you’ll end up being nothing to no one."

This style advice can totally be taken as lifestyle advice too. From the clothes and accessories you wear to your personality to your sense of humor, there's always going to be somebody out there who doesn't like what you're doing. Hell, half the world might not agree that you need glitter on every outfit, but if you're being true to yourself, your style, and your soul, then it shouldn't matter what they think. Represent yourself authentically and let everyone else deal with their own issues about it.

2. "Every culture has its standards of beauty, and those standards change with time."

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Recognizing that beauty standards are constantly changing can really help you understand that those beauty standards are truly arbitrary. If they were real, they wouldn't be able to shift so easily year by year.

3. "If everybody thought the same thing was beautiful, it would be pretty awful."

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Although it's kind of cliche to say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," the point is completely valid. We all perceive beauty differently, finding it in unique and interesting ways. This should allow us to celebrate and appreciate all different types of beauty, even those outside of traditional beauty standards.

4. "No matter how pretty you are, if you look ill at ease in your own skin, then you're not going to look so beautiful."

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In this portion of the interview, Apfel makes a point of saying that being attractive and being beautiful don't always mean the same thing. You might not tick the boxes in terms of any mainstream beauty standards and so-called rules of attraction, but you can still be a totally beautiful individual. It really reminds me of that Roald Dahl quote from The Twits:

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

5. "The greatest fashion faux pas is looking in the mirror and seeing somebody else."

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What Apfel is getting at here is that many people try so hard to emulate a certain celebrity's hair, style, or personality that they don't remember to represent who they are as individuals. A celebrity might look great in that dress, but you won't automatically look good in it too just because they do. Iris Apfel thinks you definitely won't, because you aren't dressing as yourself. "So many people look so badly, in my view, because they try to emulate," she said.

6. "Experimenting is very important."

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Even if you don't look think you look good in a specific style and even if it takes a long time to work out what does look best on you, trying many different things means you're eventually going to figure it out.

7. "There are certain things that I know look more attractive on me than others, and certain ways that my hair looks better."

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Even though many of us believe that "unflattering" clothes are a myth, there are still certain styles that make us feel our best, and we should try to incorporate those into our everyday look whenever possible. No matter what, I always wear lipstick. It makes me feel like I could kill 10 Internet trolls and it makes my bottom lip look even poutier. Even if it's a simple nude as opposed to my usual red, knowing I look good in lipstick is probably half the reason it looks so good on me in the first place.

8. "I’ve always dressed for myself. I'm not a rebel, I'm not out to damage or change the world, and I'm not trying to offend anybody."

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What I love about this quote is that Iris Apfel addresses the negative ways we sometimes feel our style might affect others, while acknowledging that one person's personal style probably isn't going to change the world. If you see a picture of yourself where an outfit just doesn't work, try to realize that it isn't the end of the world. If Apfel doesn't care what other people think, you shouldn't either.

9. "People always think that I can tell them how to have style, but it doesn't work that way."

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Apfel ends her interview simply: "There's no formula." And she's right. Nobody can tell you how to find your personal look, because that's what's so personal about it. Through experimenting and believing in your own sartorial decisions (and forgiving your own fashion faux pas), you'll eventually find your own style.