Lyn Slater's style transcends age
By Alex Van
Oversized sunglasses, statement jewelry and flowy kimonos: Lyn Slater has been turning heads in the fashion world by her unexpectedly cool style and refused-to-be-dyed silver hair. At the age of 64, Lyn embraces the changes in her life and rebels against any societal conventions that try to stop her from being herself. #AgeIsNotAVariable is not only a catchy hashtag that she uses to represent her blog, but also a motto that she lives by. Lyn actually did not create the blog with an anti-ageism agenda. Walking by Lincoln Center during New York Fashion Week, she caught the attention of many photographers and journalists, as she was mistaken for a prominent fashion guru (which she is now). Lyn then went on to create her blog for smart, creative, fashion forward, and confident women like herself. Age is irrelevant for Lyn because she does not try to be twenty, nor she wants to be the face of an age-specific demographic. She is just expressing herself to the world, and everyone has been loving that. She has organically grow more than 250,000 followers on Instagram, and been featured in many prestigious fashion magazines like W, L’Officiel, Harpers Bazaar and so on.
In addition to that, Lyn also is an admired professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services. She inspires everyone around her, from her student in the classroom to her massive following on Instagram with her unapologetic attitude in her style and daily life. She uses Accidental Icon as a platform to reach out to a wider audience and to start interesting and thoughtful discussions about age, feminism and self-love. Fashion for Lyn Slater is not a consumption of clothing, but rather a mean for positive changes.
For the Age issue of Embodied, I was honored to interview Lyn about her success as a fashion icon, her process of finding herself, and her advice on defying social conventions. I was left feeling invigorated and ready to take on the world.
I feel like you are living in a double life: one as an inspiring social service professor, and one as a fabulous fashion blogger/ model. Do you have to strip one down to become the other?
So the easiest answer is that the I am the same person with the same sensibilities just performing two different roles. Since for most of my social work career my role has been to empower young women and girls and to strive for inclusion and diversity, I do not see fashion and social welfare being that far apart, especially now. The same issues I care about, like sustainability and inclusion, seem to be ones that fashion is taking on so it feels like a good synergy right now. What has happened is that my blog has become a platform for me to inspire others just in the same manner I use the classroom to inspire my students.
As you have been fashion blogging for 3 years now, have you learned anything new about yourself after these years of being so immersed in the fashion industry?
I really haven’t learnt anything new about myself but I have learned a great deal about the fashion industry. I have always been a creative person and always rebelled against the status quo throughout my lifetime so this is just another chapter of me being myself. It is just another platform.
It is so admiring how you shine with confidence and fearlessness. Was there a specific moment when you decided to leave behind all your fear and just be yourself? Or was it a long process to grow into? How does fashion help you in defining your identity?
I have always been a bit of a rebel and was always experimenting with my identity. I always used clothes and fashion as part of that experimentation and found it very empowering that I could change how I looked or what others thought about me by how I dressed. I learned very early that fashion could be very oppressive if you did not have a good sense of self and productive if you did and realized how to access and use that power. I think that if I am entirely honest getting older has made me feel even more rebellious in regard to my level of comfort in not caring about what others think of me, or what society says I should do. The most important moment in letting go of any fear was admitting my flaws and taking ownership for them. If you own own them no one can make you feel bad about yourself. People aren’t perfect and knowing that about myself was very freeing.
Your blog is all about #AgeIsNotAVariable. Age is a social category that take a strong presence in the identity of many people. How did you strip away that presence? Did you face any judgement or pressure from society in that process?
I really have not stripped away my age. I accept my age, I just don’t make a big deal about it, especially when it comes to getting dressed. I actually do not ever talk about age on my blog because to me it is irrelevant. I fully accept everything about who I am and I think that is why people are attracted to me. I don’t think they want to be oppressed anymore by society’s rules about who is beautiful and who can enjoy and rock fashion. I think this is a time for everyone to have fun with fashion and wear what they want as all the rules and structures are up for grabs right now.
Do you think that process is possible for other social categories [such as gender, sexuality, race]?
I think it is all happening now. There is more and more diversity in fashion, especially in New York and because of social media and how much power it has consumers will force fashion to change. Right now it (social media) is not being used to its full potential to be a revolutionary force but it could be a platform where this kind of social change could gain momentum.
Lastly, what advice would you give to us students, who are in the process of finding ourselves - in style and in life?
Take some time to know who you are. As I said earlier now is the time to take risks and chances because there are no “rules” things are changing very quickly so even if you make a mistake it will be erased in 24 hours like an instagram story. There is not better time to experiment with style and to develop your own personal fashion identity. I would also suggest that you remain focused on the process rather than the outcome of anything you are doing. Focus on producing a good product, or a good design or good visuals and/or writing whatever you are working on. Stay in the moment and keep your eyes and mind open to things you never thought you might like or do. There are big open spaces right now that will need to be filled with creative solutions to problems so take advantage of it!
Originally published 12/11/17