Top 10 Iris Apfel Quotes on Fashion and Style

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Iris Apfel is best known for her distinctive oversized glasses, flamboyant jewellery and eclectic sense of fashion, but she’s not just a style icon – she also has a sharp wit and endless wisdom as evidenced from some of her more memorable quotes:

The 94-year-old eccentric New Yorker could teach most of us a thing or too about fashion and style. She’s had a wide and varied career as textile designer and interior designer, which has taken her all over the world and included projects at the White House for nine presidents.


1. On her trademark style of bright colours and piled-on jewellery: “The goal isn’t to be pretty. It never is. The goal is to look in the mirror and enjoy what you see.”


2. On fashion as process art: “After all these years I’ve learned that it’s not the end result or finished product but the process I most enjoy. If my experimenting, searching and juxtaposing turns into an exciting outfit well, it’s just a big fat bonus!”


3. On not being traditionally ‘pretty’: “When you’re somebody like myself, in order to get around and be attractive, you have to develop something, you have to learn something, you have to do something. So you become a bit more interesting.”


4. On the art and romance of fashion: “I’m a hopeless romantic. I buy things because I fall in love with them. I never buy anything just because it’s valuable. My husband used to say I look at a piece of fabric and listen to the threads. It tells me a story. It sings me a song. I have to get a physical reaction when I buy something. A coup de foudre – a bolt of lightning. It’s fun to get knocked out that way!”


5. On the fashion industry’s focus on young people: “Fashion has this youth mania. But 70-year-old ladies don’t have 18-year-old bodies, and 18-year-olds don’t have a 70-year-old’s dollars.”


6. On the basic elements of style: “If your hair is done properly and you’re wearing good shoes, you can get away with anything.”


7.On inspiration: “I am inspired by everything around me. It’s not like I stand out on the moors or any of that romantic crap they throw around. I’m just inspired by being alive and breathing and meeting people and talking to people and doing things and absorbing what’s happening. I think if more people did that, there would be better fashion.”


8. On what really makes an outfit: “I get more compliments on accessories than anything else. I think they’re kind of like herbs and spices. They give zing and zest to an outfit.”


9. On owning your own personal style: “Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. They key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self-expression and above all, attitude.”


10. On getting older: “If you don’t learn constantly, you don’t grow and you will wither. Too many people wither on the vine. Sure it gets a little harder as you get older, but new experiences and new challenges keep it fresh.”


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