At 96 years old, Iris Apfel is not what you would picture any other 96 year old to be. Her signature big glasses, flashy clothing, and confidence have defined her as an icon for all those who want to stand out and be different. Not only has she become an icon in fashion, modeling for brands like Kate Spade, but also a light for those who have felt different and unsure about themselves.
Young Iris Apfel
There’s a story about a younger Iris, who was shopping at the now-closed Loehmann’s department store when she was spotted by the owner, Frieda Loehmann. “Young lady, I’ve been watching you,” Mrs. Loehmann told Iris. “You’re not pretty, and you’ll never be pretty. But, it doesn’t matter. You have something much better. You have style.” Iris is a true example of a person living her life for herself and not for others.
21 Life Lessons, From A 90+ Year Old Woman Who Knows Her Stuff
Here are some of her most recognizable quotes that teach us that life is not only for living but for living truthfully – your truth – whatever that may be.
1. “Life is gray and dull; you might as well have a little fun when you dress.”
Life can indeed feel monotonous and routine at times, but the way we present ourselves to the world can be an opportunity for self-expression. Dressing isn’t just about covering our bodies; it’s a canvas where we can splash colors, patterns, and styles that reflect our personality. It’s about injecting vibrancy and joy into our lives, turning the mundane into moments of creativity and self-celebration. When we dress, it’s a chance to infuse a little excitement into our day, making ourselves feel more alive and embracing the beauty of our uniqueness.
2. “There is really no substitute for experience.”
“There is really no substitute for experience. You must have experience and be open to experience — that helps. That helps a lot. Most importantly, you have to be yourself, be who you are and take time to be open and honest with yourself. That is what it’s all about.”
3. “You have to look in the mirror and see yourself.”
“You have to look in the mirror and see yourself. If it feels good, then I know it’s for me. I don’t dress to be stared at, I dress for myself.”
4. “You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.”
Arguments often distract us from what truly matters. It’s okay to step away from debates that don’t align with our values or that drain our energy. Staying true to oneself means choosing battles wisely and focusing on personal growth rather than proving a point. It’s about preserving our integrity and not compromising on what truly defines us.
5. “Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.”
Baggage from the past can cast shadows on our present moments. Coming to terms with past experiences—accepting, learning, and healing from them—frees us from their negative influence. It allows us to fully embrace the present, unencumbered by regrets or unresolved emotions.
6. “Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.”
Comparison often leads to unnecessary stress and discontentment. Each person’s life is a unique story, shaped by diverse experiences, struggles, and victories. Appreciating our journey, focusing on our growth, and celebrating our successes without comparing them to others’ achievements fosters gratitude and self-acceptance.
7. “I like to do things as if I’m playing jazz.”
Jazz is about spontaneity, creativity, and improvisation. Approaching life with a similar mindset means embracing the unexpected, adapting to changes, and finding beauty in the unpredictable rhythms of life. It’s about being flexible, exploring new possibilities, and finding harmony amidst chaos.
8. “It’s better to be happy than well-dressed”
Happiness should always take precedence over appearances. While dressing well can boost confidence, true contentment stems from inner joy and fulfillment. It’s a reminder that prioritizing emotional well-being, relationships, and personal growth should surpass the pursuit of superficial standards of appearance.
9. “I don’t see anything wrong with a wrinkle. It’s kind of a badge of courage.”
Wrinkles signify a life lived, experiences gathered, and wisdom gained. They tell stories of laughter, sorrow, and resilience. Embracing these marks of time as a badge of courage symbolizes acceptance of oneself, flaws and all, and cherishing the beauty of a life lived authentically.
10. “I am inspired by everything around me”
“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.”
11. “Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’”
Inspiration is everywhere, in the mundane and the extraordinary. Being open to inspiration means seeing the beauty, lessons, and potential for creativity in everyday moments. It’s about fostering a curious mind and finding sparks of motivation in the simplest of things.
12. “Time heals almost everything. Give time time.”
This perspective offers a way to navigate through challenges by putting them into perspective. Often, what seems like a disaster at the moment might not hold the same weight in the future. It’s about understanding the transient nature of difficulties and learning to differentiate between temporary setbacks and enduring issues.
13. “Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.”
Aging is a privilege denied to many. Embracing the journey of growing older is a celebration of life itself. It signifies the opportunity to accumulate experiences, cherish relationships, and witness the beauty of time unfolding.
14. “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.”
Sometimes, motivation can be lacking, but action can pave the way for change. This statement emphasizes the importance of perseverance and commitment. It’s about pushing through difficult moments, putting effort into presenting our best selves, and actively participating in life even when we might not feel our best.
15. “I don’t have any rules, because I’d only be breaking them.”
Rules are meant to guide behavior, but for some, they feel confining. This statement reflects a rebellious spirit, an inclination to resist being constrained by rules. It’s about living freely and authentically, forging a path that’s uniquely one’s own, rather than conforming to preset norms.
16. “To find out who you are is like putting yourself on a psychiatric couch”
,”To find out who you are is like putting yourself on a psychiatric couch, but you have nobody to help you. Really it isn’t easy. I was talking with my nephew this morning and he gave me one of the best quotes I’ve heard in years, ‘Personal style is curiosity about oneself.'”
17. “More is more and less is bore.”
Embracing extravagance and abundance rather than settling for simplicity is the essence of this statement. It celebrates opulence, exuberance, and individuality, suggesting that embracing one’s uniqueness and indulging in abundance can be far more interesting than adhering to minimalism.
18. “If you’re not interested, you’re not interesting.”
This phrase implies that curiosity and engagement in life are essential components of being captivating. It emphasizes the importance of being genuinely interested in the world around us, in people, and in experiences to cultivate depth and allure in one’s personality.
19. “You have to try it. You only have one trip, you’ve got to remember that.”
Life is a singular journey, and this statement advocates for embracing experiences without reservations. It encourages seizing opportunities, taking risks, and exploring the unknown because life offers only one chance. It’s a call to live fully, with a mindset of embracing what comes our way.
20. “All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.”
At the culmination of life, what remains significant is the love we shared and experienced. It prioritizes connections, relationships, and emotional bonds as the most valuable aspects of life, suggesting that love is the ultimate currency that enriches our existence.
21. “Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”
This analogy compares life to a gift, acknowledging its inherent beauty and value despite its lack of perfection or predictability. Life might not unfold neatly or according to plan, but it’s cherished for its unpredictability, its moments of joy, and its opportunities for growth and connection.
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