Iris Apfel’s Wisdom

Curiosity and a sense of humour

You only have one trip you might as well enjoy it.
Iris Apfel

I recently watched a wonderful documentary on Iris Apel. Iris is a 90(+) icon of the fashion world. I had no idea who Iris was, but by the end of the documentary I was a huge fan.  She is her own work of art. From the heavy use of layered jewelry to her signature glasses.

This post is not about Iris in the world of fashion and design, it’s about the wisdom of Iris.

# 1 “I am not a beautiful women.”
To be honest about yourself is a noble characteristic. Why waste time chasing what is not in the realm of possibilities. (Trying to weigh what you did in your 30’s. Looking good wearing a trendy item that wasn’t designed with your body type in mind.)  Iris is not vain. She is realistic.  Her strength is her ability create a personal style that is a perfect fit for her body and her personality.




Watching Iris has inspired me to rethink putting some creative energy into my own closet. In the documentary she was shopping in thrift stores and carts on the streets of New York for color, patterns and textures that together make a visual statement. She paired these finds with some designer, vintage and cultural pieces. What holds them together her well cultivated aesthetic. 

#2 “You can’t have it all.”

How many of us know people or are people who still hold regrets that we didn’t……..

Iris was born three years after my own mother in 1921. It was an era where women started to move beyond the home. Iris studied art history, worked for Women’s Wear Daily, was an interior designer and assistant to an illustrator. At she 27 married Carl. In 1950 they open “Old World Weavers. The company served clients that included the White House until 1992.

Iris and Carl never had children by choice.  Her reasoning is solid: “You can’t have it all.”

As a women who grew up in the age where women were told to go out and get more. Have the career, the kids, the marriage and social life. It is nice to hear someone who made clear choices and doesn’t have regrets.

#3 When your mind is busy, you don’t hurt so much.

Iris is active despite being in her 90’s and less mobile than a younger person. She pushes herself out the door. Currently Iris has a line of jewelry, eyewear and makeup. She also is a Professor and active in a fashion design program.

I am in my late 50’s and not in bad shape. I can’t say that I am hurting physically, but the schedule Iris keeps would push my limits. Her lifelong work ethic has served her well. Being active is an attitude. Keeping your mind and body moving forward in a meaningful way is critical to a happy and long life.

Check out the documentary by Albert Maysles.

Until next time……….