Thank you for being here and thank you all for showing up what a beautiful room tonight. This is going to be a lot of fun. We have a lot of fun ahead. I think that it’s probably most appropriate to start by asking you about what you’re wearing you look, you look beautiful when you walked in I you know you you’re so stunning and so elegant.
I love your shoes. Could you tell us a little bit about what you’re wearing tonight and what it means to you? I want it to be comfortable, so I could enjoy myself and I I am a little obsessed with pajama looks, but this is amping that up and it’s from ste Nagoya and I’m wearing flowy shoes and bag, and let me remember, vintage earrings. It looks great. Thank you. Now. You have been into fashion from the start and from what I know about you.
You were in Catholic school and you got very creative about how you would express your individuality. In spite of the fact, I’d wear a uniform yeah. How did you do that? Well, I think that’s a that’s a big part of my story, which is starting with sort of a small box and being creative in a box, and so we were not allowed to have any accessories. No jewelry. We were all supposed to look the same, no makeup, but we were allowed to religious metals and rosaries, and things like that, so I used them as accessories, and so I would make these different combinations on my uniform.
I would put rosary beads around my arm like a bracelet, so you worked within that box. I did you, you pushed the envelope right up to that line. Exactly in my life, did anyone ever tell you not to do that or did they say no cuz? They couldn’t you know, you see, that’s the the place. Do you have to find? Is you know in every situation where you think you don’t have power? If you look very very carefully there’s some tiny place that you can, and so they had said you could wear a medal, we didn’t say how you can wear them, and so what could they say? I was wearing that old academics are very important to you and you have your PhD in Social Welfare and you are a professor at Fordham and how did you grow into such a substantial role at the school? Well, I have been in Social Work a very long time and in in my Social Work career.
I’ve also done a lot of reinventing, and so I have about a five year time frame where I decide to try something new and then I’ll get very good at it, and then I’m ready to move on, and so I did that in my career as a Social worker, which is why I love that degree, because it lets you do many many things so before I went to Fordham, I was working with lawyers. I was representing with lawyers kids, who were in the child welfare system and really making sure that their voice and their story and what they wanted was in the room, because, most of the time, it was everyone else making decisions.
And at that time I was starting a PhD program and Fordham was starting a big collaboration with their school of law and they wanted to have social workers in all of their clinics and they wanted to have courses with social workers and law students and they recruited Me to teach, because I had been doing that for a long time and academics played a very important role in you, launching your blog as well.
Why was that important to you and how did you use academics to lunch your book today? Well, I think, I think, a lot of times. People underestimate the intelligence, some people who love fashion – and I knew that there were a lot of people in the world who understood that fashion is not just about trends. Fashion has been part of social movements. I think right now, it’s a really super exciting time for me, as someone committed to social justice to be in fashion, because fashion has decided they’re taking on a lot of these issues.
So there’s a lot of inclusion, diversity, work, there’s a lot of looking at sustainability and and fair wages and human rights, and so it’s a it’s. A really people are beginning to see that fashion has a lot more power than we ever thought it did, and so I knew there were people who knew that. So I just started to write in that way and I certainly found out that my guess was true. How did you name your bug, accidental icon, so that story always gets conflated in the press and what happened was I work at Fordham Lincoln Center, which is about a block away from Lincoln Center when they had? The fashion shows there, and so I was it – was the first week of school.
I was really dressed up because I like to wear something out: readjusts for the first class and I went to meet a friend for lunch and I was standing on the plaza and a couple of photographers came over and started taking my picture and then a bunch Of other photographers came and there were some journalists from Japan, they came to interview me and then the tourists thought I was someone famous and they started taking pictures of me and they were wanting to take selfies.
And so when my friend came, she said ah accident and you’re an accidental icon and I had been my blog – was ready to go, but I have been struggling with the. So that’s how I got the name. The press seems to think that that’s how I’d out famous and so for the purpose of school of hospital. I want to say that that was how I named my blog and it took really hard work every day, really working on social media, producing good content.
Just working like 10 hours a day to be to get at the point where I became well-known, so it was not a you know, magic moment, because people took my picture, it involved a lot a lot more than that. It usually does yes, not one quick moment to reach success, but a lot of hard work along the way. Absolutely, how do you hope to liberate and inspire people through fashion? Well, I guess I really. When I first started, I had no agenda except, I was really kind of bored and I wanted to express myself in a different way that was more creative than academia.
I wanted to write in a more creative way, and so because I wasn’t in fashion I had no idea about how fashion worked. I just knew I loved clothes, and a lot of people had told me well throughout my life, but even more recently, that I should start a blog. You have great style, and so I just started taking pictures writing about an article of clothing or a designer, and pretty soon I got noticed and that’s how it happened.
So I think what has ended up happening, which wasn’t intended is that I have perhaps given people a different way to think about what it means to get older and on Instagram. Interestingly, the majority of my followers are 25 to 45 and when I speak with 25 year-olds, it’s interesting. They say that they’re, not thinking. Oh I’m going to be 26. That’s great they’re thinking! Oh my god, I’m going to be 30! I’r getting old! I haven’t done this.
I haven’t done that. I haven’t done this, and so what people in that age group have told me is that letting them see that it’s never too late. I was 61 when I started this and it’s just become like I couldn’t have dreamt it and I wear things that any aged woman would wear, because it just feels good for me in my style. So I think in that way I’ve changed culture a bit. I’ve made being older, look like kind of cool and exciting and fun.
So it’s not something that you have to fear and start trying to change yourself and be worried about. I love a particular quote from you. Here’s the quote the more I research fashion, the more I realized it’s a powerful force. We talk a lot about how it’s oppressive or how it promotes ideal body types, but we don’t talk about how it can be productive. How does fashion lend itself to productivity in society? Well, I think for me you know it’s a it’s.
A really great example of how I, through clothing, through fashion, through how I style myself became, was able to break into a world, and I think social media has a lot to do with it. That was pretty much controls right so 15 years ago. I doubt that I, someone like me would be considered to be a person of fashion. I don’t fit the stereotypical mold who was supposed to be so I think that’s the wonderful thing about technology and social media is it’s a great equalizer and it’s given us power and I think that’s how fashion can be productive.
Also, since I’m a researcher there’s a lot of research now that shows that what you wear actually impacts your brain and your performance, and so there’s been studies that have been done repeatedly with the same outcome where they take two different groups of subjects, and they all Have our tested so they’re, equivalent in their performance levels and they’ll, give them a blazer and they’ll. Tell one group that it’s from Prada and the other group that it’s from H & M and the one who thinks it’s from Prada will always perform higher and they’ve done similar experiences with white coats.
They tell one group that they’re a painter and one group that they’re doctors and the ones that think the code is a doctor’s coat perform higher. So if it really, if it’s a little complicated because it’s how you think about what you’re wearing and what you have in your head about it, but it’s a very powerful for us and so for me. I think about how I can use what I wear to express myself or even to get an outcome and so I’ll think about okay.
What do I have to do today? What do I want to happen? Who do I have to meet? What do I want them? Think when they look at me and then I very purposely get dressed, and so when you when you’re styling and your fashion comes from inside of you instead of outside, you begin to have more power and right now, it’s okay to be different. It’s getting more and more okay to be different, and I think we should all be controlling how we want to be represented, and so for me, I’m controlling how I want to be represented as an older women, because the way that society thinks of older women is Not okay with me, and so I’m not having it.
There is some scrutiny around fashions impact on the environment. Specifically, what do you consider when you buy clothing, given some of the environmental impacts that the industry has well for me? Actually, my personal wardrobe is pretty much from consignment and thrift stores, so I really have always had a habit of using recycled clothes. I’r in a very enviable position right now, because designers give me a lot of clothes, which is really nice, but I will also recycle them so, for example, Housing Works always does a big fashion for AIDS.
This year I gave them my closet, so I gave a lot of clothes that I had gotten from designers. For that kind of thing, I think a lot of brands are starting to realize that they have to do something. I think there are some brands that have been doing it really well, and so I think, being thoughtful about what you buy being creative with how you style yourself and reusing things like I do. If people look at my Instagram, I don’t care I’ll wear the same thing that I wore in other posts because I love it, and so I might wear it a different way, but you’ll see a lot of repeating of my personal clothes, and so that’s how I Think about it, what is the difference between thinking and talking about fashion versus consuming fashion? Hmm? Well, I think it’s just that right that you’re not just buying it, but that you are I I that you know who you are, and so, when you’re going to get something that it is advancing, who you are so a lot of people say: oh I’m going To this event, what should I wear, etc? I cannot tell anyone else what to wear.
I don’t give style advice, because my belief is that style is intensely personal and that it should convey, who you are, and so I’ll say, to women instead and sometimes men and I understand later a dog to think of maybe three words that describe them their essence And then to take a look at the clothes that they have pick up an article of clothing and say: does that convey that and if it doesn’t, then you can recycle it.
But if you have that in your mind, you’re being a much more thoughtful consumer and you’ll find that you may buy a lot of less things but they’re going to be more special. We talked about a social media earlier, but I’d like to ask you about how we can think about when, when we’re posting in social media, righty, we’d love to post our clothes and things across Instagram in that space right, how can we use social to raise people Up and not bring people down well, I think I have been very fortunate because I pretty much just show people in my everyday life, I’m not in Bali pretty much Calvin and I are on New York City streets.
That’s where we’re shooting and and actually I got a wonderful comment on Instagram yesterday and I made a screenshot because it meant a lot to me. The woman said thank you for what you’re doing and thank you for doing it in a way that you’re not making other women feel bad about themselves. Yeah, and so I do think about that and what I I mean: look people get what they see. I have gray hair, I have wrinkles, that’s who I am I’m fine with it.
Calvin is a film photographer and he’s graciously agreed to get a digital camera to help me, but the consequence of that is, he does not know Photoshop no Photoshop on his computer. So, at all of the pictures on my Instagram that aren’t taken by professionals that are taken by Calvin has no, we touched nothing, and so I think people see that they they see me and they say. Oh, I could kind of be like that.
It’s not I’m not so out of the orbit of the real world that I can’t maybe inspire people to think about their own kind of ordinary life than in a more special way. With regard to negative feedback that you might pick up, I know that you get a ton of positive feedback, but there’s always those trolls out there who say what they’re going to say. You know: how do you address that negative feedback? Do you do that yourself? Dealing into your community, how do you handle that? Well, you know again one of the things that has helped me a lot is I’ve had a career as a social worker.
I’ve had a career as a professor, and so I know how to set limits, and I know how to deal with unpleasantness and again, I’m very blessed because overwhelmingly my comments are positive, particularly on Instagram. I don’t like Facebook, because people for some reason seem to be freer on Facebook, and so I really didn’t pay attention to my Facebook for a while and then one day I looked at, it was after some BuzzFeed article and I had like a hundred thousand followers On it or new followers, so I said, let me look at it and the thing that was sad to me was: you know that it was these judgmental negative comments from other women, and so I was about to just shut the page down, because I do most Of my stuff, on my blog and on my Instagram, but I said, let me see if I could turn this around and I’ve done.
A lot of group work before in my career and I’ve had to deal with bullies a lot of people in different scapegoats and all different roles in the group. So I basically set a manifesto about how people were going to behave on the page. I said I’m going to be transparent with you. If your comments are judgmental, I’m deleting them. I shared research about the positive and negative impact of social media on women and, if you look at it it’s 50/50, it could be bad or it could be good, and so for me I basically said this is my page, I’m responsible for it and I’m not Going to have it be a place where any woman is going to feel that, and so I want women to take risks.
I want to encourage them, because Facebook is generally my older group of followers, a lot of women who lost themselves during career and raising families and now they’re like what happened to me, and I need to get back or they’re hearing things like from their children. Oh, don’t wear that you’re! It’s! You know you’re too old for that and they’re they don’t want to. They want to wear what they weren’t aware.
So it took a long time not that long, but it took a lot of hard work because they had to be in there monitoring all the time and then finally, the culture changed and all of the people on the page start addressing the cut any negative, confident And now I always ask them questions like I’ll, say things like I’m, the boss of my style and I’m the boss of my life. How are you the boss of your life and they put up these pictures and they’re doing all these wonderful things? So I think I think it’s if you take control over it, but a lot of people just put it out and they don’t write, but I found that you can’t change the culture of it.
If you want to, I I’m learning so much, I feel so inspired. Listening to you, you know, on the flip side of negative feedback comes a lot of positive feedback, and it can be hard to handle a lot of positive feedback too. I mean it can be overwhelming right. You can potentially even lose humility or become a different person and let it get to your head. So how do you think about handling all the positive feedback that you’re getting? Well, I’m going to be a hundred percent honest that I still find what has happened to me completely unbelievable, that when I wrote that first blog post, so if anyone told me what would happen, I would say you’re insane.
So I think, because it still remains so unbelievable that it is easier to to you know, have humility, but I I also don’t take myself so seriously, and I also know that this could go away tomorrow. And so I just AM in the moment and I enjoy it, and I try to remember when I first started how many people were amazingly kind to me and I that’s my mantra is be kind, so I do try. I try to respond to emails and stay engaged with my followers because I do know a hundred percent that if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be sitting in this chair.
So I I think by looking at them – and you know knowing what’s important in life – you, my family people close to me – trying in some way to make the world better. I think that keeps you grounded and what is one issue in today’s world that is top of mind for you and why? Hmm that’s a good question. Hmm there’s! So many! Unfortunately, I think I’d be been becoming more concerned about the earth and climate change and what we’re doing to the quality of life, because at the same time, I’m aware of that technology and medical advances are having us all live longer.
It’s almost like. We have a whole new period of life yeah, so you know my mother just turned 92, and so it makes me think. Well, if I’m like her, I could be doing this for 25, more years or 30, and then I think of my granddaughter and I think, if we keep on doing what we’re doing, what is the environment going to be like for her, and so I’ve been becoming More concerned about that issue and looking at how fashion is contributing and what they can do differently, and probably I’m going to be spending more time around that if you moving forward that’s an important issue to me too, we have been very serious and we have really Talked about some very important issues and gotten so much inspiration and advice, and now this is the part where we spice things up a little bit and play one of my favorite games called hustle time.
So the spirit of the game is that we set a timer for 60 seconds and I have to former school of hustle guests here in the front row tonight. Thank you for coming. These ladies know how it goes we Center for 60 seconds, and the idea is that you say the first answer that comes to mind. Jonathan. We have 60 seconds on the clock: okay, beer or wine. Neither favorite part of a s’more chocolate top quality.
You look for in an employee, creativity, camping or glamping camping, finish this sentence. When I dance I look like when I dance, I look like a disco Queen New York City tourists, help with directions or keep on your own life help with director. If you could have a superpower, what would it be fly? The best chocolate in the world comes from blank Belgian King size are fun size, king size. Would you rather flyer talk to animals fly favorite holiday, Christmas, Instagram or Twitter Instagram? They tried to read weekly, binge read or read: weekly, Oh binge yeah.
Okay, just for good measure. Ask this next one, your go-to outfit right! I want to know jeans, okay, sneakers, cashmere, sweater, particular color of sweater, no okay, just soft comfortable. Let’s see how many we got through that was fun. Was it bad right? No 11. 12. 13 school peso. We have a lot of entrepreneurs coming on the show every week and, like I said, two of them are here today and um. We asked the same questions to everybody, and the idea is that, no matter what line of business here and in your expertise of your age or your gender, any of that doesn’t matter.
Everyone has a thought about this same set of questions and we like to see how that changes from guest to guest favorite part of your day early early in the morning. How do you use your career to inspire others? Well, I have two careers. That is one, and I try to inspire my students through the way that I teach and I try to inspire my followers by what I write and how I get dressed ever felt like walking away.
No one thing: you still need to learn how to take selfies. I’r really bad at it. What do you want people to learn from you? That being yourself, as you are, is absolutely enough? What’s next, for you good question, I guess I can’t say the answer to that because I just don’t know what can possibly happen. So I’m just going to be open who inspires you, my mother, my daughter and my granddaughter who challenges you my granddaughter? Well, we also let everyone know in social that you were coming tonight and you did thank you so much for putting that out in your network.
You know I wanted everybody out there to have a chance to ask you something and read, of course, we’re going to have the final article out later this summer and people were very excited to send questions, and I pulled a few of my favorites. Okay and again you can you can keep these short if you’d like to move on through. I have six okay. So the first question is um. Every look you share. It looks fabulous on you.
What is your favorite personal look? Well, I don’t have a favorite. That’s the whole point right so that I am always experimenting and changing so weird is a place to shop for good quality clothing while on a budget beacons closet, huge Simon Soros. Who is your favorite writer? Oh that’s hard because I have so many favorite Mary gates, girl. You are a fashion icon. Do you like clothes or shoes more well, based on the fact that I have a mountain of shoeboxes that was like a big avalanche the other day.
I have to say shoes what things deep down. Are you moved by very simple things actually like the way that the light falls on someone’s face? Just small things inspired me and what is your favorite phrase no effing way? The last question, in terms of advice, goes, is actually for our favorite bug: noodles hi sweetie. How are you look at? You looks fabulous so noodle just recently got this adorable bow tie.
If I see you know that people have told him that it doesn’t fit. His look, I know you imagined what it rings. Do you have four noodle to follow his fashion instincts with confidence and what other pieces should he consider to complete his look well noodle when the rare occasion happens. If someone tells me that I shouldn’t wear something, I will respond. Well, it’s a good thing, I’m the boss of my style.
So I think you should say that to your friend and I think you should do some polka dots. No, can he mix the stripes? Now? Oh, please, okay, I think that’s you completely! Well, yes, so remember: noodle um, the boss of my slide. That’s right! The last the last piece I always like to close school of house with a final thought, like I get a good fortune cookie at the end of a great meal, and so I’m going to read three quotes and see.
I might look for you to tell me, which quote resonates the most with you and why? Okay, number one fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable, style is more about being yourself number two people will stare, make it worth their while number three fashion is like eating. You shouldn’t stick to the same menu fashion is like eating. You should not stick to the same menu and that one spike ends.
Oh yes, thank you. You knew who all these were right. Thank you so much for opening up tonight. Oh thank you. This was so much fun doing this. I know that the audience has so many questions as well: hi, I’m Haley, so I do work for GoDaddy actually but kind of coming from the brand influence or partnership side when you get approached by a brand to work with them. What’s like the number one thing that you look for when partnering with a brand, it’s the authenticity or is it necessarily like, maybe the product that they have? What really, what’s that number one thing so for me, I have a basic bottom line, which is: if this is not a product that I would use or wear in my own everyday life.
I don’t do it and so for me, what was really wonderful about the GoDaddy campaign is that it was my story that I started a website which I taught nice how to do, and I it changed my entire world. So it was a very authentic thing. For me to do, I believe that authenticity is your big currency, so for me my followers would know in a heartbeat when I was promoting something that isn’t there, and so that really is my bottom line.
I’ve also been taking a stand and not doing trying to avoid products that are not inclusive, that are targeting a specific group like over 60, because I think that real inclusion means all ages, all ethnicities, all types of bodies and that’s where I’m aiming for. So I think I do research brands. I see what, where they’re at in terms of their own values, and so I do make choices based on what feels like it’s a good match for me.
Awesome. Thank you hi. My name is Kristen Voss. It’s nice to meet! You nice question is, I was the granddaughter and the granddaughter daughter, mother grandmother for a part of my life when I was younger and to be able to part of that all four of us being alive at the same time was just an amazing thing, and we Had a lot of conversations as women in the different stages of our life, even as I was a little girl which gave me a really strong, solid, you know understanding of of women and relating to them, and I’m just wondering what roles have your granddaughter.
Your daughter and your mother played and what you do with your life. Well, I’m the oldest of six children, and I have four brothers after me and finally got a sister who’s, also important to me laughs, my mother kind of had this notion that women were strong. She had the opposite: gender orientation. Women were strong in her view stronger than men and then needed to be taken. Care of that was my mother’s view, but women should be on their own, and so I think that orientation really influenced how I thought about myself.
As a woman and plus, I grew up in the 70s, where there was women’s liberation and gender roles were really changing, and I was very, very determined that I would really raise my daughter to be a independent free thinker, which she most certainly is. There was downsides of having a daughter like that which she is now finding out, since she is a mother raising a very strong-willed girl. So I think also I was always around nuns who, in their own ways, were really strong women, and so I think all of that I went to all-girls Catholic High School all-girls Catholic College, but there was something about that environment that encouraged you to to really just Soar and interestingly, my daughter went to an all-girls College, not a Catholic one, but she had the most rigorous amazing experience in that kind of setting.
So I think, all of all of that you know and my mother and my daughter and my sister and now my nieces – they they inspire me all the time Thanks all right. We’ve got time for two more questions. When we throw is up here, hello, hello, hello, I’m Callie, hi Callie, I loved listening to you and something pinged. When you said the word authenticity because being in front of you, it’s so clear that you really are an authentic person, but I feel like authenticity is now this catchphrase.
It’s been a thrown around everywhere and I’m a little bit curious about when you are on the other side, when you’re consuming absorbing getting inspiration from other people like. What’s the? How do you know any something’s real and when something’s just that brand, because I have this like allergic reaction to the word now, even though I know you are authentic, because it’s such a thing right so sort of, I feel the same way about the word.
Influencer yeah right, it’s such an annoying word and I think you know you can influence people to buy things or you can influence them and influence culture, and so I, I think of the word influence in its dictionary definition, yeah and now authenticity is becoming a buzzword. So for me again, because I’ve been a social worker, I’ve been working with people for many many years. I have a good ability to assess when someone is being real.
I mean that’s much more like the word I think, and so I can pick up on it. Pretty quickly but, like you said, you’re having a gut reaction now to that word and that is it a true authentic moment, your gut reaction, and so I trust mine also, and so, when I’m around someone, I know: okay, not not matching the words, the behavior, not Matching and that’s how you can always tell hi my name is Jules. I was when I kind of a two parter: do you personally like to follow trends and are there any for this frame that you’ve seen that you really? No, I don’t I’m very clear.
I don’t do drugs. I thought I was a simple one. Well, as a second part, are there any trends that you’ve seen that you think that you really enjoy like for this frame? Well, I think I like the colors, so it’s giving me a lot of choices and I will do a color story based on what I think is a good look for me. So I think again, it goes back to what I said earlier about my orientation to style. It really comes from inside of me and and what I hope is that designers will give me a whole ton of choices, and then I will be the one who decides what the trend is for me blends.
Thank you so much for being here today, my pleasure. I really enjoyed our conversation, and I know that everybody out here did too I’m sure we are bringing school of hustle out every week with fabulous entrepreneurs and inspirational stories every week on godaddy social, so follow GoDaddy and we’ll see you soon.
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