Lyn Slater – an Instagram Fashion Influencer
By Joanne Richard.
Don’t let anyone tell you that social media influencing is for the young and wrinkle-free. Spirited, fashion-forward, hashtag-savvy 60-plus-year-olds are becoming online celebrities and enjoying the fame, and for some the fortune.
Age is not a barrier to expressing oneself – especially on social media. Active agers galore are sharing their energy and wit and savvy online, whether it be for fashion, fitness, food, adventure, travel and more, and are changing the perceptions of aging.
Instagram fashion influencer Lyn Slater is the Accidental Icon and over the past few years, she has purposefully grown her Instagram followers to 753,000 by showcasing striking couture and her bold personal style, accessorized with her steely stare or dramatic sunglasses.
In a competitive social media sea of fresh, young faces, the 67-year-old embraces her grey hair and wrinkles, along with the latest trends and technology. The recently retired professor has always had edgy, head-turning style – often mistaken for being in the fashion industry, hence her moniker – and has built on her passions for clothing, culture and writing to show her wear-abouts to the world.
While fading with age is seen as the norm, Slater has never been more visible or powerful. She’s worked with some of the world’s top luxury brands including Loro Piana, Kate Spade, Valentino Eyewear, Dior, Uniqlo, Gucci Beauty, Noble Panacea, LaPrairie, Bally, Maison Margiela Fragrances, Farfetch, Net-a-Porter and more. She is with a talent management agency and has a literary agent.
Slater sees herself as providing her “followers with inspiration and permission to wear what makes you happy regardless of what someone else may think or choose to wear.”
How does she pick her pieces? “I choose based on who I am in the particular time I’m living in, what I’m doing and the particular aspect of my identity I might want to highlight on any given day.”
“I never set out to change perceptions of aging, I just wanted to express myself creatively and do something different than my work as a professor.“
With a calm, refined, uncluttered social media presence, bare on hashtags and big on upscale collaboration, she shows aging in a vibrant, self-accepting way. She is comfortable in her own grandma skin – there is no retouching.
“I never set out to change perceptions of aging, I just wanted to express myself creatively and do something different than my work as a professor. Inadvertently I ended up showing that aging is not to be feared but can be a time of new experiences and adventures,” says Slater, who retired two years ago as a professor of social work and law at Fordham University.
Her newest adventure is a restoring an old house after moving out of New York City and enjoying having access to nature as well as living in a smaller community. No country bumpkin for her though – she’s brought along her Prada, Dior and more.
She especially loves her second career of creating content for social media, which she does a few times a week, and is busy studying photography and growing her passion for writing non-academic essays. During the pandemic, she’s been ruminating about her life and aging, and it’s resonating with her followers.
In a recent blog, she writes: “I’ve accepted that I’m old and feel no shame, no despair about it. In fact, I decided to inhabit it completely and explore it as an unknown territory, much as I would a city I’ve never been to before.”
There’s nothing you can do to control aging, so try to be the best you can be. Just like her jeans, her very favourite clothing item – “I love that they become better as they age” – she too is doing the same. “Even as we are fading and becoming even more worn, we continue to create new narratives and add more value to ourselves with each passing day,” she blogs.
Slater’s platforms crush dowdy stereotypes. “We need more positive representations of aging in the media. Let’s get rid of the fear and make people actually look forward to getting older,” says Ari Seth Cohen, a celebrated photographer and author whose Advanced Style project is devoted to featuring senior street style on Instagram @advancedstyle, and in his photos, film and books.
In a world that promotes aging as ugly and needs to be fixed, Cohen beautifully celebrates and empowers stylish seniors. “We are told that wrinkles are wrong because the beauty industry makes huge profits off of our fears and insecurities. I have always loathed the term anti-aging. Anyone who is lucky enough to get to an older age should be embraced, celebrated and made to feel worthy.
“I started Advanced Style in celebration of my grandmother Bluma who was my best friend. My perspective is that we should all have the permission and freedom to be and express whatever we want no matter what age we are,” says Cohen, author of Advanced Style: Older and Wiser.
He encourages seniors to share their energy and experiences lives online, just like two of his book models and Instagram favourites, @saramaijewels and @lesleyhasmanyhats. To have an online presence, you need authenticity and originality, along with “having a point of view and connecting with your audience in a way that creates a conversation beyond just style.”
Slater figures her popularity comes from her honesty, and keeping things real: “Older people are very diverse and aging is an individual experience. I’m just showing how I as one woman am approaching aging. Aging has both good and not so good aspects to it… I’m not on a crusade about it. I believe that showing gets much better results than telling.”
While Slater adores fashion, social media doesn’t get the same rave reviews. She’s been tech savvy for many years as her training in social welfare policy taught her to forecast cultural phenomenon. “I owned the first laptop computer ever made by Apple and was an early adapter of blackberry. So it’s not new and I’ve used it in my work for decades.”
Despite its original intent to support connection and social interaction, Slater says that social media is problematic, ranging from privacy issues, mental health concerns, cyber bullying and polarizing and unregulated political commentary. “While social media has been a tool for me to inspire others, it also drains my attention so I am very ambivalent about it.”