The Grandma’s Guide to Gorgeous

It has recently come to my attention that my fashion image is in serious need of a makeover. My entire wardrobe, which I believed to be tasteful and age-appropriate, is in fact, quite boring. And boring is not the look for which I was striving.

This dismaying epiphany dawned on me while reading a New York Times article that featured a group of women dubbed the “Insta-grans.” They range in age from 60 to 94, and based on eye wear that occupies three-quarters of their faces, appear to be kindred spirits of the American fashion icon Iris Apfel, now 97.

American fashion icon, Iris Apfel, 97

Their outlandish sense of style has made
them internet stars, thereby anointing them as the new fashion influence for
the Medicare set. So move over Vogue with
your smoothed skinned cover girls and make way for the babes with the
weathered faces.

All of the women in said article — when not rummaging in consignment shops for gently used Comme des Garcons
or someone’s frayed jeans — are also bloggers.

Well, I blog too, don’t I? So what’s holding me back from becoming a geriatric sensation and Instagram icon”?

After reading their blogs and scrutinizing the photos, I think I’ve finally figured it out. Here I offer the fruits of my labor – the grandmas guide to gorgeous. A list of helpful hints for becoming an audacious, subversive, riveting, cool, and attention-grabbing granny!


• Abandon most of your basic blacks,
whites and grays and replace them
with wild, colorful prints and things that
don’t match.

• Forego modesty and don’t be afraid to
display body parts that may not have seen
the light of day for decades.

• When it comes to hair, silvery-white is the
new blond, but cut it really short. Cropped
bangs and shaved sides are beyond cool. Or,
wear it long and let it go completely wild or
pile it like a bird’s nest on top of your head.
A purple streak gets you bonus points.

Susan Goldfein slays her new glam look

• Stash your demure button earring and studs
in the back of the jewelry drawer, and rush
out to purchase hoops — the bigger the
better. If you can find a pair that looks like
it could double as a perch for a parakeet,
you’re solid. And for a change of pace,
switch off to a long, dangling style.

• Wear plenty of wide bracelets. On both
wrists. Ones made from recycled African
baobab trees are best. What’s so special
about baobab trees? Who knows, but if the
bracelets weigh enough, they’re also useful
for bicep curls.
• If you sport a necklace, consider multiples
and make sure they’re really chunky. This
will serve to ward off unwanted hugs.

• Start to acquire a hat collection. The
sillier the better. Turbans and baseball caps
are acceptable, but if you really want to
make a statement, choose knitted, cat-eared,
pussy hats.

• Even if your vision is perfect, one or two
pairs of eyeglasses the size of headlights
from a Mack truck are a must. Black frames
are best, but bright red with matching
lipstick will mark you as a maverick.

• Naked fingers are definitely a no-no. Flaunt
multiple rings with large stones. They’re
also a handy self-defense weapon in case of
a mugging. Color coordinate with nail polish
in a mash-up of bright and bold colors.

• Sport torn denim and T-shirts with messages,
the raunchier the better. If you want to get as
many looks as you did in your 20s, wear a
tee that says “Be a Slut.”

• Should you wear an evening gown, don’t
forget the high-top sneakers.

I’m well aware that the transformation from ordinary to extraordinary will not be easy, but some things are simply worth the effort. So please join me at the thrift shop. Why go gentle into that good night when all it takes is the perfect vintage hand bag? Preferably, in shocking orange.

Susan Goldfein holds a doctorate in Communication Disorders from Teachers College, Columbia University, and enjoyed a successful career as a clinician, teacher, and consultant. For more essays filled with wit, wisdom and irony, visit Susan’s blog,

Her book, How Old Am I in Dog Years? may be purchased on and



Share your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.