GRAY IN L.A.: Wild Women -- Advanced Lives

Huge hats played a big role, gray hair was casually displayed with panache, and there were tight waists, high heels, adventurous bags, outlandish fashion and quirky looks. When a large group of older women between 60 and 80-plus comes together, the party starts to get lively and interesting.

Sure, there exists a lot of perfectly nice seniors in muted Eileen Fisher sacks, Nancy Reagan suits and sensible helmet hair, oozing unnatural restraint and inoffensive invisibility. But there is a growing section of the aging population, mostly female, that has written "Down with Dowdy" on their flag that is happily snapping in the winds of change and freedom.

wild women

Ari S. Cohen, the young inventor and author of the second "Advanced Style" ("Older and Wiser") book and a certified admirer of older, interesting looking and stylishly dressed women, had an L.A. book party to celebrate all that is wild and crazy, colorful and cutting-edge, elegant and beautiful. It was a bit of a club feeling, a dash of a gray pride parade, and a movement of moxie and renegade spirit. The mood was giddy; there was a lot of laughing, embracing, admiring, yes, ogling, too. It was a carefree event and "Go for it, old Girl!" was definitely the attitude of the moment.

Age is usually still an icky topic, tucked away like a dirty secret, but somehow at this event it didn't seem to lurk like the old fear of being "too old." Too old for what exactly? The "Advanced Style-Generation" puts a new spin on it. The ones who are old, or are getting there, know the old game by now: beauty (whatever that definition is) is a bitch and a burden, fickle and unreliable; one minute you're fabulous, the next fading, and by the time you're over 60 it's all over. Why bother to live by those rules?

So lately, the very good news is beginning to emerge more and more. Ditching what you're supposed to do, feel and look like can become a liberating endeavor. True beauty is everywhere, but to discover it takes the willingness to equal beauty with individuality, originality, humor and intelligence. The only interesting act at any age is to start defining your beauty and what to wear all by yourself.

I think we can all be grateful to Ari for giving the stylish and advanced women a huge juicy slice of inspiration, attention, space and therefore empowerment, something we definitely deserve! He reenforces something I often say, write, and truly mean: "I don't owe anybody eternal beauty and youth! I'm not in debt to society." So repeat after me: "I'm allowed to take up space! Dressed to the nines if I want to!" And what follows is joy of expression.

I have a theory about the history of our two halves: body & soul. You are born with them both intact, but then they are ripped apart because the cruel world wants to manipulate and corrupt every little part of you and fill your head with rubbish and unkindness toward others. You get lost, the soul wanders around, homeless and sad, in despair -- searching for its old close friend and other half, the comforting body.

And then, one day when you are older, body & soul finally reunite again after such a long separation. They embrace passionately, practically melting into a unique form of being -- and then you know that you are on your way to being ageless. And probably rather happy about it. And that might very well show in your clothes, too!

wild women

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