Lyn Slater, 70: Accidental Icon

When former professor Lyn Slater, at the age of 60, decided to take fashion courses at FIT, she never imagined it would lead to a massive social media following of all ages, a modeling career, and fame. The groundbreaking work became too much, and then her life took another radical turn.

Lyn Slater’s life is no accident.  

As the founder of the “Accidental Icon,” a now-famous fashion and style blog she started in her early 60s, she had more than 750,000 followers on Instagram at her peak.  She recently launched her first and bestselling book, How to Be Old, which tells her story and is an inspiring tale of epic reinvention.

A New Yorker who moved to the Hudson Valley, Slater’s view on aging, style, and life is about personal choice and how we see ourselves and our lives. Slater’s reclamation of the word “old” proves her point-of-view that aging is a privilege worth celebrating and reframing in our minds and society’s mind.

A former social worker and professor, Slater’s fascinating journey into creativity and self-expression is still being written and is a testament to resilience, strength, and confidence. She is still committed to social justice, sustainability, and equity. 

She is an icon in every sense, and we couldn’t wait to meet her.

Lyn Slater, accidental icon

How old are you?
I’m 70.

I have a partner I’ve lived with for 27 years.

I have a daughter.

Where do you live?
Peekskill, New York.

Talk about The Accidental Icon. 
I’ve constantly reinvented myself. When I was young, I read about different characters and wanted to take on their identities, and I used clothes to express that. So, I’m like a playwright or performance artist because I love a costume and embracing different personas. I’ve done that throughout my life. I’ve always been in the profession of social work, and one of the things I like about it is that you can do many things, and I became a professor.

After 14 years, I felt uncreative and stuck. Whenever I reach that point, I leave and take a class or put myself in a new experience and see what happens. And invariably, I’ve been able to metabolize it and bring it back to make my life and work more exciting. 

“I was never interested in fashion but rather the power of clothing”

Why fashion?
I was never interested in fashion but rather the power of clothing, particularly designers who designed to create social change for women like the Japanese designers. So, I took classes at FIT, including jewelry fabrication, sewing, and building a vintage brand. And people there said, “You have great style. We love how you dress. You should start a fashion blog.” 

I wasn’t aware of it then, but felt the urgency to do something new. Being a jewelry or fashion designer would take time, and I was about to turn 60. Unconsciously, I thought, “You don’t have all the time in the world.”

I knew how to write and research; my partner was a photographer, so I had all the ingredients for a blog. It was a passion project, a creative expression, and a way to write. I had no idea you could make money or that it could become a thing.

I flung myself in and started meeting designers, young creatives, and people who did independent magazines and music videos. A friend heard about this casting in Tompkins Square Park, so I went on a lark, and it turned out to be for a Valentino eyewear ad. As I say in the book, I’m clueless, so I sign my life away. I’m in an ad in every major fashion magazine. I got a modeling agent and a lot of interest. I began to understand that you can make money and travel the world. For the first six years, it was a delight, a fun adventure, and then it went off the rails.

“I wasn’t aware of it then, but felt the urgency to do something new”

Lyn Slater, accidental icon

What happened?
A big part of me, both before and after becoming viral, was my engagement with my followers. Within 48 hours of going viral, I got 300,000 new followers. That was the first loss of control because, until then, I would go to their profile every time I got a new follower and send them a rose emoji. And I could no longer do that.

When I first started, the word influencer wasn’t used.

It became about influencing and selling, not about the love of fashion, writing, or everything the early bloggers were about.

They were the gate crashers because, until then, fashion was controlled by the big magazine editors who determined who went to shows and who wore the clothes.

And fashion bloggers crashed it. They pushed the door open, and Lyn Slater got in through the crack.

What about older women trending in fashion?
First, I want to challenge this notion about older women on runways.

We’ve gone too far with representing gorgeous, fit, well-resourced. I can do anything; I don’t need any one woman of a certain age. That’s dangerous because it represents about 2% of us. I don’t applaud seeing thin, white, beautiful women on runways. That’s not diversity. That’s not a win. A lot of us are going to be disabled or have dementia.

“I want to challenge this notion about older women on runways”

The majority of us are in the middle, on fixed incomes, and are aging honestly, some of it good, and some of it sucks. We are unrepresented. And so, I’m cynical.   

If you read about young people now, they’re burdened with student debt. Finally, fashion has figured out, “They don’t have money now. So, let’s talk to the people who do.” And so, I’m not jumping up and down about Golden Bachelor and all this other stuff. 

What is Lyn Slater’s style?
I’ve always dressed in a way that considers my identity, how I want to experiment, the moment in culture I’m doing it, and where I live.

In another interview, somebody made a good point. Alongside moving here almost four years ago, my mother was declining and dying. And part of that was she wanted to be naked. Concurrently, what was happening to me was I was shedding the clothes I wore as Accidental Icon.

I was dressing to tend to my mom, grandson, or garden. We don’t have significant, juicy events here, and I get into the city occasionally. Still, I didn’t need anything besides jeans or exercise clothing because I’m hiking, biking, and doing things for my health. So, I’m dressing for my current identity and comfort.

“I’ve always dressed in a way that considers my identity”

How was your book launch?
It was at the New York Public Library. There were 800 people there, and another 1500 live-streamed. I had the blessing of doing it with Chloé Cooper Jones, and people started to come out of the woodwork wanting to dress me. But I told myself it’s essential to wear my clothes, given where the book landed, and thanked everyone graciously.

Everything I wore when I first started Accidental Icon was vintage, so I wore Yohji Yamamoto wide-leg pants with suspenders I’ve had since 2015, a cropped jean jacket from Comme des Garçons, and a ruffled denim blouse from a secondhand Japanese store. It was perfect, reminding me how much fun it is to be at the beginning of something because I am at the beginning of being a writer and focusing on that.

Lyn Slater, accidental icon
Lyn Slater’s book, “How to Be Old”.

You’re well on your way.
I’m going to be frank with you. I got an agent who got many publishers interested because I had close to a million followers. And that’s how it is. So, it makes me very happy when you and others talk to me about this book, not for what it’s about but for its writing. I got a privileged push that other women my age don’t get. I feel responsible for working on my writing chops and showing who I can be.

“I got a privileged push that other women my age don’t get”

Take us through a day in the life of Lyn Slater.
I get up early because I have most of my energy then. For my 70th birthday, my partner built me a writing shed. When it’s winter, I write indoors, but I go out in my pajamas to my shed in the nice weather. The whole book writing process and launch have disrupted my routine. So, I’m returning to the process. I love my morning coffee and my notebooks.

The London Writers’ Salon, a platform I discovered during the pandemic, offers various workshops and a supportive community of writers. It’s been instrumental in my daily writing routine, which often starts at 8:00 and extends until 11:00, followed by breakfast and exercise.

There’s a fantastic bike trail nearby, or I might walk into our little downtown, which is two miles each way, and go to our coffee shop and do more writing or meet friends. Then I come back and do something at our house, which is in process. And by 6, it’s time for dinner. In the evening, I’m either reading or winding down to get my eight hours. And that’s my life as if it were pre-book. It’s been crazy doing a lot of interviews, podcasts, and events.

What’s your beauty routine? 
My beauty routine is zero and always has been. My hair is straight and pretty thick, and it’s an easy cut. I wash and blow dry it and don’t use any products. Even during Accidental Icon, I was only made-up and hair done when I had a shoot. And I was always unretouched. My partner is a film camera person. He doesn’t own Photoshop. So, all the pictures on my Instagram and his photos of me were not retouched.

Lyn Slater, accidental icon

“The first question you have to ask [about invisibility] is, ‘Who do you want to be visible to and why?’ ”

I love the Lyn Slater POV on invisibility. 
I think it’s a reflexive response when women say, “I’m invisible.” The first question you have to ask is, “Who do you want to be visible to and why?” The women who ask themselves that question and understand the answer have complete control of when they want to be visible and when they want to be invisible. And that, to me, is the best position. 

And so many women found places to live and be part of communities where they feel visible. When you walk into our coffee house in Peekskill, people of all ages are talking. Everybody is visible. But if you live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, you might not be as visible as the young people. It’s a choice you can make.

Another time I had to get a COVID test, the nurse asked, “Is there someone at home who can help you go online and get the results?” I looked at him and said, “I’m wondering why you would ask me that.” To his credit, he blushed and said, “I’m going to have to think about that. You make a good point.”

At that moment, I rejected the invisibility stereotype and challenged it. I’ve avoided confrontations about age, preferring more nuanced discussions, given my experience teaching young people and that 90% of my Instagram followers are 25-55.

“We need intergenerational conversations, not lectures”

We need intergenerational conversations, not lectures. There’s this group called CoGenerate, and it’s about developing intergenerational experiences. They host an intergenerational dinner, invite at least four generations to the table, and think of a topic important to a community.

Lyn Slater, accidental icon

Talk about “what nowness.” 
The “what nowness” is when I take myself out of my daily life and put myself into a situation or experience I’ve never had without intentions or goals. If I had gone to FIT to become a fashion blogger, I would never have seen the opportunities because my intentions and goals blinded me.

And you don’t see the peripheral, the great stuff that could lead you in a different direction or get you to your outcome entirely differently. Right now, I’m taking writing classes. The Hudson Valley is incredible, and we’ve been exploring it. There are artists and writers and just incredibly creative people everywhere. And so, if you have imagination and creativity in your “what nowness,” it doesn’t mean you have to have a million dollars to reinvent yourself. If you just stop and engage, you can transform with just a tank of gas.

“If you have imagination and creativity in your ‘what nowness,’ you can transform with just a tank of gas”

How did it feel to leave New York?
It felt OK because I’m not a nostalgic person. I think regret is useless. So, when I decide to move forward, that’s it.

On occasion, we’ll go to the city. Instead of being stimulating, all the noise and excitement is overwhelming. There are still unique events you can’t find anywhere else, so I may drag myself in.

Peekskill has some of the same characteristics, but not on steroids. I can find everything I need here.

Talk about reclaiming the word “old.” 
Older people still say to me, “Lyn, you’re not old!” But I am. 70 years is a long freaking time.

So, I embrace being old and will keep using that word until people don’t negatively judge it. When it comes to antique furniture or a bottle of wine, there, we think old is valuable and impressive; but with people, we don’t.

“I embrace being old and will keep using that word until people don’t negatively judge it”

Indeed. What kind of music are you listening to? 
Beyoncé. Cowboy Carter. I’m all over it.

Like my style, my music is very eclectic. I listen to James Taylor, PJ Harvey, and Beyoncé, Bonnie Raitt, and Lauryn Hill. The common denominator is just incredibly inspiring, powerful women who happen to be musicians.

What are three non-negotiables? 
Always have a book to read. Never again having to do another sponsored post. And, anybody telling me who or what I should be doing ever.

Amen. What’s next for Lyn Slater?
Nothing. I am writing for the pleasure of writing, and I will be doing some book festivals, which is very exciting. 

What’s the biggest challenge in your life today?
I had this powerful experience a couple of months ago when I realized how much time I spent striving to be a good mother and daughter or have a promising career. And I just said, “You don’t have to do that anymore. You can give it up and do things that feel good and fun.” I’m putting my book out there. And if it does well, great. If it touches people, even better, but I’m just going to let it go.

It’s not a challenge anymore. It felt like something had died inside of me and floated away. Maybe this is me preparing for death. But when I realized how striving was such a big part of my life, I felt it leave me. And then I felt exhausted. I don’t want to live that way for the years I have left.

Does appearance still matter? 
Right now, appearance is especially commodified. It’s about buying things, and it’s a false illusion. Your body is going to age no matter what. Life is not about how you look. There’s so much more to it; richness and pleasure. And I don’t want to spend my time and money on it because I want to invest in other things.

Such a great chat. I’ve already told everyone I know to read your book, Lyn.
Well, thank you. Great talking to you, too.

Connect with Lyn:
“How to Be Old” by Lyn Slater

See medical disclaimer below. ↓


  1. You inspire me and I wanted you to know that I am my own person as well.
    Aging is just a number but of course we lived a long time.
    I am 75 years young. I love your outfits and your view on aging
    Awesome I feel the same way.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts in the interview
    All the best
    Michele Kalish

  2. This interview is just so
    precious and priceless.

    So many sentences ring so true!
    Thank you so much for Telling Your Truth!

  3. Lyn, having followed along with you from your earliest days as “The Accidental Icon” I have continued to find you a great source of inspiration! X


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.


Sheri Radel Rosenberghttps://unapologeticstyle.substack.com/
Sheri Radel Rosenberg is a Philly-born, Brooklyn-based writer who explores style, beauty, culture, and midlife with wit, warmth, and wisdom. Her story includes successful forays in the worlds of trend forecasting, ad agency photo production, ghostwriting, and strategic messaging development for fashion and beauty brands - all while amassing a slip dress collection that would make any Gen Xer proud. At the dawn of social media, Sheri launched her personal blog–which combines her passion for writing with her style obsession–and she hasn’t looked back. As Style Editor for the AGEIST, she’s inspired by the styles of the 70s and the 90s, along with all the beautiful people she sees daily in NYC.


Sign up for AGEIST today
We will never sell or give your email to others. Get special info on Diet, Exercise, Sleep and Longevity.

Recommended Articles