“About Turning 75 Years Old”

Marilyn Kirschner, photo by Ben Rosser for BFA

To paraphrase Gloria Steinem, who, five decades ago, famously said, “This is what 40 looks like; we’ve been lying so long, who would know?” Ten years ago, when I wrote, “This is What 65 Looks Like”, I noted that while it seemed like a pretty big deal at the time, it did not feel like a significant milestone compared to turning 75, 90, or 100.

Well, I will turn 75 later this month, and I must admit living ¾ of a century sounds impressive. I’ve never lied about my age. What’s the point? It’s a rite of passage and something to celebrate, certainly not to hide. It’s pretty easy to figure out anyway, based on my resume, and as I’ve said many times, I’d rather have people think I look pretty good for 75 than not so hot at 60 or 65.

Meryl Streep wears Valentino Couture to the 2024 Golden Globes, red-carpetfashionawards.com

And guess what? I’m in good company. Among those high-profile celebrities who have, or will be turning 75 in 2024: Jessica Lange (April 20), Billy Joel (May 9), Wolfgang Puck (July 8), Richard Gere (August 31), Bruce Springsteen (September 23), Meryl Streep (June 22), Sigourney Weaver (October 8), Jeff Bridges (December 4), and Lionel Richie (June 20).

Anna Wintour, wearing Loewe at the Met Gala, Getty Images

Within the world of fashion: Paloma Picasso (April 19); Miuccia Prada (May 10); Vera Wang (June 27); Twiggy (September 19); Annie Leibovitz (October 2); and Anna Wintour (November 3). As you can see, nobody in these groups group shows any signs of slowing down.

Vera Wang, Instagram

FYI, when Vera Wang shared images of herself in a white one-piece swimsuit at her home in Southampton, she had the internet convinced she was “aging backward.” Owing to Vera’s waist length, silky smooth pitch, black hair, and an almost impossibly pre-pubescent body, the designer unquestionably looks decades younger than her age.

(For the record, Wang credits her youthful energy to staying active in her work, getting adequate sleep, and enjoying life with a vodka cocktail in the evenings.)

There are no hard and fast rules to live by, and there is more than one way to grow old. One can opt to camouflage and turn back the clock (though, in my opinion, too much ‘work’ never works, and continually going under the knife can often have disastrous results), or one can choose to go with the flow and celebrate one’s lines, wrinkles, and strands of gray or white hair.

It’s a personal choice, but doing too much surgery can be disastrous. I have not done anything, not even Botox or hair dye. Instead of concentrating on a few wrinkles or gray hair, I focus more on my overall head-to-toe appearance.

“It’s strange because every single morning I have to decide if I am a 15-year-old girl or a lady near to death”

Miuccia Prada

Miuccia Prada, Vogue March 2024 – photo by Stef Mitchell for Vogue Magazine

Miuccia Prada, who Ralph Rucci refers to as “The Chanel of our generation”, was the Vogue March 2024 cover girl. The photo was accompanied by more pictures inside and a lengthy interview, “How Miuccia Prada Sees the World,” written by Wendell Steavenson. During the interview, the designer admitted that she was very aware of her age and begrudgingly acknowledged her role as “sage arbiter”.

There’s no question that with age comes experience and wisdom. Maybe I haven’t “seen it all” but I’ve assuredly seen a lot in my 50+ years in fashion and one thing I’ve learned is that there are certain things that cannot be improved on.

To best illustrate, I use iconic decades old fashion photos that are ingrained in my mind, and never fail to stop me in my tracks:

Gloria Guinness, Vogue, April 1970 Photo by Cecil Beaton

Simply put, there is nothing chicer or more modern than the combination of black and white. Even when the clothes are generic, they still look highly distinctive.

Estelle Lefébure, Karen Alexander, Rachel Williams, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz & Christy Turlington, Santa Monica, 1988, photo by Peter Lindbergh

Fashions come and go but the power of great white shirt lives on.

YSL, 1972, Portrait by Jeanloup Sieff

There is nothing more essential than a perfect fitting, face framing black turtleneck.

Halston and The Halstonettes, 1977 – photo Harry Benson

Red always stands out in a crowd.

Sade, 1980’s – photo Instagram

Jewelry styles come and go but you can never go wrong with a bold gold hoop or cuff.

Iconic portrait of Nancy Cunard, 1925 photographed by Man Ray, Man Ray Trust Adagn, Paris

Knowing when to pile on is just as important as knowing when to take off.

Coco Chanel with Captain Arthur Edward Boy Capel, circa 1919 – photo Instagram

Borrowing from the boys is always a good idea. Just ask Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.

Rue Aubriot, Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue Paris, 1975, Photo by Helmut Newton

In a room filled with elaborate ball gowns, a woman in a tuxedo always stands out.

There is no substitute for good design. I have plenty of clothes but there are always a few items I always rely on. Among them, my vintage YSL cropped tuxedo jacket, my vintage YSL black jacket with gold paillettes, and my Courreges jackets and coats, many from the 60’s.

There is a tendency to overthink fashion and many people are intimidated by it, but fashion can be an incredible tool, especially as one gets older! When you get it right, it’s empowering. If I was going to write a book, the title would be, “It’s Not That Complicated”.

I am more appreciative of everything nowadays, including fashion and its essential role in my life. When you find clothes that fit, flatter, and enhance, you feel better and are more confident, which certainly goes a long way in enjoying life.

  1. Thank you for that RF….yes..it’s an ongoing complaint..and it is NOT about looking young..it’s about looking and feeling great and…

  2. So refreshing to see you aging gracefully and looking fabulous! Too many people fixated on looking young instead of appreciating…

  3. Hi Marilyn..”ABOUT TURNING 75″….You can add me to your almost 75 llist…Oct 29th of this year. I am so glad…

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

3 Comments
  1. Thank you for that RF….yes..it’s an ongoing complaint..and it is NOT about looking young..it’s about looking and feeling great and really appreciating every single minute…not sweating the small stuff….and ugh…too much overdone plastic surgery does not make you look young..it makes you look old and bad, in my opinion!

  2. So refreshing to see you aging gracefully and looking fabulous! Too many people fixated on looking young instead of appreciating their presence on this earth! Happy, almost, 75th Birthday!

  3. Hi Marilyn..”ABOUT TURNING 75″….You can add me to your almost 75 llist…Oct 29th of this year. I am so glad I am in good company. I loved your article. As always right on target.

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