It is wonderful to see Lyn Slater in the latest Mango advert. Lyn is a professor of social studies at Fordham University who I’ve met a couple of times in New York (most recently when I interviewed her for my new book). The founder of the Accidental Icon blog has a cool, minimalist aesthetic, with a penchant for vintage 1980s Japanese designer clothes and show-stopping sunglasses. Balancing a full-time career in academia with an outstanding social media status, Lyn describes her style as, ‘for the real woman who operates in a professional world who has to have credibility but at the same time doesn’t want to look boring’.  No surprise then, with such a striking image, that earlier this year Lyn was signed up by Elite Models. The 63-year-old has subsequently appeared in a Valentino campaign, was chosen as one of Barney’s ‘personalities’ and is an important thread in Mango’s ‘story of uniqueness’.

Wearing Dries Van Noten for Barneys

Empowering pictures of grown-up women are what I want to see when I browse online or open a magazine. Confident women in wearable clothes who continue to experiment and take risks, ‘I am rebellious,’ continues Lyn, ‘I want to be provocative – fortunately now that I’m older, I know how to manage that’. But as the Accidental Icon hashtag goes #ageisnotavariable, ‘Age is kind of melting away. A lot of these boundaries are softening up – genderless clothes, older women getting amazing ad jobs – it’s so positive’.


The admirable thing is that whatever the ad campaign, Lyn Slater the Accidental Icon always looks like herself.

43 thoughts on “Intelligent Style: Lyn Slater Accidental Icon

  1. I’ve been following Lyn for awhile now—and I love the idea of wanting to look great but still have credibility. Because I think that applies to all of us, really!
    The only thing I wish, is that she wouldn’t always wear the sunglasses. I mean, I love my sunglasses too, but sometimes it’s nice to see a person’s eyes!!

    1. Same! On the sunglasses point, I have a tendency to wear sunnies in pictures too. I just look more dynamic in them and maybe less self conscious about being photographed. But yeah, maybe not ALL the time!

      1. Though they are a signature, there are photos of Lyn without sunglasses. I agree about the self consciousness aspect, I hate having my photo taken and would wear sunglasses all the time if I could!

  2. Lyn’s Accidental Icon is one of the first “over 50” fashion blogs I started following when I lost interest in mainstream fashion magazines. Though More magazine started out with good intentions, I still felt that women over 50 were overlooked or neglected in its pages. (I wasn’t surprised when it folded last year, sadly.) Lyn’s blog gave me hope — and it inspired me to look for other fashion blogs (like yours) for women my age. Because of these blogs, I’m now enjoying fashion again, and I’m buying a lot more clothes again. I no longer miss the fashion magazines I used to follow, and I stopped subscribing to them. What a thrill to see women like Lyn getting modeling contracts. Wonderful!

  3. Lyn is great. She looks practical and terrific and her hair is iconic of her style agenda. There are lots of us women out there that have grown into fabulous style. Years ago I let my hair go completely gray and, while my mother was mortified, it gave me freedom to go with a modified mohawk and kick my style up several notches. I certainly hope that online and hard copy publications continue to profile us smart, good looking and stylish women.

  4. Great article, but am I the only one who feels all these inspirational women don’t actually live in a very “normal” life and maybe it would be nice to see an article about a “inspirational” woman from a more working class background, who has to always shop high street.

  5. Lyn was such an inspiration to me when I first started my blog & she definitely still is two years later. Her style, intelligence & personality exude from every shot but it was her warmth that got me when she left a kind comment on my Instagram.
    I was thrilled to bits to see her in the Mango campaign. I’m pleased for her but also happy she’s broken through an obvious age ceiling which benefits all women over 40.
    The Dries outfit is dreamy…

  6. What an inspiration. Such a drop dead gorgeous woman with immense style Lyn Slater reminds me of Jean Muir, another great fashion icon of our time. Mango did a great campaign with Lauren Hutton a few years’ back. I very recently had my hair seriously chopped off like this to lose lots of the over-dyed browny/orange straw bits from the end and I am now pepper (70%) and salt (30%) without the grotty ends. Having my hair more ‘edgy’ has cost me a fortune buying long (and I mean long) silver earrings, red lipstick and generally dressing more ‘out there’. I never dreamt I would buy and wear black waxed jeans or a leather jacket (thank you, Massimo Dutti for the softest navy leather ever). I have recently discovered Cos (bit late to the party, I know). Like Cindy La Ferle I have abandoned ‘fashion’ magazines and rely on and enjoy your blog and a few selected others to get my mojo back. Never had such fun! The only magazine I buy now is The Gentlewoman which, bi-yearly, is money well spent.

  7. Finding your personal style is so important, it may be a big statement or just a piece of jewellery, something that others don’t do.
    I love working with women to develop a look, a natural style that brings back the fun of fashion again.
    Lyn Slater is definitely a great inspiration.
    Personally, being very close to 50, I love clothes more now than ever before (apart from bikinis!)

  8. Sorry to say it, and even to think it but…. IMO since discovering fashion, Lyn Slater has become ordinary, boring even.

    1. Can’t help but agree Roz. I stopped following her blog because she manages to look edgy but always the same in everything she wears and her dour expression is depressing. If only she would smile just once in a while and look as if she is enjoying life in those clothes!

      1. I think she’s trying to wear a “cool” detached look — too often seen in fashion. It’s not engaging, alas.

  9. I bought your book Alyson and devoured it very quickly in one greedy sitting…but will return to it often…i lost confidence with clothes when oestrogen left the building but i thank you for being my mentor and happy to say with your help the confidence is returning…..

  10. I love Lyn Slater too and have followed her blog for ages. However, I do sometimes wonder how she affords her clothes – I’d love to wear Japanese couture too, but it’s out of my salary range.

      1. I’m not aware of any shops selling vintage Japanese pieces here in NZ, however I am finding some lovely little Korean boutiques opening up around Auckland now. While the clothes aren’t “cheap” for my limited budget, I find if I select one or two pieces and team them with some vintage items or affordable staples I can pull off a look I’m happy with and has that Japanese / Korean aesthetic I’m loving these days.

  11. Greetings from Sydney. Alyson, you and Lyn are just fabulous. Thank you for your terrific book. I so enjoy our broader community of ‘substance with style’ women. Anne

  12. As I am too one of the women who finds Lyn’s charisma on photos quite harsh sometimes (despite of her great style), she obviously isn’t like that in person. I do not think women have to look “soft and sweet”, on the contrary! I dress rather androgynous myself. I guess I just like when women of ANY age (men also) have a kind of allure that is more… approachable. With Lyn I am always an interested observer, but somehow not touched in a deeper way. But that’s ok! The most important thing is that women can dress the way they like at any age – and, as I see it, often have a more interesting style later in life. And Lyn is definitely one of them and very inspiring in the way she does it.
    As I am writing this, I am rethinking my perception. Maybe I am walking the old and overcome cliché of “the harsh older women”. There are many men, who can pull that allure off, and it is completely fine, manly even.
    So: thanks for this post, Alyson. It got me thinking!

  13. The idea of fashion highlighting older women…yay. Pinterest is full of over-50 ideas,
    women with great style who would be fun to be friends with. Something about Lyn Slater
    is a turn-off, possibly the sunglasses and the mom-from-hell sour face or that she has a photographer
    following her around as she poses. It all gives off a self-involved vibe that takes away from the joy
    of being old and “groovy,” something she works hard at being.

    1. I have turned to the Accidental Icon several times, each time hoping to be seduced. Hasn’t happened. I agree with you, Janet Botwick. You have put it into words for me. Interesting to note that this post has encouraged so many responses.

      I look for inspiration elsewhere! Thank you for letting me know that I am not the only one wondering what all the fuss is about.

  14. Lyn’s style is strong and confident and possibly challenging in some ways. Here’s a slightly off-subject but very heartfelt question – I’m keen to explore the grey hair vibe and to ditch the dreary and expensive trips to the hairdresser for colour. BUT who can recommend a great hairdresser who’s actually interested in helping me with this journey? I’ve been to expensive places in London and less expensive places locally and I find that they want to “do” you, the way that they want to see you and not as you wish to be (if you see what I mean). Who has a recommendation for a great hairdresser in London or S E London who’s actually interested in helping me to get the most from my greying hair rather than just making sure that I’m a regular, needy customer in needs of “roots” every six weeks?

    1. I went to my local college and talked to the tutor there about my intentions to go grey. She was completely on board and, over a period of maybe a year, I had blondish and ash blonde highlights added – lots to start with, to blend out the grey roots, then fewer and fewer as the highlights merged with the natural. Each time I went, I had a different student but the tutor explained what was happening so no mistakes or disappointments. About £15 per session so very affordable. Oh, and because students take time and have to be monitored, I also read a book or two! Bonus!

  15. After reading your post yesterday, and getting to know Lyn, I see that she has been mentioned in a Bs As newspaper today, on an article about inspiring women on the Internet

  16. I love her hair. After years of very short hair, I finally grew it out so that it is now a proper bob, side-parted. But – it needs to be sharper so I shall have it chopped again and make it fall like this. My hair is streaky and grey but that looks fine in a proper cut. Also: this smiling/not smiling business is a bizarre. I tend to take more notice of a non-smiler since I don’t think she is trying to please me. And why should she?

    1. Exactly! Why us there is an expectation that women have to alluring or engaging or joyful or smiling or likeable? Personally I love a resting b!tch face but even I didn’t I wouldn’t judge a person I didn’t knows work or personality based on their expression!

  17. Don’t forget everyone that Lynn is a New Yorker and as far as I can tell smiling on social media is virtually illegal if you want to maintain your cool credentials in the Big Apple. She brings her background as an academic to her fashion writing and so may occasionally wander off into the territory of aesthetics more than some readers will enjoy, personally I do enjoy it. The good thing is we now have a range of great mature women blogging intelligently about fashion to choose from.

  18. I always enjoy seeing Lyn and look forward to what she’s wearing. Yes it would be nice to see her ‘out of character’ smiling or holding
    a puppy, but that wouldn’t be HER. She’s a New Yorker. She’s like a runway model…they never smile either.

  19. A beautiful young model can get away with a sour expression (and look great in a potato sack, for that matter). Over a certain – ahem – age, a neutral to pleasant expression is healthier, and if we can somehow look kind, so much the better. A smile isn’t necessary – Alyson doesn’t smile a lot, but she looks relaxed and approachable. It’s not fair, but I know that at my age – over 60 – a slight frown can go beyond severe to uptight, mean, even “keep away!” — and not at all intended.

  20. I have very little personal interest in fashion, but I subscribe to Lyn’s blog because I find her fascinating and her posts stimulating.

  21. I respect her but find her style kind of unchanging and lacking in surprise. Same boxes being ticked each time. I know lots of women who work that severe, intelligent, deconstructed look but it always looks effortful, not effortless.

  22. After this introduction to Lyn Slater, I read further online. She even makes it into this week’s Grazia as an example of a stylish grey haired woman joining the ranks of a modelling agency. What strikes me from what I’ve read : she has the huge advantage of a photographer partner Calvin Lom to capture her at her best in terrific stylish outfits which suit her slender figure. Her clothing is high quality and perfect fit and probably expensive. Why not. She is clearly enjoying no longer being “invisible ” but in the limelight via the blog, magazine profiles and modelling campaigns.
    She is younger than me but has more of a granny look with the severe grey bob and ageing face. Big glasses hide shadows, wrinkles plus they look cool and add a degree of inscrutability. I wear mine in outdoor pictures to look less weary too.

  23. Lyn Slater has encouraged me. I create my own style, which is from inside my head, and work to keep my weight down…important! With the encouragement of this Accidental Icon, I am emboldened to be more courageous at seventy-five and go ahead and wear my “look” with confidence. My hair? Well, chemo took my expensive, time consuming colored locks…when my new multi colored silver and white and gray hair grew in, I kept it: short. Interestingly, I am affirmed by my husband and children. It is fun to be myself!

    So, “Thank you”, Lyn.

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