Women over 50 who are looking for fashion tips and no-nonsense strategies for style know where to go: Judith Boyd, creator of Style Crone. She has nearly 14,000 followers on Instagram alone, where she posts weekly images of her eclectic dressing style. Boyd also might be single-handedly bringing back the hat and is regularly found on lists of top blogs for women over 50.
Boyd, who is 73, sees style as a way for women of a certain age to remain visible (she participates in Visible Mondays, a weekly fashion blogger celebration created by Not Dead Yet Style to celebrate older women not becoming invisible). Boyd also encourages women to dress comfortably and has joined other fashion bloggers promoting that idea under #IWillWearWhatILike, which was created by fashion blogger Not Dressed as Lamb as a response to an internet piece listing 30 items women over 30 should not wear.
“We are changing how we are viewed,” Boyd says of these two popular online programs. “There are so many myths and stereotypes [about older women] and we’re confronting that and confronting how older people are viewed in our culture.”
PRiME Women caught up with Boyd to talk about how she started Style Crone and to get her best fashion tips for women over 50. (Don’t miss our round-up of other top fashion bloggers for women over 50.)
For Judith Boyd, fashion is not an external idea; it is part of who she is, how she defines herself. It’s a way to reinvent herself every day. Boyd worked as a psychiatric nurse in an emergency setting for much of her life, in particular helping those with head and spinal cord injuries. She did not wear a nurse’s uniform at that time. Instead she dressed, she says, as inspiration.
“It felt so organic to adorn myself,” she says, noting she often wore hats to work as well. “I was getting appreciated. I was getting support for that even though it was in a work setting.”
PRiME: How did you get interested in writing a fashion blog for women over 50?
Judith Boyd: “I had been interested in ensembles for years. My choice of what I wore was important to me. When I would put together an outfit, it felt like a meditation to me. It felt soothing. I was prepping for the day. It helped me to feel more calm and present and open.”
The blog began as an extension of that idea when Boyd’s husband, Nelson, was diagnosed with cancer. Her husband was a photographer and collaborating on the blog was a way to focus on something beyond the disease. “It helped me and it helped him to ride the waters of that experience. I had a series on my blog — What to Wear to Chemotherapy. It felt like it was light and that we were doing something outside that experience and not part of it.”
“I had no idea what I was doing,” she continues. “It was true for my husband as well. We were partnering in this blog experience that I knew very little about. I had no idea I would find all these other people into the same thing I was.”
PRiME: What do you hope readers get from the blog?
Judith Boyd: “For me, it has to do with aging and that there’s so much we can do at this point that is life-affirming. As we age, it doesn’t mean that we don’t still participate and embrace our lives. Our culture hasn’t seen [older women] as valuable for a long time.
“I’m hoping they feel better about the aging process and themselves. We don’t have to be invisible; we don’t have to follow rules about what we should or shouldn’t be wearing. It’s about living with passion. If we do feel passion about something—gardening, whatever—it increases longevity to have that passion.”
PRiME: How does what you wear affect that feeling in you?
Judith Boyd: “…it reflects what’s going on internally. If I look in the mirror and look good then I feel better and out the door I go. It doesn’t need to be trendy. It’s a reflection of me and what I’m expressing. It doesn’t mean I would [dress] inappropriately to go to a memorial service. I dress for myself and that makes me feel good. It’s also creative. It engages the right side of my brain and that improves my health.”
PRiME: What about the title, Style Crone? A crone can certainly have a negative connotation.
Judith Boyd: “I couldn’t find any positive words to describe an older woman. I wanted to turn it around and make it something positive and joyful and life-affirming.”
At one point in her life, Boyd owned a hat shop. “I learned so much from that experience,” she says. “I grew to appreciate hats and what they were made from and the artistry of millinery. I learned how a hat enhances the silhouette of what I’m wearing, how I can change my silhouette with the shape of a hat.”
PRiME: How did you get into hats? They’ve been part of your signature style for years.
Judith Boyd: “I feel I can change my mood with the hat I put on. It’s almost like changing character in extreme. I could wear more than one hat in a day depending on my activity. I don’t feel complete without having a hat on.”
Indeed, Boyd says sometimes it is a particular hat that dictates the rest of her outfit. “There’s a creative mix of what I’m putting together,” she says. “Sometimes I start with the hat and go from there, adding background. Accessories are everything. All you need is a well-fitting background and you can have 50 outfits with that one background.”
Each month, Boyd celebrates a particular hat on her blog. She displays one of her vintage hats and ensembles and asks readers to throw some headwear her way. Readers around the world post their favorite hat of the month. Hat Attack #33, for instance, is a study in lilac fabulousness as Boyd built her outfit around vintage floral wonder.
PRiME: How would describe your style?
Judith Boyd: “That’s a hard one for me. I like to experiment with different silhouettes and looks. I wear vintage with modern. Almost everything I wear is recycled. Estate sales are my favorite place to shop. Some basic background pieces I purchase.”
PRiME: How did you develop that style?
Judith Boyd: “I don’t know where it came from. I remember in high school paying attention [to clothes] and then in the ‘60s I started paying more attention [to fashion]. It escalated in the ‘70s when I started wearing vintage. I would wear oversize ‘40s dresses with belts and boots to work.”
Then, in the ‘80s, Boyd’s interest really took off when she opened a hat shop with a colleague. Boyd is such a hat fan that she has devoted an entire room in her home to her hat collection. She changes out the hats twice a year to reflect the seasons. She brushes them and cleans them. “Others, I take out of tissue,” she says. “It’s like meeting old friends again.”
Judith Boyd: 3 Hat Tips for Women
- Choose something you feel attracted to or that engages you in some way. As with shoes, what kind of shoes call to you? It’s the same with a hat. Is there a shape or color or material that engages you?
- “Fall in love with the hat even if it doesn’t follow the rules.” Boyd notes the supposed rule about how people with square faces should not wear hats with square crowns. “I don’t follow that rule.”
- If just starting with hats, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Go to a consignment shop and buy a beret or fedora or style that’s more frequently worn so you don’t feel uncomfortable wearing it. Just put it on your head and walk out the door. See what happens. I think wearing hats gets you a better seat in a restaurant. I think things happen that may not happen otherwise.
Where you can find Style Crone: