Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon (Book Review with Quotes)

Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon (Book Review with Quotes)

When I saw that Iris Apfel had passed on recently at almost 103,  I read this article about her in the New York Times, and learned that she had written and autobiography when she was 96, I got it from the library. She called herself a geriatric starlet, and the oldest living teenager.

What I love about her beyond her love of color is her energy to still be actively and vigorously engaging with life well into her late years, mounting a show of her work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring in a documentary, and becoming a visiting professor at University of Texas, all in her 90’s. Her brash willingness to be her own person I appreciate as well.

Her book was pure joy to read, colorful, engaging, and wise. I give it five stars. Now I want to see her movie, Iris.

Here are some quotes from her book:

  • “I just feel things in my gut and do them.”
  • “You have to be interested to be interesting.”
  • “Having a sense of wonder, a sense of humor, and a sense of curiosity– these are my tonic. They keep you young and childlike, open to new people and things, ready for another adventure.”
  • “Although I’m in my 90’s, I still feel like I’m 5 1/2 because I always look at the world like I’m discovering it for the first time.”
  • “You don’t find out who you are unless you work for it.”
  • “I learned early on that I have to be my own person to be content. If you try to be all things to all people, you end up being ‘nothin’ to nobody.'”
  • “I dress for myself. When you don’t dress  like everyone else, you don’t have to think like everyone else.”
  • “I learned that if you make a point of bonding with the group and they accept you, they will actually like it when you do something original. But if you don’t try to be part of things, forget it. That’s when your originality is going to work against you. Fit in first and then step out.”
  • “Fashion can be bought, style one must possess.”
  • “The worst fashion faux pas is looking in the mirror and seeing somebody else.”
  • “You have to know yourself before you can find your own style.”
  • “Style is attitude, attitude, attitude.”
  • “If you are up tight, you won’t be able to carry off even a seemingly perfect outfit. If that’s happening, I say abandon the whole thing. Its better to be happy than well dressed.”
  • “If you invest in a few well made pieces in good fabrics– like a little black dress– and put your money into accessories, you’ll have a million different outfits.”
  • “I dress for myself so I’ve never given other people’s opinions a second thought.”
  • “If you are not risking, you are not living. It never hurts to take a risk, to try something new.”
  • “Dress for yourself.. Be curious. Have a sense of humor. Think before you speak…And don’t procrastinate!”
  • “Tunisia is special. In the markets there, you buy silver jewelry by weight. I loved Sidi Bou Said, a tiny town on a steep cliff, just outside Tunis. It’s like an itty-bitty version of Capri. All the houses are white with azure doors and trimming, and there are cobblestone streets and lots of flowers everywhere.”
  • “I never think about my age. Maybe that’s the ticket. I never think about it– it’s a passing thought. It’s just a number.
  • “You may not like getting older, but what’s the alternative? You’re here– embrace it. I say put your experience to work, to give something back to other people.”

Can we all be as secure, vibrant, and seizing of our days?













I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. John+gregory 4 months ago

    Wow! What a woman!

  2. Loree 4 months ago

    I have to read this- just her eye glasses alone are enough to capture her spirit!

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