I’ve been meeting lots of aging New Yorkers recently and discovering a very cool and stylish maturing world here in the city of shows, to quote my darling Lou Reed, himself a sexagenerian. That sounds like I’ve met him doesn’t it? I haven’t.
Anyway, the elderly are cool in NYC. They are treated with respect in shops, cafes etc and many of them display an eccentricity I’m finding highly admirable. They are loud, feisty and demanding, cracking jokes and not taking any nonsense from surly sales assistants, bus drivers etc. Both sexes walk with pride even if it includes a stick or a stoop and all the ladies I see wear at least bright coloured lipstick, with many going all the way make-up wise. Instead of the uniform blue rinses of the English provinces you find all kinds of wild hairstyles on the average over 65-er. Spikey Jonny Rotten crops and silver bobs abound – a look I’ll be going for one day God willing my hair clings on that long. A neighbour of mine has just had her long grey locks chopped into a very funky spiky short cut and died a great shade of aubergine. A retired teacher, she told me when I admired her new look “Thanks! I love it. I’d been wearing my hair in that long, straight style since Woodstock. I saw the movie and thought, I need to change my hair!!”
Our neighbourhood is very Jewish and wigs abound among the more orthodox ladies. This is a licence for pure rock n roll indulgence on the part of many of them. I am always seeing 70 plus-ers with big luscious Bond Girl hair or Marie-Antoinette style pile-ups in vivid red or mahogany. New York ladies love a hat, particularly crochet berets, felt jobs with brims or big fur muff-lookers. No sad woolly pull-ons for them. All kinds of funky eyewear are groovy too, with designs from the 60s and 70s very popular. Funky layered jumpers, leggings and shawls over furry ankle boots or little waterproof bootees are now coming out thanks to the colder weather. Not to mention astrakahn and fake fur coats and lots of bright coloured tweed overcoats and capes from the first time they were fashionable.
The lesson for me is to hang on to all my clothes. I am going to stash them all in vacuum air-sucked out packing bags for eternity. If we end up staying here till old age I will look forward to dying my hair purple/white, getting out all my old gear and strutting about while the young gaze admiringly and hold open doors as I pass.