IRIS APFEL ON …TIMELESS STYLE
Harper's Bazaar India|December 2020
The 99-year-old fashion icon shares the philosophy behind her bold and whimsical wardrobe

I’ve loved fashion ever since I was a little girl. I always liked dressing up, and my mother was very chic. She was at home with me until I was about 11, when she went back to work, leaving me to fend for myself. I recall one occasion when Easter was coming and I didn’t have an outfit to wear for the big parade on Fifth Avenue. It was the height of the Great Depression, and my mother was too busy getting her business established to take me shopping. So, instead, she said, ‘I’ll give you 25 dollars’, which was a generous amount of money at that time, ‘and you can go into the city and get yourself an outfit—it’ll be good experience.’ I was crazy with joy, and went straight to S Klein, the granddaddy of all discount shops on 14th Street in Manhattan, because I knew I’d get a good bargain there. Right away, I found a dress I thought I simply had to buy—but then I remembered my mother telling me I must never buy the first thing I saw, I must comparisonshop. So I went uptown and looked around the big department stores—Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Best & Company—where, naturally, everything was much more expensive. I decided I’d better go back and get that dress, but when I got there, I found it gone! I was frantic and breathlessly looked through all the racks, found it, gave thanks to God and 12 dollars and 98 cents to the cashier.

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