At Home with Style Crone's Judith Boyd
For our series Closet Confidential, we interview interesting and uber cool people in their homes wearing outfits from their closets. Writer KOYA NYANGI caught up with Judith Boyd of Style Crone at her home in City Park.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ESTHER LEE LEACH
She is the woman behind the blog ‘Style Crone’ and one thing is for sure, Judith Boyd is a woman to be reckoned with. Her charm, grace, charisma and style are the reasons many people have fallen in admiration with Judith. The creation of Style Crone came from a moment of grief, despair and bonding that, in turn, created a moment of hope, revival, connections and opportunities-- a legacy in the making! Judith has come a long way, she has evolved into a woman to be admired, and is far from finished with this epic journey. She has wowed us with her pictures and put smiles on our faces as her story unfolds, showing us the power of adding a hat to any outfit and making a statement with every shot. Judith has influenced people from all walks of life as she shares her unique style with the masses. Her style has also influenced me in my journey and I’m excited to have this opportunity to chat with her:
Koya Nyangi : Judith I am so excited to be chatting with you! Let’s talk about the genesis of Style Crone?
Judith Boyd: The first time that I clicked on publish on the dashboard of my blog Style Crone, I was flooded with feelings that I often experience when launching on a new adventure, having no idea what I’m doing or of the consequences. A touch of fear alongside a rush of excitement. A hesitation as I challenge myself. A sensation of throwing myself off into the abyss and not knowing where I will land.
But then what could be more difficult than watching my husband of over 30 years dying before my eyes. As it turned out, he lived nine more months. And the blog that emerged from cancer care giving, death, grief and transformation was born. My husband Nelson was my photographer, and Style Crone became a lifeline for both of us as we navigated the unpredictable and intense world of loss, fear and the intimate moment of death. We had found a way to connect through the lens and even discovered levity by featuring an ongoing series, “what to wear to chemo.” The blog continues today, and I have no intention of stopping. What began as a way to cope with the most difficult time of my life continues to add value and purpose to my existence.
KN: I think about this line “Style never fades it evolves” what would you say about this and how have you been able to identify with this line and do think you have witnessed this through your blog?
JB: I see style as creative self-expression. I have come to believe that expressing and accepting ourselves fully, be it understated or outrageous and everything in-between, improves wellbeing, decreases fear and changes lives for the better. It also transforms and positively impacts how our culture views aging.
Blogging is a platform to express myself through style and the written word, and it has documented how I have evolved over the years. It is a discipline and a way to express my passions. I am always moving forward to the next post, and to the next style and life evolution.
KN: This is our beauty issue and you are our cover star. What does beauty mean to you?
JB: As per the dictionary, the definition of the word beauty is the quality present in a person or thing that gives intense aesthetic pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind or the senses. I see beauty as an inside job and something that radiates from within. True beauty is being confident in yourself and being open to new people and experiences. Beauty is as individual as we all are – all races, all ages, all genders, all sizes. Beauty is the representation of all of society. And representation matters for the health and the success of each individual and of the culture.
KN: When I think of you, I immediately think of hats and all your hats are gorgeous!. How did your love of hats start and what is the first memory you have of wearing a hat?
JB: I began wearing hats in the 1970’s when I started wearing vintage. The first hat that I remember wearing was a small burgundy vintage felt chapeau adorned with a pearl pin. I began going out wearing a hat and then to work, which at that time was a mental health center in Denver. I loved how it added the finishing touch to any outfit and framed the face. I felt empowered and most of all it was fun. Soon hats became my signature and remain so to this day.
KN: Your blog which showcases your style has opened doors for you. One being, the campaign of New York—Jewelry designer Wendy Brandes how did that come to be? And how do such opportunities make you feel?
JB: I met Wendy in 2010 after I launched my blog. We followed and commented on one another’s blogs over the years. I was impressed with her writing and the jewelry that she created. Over a year ago Wendy sent me an email, asking if I would model her jewelry when I next visited NYC, where she is based. In February of this year I informed her that I would be traveling to NYC. Wendy gathered a team of eight talented artists for a photo shoot during the time that I was in NY. Meeting her face to face for the first time was very emotional for me, as we had only known each other virtually until that day. The photo shoot was extraordinary. Everyone that was involved was focused on producing the best photos possible, and with a calm and kind presence. I felt extremely grateful and humbled for this extraordinary experience, along with the realization that it all started with my blog Style Crone, which has brought me so many new and exciting experiences.
KN: I am very curious to know Judith, is there one item in your closet that you've owned for the longest that you still have?
JB: I had to think about this for a while. And then I remembered that I have one of my student uniforms from nursing school, which I started in Minneapolis in 1961. The garment is made of stiff white cotton with my name and the name of the school of nursing prominently displayed on a pocket on the bodice. It would be fun to wear on the blog someday. Thanks for triggering this memory for me.
KN: How do you think someone can cultivate a personal style?
JB: Developing one’s personal style is a process. I think it’s important to understand your body type and find silhouettes that look best on you. Pay attention to pieces that make you feel good and make you smile. Experiment and take risks with different looks. Shopping vintage shops, thrift stores, and resale shops is an inexpensive and sustainable way to try something new. Well-fitting background pieces allow for unique and interesting accessories and embellishments.
Pay attention to the style of someone who you admire, and try some of her creative ideas. Try dressing from the inside out, depending on how you feel. If you feel vibrant on a certain day, wear a color to express that sensibility. I don’t usually follow trends, but if I’m inspired when I see fringe, for example, worn frequently in a season, it may pique my interest to search for that in my closet. I have many possibilities in my vintage collections. Most of all, have fun! It’s not life or death, and you can always change your outfit if you don’t like it!
KN: Your clothes have some architectural aspect to them. What kind of clothing do you find yourself more prone to buying?
JB: I’m currently interested in unique and architectural silhouettes and experimenting with new ideas. I frequently shop my closet and wear what I have in unfamiliar and creative ways. I remain attracted to vintage, and mixing the old with the new. Accessories, most importantly headwear, are a very important element of my style. In fact, I many times choose the accessories before I plan the background ensemble. The background is my canvas and the accessories are a way to personalize and polish my look. I guess you could say that the background is an accessory to the outfit that I build.
Accessories add fun, excitement and individuality to any composition. They save resources, which respects sustainability, in that the same background can be used, and look completely different with well-chosen accessories. Accessories involve creativity, which is a healing and mindful activity, which improves quality of life. They reflect one’s personality, enhance individual self-expression and are many times functional. Adding a scarf on the way out the door provides warmth on a cold day AND boosts my spirits, even if I’m on my way to a walk in the park!
KN: I am sure you get asked this a lot but what’s a piece of advice you would give someone when they are trying to figure out their style?
JB: I think that it’s important to be true to yourself and reflect from within. Have fun and be less critical. Wear what you love and embrace creativity and self-expression. If you feel pleasure at the reflection in the mirror, give it a try.
For example, if someone wants to explore the wearing of headwear, start with an understated piece, such as a beret or fedora, which can be purchased at a thrift store or consignment shop for a small amount of money. Put it on and walk out the door. Experience how it feels for a few hours in public or just take a walk in your neighborhood. You can always take it off it you don’t like it. It’s not permanent and the risk is low. If I feel pleasure at the reflection in the mirror, out the door I go! I have found that a small change or a new habit can affect other parts of my life as well. Trying something new can be transformative and bring unexpected gifts to fruition.
KN: You are 76 years old and you exude creativity. What inspires your creativity at your age and how do you fuel it?
JB: My interest in style and creativity intensified after launching my blog, Style Crone, and later, my Instagram account. I’ve been influenced by other bloggers and Instagrammers of all ages. I am captivated by the diverse visual theater that these global platforms provide. Inspiration is everywhere. It can be found in nature, travel, museums, social media platforms, magazines, the street, film, theatre, restaurants, and on any day and anytime. Curiosity is my friend!
KN: What is your one beauty essential?
JB: Because I view beauty as a quality that radiates from within, I see my most important beauty essential as my health in all areas. I structure my days around self-care and that which maintains and improves my wellbeing. It includes practicing kindness, self-acceptance, and the acceptance of others. Judgement of others is not good for the skin and hair.
KN: Style crone has been running for several years. What motivates and inspires you every day and how do you take care of yourself?
JB: My health is my number one priority. Without my health, everything in life becomes more difficult. I eat a plant-based diet, practice yoga, exercise aerobically, meditate and live mindfully, nurture healthy relationships, receive acupuncture monthly, and follow my passions, which motivate me and inspire me. I am also curious and see learning as a lifelong adventure. All of these lifestyle practices contribute to my physical, mental, cognitive and emotional health. However, there are so many possibilities that occur beyond my control. With that in mind, I do everything possible to increase the odds so that I am able to live a full, productive, interesting, challenging, and energizing life.
KN: What lessons have you learned over the years about style and beauty?
JB: I launched my blog Style Crone in 2010 during a difficult time in my life. What I found was an empathetic support system of bloggers and a wide network of likeminded people. I also found hundreds of milliners and hat makers who have enhanced my passion for headwear. I have learned that it’s possible to create new friendships and learn from others no matter my age. I became a better writer, as I was also expressing myself through the written word. Writing is like a muscle, and it gets better with practice. There is always room to grow, transform, stretch, and learn over one’s lifespan. Because I am consistently composing new ensembles to wear on my blog and Instagram, I have become, at the age of 76, more experimental with my style. I have been influenced by bloggers from all over the world who I have followed for years. Blogging has exposed me to new ideas and has improved my computer skills. Technology is always changing, and continual change has made me more resilient. Style Crone has totally changed my life for the better. I plan to continue until I wear my last hat.
Judith Boyd: @stylecrone
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