Linda Rodin Proves 70-Something Really Is Just A Number

Originally published on Refinery29

I remember the first time I set eyes on Linda Rodin — in person, not just in pictures — several years ago at an industry event, where I not-so-secretly ogled her from afar. The stylist, accidental beauty entrepreneur, and, now, icon of agelessness, radiated something beyond great genes and a lit-from-within sunniness. Like some medicinal spritz or elixir, Rodin exudes a special kind of mystery. But the truth is, as you get to know her and discover what triggers that signature movie star smile, it’s not such a mystery after all. Her particular fountain of youth isn’t a fresh pressed turmeric juice or any other trendy potion; it's an abiding quest for newness, adventure...and a life of what could be.

After decades working in fashion as a stylist for big names ranging from Madonna to Harper’s Bazaar, Rodin found herself front and center, perhaps the unlikeliest of It girls, at the age of 65. At a time when most of her contemporaries are taking it easy, Rodin, now 70, is pretty much just getting started. Following a slew of press and photo shoots — including stories in Vogue and a starring role in a now-collectible Karen Walker eyewear campaign — and the 2014 sale of her surprise skincare line, RODIN olio lusso (which she launched at the age of 60 in 2008 and later sold to Estée Lauder for an undisclosed amount), Rodin is already firing up her next business venture, of which the details are still under wraps. “All I can say is that it’s another passion project that feels completely right for me,” she says.As a woman in my 40s, my own perceptions of aging and cultural relevance are constantly being shaped, and reshaped, by media, history, my peers, and strong, uncommon women like Rodin. Self-made, self-styled, and independent, she's earned the freedom to pursue new skills and obsessions whenever she wants — with no expiration date. And this is probably what I love most about her. She doesn’t just scoff at societal odds and lingering, dusty stigmas; she's living proof that getting older as a woman can and should invite more opportunities and experiences — not less — and that radiance and relevance have nothing at all to do with age. Maybe it used to, but getting older doesn’t scare me so much anymore. In fact, it seems pretty thrilling...and I can thank women like Linda Rodin for that.

Photographed by Tory Rust

“I have a denim shirt that I’ve kept for 30 years. It’s probably Levi’s, too, and I’ve had it patched 100 times. It’s literally threadbare. I was gonna wear it today, but I said, Oh, my elbows!”

Christene: “You’ve spoken a lot about how you’ve worn the same pieces and the same denim size for, like, 40 years. But I’d love for you to tell me a story about a time when your style really came into focus.”

Linda: “It was probably maybe in my mid-30s when I just kind of got into my groove. I’ve always had the same silhouette basically, and so I never had to or wanted to radically change. Well, I had to wear like, muumuus (chuckles)…”

Christene: “You went through a muumuu phase?”

Linda: “No, but, of course, in the ‘60s we all wore stuff like that. But I think I got the denim thing early on, and I really never changed that. And I’ve never, ever been showy with my clothes. I was never into low-cut anything…”

Christene: “Me neither. I dress like a nun.”

Linda: “Me, too. I cover everything. But when I was 18, we had hot pants and mini skirts, and that was probably the end of it for me.”

Christene: “Your makeup routine is probably similar to mine: glasses, lipstick, done.”

Linda: “Lipstick. Yeah, that’s it. I should probably wear more, but I, I can’t stand it! For the last 40 years, I’ve been kind of on the same wagon. I was never a big makeup person. Never did much with my hair either.

Christene: “I’m not sure if you’ve experienced this, but I find as I get older, I’m more observant and, I suppose, caring of myself. Even if I only wear three products on my face, I make sure they’re the right products and they suit me.”

Linda: “When I was growing up and aging, we weren’t looking at ourselves that way. I didn’t notice my neck until I was 65.”

Christene: “Because we’re all getting older in the age of hyper-public social media, I’m always curious to read about other women’s experiences. Your particular brand of beauty is so inspiring to me because it feels ageless…I know so many women of all generations who look up to you and, ultimately, feel less afraid of getting older.”

Linda: “It is flattering and lovely — and kind of odd — you know, to become visible at 60.

Christene: “Not just visible but iconic! Speaking of iconic, tell me three things in your wardrobe that you would never, ever get rid of.”

Linda: “These jeans [pointing to her pants]. I wear vintage Levi’s 501s all the time, and I probably have five that I love. I have a denim shirt that I’ve kept for 30 years. It’s probably Levi’s too, and I’ve had it patched 100 times. It’s literally threadbare. I was gonna wear it today, but I said, ‘Oh, my elbows!!’ And, I actually have a pair of shoes that I bought when I was 18 living in Italy. They’re orange low-cut ballet slippers that I’ve had for 60 years.”

Photographed by Tory Rust
Photographed by Tory Rust

Christene: “How long did you live in Italy?”

Linda: “I followed a boyfriend when I was 18, and then I stayed and I learned Italian. I worked at a great art gallery in Milan and just became myself, to be honest. You know, I was a small-town girl growing up on Long Island, and it changed my life completely.”

Christene: “I love that idea of ‘becoming yourself’…do you have any philosophies about getting dressed?”

Linda: “The easier, the better! I don’t like to primp, and I’ll get in a groove where I’ll wear the same thing for a week. I really couldn’t care less.

Christene: “I do that, too. It’s so liberating…”

Linda: “Yeah, I mean, I just don’t like to dress up.”

Photographed by Tory Rust
Photographed by Tory Rust