Lyn Slater is a University Professor turned Cultural Influencer, who has hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook and Instagram. I first came across Lyn — The Accidental Icon — about five years ago when I was considering going natural with my hair colour, and was researching stylish women with silver/grey/white hair.
I started a collection of photos which included well-known women of all ages who had reverted to the natural look such as Ali McGraw, Chrissie Hynde, Annie Lennox, Koo Stark, Helen Mirren, Emmylou Harris and British Vogue’s, Sarah Harris.
I have always loved fashion and quirky, individual women, and during my searches came across a series of articles about a growing number who are refusing to be catagorised because of their age. They feel the term ‘anti-ageing’ gives the impression of fighting the ageing process and trying desperately hard to keep up the appearance of being ‘young’. The ‘anti’ suggests feelings of dissatisfaction with current yourself and of being in constant war against the signs of growing older. Instead of embracing the years we have been gifted with (which many were sadly denied) it seems some women enter a competition with other women of all ages — and their own younger self.
The inspirational women I related to, used words or phrases such as ‘pro-ageing’, ‘authentic’ and ‘happy in my own skin’. Many also stated that they were enjoying the 40+, 50+ etc., period in their lives more than any other, as they now felt a freedom to be the person they had always wanted to be.
Lyn Slater was one of these women
Accidental Icon story:
When I stumbled across Lyn’s photos I forgot the hair issue, as I was immediately drawn to her amazing, individual style of dress. Lyn’s outfit colours back then were mainly black and white — which I have always loved — but it was the style of the clothes which caught my interest. I followed links from Pinterest and various fashion websites etc until I eventually tracked her down to her own Accidental Icon blog.
The blog was like no other fashion blog I had come across, and her introduction explains why :
I started accidental icon because I was having trouble finding a fashion blog or magazine that offered an urban, modern, intellectual aesthetic but also spoke to women who live what I call “interesting but ordinary lives” in cities. Women (like me) who are not famous or celebrities but are smart, creative, fashion forward, fit, thoughtful, engaged, related and most importantly clear and comfortable with who they are..
Lyn explains that she was racking her brain for a name for the blog she was planning, when she met up with a friend for lunch near Fashion Week at Lincoln Center in 2014. She was wearing a Yohji Yamamoto (amazing Japanese designer!) suit and an obscure Chanel bag, and as she passed by, some of the fashion photographers started taking pictures of her.
Tourists saw the photographers and thought Lyn was someone established in fashion, and some started taking pictures of her as well. She was then asked by journalists from Japan if she would do an interview. This reinforced the idea that it was time for her to start a blog. By the time her friend arrived, and saw what was happening, she said, “Oh, look at this. You're an accidental icon!” The name for the blog was born and the rest is history.
Although there was an element of luck and being in the right place at the right time to launch her career, Lyn also had a solid background in writing thanks to her first academic career as a college professor. She was also fortuitous in having a partner, Calvin Lom, who is a gifted photographer (+artist + scientist!) who captures Lyn’s life attitude and fashion flair in the most amazing and artistic images.
In a quirk of fate, when I was staying in New York in September 2015, I actually came across Lyn doing a photo-shoot in a quiet section of the subway in Brooklyn. It was a particularly hot late summer, up in the 40’s, and I was struggling with the unaccustomed heat. She, on the other hand, looked amazingly cool and collected, and instantly recognisable. Not wanting to intrude, I called a quick ‘hello’ and mentioned that I followed her blog, and got a friendly, cheery reply in return, which is typical of her attitude to her fans.
Lyn reckons that we should not consider age when we’re getting dressed.
She states, “I know 18-year-olds who would never wear a mini skirt; I know 70-year-old women with endless, fabulous legs who do. I didn’t intend to break all these [age] barriers that people are saying I’m breaking. For me, fashion is for all women, all men, all people because it brings you pleasure. When I’m getting ready to do something, I don’t say, “Oh, I’m 64. Should I not wear this dress?”
Although she is privileged in being able to access top designer clothes, Lyn is a huge fan of sustainable clothing and often features herself wearing second-hand outfits bought from consignment stores or charity shops. She firmly believes that style is not dependent on having money and discusses this regularly and in some depth in her blog. She also generously shares the places she shops in for bargains with her followers. so they might bag something wonderful at an amazing price too.
Since starting out on her fashion blog journey, Lyn has now established herself on the world platform as a Cultural Influencer who has appeared on talk shows, given a TED talk, magazine interviews etc., and is often seen in the front rows of all the major Fashion Weeks around the world. Apart from sharing her own style favourites she also champions young and upcoming fashion designers, and does not shy away from some of their more experimental ideas.
This woman who started off as an ‘Accidental Icon’ has now evolved into a truly great role model and inspiration for women of all ages. She encourages women of ‘a certain age’ (like me!)to get out there and express our authentic selves through clothing, jewellery and accessories. She engages with her followers on all her social platforms, asking their opinions on dressing for a variety of situations and sharing her own experiences and advice.
She is honest in all her posts, and does not shy away from stating when she is tired, out of sorts or working her way through difficult situations when she has over-stretched herself etc. She has explained how she has ground to a halt at times to reassess where her next move might take her to, whilst prioritising the important things in her life. This has definitely resonated with me at this point in life when we have so many claims on our time.
Lyn is also generous with access to information about her. When I contacted her recently regarding doing a feature on our ‘Grabbing The Wheel’ blog, she immediately agreed and offered me access to any photographs or information I might need, which I was very grateful for.
There is nothing accidental about Lyn Slater’s success, it is well-earned and well-deserved. Long may she continue!
To read more about The Accidental Icon click on Instagram @iconaccidental