In 2010, Judith Boyd started fashion blogging full-time as a way to cope with the loss of her husband of 32 years, Nelson. Nelson was Judith’s first photographer and encouraged her to start blogging, which she feels was his parting gift to her.
Now 76, Judith is a successful model, style influencer and age diversity advocate, with over 52,000 followers on social media. And she continues to honour Nelson by carrying on with the work that they started together.
Judith and Nelson lived in Denver, Colorado, USA where Judith was working as a psychiatric nurse, as she had done for the majority of her career. Then in 2005, Nelson was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and he underwent many difficult treatments over the next six years.
As Nelson’s health deteriorated, Judith spent less time at work; and more time either at home or at the hospital, until eventually she stopped working altogether at the age of 67.
To distract herself from the heartache she was feeling, Judith spent more time experimenting with style and before long, Style Crone was born. Judith used her blog as a place to discuss and document her style, but also as an outlet – somewhere to express how she was feeling about her husband’s illness.
After Nelson passed away, Judith threw herself into her passion for style and began exploring other social media platforms – including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
She explains, “I feel it [my blog] was a gift that Nelson gave me. It was like he knew I needed something to help me move forward. It helped me while I was grieving to put together an outfit and continue the project that we started together.
“I did it in honour of him and I still feel that way. I’m trying to make the most of whatever comes forward for me because I believe that if I put myself out there, you never know what you could get back in return.”
“...I feel like it’s important to do something that I fear because it helps me feel stronger when I do something that I didn’t think I can do”
When Judith started blogging in 2010, she had no previous experience with social media and didn’t know what to expect. But she says that it exposed her to new people and opportunities and reduced her isolation.
Some of the highlights of her career since leaving nursing – which have stemmed from her visibility on social media – include walking on the runway for a Denver designer in New York Fashion Week, appearing in a jewellery ad campaign and presenting on style over 60 with Ari Seth Cohen (friend and author of blog, Advanced Style), at the Chicago Humanities Festival.
She has also created and delivered workshops for other widows; a project which is still ongoing today.
Reminiscing about her social media journey over the last 10 years, she says, “I didn’t know when I started using social media what it would mean and it felt like I was throwing myself into the abyss, but it was a way for me to focus on something other than the end of my life with my partner and the grief that came with it.
“I feel that in order to keep moving forward, and not become overwhelmed by what’s happening in the world, at times I need to focus on something beautiful and social media helped me to discover some of the amazing things going on across the globe.
“I discovered a community – mostly women who were blogging and interested in style that made me feel supported. Social media and style has also been good for my brain because it’s always changing, so everyday there’s something new to learn. It’s important for me to do things that I fear because I feel stronger afterwards.”
“If we confront ageism and work towards changing the culture of it, then the generations that follow will be able to participate in life with more acceptance and feel that they’re valued”
As well as being passionate about style, Judith is also an advocate for age diversity – a topic which she sometimes addresses in her blog.
As she ages, Judith feels that it’s important to remain visible, and her bold sense of style and strong following on social media has allowed her to do that.
She hopes that by confronting ageism, she will help to make the world a better place for the generations that follow.
She says, “Style Crone is the name that I chose for my blog in 2010, with the support of my husband.
“There aren’t any popular terms out there that are currently used to describe older women. But after some research I discovered that in certain cultures, `crone’ has been used to positively describe and give reverence to older women.
” I wanted to use it for my blog to reinforce that attitude and change the way older people are perceived. If we confront ageism and work towards changing the culture of it, then the generations that follow will be able to participate in life with more acceptance and feel that they’re valued.
“When the skin of a 20 year old woman and the skin of an 80 year old woman are both seen as beautiful, just different, then I think we will have conquered ageism.
She continues, “I get plenty of younger people following me on social media and asking for fashion advice. Miley Cyrus followed me for a number of years on Instagram before her account changed.
“I think creating intergenerational relationships is one of the ways to confront ageism because each generation has so much to give. I feel that I learn from all the people that I form relationships with, no matter what age they are.”
“I think that a hat or any kind of headwear really adds to every outfit. It gives me confidence, it’s a conversation starter, it gets me a better seat at a restaurant and it’s fun!”
Currently, Judith has a very busy schedule; which is largely dominated by photoshoots, social media management, time spent with her grandchildren, and participation in the movement against climate change.
Judith is very selective about the fashion brands that she chooses to work with – preferring to promote those who support sustainable fashion – and her look is distinguished by her use of second hand and vintage items, as well as her love of headwear…
“I see headwear as the most important accessory. I feel that it adds to every ensemble, even an outfit that I’m wearing to go grocery shopping. I almost always wear a hat.
“Sometimes in the images on my social media accounts I don’t, just for variety, because I do like my hair. It’s my natural colour which is white – I used to dye it red, but I grew it out when I was 70.
“But I think that a hat or any kind of headwear really adds to every outfit. It gives me confidence, it’s a conversation starter, it gets me a better seat at a restaurant – and it’s fun!”
“I think it’s important that we keep growing and stretching for our entire lives, and until I wear my last hat, that’s what I plan to do”
Even though Judith’s fashion career has given her a new sense of passion and purpose, she admits that her top priority will always be her health. Because of this Judith structures her life around her yoga classes, and makes additional time for meditation.
She is currently the oldest person at her yoga class, but she says that this just adds to the fun, as she enjoys mixing with people from all different walks of life.
At present, Judith has no plans to lay down her hat and is keen to keep going for as long as she can.
Her life experience thus far has taught her that there is always room to keep learning and growing, even when life proves difficult.
Judith says, “I don’t really like the word ‘retire’ because it infers that you just stop doing anything and sort of just disappear from the scene. And so I feel like the world ‘transition’ is a better word to indicate what we do throughout our lives.
“But for now, I plan to continue doing what I’m doing and just see what happens.”
Reflecting on the steps that she has taken to get where she is today, Judith offers some advice to anyone else who may be at a crossroads and is unsure where to turn next.
She says, “My advice is that no matter what happens, you should always focus on your health first because it affects everything that you do. After that one of the other main factors that I feel contributes to longevity is having a passion and a purpose.
“My passion is style but yours may be completely different. Some people paint, some people garden, some people cook. Whatever it is, just make sure that you have something that you love to do because it affects how you feel.
“I think it’s important that we keep growing and stretching for our entire lives. And until I wear my last hat, that’s what I plan to do.”