Judging purely by the models on Paris, New York, and Milan runways, one might assume couture is only for the young. Denver’s Judith Boyd has the numbers to prove otherwise: 10,000 (the unique readers the 75-year-old’s blog, Style Crone, attracts each week) and 42,600 (her Instagram audience at press time). Fans might visit Style Crone to revel in Boyd’s wardrobe—known for its dramatic silhouettes, pops of color, and plethora of flamboyant hats—but the website came from a place of intense sorrow. Boyd began blogging in 2010 to cope with her husband’s illness and eventual death. In Style Crone, Boyd discovered renewed purpose—and she hopes to help others do the same. This month, she’ll launch the Widows’ Project, a workshop for the bereaved that she’ll present during community meetings around Denver. Boyd recently sat down with 5280 to discuss her blog’s beginnings, her goals for the Widows’ Project, and why style should be personal.
Name: Judith Boyd
Occupation: Style blogger
Fun Fact: Her hats have their own room.
5280: Nearly every outfit you post on Style Crone has a hat. Why do you love them?
I don’t know, to be honest. I started wearing hats in my 30s. I was a psychiatric nurse then, and hats made me feel prepared to face the day. The patients loved it, but management didn’t always. I changed jobs once because they wouldn’t let me wear my hat. Now, style feels like my art: Many times I start with the hat, and then the look just has an organic flow to it. I love when I look in the mirror and the outfit just feels right.
JB: How about the rest of us? Any style tips?
I like to think of style as self-expression.
Enjoy experimenting and learning what looks good on you. There’s this blogger in England who started the hashtag
#iwillwearwhatilike. She would blog against those “What Not to Wear Over 30” lists, which tell you not to wear things like leopard-print short skirts. So we would make it a point to wear them.
Someone said women over 40 shouldn’t wear tall boots. Who makes these lists?
I think it’s about power and control. You have to remind yourself that style is about what you love to wear instead of trying to fit in.
If you think you look good…
Fashion and grief rarely intersect. How did your husband’s illness inspire you to start Style Crone?
Nelson was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and had been in treatment, off and on, for almost six years. I started the blog to focus on something lighter. We had an ongoing series, “What to Wear to Chemo,” where I would dress up and go with him to chemo every two weeks. Nelson was my photographer. It added a little tongue-in-cheek to our lives.
It’s a way to humanize the situation.
Right. It helped me because putting an ensemble together is like a meditation. Also, it’s important to talk about that time of life, because everybody is going to experience it.
Is that why you decided to start the Widows’ Project?
Partly. Death of a loved one is frightening. You don’t know what to expect until you’ve been through it. So I’ll tell my story and use a slide show with photos from Style Crone.
What do you hope people learn?
Think of a circle. Right after a death, everything in your life—all your grief—is in that circle. It’s all you focus on. But you start creating a new life. The inner circle remains, but another one forms around it. Some things will bring you back to the throes of grief—the days before Nelson’s birthday put me back in the inner circle. But I accept it because I don’t want to give that grief up. I don’t want to lose my connection to Nelson. I know it will pass, and soon I’ll be in the outer circle again. When you’re grieving, everything you think or feel is OK. If people know that sooner, they can accept it.