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Photo credit: Pedro Imos

In our youth-obsessed culture, women need reminders that the smoothness of our skin isn’t what keeps us relevant and interesting; only our engagement and enthusiasm for life can do that. Now that I’ve reached middle age, I find myself preparing for life as a senior, taking lessons from people who are already there. Today and tomorrow, I’m sharing a few of my favorite inspirations for stealing grandma’s groove.

Admirably chic at 100

If you’re a woman who doesn’t want to be enslaved by trying to look forever 35, you’re going to love Advanced Style, a blog that celebrates stylish, vibrant women of a certain age. It’s common to see gorgeous fashionistas from 50 to 101 strutting their well-honed style for the camera or sharing the inside scoop on how to live admirably from start to finish. They may be a fortunate few, but if this is how they feel at 101, why can’t we be happy with where we are today?

The appeal of Advanced Style hints at a trend that’s been noted by lots of friends in the fashion business: it can take decades for a woman to find her true sense of style. Women past their 20s tend to be a vintage seller’s dream because they buy more than younger fashion lovers. It’s not what you’d expect, but a recent study from the market research firm NPD Group confirmed it: women over 45 are the biggest apparel spenders.

We have more disposable income, there are more of us, and our 2012 spending is up five percent this year despite a severe recession. We’re healthier, wealthier and more independent than any generation of women in history. And that’s why it slays me that anyone would assume age has anything to do with “being cool.”

Just because someone has the poor taste and lack of discipline to look middle-aged doesn’t mean they want to surrender the space called “cool.” Thank goodness they don’t have to. Not when there are people like Bill Cunningham. I’ll tell you about him tomorrow.

The source of the quote in this photo is Kek, a Sudanese boy describing a mature woman who befriends him in Katherine Applegate’s youth book, Home of the Brave. It’s a beauty of a book. Grab your hankies first!

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.