Tomboy Chic – Meet Diane From Fashion on the 4th Floor

Every woman wants to be unique, and Diane Capozzi is no different. The 45-year-old creator of  Fashion On The 4th Floor is a self-professed tomboy, whose aim is to “break all the fashion rules or at least bend them.”


This Massachusetts blogger with the pretty smile and happy- go-lucky attitude is both an athlete and an ex-model. Diane says if clothes are a silent message, she wants to be heard loud and clear! 

I recently had the chance to chat with Diane about her style and her blog (only 3 months old).  Here is my interview with this Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer.

Deborah Boland miniDeb: You had an interesting relationship with fashion growing up. You say it was never a part of your vocabulary, but something you secretly desired in your life. Tell us more.

Diane: I would probably use the word negative versus interesting to describe my relationship to fashion as a child.  I wouldn’t say my hometown was fashionable, but there were certainly fashionable girls who I marveled at their clothing.  So, there began the “love/hate” relationship with fashion.  I envied the pretty girls in school who dressed so nicely, yet at the same time I was fascinated with what they wore.  I had immense yearning & ached to feel pretty & dress like them. 

The fact that I hit 5’9” by age 9, being dark-skinned, being constantly asked if I was a boy or a girl, having to wear hand-me-downs from my two older brothers and also having a mother who wasn’t into clothing or fashion gave me such a feeling of inadequacy.  I mean, who wants to wear their older brothers used “tough skin” jeans, sneakers with holes & used “Penguin” polo shirts.

fashion on fourth floor green trench coat

Deb: How would you describe your style today?

Diane: Eclectic, experimental, colorful, varied, with a hint of unexpected and tomboy.


Deb: You’ve lived in many countries. Where, and how did these countries influence your ideas on style? 

Diane: Let’s see, four countries.  Does working on the cruise ship count as a country?!?!  Hehehe! Hungary, Bermuda, England, Cayman Islands, and now living just outside of Boston.

Hungary was a socialist economy. When I was there you felt the true sense of their financial struggle.  Taking care of basic needs was the only priority for most, but Budapest had a very dark, cool, and edgy vibe.  Styling was simple, functional; nothing outlandish! 

Bermuda & the Cayman Islands brought out the festive, vibrant side to styling!  There was such freedom with color; it was casual, minimal and unfussy. No one was a slave to trends; it was carefree and that suited my personality. 

Living in England, San Francisco & now Massachusetts, again I gravitated towards functional, durable and I definitely lacked in creativity.  That is probably due to lack of financial means & the harsh weather.  You have to be a chameleon when living in such diverse environments, as the lifestyle influences your fashion choices.

fashion on the fourth floor sweater

Deb: You did some modeling in your twenties. Tell us about that experience and what it taught you about yourself?

Diane: Wow, did I grow so much as a person from modeling!  It’s an unbelievably tough, grueling, negative industry and not easy by any means. My husband gets so angry with me when I say, “I’m a failed model.”  No, seriously!  In my eyes, I wanted to accomplish much more, and it was frustrating, but I also know I was offered many more opportunities than other models out there. 

After many years, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to feel unaccepted anymore.  I learned that I was a genuine, deep, thoughtful person, and this shallow industry didn’t fit with who I was as a person.


Deb: You’re an athlete. What dressing challenges does an athletic body type present and how do you work around them?

Diane: I was a competitive swimmer for close to 20 years, so my shoulders are seriously broad, and I’m fairly narrow through my waist & hips.  I have to order larger sizes to get the proper fit through my shoulders & arms; then I’m left with huge bulk around my waist.  If I can give the number one styling tip:  find a great tailor!!!


Deb: Trends you love right now? 

Diane: Culottes, culottes, culottes!  They are so fun, comfy and a year-round workhorse in my arsenal.  Since I’m in a real experimental phase in my life with fashion, I’m open to many trends and having fun with the creative process, so it is authentic and stylistically me.


Deb: You talk about your obesession with styling outfits in creative ways. Take us through that creative process. Where do you start and how do you know when you’ve got it right? 

Diane: A great place for inspiration is the cardio machine at the gym.  Yes, I spend quiet time exercising while I devour every fashion magazine out there, and I love studying the details of every fashion spread.

When I actually shop, there is always something specific in mind that I’m hunting for; I’m never just wandering or browsing.  Another great starting point for myself is finding an item in my closet that I haven’t worn for ages.  Question:  why am I not wearing this?  Then, I pull anything and everything (patterns, various silhouettes, texture) to re-work the look. A huge question I always ask is, “what would be the unexpected choice to pair with this item?”  When I figure that out and have pulled together a look that’s fun and brings a sense of confidence, then I know it is perfect for me.


Deb: What is your magic recipe for Tomboy Chic?

Diane: My perfect finishing touch to achieve Tomboy Chic are clean, white sneakers, in fact, any sneakers. I’m obsessed with them & love all colors and styles.


Deb: Maxi skirts are a favorite. Why? What’s your favorite way to style them?

Diane: Well, I love maxi and midi skirts equally.  Haven’t met a skirt that I didn’t like, just some more than others.  Again, sneakers are so fun, unique, unexpected, and of course, a super comfy way to style a skirt. 

fashion on fourth floor orange

Deb: Color is important to you. Do you choose colors based on emotion, or do you subscribe to any kind of color theory based on your skin or hair, etc.?

Diane: Color affects me greatly.  I love almost all colors on the color wheel and my color choices definitely rotate as the seasons change.  Right now, we have been renovating our vacation home in Florida, so teals, ocean blues, mint green have been on my mind, and I generally tend to gravitate to that family of colors in fashion.  They are soothing, make me feel so relaxed and help me to unwind.  Without a doubt, the fall colors in Massachusetts have been so striking & have definitely influenced my color choices when purchasing recent items.   


Deb: You say you like to break the rules, or at least bend them. What is the biggest risk you took and did it work out?

Diane: I don’t think I’m taking a risk; I’m just making up for lost time.  I’m finally learning to live my life, not to live in fear of failure, discover my creative side, allow myself to open up more and not let rules get in the way of my creative journey through fashion. It’s so refreshing not having to answer to anyone. 

Age shouldn’t determine what you should or should not be doing in life and that should spill over into fashion & your personal style.  Since I’m just getting started, there are going to be a few fashion missteps along the way. There will be moments when something doesn’t work out or someone doesn’t agree with a styling choice, but as long as I feel internally happy, creative and satisfied, then I’m ok.


Deb: Your fun personality shines through your photos. Many 40+ bloggers struggle with being in front of the camera. Any advice you can offer to help rid them of their inhibitions?

Diane: When I was modeling in my 20s, the photographer and others in the industry, never really provided a supportive, positive environment.  Take the time to find a photographer (possibly a dear friend, significant other) who you truly connect with, someone who believes in your vision and ideas.  You will feel so much more comfortable in front of the camera.  I always have outtakes in each post to show little moments of silliness & being my true self.  It is also a way to keep shoots upbeat & fun. 

Lookee here, we’ve been on earth for quite some time, so it’s time to shake off the insecurities and hang-ups from our past and reinvent our future.  I know it sounds cliché, but you just have to have fun.  This blog is all you; there is no right or wrong, just fun!


Deb: Advice to women who may be late to the game as you were and who are just now trying to find their style?

Diane: Listen to your inner voice; your gut instinct is generally the right choice.  I finally started to ask myself, “Is that really me?”  I might see an outfit or clothing item in a magazine or on someone else, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice/fit for myself.  By staying true to your personality, your personal style will reflect that.


Deb: Thanks, Diane, for sharing your fun and innovative approach to fashion with us. You are Fabulous!! Ladies, be sure to visit Diane at her blog Fashion on the 4th Floor.

Meet the Accidental Icon

She may hide behind dark glasses, but she is hardly invisible.  Meet Lyn Slater, the Accidental Icon.


In only a year, this NYC professor who lectures on social justice has exploded onto the fashion blogging scene, gaining international attention with her dramatic photos and rebellious, avant-garde style. Lyn breaks the barriers of what it means to be 62 and looks fabulous doing it! Her followers applaud her for her refusal to be shaped by stereotypes like age and gender.

I recently got a chance to chat with Lyn about her unique fashion sense. Here’s my interview with this Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer.

Deborah Boland mini

Deb: Lyn, Could you tell us about your background and how you became the Accidental Icon?

Lyn: As you may know I am a full-time academic. I started Accidental Icon because I could not find a fashion blog that offered a modern, urban aesthetic and take on fashion for non-celebrity women who live what I call “ordinary but interesting lives”. I also wanted to find a creative outlet for my research and writing that would not have me conform to the strict requirements of academic writing.

As life responsibilities were decreasing, I was also able to indulge my passion and interest in fashion. I started to experiment with different, edgy looks and began getting compliments about my style, mainly from younger people. They kept saying I should start a blog. I am the kind of person who always needs a structure when I take on a new project. After researching vehicles, I decided a blog where I could write about fashion would be the ideal structure to help with what is essentially for me a new research project, this time on the subject of fashion.


Deb:  How would you describe your style?

Lyn: I would describe it as romantic, artistic, dark, light, androgynous, comfortable, clerical, provocative, nonchalant and intellectual.


Deb: Your blog is much more than a collection of outfit photos, it’s also a diary of deep thoughts detailing how the clothes you wear affect you. How much influence do you think clothes have on the wearer and others? Do you think most people underestimate this power?

Lyn: I have always believed that life is performed. We can write original stories, or we can accept the scripts that others have written for us. I believe that clothing and fashion are important tools in this endeavor. Because fashion has always, until recently, been thought of a “trivial” topic for academic study, the enormous power it has in both oppressive and productive ways has been grossly underestimated.

You have hit upon the central theme of my blog with this question. Fashion and clothing are central to human life and identity. Fashion and stereotypes of beauty can lead to oppression and exclusion, and thus fashion has great power. There are studies that show what you wear impacts your brain and certainly most women know it impacts your mood. People make judgments about us based on clothes. When people want to control us, they take away our clothes or make everybody wear the same thing. That is the message I stress in my blog,  if you think about what you wear and select very purposively you can use fashion’s power for good.


Deb: What is the thought process behind the way you out your outfits together. Also, what message or feeling are you hoping to covey through your style?

Lyn: As I said above I guess this somewhat depends upon my audience and intention. What I wear most usually depends on the day, my mood, the weather and what I am doing. Most of my clothes are black, white and grey with an occasional pop of the color red. I usually buy pieces that can be worn in many different ways and that I can dress up or down. So if I am going to teach a class I might put together a look that is professional but has a little bit of fun in it and is engaging, if I have an art exhibit to go to I might dress more out of the box and provocative and if I am playing with my granddaughter I will wear comfortable knits.


Deb:  Japanese Designers appear to be a favorite of yours. Why?

Lyn: Because Japanese designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo offer me as a woman a completely new and paradoxical way to think about performing seduction, sensuality, and sexuality. This quote from Yohji  Yamamoto is a favorite of mine. For me, a woman who is absorbed in her work, who does not care about gaining one’s favor, strong yet subtle at the same time, is essentially more seductive. The more she hides and abandons her femininity, the more it emerges from the very heart of her existence. A pair of brilliantly cut cotton trousers can be more beautiful than a gorgeous silk gown.”  


Deb: Besides a small blue scarf that I noticed in one of your photos, I don’t see you wearing color. Have you ever worn brighter colors? Why did you decide to commit to a monochrome palette?

Lyn: I always for the most part have worn a muted palette. The transition to black began about 25 years ago partly because I moved to New York City and partly because I became part of the art scene there. I have always loved uniforms and nun’s habits and those have been an influence. More recently as my hair has turned white I love the contrast between that and the monochrome. Quite frankly, bright colors do not aptly convey who I am.


Deb: Your bio says “she walks a fine line between rebellion and convention because she has to.” Can you explain?

Lyn: Well when you move in a world where you still have professional obligations, and you must persuade, convince, engage and influence there is a line. The best way to describe it is that it means you walk into a meeting or a conference, and people notice you immediately. They say, “she looks different than anybody else here”. But they cannot say, even if they really want to, “she looks so inappropriate”. I love being right there.


Deb: Do you find yourself becoming more rebellious with age, and how does this translate into your fashion choices?

Lyn: No, I was always rebellious, sometimes to my detriment. I always used clothing in one way or another to convey this element of my personality.


Deb: How does being around students all the time influence your style?

Lyn: I love young people and today sometimes it is hard to really listen and hear them honestly because we have not done such a great job for them in terms of the world we are leaving them. I admire greatly their response to this condition that is to be creative, independent, entrepreneurial and socially innovative. They reject our way of doing things, and I find this immensely refreshing and inspiring. I feel they are yearning for a return to authenticity.


Deb: You are very fashion forward. What is the secret to successfully translating runway looks to real life without looking like you are wearing a costume?

Lyn: I do not think that there is a secret to be shared, I think this is what is loosely called “having a sense of style”. Not everyone has it, and it is hard to teach because it is something I believe that is like artistic ability. It has to felt from within. It involves a great degree of self-acceptance, risk-taking and a rebellious attitude which I think sadly many women struggle with allowing themselves to have. I am not one to beat people over the head with an idea, so I try to convey my thoughts in a way that people are more likely to accept them, so my standard is the line I describe above in your earlier question.


Deb: What is your favorite outfit and why?

Lyn: Any beautifully draped and tailored black pants and/or long skirt with an interesting white shirt, jacket, and boots. The why? It is my uniform, and most expresses my sense of self. I am most authentically me.


Deb: You are an inspiration to so many. Who inspires you?

Lyn: My students, the women I have worked with in my career, my daughter, right now very profoundly my mother.


Deb: When it comes to fashion, what annoys you? What delights you?

Lyn: The delight is the “dressing up” nature of it and the importance of street style, the annoyance is the celebrity takeover of designers.


Deb: Your hair is gorgeous. Did you ever struggle with whether to let it go grey? Advice for women who want to go that route?

Lyn: The women in my family start to go grey very early in life and then our hair turns white shortly thereafter. During my 30’s I did dye my hair because it was very long and the grey was not emerging in an interesting way. I decided to go all grey when my daughter went to college and by then my hair was more the way it is now. I really did not struggle with the decision because I had gone through a process of accepting the inevitability of aging and decided to go with the flow. I think the bigger piece of advice is to love your aging self and try to be as authentic as you can be during that process. Then base all your decisions around that.


Deb: Words of wisdom for women trying to develop their own unique style?

Lyn: Do not be afraid to take a risk. Take small comfortable ones at first but always keep pushing.


Deb: Anything else you would like to add?

Lyn: Just thank you so much for inviting me to share my thinking with your readers. I appreciate your graciousness and generosity.

Deb: Thanks, Lyn, for sharing your dramatic and creative style. You are Fabulous!! Ladies, be sure to visit Lyn at her blog Accidental Icon.

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