Norma Kamali’s 8 Truths for Loving Yourself, Staying Relevant, and ‘Aging with Power’


At 75, Norma Kamali seems both like a life sage and someone who is still blooming. It’s not just that Kamali’s work as a venerable fashion designer has given the world a surge of authentic creativity for the past five decades. (Kamali’s designs, which include the famous sleeping bag coat, have always defied trends and age-expectation.) It’s also that she’s helped us rethink what it means to be real in a world that begs the opposite from people. “The truth, being upfront and not trying to be something else, is really what authenticity is about,” says Kamali.

Now with the publication of her new book, I Am Invincible, the world can get a greater dose of Kamali’s original outlook. In the stunning work, Kamali unveils the secrets behind her eternally youthful essence, revealing the practices that inform her “aging with power” philosophy. A guide that shepherds women through each “profoundly different” decade, the book reads like having dinner with your cool, loving big sister—which makes sense, given that it was born out of a small Moleskine notebook Kamali once filled with “50 life tips” to gift her friend on her 50th birthday. “Everybody really responded to it,” Kamali says about the notebook, admitting she hopes readers today have a similar response to I Am Invincible, and that by revealing her “own aches and pains” it will help others “soften some of the bumps along the way.”

That’s the thing about Kamali: She’s kind and generous. She wants people to thrive and to feel included. And she yearns to encourage a more positive, inclusive, joyful outlook on getting older. As the following eight pieces of wisdom from our conversation unveil, Kamali, who is recently engaged, argues that staying vital is as much about “positively living a healthy lifestyle” (clean food, ample sleep, lots of exercise) as it is about really honoring who you are, where you are. As she says, “each of us has our own independent self-imposed timeline.”

Truth #1: Age “with Power”

We’re all aging, says Kamali. “You’re born, now you’re aging. Everybody is in that process.” The key is how you age. “There’s positive aging and there’s negative aging,” she says. “If you’re treating yourself badly by not having a healthy lifestyle and doing things that are not good for you and not respecting your body and mind, I think you can age in a negative way.”

Kamali, in turn, puts a positive spin on the concept. “I don’t have a problem with the word aging because I always match it up with ‘aging with power,’” she says. This means living a lifestyle that cares for your body, mind, and soul with movement, positivity, good nutrition, and being real. “I refuse to age gracefully and everything that pretends. And I am refusing to anti-age. I am positively aging using a healthy lifestyle. Positively living a healthy lifestyle gives you the best you can do at any point in your life.”

Truth #2: Have Faith that Your Best Years (and Work) Are Both Now and Ahead of You

Rather than looking back at what was, Kamali looks at today and tomorrow for what can be. And the proof is in her roster of new and evolving passions. “I would never want to be 20 again. Or 30. Why would I want to do that again? Seventy-five is working for me! I’m doing the book I’ve always wanted to do. I’m loving designing. I’m loving making patterns. I love everything about the Normalife concept of wellness and products and my skin line. I just did a furniture collection I’m launching next month. I have lots of projects that are exciting for me.”

Truth #3: Let Go of Societal Expectations

“We all have a different timeline,” says Kamali, who, after getting married at 19 and divorced at 29, met her soulmate at 65 and got engaged at 75. “If you think about it, in your 20s everything is new,” says Kamali. “You’re finding out who you are, through your friendships, dating, relationship, sex, jobs, everything.” By the time you get to 30, you’re confronted with the societal milestone that you should be married and having children. “But then, it’s not happening. And you feel left out, you feel out of step. You’re not sure what to do except you get anxious and you probably eat a lot of crap and feel sorry for yourself.”

She continues, “being aged out isn’t something that just happens at 50. It’s happening all the time.  The point is, thank goodness I got a divorce at 29 so I couldn’t get married at 30 and had kids because I definitely was not ready to meet my soulmate until I was 65.”

Truth #4: Respect Yourself to Attract True Love

“I think you find your soulmate when you’ve done work on yourself,” says Kamali. This means loving and respecting yourself “by doing things that are positive for you, not negative.” By doing this, it draws a different kind of person to you. “You draw a person who picks up on this love of self and this respect of self that you have, and then they tend to respect and love you.”

“When you have that more together,” she continues, “you draw people to you who are the people you deserve. It takes work […] It took me ‘til 65. I am a slow learner on self-esteem. Even though everybody thinks Norma Kamali has great self-esteem, it took time. It took a lot of time.”

Truth #5: Stay Curious

“In discovering myself and going through all the ups and down of all the other milestones, each milestone really provokes thought,” says Kamali. “And it provokes anxiety and pain, and that anxiety and pain really challenges us to get out of the headset we’re in and discover something else.”

Truth #6: Don’t Dress Your Age

When it comes to staying vital and relevant, clothes have power. “A healthy lifestyle is much more valuable, but clothes do have a value,” says Kamali. “They can change how we feel in a day, and how we present ourselves. That’s why I say ‘don’t dress your age’ because that chronological age is a number—and you shouldn’t put yourself into that box.” She continues, “this is such a great time for 75-year-olds or 70-year-olds […] even 60-years-olds and 50-year-olds to come out of this image of your age.”

“To stay relevant, you have to feel it, and when you look in the mirror, you have to look relevant, too,” says Kamali. “And you have to like it. Hopefully that brings your spirit up.”

Truth #7: Leave No Room for Bullsh*t

Be you. This adage echoes as loudly from a conversation with Kamali as it does from the pages of her book. “Everything I do, I don’t copy,” she says Kamali. “I do my own clothes. If there’s a trend, well that’s great, but this is how I feel now about what I should be doing. This is my experience.” Kamali credits this conviction to her childhood growing up in upper Manhattan. “I had such a wonderful childhood—I’m crying as I say this—and that childhood really impacted our sense of having a no-bullsh*t life,” she says. “Bullsh*t did not get you anywhere in our neighborhood. You would get beaten up if you told lies or pretended to be anything than what you are.”

Truth #8: Stay Inspired

That zest, that love for what’s now and what’s ahead, is everything, believes Kamali. “There are even 25-year-olds, by the way, who lose the spirit for life. And then that’s it. If you lose that spirit you’re screwed.” Her advice, gleaned from her 75-year-young life, is to stay open. As she writes in I Am Invincible: “Learn something new every day. Ask questions. Open your mind to new ideas. The result is an ever-evolving, exciting you.”

This original interview was featured in the Midweek February 17, 2021 edition of The Sunday Paper. The Sunday Paper publishes News and Views that Rise Above the Noise and Inspires Hearts and Minds. To get The Sunday Paper delivered to your inbox each Sunday morning for free, click here to subscribe.


A senior editor of The Sunday Paper, Stacey Lindsay is a multimedia journalist, editorial director, and writer based in San Francisco. She was previously a news anchor and reporter who covered veterans’ issues, healthcare, and breaking news. You can learn more and find her work here, and you can follow her here.


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