Silvana Stefanovic-Riley @embellish_or_perish

Silvana Stefanovic-Riley @embellish_or_perish talks to Eyestylist about glasses, Advanced Style, and a lifelong passion for fashion…

“I started wearing eyeglasses to correct short-sightedness in high school,” says Silvana when we start to look into her first experiences of eyewear. “In those days I saw this as an impediment and I only wore glasses when I absolutely had to.” It’s a common reaction, yet, after a while, like many, she found a new direction in her glasses.

“Over time I relaxed into wearing my prescription sunglasses and started to appreciate them as an accessory that can enhance the look rather than detract from it. As for sunglasses, having lived in Australia for over 40 years, this harsh sunlight requires good sun protection for eyes.”

Photo credit (above): Lauren Farley of @doculifephotography

Photo credit: Lauren Farley of @doculifephotography
Photo credit: Lauren Farley of @doculifephotography

Explaining her favourite styles, Silvana is inspired by design and individuality: “I love colour and accessories. This makes it easy to find glasses to suit each outfit, mood and occasion. Each year, I buy two pairs of prescription glasses or sunglasses to add to my collection. I have recently purchased this year’s glasses. I have sent one of these frames to Brazil to be hand painted by the talented Erida Schaefer of La Frida Eyewear.”

Sunglasses in particular provide an opportunity for some fun and self-expression. With a sizable collection Silvana says she is always on the lookout for new and different sunglasses to add to the stash. “On occasion. sunnies also provide a much needed confidence boost by covering up the effects of the odd sleepless night. I often take selfies in the same outfit but change the sunglasses and the difference that sunglasses make to the overall aesthetic is incredible, she says.

LaFrida handpainted Eyewear by Erida Schaefer - Brazil
LaFrida handpainted Eyewear by Erida Schaefer – Brazil

Advanced Style
“I had followed Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style Blog and IG for a number of years as a ‘passive’ observer,” explains Silvana when we ask about her pictures in Advanced Style.  “I do not recall how I initially came across Advanced Style in the first place, however there was a recurring theme of older women using personal style as a form of self-expression. These women radiate vitality, zest for life and creativity that defies the societal expectations of older people. Older people in general, and especially older women with grey hair, are not seen as being at the forefront of social change. Yet the Advanced Style movement initiated by Ari Seth Cohen is now a worldwide phenomenon.”

Through Ari’s Blog and Instagram, Silvana got to ‘know’ many other Advanced Stylistas, and learnt what gives them the life’s energy to continue to be active, creative and self-expressive older women. “I always thought that I would eventually become somehow involved with the spirit of this sentiment”, she explained. “However full-time work and other family commitments alway took precedent. Despite this, my interest in the Advanced style phenomenon continued. I admired the first Advanced Style Book, then the Documentary movie and eventually the second book – Advanced Style Older and Wiser.”

It was the launch and book signing of Ari’s second book – Advanced Style Older and Wiser held on 4th November in Sydney that catapulted her into the midst of Advanced Style phenomenon. “This event took place a week after I finished work in preparation for retirement.”


On the way to the venue for the book signing she walked straight into Ari and Sara Jane Adams @saramaijewels – one of the three Australian women featured in the book. This encounter lead to a brief photo shoot, the result of which has now been featured on both the Advanced Style Blog and IG account.

“On the evening of the book launch the excitement, energy and copious goodwill filled the room. I felt uplifted, connecting with other women who shared my interests, sense off fun and zest for life. We talked with each other as though we had known each other for a long time. We took photos of each other and and did not want to leave. I was asked many times during that evening what my Instagram account was and of course I did not have one.
Returning home from this event on a huge high my daughter helped me to set up an Instagram account and so @embellish_or_perish was born. I have received positive acceptance and I now have a solid following.”

“Meeting Ari in Sydney coincided with a major life change, retirement and a tough last couple of years in my personal life including the loss of my mother to cancer. Something has changed inside me as a result of these events, as I no longer feel any pressure to keep to the workplace dress codes and fulfil expectations others may have of a woman in my role in the organisation.

“I have always had a somewhat individualistic streak when it came to clothing and accessories. I love colour, pattern and embellishment of all kinds – perhaps my Slavic roots are showing.

“I have also been an avid thriftshopper ever since university days when it may have been out of necessity, however the thrill of never knowing what treasure you might unearth when you start to rummage in a thrift or charity store has remained. Through thrifting and dabbling in some handcrafting, I have amassed sizeable collections of accessories including eye glasses and sunglasses. In my view, accessories, more than clothes, provide the means for individual self-expression. So I use my accessories liberally to match the outfit and the occasion. it is often over the top but that is the intention. I have now reached a point in my life when buoyed by the like-minded Advanced Stylistas, I no longer wish to be invisible.

“Becoming older and less concerned with what others might think has helped me join other Advanced Style proponents who challenge ageism by practicing self-expression through their personal style. I am absolutely determined that however old I become I will not be invisible. I also hope that what I do will inspire others to do the same.” CN

Follow Silvana on Instagram @embellish_or_perish – Advanced Style: