Shirley Siegel Robinson has always been known for her great sense of style. Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Shirley shaped her love of style and fashion into a career working in retail dress stores back when, as she says, “women used to wear dresses!”
We chatted with Shirley at her home in Santa Monica, California just a few weeks after she had celebrated her 88th birthday. She still lives very independently in her own place—and she’s still known for her enviable style and wearing loads of jewelry.
What do you love most about your home?
I love the coziness, especially my little kitchen. It feels like a real home to me, not just an apartment. I love living by myself and not answering to anyone. I love watching TV and reading and looking at old pictures. I have every letter and card ever sent to me. No, I am not a pack rat! I just love these memories. I love reading my mother’s letters written in her broken English. It helps me feel close to her.
How old are you on the inside?
I’m a kid at heart. But some days I feel 50. Other days, I feel 150.
What are you looking forward to?
I look forward to the continued beauty of the world. I look forward to each day that I am alive and spending time with my kids and family. It is delicious! I look forward to being independent—and I keep my fingers crossed that I stay that way. I love being alive. There is nothing more wonderful than to watch my grandkids grow up and to sit with them as adults and have the most amazing conversations. To them, I am some kind of rockstar—and I love my celebrity status. They call and visit, and I feel very fortunate to have family in my life.
If you could teach the world a master class, what would be the topic?
I would teach the world how to smile and be kind. I am a hugger, and people need to know that kindness matters. When you get to be my age, you want to shake every person and say, This is a moment in time. Live every second! Don’t waste it on worrying about the traffic or the weather or a bad test score.
Do you have a favorite photo of yourself at any age?
I have a photo of myself in Santo Domingo. I was young, tan, and looked amazing. I felt like I was infallible at that age. I have always been known for my style—it’s something I still take great pride in. You can let yourself go or make the effort to show the world that old doesn’t have to mean old lady!
Can you tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
I forgive anyone. I don’t let anything stand in the way of my happiness. If you hurt me, I feel bad for you.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I wish I would be around to see a cure for cancer.
We’re hoping you will be. Thanks, Shirley!
We just learned that one of Shirley’s beloved dachshunds, lying next to her on the step, died peacefully in her sleep this morning. From the Honor family, RIP Betty Lou.
Photography by Fred Siegel