by Dan Price
"I'm a dabbler," Carol told me during our conversation. Singing with the Contemporary Corral and The Rich Tones, dancing with The Dallas Tap Dazzlers, and so many creative projects and ideas she's tackled; the list is quite impressive. Just like Carol.
Carol Wertheimer is awesome. And fabulous. And has excellent taste in fashion. But, if you never get to meet her face to face, may I suggest you check out her YouTube channel? You may already have as Carol is blazing her trail on the internet as The Fashionista at 80. That's right, at 80 years old, Carol is living her best life using technology and social media to show a side of herself to the world that she is very proud of.
"I've always loved fashion since I was a young child, and I wanted to be a fashion designer," Carol explained. "I've always been very creative in the way I dress. I love vintage clothing, and I've been a thrifter… for over 60 years. I've been doing it since way before these 50, 30, 40-year old's did it and thought they invented it," Carol giggled. "But when I was growing up, there really were those opportunities or if they were there, I didn't know how to access them."
Carol is Chicago-made and Chicago-raised. That's where she went to college and met her husband, Mickey. "They say love is blind," Carol told me about her first date, a blind date, with the man who became her husband. It didn't work out with the other couple, but Carol and Mickey worked out just fine. "In those days, it was pretty traditional. You dated. Then you got engaged. You got married—graduated college. You had kids, that kind of thing. We followed most of the rules," she laughed.
And follow the rules they did for almost 60 wonderful years filled with three lovely daughters and nine amazing grandchildren. Unfortunately, Mickey passed away 20 months ago, something that hit the whole family hard, especially Carol. Losing the love of your life is devasting, but what happens after can be a heroic story of bravery. And hearing Carol tell the story, that's exactly what it is.
"You never really realize what it's like being alone until you actually are." Carol explained. "You are there, on your own, trying to figure it out." Carol began therapy after losing Mickey, trying to find her way in a situation, trying to understand who she was now. And those conversations were very invigorating for Carol as she started to see herself in a new light with a new mission… taking her love of fashion to the next level. "The thing with the YouTube is nothing I would have thought of. It was suggested by my therapist, who saw something I didn't see in me. Because I was trying to recreate myself, almost trying to become a new person, and I think, in a lot of ways, (her therapist) was absolutely right."
"And that's how my life has been for the last 19 months. Learning about myself and what I can do. And in that respect, that's been a good thing because I am feeling stronger."
"I never thought at my age I would be doing something like this. In fact, I said to someone the other day, "Why didn't I do this 40 years ago? Sure, there was no social media… I was so secure where I was and so safe in where I was I didn't have that need to really do it."
In March of 2022, The Fashionista at 80 made its debut on YouTube. Her therapist encouraged Carol and believed that Carol had what it takes to make her fashion program on YouTube.
"I was thinking; we have talents that come very easily… we all have talents in one way or another, so I got dressed up, and I put this on!" Her therapist was there the whole way, rooting her on. "You can't make someone believe in you, but when someone believes in you, it's such a gift."
When it comes to her YouTube show, the fashion is fantastic. Carol shows her audience the great finds she procured at resale shops and thrift stores and models the outfits, giving details on her jewelry and accessories along the way. I watched a video today where she scored a $1 blouse from a thrift shop that was so tasteful and fun that anyone reading this would scoop it up, too. A true fashionista! But Carol is always her authentic self on camera and speaks from the heart in each video. When it's a good day, she tells you. On a down day, she lets you know and shows you how to look good on a bad day. And all the support in the comments is terrific. Her viewers have taken to her; not only her fashions and sensible shopper sense but also the positive message she brings.