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Dr. Lyn Slater, the "Accidental Icon"

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Fordham University

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Dr. Lyn Slater, the "Accidental Icon"

Christian Eble

11.3.17

Read Time: 6 minutes.

All photographs courtesy of the Instagram of @iconaccidental

"Evolving. Experimental. Never static." These words describe the unparalleled fashion sense of the “Accidental Icon:” Dr. Lyn Slater, Professor at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service.
Perhaps you’ve seen Dr. Slater in the halls of Fordham Lincoln Center. Impeccably dressed with a sleek gray bob and dark sunglasses, she walks with a confident air of nonchalance that would make Miranda Priestly jealous. Oh, and she also happens to have about 260,000 followers on Instagram and an internationally acclaimed fashion blog.

Dr. Slater earned her PhD in Social Welfare and additionally holds two Master’s degrees in Criminal Justice and Social Work. Before Fordham, she worked as the Director of the Childhood Sexual Abuse Project at Lawyers for Children. Fordham then recruited her after it began a collaboration between the School of Social Work and the Law School, and she’s been at the University ever since (this is her seventeenth year teaching at Fordham).

Dr. Slater is a self-proclaimed, “performative professor”, and a strong proponent for creativity in the classroom, often engaging in tactics like improvisation to engross her students. “I am the same person in the classroom as I am on my social media,” she says, “I dress in my usual style to teach a class as I do on my blog.” She goes on to say, “Ironically, my own social work students are inspired by who I am as a social worker, whereas all the other students at Fordham seem more excited about me being a fashion blogger and a model.”





So just how did she amass such a following? During New York City Fashion Week, Dr. Slater was meeting a friend for lunch just outside of Lincoln Center when a group of photographers and journalists started taking her picture, assuming she was a high-ranking fashion guru. This inspired the name “Accidental Icon,” but it was not, however, a one-way ticket to overnight success; it merely gave her the idea for her nickname.

Dr. Slater says, “As a social worker, you need to encourage people to change that don’t want to and to advocate to policy makers to do good.” With this mentality as the backbone, Dr. Slater set to work on meticulously creating a fashion blog and social media platform. Her tireless efforts are the reason for her continued success, and today, she is the author of “Accidental Icon” an internationally renowned fashion blog complete with weekly posts and absolutely stunning photos of Dr. Slater, well, slaying.

“When I first began, I didn’t have an agenda. I still don’t. I was very much, ‘Okay, this inspires me, I’m going to put it out there, and I’m going to see what happens.’ I now have followers from all over the world, and once I started to see that the blog could become something, people started saying to me, ‘What’s your target market, you have to zero in, [etc.].’ And I said, ‘I’m not going to have a target market. My market is anybody that wants to think and talk about fashion and maybe have a conversation about how we could use it to do some interesting change.”




When asked which designers inspire her and why, Dr. Slater named Yohji Yamamoto and Comme de Garçons because, “They came onto the scene and were rebellious. They turned fashion upside-down. Yamamoto started to give women garments where women could choose whether to be seen or not seen. And his clothing feels really beautiful around your body.”

Dr. Slater is also incredibly passionate about supporting new designers (two of her favorites are Angel Chen and Yajun New York). To her, emerging designers are “innovative,” and she’s always on the lookout for designers that inspire her.

After asking Dr. Slater about ageism the fashion industry, she was quick to say that she herself never brings up her age, especially on her own blog. “I never intended to be this new paradigm of aging that I’ve become. It’s so frustrating because people will ask me what I think of ageism in fashion and if people shouldn’t wear certain things at certain ages; and I say, ‘enough of that.’”





Essentially, Dr. Slater doesn’t want to be grouped with people her age because many of them “are not open to change.” She explains that, “People my age tend to get scared by change. I don’t. I think it’s very exciting. I think it leaves a big open space for us to do new things and be creative. So, that is why I get annoyed by [questions of age].”

As the eldest of six children and as a college professor, Dr. Slater says that, “The very nature of [her] life” is being around young people and wanting to understand them just as she wants young people to understand her. “That has forced me to stay modern and to keep learning and growing.” This mindset is what has allowed Dr. Slater to succeed in so many facets of her life. “I’ve glorified my ordinariness,” she says. “I’ve taken a limitation, accepted it, and then got creative.”

“If you just embrace who you are and the fact that you’re an ordinary person, and you celebrate it, then you just might become famous. It’s not that I’m special. It’s that I’m ordinary.”


Though she has an arsenal of fashion that would make Anna Wintour green with envy, Dr. Slater’s attitude of being unapologetically herself is what really makes her shine.

“Evolving. Experimental. Never static.” These words go far beyond describing Dr. Slater’s fashion sense; they perfectly epitomize the Icon herself.

Check out the Accidental Icon's website here.