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AGELESS STYLE WITH SUPERMODEL NANCY DONAHUE

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Starting today, each month I’ll be joining designer and blogger, Cindy Hattersley, to talk about Ageless Style. Each of us will feature different stories about the style of women over 50. Today I’m catching up with my friend, businesswoman, and ‘80s international supermodel, Nancy Donahue. 

You’re going to love her.

Photo Brenda Coffee, 2017. Nancy posing for 1010ParkPlace photographer Noel Sutherland.

Some of you may remember my interview with Nancy Donahue a number of years ago. I can tell you it’s great fun to watch a supermodel move and come alive in front of the camera. Nancy, along with Patti Hansen, Kim Alexis, Christie Brinkley, Carol Alt, and Dayle Haddon, is one of the acclaimed supermodels of the 80s and beyond, and one of my favorite people. Here’s an excerpt from our recent conversation.

BRENDA: You’ve always taken good care of yourself with diet and exercise. You’ve done something like a hundred, Olympic distance triathlons as well as the grueling Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. Are you still doing those?

NANCY: I’ve retired from being a triathlete, but I still swim every morning at 8 am, and I do yoga three, four, or five times a week. As a matter of fact, I did a Brighton Beach, Coney Island swim yesterday for kicks and giggles, and it was really fun. There’s a swim club that gathers at 10 am on Saturdays and Sundays, and you swim back and forth, from jetty to jetty, pier to pier, and it was a blast. It was my first time, but I’m going back next Saturday. 

BRENDA: Was the water cold?

NANCY: Yes. It was freezing. It was probably 72 or 73, and that’s too cold for me to swim a mile and a half in that water. My wetsuit was in my backpack, but I didn’t put it on, because I was too excited. So note to self: I’m wearing a wetsuit next week.

BRENDA: Did you have to worry about jellyfish?

NANCY: Yes. We ran into lots of jellyfish, but they’re non-stingers, and we didn’t have to worry about sharks because God knows, they’re not coming to Brighton Beach. I had just done a beautiful swim in Madera, Portugal. Flew over by myself and met a swim group there, and we swam the north coast, east, south, and west, and then we swam on this private reserve off of Madera. Each day we would swim three and a half to four kilometers and then have a fabulous lunch and relax and chat and have dinner.

BRENDA: What an amazing trip!

Summer, 2022. Photo by Harry King.

NANCY: Yes! I found this group during lockdown and kept following them, thinking I want to go, I want to go, so I went. I met wonderful people from Spain, Switzerland. It was a group of twelve, and now we’re friends for life. You spend a lot of time together. It was lovely. Swimmers are great. 

BRENDA: It’s amazing what a bonding experience a trip like that is. I’m putting together a trip for women over 50 to Tuscany in the spring.

NANCY: Wow! You are?

BRENDA: It’s going to be a trip like no other. I’ve rented the most exquisite villa in all of Tuscany.

NANCY: I may be onboard. Do you have all your people?

BRENDA: No. I’ve announced it, but I haven’t posted the details and next steps. We’re going to bookend the trip with a few days in Florence… The trip is “An Invitation to the Rest of Your Life,” so we’re going to talk about where we see ourselves in the next chapter of our life. So many women are thinking about these questions.

NANCY: I know. I swim at 8 am with the same group of people, and one of the women I swim with is older than I am, and she couldn’t believe I went to Portugal by myself. A lot of people won’t do that. I do everything by myself, and I said to her, “The first time you do something, it’s a little bit nerve-wracking, but you have to take that step and know you can do this.” 

BRENDA: I have women who write and tell me they won’t go to dinner by themselves. My response is you can have so much fun. Don’t take a book to bury your nose in. Make friends with the waiters, and you’ll have them bringing special plates to your table and giving you samples of this wine and that wine. I always have a blast when I go by myself.

NANCY: Yes. So do I. A total blast. I did that in London, and I met some fabulous men who invited me to dinner, and they paid for my dinner, and now we’re friends for life.

BRENDA: I believe this trip will inspire women. We’re going to have such a great time and talk about reinventing ourselves… which you have a lot of experience with. Do you have any advice?

NANCY: It’s similar to the way you and I go up and talk to somebody we don’t know. You have to take the first step. Trust yourself that you can do whatever you want to do. After leaving BelleCore as CEO and co-founder, I had to do something. I have to use my brain, and I’ve known New York since 1978. I bought and sold four houses by the age of 30, so real estate is perfect for me. I know the city like the back of my hand… The hard thing about reinventing yourself is coming into the office as the new kid on the block when I was 61. But I told myself to watch, learn and in one year you’ll nail this, and I did. You make mistakes, but you’ve just got to trust yourself you can do anything.

BRENDA: I imagine you learned a lot about style when you were modeling. You’ve worked with the best photographers and brands in the world.

NANCY: Yes, and stylists and editors from Vogue and Italian Bazaar, French Vogue, and German Vogue. I’ve learned a lot, and I apply it every day. When I was with BelleCore, we had to be at all the stores like Neiman Marcus, Harrods of London, and Collette in Paris, and if your product is in those stores, I had to have very expensive designer sheath dresses and high heels… but now, coming into real estate, I will never put on a heel ever again. 

Today is an office day, and I’m dressed in jeans and an Agnès B linen shirt, and Gucci sneakers. I have no heels in my closet. None. I sold them on The RealReal. I sold all my sheath dresses except a couple. When I go on showings, I wear linen pants, a nice blouse, and Gucci loafers. I’m more relaxed now in my attire, but I’m always put together. I can’t leave the house if I’m not. I can’t help myself. I became a model at 18, and I’ve learned from the best of the best… I’m over people wearing Lululemon yoga pants everywhere. It’s frumpy, and it’s time to dress again.

I have a lot of J. Crew’s wonderful jackets in all different colors. I love wearing a jacket and a blouse. I like to look professional and not disheveled. I put on a touch of makeup, not too heavy. I’m 64. I can’t come in without any makeup. 

BRENDA: Do you buy fast fashion like H&M or Zara?

NANCY: I don’t. I don’t feel comfortable in Zara things. I’m used to wearing very well-tailored shirts, plus I have a rule: If something comes in, something goes out. I’m in New York City. (Closet space problem). I’m not a shopper. Hate it.

Nancy wearing Yves Saint Laurent for Vogue. Photograph by Denis Piel, Paris.

BRENDA: Do you have a favorite go-to outfit?

NANCY: That can range. It would definitely be a Jed, super tailored shirt—he’s a designer friend who used to work with Perry Ellis, and I did some campaigns with him—and a pair of high-waisted, baggy linen trousers, a jacket, and my Gucci loafers or Gucci sneakers. I’m also a fan of Belgium loafers, which is an iconic New York City shoe that has been around since the 1950s, I think. They only have one store on 50-something street. They’re handmade shoes, and they’re just brilliant… You can’t buy them online… You have to go to the store.

BRENDA: Your friend Jed, where can I find his brand?

NANCY: Unfortunately his company closed after Covid. It’s nowhere to be found anymore. 

BRENDA:  What do you think of the cropped pants we’ve been seeing for the last few years?

NANCY: They’re not flattering on tall women like us. We look like we’re in our little sister’s pants, but I’ve seen some shorter women who can do cropped pants. I like the baggy style now. I’m over the skinny jeans. Those are just not flattering. I don’t know how we did it for so many years. 

BRENDA: I bought a pair of baggy white pants from Vince, and I like how I look in them, but wide legs is an adjustment for the eyes.

NANCY: Here’s a brand you can find online that I love and adore and have a lot of their things. Rowing Blazers. You have to put them on the top of the list. I’m a big fan of theirs. A friend of mine started the company. I have a purple, wide cord men’s suit that’s one of my favorite go-to outfits from them. It’s just great. I love men’s pants. They look fabulous.

BRENDA: I used to wear those almost exclusively in my 20s.

NANCY: So did I! I wore my father’s navy khakis from the Navy. I wore them all the time. Rowing Blazers makes great pants, and I have their Queen of Hearts sweater. It’s incredible.

Nancy walking the runway recently, wearing black & white Moncler coat.

BRENDA: Do you like accessories? I remember you have a favorite jade bracelet your son gave you.

NANCY: And it’s still on, Brenda. Actually, I think the one I had when we last saw one another broke. I took it off for a photo shoot, and it fell on the floor. I was devastated, but he’s replaced it with another beautiful one. I used to wear a lot of chunky, clunky David Yurman rings, but now I wear a simple, Cartier gold band and another little gold band. You have to be careful on the subway, so I don’t wear a lot of fancy things. I love Kate Spade little studs for my ears, and I do have some fancy gold loops, but I just have to be careful.

BRENDA: Talk to me about your favorite beauty products. What do you do for your skin?

NANCY: I’m a Kiehl’s girl. I’ve used their products since I was 18, when I moved to New York City. I use Rodan + Fields serum and their day cream and eye cream. I use Cetaphil to clean my face and rosewater as a toner. I try and keep it really simple. Like my closet, I don’t like to have a lot of things. I’m a big fan of doing photofacials. I do them every month because it helps with brown age spots.  

Vogue. Photographer, Patrick DeMarchelier

BRENDA: What is a photofacial? My aesthetician closed during Covid, and I haven’t found another one.

NANCY: A photofacial is similar to a laser. It hurts like the dickens. It zaps and puts current on your skin. The brown spots will slough off, and it’s good to rejuvenate the collagen in your skin to keep it vibrant and bright. I’ve been doing that since 2005.

BRENDA: I haven’t even done Botox.

NANCY: Yes, but you’re blessed with a different skin type. 

BRENDA: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

NANCY: I see myself traveling. My goal is to get a little place in Portugal. Then I could go to France, or Italy, or Germany. I want to swim in different lakes and seas.

BRENDA: That sounds idyllic. I’ll see you there. There’s nothing like swimming to keep you in shape. Long and lean muscles.

NANCY: I stopped drinking, which I’m totally thrilled about.

BRENDA: I did too!

NANCY: You, too?

BRENDA: Yes. I feel better and look better.

NANCY: Me, too! It was so easy, and I was that girl that said, “It’s five o’clock. I want a glass of wine.” But now I have a club soda or a Perrier. People think alcohol helps with your anxiety and a stressful day, but it makes it worse. 

Nancy and bestie, Harry King on her birthday.

BRENDA: This has been so much fun! Thanks for taking the time.

NANCY: Yes. It’s so good to talk to you, again. I always enjoyed you. Maybe I’ll be going on your trip.

BRENDA: I would love that. 

NANCY: Take care, and thanks for asking me to do this interview. Oh, I see Harry a lot. We talk every day. 

BRENDA: He’s a love. Harry would be one of the main reasons I would move to New York. 

If you want a delightful hilarious read, check out my interview with “Harry.” The man who modernized women’s hair.

And don’t forget to visit Cindy Hattersley’s site to see her Ageless Style interview!


40 Comments

  • Reply Corrine August 31, 2022 at 7:57 am

    Brenda, What a joy to read your interview with Nancy first thing this morning. I remember Nancy’s beautiful face. As a teenager I wanted to look like her and have her joyous smile. I love knowing that she is still that same woman. I’m inspired to look my best before I leave the house and to keep exercising. Thank you! Corrine

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 11:38 am

      Hi Corrine, Yes, Nancy’s the real deal. She’ll be happy to know she’s inspired you! She inspired me as well because I ordered a pair of loafers and some Gucci sneakers. FedEx delivered them this morning, but I haven’t had time to open the box. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply cindy August 31, 2022 at 8:07 am

    Hi Brenda

    This was so much fun. What a delight Nancy is. I remember her from her modeling days. I love her comment about heels. I haven’t worn a heel since my son’s wedding many years ago. I love her simple philosophy on self-care and clothing. Less really is more, isn’t it? Wear what you know works on your body and don’t buy a lot of “stuff”.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 11:41 am

      Hi Cindy, I agree with keeping things simple. It’s easier and with clothes, more elegant. With makeup, my friend, makeup artist Sandy Linter, says “Less is less, and I have to agree. Unlike Nancy, I can’t get away with a little makeup. I look like a blank wall unless I do everything! xoxo, Brenda

  • Reply Arlo August 31, 2022 at 8:08 am

    Oh my… Compared to Nancy I’m a sloth. Swimming… I must take up swimming. What does she do with her hair? Does she wear a cap?

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 11:51 am

      No, no! Arlo, you’re not a sloth! Nancy sets goals and needs to be challenged physically. She is a testament to exercise! I don’t know about her hair, but will ask. xoxo, Brenda

  • Reply Donna August 31, 2022 at 8:15 am

    What a fun blog post, Brenda! You had me at Fashion Model and Hairstylist! I also read your interview with Harry, love him! You’ve lead such a glamorous life, thanks for letting me have a peek into it! XO

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 12:29 pm

      Glad you enjoyed both of these, Donna! Harry’s the best. I think it’s Nancy and Harry who’ve led them glamorous life. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Barbara August 31, 2022 at 8:16 am

    I love this interview Brenda. I feel like I’m eavesdropping on your conversation. Nancy is lovely and so real. Her current style is relaxed and attainable and I like that. Thanks for letting me listen in. Xo, Barb

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 12:45 pm

      Barb, I’m happy you enjoyed eavesdropping. I love Nancy’s energy and her style. She has it all. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Ginger August 31, 2022 at 8:23 am

    Wow, Nancy is such an inspiration with her joy filled attitude and zest for life! Her positive energy is just jumping off the page! I really admire that she can swim such distances, amazing. Shes inspired me to check out photofacials too!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks for letting me know, Ginger. Nancy will love to hear she’s inspired us all. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply LA CONTESSA August 31, 2022 at 8:43 am

    FABULOUS INTERVIEW LOVED THE QUESTIONS!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 12:48 pm

      Thanks for reading and letting me know, Elizabeth! I want to do you proud. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Kimberly Frick August 31, 2022 at 10:06 am

    Fabulous interview. Need to get in the pool today and start swimming again. Travel is what I miss and crave most. Sending lot’s of love!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 12:51 pm

      Thank you, Kim. Nancy’s an example of how great swimming is. If you miss travel… This Saturday I’m posting all the details about our Tuscany trip. I seem to remember you were interested. Take a look and let me know. Love, Brenda

  • Reply Margo August 31, 2022 at 11:24 am

    You always bring us the best Brenda! The pictures of Nancy! Today and yesterday! She’s such an inspiration. Just love her style and her friend Harry. I read the interview you did with him. I’d like to hear more from Harry!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 12:53 pm

      Hi Margo! Thanks for letting me know. Nancy and Harry will love to hear this. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Tara August 31, 2022 at 11:27 am

    Dear Brenda,
    Great seeing Nancy in her bikini. Still wearing bikinis here too.
    What is it with some of us keeping our bikini bodies ? What mental configuration? And the touch of make-up, with simple, comfortable, pulled together clothes? Goes along with it. No effort, yet a life choice somehow without putting into words………………we just do it…………………love exercise……
    Simple jewelry.
    XOT

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 12:56 pm

      Tara, You and Nancy with bikini bodies! Love that! Some days I think I’m almost there (no carbs, no sugar), then there are other days when I think it will never be attainable. But yes, it’s a life choice. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Lora August 31, 2022 at 11:28 am

    Brenda:
    I really enjoyed reading this interview–such great advice–love the casual yet sophisticated, simple yet casually elegant style!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 12:58 pm

      Thank you, Lora. I’m not surprised because Nancy’s style and yours are cut from the same cloth. Hope all is well. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Lee Anne Severns August 31, 2022 at 12:40 pm

    What a great interview! Such fun! Great job!!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 12:59 pm

      Thank you, Lee Anne! So happy you enjoyed it. Come see me again! Brenda

  • Reply Patti Sosdian August 31, 2022 at 1:04 pm

    I just turned 64 and this was a fabulous interview to read! I want to always be stylish so keep the wardrobe, make-up/skin care, and living life tips coming!!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 2:18 pm

      Hi Patti, So glad you loved my interview with Nancy Donahue, and hope you’ve subscribed so you don’t miss the other fabulous pieces we do. Thanks so much for letting me know! Brenda

  • Reply Jane August 31, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    I do remember Nancy! My sisters and I had all the magazines and they rotated amongst us! It’s wonderful to see that she gone on to such great things and lives such a free spirited, active life. My dream is to travel and do all the things as well. I’d also love to meet and make new friends at this time and place in my life. All of you ladies inspire me! Thank you Brenda, Cindy, and Nancy!❤️

    Jane

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 8:25 pm

      Thank YOU Jane! I know we’re all thrilled that you liked our interviews. If you’re interested in travel, see my blog post this Saturday about the trip to Tuscany. I’m inviting you to go with me! Brenda

  • Reply Katherine August 31, 2022 at 8:56 pm

    Hi Brenda,
    I so enjoyed reading about your beautiful friend Nancy Donahue. It’s so nice to read about a persons life then and now and how Nancy has evolved. I enjoyed hearing about Nancy’s passion for swimming and the distance she can swim is impressive to me and to be in such great condition.
    Nancy dresses so well, classic and simple.
    A class act . Thank you for the interview.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2022 at 10:57 pm

      Thank you Katherine. I agree. I had the same thought. Nancy’s style is classic, classy and elegant, something more of us should aspire to. I don’t see her wearing jeans with torn knees, cold shoulder tops and clingy fabrics, and every hot trend at the same time. I sometimes call those clown clothes and it makes me sad for women who wear them. I appreciate your emails about my blog last week. Thank you! xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Yvonne September 1, 2022 at 8:05 am

    Wonderful interview! Love Nancy’s style and healthy routine. Very inspiring! Brenda, on another note, I have subscribed many times to your wonderful blog but I don’t receive your posts. I wonder what’s the problem. Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace September 2, 2022 at 11:44 am

      Hi Yvonne! Nancy’s inspired me as well. I took the liberty of resubscribing you with the email associated with your comment. If you don’t see it, or get tomorrow’s Saturday blog, check your Spam or Junk folder. It may be stuck there, but you can mark it as “Not Spam or Junk” and it should appear in your inbox. If this doesn’t work, let me know, and we’ll try something else. Thanks for letting me know, Brenda

  • Reply Mary Ann Pickett September 1, 2022 at 5:22 pm

    Now I have another fun thing to look forward to each month, Brenda! Excellent interview. Love Nancy’s style.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace September 2, 2022 at 11:45 am

      Great to see you here, Mary Ann! I’m excited to be teaming up with Cindy. You all do such a great job on your shared posts. I’m happy you love Nancy’s style. She’s a classic! xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Karen Brooks September 1, 2022 at 5:53 pm

    I adore Nancy ♥️ She keeps everything in her life simple. We have a lot in common including not wearing heels I can’t wear them anymore. I don’t know how we did it. I went to Portugal on my own in 2017. Best trip ever!! I can see why she wants to live there.
    She is a light in our lives. Super funny and very classy.
    Great interview Brenda xo

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace September 2, 2022 at 11:50 am

      Hello Karen! Thanks for reading and commenting about Nancy and her style. She’s a wonderful woman, beyond just her style and how she looks. I’ve never been to Portugal, but like you and Nancy, I wonder how we tolerated heels all those years. And today’s heels are insane!! Like walking on skyscrapers! Hope to see you here again, Brenda

  • Reply Sandra Sallin September 1, 2022 at 6:09 pm

    What fun to find you writing about Ageless Style. The perfect choice, both i you and your choice. Looking forward to your writing every month. Nancy v=certainly has it all together I wish I looked half as good in a bikini. Nancy is very impressive. Lovely to read and see!!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace September 2, 2022 at 11:56 am

      Hello Sweet Lady! I’m happy about teaming up with Cindy as well. This will be great fun. Yes, Nancy has a killer body! I know 18-year-olds that would love to have her figure. Hope all is well with you. Love, Brenda

  • Reply Rosemarie September 1, 2022 at 7:27 pm

    Hi there

    Great blog – nice style she has. Swimming – love how she swims in the ocean and went to Portugal for swimming!
    Doing things by herself – that’s me too! I LOVE doing things by myself and that includes travelling. I am married but my husband does encourage me to travel if I want to on my own and if he’s not interested in going to some event etc – off I go. There’s a whole world out there and one might miss out on an extraordinary experience if one waits for someone to do it with.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace September 2, 2022 at 11:59 am

      Brava Rosemarie! More women need to take a lesson from you and travel on their own whether they’re married or not. If you’re looking for an extraordinary experience, check out my blog tomorrow. I’m announcing next steps if you want to come to Tuscany with me! xoxox, Brenda

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