When she was 31 and newly divorced, Maye Musk was raising three children and juggling her private nutritional practice with teaching and modeling gigs. Now in her 70s, not only is the registered dietician continuing to practice and give wellness presentations worldwide, but her modeling career is thriving. She is represented by IMG Models and won a CoverGirl contract in 2017 at the age of 69. She also graced the Dolce and Gabbana Fall 2018 Alta Moda runway in Lake Como.
Musk's relentless drive clearly left its mark on her children — Elon, Kimbal, and Tosca. (Elon is a technology entrepreneur and engineer who founded SpaceX and co-founded Tesla, Inc., Neuralink, and PayPal. Kimbal is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, and restauranteur, and Tosca is a director and executive producer of feature films and TV shows.) Her pragmatic and efficient attitude is reflected in her style choices, where practicality reigns supreme. But this isn't your grandmother's approach to comfort. Musk deftly mixes McQueen sneakers with leather jackets, and even donned a caped jumpsuit on the 2016 Met Gala carpet.
What piece instantly makes you feel more confident and why?
A good jacket. I have several leather jackets, because I feel they always add a cool factor to whatever I’m wearing. My current favorite is a teal Celine menswear-inspired jacket. I also love wearing black leather pants with a metallic sweater along with an orange leather jacket by TRE, which I've also been known to wear over a simple shirt dress.
We can’t be excellent at everything, but it’s great to know there are experts who can fill in the gaps.
How do you define your personal style?
Casual and practical. I’m a science nerd, so I'm on the computer a lot, and I'm also a grandmother. When I am with my kids and grandkids, we have so much fun out and about together, so comfort is key for me.
How has your style played a role in your career? Has it opened or closed doors for you? Has it evolved as a result?
As mentioned I’m a science person. I enjoyed nice clothes and thought I had good taste until I met my best friend and stylist, Julia Perry. She stays ahead of trends and sorts out my wardrobe twice a year, dressing me for every occasion. We can’t be excellent at everything, but it’s great to know there are experts who can fill in the gaps. Dressing well has certainly opened doors. As a model, looking fashionable is important.
What fashion category do you feel is lacking? What would you like to see more of?
More flats! I love a good sneaker or walking shoe. When I wear my McQueen sneakers, I feel comfortable and on trend. Last year, I purchased silver metallic ankle boots by Rag & Bone that go with everything from jeans to skirts.
What is your daily uniform? Has it changed or stayed the same? Why is it your uniform?
It has stayed the same and consists of good fitting jeans, shirts, tees, jackets. The look is timeless and comfortable. I travel a lot for work and leisure, both by plane and car, so this uniform works perfectly for any season, and reason.
What style item do you covet the most? A category, a designer, a specific item? Or what item do you always gravitate toward? What item do you own multiple versions of? Why?
Weekends with family and my 11 grandkids are important, so I love great leisurewear, like my sweats and gym clothes by Nike and Sweaty Betty.
On my Instagram post, my natural white hair drew a lot of attention.
If money were no object, what is one outrageous luxury item you would invest in and why?
I don’t covet any outrageous luxury item, although when I shot the Tiffany campaign [in 2018], I thought all of their archival brooches were absolutely stunning.
Can you recall an outfit you have worn that was iconic for you?
My outfit for my first Met Ball, which was in 2016! The theme was Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology. Designer Yuna Yang collaborated with my stylist Julia Perry to create a blue jumpsuit with a cape. The movie reference for the look was Barbarella. My publicist, Kanessa Tixe, worked with The New York Times to announce my signing with IMG Models and my fabulous agent, Josh Stephens, and it ran on the front page of its Style section. That was definitely a turning point. On my Instagram post, my natural white hair drew a lot of attention.
Clothes are a creative way to express ourselves. If a woman feels good in what she is wearing, that is her choice, for better or worse.
Which item in your closet is your most beloved/have you owned for the longest and why?
I have a soft white Tory Burch jacket that I love. It’s about 15 years old and gets better with every year of wear.
How has the way women dress evolved over the course of your lifetime? Do you think that it is for better or worse?
Clothes are a creative way to express ourselves. If a woman feels good in what she is wearing, that is her choice, for better or worse. We’ve earned that right. Fashion is a form of self-expression, and style doesn't necessarily equate to wearing the most current fashion trend. I have great admiration for women who have a strong sense of original fashion. I’ve embraced my wrinkles, but still love to dress with fashion freedom. As a model, you learn to ignore old rules that women can’t wear certain things over the age of 50. At the same time, I wouldn’t want to appear in something that would embarrass my grandkids!
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.