Despite the fact that my Mother and I have somewhat different tastes in clothing, I believe she taught me everything I know about great style.
When I was growing up, my Mother loved to sew, and she produced some beautiful creations for herself as well as me and my sister. As a young girl, I'd accompany my mom to Minnesota Fabrics (it's closed now, but used to be at the HIP in Chicago), and Vogue Fabrics (also in Chicago), where we'd spend many happy hours paging through pattern books, looking at bolts of beautiful fabrics, and picking out pretty trims, ribbons and buttons.
My Mother didn't care about the latest trends - she just shared her sense of awe, amazement and delight at the multitude of colors, shapes, textures, and fabrics that the world of fashion held. And if you knew my mom, you'd know I'm not exaggerating - she approaches most things in life with childlike curiosity and wonderment. And it's kind of contagious.
My Mother also taught me how to shop for quality shoes, and while I don't always follow her rules (she abhors cheap, plastic shoes and will settle for nothing less than genuine Italian leather), at least I learned them well. Growing up, she'd take me shoe shopping at Salamander, a family-owned shoe store in Chicago's Lincoln Square, where the friendly shoe salesman would measure my foot and proceed to bring pair after pair of European brand comfort shoes out for me to try.
Mother would bend and flex the shoe in her hands, carefully examine the stitching and contour of the arch, then she'd make me put them on and press the toe to see if the fit was just right, and then make me walk around and around, stand on tip-toe, rock back and forth - all of this to make sure the shoe fit PERFECTLY before a purchase was made. And I must admit, my feet were never sore even once under her watchful eye. Mother did make me wear socks with sandals (she's from Europe), which was mortifying back when I was a child but now as an adult, I see it on the runways and think, "Mom was a visionary!"
Mother taught me not to be too "matchy." I was sort of borderline OCD as a kid, and I insisted that everything match just so. But my Mother would gently try to persuade me that wearing different shades of blue in the same outfit was not only OK, it was preferable.
Mother taught me not to wear too much makeup. Or too much jewelry. She taught me to always wear sunscreen or a hat in the summer, and a warm coat and boots in the winter (never forgo your health for vanity). Most of all, she taught me great style could not be purchased for any price - great style meant being a lady, standing up straight, crossing your legs, revealing your thoughts not your thighs; your smarts, not your sex appeal. My Mother praised my oftentimes questionable taste (let's be honest, I was a disaster from grades k-12, but she still maintains that I looked great). My Mother taught me to be myself.
And of course, throughout it all, my Mother taught me how to be a savvy shopper. Oh yes! She is the original Budget Babe, a frugal fashionista extraordinaire. She never spent a fortune on clothing, but she was - and still is - fabulous, beautiful and a class-act all the way.
Happy Mother's Day!!
What style secrets did you learn from your Mom? Share in the comments.