I Let My Mum Dress Me For A Week
Was I going to end up walking around in a ballgown and pearls?
I'm guilty of thinking I have nothing to wear (when in reality my wardrobe is bursting at the seams) and always gravitate towards the same things. I like to have fun with my outfits, but there's an element of practicality too (there's nothing worse than having to bring a spare pair of flats because you can't walk in your heels).
Call me a control freak, but it’s pretty hard to predict what I’ll want to wear on any given day.
Sometimes, though, it can be good to have a fresh pair of eyes when you feel like you're in a bit of a rut. I tend to shoot new outfits for the blog, but in my day-to-day life I can be working from home in the same pair of jeans or sticking to the same five pieces for meetings and events.
From past experience, I know I don't take too well to being styled. But wouldn't it be stress-free to have someone plan your wardrobe for a week?
When it comes to style, my mum and I couldn't be more different.
I prefer to adopt a very experimental way of getting dressed, complete with chunky heels, eclectic pattern-mixing, and a slight Peter Pan mindset, whereas my mum prefers a more classic approach. Think Chanel-style jackets, elegant dresses, and heels you couldn't walk to the tube station in. We're pretty close; however, she's pretty opinionated about my collection of wooden Swedish Hasbeens sandals (apparently they're man-repelling) and addiction to shapeless smock dresses. Even though we'll both be reading the same magazines and occasionally shopping in the same stores, I'll tend to go for pieces I can dress down in and my mum will gravitate towards a slightly more glamorous feel.
There's probably the odd thing of hers I wish I owned, (like this gorgeous vintage coat), but most of the time we keep things pretty separate.
I asked my mum to help me switch things up by choosing my outfits for a week. Here's what happened.
Day 1: Birthday Drinks
First things first: I needed an outfit for some birthday drinks at a Hawaiian-themed bar. After being reassured that I didn't actually need to come in costume, my mum decided on a smart fit-and-flare dress with some spotty heels. It did feel a bit wedding-y for a London night out.
I don't know what it is, but sometimes I can be slightly scared of looking like I've made too much effort when out in the capital. The shoes were amazing, but the skinny heel reminded me why I don't really wear them much – I was hobbling all over the place!
Day 2: The Unexpected Combo
Next, she selected a loose boho-style top, and I tried my hand at telepathy to make her pick a pair of denim shorts I've worn with it before. It didn't work – she went for an old tartan miniskirt that might or might not fit, plus some block metallic heels.
They seem like a bit of a smart shoe choice for such a laidback look (I probably would have worn flats), but I'm pretty happy otherwise.
Day 3: The Perils of Wearing White
I needed to give a talk at a marketing conference, so with this in mind my mum picked out a structured white dress I was saving for a special occasion, plus some holographic brogues.
The combination actually really worked – this dress always felt a little nightclubby to wear on a daily basis, hence why it was sitting in my wardrobe for months. I received lots of compliments on the shoes especially, and it reminded me how much I actually like the whole flats-with-a-dress look. The only problem was that I managed to get a bit of chocolate brownie on the fabric...
Day 4: The Forgotten Dress
Lo and behold, another dress I've only worn once. Since it's black, I've kept it in my wardrobe as a safe option, but it always seemed a little too frumpy to wear. Thanks to a belt and some quirky heels, it's pretty ladylike, but in the sort of way I'm comfortable with.
Again I get a few compliments when I wear it out. Perhaps I should let my mum style me more often?
Day 5: The '70s Attempt
Since the '70s are on everyone's minds right now, I bought a pair of flares which needed to be taken up to suit my non-model proportions. Undeterred, my mum chose them alongside a white T-shirt I've had at the bottom of my drawer for ages and some platform sandals I was a little too scared to walk in.
Surprisingly, I didn't completely stack it and break my ankle. I'd probably wear a more structured top next time, as I'm not the kind of person who can pull off a perfectly tucked tee (it took a good few attempts to get this picture to look right).
Day 6: Working From Home
Most of the time I'm working from home, so this outfit was a slightly more considered version of what I'd usually put on. The items are both sale purchases, so even though I never really wear them, I still feel obliged to keep them due to the amount of effort I went to in order to obtain them (queuing for sample sales is not ideal).
It looked OK but made me think that the jeans probably need to be put in the charity shop pile. It's never fun when your housemate references "camel toe" within 30 seconds of seeing you.
Day 7: The Perfect Co-ord
This was undoubtedly my favourite look. Since it was a co-ord there wasn't too much styling to be done and my mum could have gone down a completely different direction and picked another crazy pair of heels.
Instead, she chose some flat bright-red sandals to keep things the right side of casual. Well done, Mum!
This wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be. Now I'm in my late twenties, my mum and I aren't really clashing any more in terms of style (I used to get some strange looks during my grunge/ridiculously flared jeans phase) and I've realised that it's not necessarily a bad thing when a parent approves of your outfit.
Everything she picked out was just sitting unloved in my wardrobe and with a few tweaks, I'll probably end up wearing them more often. It's always good to get a fresh perspective every once in a while – I could see how many items of clothing I hoard and I've since had a major clear-out. Nobody needs that many pairs of jeans.
It helped that my mum knows my style pretty well and actually considered the kinds of things I usually wear on a day-to-day basis.
The main difference is that she will dress things up and I'll do the opposite. I guess I tend to end up looking "cute" rather than "elegant" – I just can't seem to help it. The way I see it, I've got decades full of that stuff to come and I'm happy in my wooden heels and random prints for the time being.
My mum is definitely a one-off. I'm used to her not adhering to the cosy stereotypes (she once turned up to meet me in a full Burberry catwalk look) and I admire the way she makes the everyday into an occasion. Growing up, I'd be surrounded by her magazines, '80s garb, and paper patterns and it undoubtedly led to the career direction I've gone down. We may have a slightly different outlook when it comes to trends (and she's probably the only mum who wears her daughter's hand-me-downs), but I will definitely continue to follow her motto of having fun with what you wear and not caring what anyone else thinks.