It used to be that dressing like your mother marked the beginning of your style death. Mom style evokes images of unflattering jeans, LL Bean parkas and, dare I say, elasticated waistbands *shudder.* But older women are having a bit of a style moment with many bloggers over 60 fronting fashion campaigns for the likes of Saint Laurent, Celine and The Row. As the generational styles have started to blend, I find that dressing like my mother is something I actually aspire to, not fear. In fact, my mum was the one who introduced me to ASOS White, now my favorite brand.
On more than one occasion, my mother and I have met for lunch wearing almost identical outfits, purely by accident. On one family outing, my brother decided to snap a photo of us in our complimentary ensembles which I posted on Instagram without much thought. When I checked my account later that day, I noticed that my DMs were blowing up. Mothers and daughters from all over the world were messaging me about the role fashion and style had played within their relationships. Some fondly remembered shopping trips with mothers, whilst others expressed how such outings gave rise to body image issues later on in life. I knew there was something there that I had to explore. I set out to find stylish mothers and daughters. My original concept was to simply photograph them, however I soon learned the relationship — not the Manolos — was the star of this show.
I have to credit my first subjects, Jenny and Judy, with changing the course of this project. When I met them for their interview, the questions I had prepared were all about “where they shopped” and “how they would describe their style.” Surface-level snippets that would accompany sweet photos. But when they arrived to our interview, Judy—the mother—was bleeding from her knees after having fallen off her heeled boots. Jenny was in caretaker mode, asking the barista for Band-aids, ordering coffee and patching up the wounds. As we talked, Judy explained that she had suffered with drug addiction and Jenny had become more of the parental figure in the relationship. This dynamic was clear the moment they walked in the door.
Judy had missed huge stretches of Jenny’s childhood due to a variety of circumstances, but when she returned home they would shop together as a way of making up for lost time. For Jenny, shopping with her mother wasn’t simply a way to pass a rainy Saturday afternoon, it was a rare opportunity to spend quality time with her mother. She emulated her mother’s style as a way to feel close to her.
Judy is an entrepreneur based in Manhattan, and Jenny is a blogger at Who’s That Girl NYC. Though Jenny is the daughter, she takes on the more maternal role in the relationship.
Mira Mariah is a tattoo artist who recently tattooed Ariana Grande. She is also a young mother and a proud disabled woman based in Brooklyn. Her mother, Patricia, recently joined the workforce after spending most of her life as a stay-at-home mom in Upstate New York.
Colorful sisters, Lizzy Lightyear and Venus are fashion fixtures on the streets of Jersey City where they live together and run their own pet care business. When they aren't running around after pups, they can be found on stage performing their own original music under the name Big Hair Girls. Their mom, Anita, is a special education teacher living in upstate New York.
Aya Kanai is the Fashion Director for Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Seventeen, Good Housekeeping and Redbook. Her mother Jun Kanai, is the US Representative for the Miyake Design Studio.
Nancy Knox Talcott and her mother Elaine are a mini fashion dynasty. Nancy is the US Representative for Issey Miyake and her mother worked at Condé Nast as a pattern maker for Vogue. Elaine suffers with mild dementia and in 2001, Nancy moved home to take care of her.
In the year I’ve spent asking the question: ‘what do you admire about your mother’ to the women of this project, I realized that I’d never asked it of myself. The minutiae of life takes over the relationship and we assume that our mothers (or our daughters) know what it is that we love and admire about them. Perhaps they don’t.
Next time I visit England I plan to go shopping with my mother as usual, but when we stop for our coffee break I intend to tell her what it is that makes her such an amazing woman and mother. I encourage you to do the same.
If you’d like to be a part of this project please visit Stylish Mothers and Daughters I’d love to hear about your own experiences and, if you haven’t already done so today, call your mother!