Thanks to my mother, I have no embarrassing fashion memories. There are no incriminating photos or outfits that I look back on and cringe. It was her guidance and impeccably classic taste that kept me from wearing anything ridiculously trendy or fashion victim-y.
â€œWhen you were a toddler, one of your favorite things to do was to go shopping with me.â€? my mother told me. â€œI think you teethed on price tags.â€? It was by her side that I learned many important fashion rules, including how to â€œbuild an outfit from the shoes upâ€? and that everything looks better topped off with a fabulous coat. My mother encouraged my budding fashionista sensibilities by letting me pick out most of my own clothes and decorate my own room. In addition, she even sewed colorful sundresses and elaborate Halloween costumes for me (including a red fringed flapper dress and a metallic blue fairy princess outfit with a gold cape – I was clearly a little diva).
She also taught me the value of investing in classic pieces and how to calculate the â€œcost per wearâ€? of any given garment (for the uninformed, if you divide the total cost of an item by the number of times it has been worn, you come up with the cost per wear). Many of her classic pieces have passed down to me, thus lowering the cost per wear even further. One of my favorite coats is a dark red leather trench that she bought in Florence, Italy in 1975 – and I still get tons of compliments on it.
My aunt and godmother also had a major effect on my personal style. She was bohemian before it was a trend – think flowy skirts, beaded tunics, chandelier earrings and plenty of embellishment on everything. Thanks to a career in travel that’s taken her around the world, her wardrobe and house are filled with exotic treasures and unique pieces – all of which I covet. She’s the one who taught me that sometimes the best pieces of clothing come with a really interesting story.
Both of them believe that jewelry is key to a great ensemble and that you might as well be naked without a pair of earrings and some mascara, and to this day, I don’t leave my apartment without these two essentials. They taught me to make the trends work with your figure, and not the other way around, and that it is far better to have style than to be in style. And the number one thing – that absolutely everything looks better with a pair of high heels.
1. This picture was taken in Rome when my mother was exactly the age that I am now – 23. We’re both big fans of classic trenches and simple, casual dresses for everyday.
2. In 1991, wearing another great coat – this time a fur-trimmed anorak that’s perfect for staying warm during a chilly Michigan winter.
3. A picture of the two of us wearing some fabulous costumes. Some girls grew up playing with Barbie dolls, but I was obsessed with historical fashion, and my mother was nice enough to go along with my desire to dress up in hoop skirts and feathers.
4. My mother with her adorable golden retriever puppies. She’s definitely an animal person and usually manages to look chic even while walking the dogs.
5. A recent picture of me, my mother, and my aunt having a slumber party in matching sweaters. Whenever we all get together, we inevitably end up going through each other’s wardrobes, putting outfits together and borrowing different pieces.