Mother’s Day Tribute: Becoming My Mother

May 4, 2010 • Lifestyle


Editor's Note: Four years ago when Second City Style celebrated our first Mother's Day, most of the staff wrote tributes to the women (mostly our mothers, aunts and grandmothers) who most influenced our style. Since we have added some new staff since the last time we did this feature, we decided to offer the chance for the newbies to pay tribute to the women who made them the fine fashionistas they are today.

Amanda Aldinger

Home perms. When my sister Alex and I, were 5 and 7 respectively, my mother, Lori, thought it would be a grand idea to perm our hair in the kitchen. On two separate occasions. Despite our pleads to the contrary (and Alex's acid-scorched scalp), Lori has always known what's best for us and has never been afraid to take those matters into her own hands. This included ritualistic bang cuttings on the front porch, as well as the "summer buzz cut" my two brothers, Nick and Peter, endured every year throughout most of their childhood with Lori's own shears. Although the boys have since made it their mission to grow out their hair as long as possible, I have maintained my bangs (as well as the at-home cutting process), and Alex has tamed the cowlick which once caused my mother so much angst. In short, no matter how much I disagreed with her during my youth, my mother has made an indelible impression on my sense of style.

Upon beginning this reflection, I wouldn't have said that my personal style directly follows my mother's, but as I think through my life, and the influence my mother has had on my views of femininity and personal style, I realize how directly intertwined they have become. The very queen of finishing touches, you will never see my mother unscented, without her nails done, or without lipstick on. Unless she's in one of her highly difficult-to-shop-for bathrobes (her requirements for a bathrobe rival the construction model for a nuclear bomb), in which case, she's prone in her bed, watching the news or The King of Queens – one of her favorites, and something we do differ on.

My earliest memories of my mother getting ready to go out on Saturday evening date nights with my father are swathed in the library of fragrances she has kept atop her dresser since I can remember. Even to this day, there's always a discussion of which one she should wear and which ones Alex and I aren't allowed to touch – her Vera Wang was always off limits. Even now, when I'm home and getting ready in my parent's bathroom with my sister (despite having two others, it's the only one we'll consent to using. In addition to her bathrobes, towels, moisturizer, and hair products – a ritual she tolerates gracefully) despite being armed with my own dresser-top of fragrances – all courtesy of my mother – I always make a trip to her dresser before going out, just to shop her collection. 

While nail polish is all currently all the rage, lacquered, manicured nails are something that have been a staple in my mother's life since forever. Although our preference for nail color differs slightly – it's all red and hot pink for Lori – she will be damned before she goes without her acrylics. Appointments to get her nails done take precedence over most things, and are more meticulously scheduled than any sort of doctor's appointment, or car repair. In fact, she requires an additional person's schedule to be clear for her to get her nails done. It's her preference to bring someone with her to the nail salon so that that individual can then hold her purse and retrieve her keys once she's waited the five seconds her attention span allows. My mother is a lady, and a lady's nails should never be unkempt. And it's okay to make someone else do things for you while they're drying. 

But the creme-de-la-creme of my mother's obsession with finishing touches is her lipstick. Having worked for Clinique for many years, she has acquired a veritable outlet of makeup and makeup supplies. This includes every lipstick and lipliner Clinique has ever made – all of which my mother keeps in a pocket in her purse, with the labels facing up. She only applies her lipstick while driving, and it is the job of whoever is in the passenger seat to retrieve whichever lipstick and liner combination she desires. "Pink Beach," "Double Truffle," "Heather Moon," and "Surprise" are her staples. This process, while meticulous in nature, is down to an exact science. In fact, when I called my 20 year-old brother to source the lipstick names for this piece, he responded with, "I don't know them off the top of my head, but as soon as I look in her purse I'll know exactly which ones they are. I'll get them to you later today." Practical and efficient – when it comes to her style and look, my mother has always known exactly what she wants, and refuses to waste any time in the interim.

From shoes (my mother and I both have bunions, although I didn't know how debilitating hers were until I spent 2 hours with her in a Nordstrom) to posing for pictures – she must always be captured at the precise latitudinal coordination of her choosing, and the outfits for all studio family portraits taken when I was growing were color-coordinated around whichever outfit she chose for herself. From haircuts – I have adopted my mother's fondness for short, highly voluminous hair and hair dye – to jewelry – there can never be enough baubles for the Aldinger women, my mother has taught me how to embrace being a woman, and to always present myself with confidence and class. 

As I get older, I see my mother in me more and more each day, and I couldn't be more proud to call myself her daughter. Beautiful, strong, compassionate, and eternally classy, my mother is the most important influence in my life. I call her innumerable times each day and can't imagine making a decision without seeking her wise, expert opinion beforehand. As I enter into my mid-twenties and begin building my own life for myself, I can only hope that I grow to be half the woman she is today. At the very least, because of her I will always smell good, have manicured nails, and a garden of lipsticks from whence whoever is in my passenger seat can pick the perfect shade. 

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