Even though body positivity didn't make its way into my daily life and personal value system until well into adulthood, being obsessed with fashion was something I mastered from an early age. And parental influence on personal style was definitely one factor of my eventual sartorial individuality.
Recently I was asked when it was that I started to love fashion, and it was a question I couldn't answer. I don't remember a time when I didn't lie in bed at night putting outfits together in my mind. Lucky for me, my mom totally got it and encouraged my love of style because, well, she loved fashion a whole lot as well. As I got older and we would go shopping, she would actually ask me, "Are you going to dream about it?" as a reference point for how much I connected to a piece. To this day, she still does this.
Growing up, my mom understood that while she didn't always agree with my fashion choices, it was important for me to explore my personal style. Thankfully, taking risks with my look from a young age helped me develop a tough skin.
Fashion became my armor and it still is. If you can survive middle school bullies who don't understand why you're wearing pleather snakeskin pants, you can survive any Internet troll. Here's how having a parent who valued fashion helped me use it as a tool for my own empowerment.
1. We Used To Coordinate When I Was A Kid
As a kid, I distinctly remember my mom dressing my sister, who is four years older than me, and I as twins. But she also regularly dressed me in similar looks to her own. Her love of turtlenecks in the early '90s was not lost on me.
2. We Still Coordinate As Adults
Not only do I not have a problem with matching my mom, but I still regularly borrow her clothes. Although I've witnessed her personal style evolve throughout my life, she still constantly surprises me (in a good way) with her choices. I'm glad we wear close to the same size.
3. She Borrows My Clothes
I will admit that my style is pretty bold and gaudy, so I don't expect my mom to understand all of my fashion choices, and that's OK. But sometimes, I'll catch her posting a selfie in a leopard faux fur coat of mine and be totally proud of her own ability to take risks.
4. She Understood Fashion Experimentation
As a kid, I rocked a really short bowl cut until I hit puberty and my mane became really thick and curly. Some days, I dressed traditionally feminine. Some days, I dressed sportier and more masculine. Both were (and still are) totally acceptable.
5. She Supports All Of My Phases
There was a time in my life when my wardrobe consisted mostly of vintage 1980s sequin-embellished sweaters. While I don't wear them quite as often these days, my mom was totally down with this and all of my other fashion phases, including when I thought I was a Spice Girl in the fourth grade.
6. She Made Me Take Glamour Shots
I thought for a long time that everyone had a mom who subjected them to the '90s phenomenon that was glamour shots, but the older I got, the more I realized that it wasn't that common at all. My fashion-obsessed mom had my sister and I take them in matching paisley and pearl bomber jackets (which I would love to have now as an adult) and she took a whole set of her own.
7. She Can Hold Her Own At Fashion Events
As an indie designer, I've subjected my mom to a lot of different kinds of fashion shows and she's left each one with a host of new stylish friends. Even years after the fact, industry types who have met my mom will still ask me about her.
8. Models Love Her
At every fashion event and show that I have brought my mom to (which is a lot in my six-year fashion career), models always gravitate toward her. As someone who strives to be very inclusive, having my very outgoing mother there to help ensure that each model knows that they have a place in fashion has been really helpful to me.
9. She's Kind Of A Model Herself
My mom's selfies on my Instagram usually get more likes than mine, which I totally love. Her own confidence radiates in her poses and in the way she styles herself.
10. She Loves Taking #OOTDs
My mom regularly takes my blog #OOTD photos and oftentimes she asks me to take hers as well. Once she even printed off images that we had taken of our outfits and gave them to me to hang in my studio. You have to admire that level of confidence in a look. I live for the day my mom launches her own personal style blog as well.
11. She Probably Knows Designers
My mom worked in retail as a young adult and she temporarily left her corporate career to work as a personal shopper when I was a teen. She's not someone who is necessarily concerned with labels, but she knows a lot about fashion. She even owns a piece from the first plus size designer to show at NYFW, Cabiria, that she got at the plus size boutique BLAIR.
12. She's Not Afraid Of Trying New Ways To Shop
I'm not sure if this is the case for other Baby Boomers, but my parents are both terrified of shopping online. This most recent Cyber Monday, however, my mom faced her fears of online shopping with my encouragement. There are so many more options online for plus size individuals that I was happy to help introduce her to some.
13. She Breaks Fashion Rules
Who says you can't wear bright colors past a certain age? My mom has always had her own bold yet sophisticated sense of dress. She's not afraid to break fashion rules, which is something I've learned to incorporate in my own life.
14. She Has Stylish Pals
When I designed a convertible dress/skirt that ended up being pretty controversial, it was actually a friend of my mom's who first took a chance on the piece.
15. She Is Still My Fashion Inspiration
My mom and I have distinctly different styles, but she has always inspired me. I remember rummaging through her jewelry box as a kid and wearing her handmade clothes from the '70s when I played dress-up. While she's not afraid to make her own taste known (she's still an Italian mom, after all), she also taught me that fashion is a valuable form of self expression and personal creativity.
I haven't always lived close to my mom, but now that I do, I realize that having a parent who has their own unique style, breaks so-called fashion rules, and understands what it's like to dream about outfits is a pretty cool relationship to have.
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