5 Fashion Lessons I Learned From My Grandma

A polaroid picture of a grandma in a silver dress with a white pattern

After seeing the latest looks from the SS17 collections of various fashion houses from around the world, I couldn't help but feel as though I had seen them before. Namely Gucci and Prada, among many others — the frocks, frills, prints, and oversized glasses looked all too familiar, until I finally realized that the models on the catwalk looked as though they raided my grandmother's closet.

Though I never let my grandma dress me as I was growing up and finding my own sartorial identity, I've come to learn that maybe grandma had it right all along. Sure, maybe my 8-year-old self shielded my eyes at the thought of her in a zebra-print pantsuit, or grumbled at the fact that she sifted through the racks at Forever 21 not too long ago. But her confidence in what she's wearing has always been key.

I've already embraced mom jeans, '80s-style glasses, and the ugly shoe trend; it was only a matter of time before I began a quest to nail "grandma style," silver hair and all. She doesn't know it yet, but when I visit for Thanksgiving, I'll probably be asking to take a good look through her closet and a peek in her jewelry boxes.

Here are five important fashion lessons I learned from my grandma.

1. Play With Shapes & Sizes

One of the most mysterious things about my grandmother's wardrobe is that she has never restricted herself to one specific size. At first I found it odd — wouldn't she want to wear something that fits her right? Yet as I got older I learned the beauty of not using the typical size guide. Something could look completely different when it's worn in two different sizes, so you might end up actually getting something different than what you imagined. The element of surprise is always there.

2. Never Underestimate The Power Of Bold Prints

My grandma, coming from China, is no stranger to bright colors and bold patterns. She's carried it through her style in various forms, whether that be in a dress, an embroidered jacket, or in suits. If there's one thing for sure, she loves to stand out and makes sure of it.

3. Jewelry Is The Ultimate Vintage Piece

For as long as I can remember, my grandma has always passed jewelry on to all the girls in my family, some of which are heirlooms that she owned when she was my age. Now when everyone is on the hunt for the best vintage finds, I have to thank my grandma for every piece that she's ever gifted me, because the sentimental value will always make the vintage "find" that much more cherished.

4. You Are Never Too Old For Something Sparkly

In the aforementioned racks of Forever 21, my grandmother found a teal sequined sweater to keep her warm as she walked the halls of our local shopping mall. Though the purchase was more a practical decision than adding to her closet, she surprised us when we saw the sequins.

5. Whatever You Wear, Wear It Proud

Part of the reason my grandmother wears her bold style choices so well is that she's never embarrassed by her decisions. Every time she finds a new outfit, she loves to show every relative around, strutting her new look through the living room. She's proud of what she wears, and by no means is afraid to show it.

The most important tip I learned from my grandma is that no matter what type of style you have, the key to looking great truly is confidence and to never be afraid to try new trends, even if they're a little out of your comfort zone.

Images: Dale Chong