I Recreated 5 Of My Mom's Old Outfits

by Sandra Roldan

On a recent trip to H&M, I realized so many of the clothes in the store right now reminded me of my mom: the racks were styled to look part ‘70s boho hippie and part ‘90s Friends-era normcore, and everywhere I looked, I saw things that I imagined living in my mother's closet through the years.

I wanted to pay homage to my mom this year for Mother’s Day in a special way, because she has been there for me through absolutely everything. It’s been a rough year... no, few years... no, decade — but through it all, my mom has always been there to help me. She's there when I call her late at night crying over a fight I had with my boyfriend, or when I need to vent about a problem at work, and sometimes she'll even surprise me with lunch at work when she knows I'm too stressed or too broke to feed myself. I consider myself lucky to have her. We are, however, as different as night and day and we have (as most mothers and daughters do) clashed many times over the years. She is very conservative and traditional, and I have a distinct alternative attitude and style. So I thought it might be interesting and symbolic to put myself in my mother’s shoes for a day — literally.

My mom moved to the U.S. from South America (Colombia, specifically) in 1972 at the age of 18. She left her parents and seven (yes, seven) siblings behind to make a better life for herself, but she has worked incredibly hard her whole life to support her family. She married my dad in 1979, and I was born four years later.

Growing up in the late '80s/early '90s, one of my favorite things to do was look through my mom's old photo albums. I thought she was beautiful, and I loved her style. I always kind of resented her for not being more of a packrat, especially in the mid-late '90s when '70s fashion was all the rage and all my friends were wearing their mom's old bell-bottom jeans and platform shoes to school.

As I got older, and my own style became more defined and decidedly darker, I still enjoyed perusing through those old albums and imagining what I would look like in all her old clothes. Now that fashion has cycled another 20 years (oh, wow, that makes me feel so old), and some of these looks are back in style — I finally got my chance. Here's how it played out.

Mom Outfit No. 1

Fresh off the boat in the early '70s, my mom has a kind of Twiggy-esque mod look about her here, especially the hair and makeup. I love how youthful, carefree, and happy she looks. In recreating the look, I wanted to capture some of that youthful spirit. I belted a current t-shirt for a blousier effect, and paired it with a flared black skirt and some vintage Mary Jane's.

Mom Outfit No. 2

Oh... the late '80s/early '90s. Tapered high-waisted pants were de rigeuer, as were oversized tops. I never thought of my mom as particularly "fashionable" when I was a kid (I must have been around eight when this was taken), but what's funny is that I see a lot of my more mainstream coworkers wearing clothing in a similar cut and style to this today. It actually was the easiest of my mom's outfits to copy because of this fact — plenty of tapered leg, paper-bag waist trousers are all over stores like Urban Outfitters, H&M, and Zara. To recreate the look, I reluctantly picked up a pair of these pants, and wore them with a leopard-print top to make the look just a little more "me." The result: soccer mom chic, or urban professional?

Mom Outfit No. 3

Another look from the '70s, I love the flirty, sweet, and feminine silhouette my mom is wearing here. I always loved the dress in this photo, and wished I had one exactly like it. Thanks to H&M, I was able to pick one up in a very similar cut. Sad to say, but my mom definitely wore it better.

Mom Outfit No. 4

When I see this photo now, I think of Laura Prepon (from Orange is the New Black) in her previous role as Donna on That '70s Show. I think my mom looks really cool and effortless in this photo. I was a little surprised to find high-waisted, wide-legged pants in the exact burgundy color as my mom is wearing here on my recent shopping excursion. While I could never rock this look in my own wardrobe, I sincerely admire my mom's ability to pull off the high-waisted style and look awesome in it. Yet another point, mom.

Mom Outfit No. 5

Taken probably right around the time she got married, this photo embodies how classy and elegant my mom can be. I see hope for the future in her eyes, and it makes me want to work even half as hard as she did, so that she can be proud of me and of how much she herself has accomplished as a woman and as my mom.

Images: Sandra Roldan