Thursday, 18 November 2010

Meet Mum

Meet my Mum! Regular visitors will have already seen that she scrubbed up pretty well as Mother of the Groom.  While I was in Australia she had another wedding to go to (for which she also made the wedding cake) and this is what she wore.

This dress with a polka dot bodice, three quarter length, flamenco frilled sleeves and a darling corsage of red roses is by Wheels and Doll Baby.  She snaffled it for a song when it went on sale in the local store.  Yep, my senior citizen mother shops at Wheels and Doll Baby, it's one of her favourite labels and guess what? She looks great in it.  I'm always so proud of her when I accompany her shopping there and the sales assistants gush over how lovely she looks in their retro inspired dresses and wiggle skirts.

Flamenca mum preparing wedding cakes.

As many mothers tend to do Mum spent a good two decades putting her own fashion needs to one side whilst rearing her brood of four. Mum has always loved shopping but never had the money while we were growing up to buy nice things for herself.  She lived in hand me downs from relatives for years in order to provide for us and often used her sewing skills to make lovely clothes for my sister and I, including red carpet worthy ball dresses for our annual high school balls.

To say clothes, shopping and sewing defines my relationship with my mother may sound ridiculous but as fashion conscious teens growing up in a poor suburb that was a fashion wasteland, a cheap form of entertainment was to go fantasy clothes shopping in nice shops with Mum.  Important sewing and garment construction knowledge was imparted on these trips as she would turn clothes inside out to teach us what she understood from her own sewing skills and she was instrumental in developing an eye for good design in her daughters.

It was Mum who taught me how to copy a designer garment I couldn't afford when she took to recreating the ball dress of my broke fifteen year old dreams.  I remember our sneaky, repeated visits to the boutique together where the dress was tried on, dissected and every last detail then reproduced by her at home for a fraction of the cost.

I have a book which is a guide for shopping for vintage and in one section on recognising garment quality the author wistfully wishes that she had had a mentor whilst growing up that could have explained to her whilst clothes shopping about things like rolled hems, invisible seams and zips, the importance of lining on certain garments.  I remember thinking that the mentor she was describing could have been my own mother!

Now that she has more time and money for herself these days, she's not going to let a little old thing like being over sixty get in the way of having some fun with fashion and dressing up when the opportunity arises.  In the last few years she has taken more fashion risks than she ever did when she was younger and every time I visit I find covetable new items in her closet and she will be working a fresh new look.  Years of providing for a large family on next to no budget, she has honed the art of sniffing out a bargain.  She approaches clothes shopping with military precision often staking out and stalking her prey for weeks and pouncing when it's been reduced to clear.

Mum keeps in shape by regularly going to the gym so she can wear a lot of things women half her age might shy away from.  The nice thing about being in a family of three women who are all the same dress size is that being able to wear each others clothes triples our options!  She still needs a bit of encouragement from time to time to push the envelope as she worries about what the self appointed fashion police in the family might think of what she is wearing. (Does anyone else have some of those types in their families and how do you cope with them?).

For instance she wanted my opinion on the Wheels and Doll Baby dress which she desperately wanted to wear out as it had been languishing in her wardrobe unworn.  (Sound familiar? Are wardrobe neuroses inheritable genetic traits?) She was however, worried about wearing it to a family wedding because she was sure certain relatives would look down their noses at her.  Why oh why do women do this to each other?  Grrrr! I can't tell you how cross it makes me that someone can make a lovely looking woman like my mum insecure about wearing what she damn well pleases because of these daft and inflexible notions of what is age appropriate.

After my blood pressure returned to normal I told her to forget about what anyone else thought, to wear her red shoes to complement her corsage and handed her my black ruffle chiffon jacket from Topshop (pictured) to stop her feeling cold in the evening.  And she looked absolutely fabulous!  If there is anyone that reassures me that you can still enjoy fashion in your sixties it is Mum.

I love styling my Mum because she loves clothes and is a pleasure to dress.  For my brother's wedding she wanted a jacket for the evening but couldn't find anything locally that she liked.  So I played Rachel Zoe and hijacked Mr Veshoevius' weight allowance, stuffing five evening jacket options (as well as five pairs of heels) into the suitcase.

The black chiffon jacket she wore above was one of them, a nude lined black lace jacket which was a gift from me to her was another, as well as a silver sequined cardigan and an embroidered beaded cape by Kate Moss for Topshop.  On a whim, the last thing I tossed in just before zipping up the suitcases was a black lace jacket with grey lining from Karen Millen.

How is this for fashion genetics?  She had no idea I had this jacket and independently without me knowing or seeing it, she bought this grey, lace embellished dress from Karen Millen with which the jacket went perfectly.  The day before the wedding she also managed to pick up a pair of very inexpensive, grey satin courts with little bows that matched the grey lace.

Bro 1 (groomsmen), Mum and Lil' Sis.
Mum wearing her Karen Millen dress and my lace jacket, also by Karen Millen.

And a final note on the part my wardrobe played in my sister's outfit pictured above.  In the end Lil' Sis scored the moral fashion high ground on me and shopped completely from her own closet.  The ruched, frill trimmed corset with spaghetti straps she's wearing with her satin puffball skirt and diamante kitten heels is a recent hand me down from me!


  1. I am only sorry that nobody in your family has a face, why? Any ????Just half joking...I would love to see all of you.
    Your mother looks beautiful, and I can feel a lot of pride in you( as it should be).
    Wishing I could look into your eyes!!!
    Un abrazo mi amiga invisible, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  2. The karen miller dress looks fabulous on your mother! The color is very unique and I like it with both the lace jacket and shawl. Your mom sounds like an amazing woman.

  3. I have saved this, I absolutely loved reading about your mum and her enjoyment of fashion. What a fantastic attitude, the whole thing made me smile (and yes, she looks fabulous).

  4. Your mum looks great! Hey, see what I did? I posted a comment! Also, I saw that you tagged me, will answer them this weekend.

  5. From the peek of your Mum's smile I can see she's as beautiful as I imagine you are. Her figure is absolutely incredible. I can see where you get your artful sense of dress from. xxx

  6. Gee, what an amazing mum and she does look so stunning in these dresses. I totally agree with you about the stupidity of how women make each other insecure about what they're wearing. My mum has such impeccable taste however that sometimes she has a tendency to act as the 'fashion police' for her 4 children (and hubbie, too, naturally) - but even if I'm grumbling sometimes I've learned SO MUCH from her in the fashion, diy and aesthetics field.

  7. Luckily, I don't have fashion police in my family, but then most of them don't push the envelope very much.

    It's great that you are all three the same size. I understand her "late" indulgence in fashion too well. She looks beautiful in the grey/silver and lace.

  8. I am utterly, utterly gobsmacked - no words can express how incredibly stylish you three girls are. You are sooooo lucky you're the same dress size and can share clothes and you have the same tastes!!! Your mother can be proud that she is a beautiful woman and certainly deserves to shop at Wheels and Doll Baby, with a figure like hers. She taught you well by example in your growing years and it's no wonder you have the most incredible wardrobe I have ever seen. Like Terri, I don't have any problems with FP women in my family, but then they don't mind seeing someone push the envelope either. They taught me to be brave and push the envelope;). xoxo

  9. your mom looks lovely- very chic!

  10. your mum is incredible. . i loved reading this piece about her and yes, these fashion 'genes' somehow run in the family. kinda like identical twins reared apart only to find the same quirky traits-- inexplicable except for what's coursing through the blood and hidden in the DNA fragments.

    only wish i could see all your faces though!

  11. Hello, Mum! She does indeed look like a striking lady, and kudos to her for going to the gym to keep a figure that allows her to have fun with fashion. As usual, I wish I could see entire faces; I bet she's bright-eyed and amazing.

    I don't think I have any fashion police in my extended family -- just a blanket of modest, middle-of-the-road conservatism all 'round. My sister and I are by far the most daring and detail-oriented in the clan, to my observation.

    It took time for this daring to develop. My parents didn't care much for spending money and time on carefully-chosen clothing -- at least not in my childhood. It was partly a matter of cash flow, and partly that they were focused on other priorities. We never lacked for good books, dance and music lessons, Christmas toys, or tasty food.

    For years and years I didn't feel I was "worth" pretty new clothes, though. I absorbed that they were a frivolous, too costly interest. I also absorbed that it was somehow vain and too mature, too sexual to pay so much attention to how the body was presented. Even a sparkling pink party dress -- too impractical, too silly and vain and feminine. I don't think I ever had a frilly new party dress, although I craved one! Instead we wore a lot of hand-me-downs, and practical, inexpensive knitwear from Sears and Kmart and various catalogues.

    I'm still recovering from these childhood notions. And this comment is merging into my planned commentary on your recent post about the annual party dress!

  12. She has style! Must run in the family : ).

  13. I really enjoyed reading this, and your mum looks absolutely wonderful in both outfits I am glad she had the confindence to wear it. x


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