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29. Did your parents teach you things about clothing, care for your clothing, dressing or style? What lessons do you remember? Or did you just pick things up?
No one in family cared too much about fashion when I was growing up, but they always encouraged my often unuasual sense of style. I simply picked things up by trying them, or by looking at what people were wearing and trying to come up with ways that I could make a look I liked work for me.
I think I really developed my own style as I progressed through different stages of life up to this point. At one point I felt I needed some more formal items for certain situations. My parents definitely parcelled out their wardrobes into seasonal items winter/summer, and formal/informal dichotomies. Shorts and a t-shirt symbolizes summer or leisure to my dad while there is definitely the whole formal aspect to his work wardrobe. I haven't quite gotten to that stage but perhaps one day I will be more methodical about that.
My mother had given up doing everyone's laundry when I was about fifteen. She would wash and dry and fold and put all our clothes on my and my siblings beds for us to put away. For some reason, as teenagers, we thought this was too much work and the clothes would just sit on the floor in piles.
I had to do my own laundry after that, and really all I wanted was to get my clothes clean. I never separated colors, jeans, underthings. I threw it all in the wash at once. Sadly, I still do this, since I have to use a coin-operated machine.
If I ruin something, I am never too heartbroken, because all my clothes are still thrifted. If I ruin a $10 dress in the wash, it doesn't seem to sting as much as if it were a $100 dress.
It was my mother who introduced me to thrift store and resale shops. She encouraged all of us kids to dress however we wanted to dress, because it was an expression of who we were.
My mother wasn't defined by her style, but her personality, and my father essentially wears two outfits. So...yeah. Big time.
Yes, my mother taught me to clean and fold my clothes and polish my shoes.
My mom taught me about matching. Once she made matching dresses for me and my Cabbage Patch doll. But beyond that I would have to say that I just decided for myself what worked and what didn't for me.
My parents taught me to buy used clothing because it was cheaper and had more character. I still buy most of my clothing used. Also I was encouraged to make my own clothes, which I did throughout college.
Picked things up.
They let me wear what I want, for the most part—except for when I was 4 and insisted on wearing a dress every day, or when I was 13 and my dad wouldn’t let me wear the pair of jeans I’d drawn all over with Sharpie because he was just certain someone would mistake something I’d drawn for a gang symbol and stab me. Aside from those and a couple skirts of questionably short length, I had free reign.
I have a distinct memory from when I was around 5 of asking my mom if red and pink matched. She said no. And she used to get on me about my part being straight in my hair, and she's the type to separate whites and colors in the laundry and I'm... lazy about laundry. But in general, she'd just let me do my thing as a kid because any suggestions on her part were usually met with resistance. (This might still be the case now. I know, I know.)
My father used to dressin clothes from the army surplus store, using a sashcord for a belt and a ragged green corduroy jacket that my mother kept trying to throw out. These days he wears clothing that is really big and comfortable. My mother wears good classics in neutrals except when she wears fantastic embroidered Mexican Oaxaca dresses in the summer. I wear those dresses as nightgowns.
I've mentioned this already, but not really. My mom was more about saving money and reusing my brother's clothes versus teaching me that stuff. I never knew how to do my hair, makeup, etc. until I got older and either my aunts taught me, or my friends in college. That's also why I am not very good at any of it.
My mom is a painter, and she definitely dressed me differently than the other kids. There were no jeans throughout all of elementary school. Instead I remember playing kickball in a blue romper, with a sort of illuminated manuscript floral pattern and puffed sleeves, which I loved. If only there was a video of that outfit puffing around the bases, past the jeans and T’s. Eventually, of course, I demanded my own pair of jeans in those teen years where you just want to look like everyone else. Now, that I’ve come out the other side of that, I’m back to puffed-sleeve rompers.
Some of it had to do with class, which I don't feel is as present now, and makes me laugh in retrospect. I wasn't allowed to have bangs when I was little because it hid the forehead and somehow that was ugly. Perms were forbidden.
they placed a lot of emphasis on originality and that was a bit stressful, but also fun. We were allowed to be punk rock, but not to be trendy.
I think I mostly picked things up from my aunts and grandmother when it came to style things like perfume, the best shoes for long feet, scarves, trying to be punk rock and elegant all at once.
my grandmother taught me that even if it is 20 below in your small town in alaska, and all the other women are wearing snow boots........... its OK to wear high heels.
Neither my mother nor father are very into dressing or style, although I'm sure it was my mother who showed me how to do laundry, because my dad still doesn't know. My mother hates shopping, and back to school clothes were always a chore. Which is probably why I am completely the opposite now.
I come from an immigrant family so it was always important to have clothes with no holes. I tend to follow that now but still have a bit of trouble because I wear the shit out of things.
I knew my mother and father both had style, but I wanted my own.
My mom taught me how to iron. I was obsessed with ironing. Up until college. I would listen to James Taylor's Greatest Hits and iron in the laundry room for hours. I ironed everything. T-shirts. Sheets. Tea towels. In college, I realized that if you take your clothes out of the dryer right away, you don't need to iron them. And you should never iron tea towels. Or, sheets.
My lessons in style were limited to a British father's belief that Burberry and Barbour were the gold standard. An innate obsession with weather was a factor. For my mom, Bally Suisse was the epitome of style. I'd sit with her in the Bally store and watch her try on shoes and matching handbags. Still to this day, I am overly concerned with my bag matching my shoes. A black bag with brown shoes makes me incredibly uncomfortable.
In the 80's, Banana Republic and Coach's classic brown leather accessories became staples in my parents' wardrobe. Every year, I went with my Dad to help pick out a new brown leather Coach accessory for my mom's Christmas stocking. A few years ago she gave me the collection. I use them every day and often wonder where the brand lost it's way.
From my mum I picked up a love of good quality fabrics, cottons and viscose and natural fibres. Her style inspired me a lot. When I think of her I think of the photos from my very early years. It's like I romanticise her as this icon of the 60s/70s/80s with beautiful brown hair swept up in combs. She wore, and wears, comfortable and stylish clothes in sweet pea colours. I didn't pick things up directly from my mum I don't think, she never dictated what I should wear, and encouraged me if I was dressing outrageously. Since I moved away from home and our tastes have diverged, and my mum has grown older and I have found my own ways of living that differ from hers, she has begun to comment more negatively on how I dress and why I chose a certain outfit for a certain occasion. We were so close when we were young that this slight difference is something I've worried about a lot. Especially because it became most apparent when I got a tattoo and she responded bodily, in a completely different way than I'd expected. I guess it's completely natural for views to diverge in this way, but when you've been so close before it can feel quite heartbreaking. I think as women become older and lose control over their daughters it seems to me that the way they present themselves to the world becomes more important. I was a scrappy child and loved it, but as I became an adult my mum would despair at how little care I paid to greasy or uncombed hair, still does, even though now I have my own grooming routines and ways of cutting and caring for my hair that are important to me and how I feel in the world.
My mother showed me how to do laundry and sew buttons. She also taught me to knit. Beyond that she left clothing choices up to me.
My mother spent a lot of time shopping for clothes, and my sister and I would accompany her. She frequented a store called the "Magenta Mews" and while she tried on the kinds of dresses popular in the mid 1980s - they often had belts and puffy sleeves, my sister and I pretended to be shop dummies in the shop window, along with the real mannequins. I wasn't particularly interested in my mother's current clothes at the time, I was more interested in the 70s clothes she had worn in the previous decade, and still kept in her closet. As a child I'd put on a big batik kaftan of hers and stumble around the house. By the time I was old enough to fit her clothes height-wise they were much, much too small for me. She was very petite as a young woman and her 60s and 70s clothing had the kinds of tiny waists that don't seem possible when you hold them up.
"You look like a slut." - my dad
My father has always been a dedicated second-hand scavenger. He rarely buys anything new, and has defined his style—if you can call it that—by his thrifty, eclectic finds. Over the years, I've learned from his resourcefulness and treasure-hunting strategies (he maps his yard sale routes with military precision and combs through junk with an eagle eye). Much of my wardrobe is from thrift and vintage stores, and the new stuff is typically purchased at a discount. My habit of accumulating “collections” (often collections for which I lack space) also comes from my father.
My mother has always emphasized quality and care. Unlike my father, she is willing to spend a lot of money on a new piece of clothing that is timeless and well-made. She taught me how to hand-wash, and hers is the voice in my head that scolds me to dry-clean my nicer items.
My mother taught me about quality and craft and how to pick out a well-made piece of clothing. When I was quite small, she taught me how to sew and I learned about different fabric types. She made most of my wardrobe until I was in fourth grade and I became self-conscious. She also taught me how to care for clothes so that they last. I wish I could remember all of her stain removal techniques but instead I have to look them up on the internet.