Happy Mothers' Day - why I love my mom's style!
Gemma Cartwright writes...
This year, instead of boring you with last minute gifts for Mothers' Day and all that other over-done stuff, we decided to indulge in celebrating how wonderful (and stylish) our own mothers are. My mom has definitely influenced the way I dress, from way back when she put me in my brother's cast-off babygros (my favourite colour is still green) to now, when she sends me emergency frocks in the post. Despite the fact we now live miles away from each other, I can still hear her voice in the back of my head when I get dressed each morning, and usually when I'm shopping too.
Not only is she the world's best bargain hunter and a master at fancy dress (that's her as Sally Bowles and me as Lorelei Lee at a movie-themed family party last year) but she's also a genius at accessorising. I remember as a child being amazed at my mom's collection of scarves, brooches, earrings and necklaces, not to mention her boxes full of hats. "People should wear more hats" is a common phrase bandied around our house, particularly if my nan is also there.
My mom, much like me, is a very feminine dresser. I remember her spending my childhood in pussy bow blouses, Prince of Wales check, skirt suits and - while on holiday - bold printed dresses, safari shorts and fab bikinis. Mom always looks smart, which has really influenced my being the exact same way (I still can't 'do' trainers). She's mastered the art of spending all day teaching 7-year-olds wearing the same heeled boots that are killing me by the end of the day (yes, we have the same boots) and she still has a fine collection of hats and a vast array of fancy dress props for me to steal. My friends think I'm mad for borrowing clothes from my mom at 23, but she's still got a good eye and quite often will pass things on to me when they don't look quite right on her.
When mom was growing up my grandparents didn't have an awful lot of money to spend on a spectacular 60s wardrobe for their daughter, but my nan is another family member who likes everyone to look smart. Consequently, my mom was customising her clothes long before it was cool to do so. She and nan had loads of amazing ways of adapting things by adding extra strips of fabric or adjusting hems and sleeves, changing buttons or adding darts. They also made a lot of clothes from scratch, and passed on their dressmaking knowledge to me. I made my first dress when I was about 13, with mom leaning over my shoulder showing me how to work the sewing machine. They also got me into knitting (and now I could show my mom a thing or two about how to work the needles).
When I bought a 1960s style double-breasted purple coat in my teens, my nan searched for the above photo of mom wearing her 60s original (perfectly accessorised, as always). For some inexplicable reason, most of the remaining photos of my pixie-haired teenage mom show her in various coats and hats. She and my nan were all about the coats back then, and my mother was never out of dresses and skirts with boots (a look that's become my signature now). She's regaled me with tales of travelling from Walsall down to London to go to the Biba boutique in order to buy a pair of red boots she'd seen in a magazine. I sat there, wide-eyed and jealous (but by no means surprised) that my mother shopped in Biba. Sadly, all the amazing things she had in the 60s have since gone to charity shops or landfills. Damn.
When she married my dad in 1975, my mom wore a dress she'd made herself, which I think is so romantic. It was a traditional white wedding gown with long sleeves and a train, but her veil was attached to a little skullcap that sat at the back of the head. It sounds odd, but it was perfect for the time (when dad's suit had flared trousers and most of the men had longer hair than the women). She's already promised to make my dress too. Now I just need the fiance.
Since she dressed me before I knew how, it's no surprise that I've inherited a lot of my style traits from my mom. We're both big fans of blazers and smart jackets, though she'll wear hers with trousers and I'll team mine with jeans. Neither of us could survive without tights (mom used to wear all kinds of patterned ones in the 60s). We both love nothing more than dressing up in a posh frock, we both know that 'black trousers and a nice top' is the answer to every wardrobe dilemma, and we both agree that suffering the hell at Birmingham Primark is worth it for the bargains (but never on a Saturday).
I think a lot of my interest in fashion comes from having a well-dressed shopaholic for a mother. She's by no means into labels, thinks I'm mad for paying over a hundred quid for my handbag and will never condone my buying designer shoes, but she knows a lot about style and what suits people. We're like a mother and daughter version of Trinny and Susannah when we get together. Luckily for me, her love of clothes helped her to understand why I wanted to work in fashion rather than going down a more academic path, and she and my dad have always been 100% supportive of my career. She's always dead chuffed to get a mention on the blogs (it happens a lot - I like to prove all that 'messing around on the internet' as a teenager was worth it in the end). Hopefully this little homage will make up for the fact I can't be with her on Sunday.
I love you, mom!
Gemma Cartwright is Shiny Media's fashion editor. Despite being English, she has always called her mother 'mom'. Nobody can really explain why.