I pulled my white skirt from the closet, thinking I better wear it now; I only have a couple more days to do so. My mother always said not to wear white after Labor Day. That got me remembering some of mom’s other fashion advice like be sure to wear clean underwear and don’t use safety pins to fix your bra (sew it!).
I thought how everyone’s mother must have done the same thing: volunteering opinions, praise, and criticism. I know I’ve done my share. I asked about 50 women of all ages and backgrounds to recall what their mothers said about fashion.
Here’s a round up:
On Wearing White
Though many contested the idea; declaring how wonderful whites look throughout fall and winter.
“Regarding “White after Labor Day”, as a “Fashionista”, I’ll have you know…that “rule” NO LONGER stands. You can wear white & open toe heels ALL YEAR LONG! ~ Sakina
“I write wearing my whites – polo shirt and gray chinos – to set off my summer tan as I take off on bike ride to see a sailboat on the rocks, skewered by its mast courtesy of Irene. Can’t beat that contrast, tan to white, for the usually pasty set! Signed, ‘Always a Sailor’” ~ Diana P.
Many, including my mother, noted that “winter whites” are acceptable but not in shoes.
The appearance and condition of underwear must have kept our mothers awake worrying.
“Make sure your underwear is not only clean, but not torn. Don’t want to wind up in an emergency room with shabby underwear. Don’t want to wind up in an emergency room period.”~ MOM
“Make sure you don’t have holes in your socks when you go to the doctor” ~ Adeena
“My Aunt Elaine always told us: Your underwear MUST match. God forbid if you get in an accident and become unconscious, you will be treated better if your underwear matches. The MD/EMTs will assume that you have insurance!”~ Robin
“I was told the same things you were, but after my mom fell and broke her hip a few years ago, and they had to cut away her undergarments, it made more sense to wear old underwear since they would just cut it up anyway, in case of an accident.”~ Eileen
“Be sure your bra strap doesn’t show! Now it’s a fashion statement to show your cool, thin, colorful (or not) bra straps!” Nancy K.
“Growing up in the ’60’s my mom was thrilled if I just covered all the “important” parts and wore a bra.” ~Nancy J.
“Wear a girdle; a jiggly booty is unbecoming. If you have a sheer-ish skirt, a slip is necessary and appropriate. Something I actually do still adhere to today.”~ Lisa P.
One friend offered the advice she gives her twenty-something daughters: “Always wear something sexy underneath even if no one is going to see it. You will feel fab. Wear a thong you don’t want panty lines.”~Sharon
On Stockings & Shoes:
“Wear pantyhose in the workplace. My mom also made us only colored tights with short skirts.”~ Judy
“I remember my mom making me change my shoes once on the way to high holidays. Forget about cleansing and purification, In Northern Virginia the high holidays was all about fashion. “Who looks at shoes?” I said, sure that whatever scuffed and inappropriate clodhoppers I had on would meet with God’s approval.
She looked at me with weary disdain: “Everybody looks at shoes.”~ Debra G.
“Fix your shoes. If they are good enough to wear, they should be mended.”~ MOM
On Hats & Hair
“You must wear a hat when you go out. Ever hear of a house without a roof?”~ Robin
From Grandma: “It is a lady’s DUTY to have her hair combed when she is in public. Whatever it takes to accomplish that is fair game.”
From mom: It totally doesn’t matter what curlers you put in your hair or where you place them as long as it they are curled straight to the head.”~ Deanne
“Don’t wear a hairstyle you have to keep fixing all day “~ Yaaileith
On Styles & Patterns
“Mom told me I was too short to wear bikini when I was 16 and 100 pounds. Now of course, I’m too old and doughy for one.”~ Marla
“My mother liked me to wear one color, or a matching print for both top and bottom and even matching shoes so that I would look taller.”~ Beth
“Never wear yellow because it washes out your skin. I love the color and wear it a lot nowadays. She always told me to make sure my skirts or dresses went below the knee because she thought women’s knees were ugly.”~Audrey
“Short shorts were for your backyard only.”~Betsy A.
On Being Ladylike
“Leave a little something for their imaginations. A little lipstick never hurt anyone.”~ Terri
“Always get dressed when you go out. You never know who you will run into.”~ Judy
“Never wear an all new outfit. It’s ostentatious. Wear something old with something new.” ~ Betsy
“Your clothes should always be ironed. Clothes must be washed after one use (no re-wearing of clothes, even if you only had them on for church or a few hours). “~Lisa P.
“The way you dress will be people’s first impression of you.”~ Nancy P.
“Sit up straight or you get a hump in your back.” ~Pamela”
“The only advice we had from our parents (being in Russia) is to dress worm when it is cold (-40C).”~ Yelena
“Always carry a hanky, and make sure you have twenty cents in case you have to make a phone call.”~ Kaye
On Being Yourself
“What you wear should please YOU. It should not reflect what others think.”~ Nita
I hear myself in some of these quotes and know I’ve commented about cleavage, sheerness, short skirts, tight jeans, no stockings in freezing weather, too long earrings, and more. I hope my daughter forgives me.
(photos from non- royalty websites)