This blog is dedicated to my mum (so she had better read it) and to every other mother and mother to be out there.
Last week my gorgeous sister-in-law texted the family WhatsApp group with a picture of a nude colour jacket asking if it was okay if she wore that to tomorrows family event. She had to check because not only do I have that same jacket, but so does my mother. So care always has to be taken to ensure we don’t turn up to an event looking like an Atomic Kitten tribute band in our matching jackets.
I guess you could say we must all have good taste, or perhaps we just hang around each other too much that we are starting to wear on each other (ho ho). But it is perhaps something else? God forbid; is it my mother who is the trend setter for the family?
It got me thinking about where our style comes from and if it is influenced by our mothers then by how much?
I have previously spoken about the ‘museum’ room in my parent’s place. This is a large cream coloured formal dining and living area that remains of a style that was very popular twenty years ago. Despite the obvious care and attention that went into designing and decorating the room, no one is ever allowed in there. Next time they go on holiday, I’ll have to sneak in there and take some photos for you, as despite being 32 years old now I’d still never dare go into the room whilst they were there!
I don’t know whether it is the colour, the style or just because as a child it formed a ‘forbidden zone’ in our home, but I now have an innate dislike for cream interiors and will never consider having anything of the like in my own place. So, in this respect I have very much turned against my mother’s style and with good reason. Surely no one wants to feel like they are living inside a box of vanilla ice cream!
However, my mother does also have a lot of black and white tones in the main part of the house (i.e. the part that we actually lived in), which I do as well. Am I being influenced by my mother here or have I chosen this more because it is a classic style that I don’t see ever going out of fashion?
A psychiatrist may just say that I have embraced the interior style that I associate the most with the happiest times of my childhood. Do we all do this? As a mother, that makes me think that I had better make sure that the rooms that my daughter spends her time playing in (so having her happiest moments) are well decorated if they are going to have that much influence on her future style. Imagine if my parent’s home had have been in reverse and I had played with my toys in a cream covered room? I wouldn’t be a very successful interior designer that’s for sure!
Reflecting back, I wonder if my own mother’s taste is influenced by my beloved Baba (meaning ‘Grandma’ in Ukrainian). The style itself isn’t very similar to be honest but my mother has definitely followed my Baba’s example in terms of never throwing anything away. Now there were good reasons for my Baba to hoard what she had, having fled Ukraine straight after WW2 she had very little, so kept everything regardless of its usefulness. My mum doesn’t have the same excuse but yet she follows her own mother’s example.
Thankfully I have broken the hoarder streak, but there are several stylistic tips from my mum that have stayed with me:
Make it your own. Whether its interiors or fashion she would always put her own spin on it. When I was pregnant, she very graciously lent me one of her Carla Zampatti dresses (she actually wore it to our wedding) although it was more of a shift dress on her. When I wore it and it became a well fitted fringe number, finished off with a belt to show off that bump. See pic below.
Style is in the head. It doesn’t matter whether your clothes are from K-mart or Yves Saint Laurent if you wear it with confidence then you will look and feel stylish. After all, K-mart do some bloody nice stuff these days!
Mix high end with budget friendly. Styling with only designer homewares can honestly look tacky and inauthentic. Mixing patterns and price tags with those items that you bought on your travels or even ones your kids made for you. That’s what makes your house into your home.
Repurpose, reuse and reimagine. I remember when I was only about 7 years old, my mother gave my brother and I the task of spray painting our wicker dirty laundry basket white, which breathed new life into an item that would have otherwise been thrown away (probably). It may seem simple, but it made such a difference to bring lightness to the bathroom and yes, it is still in our family bathroom to this day (I did say she was a hoarder!)
So, what is the conclusion? For most people (girls in particular), your mother is the biggest single influence on your lives and that includes your personal style. Yes, you’ll rebel in your teenage years but ultimately most revert, at least in some way, back to their mothers as they grow older. As a mother myself this is both humbling and daunting, but in the end all any of us can do is our best and of course to try and keep our homes largely free of cream interiors!
I’ll finish with one final story. My mother is quite well known for her styling abilities when it comes to events and whether it was my bohemian bridal shower, my 21st or my engagement party, she always knew how to make my crazy visions come to life. She would cut down dad’s palm trees and spray paint them gold, before miraculously finding old rugs – claiming “I knew Baba’s Persian rug would come in handy one day” (I guess the clutter does come in handy sometimes).
No matter the task, she always manages to get the perfect layering, tone and overall emotive effect when it comes to style. The greatest compliment is that people would always ask who styled or who catered the event… and I would always proudly say “my mum”.