We asked around, and found out that many of the people we work with also look to their moms
for style inspiration. Here, some of our favorite moms (and a grandma) and an interview
with Piper Weiss, the blogger who started it all with My Mom, The Style Icon.
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iper Weiss, the curator of the blog My Mom, the Style Icon, is funny, sarcastic and has a great love for fashion. We caught up with Piper to hear more about her good genes.
How did you get the idea to start this blog?
I stumbled on these pictures of my mom. And when I say stumble, I mean 'went digging through her cabinets and piles of photobooks when I was over at my parents' house last year.' I was bored and nosy—as is my nature. Anyway, I found these two photo albums I'd never really looked through before. They were pictures of my mom when she was single—in her early '20s. She was wearing arm cuffs, bell bottoms, high loose Annie Hall buns. belly chains and bikinis. She was a total late '60s beatnik. She was also gorgeous. The best part was that when I showed her the pictures, along with phrases like "Who the fuck is that?" and "Where the hell are you?", it unleashed some great stories my mom had never told me about her youth. Not necessarily because she was hiding anything but because she forgot—it was so long ago. I discovered she'd been to Morocco, Spain, Portugal. I also discovered we had a similar taste in men (ew). But seriously, she dated some hot hipster bearded guys. And in the pictures, they were smitten with her. But first and foremost, I garnered fashion inspiration. I loved her long embroidered vests, her mod mini dresses, her straight vixen bangs. It was a look I've been vaguely striving for, but it suddenly seemed attainable. So when she went downstairs to walk the dog, I scanned in several pictures—sans permission. It's hard to explain to parents that your putting their picture on the internet is being done with good intentions.
What is it about your mother's style that you love?
The takeaway: Fashion is fun. That was a lesson I wish I learned as a kid. I went to an all-girls uniform school in NYC. Getting dressed—when not in a uniform—drove me nuts. I never knew who I wanted to be, or how I wanted to present myself. It was a pre-teen identity crisis times 12. But in my later teens I discovered vintage clothing stores and even the Salvation Army and I stopped taking clothing so seriously. I started to think of getting dressed as dressing for a play. I could change my look whenever I wanted to, no one was holding me to one style. And that's the kind of rebel yell I get from my mom's vintage fashion. She's trying on looks for size—nothing is too serious. Of course, she did with more flair than I did—I still have a "Proud Irish Grandma" shirt I got for irony at the Salvation Army in college.
Do you think your mother's generation approached style differently than your generation?
For sure. More clothing was handmade. Many of the moms on the site made their own clothes. My mom would go to tailors and have dresses made to her specifications because it was actually cheap to do. So the result was that people had more individual style. They were still inspired by pop stars of the day, but their interpretation of trends was looser and more subject to creativity, out of necessity.
What does your mom think of the blog?
She really likes it. Though, I'm not sure how frequently she checks it. She is constantly paranoid that she's broken the computer when she presses the return key.
Did your mom keep any of her clothes?
Oh, she kept everything. I wear a lot of her chunky vintage jewelry, long beaded Native American necklaces, and wooden medallions—it's very gypsy. I also have a great cream colored blouse with '80s working girl shoulder pads, which I love (bring them back!). Not to mention a Pierre Cardin dress, and black bow blouse that buttons in the back. I love it though, I have been told I look like Johnny Cash when I wear it. Not sure if that's a bad thing...
Do you have any favorite photos that have been submitted to your site?
For sure. I love the mom is in a homemade Halloween costume, dressed as a beer can. It's not the most stylish outfit on the site, but it's got the most heart. And froth. Fashion wise: I love the '70s and photos that exemplify the positive aspects of mom jeans. Let me be absolutely clear: I love mom jeans! The more high-waisted and wedgie-tastic, the better.
Why do you think mom as a style icon is something that resonates with people right now?
It's attainable. You know what's not? Models. Super-rich celebrities. It's a lot easier to look like your mom—a woman who busted her ass and got creative with her wardrobe on a minimal budget—than to look like Nicole Richie or Naomi Campbell who have access to couture. I also think looking at pictures from the past tips you off as to where designers and fashion starlets get their sensibilities. It's a great way to mix and match: You can get ideas from old school looks and update with modern pieces.
What's the best piece of advice your mother has ever given you?
Well, she came up with the brilliant idea to stuff my bat mitzvah dress with gym socks. I was going for tissues and I'm sure that would have led to mortification. She had the idea to safety-pin the bobby socks to the lining of the chest of the Laura Ashley velvet dress so it fit me properly. PS-I still looked flat. The advice that stayed with me today? Probably outfits with balance. The old 60 percent skin rule: If you're going to wear a big top show some leg. If you're going to wear a long skirt, show some clavicle.
What does your mom think of the way you dress?
She's into it. I'm in a serious Diane Keaton circa 1981 phase. Popped collars, high-waisted jeans or jean skirts, blazers, high buns, light makeup. I grew up on the Upper East Side of NYC in the '90s. My look is a total rebellion of my youth: Now, I embrace the Upper West Side in the early 80's look. Take that, world!
What do you do when you're not blogging?
Im writing My Mom, The Style Icon—the book! It will be on sale in spring of 2011, published by Chronicle Books. The book will feature loads of vintage pictures and stories of stylish moms submitted by their offspring. It will also follow some of the stories of the mothers in depth. It's part style compendium, part historical archive of how people dressed across the world in the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s.
Alex Juster: Assistant Designer, Men's
"My mom is an independent woman who lived in NYC in her '20s and '30s and did whatever she wanted. From Studio 54 to trips to Paris, she had it all and has the pictures and (best) stories to tell it all. My mom always had a great fashion sense while I was growing up—I remember going into her closet and completely dressing up, saying 'I can't wait until one day we share clothes.'"
Alex Witjas: Junior Designer
"These photos were from around 1972. My mom was a big time fashion model in Israel, posing sexily on bikes and laying poolside with cigarettes and cute boys. I look up to my mom's style because she knows how to dress to her body and carries herself with poise and confidence. She is a classy broad but isn't afraid to wear crazy new trends, and she looks great in anything she puts on."
Alexis Naylor: Web Producer
"After years of trying to tame the curly hair that I inherited from my mom, I've finally taken a cue from her and embraced the hair that she sported proudly all through the '70s, '80s and beyond. She was never particularly concerned with what was popular or fashionable in the moment, instead her style was comprised of pieces she handmade herself and anything that wouldn't interfere with the day. I admire how she always looks effortlessly put together and beautiful."
Anna Apse: Women's Trend Strategist
"My mom always had an amazing way of either adapting her pieces into something else—like wearing a skirt as a dress—or making her own clothes, which makes her an icon to me. Also, she was such a babe."
Candy Washington: Merchandise Assistant
"My mom is an icon because she has an unyielding spirit and courage of conviction. She taught me that there is always a solution to any problem, and there's more than one way to your dream. She also taught me that tough times don't last, but tough people do!"
Jen Adams: Senior Marketing Manager
"Carolyn was living a few miles north of the Mason-Dixon line in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. She worked at Landis Machine Company as a secretary. Yes, they did smoke at the office, just like Mad Men! She drove a Firebird. She loved short dresses and shopped at Fashion Lane. When my dad asked her out on a first date, she turned him down simply because she had plans. She fondly remembers seeing Brenda Lee open for the Supremes in Atlantic City. In fact, she was able to make her way back stage to meet her! My mom's style is classic and graceful with some sass mixed in. She has always appreciated small details and fine craftsmanship. To this day, each time she gets a new piece of clothing, she likes to try it on for everyone and marvel at the details. She finds that most occasions call for a new dress. I definitely picked that one up from her—too bad she didn't save me any of those dresses!"
Kate Williams: Content Producer
"I always joke that you could transport my parents from the '70s into Williamsburg in 2010 and they would fit right in. They were hipsters before people even knew what a hipster was. They went camping, sailing, fishing and on motorcycle trips, so my mom's style was always very utilitarian and classic. It was stuff that you could buy today at APC. She wore lots of simple dresses and clogs, and always jokes about the day she realized her dress was too short, so she just wore it as a shirt."
Krissy Atkinson: Project Coordinator
"My mom is an unassuming, unpretentious, timelessly classy woman. She was and is a natural beauty whose incredibly sweet aura only enhances her beauty (inside and out) as she ages."
Lauren Fraser Mahoney: Director of Visual Merchandising-Direct
"My mom is always confident and put-together—and the fact that she's 5'11" helps matters. When she became the superintendent of schools in the '80s, she wore red lipstick, high heels, and power suits everyday. It was perfection."
Maayan Zilberman: Co-founder of "The Lake & Stars"
"Ruth told me she had a big piece of fabric she has acquired during her travels and wanted to make something out of this for the summer. She had four children (in five years!) so was often in the yard playing with them and needed easy pieces to wear. She made this bra-top and matching skirt, using the border of the fabric as a ruffle. She told me that she loved this solution to hemming, that it cut down on bulky seams. My favorite part is the way she made the straps—to gain support for her chest and adding that bit of sexiness. For The Lake & Stars, this feature has become something signature to many of our bras, like our Waterloo and Curveball styles..."
Maggie Brooks: Allocator
"My mom's really into shopping and loves asking me questions about the retail industry every time I'm home. But most importantly, I really want to own this bikini!"
Mya Gupta: Marketing Coordinator
"This photo was taken when my mom was traveling through Yugoslavia. My mom has always been a style icon, whether it was getting married in a Mister Freedom original and beret, or showing up to a hockey game, when she first moved to Canada in 1971, clad in a fur coat with her cigarette holder. She always knows what to wear and when."
Piper Weiss: Curator, My Mom, The Style Icon
"I love my mom's sense of costume. She would wear hair falls—basically attaching a black 'I Dream of Genie' pony tail to her head for one day in the park. The next day, she was wearing clear John Lennon glasses at a West Village coffee shop—non-prescription, of course. In some pictures, she's dressed in a caftan or a Moroccan hat."
Samantha Howard: Merchandise Assistant
"My mom's style is simple and youthful and evokes nostalgia for a time that I wish I could have experienced. Such a fox, right?"
Shibon Kennedy: Web Merchandiser
"My mom has always been a trendsetter. As long as I can remember, she was pulling all sorts of amazing things out of the closet, putting things together, mixing and matching in ways that seemed so ahead of everyone. She'd tell me stories of Karl Lagerfeld, Saks Fifth Ave, music industry and modeling days, and I'd die over every detail, as she seems to have a knack for telling stories around the outfits she wore at the time. To this day, every time I'm home, I still raid her closet and jewelry drawers (Sorry, mom, but your permanent loan is the best!). She's manages to be timeless, classic but always with a righteous sense of individual style."
Tracy Buchholz: Renewal Production Assistant
"My mom was living in Drexel Hill, going to an all-girls school and dancing on American Bandstand. My mom is a vixen. She was on the cover of magazines, had fan clubs, and girls across America copied her style. More than 40 million viewers would turn in to watch American Bandstand. She would rock dances like the "Pony." Tons of magazines would feature where she was shopping, what trends she was into, and she loved being a part of history in the making. A lot of the vintage patterns she wore are exactly what we look for today when picking remnant fabric."
Crystal Carroll: Associate PR Manager
"She went to school at Kansas State but at the time of the photo she was visiting KU for homecoming. My mom has always been an amazing dresser. I don't think I've ever come across a photo of her wearing anything that I wouldn't wear myself. This photo is the reason why I love wrap dresses—they're always in style."
Shawn Carney: Graphic Designer
"In the 1970s my mom worked for a Tupperware company doing clerical work. At some point, the advertising department spotted her in the office and asked if she wanted to model in the catalog. Her style and poise have always been great... I have photos to prove it. Some of them in patent leather skirts, platform shoes, or with two-tone hair-dos. My friends always tell me how hot my mom was after seeing this photo."