Style Lessons I Learned from My Mom

My mom would never call herself a fashionista. Ever. She’s not trendy or fashion forward. She doesn’t buy the popular brands or wear designer items, and she never reads fashion magazines or blogs (except mine. Thanks, mom!). But she is beautiful, classic, timeless, and always put together. We never discussed fashion or style when I was growing up, but by her example she taught me some very important style lessons that have had a big impact on my style throughout my life, and a big impact on the Stunning Style Wardrobe GuidesIn honor of Mother’s Day, I want to honor my mother by sharing the style lessons I learned from her.

GET UP AND GET DRESSED EVERY DAY

Not once has my mom left home without makeup and hair done, and dressed in an outfit. She’s never owned lounge clothes. She has never spent the day in her pajamas, unless she was so sick she can’t get out of bed. She was a busy mother of six kids, and she always took time each morning to make herself look nice. Wherever we went, I was always proud of how my mom looked.

I’ve always followed her example, and even with infant triplets, I still took 20 minutes every day to put on real clothes, a little makeup and at the very least brush my hair into a slick, chic ponytail. I wrote all about why I get up and get dressed every day and how to get ready in 20 minutes or less. Getting dressed every day makes me feel so much better, and I’m grateful for her example.

KNOW WHAT SUITS YOU

My mom learned her colors from Color Me Beautiful in the 80s, and she still sticks to them. She also knows what silhouettes suit her body type, and what brands tend to suit her style, colors, and body type, and she sticks to them.

She had me draped as well and we are both Winters. I’ve always known my best colors, and except for a few lost years in the midst of motherhood, I’ve stuck to them. I’ve learned the best silhouettes to suit my style and body type, and I stick to them. I have my go-to brands as well, which makes it easy to know where to shop first when I’m looking for something.

My mom <3 isn't she beautiful?

BUY ALL THE COLORS

Whenever she finds something perfect, she buys it in all the colors. Fabulous fitting slacks? She needs them in black and navy. A wonderful blouse? She’ll take it in all the bold colors, please. If it works, then lather, rinse, repeat. No need to go hunting when perfection lays before her. It’s smart shopping, which works especially well for her since she would rather take a hot poker to the eye than go shopping.

I do the exact same thing. I found my perfect jeans, and I never stray. They fit me perfectly, stretch but don’t stretch out, suit my body type, and I have multiple pairs in each color. I have a favorite button up shirt, favorite tee, etc., and I buy in every color that matches my wardrobe. It’s so hard to find the right thing, and when I do, I want them all!

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

My mom is a Cute Classic, and that means most of her wardrobe items are timeless so she can wear them year after year. She buys what she loves, what suits her style and lifestyle, and she doesn’t stray. She doesn’t keep buying for the sake of having a packed closet or a different outfit every day of the season.

I’m such a sucker for the thrill of a deal, that for several years I bought things only because they were on sale or clearance, and I found myself with a closet full of clothes that I hated, and/or wore out after a season because they weren’t good quality. Pills, holes, fading, and stretching out all mean they went in the trash bin, not even fit to donate. Part of the problem was I still didn’t feel comfortable in my style, and I didn’t want to spend money on things I didn’t know I would wear enough to be worth it. Once I nailed my style I stopped doing that. Now I only buy what I truly love and suits me, and I have reduced what is in my closet dramatically. I only keep what I love and wear.

My mom was pregnant with my little brother here.

TOO MUCH IS TOO MUCH

My mom grew up in a family where she could have had pretty much any clothes and shoes she wanted, but each season she asked for 5 skirts, 5 blouses, and a new pair of shoes. Whenever she tells me this story I shake my head in disbelief. One pair of shoes? Are we even related? But it was easy for her to get dressed, to keep track of her clothes, and to keep her room tidy. She could focus on other things. She was rocking a capsule wardrobe before capsule wardrobes were cool.

I definitely have more than 5 skirts and blouses, but I feel so much relief in having a much reduced closet now. It used to be packed to the point I could hardly hang anything up. I’ve purged and purged and purged some more. While some purists wouldn’t call what I have a traditional capsule wardrobe, it is in my book because it only has what I love and wear, and it’s not constrained by an arbitrary number. I don’t have a technical one-in-one-out policy, but when the racks get too full, I start re-evaluating and eliminating anything I don’t wear because that’s just noise.

BASICS ARE THE FOUNDATION OF EVERY WARDROBE

Most of my mom’s clothes are basic foundational pieces in neutral colors, and she adds color and interest in small doses. That suits her personality and her coloring.

As a Minimal Edgy Classic, I find I feel best when I do the same. I occasionally bust out a colorful outfit, but most of what I wear is black white and blue, minimal in design and style, and most of my interest, color, and edginess come in the details and accessories.

My mom and me with my niece and nephew.

WEAR THE TOO CUTE SHOES

As a Cute Classic, my mom will gasp with delight when she finds a pair of “too cute shoes,” as she calls them. Nothing calls to her like sequins, sparkles, glitter, and shine, and wearing them makes her happy. She was actually my inspiration when I wrote the Cute Classic post. Wearing too cute shoes shows her fun and sparkly side without being too silly or childish, because that’s not her either. She wears what she likes.

I wear the stabby and edgy items to show my razor sharp side. It balances out the classic side of me that can feel a little too minimal and matronly. My Edgy Classic style shows that I’m a force to be reckoned with, I get down to business, and I get things done. I no longer worry that others will think I’m too much.

KNOW YOUR UNIFORM

She will be the first to tell you she wears a uniform, and that she loves it. It consists of straight skirts, slacks, button ups, blazers, the occasional cardigan, and flats. Her wardrobe is cohesive in both style and color palette, and she can mix and match her wardrobe freely because of it. It simplifies her life, and who doesn’t want that? I can identify things that are so HER because her style is so consistent and so…HER!

Does that mean she never wears anything else? No. She has a few wild card items, but she knows where her heart lies, and when getting dressed needs to be easy and comfortable, her uniform is there for her.

I have a uniform of jeans, tees, sweaters, and button ups. I love flats, boots and outerwear, and I know what I’m looking for when I go shopping, which helps me avoid shopping mistakes.

My mom and me before a birthday party.

IT'S OK TO SPLURGE ON A SPECIAL ITEM

When you find that thing, the one that makes you gasp and go all heart eyes, and feel a little faint, the once in a lifetime find, it’s ok to splurge. Don’t splurge on everything, and definitely don’t spend beyond your budget, but don’t be so rigid that you don’t have a few special items in your wardrobe that make you feel so amazing every time you wear them (which should be often). I remember my mom splurging on a handbag. It was so beautiful, classic, and perfect for her, and she carried it for years. It went with everything she owned, and it elevated every outfit because the quality was really nice.

Because my mom knows her style and what suits her, she is willing to pay for quality items that will last her several seasons. She knows that she will get so much wear and use out of them that they will be worth the price she paid, and also the time she saves not having to replace them every year. Does that mean she has a closet full of designer items? No. Quality doesn’t have to mean costly, but when it does, if it’s worth the price tag, she will invest in a perfect item. To her it’s more important to have a few great pieces rather than a closet full of meh.

My parents also bought us kids a few of the must-have items each year so we would always feel like we had the right things to fit in at school. I remember my pair of Guess jeans that were EVERYTHING for every girl my age, and for my brothers it was Nike shoes. That wasn’t easy with six kids, but they wanted us to look and feel great, too. We do the same for our older kids. They aren’t covered in labels head to toe, but a great pair of Nikes (some things don’t change) for the boys, and a pair of pink glitter Keds by Kate Spade for my Cute Classic oldest girl go a long way in making them feel current.

My splurge items are usually shoes, bags and outerwear, and they are also usually where I incorporate my personality in a wardrobe, so they are worth the splurge to me.

mother's day picture
My mom and brother before I was born, but she looks so pretty I had to add this one.
What about you? Which of these style lessons do you follow? Did you learn them from your mom? Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, whether you mother your own children or others’ children, I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME CLASSIC STYLE INSPIRATION?

If you’ve been nodding along with this article, you may be a woman with classic style. Check out these posts  to find more style inspiration. Or take our Classic Style Twist quiz here, and then read about the different Twists here to learn how to bring your own personality type through while still embracing classic style.

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