Looking at Gwynnie Paltrow and her mother Blythe Danner’s twinning Prada pantsuits brought back particular memories of my mother and I.
Gwyneth Paltrow and mother Blythe Danner wore matching Prada pantsuits to a Goop event in the Hamptons, naturally, but because it’s not yet pay-day (and let’s be honest, even if it was), I could scarcely afford Prada pyjamas. But I loved the fact that they twinned outfits.
I could practically hear the eye-rolling – matching outfits don’t exactly scream trendsetting chic even if Grace Coddington made wearing your PJs outside a Thing – but something struck me. They weren’t embracing a trend, which is unusual for Gwyn, they just looked glowing and happy, and like they didn’t give a toss, that they were wearing practically the exact same thing.
Memories returned – along with the scent of my mother’s perfume – as I remembered when she used to let me dress up in some of her velvet scarves and trawl around the house using her old handbags that still looked brand new (to this day, her clothes, some of which are years old, are in impeccable condition). Long before I would read her fashion magazines, it was she who taught me almost everything I know about fashion. My “personal style,” if I could ever call it that, was a result of her influence.
Since I had the cerebral palsy from so young, I had to dress differently – no designer made shoes that would fit over my bulky leg splints – but she showed me how to work around it. How to blend in when I wanted to be like the other kids (always dungarees) and how to stand out when I was old enough not to care (a dress with a matching straw hat that I was way too old to be wearing), it all came from her. Just like when she told me to stick to tailored clothing for my petite frame, that any peplum top should be bought immediately, why red would always be my colour and that I should never buy high heels “just to have” because she knew I’d never be able to wear them, and that looking at them – gathering dust and forever unworn – would be too hard. Clothes brought us closer together and wearing the same outfits as Gwyn, and her mother has, to me, is another way to emphasise that bond.
And now I’m older, we buy and wear the same tops, cardigans, perfumes and we sometimes go around in matching nightdresses. She used to fret and worry if buying what I wore would upset me, but now she only says, “why didn’t you buy an extra one for me?!” So I almost wish we had those matching Prada outfits.
We wouldn’t look cool, but I know what people would say as they have many times before: “You look the image of your mother.”
To this day, it’s been the nicest compliment I’ve ever received.