Inspiration, nemesis, supporter or critic - whatever role your mother takes in your life, you are who you are because of her. Here, three sets of stylish mothers and daughters reveal how they influence each other and the joy of their fashion bond.
Ruth Forsyth with Mabel (12) and Bonnie (7)
RUTH: Fashion has created such a bond for all of the females in my family. My favourite people to shop with are my mum and my sisters. We love looking and trying-on even if we are not buying. I remember trips to Brown Thomas with my mum as a little girl and her dressing up to go into town. She looked so elegant. The whole thing felt so special, and I love taking my girls into town now too.
Do I influence the girls in how they dress? I’m not sure. I do ask Mabel’s advice if I’m unsure of an outfit, and her advice is usually bang on. However, they are a little less keen to hear my advice if I think something looks a little off! I think the usual outside influences apply to Mabel, she is undoubtedly influenced by her peers and what she sees on TV. I think Bonnie is less influenced by outside sources, but then she is only seven.
I would describe Mabel’s style as young and free – she likes to wear a mix of vintage and high street clothes. Like a lot of kids these days, she loves her leggings and runners; but given an excuse to dress up, she will happily go for a pretty girlie dress. Bonnie’s style is a little bolder and more eclectic – she’s very brave with her choice of colour and pattern. She loves to layer and often the results are bizarrely cool, and other times she just looks like a crazy person! But it’s all good. I think we all approach dressing with a sense of fun – we all love wearing metallics, neons and frills, etc. We’re true maximalists.
When I think of fashion I automatically think of my mum, even though we have such different styles. She is always so beautifully dressed. I have such vivid memories of her dressing up to go out to dinner with my dad when we were kids. I’d love to sit on her bed and watch her get ready. I’m not sure I’ve passed on style tips to my girls as such. I guess like lots of things in life, you pick up on what matters to people around you, and some of that rubs off on you. I think I’ve learnt from my kids to just go for it and enjoy wearing fun things. I see how much they express themselves through their clothes without even trying.
MABEL: My mum’s style is never the same, it’s always changing and I love that. I like to think that mine is different too. I don’t like to feel limited to anything in particular. I follow lots of varied fashion accounts on Instagram and can’t wait to start my own soon.
BONNIE: I think my mum looks cool, sometimes a bit weird! I think fashion means freedom and I like that.
Alex Calder and Susan Calder
ALEX: When I was younger, I would feel myself being sucked towards fashion rather than style, trying to wear things that didn’t necessarily suit me. My mother was always trying to guide me toward what looked good and what was enduringly stylish and simple. She’s also given me an appreciation of good fabrics (and the ability to identify them by feel), and the love of finding a bargain – not necessarily something that’s cheap, but something that’s good value. I am a definite proponent of having fewer, better things, and that comes from my mother. I think the fact that my sister and I wear her clothes, or clothes that were hers, shows an enduringness of style. We could now almost have interchangeable wardrobes.
I think the way I dress is based on a template that my mother created. Fine knits, good-quality, statement coats, good bags. The way I dressed ten or 15 years ago is different to the way I dress now. But still her invisible hand has been present at those points, and the older I get, the more I appreciate it, and the more coherent my style has become. I actually find it difficult to shop without her. I will send pictures if she’s not there, to get an opinion. She’s probably the only person who is going to be totally honest about how something looks like on me.
SUSAN: Alex has kept me up to date in terms of keeping what I wear contemporary, not letting my sense of style plateau at a certain decade. She has introduced me to shops that I may not have otherwise been interested in, and things like Pinterest, which I wouldn’t have thought of as a source of inspiration. She’s very visually aware, and has often been ahead of trends – searching out a type of garment that’s hard to find, that then becomes fashionable a couple of years later. There is a definite relationship between both of us and clothes, and clothing has always been part of our relationship. We still really enjoy going shopping together. I think she would agree that I’ve influenced her style, which I’m delighted with.
Jeni Glasgow and Mo Glasgow
JENI: I feel that our style is individual; each of us has our own aesthetic. But there is a middle ground, a place where appreciation happens. The understanding of a well-made garment, the joy of a beautiful handbag. The technical aspects of design elements or seeing a well-dressed, unique or interesting person on the street.
I think I’ve shared my love of thrift stores and bargain hunting with Mo. We always enjoy rummaging in the hope of finding treasure. Mo’s ethos is always “less is more” and encourages me to buy a better quality garment that will last a lifetime, as opposed to fashion items.
I’d describe Mo’s style as contemporary classic, perhaps a little on the conservative side, but with a playful flourish; a quirky brooch, a beautiful scarf, and always interesting shoes! Mo loves quality and tailoring. She wears the finest cashmere sweaters as the weather cools, and beautifully starched shirts in summer. The interesting thing for me is that even if Mo is just pottering about in the garden, she still looks great! Her gardening shoes are cute or she’s wearing a jaunty shirt with her favourite pearls. I like that about her. She’s the kind of person that would rather die than wear a tracksuit.
MO: I agree with Jeni – we’re both very different in terms of style and fashion influences. But I think that we both fully appreciate style and design. I sometimes send her lovely pieces or designers I’ve found on Instagram from time to time – so maybe you could say I’m an influencer of sorts! I think I was too pedantic about what Jeni was allowed to wear as a young teenager growing up, so fashion wasn’t something over which we bonded. But over the years, we have certainly enjoyed flea markets and thrift stores together and, of course, shoe shopping. When Jeni lived in New York City, I enjoyed visiting her there so much. We’d pick up a bargain in Century 21 or a unique piece in an East Village consignment store called Tokio 7. The flea market on 26th street was another joy.
Jeni is a very inspiring individual, and I don’t think I’m biased because I am her mother. She is my only daughter, and I learn so much from her on a daily basis. Jeni is innately stylish; her look is eclectic and so unique to her. She might wear a tartan kilt with a kimono one day and the next, two or three dresses at once. I would describe her style as not fashion-led, but rather personality-driven. I love that regularly I am utterly amazed at what she wears; and how sometimes she’ll wear her clothes inside-out or a skirt as a cape – like a superhero, I suppose!
Photographs by Doreen Kilfeather
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