My mom doesn’t have an impeccable, designer-filled closet. She’s no Anna Wintour or Kris Jenner, so I’m not exactly walking into her 1,000 square foot wardrobe to borrow a Hermes Kelly bag for the evening. But as I’ve grown older, I have really admired and grown to appreciate my mom's style — a chic, tailored one at that. Her favorite outfit is a classic button-down blouse paired with either dark blue jeans or black trousers, and she’s always got a cardigan or jacket on top. Even though her everyday style is basic, every once in a while she’ll break out a sparkly top or a pair of hot pants and I’ll be amazed at her effortless ability to throw together an outfit.
Ever since I realized how sartorially clever my mother is, I’ve grown quite fond of stepping into her wardrobe and perusing through the different items in her closet. While we’re not exactly the same size, and while the majority of her things are too formal for my liking, I’ll occasionally find a cardigan or shirt that I absolutely adore and wear it myself. Not only am I avoiding the money sucking machine that is the mall, but I’m also able to experiment with my own style and really challenge my personal expression through my mom’s clothes. Plus, when it comes to wardrobes, the bigger the better.
So with the help of my mom’s wardrobe and a few beloved basic pieces from my own closet, I’ve been able to style some of my mom’s clothes in a modern, on-trend way. Everyone has a woman in their lives whose style they admire enough to shop their closet, whether you’re raiding your mom’s closet, your sister’s closet, aunt's, or a friend's. Plus, a lot of these items can also be found in vintage, thrift, or second-hand stores.
Here are eight ways to style classic pieces from your mom’s wardrobe that will make your momma proud.
1. The Leopard Print Sweater
Leopard, cheetah, and zebra print have essentially been inducted into the textiles hall of fame. You can’t go wrong with either, and they’ve ultimately become staple items in almost everyone’s closets (even for Harry Styles). Thankfully, my mother was quite the leopard print fan, so I got to borrow this gray sweater from her wardrobe. I paired it with black skinny jeans, but it can easily be tucked into a cute skirt or even worn with paneled leggings. Plus, who doesn't love an oversized, comfortable leopard sweater?
2. The Beaded Clutch
There are some things that never go out of style. And while I can’t say that for leg warmers or spandex body suits (sorry, mom), I can for small beaded clutches. My mom said she inherited this bag from her mother, so it’s definitely got some years on it. But it’s dainty, unique, and beautiful and can easily be worked into a more modern wardrobe. I paired the rose applique bag with a purple dress that didn’t compete too much with the piece. Wearing matching dainty jewelry kept a theme throughout, as well as the barely there sandals. When dealing with similarly small yet detailed accessory pieces, try not to over-power them with larger than life necklaces or shoes. It’s all about keeping the theme cohesive.
3. The Oversized Jacket
Jackets come in so many shapes and sizes, so styling one really depends on what you find in your arsenal, or, ahem, your mom’s arsenal. Because everything was so big in the '90s, which was when my mom’s style really came to fruition, all I found were pretty big and baggy jackets. To set off the larger size of the jackets, I wore skinny jeans and a tank top, and belted the jacket as well. Although a pretty basic ensemble, I dressed it up with a belt, heels, and pretty earrings. If you find more cropped jackets, try playing with the volume of the rest of your ensemble.
4. The Silk Scarf
When it comes to scarves, there are endless ways to wear them. It really depends on the size of the scarf you find. I found a vintage Oscar De La Renta scarf that wraps perfectly around my waist. Instead of employing a belt, a scarf gives extra personality and quirkiness to a basic grey dress. The great thing about scarves is how versatile they can be, so wrap them around your head like a headband, tie them around your ankle, or even wear them as a shawl; scarves will always be in fashion so get experimental with the most innovative way to wear them.
5. The Velvet Kitten Heel
There are a few things I need to address here before I get into this particular item. First off, yes, I happen to be the same foot size as my mother, and yes, it is quite helpful sometimes. And no, kitten heels are not the worst thing in the world so you should definitely try them out. While I know a lot of people wear heels to gain height and confidence, kitten heels aren’t completely diminishing that. While kitten heels don’t compare to the platforms of the season, they still offer some extra height and have the potential to be just as gorgeous and confidence-boosting as your highest stilettos. This particular pair is black velvet and has a square heel, but looks chic paired with a black and white ensemble. Sure, you don’t have to call tons of attention to them, but for a comfortable shoe choice, kitten heels are perfect.
6. The Embellished Cardigan
My mom is a huge fan of tasteful sparkle and shine, and this piece is a perfect example of that. It can easily be paired with a formal dress, but it can also just as easily go along with a more casual skirt and t-shirt combination. Don’t let these fancy pieces fool you. Even though you may not be wearing it in the same context as your mom (the last formal event I went to was prom), it can still easily transition from the office to dinner and even to drinks.
7. The Pearl Necklace
It’s funny how pearl necklaces get such a reputation for only being suitable for an older, more mature woman, when they’re so versatile and pretty. Almost every woman has a pearl necklace in her jewelry box, so this item should be easy to get ahold of. While wearing a single strand may allude back to its elderly rep, layering it with other dainty necklaces will bring it back to the present. Long necklaces are perfect to get a '20s vibe and a shorter necklace is perfect juxtaposed to other, lighter necklaces.
8. The Tweed Jacket
This piece is another one of those “your mom is bound to have one” items. The tweed jacket is a classic that almost all women own. Even I have one! But for the purpose of this article, I borrowed my mom’s favorite grey and white collared version. This version, although quite heavy and thick, is great paired with a simpler outfit. Easily professional, this jacket dresses up a boring outfit quickly and doesn’t necessarily have to be worn with a pant suit. So don’t call off tweed jackets forever. Especially if your mom has a designer one (Chanel, anyone?) lying around her closet.
Now, you have twice as big of a wardrobe as you did before. All thanks to that woman figure in your life that allows you raid her closet. And still loves you nonetheless.
Thanks, mom. I always knew you were cool.
Images: Author’s Own; Giphy