Smothered


i have a mental block with makeup. either i was brainwashed by my mom, or i am genetically predisposed to agree with her that everyone looks better without makeup. they don't - that's a fact that i, as a rational human being, recognize. but when i even contemplate some polish, i am aware of the criticism i heard growing up, and that which i have since internalized, whether my mom is at home, 3,000 miles away, or right here visiting. tomorrow i will attempt to wear eyeliner, which i've been psyching myself up for lately, even though it will solicit a tsk tsk from her. i can't believe that at my age, i am still struggling with the influence/approval of a parent. i guess no matter your age, you're always someone's child.

did any adult figure in your childhood dispense style advice or opinions? did they stick or did they bounce?

11 comments:

greying pixie said...

The single greatest influence on me as a child was my Italian mother and I would say I owe everything I know about appearance and grooming to her. I grew up in the 60s and remember my mother as a glamourous young woman who drilled into me the importance of neatness, hygiene and self-presentation. I truly believe she passed on to me the Italian way of looking dressy, wearing make-up and yet appearing utterly natural and unaffected. Sophia Loren in her heyday is the example that springs to mind, but all the renowned Italian actresses of that time have it.

Her taste was impeccable and I used to wonder at how she could recognize the potential in items of clothing before she actually tried them on. She would take me on her shopping trips to the small independent boutiques that were so abundant in 1960s UK. She taught me how to keep my nails neat (she never wore nail polish), how to manage my skin in my teens, how to apply eyeliner and use an iron (both essential to all Italian women). She advised me on always keeping clothes clean, polishing shoes, investing in one really good (expensive) handbag and what to economise on in order to save for investment purchases such as good underwear.

I'm now a 47 year old fashion designer and university lecturer teaching fashion design and undertaking PhD research in the area of fashion and I owe it all to her.

The one single most important piece of advice she gave me? 'Always look the same in the morning as you did the night before!'

a. said...

of course! and of course it's my mother! and of course much of it has stuck, to my great consternation. i remember the time i went shopping with her a couple of years ago and she couldn't understand why in the world i was buying black underwear. it was nothing extravagant, crazy, fancy at all... but i realized at that moment that my underwear drawer had been shaped by her for too long. (and i set out to change it... slowly... and still feeling somewhat guilty about it). also, in matters of makeup, she was a lipstick and eyeliner person. every time i put on mascara i feel like i'm being ridiculously frivolous and somewhat brazen... completely illogical. similarly, expensive perfume is ok, since she wore it, but having elaborate things done to/with one's hair is not, since she didn't... etc. but i am, slowly but surely, trying to undo her doing.

-h of candid cool said...

I was raised by TV: do Eddy & Patsy, Cher & Dionne, and Dolce & Gabbana count?

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah. No advice or bad advice regarding grooming and clothes. But if you ask her, she'll deny it and say it was me who wasn't interested in those things.

As an adult, I've floundered about to learn what worked for me, struggled to incorporate regular grooming into my schedule, and have always felt self-conscious about my makeup and underwear drawers.

I only recently realized that it is o.k. to allocate sufficient money in my budget to keep my wardrobe current.

I think that people who tell others that appearance doesn't matter, are doing a serious disservice. Personally, I think I lost out on some opportunities in my younger years, because I didn't know how to make the most of my appearance.

Iheartfashion said...

My biggest style influence was my mother, who was always the envy of the other kids at school. She dressed 'hip', without trying to look like a teenager, has a very classic style influenced by old movies (Audrey, Katherine, Grace, the usual suspects), and was often mistaken for my sister. I couldn't do better than to age as gracefully and with such style!

enc said...

Nobody dispensed, but I observed and absorbed. I guess that makes me a seeing-eye sponge.

editor said...

well, my update - no one noticed my little effort. :p
as for other lessons growing up, for sure it goes beyond the anti-makeup stance. shoes should be top quality; in any instance, buy the best that you can afford; in general, appearances matter.
but i think by and large, my own personality shaped what i heard/learned, and how it influenced my choices/values (though i don't know where that leaves me in the makeup dept.).

WeightingGame said...

My dad always taught me "squeaky wheel gets the grease" and it's a lesson that has served me well. not that I'm a whiner (well, not that often) but I ALWAYS stick up for myself, am good at self-promotion (key when you're a writer) and really value people who stand firm, ask for what they want, etc.

fashionaddict said...

My mother had no issues about how I dressed, she was glad that I took an interest at all, since I was indifferent to dressing up in my teen years (school uniforms made it all seem pointless). So yeah, she likes everything I wear, though she also tries me to get me to wear more "pretty" things, out of habit.

I guess if you don't instinctively go for make-up, but you're trying anyway, it says something about your personality :)

Alexandra said...

Both my mom and my grandma are huge influences. I learned so much from both of them although my style right now is very different from theirs. The basics I absorbed though: the importance of quality bags and shoes, the neatness, the always-impeccable make-up, the investment pieces...

greying pixie said...

I think what comes out from most of the comments (including my own) is that the basics (neatness, hygiene, consideration of appearance) are instilled at an early age but of course we end up interpreting them as we wish in later life. My mother does not necessarily approve of all my weird clothes these days, but my nails and cuticles are always neat, I always wear handcream, my hair is well cut and clothes and shoes are clean and polished.

And one last thing, my daughter now goes to the same ballet school I attended nearly 40 years ago and is taught by my old ballet teacher - I still hold in my stomach and put my shoulders back every time I see her!