I’m Jean White of Jean of all Trades and I’m honored to be a guest blogger here at Real Girl Runway. This guest exchange is part of the Feminist Fashion Bloggers group posts that we coordinate every month. You can see Real Girl Runway’s post on my site.
If you ask me about women who’ve influenced me, I might rattle off names of feminists, authors, and other high-profile people like Margaret Atwood, Amelia Earhart, and Qiu Jin. It’s true that I admire these women and I’ve learned a lot from them, but some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned are from women a bit closer to home.
My mother and grandmother (Mom and Oma, as I call them) were—and still are—big influences on me. So, with Mother’s Day still in recent memory, I thought it would be fitting to share with you things I’ve learned from them.
I learned to think for myself, to form my own opinions, and to speak my mind without caring about what other people might say. I learned I can do anything I put my mind to and that earning my own money is important. I also learned about style.
Style isn’t trivial! The way I dress reflects the way I feel about myself. It’s artistic and creative. I won’t make it something it isn’t, but it is fun.
From my Oma: Going blonde can be great—but don’t get in a rut. Oma was blonde for most of her life, but I have a few great photos of her as a brunette. And later in life, when she decided that going natural was more convenient, she rocked a great silvery ‘do.
Wide-legged trousers are your friend. They’re classic, timeless (with the exception of a few years in the 80s at least), and comfortable.
Heels are elegant. Wear them with pants or dresses, but make sure they fit comfortably and that you can still walk in them.
Get noticed. Experiment with color, textures and patterns. Gold lamé has its place. So do Pucci prints, velour, and python patterns. Oma wore a zebra print wrap dress when she married her second husband. Go Oma!
My mother on the other hand, rebelled against the prim and proper 40s and 50s sentimentality that shaped Oma’s sense of style. In the 60s she learned a few things, some of which are still applicable:
Miniskirts are fun! Wear them. If you are shy about that idea, then make a mini your bathing suit cover-up or try one with tights in winter. If fitted isn’t your style, try an A-line.
Giant sunglasses are a great way to look chic, are great when you don’t want to wear makeup, and—because they help prevent squinting—are a super way to avoid the premature signs of aging.
Comfort counts. You can’t be yourself if you’re wearing a girdle and 5” heels (if you can, more power to you). My mom couldn’t and didn’t. She looked groovy in everything from Birkenstocks to Beatle boots. Sometimes she wore bellbottoms and other time pedal-pushers. She looked good, and more importantly, she felt good. And when you feel good, you can have fun!
Both my Mom and Oma weren’t afraid to alter a garment to make it fit better. I’ve learned that trick too. And I’ve inherited their combined styles (which are a bit contradictory at times). I enjoy heels, but wear flats too. I love tailored pieces, but enjoy unstructured and relaxed silhouettes. I definitely like colors and patterns. Fishnets are always in style – and they’re durable.
The three of us didn’t always agree on fashion, but we always had fun experimenting. We all influenced each other’s choices. Oma had to convince me that wide-legged pants were a good choice. But in exchange, she added leggings to her wardrobe.
Who are your style influencers? Did you inherit your mom’s fashion sense or are you blazing your own trail?