Tuesday, May 25, 2010


If you're shopping for suits this season, you probably hate your life. That's because they don't make beachwear like they used to. Thankfully, a few simple rules from our mothers can make the ordeal feel a little less like walking through a funhouse... in a fever dream... in high school...naked.


A swimsuit and poolside cocktail are no excuse to wear flats. Especially if you're wearing a one-piece--that's practically corporate casual these days, so show off your gams, goddangit. For inspiration see Margaret Capstick Grillion, above, in 1958.


Attention shy beach-combers and the Duggar children, covering up can still be done with flair. Take a cue from Maria Cullen's mom in Italy in her 1930's nautical dress.
"My mum had me when she was 42 so there was quite a lot of life 'lived' before I arrived on the scene - this dress formed part of the legend of what went on 'before'. It lived in the back of her wardrobe when I was growing up and was one of the clues to her glamorous and chaotic past."


If you're going to wear a baby on your body, make sure it's covered...in bright cherry red. Says Liz who was inside the brightly-colored tent:
"This is a picture of my mom from the summer of 1986; she's visiting her sister near Cape Cod. She told me she even called in sick from work to go to the beach that day! (Don't tell her former employers.)"


Nancy Armstrong writes: "This is a photo of my mom Louise Davis at the beach in 1939 just before she eloped with my Dad. Note the high waisted bathing suit and the no - padding top!"


Vi Auber had the right idea in 1956: a one piece really doesn't need any strings attached.


Judy sent in this photo of her mom in 1944: "Sylvia Loveall Courtney is modeling one of the many outfits she made while living in Long Beach, CA, where she worked as a riveter at Mcdonnell Douglas. This outfit was made in navy blue and white with matching shoes for a nautical theme."


I know a lot's happened between now and the 60's. Vietnam, Watergate, Women's Lib, the Lost series finale. But how did we forget about THE BEACH TURBAN- the quick fix for frizzy hair flyaways? Ericka Cady's mom serves as a reminder for this summer. "This is my mother in Sarasota Florida at Christmas time in 1968. A 25 year old mother of 4, all under the age of 7. Probably some form of alcoholic beverage in the styrofoam cup."


It really ties the whole outfit together.


One pieces are way more glam when they've got a plunging neckline, yes?
Belinda writes: "My mother in 1972 at a beach name Eton in Vanuatu. This woman had given birth to 8lb twin girls then two years later a 9 and a half pound girl. Pretty amazing body I thought for someone who has had to grow something so big in it."


Seriously. Have a gander at the glamorous Linda Funk Vickers in the 1960's. Her layered bikini top is rack-er-ific. Moreover it's perfect limbo attire. You never know when someone's going to pull out the stick and the beach-side ska band, so you better be dressed to get low.

Nuh Uh

I've been saving that headline for the photo of a mom that best combines bold retro fashion with bold irreverence. It also had to make me say "nu uh" when I first opened the attachment.

Let history note, that today Billie Henry is the recipient of the Nuh Uh Award.
Here's why: bleached blond hair, Bettie Page bangs, a high-waisted bikini, and an expression that says "You got that 30 pound cooler of beer? Good, because I'm smoking a cigarette."

Thanks to her son Mike, who witnessed the moment first hand on a beach in the 1950's

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A lesson in hat arrangements

Margaret Ritchie writes: "My mom was a style icon in the truest sense! She modeled in New York City for a period of time in the late 50's and early 60's, before I was born. Our family has been able to hold on to this one photograph, but all the others from then have mysteriously disappeared…We all cherish this image of her!"
I cherish that hat. Not to mention that pose--which you have to be able to pull of if you're going to wear a hat like that. They're not mutually exclusive.
For those confident enough to carry a floral centerpiece on top of their brains, consider one do and one don't.

This Navy blue straw hat from Mainstreet Vintage, with an arrangement of purple and violet flowers is the closest thing to Margaret's mom minus the natural-born elegance. Notice, the mannequin has a Celtic back tattoo. The hat itself has a 32 inch circumference, so doorways may be a problem.

DON'T: This hat came up on a simple search for 1950's floral hats. Do I have to explain why this is the wrong choice?

I hope not.

The Picnic Picture

This is Amanda Javorina's favorite picture of her mother. It was taken in the late 70's at a picnic while she was still a single lady. She writes: "My mom passed away in 1994 at age 37 and I found these pictures a few years after she passed.What I miss the most about my mom is that I don't know the woman in these pictures. I only remember her being sick. It's my favorite picture because she seems so happy and carefree. Plus the tank top she's wearing is amazing. "

Picture Perfect

Deborah Britton Gildersleeve writes:
"This picture of my mother – Dorothy Jean Britton née Skidmore – probably was taken right about the time she married my father in 1945. She would have been about 21. Mother worked for my father – a WWII Battle of the Bulge hero – after he returned from the war. He was a captain, a recruiter; she was his office staff.

They would travel all over the world together – living in the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and on numerous Army bases in the US. At each of these posts, my mother was always beautifully dressed – au courant and proud of it. As her mother-in-law once said of her to me when I was little – 'Your mother always makes a beautiful picture.'

These earrings were still in Mother’s possession when she died of Alzheimer’s two-and-a-half years ago. The dress was probably red silk shantung; she held on to one with the same neckline for years."

Hello Norma Jean

Yes, that's the actual name of the starlet pictured.
Her daughter Martina B. writes: "She was always stylish and fabulous and while many say I look like her I've never had her flair for style. She passed away from cancer in the fall of 2008 and I miss her terribly."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Collar me jealous

Winnie Hawkins sent in this photo of her mom in a dress I will sacrifice a lamb for. Says Winnie: "She was born Anna Olson (Swedish) but changed it to Anne when there were so many Anna's in school at the time. She married my father and became Anne Tiller. A single mother of 4 after being widowed at 42. Always stylish whether working one of her two jobs or just home being "mom". She never spent much money on herself but just "made do" as with this dress which she made in her early 20's from hand-me-downs from the Red Cross when her family's home burned. She was the very best and I just wanted to honor her for the life she led and her caring ways."

While no one can make or pull off a dress quite like Anne, here are a few options for copping her look.

The Navy Blue School Girl dress on Etsy

A retro 80's version via Etsy

Modcloth's updated version

You can also add a vintage collar to any old dress with this handy Vintage Lace Handmade Collar

On the disco round

In 1979, Elizabeth Fowler's mom got dressed up, tucked her kids in and went out dancing in her hometown of Manila in the Philippines. Based on her awesome shiny pink suit, this is what I imagine her next few hours looked like:

Says daughter Elizabeth: "When this photo [not the Grace Jones one, by Ron Galella/WireImage, don't sue me.] was taken in 1979, my mother, Lolita, already had four kids-- all of us teenagers. However, it was our mom that was more eager to go out dancing! She still lives in Manila and still loves to kick up her heels."

Memo to liquor advertisers, especially you Disaronno

I know the bartender with the high school hair and the funky jazz and the sexy ice cubes rates well with women ages 49-51 in the suburbs of Cincinnatti but consider a more effective campaign courtesy of Barbara Bosi's mom.

At 20, she posed for a picture in front of a Campari sign in Torre Pedrera, Italy.
And that is how you sell a bottle of booze, ladies and gentleman.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Back to scheduled programming

With Mother's Day now a fading memory of too many Bloody Mary's and lower back "I love mom" tattoos (what?), I will now reclaim the blog from reader's dedications. Sorry, the writing most definitely won't be as good.
To kick off our back-to-the-blog entry is reader Kristen's mom in the 50's. Color: Blue. Accessories: hallowed vintage wheels, red red red red red lips.
Reaction from Full House's Jesse Consopalis: "Have Mercy"

And the winner is...

Meet the Urban Outfitters/My Mom The Style Icon contest winner. After reviewing hundreds of submissions of drop-dead feisty moms, we decided this mom is the winner, hands down (see what I did there?). We would actually like to high-five (I did it again!) her dress which actually has a poem by Allen Ginsburg on it. Howl attcha boy.
For more amazing entries check out the Original Icon feature at UO

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Something Blue

My mom and dad, Nair and Anatole, on their wedding day. Photo taken at the reception at an officer's club in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, January 29, 1955. I still have the dress which my mother dyed navy blue.
I love you, Mom!!

Dangly darling

What can I say? The photo is one of the cutest of my Mom. I still love those earrings, where are they? Chances are she still has them stashed away, I don't think she ever gets rid of jewelry, no matter how fine. I was about 4 and the year was 1973. Wish I could go back. Those were the days...

I love you Mommy! You knew how to do make-up and hair, you should have gone to Beauty School!


The Mommies of Weisstown

To my mother, the inspiration for this site. And my sister, the mom-to-be (like literally any second-- in fact while I was writing the word second she have become a mom). I'm sorry I'm away but I'm with you in spirit, and in blog.

Fro Real

I love this photograph, my dad has it with him every day in his wallet. Not everyone can say they look that beautiful with a fro. Fro or no fro, my mother has always been a wonderful and beautiful woman that put her kids first. May everyone enjoy this photo as much as I do, and may everyone stop to reflect on all of the ways your mother has impacted your life, to make you who you are today. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Tip of the hat

My mom, Hane Kohn (now Hane Kolm Cornfield) in Prague in 1935 before they fled the Nazi invasion and escaped to Canada.
She's a healthy, vibrant 89 year old 'lady' in the real sense of the world. She loved fashion design, studied fashion in New York city, and began her career as a pattern maker/designer at the age of 60. Forever tolerating my temper tantrums as she fitted me with those gorgeous silk organza dresses. I now have champagne tastes on a beer budget.

Thanks, mom and Happy Mother's Day.


Back from the Abyss

"The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness."
- Honore de Balzac

Dear Mommy,

As I am writing this note, I am thinking about the past sixteen years and the other things I have written to you for this day. Some years, this day has been blissful and happy; others could have best been described as 'rough.'

I feel that the quote above is a sort of embodiment of our relationship. We've been to the bottom of that abyss and back, mom. And we made it. I know that I am stubborn, unyielding, opinionated, and seemingly do not possess the ability to keep my mouth shut. Thank you, thank you so much for putting up with that. Right now, I am filled with such an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for your existence. I exist because you do. My very life is a monument to your untiring efforts, your never-ending thoughtfulness, your tender love.

When I started looking for pictures of you (I only hope you'll forgive me for rummaging around -- I swear I put everything back), I thought that the only 'stylish' pictures I'd find of you were ones from before I was born. I could not have been more mistaken. You knew how to dress and looking at these gorgeous pictures takes my breath away.

You are beautiful, mom, and your beautiful is an extraordinary of its kind. You were ( and are) so cool, mama. Seriously. You are showing me up. I am so, so lucky to share DNA with you. Except for the Gesmundo chubby cheeks. But you know how I feel about those. I love you. And I will miss you when I go off to college in the fall.
There, I said it.
With all my love,

This postscript is dedicated to my grandmother, Owa, who is the most generous and giving person I know. You have always been crazy stylish and I'm eternally grateful that you've passed that down. You're my inspiration for so many of things that I do, including learning how to play mah-jong. I love you so much, Owa, and I miss you!

The couple that decorates together...

In honor of my Mom:
This photo of my mom and dad was taken in Cleveland in the mid-1940s. They came here from Johnstown, PA, unmarried at the time. They lived in a boarding house, and their first job was hanging wallpaper together.
Love, Teresa

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Petite Sophisticate

My mother Annette Pastere Laurie was only 17 and my dad Ray 20 in 1953 when this picture was taken at the popular Chicago supper club. Dad believes they went to see the Carmen Miranda floor show before he was shipped off by the US Army. My mother was always dressed beautifully and I guess that's where I got it from, that love of clothes and dress up. Love and miss you mom, Happy Mother's Day. Love, Debbie

Use Good China

My Mother, Juanita (Wade) Bridges is stylish and wonderful in so many ways. The eternal optimist, she sees the glass half full and has always been supportive of me. A wise woman, she reminds me to use the good china, wear something nice, and enjoy life. Since my dad passed away and my husband doesn’t like to travel, we have seen the world together. We laugh like two teenagers at our inside jokes and adventures, so we’re not only mother and daughter, but also best friends. I’m thankful for my Mother and would like to wish her Happy Mother’s Day!
Love, Teresa

Traffic Stopper

This is my zanie Mom! She drives a '65 Comet around all summer with these silly glasses! It used to embarrass me, but now I got a pair too (except they are uglier!) The top she is wearing was her mom's. My grandma made it.
Happy Mother's Day mom!
Love, Hattie

Sheree Baby

To my mom Sheree Mattson,
My mom always carried her sense of style with such ease. One of the best things about her was that she didn't flaunt her beauty, she was a true lady.

She passed away from cancer last year and I miss her terribly, but what I've decided to do is live my life through her – she raised me to believe in myself and always encouraged me to reach my potential. I miss her smile, her laugh and our conversations. She'll always be with me, that much is for sure.

Love you always mom – Aaron

Why we recline

In memory of my beautiful Mom,
This was in the late 50s. She looks so polished and pretty.
You're in my heart always. Love forever and a day,
Tricia Turner

Moms that Rawk

To my mother, Robin,
She inspires me everyday. Her passion for singing led her through the 1980's as the front woman for the Rock and Roll band, Revolver. Looking back at all of the fabulous photographs her grace amazes me. Out of this grace such a unique style emerged. When I observe these photographs I feel empowered by my mother's confidence. Her determined eyes urge me to follow my intuition, just as she followed her own. I am forever grateful for the values she has taught and the proud sense of style she has passed down.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom, and I love you so very much!

Love, Rachael


To my beautiful Mom, Barb,
She has always been stylin’. And she always made her own styles. This gorgeous halter gown she sewed to wear to the annual 1973 patron’s dinner at our church. So stunning, Mom! Love love love, and Happy Mother’s Day.
Love, Lisa

Beautiful on the outside

To my mother,
This is her graduation picture. I can remember sitting at my grandmother's and staring at this photo on her television stand and thinking of how beautiful my Mom looked in that photo. If it weren't for my father this photo would have been destroyed a long time ago as my Mother hates this photo and can always find a reason that she looks bad in it. 'My makeups all wrong, my hair wasn't right, that outfit was all wrong, etc., etc.' Me and my Father both think that not only does she look beautiful in that photo but she still looks beautiful.-- Love is NEVER Wrong, Embrace Diversity

Beauty School Graduate

To my mom, Karen Ann Morrah,
She was a graduate of Pittsburgh Beauty Academy and even started a beauty club of her own called the Queen Ester Club. She has always been a style icon. I suppose that is were I get my style. Hug and kisses Mom from Linda(Binky)!

Linda Debes

We love the 80's

To my mom, Linda Debes, in her best 80's dress:
My mother was a single mother for over 12 years. She always looked wonderful and stylish even when she worked two jobs. Loved us unconditionally and took very good care of us! We even had a vacation every year, new clothes and whenever we wished to play with our trains, read a book or go for a bike ride we could count on her.. Now that I am an adult I do not know how she did what she did. We love you mom with all our heart Charlie & Mark Bradfield!

Skirting the issue

For our Mom on Mother's Day, 2010

Our parents on their way to a wedding during their dating days in the late 1950's. Our Mom has always had a great sense of style which she worked hard to share with her daughters. She always made a point of helping us look nice whether it be with matching dresses for special occasions or in this case, Easter bonnets, baskets and little white dress gloves. It's fun for us to look back and appreciate our Mom for her style and grace, but all of that pales when compared to her genuine kindness. She is truly one of the nicest people ever. We realize more and more as we get older just how fortunate we are to have such a terrific Mom.

Thanks Mom, and Happy Mother's Day

Kristi & Lori