I am still active on Pinterest; I know many were but aren’t anymore. It is, for me, a way to collect the things I see that I like and are in line with my own aesthetics and epitomes, without acquisition. It is the digital vision board for a new generation of virtual life.
And while I tend to talk more about and give a greater share of my attention to the products most relevant to me, i.e. men’s clothing, shoes, accessories, etc., Pinterest lets me experiment with vision boards for any theme I desire. Since my mom died, my board titled “mom style” has taken on new life. Let me explain…
If you knew Jane, you’d agree that while she was always a savvy dresser, she wasn’t moved by labels, and never saw clothing as a status symbol or a way to feel above anyone else. Her favorite stores were Dillard’s and Stein Mart, and at those places she found plenty of smart business and business-casual separates, as well as dresses and outfits for more formal occasions. She was in a generation of women shoppers who were accustomed to thumbing through racks upon racks and exploiting a sale or promotion to its best markdown.
I remember spending hours shopping with her, mostly bored to tears. Even I, a lover of clothing, have no stamina for this form of browsing and hunting.
In any case, she had a contemporary wardrobe, but was satisfied with simplicity: blocks of color, the occasional floral or other print, touches of leather, but always with comfort and practicality in mind. I don’t think I recall a time when she chose to wear something more out of vanity than comfort.
I am the one who brought a greater awareness to labels to our family, or at least I added to those my dad favored, like Brooks Brothers and J.Crew. My first “label love” was Prada, and she inherited several wallets and bags from me over the years.
As a student of Italian style, I have since come to lust over, more or less depending on the season, designers like Giorgio Armani, Miuccia Prada, and perhaps in the grieving process and as my mind has been expanded, brands like MaxMara and Jil Sander, all of which make clothing she would for sure have loved had she been exposed.
With all of this swirling in my head since her death, it has been fun (even cathartic?) to pin to the board dedicated to her, the sorts of things I see that she would love…
She never liked fussy handbags, so single-strap shoulder bags were the preferred. Marni, MaxMara, Prada
Even better, longer-strapped cross-body bags. Bottega Veneta, Tod’s, Delvaux
She rarely, if ever, wore heels. She was a flats girl. Manolo Blahnik, Tibi, Robert Clergerie
Sandals, really, since we live in Florida, in basic black, earth tones, and some metallics. Rupert Sanderson, Céline, Pedro Garcia
She had simple, elegant jewelry, gold and silver. Irene Neuwirth, Pomellato, Tiffany
She had few watches, including one very simple cheap silver and gold one. But she also had a dainty gold and mother-of-pearl Michele deco watch with a white patent-leather band, a gift from my dad. Hermès, Tiffany
Headbands. She had a great one in leopard-print pony hair. I’m forgetting the designer but she was famous in the 90s in New York and London. Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana
Other labels she might have liked: The Row, Eileen Fisher, Rick Owens, Ports 1961, Nina Ricci, Emilio Pucci, Brunello Cucinelli, Sonia Rykiel, Vivienne Westwood, Sportmax, Akris, Anne Fontaine, Isabel Marant, Frame, Etro, Oscar de la Renta. She and I share an appreciation for architectural, textural, and thoughtful designs, and occasional flamboyance.
In my memory and perhaps those of others, she is in a particular chambray mandarin-collar shirt with button-loop closures, perhaps from J.Jill or J.Peterman. She wore it often, and I remember seeing her in it cooking dinner, holding our neighbor’s baby, working at her desk…
Today, I have just a few of her belongings. She bought a great silver and lime-green taffeta (?) rain slicker at a store in Seattle, the fabric of which I was and am still fascinated by. I also have a gold and multi-gemstone brooch in the shape of a phoenix of hers that I pin to my coat sometimes.
Her accessories are my most cherished. Jewelry, yes, but the headbands, the eyewear, and the pink canvas train case that Madeleine gave her.
A product of many influences, Jane was stylish in her own way: driven by color, fabrics, and a sense of usability that trumped overly loud colors or delicate garments. I don’t think she had much in her closet that was dry-clean only.
Except, she was fond of a charcoal mohair sweater, which I remember for its supreme softness, undoubtedly another gift from my dad. He gave her lots of beautiful things to wear, things she wouldn’t have spent our money on herself.
I know it’s a fantasy to connect my frugal, practical mother with fashion and designers that exist for only a narrow few, “the 1%”, people whom she often ridiculed for their greedy politics. She came from much more humble roots, and was perhaps influenced more by art and design than designers.
Nevertheless, mom style on Pinterest is just one way I have let her live on in my daily routines and feel connected to her when I find something for myself, like this Giorgio Armani cashmere coat, that she would have happily applauded.