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[Style file] Fashion lessons from my mother

[Style file] Fashion lessons from my mother

I grew up in the 1960s in Cape Town, South Africa. My parents were European migrants, who carried with them a distinct style. I never saw my father dressed in anything other than a suit and tie - sometimes with a hat - or over weekends, in an open-necked shirt. He never wore t-shirts, shorts or jeans. Consequently, I grew up thinking that's what stylish men 'should' wear: cufflinks; pocket kerchiefs; berets (in winter) and three-piece suits all year round.

My mother upheld her side of the fashion scale, matching her handbags to her shoes; colour coordinating her scarves with her skirts; choosing the right colours for her skin tone.

She valued natural fabrics - cotton, silk, linen, pure wool - and didn't compromise on quality - even though money was a bit tight. I loved trying on her clothes, running my hands over her silk blouses or her woollen skirts, burying my nose in her scarves, inhaling her Arpège perfume.

Until the day she died - at 90 - my mother knew how to pull together an outfit. She had a great sense of colour and fashion, picking up on trends and making them her own. 

From an early age, I inherited my parents' style: I believed in looking good - or what my mother thought 'looking good' might be. She sewed and knitted all my clothes. We spent hours in Stuttafords or Garlicks as she pored over Vogue, Simplicity or Buttericks patterns, figuring out the most economical pattern cuts to achieve the greatest style and value.

I'm lucky that my father was - for a short time - a street photographer. He captured that time and those 1960s fashions so well. In this short series, I'm dressed by my mother - and photographed by my father. 

I regret that I never learnt my mother's sewing and knitting skills. Luckily my sister is an excellent knitter - and both her daughters can knit, crochet and sew. All I learnt was how to wear those clothes. 

 

[Podcast: Episode 3] The Planepack Essential Travel Packing List

[Podcast: Episode 3] The Planepack Essential Travel Packing List

How much hand luggage can you carry on board? Bags, sizes and weight.

How much hand luggage can you carry on board? Bags, sizes and weight.

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