Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, my Mum unexpectedly died of liver cancer. She was 59 and I was 29. She was gone in twelve weeks, but thankfully did not suffer for long. Her illness and passing devastated our family. My Dad lost his soulmate at 68, and I was a Mama’s girl. Mum was the reason I grew up appreciating and enjoying fashion and style. Mum made my favourite dresses in the ‘70s. Mum convinced Dad that changing my career path at age 22 from Psychology to Fashion was dead right. Mum was full of compliments about how people looked and dressed across all body types and ages. Mum was a fabulous shopping buddy, and appreciated beauty in countless forms. She was a stylish role model, inside and out.
Our sartorial preferences collided and clashed beautifully throughout the 29 years we had together. We adored all things soft and pretty. We enjoyed flounces, ruffles, eyelet, lace, embroideries, poufy sleeves, dresses and skirts with swoosh, shoulder pads, midi lengths, and silk blouses. We liked turtlenecks and dressing modestly. We loved bra shopping. We equally appreciated a structured and fluid fit. We loved dressing up, and wearing just enough make-up to brighten our features. We sported naked nails, but had a thing for light lipstick and dark mascara. We enjoyed non-neutrals as much as neutrals, and patterns as much as solids. We pattern mixed. We felt cold fast and were always layering. We seldom wore high heels, and preferred dainty footwear. I have the same feet as my late Mum. Narrow, boney, no padding, low arches and insteps, and an extreme need for shoe comfort.
Then there were our sartorial differences. I’ve NEVER seen Mama wear blue jeans, yet they are essential to my style. She thought blue jeans were for mucking out horses stables, and that was that. She did though, wear and like white jeans because they looked crisp and dressy. I’m sure Mum would wear dressy black and pink jeans if she were here today.
Mum and I had very different colour preferences, probably because our complexions were different. Mum was Eurasian (half Indonesian), so more olive in skin tone with light brown hair and dark blue eyes. My complexion is pale, blonde, green-eyed and Nordic. Mum was all about earth tones like brown, forest green, cinnamon, olive, tan, khaki, toffee, burgundy, bronze, teal, pewter, gold, burnt orange, sage, cream and emerald. She wore mustard with the best of them. She also loved antique pink, pearl grey, shocking pink, pastel blue, and black & white.
My colour preferences are quite the opposite favouring sour brights like citron, chartreuse, lime green, apple green, Dutch orange, tomato red, watermelon, turquoise, bubblegum pink, and Tiffany blue. I prefer dark blue to black. We overlapped liking soft pink, shocking pink, light blue and white.
Mum loved wearing black bottoms, and I’d rather wear dark blue jeans. Mum was very classic, and I prefer to mix things up with trends. Mum thought Dr. Martens were hideous, and I love them (and wore them). I like Punk style and neon, and Mum thought it was awful and undignified. I love all things denim, and Mum did not. Mum liked cardigans, but they’re not for me. Mum liked wearing chunky, bold gold jewellery, all of which was real and mostly custom-made. Mum wore big gold earrings daily. I don’t wear earrings, and am not a jewellery person. I am, though, just as committed to gold as my metal as Mum was.
Bright orange-y red is one of my best and favourite colours, but Mum did not like wearing it. She did though wear bright red shoes with matching bags. That’s why I wore bright red shoes and bag to her funeral, along with a white top and classic black pinstriped pants suit.
Here are some pics from the past. Mum looking all glam and gorgeous, but serious and frowning on the beach at Repulse Bay, Hong Kong, in 1961. My Dad caught her perfectly by surprise. I love these photos because Mama was extremely expressive with her facial features, and these reflect some of them accurately. She had it down to a look, and didn’t need words to express her feelings. Once you saw Mama’s expression, you knew what she was thinking.
I’ve posted this favourite photo of us together in 1976 before. I was six years old. I LOVED wearing the same clothes as my Mum when I was little, so she made us matching floral maxi dresses for a party my parents were hosting in our apartment in Hong Kong. Wearing this dress with my Mum was one of my happiest style moments.
I made it through writing this post without crying. In fact, it was cathartic comparing our sartorial preferences all these years later. Words can’t express how much I miss my Mum. It pains me daily that she can’t experience YLF, and our much more diverse fashion era. She would have been very fun to shop with and dress. She inspired me to be proud and keep my chin up at any age.
We at YLF wish you, your Mums, including Mums who are no longer with us, a happy and peaceful Mother’s Day.