Growing up, I didn’t care too much about style, hair or anything super girly. My attitude was a nuisance to my very feminine mom. I would forget to put on my earrings, or chose to wear pants over a skirt, or preferred to wear baby powder over scented body sprays. One time, I remembered being so bored during one of my mom’s weekend shopping excursions at Bloomingdales, that I stood in the middle of the Eileen Fisher department and started dancing to the music piped through the intercom at my mother’s dismay just cajole her to leave. The only mission I accomplished was a sharp stare and a verbal warning of punishment when I got home.
Years later, I became that feminine woman. A woman inspired by my mom. I eventually worked at the same Bloomingdales as a Visual Merchandising Intern in the Marketing Department. It’s funny where life takes us; depending on the seeds that were sown. Watching my mom cultivate her signature style over the years gave me a blueprint for my own.
1. Get a Personal Seamstress
Going to the dry cleaners is understandable for simple zipper repairs or to hem those pants you got on sale. However, the secret to amazing tailored clothes is a seamstress. If you ask any Nigerian woman, honestly, any African woman, if they know a seamstress, I’m sure they would immediately refer one from their repertoire. With the many social events our community engages in, a seamstress is usually on speed dial. From sewing Aso Abi to a quick pencil skirt using left over Ankara you found in your closet, a seamstress is a Nigerian girl’s best friend.
2. Buy Quality Over Quantity
My mom has expensive taste. Not because she is really into labels, but because she is very particular with buying clothes made from quality fabrics and construction. Clothes these days, especially from fast fashion stores, are quickly produced with little attention to thorough construction and quality. I’ve noticed that mom’s don’t shop as often as we tend to do, but when they shop, they ensure the quality is worth the purchase. I’m trying to move in that direction now. I’ve learned that it’s best to save money for quality pieces, than to buy 20 cheap items. Fast fashion stores are fun for seasonal wear, but they do just that, usually last for just a season. It’s better to buy quality over time, than quantity all at once.
3. Have a Signature Scent
My mom LOVES her scents. She really does. However, she tends to stick to just her signature scents. When I was younger, I was tasked with ironing her nursing uniform. Periodically, the steam would catch perfume that lingered on her uniform and I would get a pleasant whiff of the last scent she wore. It was like her scent over powered any laundry detergent she used. Now, I grew to LOVE scents and I enjoy when other people notice long after my morning application.
4. Wear Earrings
My ears were pierced from a few days old, but I didn’t enjoy wearing earrings until Middle School. I didn’t see the need to wear them all times. Especially, when I was running around and climbing trees. They would get lost and looking for them became a distraction. It was inevitable to have a collection of missing pairs. I just didn’t think I needed them. My mom thought otherwise. If she saw me leave the house without earrings, she would lead me back to the house to put a pair on. To her, without them, I resembled a boy. She believed earrings distinguished women from men (I guess she wasn’t privy to the one earring trend men were slaying with in the 90’s). As I matured, I developed a better sense of what she was trying to emphasize. Earrings are a statement of femininity. Wearing earrings celebrates that femininity. Now, it’s second nature for me to wear my pearls earrings on a daily.
5. Confidence is Your Best Accessory
The best tip my mom past down to me, hands down, is to wear my style with confidence. My mom has a certain confidence and assurance that’s admirable. Even if she’s overdressed to an event, like at my graduation wearing her full lace and gele instead of just an English dress, she keeps her head up and wears it with confidence and pride. Regardless of your style preferences, wear it with confidence. Confidence is the necessary accessory to slay every outfit whether others believe so or not.
Now, when my friends take notice of where my style stems from, I can’t help but smile. All those years of my mom’s training paid off.
What style tips did your mom past down to you?