Ma, You Be Killin’ Em: Linda Bravo

Photographer Lerisa Bravo

We have so much to thank our mothers for. In addition to birthing us, feeding us, and bathing us, they've also been our most influential style icons. As a small token of our affection, we're counting down to Mother's Day (this Sunday, heads up!) by celebrating our moms' style, swagger and grace.

What did your mom like to wear? Shockingly, my mother is not into fashion. She's always been a jeans and t-shirt kind of lady, with my favorite hand-me-downs from her being just that: a green t-shirt and an unbelievably lived-in pair of cut off shorts. But even though it wasn't my mother who birthed my fashion fiendishness (I can thank my Papa, her father, for that), she did teach me a lot about style. For instance, she taught me that you always look and feel your best when you are comfortable, and I still believe this this is completely true—I just happen to feel completely at ease in weird pants. She also taught me to always take care of my skin. Even though she's a bit parsimonious, when it comes to skin care, she's irrationally decadent. But perhaps the best gift she's bestowed to me is to never take myself too seriously and to not mind getting my hands dirty. It is thanks to my mom that I feel completely comfortable camping out in the middle of the woods without a shower for a week, only to hop into a pair of four inch heels the next. Nobody likes a prima donna.

What music did she listen to? My mom's a great driver (both in will and capability), and so many of my musical memories of her are attached to seemingly epic New England drives to the Cape to go camping or up to the White Mountains to visit friends. She was very forward-looking when it came to car stereo systems, and she was definitely one of the first moms I knew to actually upgrade the stereo system in her old car (she also traded cars at an auction lot on the side for a while, but that's another story). Two albums I strongly associate with my mom, though, are Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night and the Talking HeadsLittle Creatures. For some reason, maybe because I was at a formative age when these albums were popular, whenever I hear Lindsey Buckingham sing, Carol-i-i-i-i-i-i-ine I think, Linda. She also had some great pop dalliances that are particularly memorable, like Tina Turner’s Private Dancer and the sorta oddball but fun-to-listen-to-during-the-summer-if-your-mom-drives-a-Jeep, The Fine Young Cannibals' The Raw and the Cooked. And, of course, there's always Graceland.

What would she say? Does she have a fave phrase or saying? Something anecdote-ey. Is it possible to always hear your mother's voice in your head but have no idea what she's saying? Probably. But the things I associate with my mother strongly are "being cozy" on a rainy day (which often entails roasting a chicken) and "there's nothing better than clean (high thread count) sheets" (another freakishly internalized domestic concept). The value and worth of long day of physical "work" (out in the garden, building fences, or fixing whatever's broken) only to retire to a "comfy" chair with a cold beer and a good book. It's funny because I've never looked to my mother for softness or gentleness—she's often the devil's advocate in a crisis—but she is fiercely loyal and exceedingly generous. I guess if I were to sum up my mom in one sentence, I'd say: she's pretty much the coziest tough broad you'll ever meet.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Ma, You Be Killin’ Em: Linda Bravo