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? My mother has the eclectic, exuberant style that comes from growing up in tropical Haiti. Bright color, tons of print and, to put it in a “nice” way, lots of vintage. She and my late grandmother were both seamstresses. To this day, my mom has an industrial sewing machine in our apartment and an entire closet devoted to fabric. She made all my costumes and dresses as a child. She would make her self flowing A-line skirts and matching boxy tops. She believes that only tall women or women with a larger leg to torso ratio should wear heels. She’s 5′ 11″ and always wore them. Even when she was a nanny in the 80s, working in TriBeca after she moved to New York, she insisted on having a cloud of curly hair, a great sweater and knee length skirt—because she’s such a lady. I always say that it’s fitting she signs her name with the middle initial G, because that is exactly what she is and forever will be.
What music did she listen to? She was, and still is, a fanatic for Haitian and Cuban music from the ’70s like Roger Colas and Celia Cruz. She also loves French music like Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour. She almost cried when I took her to see Charles at Radio City Music Hall on his very last tour in 2006. If it was up to her, she’d only listen to music that made her feel like she was in 98 degree weather, devouring coconuts and mangoes (her favs!) and falling in love repeatedly. She’s a through-and-through island girl, and I’ve come home many a day to find her dancing and singing to herself in some wild ass shock print muumuu. Obviously I join her.
What would she say? Does she have a fave phrase or saying? Something anecdote-ey. She has a catalog of old Haitian and French sayings that only sound funny/make sense in their respective languages. They refer to things you’s only see if you were in a tropical mountain town. Whenever I tried to use them in school, all the kids would look at me like I was on acid. A good one that does translate is what she says if you stand in front of her while she’s watching something: Papa ou dwe yon verye, meaning “Your father must be a glassmaker.” As much as I take credit for it, my ability to side-eye comes DIRECTLY from my mother (see below). She’s prone to side-eyeing anything and anyone that she finds ridiculous. She also likes to point with her mouth. There’s really no way to describe it without acting it out. But if you ever see her do it, you must quickly look in the direction she’s pouting because she’ll burst into the largest smile and start her beautiful hearty laugh. You wouldn’t want to be left out of the joke because my mom tells the best ones.