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Ma, You Be Killin’ Em: Lauren Zeichner

May 03, 2011

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 mom sewed her own clothes when she was a preteen, made A-line dresses and jeans. When she moved to Israel when she was 19 she wore unfussy but still-feminine things that were easy to move and work in: leather sandals, head scarfs, sturdy button-ups, prints that look fresh even when you're sweating, crew-neck cotton tees, wide strap tanks and long, loose skirts. She wore thick, round glasses her whole life. Now, she wears a new pair of much smaller rectangular frames, overalls when she's in the clay studio and vests with pockets when she's teaching landscape architecture.

What music did she listen to? Her dad played the trumpet and her mother played piano, but she wasn't into classical or jazz. She liked folk—Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Theodor Bikel and the Beatles. In her minivan we listened only to now-defunct Atlanta oldies station Fox97. Our mutual favorite tune in rotation was Frankie Valli's "Big Girls Don't Cry." I'm a big-time cryer (in my family, this is called "having the Gerber tears" after my mom's mother Irma and her twin sister Hedda, who cried all the time without getting actually upset) but she's not. We can both be interrupters though, and pretty quick to raise our voices.

What would she say? Does she have a fave phrase or saying? Something anecdote-ey. My mom says she can't stand students who pretend they don't know what they're doing so that someone else will feel bad and/or do things for them. She thinks it's important to clean up the kitchen as you go instead of after you're finished making a mess. When working on art and projects, my mom believes emphatically that there's no such thing as a mistake. She says what shows you're good at doing something is being able to look closely at where you've taken it already, decide what you don't like and then figure out how you can re-plan and make it work better. My mom's a big advocate of soliciting input from other people, showing something you've done that you like around the room and really listening to how people react. If you think something you've finished is beautiful but three people find the same thing about it concerning, you should probably change it, even if you feel attached.

Ma, You Be Killin’ Em: Lauren Zeichner