Thanks Mom

My mother was a beautiful woman and a classy dresser.


Sitting on a pile of rocks at the beach in the 1920–reminds me of the 60s. 

Mom with Bob, her third husband, in 1928.  (She married him 35 years later, after mom had been widowed twice.)

When she married my dad she wore a filmy gown and through the 30s and 40s she wore classic-style dresses.  She worked at the Broadway Department stores for nearly a decade and as she tells it, had a closet full of shoes (size 4, all samples).

Mom and dad in San Francisco in the 1930s. 

In the 50s she wore the wide skirts, which flattered no one. That was inexplicable considering her earlier fashion choices. She continued to wear dresses up to her 60s, but then began to wear slacks and tunic tops.

Mom and I rarely went shopping and she never gave me advice about my clothing. As she got older, I wasn’t the one to take her shopping. We didn’t do so well.  I had a hard enough time finding clothes for myself, let alone for her. But sister-in-law had a knack for finding just the right pant and blouse outfits, always colorful, always classic. Mom wore matching earrings every day, her silver rope necklace and always her wooden cross.

The day mom died in March 2011, she was dressed nicely in slacks and a nice blouse. She was preparing to go down for lunch and when the housekeeper came earlier that morning mom asked her to tie the bow on the back of the blouse. She didn’t die in one of her filmy nightgowns in bed with no makeup, but dressed and ready to go.

I am most comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, or sweatshirt or sweater. Summer it’s capris and a t-shirt. I wear clunky Keen sandals most of the year, and then boots, because I don’t have feet that fit nicely into cute little shoes.

When I go to a meeting or to do an interview, I wear jeans and a nice blouse and manage to put on a pair of Dansko type shoes. But not long ago I needed a new pair of slacks for some event. Or maybe I was just feeling like I needed to wear something besides jeans. I also have a straight-up-and-down type figure, so it’s not easy fitting into stylish slacks.

I went to Macy’s and began the painful trek through the store, from one department to another, flummoxed by the flouncy styles and bright patterns. I may not be a classy dresser, but my style is “classic,” straight lines, solid colors, scarfs and I love hats. But no patterns please.

I was about to give up when I said (surprising myself), “Mom…I need some help here. You were the classy dresser. And even though we didn’t like to shop, can you help me find what I’m looking for.”

I am not kidding, not two minutes later I walked to a rack and found the best pair of slacks I’ve had — in years. Perfect fit. Costing three times what I usually pay for a pair of jeans. But thanks, mom.

And then there are the summer weddings. Alas. What to wear to a summer wedding. We are going to a Catholic mass wedding today and then the reception at the local arboretum–outside. It’s going to be 97. I could either wear a summer dress, which would be fine if I could find one, but I thought I’d buy a pair of nice white ankle length capris and a light shell and a scarf and a flowy top I have that I’ve worn just once.

Yesterday I again went shopping at Macy’s. I did my normal wander-the-store routine. I tried on six pairs of white pants. No luck.

Again, I said, “Mom….I need some help here. I’m not doing so well and I’m running short of time. I also need to buy a wedding gift.”

I decided to head up stairs to the wedding registry to get the gift and if need be I could shop again this morning. I found the wedding registry and as I was printing out the bride’s ticker-tape list, a lady came up behind me. We began to talk about wedding gifts and then clothes. I said I was going to a summer wedding and since she seemed to be a savvy woman I said, in my best country-bumpkin impersonation, “What are people wearing to weddings these days?”

“What kind of wedding?”

“A Catholic mass!!”

“Oh I’d wear a summer dress.”

I groaned.

Then she said, “But check out Chicos at the other end of the mall. They’ll help you.”

With help from a Macy’s clerk, I found a stainless steel colander for the bride and groom. The clerk wrapped it, put it in a bag with tissue paper and I was set. Thanks, mom.

I had 20 minutes to look for pants. I headed for Chicos. I walked in and said, “I’m going to a summer wedding.” She suggested white pants with a dressy top.  Within 15 minutes I had a new pair of classic white capris–on sale. As I was about to leave, she gave me a $25 off the next purchase certificate.

Thanks, mom. Appreciate the help.