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'Are You Really Wearing That?'

I've been thinking a lot about mothers and daughters and clothes. The subject elicits such strong reactions in conversations with friends and relatives--profound, and not always positive.
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I've been thinking a lot about mothers and daughters and clothes. The subject elicits such strong reactions in conversations with friends and relatives--profound, and not always positive.

Take my relationship with my mother. She worked in fashion for most of her life, in jobs ranging from swimsuit model to assistant designer to sales executive to special-events producer. I don't think I know anyone else who can say their mother met fashion legend Diana Vreeland, picked out clothes for a Barbra Streisand movie or worked behind-the-scenes at Studio 54 parties in its heyday!

Her love of clothes and shopping was something we bonded over at an early age. She would even allow me days off from grammar school to go with her to the Short Hills Mall and to nearby Saks and Lord and Taylor stores in New Jersey to make our seasonal purchases. It was what we enjoyed doing together. Her delight in my choices gave me a lot of positive reinforcement. When we got home, she always encouraged me to "put on a fashion show" for my father by modeling my purchases. No doubt that's one of the reasons I later became a fashion editor, a choice she reveled in.

And then there's me and my daughter.

We started out just like me and my mother, loving to shop together. She had inventive ways of putting her outfits together at age four. When she was little and I had to travel to Europe for weeks at a time for my job, I would "make up for it" by bringing her lots of clothes from the fabulous and affordable children's stores in Paris. She couldn't wait for me to open my suitcase. (It was harder to find things to bring my son. He ended up with a lot of soccer jerseys that he liked, but he didn't jump up and down!) In retrospect, I'm not sure that bringing home presents truly makes up for time lost, but we all do what we have to do.

When my daughter was in her early teens, I used to joke that she was going to skip college and head right for the "fashion closet" at my magazine as an intern. She loved accompanying me to the New York fashion shows that took place over the weekends. At 13, her dream came true; she was approached by an editor for Teen Vogue at a show and asked if they could photograph her for a story. I was a very proud mama!

But around the age of 16, my girl started making some clothing choices that I didn't approve of. I remember a very heated argument we had about what she planned to wear to a party on New Year's Eve--an outfit I deemed "trashy." (My real words were harsher, I'm sorry to say.) Just like that, what she wore became an issue between us.

Fast-forward seven years: She now has a very different style of dressing than I would have imagined when she was a child. She loves to put looks together in quirky assemblages that reflect her artistic sensibility as opposed to anything that the fashion world dictates. I learned not to comment unless it's a compliment and to respect her style choices as hers to make.

Recently, when my business partner and I launched Apprécier and got a write-up in the Wall Street Journal--a big coup for a startup!-- I wasn't surprised that my mother called me first thing in the morning. "Hi, darling," she said. "I loved the article, but I don't like what you are wearing. You're so much prettier than that."

For a moment I felt defensive, but then I just had to shake my head and laugh. Mothers and daughters! Fashions may change, but the relationship between the generations never will, and that's something to celebrate.

Happy Mother's Day!

Shop our wish lists at - the first 5 things are on my mother's shopping list, the next 5 things are on mine, and the last 5 things are on my daughter's.