Mom knows best

My love affair with fashion and fabric is a direct result of my mother’s own love of beautiful things. When I was little she dressed me like a little China doll, resplendent in mini kimonos, velveteen frocks and baby babydolls.

Fast forward a few years to a 7 year old version of me, still in babydolls, tears on my cherryblossom cheeks, because I have been prohibited from joining that brown-hued girlhood right of passage, Brownies. Why?

The uniforms, my dear mom deadpanned, are hideous. Those girls look like little brown turds.


These were my formative years. My mom, Kim, is an excellent seamstress and I spent much of my childhood surrounded by piles of lush florals, corduroy, and my lifelong favourite, velvet. This led to some interesting experiments in my teens, with self-made ensembles and vintage rescues that had Kim’s eyebrows raised in horror.

Now, midway through my 20’s, our styles, or rather mine, has balanced out to be really rather similar. We share clothing, and when my friends ask about a new dress, it is invariably on loan from my mom.

This evolution has included both highs and lows. The highs – when I have proven Kimberly wrong and an outlandish look I insisted on rocking turned out to be the next big thing; The lows – when said peculiar looks turned out to be simply that and nothing more: peculiar and ill-advised.

This is a little account of the tally thus far:

1. Converse high tops

My shoe of choice aged 16 – 18. I had a stable of them and refused to wear anything else. My parents called me ‘The Groupie’ during this period of time and I spent most of my time at a seedy but legendary local bar called Tin Roof Blues.

Score: Kate 1 / Kim 0

High tops made a big comeback shortly thereafter and are still a flexible favourite across genders, occasions and looks. Kim now likes them. Booya.

2. Batwing tops

A brief fascination in high school, my mom told me that they are unflattering and not meant for ‘busty’ girls. Bad move. I wore them out of spite.

Score: Kate 1 / Kim 1

Batwings really are unflattering and should be left in the 70’s with Farrah Fawcett where they belong.

Natalie Portman is a yes.

Keira? Maybe not.

3. Boobtubes, fullstop.

I have never been a supporter of the boobtube, being, as Kim tactfully phrases it, ‘busty’. And rightly so. Many, many, many girls wear boobtubes, and very few should.

Score: One All

Caution: Flammable, very.

4. Polyester / Nylon / Crimplene

In the early years of my second hand pursuits (aged 11 – 14), I was seduced by all number of synthetic, flammable atrocities. Kim gently told me that I was wasting my pocket money on ‘crap’, and that I would swiftly become a human Catherine Wheel if I passed nearby an open flame.

Score: Kate 1 / Kim 2

Having narrowly dodged many an open flame in my early teens, and experienced the perspiration-inducing properties that are characteristic of most synthetic fabrics, I am happy to concede this point.

5. Rompers aka The Evolution of The Catsuit

My father tells me that Kim was very taken with catsuits in the 70′s and 80′s, which makes me happy. Because I can hold it against her. Apparently she was very foxy in them, and wore them to the extent that they were uniform-like. Despite this, we are both firmly on the fence when it comes to what I like to refer to as The Evolution of The Catsuit, the romper. Rompers confuse us as much as reduced fat camembert: Do they have a place in the world? And are they to be taken seriously?

And so the score stands:

Kate 1 / Kim 2

My mother’s wisdom, it seems, becomes my own year on year.

But at least I’ll always have the catsuits and the Converse.

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