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Mother’s Day: How our mums influence the way we dress

35, relationship manager for a financial institution

lived in Slovakia, under a communist regime. All the clothes were
mass-produced and everyone wore the same stuff. My mum wanted to wear something different, so she learned how to sew.

She made clothes for all of us – she was really creative and would come up with funky
stuff, especially in the 1970s and 1980s. Triangular graphic
designs … materials sewn over each other … using a hole-punch to
make holes in the material. She even made me a purple onesie that looked like a
padded skiing outfit. And my grandfather said: “No! She’s going to
look like a cosmonaut.”

even made her own wedding dress from scratch. She spent hours and
hours sewing little flowers onto it.

Petra's parents on their wedding day
Petra’s parents on their wedding day

would wear what was in fashion – but the fashion would arrive
after a massive delay, like the music. So in the early 1980s
she was following the late 1970s look: wide-leg trousers, beret, massive Dior glasses.

would look at German Burda [a pattern and fashion] magazine together
and discuss what looked nice – and
because my mum had that attitude and payed attention to fashion, I
think something stayed with me.

look at the detail; at the colour schemes. I have glasses with green
arms. And then I’d have my green scarf, my green belt, and if I
managed to have a green handbag I’d wear that as well. People have
commented on how coordinated I am. I used to be more so. But now I
travel a lot so I stick to black quite a bit.

Petra's colourful clothes, only to be used once in conjunction with this feature
Petra’s colourful clothes

am proud that she expressed herself. People were covered in grey from head to go, and then she came along. I’m not sure her
fashion would be something she would be spied on by the state
for. But it might have been. (My dad was followed because he admired western technology.) It was a brave thing to do.

Lynette and her family
Lynette with her mother, Ann and her brother, Simon

Peck, 46, fashion and beauty journalist, and founder of Lovely’s
Vintage Emporium

mum’s look was very Nana Mouskouri. Long black hair with a black
sideways fringe, and she wore those black-cat glasses. In the 1950s
she wore the nipped-in dresses; in the ‘60s she wore shift dresses;
and in the ‘70s maxi dresses. I do remember her looking very like
Margot in The Good Life. And I went through a stage of dressing like
that and actually, when I was in my 20s, everyone called me Margot.

that’s where my love of vintage came from … me parading around and
trying on her things from the dressing-up box; and her on her way to
a fondue party, coming into my bedroom to say goodnight, a waft of
Charlie and a swish of maxi dress.

definitely do lean towards the 1970s-meets-modern. All
the shaggy fake fur coats … the leather boho across-the-shoulder
handbags … the maxi hats in the summer … yes, if I’ve got one
era …

Lynette today
Lynette today

mum was definitely into fashion – she would have two or three
catalogues arrive every season and we’d pore over them together –
but she wasn’t as obsessed as me. Her interest aided and abetted me
but I was born fashion-obsessed.

mother tells me that at at age two I started deciding what I was going to wear
every morning, and she no longer had any say. I’d lay out my
clothes the night before. I’d put that top with those trousers …
I was basically styling. I remember outfits I wore. I used to wear
this purple trouser-suit … and there’s one photograph of me, on a
hospital bed with my legs covered in plaster, and I’m wearing a red-and-white poncho. And I’ve got a red-and-white basket that I’m
holding – like a little handbag basket – that matches the poncho. I
chose it all.

Lynette and her family
Lynette with her mother, Ann, and her father, John, in hospital

mum doesn’t follow fashion any more but we still go clothes-shopping
together. That’s something we’ve always done: gone to the shops
together and tried on clothes together. My parents are very joined at
the hip but this is the one thing we do, just the two of us. It’s
our thing.

Bibi Lynch parents, only to be used once in conjunction with this feature
Bibi Lynch’s parents, John and Bibi Lynch

Bibi Lynch, 48, writer and broadcaster

My mum died in 1988. And when I think of her, I pretty much think of her clothes and how brilliantly she dressed. And no wonder. She was out there – she made so many statements with her outfits!

She would wear leopard-print leggings with geometrically-patterned jumpers; red Katharine Hamnett combat trousers with many material loops and belts. She even had a Pocahontas dress made for her. And a chain mail one.

She sounds fashion-unhinged. But she wasn’t. She looked incredible. (Saying that, if you had that face and figure you’d look good in a bin-liner. I’m now trying to remember if she ever wore a bin-liner.) She had an elegance that pulled all that craziness together and she never looked anything but stylish and sexy.

She certainly dressed to be seen – and I wonder if her clothes were her creative expression. She had seven children and never had a career outside of the home. Perhaps that’s why I dress so differently from her. I do have a creative outlet, and maybe my clothes don’t play the same role. (The only style similarity I’ve inherited from my mum is her love of huge sunglasses.)

Bibi Lynch
Bibi wearing huge sunglasses

My style is definitely understated. I dress like a boy. My look was described as “All Saints mum” once. (The band, not the brand.) And that’s sort of true. Vests, combats, jeans, trainers/heels … I feel a little Dick Emery if I’m wearing a skirt. I sometimes wear skirts and dresses – but they’re funky rather than feminine.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, my favourite item of my mum’s was the plainest outfit she wore: a black crepe wraparound Ossie Clark dress. This is how I liked her look best: simple, to show off her beauty. (I borrowed that dress once. To wear in a school revue. I was playing a Macbeth witch. In an Ossie Clark dress. Dear God!)

I don’t have many of my mum’s clothes but those I have are kept in protective dust-bags. I’ve moved seven times in the last six years but I’ve never put her stuff in storage. I’ve carried them with me to every temporary move. I couldn’t not.

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