Growing up, the word “stylish” probably never popped into your head when thinking about your mother. But if you’re a mom now, you’re well aware that even if your kids don’t think so, you’re just as fashionable as those waify models and actresses on TV. Piper Weiss is the author of My Mom, the Style Icon, a blog-cum-book that allows people to send in old photographs of their moms boasting some serious fashion sense. We talked to her about Mom Jeans, shoulder pads, and much more.
How much was your own mom an inspiration for the blog and book?
100 percent. It was her old photo album from the 60s that inspired the blog. I found them a couple of years ago and starting asking her for the backstories because the pictures were so incredible. I wanted to share with my friends so I scanned them in at my parents’ house and uploaded to a blog. I was hoping to encourage my friend’s submissions but I didn’t expect to get photos of moms from around the world.
Moms and fashion haven’t always gone hand-in-hand, as seen with the everlasting fashion label “mom jeans.” Why do you think moms have gotten a bad rap in the fashion world? Does My Mom, the Style Icon aim to change that?
Absolutely. Looking back at our mothers, we realize just how ahead of their time they were. Only two years ago, when I started the site, mom jeans were ubiquitous in Brooklyn. Here we were wearing the same pants we reduced as uncool the first time around. On another level, it’s a chance to understand your mother as a person where once you only saw her as someone who’s life was to function on your behalf. I think that’s where the whole ridicule of mom jeans came: their style didn’t pertain to us so we wrote it off as “lame”.
Do you plan on having kids, and has doing this project changed your concept of what a mother is?
I don’t have kids, but this project has definitely changed the way I think about the course of a life in general. How many turns it takes whether it’s in style or in love, work, health. Old photos (especially prom, wedding, first love pictures) really capture moments in people’s lives that they think at the time are ‘the’ moment, when in fact it’s an ever-evolving thing. At the same time, one photo can be passed down and re-contextualized by another generation, so it’s crazy to think how far a moment can stretch.
What’s your favorite decade, style-wise?
Definitely the 70s. They had taken the inventive architecture of the dresses of earlier decades and made it a little more casual, a little more rock n’ roll, a little more diversified in influence. The women’s movement had to have been a factor.
Have you gotten any submissions of moms dressed up for synagogue?
I have not but I’d love to see some. I remember growing up, getting dressed on Yom Kippur when the entire Jewish population of NYC took to the streets to walk to temple, was a big deal. Lots of nylons, shoulder-pads and high heels, which seemed like a real commitment to fashion in light of the hike involved.
And be sure to check out Kveller’s stellar guide to the most stylish Jewish moms!