Recently, my 15-year-old daughter, in her politest, most respectful tones, begged me to please stop buying clothes for her without her supervision. That’s quite a bruising request of someone who’s worked her entire life in fashion, and likes to think she knows a thing or two about putting together a nice outfit. But even when I try to buy something within her strict parameters – it must be battered, loose- fitting and woe betide if it is any colour that isn’t black or white – I manage to widely miss the mark.
As smarting as it is to be told that you are simply too old and naff to understand what the cool kids are wearing, I must admit it immediately had me hurtling back to similar conversations with my mother. She and I are as agreeable on matters of fashion as Donald Trump and Joe Biden are on vote counting. I have always respected and frankly admired that Mum doesn’t really have much time for fashion: garments in her wardrobe are largely judged on their ability to endure the rigours of stable-mucking. And yet, bafflingly, she felt fully qualified to put together a stylish wardrobe for her teenage daughter. I love my mum, I really do, but she was incorrect on this point. She did, though, hold the purse strings and thus the power.
My father would look terrified whenever it was announced she was taking me shopping for new clothes. I will never forget the very last of these trips, to find a dress for my Year Ten formal. We even drove about 20 miles further than usual to ‘the good shops’. We lasted all of about half an hour before a ferocious clash of wills ended with Mum storming off and driving home, leaving me to eventually figure out that I’d be making my own way back on the train. We laugh about it now (not that I dare mention it much). I think our fashion wars may have been my main motivation for looking for a job and taking charge of my own money and wardrobe. Thank goodness Mum and I bond over our insane love of dogs. Similarly, my daughter and I both love stand-up comedians and Taylor Swift.
So when I read that our own contributing editor Trinny Woodall – one of the most stylish women in Britain – rarely sees eye-to-eye with her daughter Lyla about outfits, well, I’m starting to wonder if women have an almost biological imperative to view our mums’ dress sense as a bit off.
In this issue Trinny and Lyla share their tips for mother-and-daughter harmony on clothes-shopping trips, how you can pinch this and that from each other’s wardrobes and not end a single day with anyone being deserted in a mall. But perhaps the biggest lesson to learn is, unless one of you is breaking some kind of public decency law, just let everyone wear what they want – no matter how much you might hate it.
A few things I’m coveting this week