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What Our Moms Got Right (and Wrong) About Fashion

Moms love two things: wrinkle-free separates and commenting on our ripped jeans.

By Caitlin Abber

If you’ll allow me to brag for a minute, my one-year-old daughter has excellent style. Every morning she wakes up and puts on an outfit that is somehow totally practical (socks with grippers on the bottom) and whimsical (bright pink vintage overalls) at the same time. Everything she wears complements her body shape (she has an adorable potbelly), and she just loves to mix and match match prints and formalities (tutus and polka-dot sweaters? Sure.). In fact, her OOTD game is so strong, even her daycare teachers ask where she gets her clothes. 

For now, I am basking in the joy of being able to dress her every morning, because I know what’s coming. One day very soon, I will have to avert my eyes as she makes horrible teenage fashion choices and argue with her about what is or isn’t okay to wear to her grandparents’ house, the grocery store, or her college graduation. It’s one of the hallmarks of motherhood—disagreeing with your kids (especially your daughters)—about their clothes. If she’s anything like me (she is), it’s going to be a wild ride. 

When I think back on the clothing-related disagreements I had with my own mother, I must admit she was right she was with her golden rule of being “clean, neat, and presentable.” As an adult, I can’t stand to wear a shirt that looks crumpled or a dress with even the tiniest stain on it. But my mom also had rules that I now consider totally arbitrary and dated, like no white after Labor Day or not mixing navy and black—two rules I absolutely love breaking now.

Below, M.M. team members share the good and bad fashion advice their mothers tried (and sometimes failed) to pass down. 

Mom’s Advice: An Iron is Your Most Essential Styling Tool

When I polled the M.M. team about the best and worst fashion advice from their mothers, it was immediately clear that all our moms hate wrinkles—especially in our clothes.   

“My mom always said that looking neat never goes out of style. Whether you’re a super fashionable high-end person or someone who prefers simple staples, making sure your clothes are clean, unwrinkled, and the right size is really all that matters for making a good impression.”Alexa, Senior CRM Marketing Manager 

“My mom never let me and my sister leave the house with wrinkled clothes, and she made sure we had mini steamers when we went away to college.”Joanna, Senior Stylist

“My mom still offers to iron my clothes when I go home.”Rachel, Senior Director of Product & Platform Strategy


Shop Wrinkle-Resistant Pieces That Will Make Mom Proud

Mom’s Advice: Getting Dressed Should Be Easy

Our moms are busy women, which means they’re big fans of figuring out what works and sticking with it. The last time they wore something trendy was in the 70s.   

If you love something, don’t be afraid to buy it in multiple colors.”—Christina, Manager, E-Commerce & Sales Strategy 

“Always pack a white T-shirt when you travel. It dresses up or down, goes with everything in your suitcase, and inevitably fills the need for the one thing you didn’t plan for.”—Lauren, Art Director

“Even though I’m a guy, my mom always told me to dress for my body. So many people (myself included) buy clothes for the body they want, but my mom showed me the power of understanding my shape and size, so I could feel amazing when I found clothes that work for me.”—Chris, Senior Stylist

“These days, people are much more confident and encouraged to wear what looks good on them. My mom recently brought this up and said she is ‘so happy it isn’t the 1970s anymore, because then, even if a miniskirt wasn’t your best look, you wore one anyway.’ She thinks it’s so huge that you can really wear what looks best on you and still be ‘cool.’  Personally, however, I do still worry about low-rise jeans trending again.”—Anna, E-Commerce Merchandising Associate

“Don’t pay attention to brand names or trends—just wear what looks good on you.”—Callie, VP of Brand & Creative


Shop Classic, Looks-Good-on-Everyone Styles Your Mom Would Love

Our Advice: Sometimes You Should Break Mom’s Rules

No one is right 100% of the time—not even our mothers. And the fashion advice below is proof of that. So go ahead and break these rules. You’re an adult now—mom doesn’t have to know. 

“Avoid more than one non-neutral color per outfit.”Alexa, Senior CRM Marketing Manager 

“Stop dressing like you’re going to a funeral.”Sarah, Founder & CEO 

“Don’t wear ripped jeans. Why would you want to look like your clothing is falling apart?”Callie, VP of Brand & Creative

“Oversized always makes you look ‘oversized.’”Christina, Manager, E-Commerce & Sales Strategy

“My mom would actually put away all our white shoes after Labor Day.”Rachel, Senior Director of Product & Platform Strategy 


Shop Styles That Break Mom’s Old-School Rules (in a Good Way)

Caitlin Abber

Written By

Caitlin Abber

Caitlin Abber is the Brand Editor at M.M. LaFleur, and an award-winning writer and content creator. Over the last decade she has held senior editorial positions at MTV, Women's Health, Public Radio International, and Bustle, and has bylines at InStyle and OprahMag.com.

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