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One of my favorite memories as a teenager was waking up on Saturday mornings to “Hey Brina, wanna ride to Annapolis Mall?”
My mom always found a reason to venture to the mall and I was always glad to ride shotgun.
I have so many memories shopping with her on the weekends. First, quality time. Second, she introduced me to heritage, legacy brands that younger generations may not get a chance to experience. Lord & Taylor, for example, is a 200-year-old department store and is now considering filing for bankruptcy.
This is my mom’s favorite store, where we found ourselves at Annapolis Mall on Saturday afternoons. She’d plop herself in the shoe department, mulling for hours over shoes that – to me – all looked the same. That reminds me of one of the most hilarious episodes of Martin (my fave show, btw):
I remember listening carefully while she shared her philosophies on shopping and styling. Many of them are still relevant not just to clothes but also to life. In fact, understanding sales, discounts, and percentages off is how she taught me to compute math problems in my head. There were no cell phones with calculators back in the 90’s :).
Here are a few shopping, fashion, and style lessons from my mom that translate into life lessons I’ll carry with me forever.
Mom believes that clothes are timeless and don’t go out of style. Plus, she is not quick to part with things she spent her hard-earned money on. As a result, she has closets full of pieces from the 70s through now. That works out for me because I wear her clothes (in house vintage!), which is both budget-friendly and eco-friendly. I’m super critical about what I buy because I want things that will last and that I’d still be excited to wear in 20 years.
The lesson: Spend wisely. Invest in quality things you find value in and take care of them.
In middle school, I wanted Nike Air Jordan tennis shoes, like many young people growing up in the “Be Like Mike” era. Having a pair of these was somewhat of a stamp of approval that you could dress well. I guess those things were important to us as teenagers.
Mom wasn’t having any of it. Her line of questioning:
I was genuinely confused. The whole point of getting *those* shoes was to have what was popular! Duh, mom. Needless to say, she refused to buy them.
The lesson: Do what you want to do, be unique. Nothing is wrong with buying Jordans. What I came to understand is that I should want them because I genuinely want them, not because I want to emulate what I see others doing.
My mom is always cold. Always. And I find that I am too. Not sure if it’s genetic, or a mind thing, or what. But what I do know is that she always made sure I was bundled up so that I wouldn’t ever be sitting around freezing. That requires preparation: researching the weather, carrying a scarf (if I’m going indoors and think the A/C may be turned up too high)…even carrying an extra pair of socks to keep my feet cozy. If I don’t take the time to do these things, then I end up uncomfortable and distracted. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
One of my best investments was a coat from Canadian outerwear brand, Mackage. I’ve worn it for 4 straight winters in NYC and it’s never let me down. Talk about a positive ROI.
The lesson: Take control of your own circumstances and always prepare.
In elementary school, we had alternating schedules. On “A” days we had music class and on “B” days we had PE. On A days, mom would dress me in the most intricate dresses (what some may even define as church dresses, smh) and on B days I wore casual clothes. I learned that my wardrobe needed to have range, so that I could show up into any room and fit in while standing out, of course!
The lesson: Be versatile and stay ready to pivot.
The lesson: Pay attention to detail.
The lesson: Take care of yourself inside and out, head to toe.