I’ve been planning my participation in the Listen to Your Mother Austin show like some women plan for their weddings.  I have an outfit, shoes, jewelry, hair and makeup all queued up, and you might laugh to know that most of it came on the advice of my mother.

In my piece for LTYM, I’m talking a lot about how my mother influenced me.  I barely touch on the fashion, but if anyone has ever complimented my style, it’s my mother who helped make that happen.

When she was expecting me, she couldn’t afford maternity clothes, so she learned to sew.  She started making her own maternity items, and after I was born, continued sewing the most amazing clothes for me.  Everywhere I went, I was always dressed to the nines, right down to the ruffles on my butt.  My mother made every formal gown I ever wore, and the only reason she didn’t make my wedding gown is that I wanted us to still like each other by the time I walked down the aisle.  Nothing like being your mother’s human pin cushion to strain a relationship.

Senior Prom–all those stones around the tail and shoulders? Hand beaded by my mother. It took a few weeks to make that dress, and several trips to the fabric store.
Sophomore year Prom. This is probably my favorite dress Mom made. I wore it to Prom Junior year as well. The trim around the tulle? Hand stitched over the course of hours by that wonderful mother.
This one goes way back. My mom made this dress for my first major live performance. Just playing a half full show at the Will Rogers Coliseum. No big deal. I would go on to wear that for my first big televised performance as well. Oh, and that’s the Lady right there.

Everything she did was spectacular.  All seams were always even.  All fabric patterns matched perfectly.  Nothing buckled, nothing warped, nothing made so much as a wrinkle.  I don’t have that kind of patience.

What I did take away from all her work was an understanding of how to mix fabrics, patterns, and shapes effectively.  So, when I started shoe shopping for LTYM, along with sharing pictures of what I was liking with my Facebook, I was messaging her.

I explained the outfit, the jewelry, and sent her pictures of my shoe options.  Like a pro, she got back to me and confirmed exactly what I expected.  And it made me really happy to know that I had properly anticipated her response.  Even happier when I sent her pictures of the jewelry against the outfit and she declared it, “Perfect.”

Because no one knows the hours I have spent in JoAnn’s fabric store with that women, trying to find Perfect!

Listen, when I was a kid, I hated shopping with my mother because she would never let me buy what I wanted, and she would pick out these terrible outfits for me to try on.  What I hated most was how right she always was.  The things I chose–even when they were designer labels–looked cheap and tacky on me, and the things she picked out–no matter how cheap–always looked like they’d been made for me.

She did the same thing to me with my wedding dress!  I had picked out all these gowns I loved, and she pulled this limp looking thing off the rack and begged me to just try it on.  I put it on first to get it out of the way, then had five ladies following me around the boutique trying to buy it off my back while I was deciding whether, or not to admit she’d nailed it in our first five minutes in the store.  (I admitted it.  The Universe smiled on me, and not only was it on sale, it was on double double sale.)

As an adult I can appreciate her eye for shape and color.  As a teen, I just wanted to wear the day-glo yellow scuba dress.

I’d still like to wear the day-glo yellow scuba dress, but I carry my mother’s voice in my head, and when I’m shopping, I look at my choices through years of experience with her exacting eye.  I think I look the better for it.

One of Mom’s maternity creations. I’m in this photo, too! You just can’t see me.

Here are a few more of the gowns she made for me.

This was another with such gorgeous detail. I was doing the nude illusion before nude illusion was a thing. This was my dress for Junior Prom, and I wore it again to another school’s prom the next year.
Another view of my favorite pink dress.
My absolute favorite Mom ever made for me. I wore this to three different formals. It looked like a million bucks on me.