My mom taught me to love fashion and the importance of constantly curating and updating your wardrobe and also, how to find a great bargain by being a volume fashion buyer — shopping by the pound, literally and figuratively.
My dad loved fashion almost as much as my mom. His wardrobe was filled with bold fashion choices like multi-colored sweaters and brightly colored leather jackets, perfect for distracting his patients as an obstetrician/gynecologist.
When I met my husband I thought I could shape his fashion choices, which consisted of overalls and a bandana worn backwards on his head (I suppose it's fashionable now). But it must have given him bad flashbacks to another woman trying to dress him (his mother), because I was not allowed even to make suggestions.
If the clothes make the man, my husband’s make is: comfortable.
Imagine my surprise that I gave birth to a son who has grown into a fashionista. When he was a baby he was very fashionable because I was the one dressing him. But around age 5, he started to push back every time he had to get dressed up for an occasion. “I don’t want to look handsome,” he would say.
In his high school and college years, his core look was what I would call “pajama chic.” But something happened in his senior year of college. He started wearing pants with zippers, shirts with buttons. He even started doing something called “ironing.” Perhaps it was his new girlfriend? Or entering the working world?
Whatever the reason, I was excited to take him to Marshalls to explore the sales and to suggest clothes he would actually wear.
Then he graduated and moved to Las Vegas for his first job, and he really stepped up his game. He started exploring new online brands that have caught on with young men and Instagram influencers everywhere. I call it the new “fashion-bro” culture, which includes: fancy sneakers they buy and sell on the internet; old sweatshirts re-designed and re-sold for exorbitant amounts of money; and bowling shirts worn under baggy linen jackets reminiscent of Don Johnson in Miami Vice.
This “fashion-bro” culture has made new fashion stars out of old brands like Carhartt (which has stores in Paris!) and even Champion, a brand born and bred in Rochester, N.Y. that's experiencing a renaissance.
It was when we were recently in L.A. together that I realized he had become a true fashion aficionado. Instead of chilling by the pool — his usual preferred state — we took pilgrimages through the crazy L.A. traffic to visit the brick-and-mortar stores of his favorite on-line brands like Mohawk General Store and Union.
I witnessed first-hand the lines of young men, snaking out the door at Supreme, waiting for the next sneaker release. And I balked out loud at the price tag for a Grateful Dead logo T-shirt at Ron Herman: $425! For a T-shirt!
I kept channeling my mother: “Darling, I taught you better than to buy retail.” He reminded me he’s no longer on our payroll and that we taught him how to budget and save (or at least his father did). And then he taught me that some of these sneakers are literally traded and sold online like stocks.
While I may not understand the new fashion, I love his interest in it. But my heart truly soared when he showed us the new sweater his girlfriend gave him for his birthday. A brightly colored sweater that, when he put it on, made him look exactly like my dad. Now that's fashion that's priceless.
As first published in the Democrat + Chronicle and on the USA Today Network.