Original post date: August 4, 2016.
Re-sharing this post in dedication of my mom, who passed away 17 years ago. I originally thought to create a new post this year in honor of her, but to be honest, I don't think I could write something as good as this post. Her anniversary this year hit me harder than normal, and my mind isn't very clear. In fear of not producing an even better post, I decided to add to this post instead, as these words are some of the most heartfelt words I've ever shared on BITD.
This year I'm adding to Eternal Style by recreating some of my mom's looks listed below, to truly show how much her style and heart impacted my life and her memory lives strong.
Seventeen years ago today was one of the hardest days of my life. Seventeen years ago I lost my mom to Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in a battle she fought for over 4 years. I had just turned 17 that summer, and I couldn't believe that my mom would not see me graduate high school or see me off to college, or later in life watch me get married and grow up into a spitting image of her as a young woman. The pain of losing a mother at such a young age (or any age, really), is something you cannot even begin to describe and you only understand it if you've gone through this unfortunate loss.
The point of this blog entry is not meant to be sad, but rather to celebrate the impact she had on my life as a woman. From a young age, I was enamored with my mom's beauty and style. She was 5'11 and commanded attention as soon as she walked into a room. Her style was classic and she loved to splurge on certain items, but bargain shop for others. She would splurge on Ferragamo shoes or a Gucci handbag, but when I was in middle school we had a standing date every Tuesday after school to go to our favorite TJ Maxx to shop the new arrivals since that's the day they would stock the store with their newest shipments.
Top picture: my mom in Versailles Gardens, France, May 2000.
Bottom Picture: Myself in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, France, November 2015.
My love of quality goods and bargain shopping came from her, and I laugh a little inside whenever I find a really really good buy at TJ Maxx, thinking she had a part in leading me to the item. I still love going to the Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City and reminiscing of when she took me there as a teenager to have my makeup done at the Bobbi Brown counter when I started to become curious about makeup. Instead of letting me wear too much eyeliner and looking crazy by teaching myself, she took me there to be taught how to apply makeup correctly. This was one of her principles- to always look good, out of respect to yourself.
Not only was she a style setter, but she was an activist for the Spanish community in my hometown of Richmond, VA. In the early 1990's she started the first Spanish-language newspaper in the state of Virginia aimed at empowering the Spanish communities to become involved in politics and understand the importance of voting. Her newspaper, El Sol, which means "the sun" in Spanish, was geared at politics, community lifestyle, and later included sports. As a little girl I watched as my mom sat in her office typing on our Macintosh Classic, editing her words to reach the community just right. I'd often wake up for school to see she was still awake, carefully gluing articles and advertisements onto poster board which she would later deliver to the printer for mass production. I would accompany my mom to distribute El Sol around the state of Virginia and DC and with her to her speaking engagements. I remember the impact she made on people's lives and can still remember exact instances of people coming up to her after events, proud to meet her and thanking her for being their voice and activist. I am still proud to this day of those memories.
One of my favorite pastimes is looking at old pictures from my childhood. I love the memories it brings back and also I love to admire my mom's style and being. It is through memories and old pictures that I have come to realize what an impact she had on me and my personal style as I have grown up. I also love to see how little classic style has changed through the years in seeing her outfit and accessory choices that are still to this day considered 'in'.
To honor her memory today, I want to dedicate this entry to her and her classic style that has translated to me and how she is still inspiring style in my life, 17 years after she has passed.
Style Inspiration: The Power of #allblackeverything
Pictured in Paris, France, my mom pulls off the chic look of #allblackeverything.
As a side note, I am in a Canadian tuxedo and Adidas Superstars, which are currently popular, too!
Recreating my mom's #AllBlackEverything power look in ELOQUII, incorporating a vintage silk Hermès scarf that belonged to her:
Style Inspiration: Bold Color
While she taught me the power of #allblackeverything, she also taught me to not be afraid of bold colors.
Recreating my mom's love of bold colors in this statement maxi from Navabi, including her Lladro handbag:
(I was with her when she found this bag at the Lladro outlet in Williamsburg many years ago)
Style Inspiration: Winter Accessories
This picture makes me realize where my love of fur stoles and red gloves comes from!
Recreating her winter chic look in an ELOQUII car coat from last winter:
(I traded in the fur stole and red gloves for red fur coat cuffs, instead)
Style Inspiration: A Classic Pencil Skirt
This picture proves that a classic pencil skirt and v-neck top combo is timeless and always exudes class.
Recreated in ELOQUII in NYC:
Style Inspiration: Professional Bada$$
Because this blazer and dress combo is amazing. One of my favorite articles of clothing is a black blazer, inspired in part by the way my mom wore them.
Professional bada$$ recreated from one of my first ever BITD blog posts:
(Photo taken by my dad- my first ever blog photog!)
Style Inspiration: Midi Dress
This picture proves how simple, yet stunning, a printed midi dress can be.
Recreating this simple, elegant look in a printed Modcloth midi dress from Gwynnie Bee:
Style Inspiration: The Trench Coat
One of my mom's favorite articles of clothing was this red Burberry ankle-length trench coat that she bought before I was even born. The way she wore this trench coat was the epitome of class and I will always have a trench coat in my closet, because of her. It is only recently that I have taken her vintage Burberry trench out of its layers of garment bags in my closet and started to wear it myself.
Recreated, wearing my mom's Burberry trench in the same location as my favorite picture of my mom and I:
Style Inspiration: Travel Chic
It was not until I had returned home from Paris that I saw/remembered this picture of my mom at the Versailles Gardens on our trip to Paris in May 2000. I went through my photos immediately to find one from my recent trip in November 2015 at the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles taken by my husband that was so similar it gave me chills. 15 years apart, yet we both have crossbody bags, all black ensemble with a pop of color, same pose, same location, and the same taste for wonder and excitement. In my picture, I am wearing her vintage Hermes scarf.
It is because of my mom that I started Blonde in the District. I thought about starting this blog time and time again, and finally decided "what are you waiting for?"- which I could image her saying to me- and bit the bullet. In some ways, I relate my blog to El Sol. While it's a completely different topic, I still strive to empower a community of women to feel wonderful about themselves no matter size/shape/age; and to follow your dreams. I truly hope that I have some way empowered you to try a new style, boosted your self confidence, or pushed you to go on that vacation you've been dreaming of in some of my travel posts. I will continue to write this blog for all of you reading this post, and continue to be inspired by my mom who is no longer with me physically, but always in my heart.
"Fashions fade, style is eternal." - Yves Saint Laurent
Re-created style photos by Arielle Lewis Studios unless otherwise noted.
Blonde in the District