Like mother, like daughter: unforgettable fashion advice

Ciara McConnell meets Ireland’s most stylish daughters on how their mother’s fondness of fashion inspired them.

Like mother, like daughter: unforgettable fashion advice

Heidi Higgins,clothing designer

My mum Teresa is a very stylish woman. She has always subscribed to the idea of ‘buy better, by less’; the idea of buying key pieces for your wardrobe, mind them well and you’ll have them forever. She has some coats and dresses that she bought many years ago, but because of the care that she has given them are still in great nick.

She has a very classic style. I suppose, she came up in the era of Diana, and her style when I was growing up would definitely have been influenced by the kinds of cuts that Diana would have worn. She loves navy; it’s her signature colour. Growing up, she had a lovely navy wool coat that I adored.

She stores everything in its original box; everything has its right place. I mind my clothes too, but where my mum has certain outfits for certain occasions, I don’t subscribe to that way of thinking. I like to wear the clothes that I love all that time, regardless of whether it’s a ‘good’ dress or not.

I think I am quite like my mum, in the sense I don’t go out every weekend and buy a load of clothes. I like to buy things and have them for a long time. I also like to have things that are a little bit different; more along the lines of boutique buys, so I know that not everybody is not going to have it. Mum taught me the importance of buying something made really well, so that it will stand the test of time.

There is a year and a half between me and my sister and my parents used to bring us to Laura Ashley and kit us out, always in the same dress. I think that was the start of being brought to really nice shops and knowing that they were good places, to be respected. It was clear to us that if you got something there, it was a real treat and you had to mind it. Back then, when you got something good it would always be bought two sizes too big so that you’d get plenty of wear out of it!”

Clodagh Shorten, Owner, Samui Boutique Cork

My mother, Mary, was a really stylish woman, but in a very different way to me. While I love to experiment with fashion and take risks, she preferred a more classic, low-key look. We lived in the country and owned a farm, so she dressed according to her lifestyle. We never did swap clothes, though — as my mum was a petite size 8 — but I did borrow a few of her silk scarves over the years! I always admired how everything she wore really suited her — she created a look for herself and always looked great.

My mother used to always say, ‘Fine feathers make fine birds’ and it still makes me laugh today. Clothes were important to her; she really liked style and she was very elegant. She taught me the value of good clothes and the importance of paying for quality. From the age of 15, I was saving up and shopping at Monica John; some mothers might not have got this but mine did. She was really supportive of my love for fashion.

Mum’s go-to look was stone-wash denim jeans, a cream cable-knit cardigan and cream blouse, finished off with a silk scarf and pearl earrings. She was the epitome of chic and always turned out to perfection. She had a great appreciation for looking the best you can and always wore clothes that suited her. Mum bought well and that’s definitely a lesson I’ve learned from her — you cannot beat the amazing quality of materials like cashmere, wool and silk; they last forever. She also taught me how to care for my clothes, how to mind them and respect them.

I like to think that I’m teaching my daughter, Abbie, exactly what my mum taught me — to respect and value clothes. Mum also taught me a lot about the importance of dressing for success — present yourself at your very best, she used to say. My mum never tried to get me to dress like her — she was happy for me to forge my own style — and I hope I’m the same. The fun of fashion, after all, is creating your own look and identity.”

Grainne Gallanagh, model and Dancing With The Stars finalist

My mother, Patricia, is the nicest person in the world. She is the most supportive and selfless person you could ever meet, and on top of that, she’s really stylish too. She is extremely classy. She has her own definite style and is always really well turned out and chic. She can’t wear high heels because she can’t walk in them so she will always wear nice comfortable shoes during the day, but at night time she’ll try a baby kitten heel.

Mammy is always telling me that I buy too many clothes. She always tells me that I can get more wear out of what I have or suggesting that I bring it to a tailor to make it a little different and then I’ll have a new outfit. I’m only realising now that we all need to start doing our bit, and that buying less is not a bad thing.

Of course, Mammy has always been like that. She’ll have one outfit, tweak it and then it’ll be a whole new look. She’s really conscious of wearing good clothes and getting decent wear out of them, and I think that’s something that I am beginning to get on board with.

She knows what suits her, she has a very particular look. She leans towards classic cuts, favouring blacks, white and maybe a green colour accent. Where I go by the trends, she has never taken major heed about what is in ‘fashion’; she goes for what she likes and what she knows suits her body shape. I really admire that about her.

When I look back on some of the things I have worn, I am horrified. But with Mum, no matter the year, no matter what was in fashion, she always looks absolutely beautiful. She reminds me of Jennifer Aniston in terms of the timeless way that she dresses; knowing who you are and what looks good on your body is the best lesson a mum can give their child, I think.

Karen Galligan,General Manager, Brown Thomas Cork

My first fashion-related memory of my mum Connie, is her taking me to a dressmaker to have a really special dress made. I loved it so much and can remember the exact fabric — even now. I don’t remember what it was for but the process of going to get fitted and having this dress made especially for me; it’s something that has stuck with me fondly.

My mum and I love clothes. She will always ask me what’s new in or what’s on trend each season. I definitely borrow more from her now than I would have as a teen and equally I’ll give her pieces I no longer wear because we’re the same size.

Mum is good at updating her wardrobe with a few key pieces each season. A key piece she’ll always invest in is a great coat; something that’ll be really versatile she can wear for work or at the weekend too. She has some antique jewellery that I absolutely love and eclectic pieces from all around the world she has collected over years of travel. I also really wish she had kept all her clothes from the 1970s!

She taught me to always invest in quality clothes that will last. It’s really true, now more than ever as we adapt to making better sustainable fashion choices. The women in my family tend to lean towards understated style and pieces that are made of exceptional quality. I can relate that right back to when I think of my beautiful grandmother, it has trickled down through the generations.”

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