I’ve always loved fashion, and while I certainly don’t embrace all of the latest trends — I’ll pass on the low-waisted jeans that are coming around again — I enjoy staying on top of them. And so it thrilled me when my daughter showed an interest in clothes from an early age and enjoyed shopping with me as a kid. It made me so happy when we picked out similar things.
Well, those days were short and sweet and now my 17-year-old daughter has her own ideas about what’s stylish.
From what I can tell, teenagers these days don’t seem to have one word for their way of dressing, unlike back in the 80s when we knew whether we gravitated to “goth” or “preppy.” In 2023 there are so many different styles and the trends seem to lean toward a mix of Y2K vibes and clean girl (an entire term to describe very basic clothes and a clean, make-up-free face with stellar brows). But I’ve heard it’s also very important to look like you just woke up and didn’t put a lot of effort into yourself but to look miraculous, because plot twist, it actually does take a lot of effort to make sure you nail that look.
There’s a fun recent TikTok trend where daughters dress their moms up as themselves. After watching a few, I asked my daughter if she thought I dressed like she did. Honestly, I felt like I was pretty in line with today’s trends and that she’d say yes. I mean, we both love our sweats and leggings, and there are times I go in my closet and I know she’s taken something.
However, she gave me a fast “no.” Clearly, I’m not quite meeting my daughter’s standards when it comes to getting dressed, so we decided to try this #turningmymomintome mother-daughter experiment ourselves.
I thought she would at least grab one piece of my clothing for the two looks she put together for me, but that didn’t happen. She did use my shoes, but only because we are different sizes and she made sure to tell me my hair needed to be “straight and parted in the middle.” Okay then.
This outfit is how I would normally dress. I’ll be 48 in a few months, I’ve had three kids, and being comfortable is my number one goal in life.
The two pictures below are what my daughter picked out. Bottoms are super soft and comfortable and, according to my daughter, anything skinny (jeans or leggings) doesn’t really work anymore. It’s all about a flared or baggy look on the bottom and the smallest top you can find. Literally.
When I first held her tops up to me I didn’t think the pairings were going to work well together. And while I love a crop top, I never grab tiny tops like this.
But that’s going to change because here’s the truth: I loved how I felt in both of these outfits — comfortable, stylish, and very much like an older version of my daughter whom I love very much. I’ve always believed you should dress however you want and rock a style that you love but it wasn’t until I wore my daughter’s clothes that I realized I wasn’t completely embracing that. When I’m shopping there’s always a voice in my head reminding me of how old I am.
Women have been taught for a long time that we have an expiration date and that only certain body types should wear different things. “Dress age-appropriately” has been a saying for so long, but what does that actually mean? Am I supposed to retire to shapeless dresses and wear a one-piece bathing suit because fifty is right around the corner? Should I ignore the mini skirts when I see them in the stores because those days are over for me? I don’t think so.
I still feel like the same girl I was in high school and there’s nothing wrong with me and my seventeen daughter sharing clothes. Now, I will be going into her closet and drawers to take some of her clothes because the way she dressed me was a reminder that as a middle-aged woman, I’m still allowed to dress however I want.
Katie Bingham-Smith is a full-time freelance writer living in Maine with her three teens and two ducks. When she’s not writing she’s probably spending too much money online and drinking Coke Zero.