How My Mother Sold Me Out


Hidden away, in a box in a closet, there is a series of photographs of my parents on the beach in California, 1972. My mother, then 30, was nine months pregnant with my older sister, and sunbathing without abandon. One photo in particular is burned into memory. With her wavy brown hair parted in the center and ornamented with a small barrette on either side, my mom is wearing a red paisley Indian halter jumpsuit. My father, posing lovingly with one hand on her belly, has fluffy hair, an overgrown mustache, and muttonchops. He’s wearing extremely short navy bathing trunks with red trim.

These days, their hair is neatly coiffed, the clothes are strictly made of natural fibers, and the wildest patterns are a small plaid or a classic stripe. My parents have mentally blocked any images of themselves looking like the West Coasters in Annie Hall. There are zero turbans in my mother’s closet. No espadrilles, jumpsuits, crazy vests, high-waisted bellbottoms, cowboy shirts, or anything with gigantically wide sleeves survived. When she got past these “phases,” my mother unloaded it all to charity, rather than thinking of me. Thanks, Mom! Now I’m plagued by jealousy every time I compliment a friend on some item of clothing, and she replies, “I found it in my mom’s closet.”

To stay in the game, I have to work a lot harder, purchasing someone else’s mom’s old stuff at vintage stores like Atomic Passion and Edith and Daha, both of which keep a focus on the ’70s. The only upside to this syndrome is that you can pretend your mom was whoever you want. Sometimes I go with Stevie Nicks, who saved all her outrageous Ren Fair looks in a big box just for me! To fulfill that fantasy, I need gauzy shawls (Neena Sari Palace), floppy hats (Village Scandal), and a few Native American touches, like Built By Wendy‘s insane dream-catcher top. Rhiannon!

If you’re feeling more Disco-Sultry than Pagan Goddess, channel Bianca Jagger at Studio 54—solid-colored dresses with dramatic necklines (one shoulder diagonal or plunging V) or, if you can pull it off, a white suit with big lapels and a dress shirt open to your bellybutton. It helps to ride in on a white horse, but . . . no pressure. For this concept, Resurrection is an excellent bet—if you’re rich. If not, try Marmalade.