The Privilege Style Icon

It may sound like a platitude, to say my mother is my style icon. I can’t help it. There she is, hatbox in hand. It’s 1949, and my mother is 17 years old.

She had taken a boat to Hawaii, with a friend whose family had lived there for generations. This picture was taken at the airport, just before her return flight home.

Note the strength of line, the ebullience, the never-minding of hair blowing in the wind. The hat, the pocket, the skirt proportion. My stepfather said to me, recently, “Your mother has style. I did not know I wanted a woman with style. But I did.”

I didn’t know I had a mother of style. But I do. Cheers to you Mom, for no particular reason except this photo is too good not to share with all of us trying to understand style in context.

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  • What a lovely image! I adore the hat!

  • That’s such a great photograph!. Your mother looks wonderful – full of life and stylish also. A great combination.

    I think it’s rather lovely she’s your style icon.

  • Would have guessed at least 21, not many have that presence at 17! Such intelligence and life in her face, along with beauty- and sounds like your mother has those qualities to this day. And- is that a hatbox in her hand?

  • Lovely photo! I enjoy looking at the blog My Mom the Style Icon: for other mothers with style.

  • Wonderful! As Duchesse says, so obviously intelligent, but also projects a very grounded sense of self — she knows who she is and likes herself — that whole French bien dans sa peau thing, rare in a 17-year old.
    And as soon as I saw the photo, btw, I noted how much the two of you look alike.

  • What a wonderful photo to have of your mother. Yes she certainly had style, and might I add a sense of adventure too. Not many 17 year old girls would have travelled alone to visit friends in Hawaii in 1949. Not only have you inherited her good looks, I think that you inherited her attitude about travel too. Perhaps not with hatbox in hand and well cut suit, but weren’t you off to India at quite a young age?

  • That’s a great photo. She’s so pretty and poised. You look alot like her.

  • You do certainly resemble your lovely mother! How wonderful. Her suit jacket is so stylish. Would be wearable today. I often wish I could experience life as a woman in the era of the 1920’s to 1950. So much femininity and formality. Then, I think about the reality for women in those days. Thanks for sharing your pictures.

  • What a beautiful picture of your Mother! So elegant- love that time period, when men and women really dressed so beautifully.

  • She’s lovely. I like the carefree smile, too, as a style.

  • I too immediately noticed the resemblance with you two. Such an airy picture!

  • stunning! and I cannot believe she’s only 17 here! apple didn’t fall too far from the tree- look up the lyrics to the Black Eyed Peas “I Got it From my Momma”- I oft cite this to MoMo :)



  • She does have a flair for fashion and such ease and confidence coming through…I see that you have inherited her good looks too Lisa…

    I’d love to see an image of her now…and how does she dress these days….
    It would make a wonderful topic for your blog…

  • it’s probably thoroughly improper to whistle at seventeen-year-old girls, but i’m afraid i’m going to have to do it anyway.

  • love the photograph! i think it’s fair to say that the apple did not fall far from the style-tree!

  • How cute is she?! Although really, wouldn’t you rather sit next to the woman with the dirty hair wearing Crocs and sweatpants that say, “Juicy” across the butt? And then she removes her shoes and socks once the flight starts because her feet are hot?

  • What a fabulous photograph, you look so like your mother.

  • she looks great. and you have definitely inherited such élan as well! my mom has very different tastes than me, but she has always had great personal style…she’s definitely an inspiration for me too.

  • You can see your mom’s confidence shine through this picture. Style and confidence are a winning combination.

  • She’s so PRETTY too. I love this picture for a number of reasons. It’s candid, not at all staged, it’s free, uninhibited. She has a wild sort of look in her eye, like she is ready for adventure at any time!

    We all see where you get it from now.

  • That’s a lovely photo, your Mum looks so attractive and full of life.

  • “She had taken a boat to Hawaii,” WOW!

    I bet she has some VERY interesting stories about that trip!

  • Your Mother is Gorgeous! She exudes Style, Elegance, Poise and Self Confidence. Thank you for sharing such a fabulous photo!

  • This is the second photo I have seen of your beautiful mother,love the way her hair in both is wind blown,natural classic beauty,the suit (costume as it was called in the UK in 40/50s)the hat,gloves.

    I bet she still has great style.Lucky you growing up with such a great role model.Ida

  • It is a lovely photo Lisa. She exudes style yes, but it’s not really about the clothes. She would exude style wearing almost anything, even pajamas. It’s her happiness, self-possession and sense of adventure that come through, above all. The clothes just fit nicely with who she is.

    You replied to my comment on your previous post asking how I would define my personal aesthetic. I tried to in this week’s post. What I came up with is a sort of takeaway message.

  • She is beautiful, and very like you – the same smile exactly. And not at all anxious, which is just as it should be at 17 with one’s own hat-box.

  • A picture of youth…She looks adorable!!! you truly are the ‘spitting image’.

  • i am in serious love with your mother.


  • What a great photo. Your mother is lovely and you resemble her – especially her smile and around the jaw line. I love that suit!

  • In a word: Gorgeous. xoox

  • Clearly, the apple doesn’t (or in your case didn’t) fall far from the tree! Lovely.

  • Very chic! Isn’t it fun to look back at our moms before they were our moms? The clothes, the attitude, the tales…

    I love the stories my mom tells about her salad days — racing an Austen-Healey Sprite all over Santa Barbara County. And the clothes she had — very Betty Draper, but without all the attendant angst. (She’s a California girl, after all.)

  • Well, now it makes perfect sense. You clearly inherited the chic and stylish gene, so much bounces out of this photo Miss LPC! The joie de vivre, the ease in her environment, and the cut of the clothing all speak to the same message: classic good taste, brains, beauty determination and a love for life all in the same package.

    Love this!

  • Your mother is indeed very stylish. She is also beautiful and comes across in the photo as being a lovely person. She looks like someone you would like to meet.

    Take care and have a wonderful weekend.

  • Honestly, she is divine with a touch of Kate Hepburn if I must say. Lisa, what an honor it is to look so much like her.

  • Oh she is darling! And you look so much like her! I love that big, carefree, open, happy smile. You can feel her confidence and energy and yes, style, bounce right off that photo. A wonderful photo. Have a great weekend.

  • Great photo of a beautiful gal! Sometimes I long for the days when we all dressed up to fly. But we weren’t crammed in like sardines back then either.

  • I am impressed that she is so polished AND so youthful!

  • She’s lovely. Really.

  • What an amazing photo!

  • Your Mummy is very attractive- you look like her.

    The women in that photo is just full of possibility….what a wonderful moment in time.


  • She is stunning, elegant and carefree! It’s so strange, my mother is lovely, but I definitely didn’t inherit my style gene from her, by any stretch. I think it skipped a generation there! Lovely post.

  • What strikes me is the posture on this lovely 17 year old as she moves with her carry-on pieces. The fact that shoulders aren’t curled forward and she stands tall and strong speaks to a certain presence and, dare I say, training. I have to wonder if your mother was a dancer or gymnast in her youth.

    I find my mother particularly stylish as well. I adore looking at photos of her friends and her from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Just inspiring. Thank you.

  • You have her face, obviously. And probably her style too. I love the photo. How careless we are when young.

  • No, but she’s wonderful. Of course she’s a style icon.

    I must say, LPC, you do have a massive amount of commentators. Well done you! X

  • Looks just like you!

  • AN – Thank you. Isn’t the hat so cute!

    Sensible – Thank you. Full of life indeed.

    Duchesse – I know, I thought she looked older too. It’s a hatbox:).

    Emmaleigh – Thank you, also for the link.

    mater – Thank you. We didn’t use to look alike, I’ve come round to her.

    Belle de Ville – I think you are right. I think the whole adventure thing did come from her. I should have brought a hatbox. Thanks.

  • Caroline – Thank you. It’s one of my favorite pictures.

    Marguerite – You are right. That suit would totally be wearable today. But life is better for women. Too bad we can’t have the clothes and the freedom together.

    linda – The craftsmenship of the clothes alone:). Thank you.

    Mouse – Thank you. Carefree smiles should bless the runway, were we lucky.

    Mette – An airy, lighthearted picture. I agree.

    QBS – Ha! I knew I needed a theme song…

  • hostess – Thank you. I will check with her and see what she thinks:).

    lauren – My thinking exactly. I almost want to say, juicy. But I didn’t.

    EntertainingMom – Thank you says the apple.

    The gold digger – Ew that is beyond style to revolting…

    Tabitha – Thank you very muh.

    miss sophie – Thank you – I dress differently than my mother but her enthusiasm and capability definitely inspired me.

  • Ms. Bunny – She will say she wasn’t confident, but I think the picture argues she had the capability.

    Muffy – Aw. Thanks. And I was just thinking, candid shots of this era really were a luxury, because it meant a friend, her age, had a camera. All kinds of things are becoming clearer to me.

    Blighty – Thank you. Exactly.

    Danielle – You are right. I should ask her. Thanks.

    Candy Dye – Thank you. I will never equal her in elegance but I’ll make my best effort on the rest.

    Ida Morel – It is kind of similar to the other one, I thought of that. The costume, I didn’t know that’s what it was called, but how great.

  • besides being stylish…
    you mother looked warm in nature,
    and like great fun too.

  • Susan – I think she would exude a sense of adventure and fun, even in pyjamas, but I do associate style more closely with aesthetics than you do here. In other words, the line, the fabric, the fit all contribute to style along with the personality.

    mise – Thank you. I wonder if one’s own hat box helps at 54?

    Deb u naunt – Little makes me want to be 17 again, but this picture has a shot.

    the gardener’s cottage – xoxoxox

    DocP – Thank you. That suit is killer, no?

    Preppy 101 – Thank you!

  • Reggie – Aw. You and she would quite enjoy eachother.

    Rubiatonta – My mom lives in Santa Barbara now. I LOVE the thought of your mom racing around. Love it.

    The Preppy Princess – Oh thank you. Let’s all drink to classic good taste, huh?:)

    A Farmer’s Wife – Thank you very much.

    Gablesgirl – It is an honor. Kate Hepburn is an idol.

    Stephanie – Bounce is the perfect word.

  • Couture Allure – Oh I know. I can barely stand to get out of my pyjamas to fly these days.

    Terri – I will have to ask her where she learned:).

    ADG – Thank you.

    Maggie – Thank you! I think I’d like it even if it wasn’t my mother.

    FF – I agree. It is a moment in time, fraught with more meaning than only what actually happened.

    Shari – Thank you. My grandmother was quite outrageous in her way, so in our case no generation-skipping occurred. It’d be fun to see your grandmother and her impact on your style.

  • Sylvie – Thank you. I do think my mother had a particularly vibrant physicality. Seems to have been genetic, and I’m thankful for any bit of it that was passed on to me.

    Laura – So careless. So wonderfully careless. Perhaps we all need magic hatboxes.

    misswhistle – Thank you. The commentators are my greatest joy.

    Jill – xox

    renee – My mother is one of the warmest people I’ve ever met. Thank you.

  • Absolutely lovely – and I think she looks a lot like you!

  • What a treasure. She’s gorgeous, and such a resemblance! Is your mother still living?

  • Gaw-juss!

  • This photo could be you – amazing! Who even has a suit at 17? How cool is the Mom?? I’m sure she was also wearing hose, heels & gloves – so glam.

  • You look like your mum when she was 17. This is a beautiful photo. I wonder who took the photo, who was standing next to her (to her left, right on the photo). That’s what I love about photos: they tell stories.

  • 17 and a total DISH. Now I see where you’re coming from. So glad you shared this epic shot.

    (and you’re totally right about devout Muslims saying nooooo thank you to pork. We live in a pretty conservative, Hindu neighborhood, so most people are completely vegetarian, period, not just anti-hawg.)