Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sterling Style: My Mama Q


Happy Birthday Mama!



Today is my Mama's birthday. She turned 70. I am celebrating, not with cake or candles, but with this post, an homage to my mom's original style. While we've always had a different way of dressing, my style is in a deep debt to her own unique way of dress.


I have a particular memory I'd like to share with you. I was in grade school, probably the 2nd grade. She was dressing for an after-school function, as I watched her putting together an outfit.   A lot of fussing was going on over finding the right outfit. Tops were buttoned up, then unbuttoned.  Skirts were wrapped around, then removed. This seemed like a waste of time to me. My kid-method was simple- one drawer had tops, and one drawer had bottoms- so grab, grab, and dress. I never bothered matching by color just by my daily passions: my favorite (clean) top was always paired with my favorite (clean) bottoms. Done. 

Same memory: Mama in the bathroom, putting on her make-up. Posed over the sink, her figure eerily frozen, the only moving limb, the hand that flicked jet black eye-liner over eye-lids. Nefertiti thick, she would draw an inky black line over the top lids. Then she would paint her mouth.   Lipstick. Red as blood, bright as berries, my mama would apply the lipstick, and blot her lips with paper.Then she'd make her ritual finishing mouth with her upper lip stamping down on the lower lip, with her chin down and her eyes locked onto their reflection in the mirror. 

Scene two: My mom at my school, her cranky insistence of holding my hand while walking to the classroom. Everything else is vague but I remember certain things vividly: her white sailor pants with black buttons on the front pockets. The legs flared slightly, and under the hem peeked out a pair of high heeled sandals. Then a blouse, a jersey knit top, in navy with white piping trim along the neck and cap sleeves.

When I looked around at the other parents, for a brief second, I was embarrassed- my mama looked NOTHING like the other mamas. She didn't dress like them and she didn't LOOK like them. They were apricot blonde with pale brown perms or straw-colored long hair that slumped past the shoulders. And NO make-up. They didn't wear sailor pants, cherry red lips and black eyeliner for sure. They milled about in crew neck sweaters, button down shirts and khaki skirts, worn with very sensible shoes. 

Her eyes and her lips and her pants did NOT look like them. Momentarily I was mortified. And then the blaze of a realization that my mother was beautiful. She stuck out because she was a beauty. And she dressed like she was beautiful. She didn't seem too comfortable with it, either. But she did it. Because she WAS it. I remember staring at her profile in the car as she drove us home. I felt like I was seeing her for the first time- the stick straight jet black hair  cut sharply above the shoulders, the thick kohl eyeliner holding down her almost sleepy, almond shaped eyes, her soft skin the color of a toasted biscuit. Like a moth to fire I was drawn to the full painted red lips that framed her large toothy smile. She was a song in the land of whispers.

So here's to the original Q- my Queen, my Mama in celebration of her 70th birthday. Happy Birthday! 
                                                                        
                                                                                               xo. -Bella Q

51 comments:

xNTA said...

What a beautiful beautiful post. Your writing transported me to that time and place. Do you have any old photos of your mom?

Have a great one! x http://xNTA.blogspot.com

Ofelia said...

Bella, what a beautiful and sentimental post! Thank you for sharing your memories with us!
Feliz Cumpleanos a Mama y que Cumpla Muchos Mas!!!!

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

**sniff** pass me a hanky love will you? I am there in that classroom with you, gazing in total adoration at your stunningly stylish mama and it's bringing a tear or five to my eyes. She is a beautifully age-less, total woman - can I come over to your place after school?;))))) xoxoxo

JTWisdom said...

Lovely post Bella,your mom looks beautiful. A wonderful happy birthday to her.

Sara said...

Very lovely post, she looks so gorgeous! Happy birthday to your mom :)

The Closet Shopper said...

I'm smiling but I'm crying. What a powerful and lovely homage. Thank you. Xo, Tracy

Kavery said...

Lovely post Bella and written from the heart.

the Citizen Rosebud said...

Thank you Kavery.
I will pass the birthday wishes to my mom- I'm sure she'll be touched.

superheidi said...

Oooh, that's so sweet! And I must say how refreshing to see "advanced" style in a great way. She looks so fab!

Veshoevius said...

Fab story and fab woman! A woman should never hide that she is beautiful at any age! Very Happy Birthday to your mother.

Vintage Vixen said...

Happy Birthday to your beautiful mum!
She is so stylish and fabulous, you are blessed.
My mum was another mother who didn't fit in with the others, she'd meet me from school in pvc catsuits and belted men's shirts with nothing underneath. I used to be embarrassed until all the other kids told me she was their idol. xxx

Penny Dreadful said...

What a lovely piece of writing Bella, and I have to say that you and Mama Q are two peas in a pod - you look so amazingly similar (not to mention the same dress sense!). Happy birthday to your mum, this was a treat to read x

Please may I? said...

What a heartfelt birthday celebration for your mom.

Happy birthday Mama Q! I hope she has a fantastic one.

Memories are what life is all about! They are the things that make us keep us going when we are down and increase the smile on our faces when we are happy. Revel in making a few more happy ones on Mamas birthday.

x x x

Mo said...

Very moving, happy birthdsy to your mother xxx

My Heart Blogged said...

Your mom is positively glowing. I love seeing fashionable women of all ages. Thank you for sharing your story. I think a lot of us have the realization our parents are more than just our parents. What you said reminded me a lot of my mother with her make-up, bold clothing, and big curly red hair. Mothers can be these absolutely beautiful creatures we take completely for granted who literally give us the whole entire world.

(This didn't show up in my blog reader. I'm not sure if it's just mine or what)
My Heart Blogged

That's Not My Age said...

Happy birthday Mama! What a lovely story - and she looks like she has fun with fashion.

Collette Osuna said...

Happy Birthday to your dear sweet Mom Bella!! As I was reading each and every word...I thought these could have been written from my daughter Chloe about me....being "different" is being "uniquely YOU"...and your Mom looks like shes got some MAD STYLE!!!!
Hugs to you both....:)

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

I absolutely love the way you wrote this post and I love your MAMA!! She looks so friendly, joyful, and approachable...that is how we all should be each day! Tell her that I rejoice with her on her 70th birthday and I rejoice with her on the legacy she has left her beautiful daughter!!

Diane Costanza said...

Bella, that was a lovely celebration of your mom and her beauty. I have similar memories of my mom and her ritual to get ready for a special event. To this day she still believes in the matching handbag shoes for every outfit. I inherited her creative side, not so much her sense of personal style, but I continue working on it.

Diane

Mrs Bossa said...

Hurrah! What a wonderful post! You're so lucky to have a mother like yours. I'm fascinated by the things we notice about our mother's attire when we're growing up - I was considering doing a post on this later in March.

Happy Birthday, Mama Q!

Mommyblogger said...

What an awesome post. Happy Birthday to your Momma :)

The Elegant Bohemian said...

Oh Bella, I'm tearing up over here...what a lovely tribute to your mom. My kids tease me about not being "mom-ish" and I wonder sometimes if their first thought is what you first felt...a little mortified. But honestly, the older they get, the more I think they appreciate their mom's style and the fact that she has one. Your mom is stunning! Love her, hug her, smooch her....absolutely as much as you can! Happy Birthday to a FABULOUS lady! ~Serene

jill815 said...

What a gorgeous post. Happy Birthday to your mom! I love how you celebrated her here and I especially love that houndstooth she's wearing, is it a cape?

Judith said...

A beautiful birthday post as a dedication to you mother! Your descriptions leap off the page and I can see how you developed your own magnificent style. Your mother is radiant and beautiful. Happy 70th and many more! The Style Crone

Marissa said...

This is just the sweetest post. Sounds like you and your mother are very lucky to have each other. Happy birthday, Mama Q!

any2ndnow.com said...

Happy Birthday Mama Q! What a fantastic post, Bella. Love the memory and how you felt in that moment of realizing what a cool mama you have :)

xoxo
Cyrillynn

hasoon said...

She didn't seem too comfortable with it, either. But she did it. Because she WAS it.

That's the thing.

Happy Birthday, pass it on!

the Citizen Rosebud said...

Marissa: I DO feel lucky. I didn't always, but now all grown up, I am so grateful that SHE's my mama!

I am going to pass on this birthday wishes to Mama Q. I'm sure she's be very touched! Thank you!

WendyB said...

Lovely post. Happy birthday!

feministified said...

So sweet <3 Feliz Cumple, Mama Q!

sacramento said...

Happy birthday mama Q.She has to be different and beautiful for you to be the way you are.
A big hug and plenty kisses to both of you.
You touched my soul, yet again...
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

northeastchic said...

What a touching tribute to a very beautiful lady. I can see the kindness in her eyes; clearly she is beautiful on the inside as well. She must be so proud of you for writing such a lovely post.

Happy happy Birthday Bella's Mom. May your next year be filled with love and light!

Doreen

Courtney said...

What an inspirational lady who seems to really know how to be herself.

Also, I love her coat!

Courtney
----------
http://thosegraces.com
http://twitter.com/MsFemminista

Beautifully Invisible said...

Bella this is such a beautiful post... it was actually breathtaking to read. What a beautiful memory you have of your mother.

Of course she is beautiful - she would have to be in order to be the mother of such a beautiful woman as yourself, inside and out!

Happy Birthday Bella's Mom!

Fabienne Jach said...

What a lovely story! You captured each detail so well, beautifully written. Lucky girl, lucky mama:)

thejerseygem.com said...

How CUTE! Your mum is adorable! She is one amazing lady, and even more so for having you as a daughter!!
Happy Birthday Mama Q!!! (for yesterday)
It was my brothers birthday too yesterday!! :)
Hope you guys had a lovely day
xoxo
Meg

Kirstin Marie said...

This is such a stunning piece of your life, Bella. I was instantly propelled into your memories, with such a cubs image as you so described. Happy Birthday to your mom, she sounds amazing, and she has a beautiful smile.

brookemeagan said...

Bella, I think there should be warning at the top of the post next time you do this. You see, I'm at work right now, and your post just made me cry. So now I'm crying at work like a big, ol' goober ha!
This is so beautiful. You are so eloquent with your words. Such a breathtaking tribute to your beautiful mother. You swept me away. Happy Birthday to Mama Q. She simply radiates of beauty and warmth. xoxo

Elle Enchanted said...

This is absolutely touching bella, and I can see where you got your flair from! Happy Birthday to your mom. That's awesome. and I love that you appreciate her for being different. I never got the chance to appreciate my mom before I lost her.

Terri said...

What a lovely tribute to your lovely, joyous momma! I loved how you described your moment of recognition. It is a powerful moment in any child's life when they realize that that thier parents are human beings and not just a parent.

Kristin said...

Sailor pants and cherry red lips...I'm pretty sure I'd love your mama! Happy happy bday to her!

Angeline said...

Love this! Your mom looks and sounds super-rad. I can totally see where your independent spirit comes from. :)

the Citizen Rosebud said...

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

Laura Connell said...

"song in the land of whispers." That's some evocative writing. I too have the image of my mother applying make-up in the bathroom mirror and taking time to put on the perfect outfit.
Now I'm the mom in the schoolyard that stands out because I'm not in lululemons and sneaks. Your mom knows what it's all about: don't make yourself small to fit in! Be the finest version of yourself!

RETRO REVA said...

I couldn't read this entirely til now. "She was like a song in the land of whispers".............
Beautiful and truly inspired from true love.
I LOVE YOU!
Hi Momma <3
xXx
Reva

tinyjunco said...

"Then she'd make her ritual finishing mouth with her upper lip stamping down on the lower lip, with her chin down and her eyes locked onto their reflection in the mirror."

ah, how many times i've seen my mother making the same gesture! truly, Bella, your observation and writing are beyond compare!

give your mama a big hug from me - i love it when style bloggers include their moms, when moms show up in the comments with their own perspective on things...they busted their bahoomies raising us and deserve our respect. your respect and love for your mother just shines out of this post, Bella. Happy Weekend! steph

Cloud of Secrets said...

This post is just so gorgeous -- your memories, your sumptuous writing, your mom's confidence in her unique style even when you were a little kid, and her plush rose pinks + bold black checks in the photos. She is a striking lady with merry eyes. I would love to see a photograph of her (and, ideally, you) from the grade school years you describe.

My daughter dresses a lot like you did -- her daily choice of top from one drawer, her daily choice of bottom from a another door. Occasionally she'll seek out a "color match," but otherwise, it might be her green and orange frog shirt plus pink velvet pants.

Happy birthday, Mama Q.!

Anika http://www.byanika.com said...

Belated congratulations to your sweet mum! Thank you so much for sharing! Big hugs to you both!

xx Anika
http://byanika.com
@AnikaByAnika

THE-LOUDMOUTH said...

This is amazing, Bella! You should submit it to LALM. As always, I love your detailed descriptions. Your mom is super fabulous, just like you!

The-Loudmouth.com
Twitter @theloudermouth

fashionoverfifty said...

aww Bella! So wonderful! And the apple does not fall far from the tree! Kudos to both of you for your confidence and great sense of style~Paula

jeanofalltrades said...

Gorgeous! I love your mom's style and your tribute to her. Now I know your secret: genes! You both look 20 years younger than you really are.

And that houndstooth cape? Want!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails