At the beginning of this year both Christie and I were contacted by an online magazine that seemed pretty legit, asking us if we'd like to be contributors for the May issue. We were chuffed, and diligently wrote our pieces, and emailed them through, and were never got back to by the editor. Maybe our writing sucks, or maybe the next issue never happened and their website, suspiciously enough, hasn't been updated since March, so I guess our pieces are never gonna be published in the magazine that shall remain nameless. So here's mine. I was asked to write on my style icon.

I remember, very clearly, thinking about this question for a long time before I asked it. I must’ve been 6 or 7 when I asked my mother ‘what was before the “Olden Days”?’ I can’t remember her answer, but she was the oracle, and I’m sure whatever she had to say moved me deeply at the time. To my tiny brain, the notion of old-ness was totally blurred, an unsure mash of what I’d learned from old books and visiting a local ‘heritage park’ obsessively. The Olden Days represented some elusive concept I’d conjured from very little evidence, but I obsessed over it for many years, a little unnerved by the fact I could not access it fully. I, over my childhood, decoded the decades and centuries into some semblance of accurate chronology, but remained obsessed with notions of past lifestyles and cultures, especially those of the 20th century. It’s odd to ponder that question in relation to what I’ve become at age 20. My love of vintage now goes beyond simply wanting to dress nicely- I want to be fully immersed in beautiful old clothing all the time. I dream of serendipitous thrift finds, and I am instantly drawn to others who visibly share my passion for retro.

With the wiseness of retrospect, I can deduce that I was fated to become who I am today, and it’s closely tied to the identity of my mother, who I’ve always thought of as an older version of myself. It’s been in my blood since my before I was even imagined, when my mother was a young’un in rural New Zealand being raised by her own mother, a woman with no regard for nostalgia, nor frivolity, nor fashion. Unmoved by the prospect of dressing five children under the age of 10, my grandma was given bags of clothes that friends’ children had outgrown. Much to the horror of my uncles and aunties, these were always a decade out of date. The few remaining family portraits of the seventies depict a group of squinting children with wonky hand-cut fringes (which must also run in my blood) in geometric shifts for the girls or high-waisted shorts for the boys, all made from matching fabrics. They consistently looked like terribly unhappy little Von Trapps.

I also have a huge bank of stories from my mother about childhood toys thrown into the dump and burned family photos- too many to pick an exemplary one, but I’m sure it is understandable why my mum resisted this unsentimental attitude. She credits this theme in her youth as the origin of her own slightly-amusing inability to throw anything out. Recently cleaning out the mezzanine in the garage of our family home, we found too much junk to chronicle, beginning from when she left home at age 17. Amongst the detritus I unearthed one of her old teeth, which is now a rather fetching necklace on a sterling silver chain, and the only garment she’s ever sewn, a beautiful eyelet blouse that she made in Home Economics in the early seventies. At age 10 I started wearing the sterling silver watch she was given for her 10th birthday, and now I wear one she bought for herself in her early twenties, in her first flush of freedom in the big city. I can use these as tools to summon or draw parallels between my life and hers. Perhaps my love of vintage comes from a strange, misplaced guilt regarding the lost relics of my mum’s youth, a desire to tap into what she was doing or wearing or wanting to be at my age. Perhaps I want to preserve everything possible from my own golden days, hoping to pass them on to an equally-retrospective offspring one day.

I believe I’ve inherited this intense sentimentality I have from her, and I struggle hugely with the concepts of minimalism and downsizing. The nostalgia I experience through the medium of vintage clothing rarely lapses into idealism, perhaps due to my childhood spent pestering my mother for more stories about her own tough one. I know the stories, second hand but still so real, of the chill of winters spent on the farm in too-small coats and holey woolens. The sixties and seventies were not ‘a better time’, just a different one. In an unconventional way, my mum equates to my style icon, my biggest influence, and the reason I adore vintage in the all-consuming way I do. I should really thank my grandmother for giving her duchess lace wedding dress to the Salvation Army a few years after its purchase, and for throwing Mum’s koala toy on the bonfire, and for the decades of family photos rotting under the old cottage, still on the farm.

Some photos of my mum and her siblings from their childhood, scanned from slides by my Aunty Shelley:


  1. holy crap how amazing are those little leopard print loafers!!!!!!!!
    ok, now that thats over with, you write beautifully!!! maybe they decided you'd raised the bar too high for further issues and gave up?
    its so lovely your mum is your style icon. my mum was cool at the time, in the 70's etc and i always wish looking back on photos she kept the dresses she wore, but its her excuse that she always had to "wear things to death" and they were always falling apart when she finally threw them out. SIGH!

  2. This is wonderful Georgia, how lazy of that magazine to never get back to you, and it looks like karma has struck them, hah! Maybe other opportunities shall strike! I love the photos of your mum and a sibling lounging in the chairs, like the commenter above I am envious of the leopard print loafers!!

    I wouldn't describe my mum as my style icon, we have a difficult "relationship". I think she grew up with very little and some of my childhood memories of are sitting boredly outside charity shop dressing rooms. For her, second hand and thrift is the distasteful reminder of a straightened time in her life. I thrift for environmental, sustainable and sentimental reasons. I love the idea of giving something a second, third or even fourth life! In fact I received a lovely email the other day that i hope I can publish on the blog soon

    Thank you for sharing! x

  3. haha yeah, they really do look like adorable little 30's/40's children =)

  4. It can't be because your writing sucks that your piece didn't get published, because your writing does not suck at all. This was super sweet and I really relate. I think so much of my style is tied to the way my mum is and how her childhood shaped her.


Thank you for commenting! If you require a specific answer to a question, you can find our email addresses on our 'about' page. xo

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...