To Wimbledon, where eagle eyed style-sharks (just me?) will have spied Carole (63) and daughter Pippa (34) – on different days mind – sporting a variation of the same outfit. You see, the phrase “dressing like my mother” isn’t the you’re-past-it-put-down as in ages gone.
In fairness, The Bucklebury Three, Carole and her lustrous-haired proteges, have never deviated too far from each other fashion wise: what royal event hasn’t been caressed into quietly tasteful ways by their beigy-toned heels, coat-dresses and just-jaunty-enough millinery? They are a study in consistently appropriate dressing.
In SW19, Matriarch Middleton went for a shorter, white broderie anglaise shift, with a sleeve, plus a court-shoe-espadrille-wedge hybrid and neat, dark tan handbag; while pregnant Pippa (reportedly due in October) went for a longer-length version with a flared skirt and sweet frilled straps, and a cornflower blue espadrille wedge. Practically twins! So jolly.
19 times the Middleton sisters nailed wedding guest dressing
Pippa’s dress was a £680 one from Anna Mason, which I know seems a lot for a cotton sundress, but remember that Pippa is now as rich as Croesus. If I was her, and ticking off the days renovating my £25 million house with my hedge funding husband, I’d be so busy pre-ordering everything from next season’s Céline collection that I doubt I’d have time in my schedule to schlep down to Centre Court. But there she is, still down to earth enough to be happy with a pair of £95 Penelope Chilvers espadrilles.
Anyhoo… then we come to peachy Prince Louis’s christening on Monday, and lo! Here they were again both in duck egg blue dresses. Carole in a slightly racier, lower neckline and above the knee Suzannah dress (£1,250), while Pippa kept her demure tact with a buttoned-up Alessandra Rich number. Surely they conferred though?
But, then, note that practically the entirety of the assembled guests were head to toe in blue: little George and Charlotte, Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex, the Prince of Wales, Michael and James Middleton… suits and ties. Was this some sort of diktat from the Duchess for visual harmony in the official photographs? Herself in glistening white Alexander McQueen, standing in a sea of compliant azure-hued relatives… It’s a theory. But not the one I’m here to dissect. Although if I was, I might point out that Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, wore green.
I digress… P&C are not the only ones doing it, au courant fashion ideas are a two-way generational street. Cindy Crawford and daughter Kaia Gerber are often in matching metallic cocktail; Reese Witherspoon (42) and Ava Phillippe (18) have inspired many “Oh my, they could be sisters!” supermarket weekly stories in their twinful All-American polish. While Dior artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri (54) has cited her 20-ish-year-old daughter Rachele as a regular muse for her collections, pointing out that “sometimes it’s the kids that teach the mother”.
Perhaps not quite equally (still awaiting our Vogue double cover shoot…), but these mother-daughter displays of style-stalkery made me think of my own dear giver of life, and the slightly uncomfortable truth that I am beginning to accept. In recent years I’ve taken my mother in hand – with a professional eye – and updated her wardrobe. She’d been sporting lumpen Gap men’s jeans since around 1993, insisting that women’s versions were not worth the bother. After years of fruitless attempts, I eventually managed to get her in a pair and she demurred. “They’re so comfortable!” she exclaimed, while I rolled my eyes.
On top of this, I counselled navy, white and grey T-shirts and well-cut jumpers. She has a “funny feet” condition, which means she can only wear a bulky black trainer, which gives her an added air of the Japanese avant garde, even though they were purchased from a place called Hopscotch on the high street in East Molesey and not Comme des Garçons. Last winter, she took to wearing black jeans, a black diaphanous jumper and said trainer. She could have been off to a Rick Owens show in Paris rather than the Salisbury Christmas Market.Somewhat unwittingly you see, I’ve restyled her as me. She looks, as is the common fashion parlance, very modern.
And yet, it has latterly become reciprocal. We’re both surviving the heatwave by wafting around in oversized smocks. I used to hate linen; to me wearing linen was a mark of having become something I was not yet: more inclined to purchase clothing at local charity fetes than Net-a-Porter. I was not “ready” for linen.
Reader, I am wearing linen. Disclaimer: as a fashion editor, I reserve the right at all times to entirely change my mind and consider any sartorial offer on the table. Linen is “A Thing” this summer. Of course I’m wearing it. I’m truly that fickle and shallow. And thus, dying with jealousy over my mother’s collection, all beautifully soft and prettily worn in floaty frocks.
On one hand, it does offer a comprehensive lesson that contemporary style is truly ageless, it’s all blurred age lines and wrinkles now
I’ve also been eyeing up her collection of simple breezy white tops (picked up over the years “from my friend Margaret’s stall” and Kin at John Lewis, her new favourite haunt), which are very good with jeans or a soft trouser. In the last week or so, I’ve been debating lopping off my almost waist-length hair (mother has a sharply styled bob).
Is it heatwave induced or something that’s a bit more… genetic? On one hand, it does offer a comprehensive lesson that contemporary style is truly ageless, it’s all blurred age lines and wrinkles now… Is the adage true, and ultimately, do I care? Not if I get my hands on that linen collection, I suppose.