Growing up in Panama, in very small, mountain towns, and later living deep into the rain forest, as a child and later a teenager, I always saw my mother looking very elegant, radiant and happy, wearing very stylish and beautiful clothing. She was the very first woman that I saw wearing a pixie haircut and the very first woman that looked so gorgeous, with very short, short hair.
Her beautiful midnight, black hair, and her red lips, gave her that sophisticated look. She only used a bit of blush on her high cheeks, and some mascara on her eyes and she looked amazing every morning and every day I saw her.
To me, my mom looked like this beautiful, wild warrior that could do anything!! I contemplated her beauty, positive, enthusiastic and happy demeanor everyday. She looked so beautiful and elegant all the time, even when she was tending her garden, feeding the chickens, or harvesting vegetables alongside my father, in the fields.
My mom was always working and always coming up with something new, something creative, something useful to do and she was always smiling, laughing and she had this great sense of humor and that made her more of a beautiful icon to me.
My mom was always sewing either by hand or on her antique, pedal Singer sewing machine. She was always making something or mending something for her and for the entire family. She made beautiful dresses, skirts, hand bags, coats and pants, for everybody in the family.
We were also given second hand clothing that was in good shape and was very well made from very high quality fabrics. Most of the clothing given to us was always in such a great shape, it looked almost new, and because we had to wear school uniforms everyday, those clothes and the ones my mother made, always lasted us for several years and my mother would take really good care of them, cleaning and mending them as needed and immediately after every use.
Every time there was a town party or a school event, we would always be wearing something unique, different and beautiful. A combination of the clothes my mother would make, and the second-hand clothing, shoes and accessories my mother was given by some friends, people she new, and some of her and my father bosses.
My mother always loved flowers patterns, and as a good Panamanian, she just loved color, and when she dressed us, she would combined different styles into one, and different patterns together at the same time. Most of the time, mixing and matching and mismatching.
My mother would give us some of the pieces she made and some of the second-hand pieces given to her, including accessories and shoes. (No, she was not styling us, she was just merely given us what she had and making sure we had decent clothing to attend the events)
And sometimes we were harshly criticized by some people in town, and sometimes we were actually complemented on our “unique” and “different” looks. And I always wonder why some people didn’t appreciate the beautiful clothing we were wearing.
Along with the second-hand clothing, shoes and accessories, we were also given second-hand books and magazines, among some of them; Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, Vogue, Harper Bazaar and Cosmopolitan.
I am sure my mother was inspired, not only to put clothing pieces together, to create new ones, but also, to have a very unique sense of fashion and style, and to appreciate the “fine” things in life. And I know for sure reading great magazines at an early age, also awoke that desire to know far away places, to travel one day and the love of culture, in me.
After school and in the Summer, I would spent hours glazing through the pages of Harper Bazaar and Vogue magazines, and I loved to see the models, wearing beautiful and unique clothing and dresses, and of course, when I see back now, that’s when my love for fashion and style was born, however, at the time, I was not thinking fashion at all. All I wanted to do, was to go to the school activities and dance and have fun.
It was not until a few years later, after we had moved from the Rainforest farm, and I attended junior high, that I found out that for many, many years, my family and I had been wearing designer clothes, from Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Halston, Diane von Furstenberg, Gucci, Christian Dior, Chanel, Dolce y Gabbana, Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, Givenchy, Prada, Pierre Cardin, Ralph Lauren, Salvatore Ferragamo, to Valentino.
And of course I laugh really hard now, thinking that all those people that criticized and laugh at us and about us didn’t have a clue, we were wearing very expensive, designer clothes, and remembering all of the 70’s and 80’s styles and those gorgeous fabrics I wore, brings me back to an era of innocence, as I was still a child trying to learn from the world around me.
And now, several years later, with all the learning I have had and with my always evolving sense of fashion and style, I am so grateful that not only very generous, wealthy Panamanians and their friends gave us clothing when we needed it the most, but I am grateful they introduced me to the world of high fashion and design and that I was able to develop love and appreciate good quality workmanship and great quality of fabrics, so I can recognize great finds at thrift stores now, when I find them.
And I am sure I inherited the sense of fashion and styling also from my beautiful mom, and not matter if I am alone, confined to my apartment, or if I have to go around the corner to walk our dog, or if I go to a big event, or if I go to work, I will always be fashionable and stylish in my own way, no matter what.
Recently I have been designing my own clothes, making some of them and putting together a few outfits, using a combination of new clothes, my daughter’s and my own old, and unused pieces, for my own amusing and enjoyment.
My daughter and I have been designing and redesigning jewelry pieces, making earrings, necklaces and bracelets and I honestly think, this is a great way to destress and to calm down the soul. (Lately with everything going on around, it is hard not to be worry and jumpy)
If anything, I want to make sure I get up everyday and maintain that “normalcy” routine, by getting up, taking a shower, going to the closet either the night before or the morning off, choosing what to wear and feeling fabulous. I think it is very important during these times.
The older I get, I guess the boulder I get and I wear what looks good on me and what is comfortable and what goes with the weather and the occasion and never what is “appropriate” for my age.
I hope you guys have a fabulous, great Saturday and you stay safe, fashionable and stylish your own way.
Whom you are, your esence and your own style, that belongs to you. It is yours. You own it, and nothing and nobody should try and cannot take that away from you, without your permission, remember that!!