The second time I visited New York City, during my college years, I was determined to blend in, to wear lots of black and do my best to look "urban" a packing strategy I have pretty much stuck to for several subsequent visits since, regardless of the season. I suppose it was mostly a reaction to the teenage trauma I experienced when the head-to-toe floral prints my mother wore (I'm having flashbacks of a prairie skirt!) during a family trip to "the big city" when I was in high school seemed to announce "TOURISTS!" and parted the sea of black and gray as we passed, looking very conspicuously Southern. But last week, as I began packing to spend Easter weekend in Manhattan where snow was in the forecast I couldn't bear the thought of taking down my black winter coats, not on the precise weekend that always signaled the return of white shoes and pants as seasonally acceptable attire.
So I managed to get my hands on a cozy white blazer, a warm wool car coat in a cheery shade of green and a colorful "spring scarf" and wore them proudly on the streets of New York. Each time I detected a look of disdain from a black-clad local, I couldn't help smiling to myself thinking of a Saturday Night Live sketch from the early '90s called "She Turned into Her Mother." It was a horror movie spoof in which Tom Hanks plays a man who watches helplessly as his wife (Julia Sweeney), feeling a growing compulsion to purchase polyester pants suits, makes the full transformation into her mother.
I knew my own transformation was well under way when I donned without shame a bright aqua leather jacket (on loan from my mother, of course) for a taping of the David Letterman show hoping like White House correspondent Helen Thomas in her trademark red dress it would make me stand out from the crowd, perhaps catching Dave's eye.
The truth is, I actually thought I looked rather spiffy, if blatantly Southern, and I didn't care if people knew it. It was liberating yet another step in a lifelong journey I call "getting over myself."
It is comforting to know that other people throughout history and in this issue of CUE have had similar experiences with their own families. For instance, it's probably fair to assume that Jamie Meeks' daughter (page 28), who describes her mother as a "package of never-ending fire and energy rolled into a petite frame," likely inherited some of that same verve. Pia Laborde (page 21) jokingly calls her daughter Sage "mini me," as the two share an unmistakable brand of sporty yet feminine style that works for their lifestyle.
Oddly, embracing our natural often inherited inclinations is something we get better at with age. (And for the record, I think my mother is one of the most beautiful people I've ever known.) Personal style is certainly a multi-faceted phenomenon, and while it would be impossible to comprehensively trace its evolution, I think there is no shame in admitting that you once tried to be something you were not, as long as you are committed to letting yourself become what you really are.
On the Cover
Vibrant spring colors add bounce and vitality to any home décor or wardrobe. This month's CUE cover features a bedroom design available at local bedding and linen boutique Bellanoche (3632 Magazine St., 891-6483;www.belladonnadayspa.com). A Pine Cone Hill Vining Crewel duvet cover adds a fresh, colorful touch to a simple, elegant bed frame designed by Hernan Carro, and a Nouvelle white tray table by Artesia lightens the arrangement with its geometric simplicity. The pretty, delicate Olivia Rose Tal slippers are also available at Bellanoche. Find this vibrant blue cotton strapless dress by KLD Signature at All About Me! (3256 Severn Ave., Metairie, 888-6463; www.allaboutmystyle.com).