For a little while, every mom is a fashion-maker. To her small cadre of small admirers, she is "boo-tee-ful," the epitome of fashion, the essence of style.
Even her cast-offs are coveted. Her run-down heels are more precious than Cinderella's slipper; her college-era T-shirts sought after as sleepwear; her scarves the stuff of Superman's capes and bride's veils. To look like mom, to dress like mom, makes a little one big stuff.
Then, all too soon, mom is the antithesis of fashion.
Whatever she wears is wrong. To look like her -- to look at her -- is painful, enough to ruin a normal teen for life.
Although today's generations are less fashion disparate than in other times -- given the continuing popularity of casual clothes, the proliferation of jeans and sweatsuits for all ages and the multiple skirt lengths that are acceptable -- many teens would "rather die" than look like their mothers.
Then, as the child gains maturity, there is usually understanding. Mom is what she is, despite the fact she's still wearing a jeans jacket and the same pearl earrings she wore the day she married dad. Who would change her?
From mom's vantage point, the child is becoming what he or she is to be, with a style of his or her own. Though moms might still want to make changes, most know it's of little use.
And in adulthood, there is sometimes a role reversal with mom turning to her daughters -- or sons -- for fashion advice: Is this dress too long? This hairstyle too dowdy?
Some mothers, in fact, depend on their youngsters to keep them au courant -- to pick the right trapeze dress, and leggings to match; to take them to a new salon for a new do; to enroll them in a fitness club; to shorten their skirts.
If her child recommends a look, it must be appropriate, stylish, becoming -- right for mom. Well, of course, that child's well-bred. Just remember who her first fashion icon was.