My Mother, The Queen of Smart Casual

vintage smart casual

It’s time for another Style Icon post…

looking for the roots of my sense of style, and my attitude towards clothes in general. This time I want to discuss smart casual, that elusive concept of dressing well while skillfully avoiding looking too formal or too casual. It’s often quite a challenge, except for my always very stylish mother.

She could have invented smart casual: she always managed to look effortlessly elegant. You know, like the woman who looks like she just got up and put on the first thing she found, and just somehow manages to be the most elegant woman in the room… I’m sure you’ve met someone like that, we all have.

Anyway, this is my mother at her most casual (early 70s):

70s fashion

 No hoodies or jeans for her… or whatever the 70s equivalent was. She wanted to look ‘presentable’, even when wearing something relaxed. You can imagine that she had a few issues with my faded / ripped jeans and studded leather jackets in the 80s… Then again, she should have expected me to rebel a bit, what with all those frilly dresses and bows she made me wear when I was a child…

And the smarter end of smart casual?

There were times when my mother put quite a bit more effort into her outfits: holiday (vacation for my American readers) outfits in particular had to be more sophisticated (late 70s-early 80s):

It’s still a far cry from formal… Comfort was always important for her: nothing too tight or constricting. She wanted to be able to move freely and walk comfortably in her shoes. But comfort always had to go hand in hand with being trendy: these relaxed late 70s looks ooze easy glamour:

70's fashion

 Of course, it helps if you look good in earth tones… In summer she always had that slightly sunkissed look: a nice, even tan that looked just perfect with her neutral palette of colours.

And me? I may have my mother’s bone structure but I certainly don’t have her skin tone: 15 minutes in the sun and I turn bright pink…. which is why I tend to avoid exposing myself to sunlight like a vampire with acute Porphyria…

vintage fashion

 My mother didn’t always wear neutrals: in fact, if she had a signature colour, it was blue. She usually favoured navy, but she was no stranger to other shades of blue, either, especially in summer. This early 70s  picture of her wearing a cornflower blue sweater has always been one of my favourites.

And if you’re wondering where my obsession for blue and white Breton stripes comes from, look no further (right: early 70s / left: early 80s):

vintage fashion

So, this is the example I have to live up to, as if smart casual wasn’t tricky enough… But I will do my best and post a 70s inspired smart casual look of my own on Sunday.

Who is your style icon?


For more posts on my mother’s style, go to Style Icon

Linking up with: Happiness at Mid-Life, Fashion Should Be Fun, Rachel the Hat


  1. Pam @ over50feeling40
    8 April 2015 / 12:14 pm

    This post is awesome…thank you for sharing her with us!

    • Tiina L
      10 April 2015 / 5:12 pm

      Thanks, Pam!

  2. Marea Dotz
    8 April 2015 / 4:06 pm

    How wonderful! My mother was a style icon, too. She had a seamstress in the 60's who made Jackie O-style dresses and matching pillbox hats for her. I used to love playing dress up with the clothes in her closet. She is 92 years old now but every time I visit, we still go shopping!

    • Tiina L
      10 April 2015 / 5:14 pm

      That's fun! I used to play dress up with my mother's clothes, too… You are so lucky to have your mother still around, and shop with her, that's fantastic.

  3. Natalia Lialina
    8 April 2015 / 5:38 pm

    How great of your Mum to take many photos of herself in her beautiful outfits! You're a lucky one, Tiina – those are treasures. I don't have many photos of my mother's outfits, but I do have vivid memories, and I think a lot of what I used to wear and what still looks attractive to my eye is from her, though I got much more experimental in the last two years – in some ways, we are alike, and in others, very different, and I want to be a true me and find my own expressions of what it means. I enjoyed this post very much. On the photo with a white stripy dress your Mum looks like she is from our era. 🙂

    • Tiina L
      10 April 2015 / 5:20 pm

      I know what you mean: you get your basic sense of aesthetics from your mother's style, but put your individual spin on it. I share my mother's love of streamlined, simple styles and comfortable, easy-to-wear clothes, but I'm much more flamboyant and prefer stronger colours. And while she never liked attracting attention, I have no problem with that at all…

  4. Beata B
    9 April 2015 / 3:14 pm

    Such a beautiful and stylish lady! These pictures are fabulous 🙂 thank you for sharing, I love this post! Hugs x

    • Tiina L
      10 April 2015 / 5:22 pm

      Thanks, Beate! These Style Icon posts are my tribute to her, a way of honouring her 'legacy' in a way.

  5. Alice Warren
    10 April 2015 / 5:50 am

    You mom is such a stylish lady! This is so fun to see since she looks like she could be wearing this now and still be so current. Thank you for joining TBT Fashion link up and hope to see you next week. Have a great weekend!

    • Tiina L
      10 April 2015 / 5:25 pm

      Thanks, Alice. Yes, my mother was quite a stylish lady, and I learned to appreciate classic style because of her. Even though my style is different, I can still her influence in it.

  6. Dawn Lucy
    10 April 2015 / 12:35 pm

    What a fab look at mom's style! Love this! Thanks for sharing with Fun Fashion Friday and have a great weekend!OXOXDawn Lucy

    • Tiina L
      10 April 2015 / 5:27 pm

      Thanks, I wish to have such a consistent style myself, too, so a post like this is also educational for me.

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