5 Things Your Daughter Can Learn From Your Closet

by Bethanne Patrick
Originally Published: 

Chances are the first adult woman’s clothes you saw were in your mother’s closet, a mysterious place filled with shoes quite different from your own little sneakers and sandals, as well as garments more glamorous than your striped leggings and T-shirts. You probably giggled and played dress-up with your mom or a sibling. Grown-up clothes were for grown-ups, and this continued through your school years. Who wants to look like her mother in high school? (No hands raised…)

You probably still don’t want to look like your mom. Thank goodness! Vive la difference.

But just as you discovered some great looks via your mother’s closet, your own adolescent daughter may be able to learn a thing or two from yours. Here are some tips for you to pass down.

Embrace your imperfections.

Upon leading your teen or tween daughter into your sartorial lair, you may see—as if with new eyes—some of your own mistakes. We all hang onto trendy pieces that don’t work. These items are just as informative as your successes (more on those in a moment). That pristine pair of jeggings your daughter’s never seen you wear? The perfect conversation starter about whether jeggings are never OK—or maybe just never OK on your particular figure. Help her understand whether she should shun a certain type of jacket or dress because it doesn’t work—or because it doesn’t work on her.

Flaunt your successes.

Tell your daughter how you feel when you love how you look: Confident. Happy. Ready to conquer anything! There are times when you look especially terrific, whether it’s date night, book group, or just heading out to run errands. No matter what makes your favorite outfits special—color, cut, fabric, comfort—share why they work. Similarly, even if your daughter is several inches taller than you are and dyes her hair blue, you may share a similar skin tone, and you can show her what works beautifully for you and might be flattering (if she even wants flattering!).

Share the wealth.

Swapping shoes, accessories and bags is one of the most fun things you can do with your daughter. She may snicker now at your “sensible” shoes, but she’ll long for them when they hit the runway next season (Birkenstocks have been bedazzled by none other than Heidi Klum, after all). Let her survey your clogs, boots, sneakers and heels and see which you pair with which outfits. She may think she knows everything about eclecticism, but you nailed that decades ago. Show her how flat sandals change up a Pucci shift, or how her little biker boots look good with your flowy skirt.

Edit, edit, edit.

Speaking of accessories—you probably have fewer than your daughter does. She might think the person with the greatest disposable income would go wild with purses, jewelry, and belts, but you know that grownups pare down and weed out. While everyone has a scarf that matches just one top, most women prefer items that do double and triple duty. A simple pashmina in just the right weight and shade can be a scarf, a shawl or a belt. A cool brooch can go on a lapel, a hat or a clutch.

It’s okay to play favorites.

Your most prized items aren’t always the same as your most successful looks; favorites work in lots of different ways. Think of a threadbare pair of jeans. What are the pieces you wear over and over and over again? Think about why you do. Is it comfort? Utility? Convenience? Even if your favorites are also fashionable, there’s probably a reason you turn to them often, and figuring that out may help your daughter know what she should buy—or borrow—next.

That’s the best thing about considering your closet, after all: If she tells you she admires something, you just might share it with her. Or buy a second, just in case.

This article was originally published on