By Constance Wong
Northwest Asian Weekly
Have you ever noticed that your mom’s fashion tastes are a bit off? You sometimes feel the need to adjust her outfit before she ventures out in public wearing her hot pink fanny pack.
Well, mothers also have a little something (or a lot of something) to say about their kids’ fashion sense these days.
Here are a few moms on the generation gap of what’s in style:
Mama Lynn Wong
I interviewed my own mother out of curiosity. I asked her to tell me about an instance when she thought an outfit really defined my main fashion sense. “Well, I don’t really have much to say. Your style is fine,” said Wong. “Come on,” I said. “Tell me the truth.”
She was hesitant at first, but you’ll see how her tone quickly changed. She laughed. “Sometimes, I think you wear some colors that aren’t good for your skin tone. I mean, you also wear these old, raggedy clothes. Like that one off-white knit sweater. It looks like it’s been around for years! It even has holes in it! You’re still in your 20s. Why aren’t you wearing more proper clothing pieces?” In my defense, my look is the ‘new’ vintage style. She obviously does not understand.
Mama Lan Nguyen
“He wears baggy jeans,” said Nguyen, lamenting her son’s fashion choices. Nguyen’s son is 17 years old and often has disagreements with his mom over his pants. “He wears them so low that you can see his boxer [shorts]! I didn’t like it.”
“I’ve always wondered why he wears it like that,” Nguyen added, gesturing to her own pants. “Isn’t it difficult to walk?”
Mama Su-man Shen
When Shen was questioned about her son’s current fashion taste, she dully said, “He’s a boy. He has a normal taste with just a t-shirt and jeans. There isn’t much to say about that.”
But then she took a minute to reflect on some past outfits from his childhood.
“Oh, when he was 2 or 3 years old — yeah — he wore these animal shirts — not animal print. Like t-shirts with animal faces on them. His favorite was the giraffe and most of these shirts, yes, they were in yellow, green, and red, with some cargo pants. He also wore these huge sunglasses. … He thought he was so cool. We just thought it was funny. Thank goodness it was a phase!”
Mama Lam Trinh
A mom’s displeasure with her child’s clothes is not a strictly American predicament. Trinh lives in Saigon with her family, and her son’s layering was a source of aggravation for her when he was in high school.
“Under the hot and humid weather of Saigon, he would put on a black nylon jacket that had a hood and long sleeves,” said Trinh. “If you can picture it, you’d say he dressed for a storm.”
Trinh was concerned that her son would become ill due to overheating. “It would be better if it was a lighter color, but no, it was a dark, black nylon jacket! Under the sun! Imagine that. Nothing I said could change his mind. He had that jacket for quite a while.”
Mama Sandy Ma
Ma admits that she avoids confronting her daughter’s fashion taste. Rather, in a passive-aggressive way, she suggests the pair go to the mall to buy new clothes.
“She had these baggy pants,” said Ma. They looked like snowboarding pants with some red — or black. They looked like black denim pants, but they were poofy. I couldn’t stand them! I don’t even know where she bought those pants, because I didn’t pay for those.”
So what happened to these pants?
Her daughter has no idea, but Ma confessed, “Oh yeah, I donated those pants to Goodwill as soon as I got my hands on them.”
Mama Phung Truong
Truong use to battle with her son over his slumping jeans and long hair. “When he was in his 20s, he used to wear jeans with many ripped holes, with a braided leather belt so long that it fell down to his knees,” said Truong. “It’s like a size 40 on a waist that is a size 30!”
However, good things come to those who wait. Now, Truong’s son is in his mid-30s and has cleaned up considerably. He sports a clean, short haircut and wears Dockers to work.
What brought about the change? No, it wasn’t Truong’s nagging that did it. Rather, her son started dating a girl (who is now his wife), and she forced him to dress better.
Mama Gena Choi
Mama Choi was interviewed right in front of her daughter. Choi believes her daughter should wear only Northface jackets with jeans, especially on a school day.
“Where do I start?” said Choi, shaking her head and smirking.“My daughter — she wears these flip flops that just ruin her feet. She wears them around all the time. Women should have beautiful feet. And there are these printed t-shirts that are so informal. She also wears these leggings instead of pants. I can practically see her undergarments. That is not ladylike at all.”
Choi ends with, “She dresses like a hippie.” ♦
Han Bui contributed to this report.
Constance Wong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m 14 and I love to wear black. My mom hates it, but I don’t care. She doesn’t get why I don’t go out and do anything anymore either or why I’m not looking for a boyfriend. In hindsight, my days of chasing boys are over. Anyway, back to fashion. I have a pair of earrings that I like and my mom thinks they’re ugly, so she took them. I’m still mad about it. She should know that when I’m 18, I’m never coming back because I don’t want to argue with her about what I like. When I was a little girl, she wore sweats all the time in our long Michigan winters. It bothered me, but I didn’t say anything. Back in those days, she didn’t have a job and wasn’t looking for one either because she had to take care of babies and her kids that were just starting to go to school. So, she wore sweats unless we had a special occasion we had to go to. In those days, I liked to wear dresses all the time, now I like to wear jeans and form fitting t-shirts. I guess I liked to were dresses back then because I was fat. Then, in 1st grade I was being bullied by a group of girls that would chase me at recess and I lost a bunch of weight from all that running. So I’ve changed and so has my mom. My mom lost 80 pounds a few years ago and has stopped wearing sweats all the time. When it comes to me, I lost all of my baby fat 8 years ago and stopped wearing dresses all the time. Of course, I gained a lot of weight when I started to fill out during my transition from a kid to a teenager.