Real Life Style Icon

I’ve written and talked about my grandma before, but she’s been extra on my mind this week. You see, August 1 was her birthday, and this year Marion Mott Schwartz would have turned 99. Were she still alive, I’d be asking her all about style “back in the day,” how she developed her own style, and I’d be pumping her for tips on how to sew the way she did: so beautifully, painstakingly. My mom and I will go shopping and see a darling dress, and she’ll say to me, “I wish your grandma were here, she could make this.”

When I was little, she sewed my Christmas and Easter dresses, pinning me up in her bedroom. (She made so many of my older sister’s clothes, too.) This was handmade, not homemade. Couture! She’d make dresses for my dolls if there was extra scrap. She made her own clothes, for a long time, because she was teeny-tiny; she didn’t even clear five feet tall, and I bet she weighed less than 100 pounds. Yet she was an hourglass shape, and fashion then just didn’t produce the proper sizing. My grandma was a stickler for the details. It had to fit, and it had to be neatly pressed. Unfortunately, she had Parkinson’s disease, and eventually had to stop sewing—thankfully, some petite options had come along at that point, and she took everything to a tailor she trusted. But I still look at pictures of her fashion when I need a little inspiration. I miss her so.

The thing is, I feel confident that were she alive today, I’d still think she was one of the most fashionable people alive. Because she had style. She was timeless in so many ways. She did what she liked, and she knew what looked good on her. She would be with the times, but not a slave to fads.

I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you.

Grandma is in the middle; her twin sister, Millie, is on the left:

I love that she wore such a huge hat, even though she was so petite. And the bows, and the handbag, and the gloves. See what I mean?

This is one of my favorite photos of her. I dig the palm-tree print on her suit. In other photos from this day, you can see she is wearing Minnie Mouse-style heels.

Forest Lake, 1939:

I just love this photo:

Who’s your real-life style icon?