Picturing My Past
By: Jenny Brew

I am very close with my mom and grandma. They are beautiful, strong, and successful women who have influenced my life and career in more ways than I can count. They have also heavily influenced my personal style. Both would probably be very surprised to hear this, as neither has worked in fashion and both often look to me for fashion advice. But to me, these wonder women have natural inclinations toward lovely and distinctive personal styles. 

My mom has always had a personal style that is beautifully natural and relaxed.  This is captured in a picture of her taken at a 1969 dad’s weekend college party that I first saw as a child and spoke to me even then. In it, she is barefoot with no makeup, wearing cropped jeans, a striped sweater, and a vintage navy surplus pea coat. I remember thinking she looked unaffected, classic, and comfortable. To this day my mom still epitomizes the notion of natural beauty and comfort in dress, and my style certainly reflects this. I love to vintage shop. I am a jeans addict and love to pair denim with vintage printed or striped tees, comfy sweaters, sweatshirts and button-ups. I like to show a bit of ankle; most of my jeans are cropped and I usually roll them at the cuff. I have always admired the fact that my mom does not wear a lot of makeup. Instead, she chooses strategic cosmetics and follows a strict, healthy skincare regime. She taught me that you can never go wrong with simple and classic makeup and hair. That image of her in college planted a seed in me early on, and I get my classic and hassle-free style from my mother

My mom has always had a pulse on the trends, while still retaining her own timeless style. I distinctly remember certain trends she participated in over the course of my childhood and how well she incorporated each into her own personal look. This heavily influenced me, as I am very particular about trends and tend to use them subtly. My mom has never been afraid to play with print, pattern, texture, and proportion. Even though she has a small frame, she plays with oversized proportions and larger prints, staying true to her intuitive understanding of her body and what looks good on her. This taught me to be daring and unafraid. She talks a lot about growing up in Southern California in the 60s, family trips to Mexico, and a memorable trip she took to Hawaii the summer she turned 16. For her wedding, the bridesmaids’ dresses were made from brightly colored fabric from a Newport Beach bikini factory! It is little wonder that some of my favorite vintage pieces have Hawaiian inspired 60s and 70s bathing suit type prints.

My grandma is one of the most beautiful women I know. She had some stunning senior portraits taken to commemorate her high school graduation, and one particular image from that series has stood out to me since I was a small child. A California girl through and through, in that image she is captured sitting on a rock at the beach at Corona del Mar, wearing a bright pink Chinese inspired suit with cropped pants, bright red lips, nails, and toes. To all the world, she looks like a 1940s movie star. I remember seeing this picture as a child and being wowed by her glamorous and adventurous style. My grandmother certainly influenced my wilder fashion sensibilities, which include a deep love for bold vintage prints, flowing dresses, muumuus, and jumpers. 

My grandma taught me that small beauty indulgences like a fresh coat of nail color are the key to a polished look. She always has her nails polished in classic colors—pinks, oranges, and reds—and her hair is always perfectly coifed, but never looks overdone. Nothing makes me feel more feminine and put together than a mani-pedi and a new haircut. My grandma always wears simple makeup like my mom, but adds a bright pop of lip color. This has actually become my signature look. I rarely leave the house without a bright lip, but keep my eyes and blush subtle with only mascara and natural blush. My grandma also has one of my favorite closets. From it, she has gifted me some of my favorite pieces including two vintage printed rompers, both of which are pant jumpers, one with gauchos. Every time I wear these pieces the compliments just roll in, from men and women alike. My grandma also gave me an envelope Louis Vuitton clutch, which is an indulgent and special piece that I often carry to events. I have never seen another in the same shape, so it make the classic LV print look much more original. She has also gifted me some wild vintage printed silk scarfs and belts that make great finishing touches to any outfit. I only wish we had the same shoe size!

It means so much to me that I can carry parts of my mom and grandma with me.  Their influences have been deep and significant, not just in how I present myself to the world on the outside, but also how I show up on the inside.  I am lucky that I get to see their reflections in the mirror as I ready myself to face the world each day.


Jenny Brew is a fashion production coordinator and designer living in Los Angeles.