Mothers always think they know best when it comes to telling their teenage daughters what to wear – or rather, what not to wear. With years of experience under their belts, mums tend to be right when it comes to pushing a coat in your hands as you run out of the door. (Much better than fending off a downpour with your handbag.) These experienced women have already committed their fashion crimes, and they want to spare you the same horrifying feeling of looking back on your younger style.
From choosing muted colours to the one iconic item no stylish person should be without, we asked six ELLE staffers from around the world for the top tips they'll always remember from their mothers. Don't be surprised if you've heard them before... Just take note that now is the time to listen.
1. Dress appropriately for the situation
"I'll never forget my mum's face when she saw the (way too short) miniskirt I added to my wardrobe after seeing it on my favourite celebrity. To say it bothered her is an understatement. Instead of banning me from wearing it, she asked me to show it off that night at an important family dinner. Needless to say, I spent the entire night trying to pull it down and find a way to cross my legs. From that day on, I have always chosen midi lengths." — Giulia, Stylist
2. Shop iconic staples
"Hermès has the Kelly, Burberry has the trench… every fashion house has its iconic piece that embodies the style and personality of the designer. My mother taught me that we should all choose our signature piece, something unique and irreplaceable. Trends come and go, but style is forever. My key piece is the Max Mara 101801 coat because of its oversized silhouette, perfect proportions, sophisticated kimono sleeves and double-breasted fastening. But most of all, I chose this coat for its tailored Max Mara lining.
The coat has seen several iterations throughout the years, but while it has reinvented it has never lost its original elegance and cult status. That's what I want to be: wrapped up in my 101801, ever evolving but faithful to my true self." — Paola, Fashion Director
3. Wear what you love
"My mom was (and still is) the most joyful person. She was always smiling and making my sisters and I laugh - and that enthusiasm spilled over into her wardrobe. If a piece of clothing didn't make her happy, it wasn't worth wearing.
"From bright colours to playful prints, she chose pieces she loved and tried not to take herself too seriously. As a result, she always looked confident and happy. And, of course, she mixed the louder pieces with more classic staples for balance. I have followed her lead to this day and always try to have a bit of fun with my looks." — Ali, Digital Editor
4. Dress up, even on your lazy days
5. Invest in quality pieces
"I've always preferred a laidback style, shopping cheaper, brighter pieces to wear with worn-out jeans. Think Andy in The Devil Wears Prada but a shabbier. That was until one day, I received a call from my dream job. My mum called me before the interview and without even letting me say 'hello' she told me to change my outfit. 'If you really want that job, you'd better find your style,' she told me. She took away my scrawny coat and gave me hers, the Max Mara 101801.
"I remember my mum buying the coat as an investment piece. When I put it on and tied the belt I immediately felt more confident in my own self and my abilities. I went for the interview and I got the job. Then with my first salary I bought a 101801 for myself, both as an investment and as a good luck charm. It was actually the first of many – I now own it in blue and black." —Michela, Publisher
6. Convert to camel
"My mum used to say, 'Audrey Hepburn wore it in the '40s, followed by Grace Kelly in the '50s, Catherine Deneuve in the '60s and then me in the '80s, and you'll be next for the new century!' She was talking about her favourite colour – camel. 'Camel is the new black' really was a mantra for her, and she was right. More sophisticated than white, more haute-couture than black, camel is the perfect colour for coats like the legendary 101801, originally designed in 1981 and now a mainstay in all Max Mara collections.
"I love it because it works perfectly with both my LBDs and my favourite jeans and t-shirts, my most serious heels and my most laidback trainers. It's both classic and on-trend, with a hint of 1940s nostalgia that's always charming. The icons who love and wear it today demonstrate its versatility, from Isabella Rossellini to Cate Blanchett and Gigi Hadid." — Erica, Project Manager
Take tips from these stylish mothers and shop the Max Mara 101801 coat here