Fashion: Would You Share Clothes With Your Mother? This Mom, 68, and Daughter, 31, Gave It a Try – Fashion:Younger Clients, Worse Manners: How Luxury Shopping Has Changed Since 1976 – Fashion:Younger Clients, Worse Manners: How Luxury Shopping Has Changed Since 1976 –

July 14, 2023

Mothers and daughters don’t always agree when it comes to fashion. We challenged a duo whose styles rarely mesh to create outfits using the same pieces. The upshot: They’re less dissimilar than they thought.

By guest author Emilia Petrarca / Photography by Ashley Markle for the Wall Street Journal; Styling by Kevin Huynh. Styling Assist by Christina Middleton; Hair and Makeup by Roy Liu; Location: Gary’s Lofts.

I NEVER thought she’d do it. A photo shoot for a newspaper? About fashion? Not in a million years.

My mom, Sarah Bartlett, 68, is a no-nonsense person. At 31, I look to her for sage guidance on everything—except fashion. She generally dislikes shopping, has worn the same Uniqlo leggings and Merrell shoes for as long as I can remember and, despite a long career in journalism, has never subscribed to a fashion magazine. The only fashion stories she’s read are mine.

“I never put much thought into style,” she said. In this way, we couldn’t be more different. And yet, she agreed to undertake The Wall Street Journal’s challenge with me: to build outfits using a variety of on-trend pieces mixed with our own clothes. This story forced us to talk about style—our relationship to it, its role in our lives—in ways we never had before.

Pleated Skirt, USD 725,

I have my dad’s Mediterranean colouring, but green is one colour that flatters both me and my mom. I styled the skirt with my black Agnes B. cardigan, a piece my mom wore when I was growing up. She went with a hand-embroidered shirt she bought on our family vacation to Laos in 2019. “It brings back nice memories,” she said.

The role style plays in mother-daughter relationships is complex. “We learn through observation,” said Dr. Carolyn Mair, a London cognitive psychologist. So as daughters observe their mothers’ choices, their own styles are influenced. Some daughters like what they see; others run in the opposite direction. Often, it’s a mix of both.

New York fashion designer Rachel Antonoff, 42, remembers cringing at a pair of red sweatpants her mother would wear to pick her up from school. “They strongly suggested, ‘I’m not wearing underwear because I didn’t have time,’” she said.

“Trends change over time, and what was fashionable during the mother’s youth may differ significantly from current trends embraced by the daughter,” said Mair. “These differences can lead to…disagreements regarding what is considered stylish and appropriate.”

This photo shoot with my mom was an experiment. Though we weren’t sharing clothes, we did style three of the same pieces in our own way. I arrived to set with multiple suitcases full of designer clothes and shoes; my mom, just an edited selection of preferred items.

I got my interest in fashion from my dad—an architect who’d take me with him to Barneys and appreciated Dries Van Noten and Giorgio Armani. He died in 2003, when I was 11, leaving my mom to raise two kids. Time and money were precious commodities for her; trendy new clothes were not.



In general, she prefers leggings to pants or jeans, and I tend to agree, but I went with bike shorts to make it a little flirtier. She refuses to show her knees.

Embroidered Tunic Top, USD 1898,

Growing up, I saw this “difference in priorities,” as my mom puts it, as a disconnect. It wasn’t that she didn’t support me—she did. But we argued over my shopping habits and I felt she did not understand this significant part of me.

Arielle Patrick, 34, a chief communications officer at an investment firm in New York, grew up in opposite circumstances. She was “never allowed” to pick out clothes. Her mom, Beverly Jocelyn-Patrick, 57, bought everything for her. “I was raised by immigrant parents, and they were loving but strict,” said Patrick. This applied to style. “There were so many rules.” No makeup or heels until prom. No sneakers.

When her daughter was growing up in the ’90s, said Jocelyn-Patrick, then-fashionable clothing made kids “look like little adults.” She wanted her daughter to develop her own style, but also to dress in an “age-appropriate” way. It was a “tug of war,” she said.

A lot of teenagers would have fought back, but Patrick appreciated her mom’s taste. “I mean, there were probably moments when I wish I could have been more made-up or looked more adult, but I look back now and I’m like, thank God.” Patrick’s mother selects most of her wardrobe to this day. “She can spot a dress from across the store and know whether it will fit me or not. I think that’s really special.”

“Despite the potential for conflict, fashion can serve as a means to build bonds between mothers and daughters,” Mair said. “Mothers can play a crucial role in supporting their daughters’ style choices to help build their self-esteem.”

Sweater Set If there’s one clothing item my mom and I will share, it’s a good sweater. We’d both buy this one. I went for playful styling, pairing the sweater with my red Prada shorts of a similar texture, while my mom teamed it with her blue-and-white pants suited for a sailboat or a dinner party upstate.

Sweater Set If there’s one clothing item my mom and I will share, it’s a good sweater. We’d both buy this one. I went for playful styling, pairing the sweater with my red Prada shorts of a similar texture, while my mom teamed it with her blue-and-white pants suited for a sailboat or a dinner party upstate.

  Cotton Cardigan, USD 150,


I’m not sure my mom will ever understand why I needed red Prada shorts more than a good credit score. But she gets that my desire for such things runs deep; it’s not a vapid obsession.

As an adult, Antonoff has come to around to her mom’s style. “She taught me about comfort,” Antonoff said. And about being comfortable in your own skin. “She didn’t feel societal pressure to be like the other moms; she did her own thing.”

Mothers can learn from their daughters, too. In December, Ella Potter, 18, and her mom, Larissa Mills, 52, took part in a viral TikTok challenge that involved daughters dressing their mothers in outfits from their own closets. Potter, a student at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, chose something she knew her mom would never wear: a lace-up corset and mini skirt. When her mom, who lives in Beverly Farms, Mass., emerged, she did a runway walk. “I thought it was funny, but I was also embarrassed,” said Mills of the resulting video. But watching her daughter confidently embrace style has inspired Mills to do the same.

After this photo shoot, I realised my mom and I aren’t entirely dissimilar in terms of clothes. We’re uncompromising about fabric and fit, and we’re equally stubborn about what we do and do not like.

Style is not about brand names. It’s about making decisions with confidence. My mom does that. Thanks to her, so do I.

“I enjoy watching you embrace fashion,” she told me. “I like seeing your father’s interest in it live on in you. You value things that I don’t necessarily value, but that’s what makes relationships interesting.”

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.


Fashion:Younger Clients, Worse Manners: How Luxury Shopping Has Changed Since 1976

After nearly five decades working at Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman department store, Betty Halbreich has helped a range of generations. Here, she reflects on what’s different—and what isn’t.

SALE TO THE CHIEF Shopping guru and author Betty Halbreich, here in 2016, launched Bergdorf Goodman’s Solutions personal-shopping department in the late 1970s. F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal; Tobias Everke/Bergdorf Goodman (Photo)


“I’M NOT the most mature person you’ll meet,” said Betty Halbreich, 95. “I might be the oldest, but not the most mature.”

What maturing Halbreich has done occurred during her 47 years (and counting) working at Bergdorf Goodman, the luxury Manhattan department store that’s overlooked Fifth Avenue since 1928. A Chicago native, Halbreich landed at Bergdorf (or BG, as devotees call it) in search of “stability” after her marriage traumatically unraveled. “I grew up here, and another person emerged.” That person founded the store’s Solutions personal-shopping department in the late 1970s, wrote two books and has become as much of an institution as BG itself.

She isn’t going anywhere, either. “I have a fear of retiring,” she said. “I have frailties, which most people can’t believe. One of them is being [constantly] alone in an apartment I’ve lived in for 70 years. I’m more comfortable around people. I have my strength here. I won’t give that up.”

Here, Halbreich’s astute observations after studying BG and its clients for half a century.

The Kids Are Alright

“It took a long time to bring the young in here. When I started, it was a small, elitist store. People were afraid to come in. Chauffeured cars were allowed, but if you pulled up on a bike, forget it. Lately, I’ve seen a huge uptick in the young. It boggles my mind that they spend the prices that are demanded. They’re buying two things: handbags and shoes. Yet somehow, they walk around in jeans and a tank all day.”

An archival image of Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman, which has been in this stately Fifth Avenue building since 1928; an elaborate Bergdorf Goodman holiday window display—complete with an ostrich—from 2005. Bergdorf Goodman, Ricky Zehavi/Bergdorf Goodman

Rude and Ruder

“Manners have changed. People of all ages treat salespeople terribly. It shocks me. They throw things around and walk away or come out of the dressing room stripping. I won’t tolerate it. The only thing I’ve ever demanded is: Leave me with my dignity.”

Take That Back

“Returns are a game now. People buy things on sight. When I started, Mr. Goodman was still here and he didn’t allow returns. I don’t accept it like everyone else. I tell clients, ‘If you have feelings about it, don’t buy it.’”

Dupe, There It Is

“The newest shopping problem is the sameness. Designers had more influence when I started. [Giorgio] Armani, Anne Klein, Geoffrey Beene—they were individual. You could tell who designed what. Many designers are ‘monkey see, monkey do.’ If one’s making a great shirt, they all are. But Bode is wonderful. She’s an exception. I love an exception.”

A Bergdorf Goodman window display with an enviable shoe selection from 2007; the store’s exterior in 2012. Ricky Zehavi/Bergdorf Goodman (2) 

Edited from an interview by Katharine K. Zarrella



Fashion: Can Men Ever Wear Shorts to the Office? What About Baseball Caps? Our Poll Results May Surprise You.

We surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. adults about what casual items guys can get away with wearing to work now. Often, generations were divided.


YOU CALL THAT BUSINESS CASUAL? On the office-worthiness of items like baseball caps, older and younger generations firmly disagree. Julien Pacaud; Getty Images (2)

By guest author Jamie Waters from the Wall Street Journal Magazine

IF YOU want to ignite debate at a family dinner, lob this to the group: Is it ever OK for men to wear shorts to the office? More kindling: What about sandals?

Though office dress-codes have skewed more casual postpandemic, opinions on what constitutes too casual vary greatly—including between generations. To determine which laid-back items the public deems acceptable deskside, and where each age-group stands, we hit up global research company Ipsos. Between June 30 and July 2, it surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1020 U.S. adults.

The baby boomers considered shorts and sandals verboten for work. But millennials, the most chill generation overall, greenlit these and other beachy items. And no, it’s not always a young vs. old face-off: Gen Zers can be stricter, and boomers less formal, than one might think. Here, the 411 on the most contentious items.

Overall: Though this result isn’t exactly a home run, a narrow majority of total respondents think baseball caps can go to work. It matters little if your hat is plain, à la Kendall Roy’s in “Succession,” or logoed: 55% approved of branded caps and 56% of unbranded ones.

Young and old disagree. Gen Zers and millennials are clearly pro caps at the desk, while Gen Xers can’t make up their minds (50% said unbranded caps are never OK). Among older folks, 53% of the 59-and-ups say unbranded caps are never acceptable, and a smidge more veto branded ones.

 Can You Wear Jewelry?

Illustration: Paul Tuller


Overall: Most of those surveyed consider office bling a go. With a 92% approval rating, rings are the most-accepted adornment, but bracelets (91%) and chain necklaces (88%) come close. Most controversial? Earrings: 23% of respondents say these have no business in an office.

A plot twist: Those aged over 58 are iffiest about earrings. But, rather surprisingly, they’re more relaxed than youngsters regarding rings: While just 7% of older respondents consider finger furnishings (excluding wedding and signet rings) never OK, 12% of Gen Zers feel that way.

Can You Wear Shorts?

Illustration: Paul Tuller


Overall: A healthy 58 % of respondents think it can be appropriate for guys to flash some leg in the office.

But boomers will have something to say about that. Those aged over 58 were the sole anti-shorts crusaders, with 57 % deeming the style unacceptable at all times. They’ll have to face off against millennials, who were the most enthusiastic knee-freers: 75 % say shorts can be office-worthy. Gen Zers and Gen Xers were also fairly bullish on leg-baring, with 67  % and 56 %, respectively, asserting that shorts can be appropriate professionally.

Can You Wear Sneakers and Sandals?

Illustration: Paul Tuller


Overall: Proving that sneakers are now a fixture in professional settings, a healthy majority (73 %) give running sneakers a pass—and even more (87 %) approve of dressier versions. But deskside sandals triggered fury. They received the harshest response of any item—and were the only style to be rejected overall—with 54 % of total respondents declaring them “never OK.”

More on sneakers. All age groups are relaxed about sporty shoes. But millennials are the most relaxed: 85 % allow running sneaks and 95 % give dressier versions a tick.

…And as for those sandals. Younger respondents narrowly approve of strappy summery footwear at work, with 52% of Gen Zers and 56% of millennials saying sandals can be fine. But older folks gave toes out in the conference room a firm no: 60 % of Gen Xers, and 64 % of boomers and the Silent Generation said sandals will never cut it in the office.

Can You Wear Graphic T-shirts?

Illustration: Paul Tuller

Overall: With a guitar-pick-slim majority of 52 %, most respondents think men can rock a band tee (or other loud designs) at work.

Mick Jagger is 79. But he didn’t take our survey. Two-thirds of those over 58 who aren’t Rolling Stones rejected graphic tees. Other generations were more accepting, with 50 % of Gen X and 60 % of Gen Z approving. The biggest thumbs-up? Yet again, that came from millennials: 73 % OK’d these chilled-out tops.





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