Styles inspired by mum

Sharon White (left) and her daughter Makenzi Taylor, of Dunedin, have opened the doors of their...
Sharon White (left) and her daughter Makenzi Taylor, of Dunedin, have opened the doors of their wardrobes, to share the items and experiences with their community. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
With Mother’s Day coming up it seemed a good time to catch up with a mother and daughter duo who share their wardrobes with the Otago community and beyond through their Instagram project, Thanks it's Mum’s.

Katie Day finds out how fashion, family and friendship guide their style stories. 

Glistening jewellery made from precious metals and stones hung from a compartmentalised coat hanger in my mother’s wardrobe, a palpable memory of my youth. Mesmerised by these treasures, I would then find myself tangled in the autumnal floral fabrics of the dresses and jumpers in her wardrobe, pondering the day I could wear her clothing as my own.

There is little doubt the warm palette and soft woollen textures of her wardrobe, influenced by her own mother — my grandmother — guided the formation of my unique style signature. Perhaps these moments of awe and wonder with our caregiver’s wardrobes are collective experiences we all share in different ways.

Mother-daughter duo Sharon White and Makenzi Taylor have captured the essence of this relationship through their Instagram project, Thanks it’s Mum’s — where they share their wardrobe and world of style with the Otago community and beyond, through selling their pre-loved clothing, accessories and homeware items.

Thanks it’s Mum’s came to life as the pair were clearing and curating White’s wardrobe together. They discovered a multitude of beloved clothing items that could experience a second or third life, offering others the joy they found in their clothing experiences together.

PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
The title of the project, Thanks it’s Mum’s, flowed organically from Taylor’s everyday conversations, noticing the praise she would attract and she donned her mother’s clothing.

"I obviously borrow Mum's clothes a lot and when I wear her clothes, I tend to get compliments. So that’s always my response. I just say ‘thanks, it’s Mum’s’."

The duo’s love for fashion was inherited through the maternal line, initially passed on from Taylor’s great-grandmother.

White reminisces on how the skills of resourceful sewing and values of quality investment and authentic style were inherited.

PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
"I loved having nice style right from the start, I got that from my grandma. She was always dressed well, in wee suits."

Creativity and cleverness were included generously in her grandmother’s approach to fashion.

"She used to make my mum's outfits because they would dance, every Saturday night. Grandma used to make her a new dress nearly every weekend because she worked as a seamstress. So she would get a lot of bits and pieces and everything, as there wasn’t a lot of money around then. So she would work with the bits and pieces she had found and put things together and they looked amazing. Especially when I look back on old photos," White says.

Creative capabilities partnered with personality made White’s grandmother a fashion force, leaving a legacy of authentic expression.

PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
"She was a bit of a character. She would always match her hankie with her outfit and oh she was wonderful." .

The legacy of resourcefulness was carried through the generations, with White and Taylor highlighting the value of pre-loved clothing in their collective wardrobes.

"Makenzi and I have always gone op-shopping as well. You know, you can get something that maybe costs more than you want to pay, but then you can put it on with something that was $10 and the whole thing will look amazing."

The two also find connection, building meaningful memories with each other and with their clothes, in the process of op-shopping together.

Whether it is coloured bags, Doc Martin slip-ons, or a Company of Strangers’ dress, Makenzi...
Whether it is coloured bags, Doc Martin slip-ons, or a Company of Strangers’ dress, Makenzi Taylor has been proud to say "thanks, it’s Mum’s" when wearing her mother’s clothing, and is now sharing the pre-loved clothing with others. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Taylor says: "There’s pieces that I’ve never let go of and I don't know why or where they're going to go but I just don't want to let go of them. Like, they're part of me in some way, you know? I've got a jacket that Mum and I bought when we were op-shopping together. You know, it’s a shared memory and a piece that reminds me of that time."

PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Just as her great-grandmother through to her mother have crafted fashion foundations for their kin, the relationships are reciprocal. White reflects on how Taylor influences and inspires her sense of style.

"She’s certainly taught me, since she's been of an age, she knew how to put other things together as well. You know, she’s just got this eye. She’s a real style queen, basically, because it’s amazing what she can put together. Whereas I like a whole lot of stuff and sometimes am not quite sure how to put it together. As she has grown she’s just helped me out heaps, it’s wonderful."

As this space of authenticity and connection over clothing has been nurtured among their family, they have opened the doors of their wardrobes, to share these experiences with their community.

The pair share special memories of these community-wardrobe moments. When accompanying her husband on a work trip, White had the opportunity to curate a black-tie wardrobe for the event. She invited her friends to build the wardrobe with her.

"One time I got all my girlfriends around and asked them to help me sort out my outfits for the trip."

A vintage blue slip and a Cooper yellow dress are just some of the pre-loved clothing Makenzi...
A vintage blue slip and a Cooper yellow dress are just some of the pre-loved clothing Makenzi Taylor and her mother Sharon White are passing on to others. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON

For Taylor's 22nd birthday party, she hosted a celebration where she shared occasion outfits her mother had previously sewn, with her guests.

"There were enough outfits from Mum’s collection that she had made, for all of my friends that were coming to my party. So I assigned an outfit for each of my friends to get dressed into at the front door!"

"It was the best party ever!" White says.

"It was so cute how every outfit matched each person even though they had been made 20 years prior," Taylor adds.

Family and fun are at the heart of this pair’s style philosophy, sharing their passion for how creativity and thoughtfulness, expressed through fashion and lifestyle can enhance those little everyday moments.

"We just hope that someone else might find use for what we’ve looked after for so long and had a good time wearing," Taylor says.

THE LOOK

Discover their looks at Thanks it’s Mum’s Instagram page.

Also to be featured at the I Am Found, vintage pre-loved market, Saturday, May 7, 2022, 10am-2pm, Maori Hill Community Centre.

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