Repurposing Lessons from a Mama’s Boy

My mother once wore silk pajama pants to a gala dinner. They were zebra print with sequin accents around the ankles, which she said made them less like pajamas and more like “dress pants.” I was 13 and easily mortified, and when I saw her safari sleepwear gliding down the driveway, I began to worry for my mother.  I worried that some other suburban mom would glance beneath the table of overpriced salmon dinners and recognize those “pants” from the sleepwear section of a catalogue.  But according to my mother, no one noticed that she was wearing pajamas that night.  Or at least least if anyone had, they didn’t mention it.

Nobody laughs at my mother.

I quickly grew to admire my mother’s ability to repurpose any item of clothing for the sake of adding flair to any outfit (and when I look on the pajama pants incident, I realize that mother pulled off a fantastic fashion feat).  When I entered high school, I started doing it myself. My adventures in repurposing usually began in my mother’s closet, an ’80s retro goldmine complete with unitards and scrunchies that would out-sass Stephanie Tanner.

But her closet’s greatest treasure was the collection of stretchy fabric “tubes.” Their original purpose was unknown, so I wore them interchangeably as tube tops, mini skirts, and scarves throughout my teenage years.

something like this.

My sense of style has changed since then, but my mother can still out-bling me for any formal affair.  She has become a fashion guru for her friends and relatives, so I called her to ask about her latest fashion forays.  These days she’s rocking necklaces as belts and scarves as halter tops. One Christmas she wore furry white detachable wrist cuffs around her Uggs.  Please note my mother’s genius move. Her latest tip?  Add bracelets to your boots for extra flair. While no one compares to my fierce and fabulous mother, I’ve had a few repurposing adventures myself: The charm on this necklaces came from the an ugly “nautical” charm bracelet I bought at the thrift store for a dollar: My partner gets credit for this one: a five dollar purse (likely intended for elderly women) makes a surprisingly efficient manbag:

What a cutie!

Call me a mama’s boy, but I guarantee that I can win the “my mom is more stylish than your mom” contest any day.  Perhaps her repurposing advice will appear again on IBC soon…


About Malic White

After surviving a childhood in musical theatre, Malic White appreciates hyperbole and maintains a strict regimen of diva worship. At 5'2", he scours thrifts stores and Chicago sidewalks for anything that might be Malic-sized. His writings will cover glam rock, zombie fashion, the art of cheapskatery, and whatever the angsty teen boys are wearing these days.

One comment

  1. I too have worn pajamas outside my house, and I went through a phase in college where I regularly wore lip gloss on my eyelids. This post inspires me to re-inject some adventure into my wardrobe.

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