Wendyl Nissen
Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: Sartorially unsuited


Wendyl Nissen wants stylish clothes only her daughter can wear.

Somehow the stylish fashion of the women in TV show Mad Men doesn't appeal to the younger set. Photo / Supplied
Somehow the stylish fashion of the women in TV show Mad Men doesn't appeal to the younger set. Photo / Supplied

Years ago I trained my youngest daughter in the art of shopping for clothes. I did it out of necessity so that I would be able to spend the shortest time possible at the shops.

Not for me the endless wandering from shop to shop, trying on this and that, standing around undecided then having a coffee and having another think. Then going back and trying some other things on and then four hours later finally returning home with a bit of this and that.

I am well aware that other women find this enormous fun. I find it excruciatingly boring, which is why I do most of my shopping online.

My daughter from the age of 10 has had a seasonal clothing budget with which she makes a list of what she needs, submits it to me for approval, and then off we go.

Earlier this year, at 13, she went into town and did a recce up and down Queen St, taking notes and pictures, then returned to compile a pictorial shopping list complete with prices, directions and even supplied alternatives should one piece of clothing or another be out of stock.

That shopping trip memorably took half an hour, with a triumphant coffee included at the end. It was a milestone in our mother/daughter relationship.

And then it happened.

My daughter grew into the sort of person who looks good in anything.

"Why don't you try this on?" I suggested as we were racing around a shop ticking off her pictorial list.

"No, not on the list," she said.

"But you'd look gorgeous in it," I wheedled as only mothers can. "It's so 50s, so Mad Men, so ... well ..."

"So like something you used to wear," she said, neatly finishing my sentence.

"No it's not," I said. "I'd look ridiculous in it, but you would look extremely stylish."

"I'm 13. I don't want to look stylish."

And she was off searching for short skirts, drapey tops and the exact cut-off jean shorts which had my father voicing strong objections to the amount of bum I was showing when I was her age and wore the same shorts.

"What about this?" I said moments later having found a maxi dress very reminiscent of the 70s.

The look my daughter gave me was one I too own. It's the one where you raise one eyebrow and stare down the other person. It means "have you lost your mind?" and if you place one hand on your right hip and jut out your left hip while pulling the face it means "you have so lost your mind you poor thing".

She was doing the look-and-hip combo.

"I think we need to have a talk," she said, leading me to the back of the shop where the owners had thoughtfully designed a little boudoir area for tired mothers and bored boyfriends to sit.

"Stop trying to dress me up like you used to dress when you were younger," she said gently.

"I'm not."

"You are."

"Buy it for yourself," she said.

And so I took the Mad Men outfit into the changing rooms and had a go.

I came out to show my daughter and ran into a woman my age in exactly the same 50s dress.

We looked at each other then we looked away. We didn't even attempt to tell each other we looked good because we looked ridiculous.

At that moment my husband rang my daughter to remind me to get milk on the way home. He rings her phone when we are out because I never answer mine.

"Mum keeps trying to get me to buy clothes she would have worn 30 years ago," she told him.

She laughed her head off before hanging up.

"He said to take you next door to buy the new Sting box set and you'll feel much better."

- Herald on Sunday

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