Stacie Duce
Thanks to moms, some fashion trends have thrived like fancy braids, ripped jeans, shrugs and even ugly sweaters.

Although teens may adamantly deny what I am about to reveal, it is closer to truth than myth that moms are behind some of our latest, hippest fashion trends. So as another year of wearable innovations hits the catwalks and school crosswalks, let’s give some props to moms hard at work behind the scenes.

Hair braids

The return of the classic French braid as well as the evolution of fishtails, waterfall braids, and roped hair in all sizes that circle the crown, lead to a ponytail or otherwise creatively set a girl apart from the crowd, is something of a ploy secretly instigated by moms. During the last year, I’ve had more conversations with my teenage daughters while my hands were entangled in their long hair than at any other time. Without new braid ideas and my nimble fingers, communication with my independent girls might have been entirely reduced to texting and schedule management.

Ripped jeans

One confirmed way in which 40-something moms are nothing like the generation before is the acceptance of mildly ripped jeans as a fashion trend. We refuse to be like our moms of the 1970s who preemptively installed thick patches into the knees of Toughskin jeans for rough and tumble boys. We’ve even been known to buy jeans already ripped. I vividly remember that fifth-grade day when my favorite jeans split a little at the knee. During an entire music practice on the bleachers, I sat with my hand on my knee to cover the infraction so my well-dressed friend wouldn’t notice. I knew my mom would either offer to patch the hole or deem them unwearable unless they were cut into shorts. Both options were unbearable at the time. Today, jeans with rips on the knees that don’t expose too much skin give a breather to mom’s budget and reduce fashion anxiety immensely.

Flowing shirts, longer skirts and scarves

“Enough is enough” is the mantra of moms everywhere who have hated the last decade of tight and revealing everything. Although I am not usually one to make a scene, I had a loud conversation once with the manager of a popular clothing store at the mall asking why the designers of her inventory thought every low-cut neckline in the place would be appropriate for young girls. I was trying to buy cotton summer dresses but they all dipped so low in front that you had to buy three more items to layer them enough to cover cleavage. Relief and reprieve has come as of late with new fashion trends that include flowing shirts, longer skirts and beautiful scarves. Thank heaven, someone is finally listening.

Neon and ugly sweaters

For those who enthusiastically enjoyed the fashion revolution of the 1980s, we knew some things would recycle sooner rather than later. It was several years after my husband and I married that I finally helped disassemble the shrine of his room and closet. He still had acid-wash jeans on the shelf and Cosby-like sweaters that were too classic to toss. I packed a box labeled "'80s clothes" and saved it like a time capsule. My daughters and their friends were the first to open the treasure box in preparation for a high school spirit week that included '80s day. Their squeals of delight were payment enough for toting that box during our last three moves. The only surprise came when one daughter picked an “ugly sweater” from my closet shelf rather than from the antiquities box, thus proving that once you’re converted to neon and bulky sweaters, it’s hard to let go.

The shrug

While almost every formal and semi-formal dress on the market has been devoid of sleeves for quite some time, those of us who don’t like our daughters tugging up their slipping, strapless gowns all night have either committed to alterations or been consumers of the “shrug” — a cropped jacket worn over the top of the dress. Two years ago, shrugs came in one or two colors and design. But just last month, I was shocked at the expanding options and found a black shrug adorned with the exact lace that was on the bodice of my daughter’s dress. She was thrilled, her ridiculous school friends teased about her “jacket” again but then also offered compliments, and I was happy to realize that I’m not the only mom who is buying additional fabric for formal events.

What new fashion trends have other moms helped precipitate? Confess below and have a Happy New Year!

Stacie Lloyd Duce is a columnist and magazine editor featured regularly in several Montana and Utah publications. Her columns appear Thursdays on Email: