If They Were in Their 20s Today…

What would Joan, Nora and Fran wear?


You know when you’re looking at pictures of your mom from her 20-year-old heyday and like a teenager straight out of Pleasantville, you can’t help but inflect and articulate that, “Gee golly wiz, mom! You were so cool! I wish I knew you when you were in your 20s!”

When you say it, you’re kind of lying (mostly lying) though not exactly lying, but you’re definitely omitting at least one fracture of the truth. For me, this fractured truth often leads to another thought: what if my mom were in her 20s now? What would she wear? Would I like her clothes? Would I like her?

Now imagine if your circumstance was such that Joan Didion or Fran Lebowitz or Nora Ephron was your mother. (If you are in fact Nora Ephron’s progeny, may I just say it is a pleasure to have you here):

It seems near impossible to fight the seemingly if not completely subjective truth that if and when I were to say, “Wow, mom! I wish I knew you when you were in your twenties!” I would mean it so earnestly that you might mistake my plea for a romantic comedy starring Ryan Gosling.

But more interesting than that is following the thought through to its end, imagining how three of the most prolific female pillars of the ’60s and beyond would dress now. Would we like their clothes? Would we like them? (Jk. Of course we would like them. Why wouldn’t we like them? Are you out of your mind? Who told you where I live?)

Seeing as none of the three women are factually my mother, all I’m left with is a decidedly apropos pen and paper as delegated to Man Repeller’s resident illustrator-and-beyond, Charlotte, to draw the tangible product of our speculations.


Joan is definitely living in, if not straight up sleeping in Saint Laurent’s white high top sneakers replete with blue and red stripes. She’s also wearing a Petit Bateau boat neck, foot-length flare leg jeans and the most recent sunglasses offering from the Peter Pilotto for Target collaboration. This is not because they are in. This is because she is in.


Nora, on the other hand, is running young, wild, free, feeling not bad at all about her neck but cloaking it with a turtleneck anyway. She also has Rag & Bone’s deep-v from spring, a pair of black skinny jeans and clog-style sandals by Rachel Comey. I imagine that if she were still alive and in her twenties, her toes would maintain the superior dexterity to withstand the cold. No socks, no problem.


And where Fran is concerned, well, Ray Ban’s Clubmasters were practically invented for her. It’s a wonder they’re not called the Franmasters. She would also wear a white shirt-dress under a long, black tuxedo blazer and incredibly viable though equally ill-fit blue jeans. Her shoes are chunky as are her socks — both of which are Acne — and the more time I spend on her, the clearer it becomes that she hasn’t changed a tick. Also of note: I look a lot like this when humidity strikes.

Should I address the elephant in the room here? I own at least one iteration of all these outfits. I am projecting so hard, it is a sad and painful truth that when you are forced to look at me, I convey not a single valuable rendering. I’ve still got five years to fix that, though, so let’s pass that time talking about other stuff. You go first.

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  • sophie

    HIGHBROW DISPICABLE. but also brilliant.

  • Quinn Halman

    Please make this a series

  • I think Patti Smith would make an excellent addition to this crew.

    • avada

      and Flannery O’Connor!

  • In my head, these gals would need to be my best friends. I just thought last night if my mom were my age, would we be friends? Anyhow, I’d do anything just to share a closet with my fav author…and then maybe share a mind.

  • I would like to see what Coco Chanel would wear if she was style alive and age 20…

    Mafalda ❤

  • lavieenliz

    hahaha so true!!


  • i like these illustrations they are adorable!
    Click here for more Personal Outfit Posts!

  • Haha this was brilliant ladies! And I’m with Quinn…this would be a wonderful series. There are hundreds of women to be used for this! I’d love to see Gloria Steinem, Grace Kelly (she’d be in Rosie Assoulin, duh, as would Audrey Hepburn), Nina Simone, gosh so many!!

    Joan makes me proud to be a Californian, Fran has me wishing I was a New Yorker, and Nora just makes me laugh out loud…all so brilliant.

    • Quinn Halman


  • diane

    Not sure I get this since I am approaching the age of these women and I still wear a lot of the same stuff I wore when I was 20 (e.g., jeans, leather moto jackets, peasant blouses, booties), the main difference being I can afford better quality now.

  • Martine

    Brilliant thoughts.

  • chezsasha.com

    Haha. This is great. Follow-up question: What would Fran’s instagram feed look like?