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Dads in shorts, stylish moms on hot new Web sites

By Jo Piazza, CNN Contributor

Proud daughter Liane Stegmaier believes "this is what Santa Claus looks like on summer vacation."
Proud daughter Liane Stegmaier believes "this is what Santa Claus looks like on summer vacation."
  • Internet
  • Parenting

(CNN) -- Dads in short shorts and moms in beehive hairdos are becoming all the rage on the Internet.

Parents are usually the first to show off pictures of their kids, but that role has been reversed in a new breed of style blogs in which children submit nostalgic and stylish photos of their parents from back in the day.

Blogs like My Mom, the Style Icon, My Parents Were Awesome and Dads in Short Shorts allow proud children to submit nostalgic pictures of their parents to put on display for the world.

"Similar to the way that young people look to celebrities as style icons, more people are looking to these attainable vintage fashions from their parents and there is a growing population of people who prefer these classic looks," said Margot Nason, editor of the trend forecasting newsletter Trend Central.

What is so unique about these blogs is that the photos celebrate just how cool today's offspring think their parents are. Rather than laughing or cringing at old photos of their folks, today's children want everyone to see their parents in their heyday.

Newspaper editor Piper Weiss got the idea for My Mom, the Style Icon when she was rifling through her mother's closet in search of vintage clothes to steal for her own wardrobe.

"I began using pictures of her before I was born as a guide to my own style because I figured whatever looked good on her when she was young would look good on me now," said Weiss, 31.

"I discovered a photo album of pictures of her before she met my dad and she was so heart-stoppingly gorgeous I wanted to share them with everyone I knew. I started the blog with pictures of my mom and then people's own submissions started rolling in."

Since the Web site has been live for a little more than a month, Weiss has received several hundred submissions of parent pictures from folks who want to memorialize their mom and dad's most stylish years on the Internet.

During a recession, folks are more likely to indulge in the kind of nostalgia these old pictures evoke.

"Times of uncertainty make you long for the past, and the nostalgia of these pictures makes people feel safe," said Samantha Marcus Yanks, editor-in-chief of Gotham and Hamptons magazines.

"And a bit of nostalgia is inspirational in fashion these days, because it seems more affordable."

The Web site Dads in Short Shorts, started by marketing manager Tara Eisenberg, 26, and painter Annie Kyle, 26, has a genesis similar to My Mom, the Style Icon.

"On a summer road trip we were looking through an old photo album and discovered a shot of a dad in bright yellow shorts mixed in with seemingly normal family photos," Eisenberg said.

"The mom claimed the shot was an 'accident' and that she was just 'testing the camera.' Upon further investigation, we noticed a lot of our friends had similar 'accidents' in their old photo albums, and thus the blog was born."

Dads in Short Shorts has had more the 50 submissions of dads wearing above the knee pants, with more pouring in every day.

How do parents feel about being exposed in all their youthful glory and occasional fashion disasters on the Internet for all to see?

"The blog is great fun for me and the nostalgia is a trip," said Marilyn Weiss about her debut on My Mom, the Style Icon. "Not many guests want to sit down and see your old photos. They want to show you theirs.

"Fortunately for this mom, my daughter has provided me with quite an extensive and diverse audience."

Samantha Josephs, whose mom, Susan Buckner, played Patty Simcox in the movie version of "Grease," was inspired to send a picture of her mom from the '70s when she was touring with Dean Martin and the Golddiggers.

"The photos that I've collected from her from all of the girls in the group were always my favorite because of the platinum big hair and the kitten eyes," Josephs said. "My mother looks iconic in the photo, and I still look at her the same when I see her now."

Buckner was certainly a style icon in her own right in the '70s, but being made one in the Internet age held a whole new meaning.

"My mom screamed when she saw it. She thanked me a thousand times over, made it her screen saver and said what an amazing gift this was to her to be made an icon on the Internet," Josephs said.