Taylor Swift is having a moment.
As her hotly anticipated Eras tour began, those lucky enough to have tickets contemplated which era they would dress as, how her style has changed, and whether their favorite song would appear on the setlist. The rest of us sipped our iced coffee and listened to Midnights (3am Edition) on repeat in the school pickup line, wondering what kind of voodoo would’ve been required for us to actually score tickets.
The Eras tour is an incredible production: over three hours of music, with a setlist of 44 songs, meaning pretty much every fan’s favorite is covered.
I’ve been a Taylor Swift fan for a long time: we are the same age (1989 was a good year.) and her music has definitely come out at some of the crucial moments in my (and her) life. Together, we’ve felt 22; doubted relationships, friendships, and life decisions; shaken pretty much everything off; and lived through a global pandemic to tell the tale. (I have, albeit, been less successful.) Taylor was with me when I travelled across Europe, when I made the permanent move to the U.S., and when I navigated a high-risk pregnancy. Her songs provided a consistent soundtrack to my late teens and twenties, and since we turned 30, it’s fair to say we’ve both matured. We both care considerably less (at least outwardly) about what people think about us, and I think that relatability is why I listen to her new music and always find something relevant and meaningful to my current phase of life.
Believe it or not this post isn’t just a love letter to Taylor Swift. Instead, I wanted to think about how each of her Eras can represent our experiences of womanhood and motherhood. Really, if each album were a mom in San Antonio, what would she be like? Who would she be friends with? What are her current parenting challenges? Where would she go, and how would she answer the crucial questions we ask new ACM contributors?
1. Debut: Taylor Swift (2006)
Taylor’s first album came out in 2006, written completely during her high school years, and 100% country to boot. Highlights include “Teardrops on My Guitar,” “Our Song,” and “Picture to Burn.” Full of the first flushes of romance, teen angst, and insecurity, the setlist for the Eras tour suggests that this is Taylor’s least favorite of her own phases of life. I get it, Girl. High school can be tough, especially when no one knows you’re going to be a star.
The Debut mom owns at least as many pairs of western boots as she does cute sandals, and she lives for the San Antonio summer. With her breezy sundresses and cute but humidity-induced curls, you’ll find her continually applying sunscreen to her kiddos at Six Flags or Schlitterbahn, or soaking in a little sunshine tubing on the river in San Marcos or New Braunfels. She’s probably lived in SA her whole life and counts among her friends the girls she went to high school with, her college sorority sisters, and a few wildcards from her first job. She drinks coffee for fuel in the morning and handles the school carpool line by sipping on a cold CFA lemonade or Bill Miller sweet tea.
Favorite Restaurant: Big’z Burger Joint
Favorite Landmark: World’s Largest Cowboy Boots
Favorite San Antonio Tradition: San Antonio Country Music Festival
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2. Fearless (2008)
Written by Taylor when she was in the thick of promoting her first album, Fearless has some of her first “crossover” hits—hinting at the huge star she would become. Highlights include “Love Story,” “You Belong With Me,” and “Fearless.” The whole thing is pretty fearless, actually, as she navigates her first real heartaches and her aspirations for the future. She was still a girl, not yet a woman, so her style is constantly changing and shifting: ballgowns one moment, short 1920s flapper-style dresses the next.
The Fearless mom is a down-home, country-loving homebody right in the thick of parenting her brood. Her coffee pot is full when she wakes in the morning, and it stays full in case friends, members of her large extended family, church, or neighbors drop by. She listens to country or worship music in the carpool line or Target drive-up, which she manages to time perfectly with her kids’ naptime. She may be married to her high school sweetheart, and she’s deeply involved in serving her community and being on the PTA of her kids’ school. She wears flannel and booties in the fall, even when it’s 82 degrees out, and she loves to catch up with her girlfriends over brunch and mimosas.
Favorite Restaurant: Magnolia Pancake Haus
Favorite Landmark: Hemisfair
Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Pumpkin patches
3. Speak Now (2010)
Speak Now was the first album entirely written by Taylor, across the period of two years when she was out promoting Fearless. There’s still a country vibe, but this is definitely much more “poppy” than her previous two albums. We see her leave her adolescence behind, and the songs—including “Mean,” “Mine,” and “The Story of Us”—are confessions about experiencing day-to-day life and heartbreak in the public eye. Her style is becoming much more glamorous, which is a little less relatable on the mom-o-meter.
The Speak Now mom is fiercely loyal to her tribe. Whether she grew up with them, knows them through her son’s baseball team, or met them on Peanut, she’s the kind of mom who drops everything to help out. She has perfected her chocolate chip cookie recipe over many years and only knows how to make a huge batch. She’s never shy of dropping off cookies, soup, or a casserole to a fellow mom in need; buys tacos for the whole sports team; and chooses thoughtful, tried and tested off-registry gifts for her pregnant friends. She knows San Antonio by heart and never uses her navigation. Every year, she takes her kids to mutton-bust at the rodeo and thanks her lucky stars that the grandparents can step in so she can see some of her favorite country musicians.
Favorite Restaurant: The Melting Pot
Favorite Landmark: Briscoe Western Art Museum
Favorite San Antonio Tradition: The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo
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4. Red (2012)
Buckle up, y’all, things are getting interesting. Red was released in 2012 and is the first of Taylor’s albums to really make the move away from a country sound towards pop and rock. There are lots of highlights here: “22,” “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” and “Everything Has Changed.” The latter is definitely the tone for the whole album, as she faces new, tumultuous emotions about her private life at a time when she is experiencing wild professional success. Vintage dresses, high-waisted shorts, and a punchy red lip set the style tone.
Red mom balances out her day-to-day graphic tee, black leggings, and messy bun combo with a killer dress and heels for an evening out doing what she likes best: being wined and dined or catching up with friends. She doesn’t care what time of year it is, iced coffee—cold brew with vanilla/caramel syrup or cold foam—is always her order. Her style is eclectic, with all bright colors and fun patterns, and she loves checking out both El Mercado and the many thrift stores across San Antonio for unique pieces to wear. She knows it’s only a matter of time before her daughters grow up and start stealing from her closet.
Favorite Restaurant: 410 Diner
Favorite Landmark: Historic Market Square
Favorite San Antonio Tradition: King William Fair
5. 1989 (2014)
Pop starlet Taylor is here, earning her second “Album of the Year” Grammy for 1989. This is a rebirth (hence the title) for her in terms of style: with wistful hits like “Wildest Dreams” and “Style” alongside punchy electro-pop tunes like “Bad Blood,” “Out of the Woods,” and “Shake It Off.” This album has absolutely no filler, and “Shake It Off” was named the most popular and relatable anthem for motherhood when I polled the ladies of ACM. This is one of Taylor’s more lighthearted albums, all about moving forward and not bearing any grudges. To match her musical rebirth, she has her hair cut into a cute bob and borrows crop tops, shimmery skirts, and non-waterproof mascara from the eighties.
While 1989 mom is technically 33, she sometimes feels 22, more often 58. Whether her kids are two or 12, they keep her on her toes all day and awake worrying at night. She’s fuelled by hot coffee in a Stanley tumbler and listens to true crime podcasts on the way to and from school drop-off. She plays “Shake It Off” at loud volume when needed and always knows what to say to her preteen daughter who is facing another friendship crisis. When they get a moment, she and her friends alternate between taking a Barre class and having an açai bowl and sipping chispa margaritas on the patio of a Mexican restaurant. She is balanced, upbeat, thriving, and never says no to chips and salsa. Her hairdresser knows to expect her like clockwork every six-to-eight weeks for a fresh cut and color.
Favorite Restaurant: La Fogata
Favorite Landmark: Japanese Tea Garden
Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Cascarones
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6. Reputation (2017)
Taylor had a bit of a hiatus before coming back with Reputation, which is a musical kickback against the scrutiny and bad press she received after 1989 (and that incident with Kanye and Kim). She wrote and recorded the album during a period of self-seclusion, and the sound is totally different (much edgier) from anything we’d heard before. Highlights include “Look What You Made Me Do,” “Delicate,” and “Endgame.” Her style is similarly stormy: shiny black bodysuits, dark lipstick, and over-the-knee boots.
Reputation mom says what she means, and means what she says. Her style has actually changed very little since becoming a mom, and her idea of a great night out is grabbing a few beers and listening to live music with a group of friends she hasn’t seen in a while. Maintaining a sense of her own identity is important to her, and so is showing others that she can follow her dreams and continue to achieve. Whether she’s back in school training for a new career or applying for further promotion, she’s committed to showing her kids that the sky is the limit—for her and for them. She loves SA’s many festivals, from Wurstfest to Día de los Muertos to the Holiday River Parade.
Favorite Restaurant: Southerleigh
Favorite Landmark: The Pearl
Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Wurstfest
7. Lover (2019)
A 360-degree turn leads us to Lover, Taylor’s first album release since her departure from Big Machine Records. She credits her fans with helping her overcome the negativity surrounding Reputation and created the album as “a love letter to love.” Highlights include “You Need To Calm Down,” “Lover,” and “The Man.” She’s back to her old style, incorporating elements of country and folk with bubblegum pop; addressing personal infatuation and heartache with wider issues of feminism and LGBT rights. The aesthetic is pastel: pinks, purples, and pale blues.
Lover mom is a gentle parent—she’s into empathy, understanding, and establishing boundaries, but she’s also often found eating snacks in the pantry (so she doesn’t have to share, again) or enjoying a large glass of wine at the end of the day. She knows every play area and splash pad in the city so she can pick the one that fits her kids’ mood for the day. The undisputed queen of play dates, she has memberships at The DoSeum, the Witte Museum, the SA Zoo, and the SA Botanical Garden. Her mom friends send her funny TikTok videos and memes daily, but it’s hard to schedule a get-together because one of their kids will probably be sick on the day they pick, even if it’s nine weeks from today. She wears white jeans after Labor Day because her pastel aesthetic isn’t confined by convention.
Favorite Restaurant: Little Em’s Oyster Bar
Favorite Landmark: McNay Art Museum
Favorite San Antonio Tradition: bluebonnet portraits
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8. folklore (2020)
Deep in the heart of the pandemic, Taylor embraced the sense of isolation we all felt and channeled it into her first indie album. Inspired by folk songs, the whole vibe of folklore is simple and escapist, a “stream of consciousness” and a series of stories that flow together. A surprise album release, the songs are some of her best—though I’d argue that the singles (“cardigan” and “betty”) are some of the weaker numbers among standout stories like “the last great american dynasty,” “the 1” and “peace.” Taylor uses the album to explore themes like loneliness, escapism, and nostalgia, making it truly an album of its time. The aesthetic is ultimate-coastal-grandmother, in the best way.
folklore mom has a singularly independent spirit, which is good because she has had to rely on it. Maybe she’s mothering without a village—a stay-at-home mom who enjoys her own company and likes to spend what little free time she has getting a facial or massage. She is fiercely loyal to her friends, even if she doesn’t see them often—she sends flowers, coffee gift cards, care packages, and carefully-sourced baked goods to family and friends at a distance. She enjoys cooking and baking, has a huge collection of coffee mugs, and pivoted to listening to audiobooks when she became a mom. She’s likely not a San Antonio native, but she loves the atmosphere and history of the city. Her aesthetic is a cardigan, because her husband keeps the AC about three degrees too low for her taste.
Favorite Restaurant: Clementine
Favorite Landmark: The Alamo
Favorite San Antonio Tradition: SA Coffee Fest
9. evermore (2020)
If folklore was the album of pandemic summer, her winter sister is evermore. Sticking with the indie vibe of her previous album, Taylor continued writing escapist stories, myths, and songs about love, marriage, grief, and infidelity. Highlights include “willow,” “no body, no crime” and “’tis the damn season”—perfect songs for listening to on a wintry day with a hot cup of coffee. The two pandemic albums are the ultimate expression of the work-from-home phenomena: collaborator Aaron Dessner would send Taylor instrumental tracks and she’d write the lyrics, often over the course of an hour or overnight (wow). In an interview, she said that if the main theme of folklore was conflict resolution, evermore is about “endings of all shapes and sizes.” The aesthetic is cozy and warm—a flannel shacket, and that perfect fishtail braid.
evermore mom loves the holidays but can get burned out from making them magical for everyone else. She likes her coffee hot with only a splash of cream, and her favorite stocking stuffer was an Ember electric coaster that she uses daily to keep her cup warm. She works from home and, like Taylor herself, enjoys true crime podcasts and Netflix documentaries about cults, mysterious disappearances, and life on death row after the kids have gone to bed. She had a blog in the 2010s and still enjoys writing about anything and everything. Her style is comfortable and tonal—her wardrobe is full of black, white, neutral, and navy; no brights, please. She and her friends take turns hosting a monthly book club, for which she makes delicious and beautiful charcuterie boards and dessert platters. Her navigation is always on, even if she knows where she’s going, as she loves to be punctual and tells people her ETA.
Favorite Restaurant: Maverick Brasserie
Favorite Landmark: San Antonio Central Library
Favorite San Antonio Tradition: The River Walk Holiday Lights
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10. Midnights (2022)
Two years later, Taylor came back with lots to say and a brand new sound—more pop than the pandemic albums, but with a soft edge that returns to some of her original country roots. Relatable to most moms, Taylor wrote Midnights across a long stretch of sleepless nights; exploring such themes as anxiety, insecurity, self-confidence, and doubt. Highlights include “Anti-Hero,” “Lavender Haze,” and “Sweet Nothing.” Cryptic though her lyrics and themes can often be, “Bigger Than The Whole Sky” hints at the loss of a much-loved and wanted baby, either her own or someone very close to her. The aesthetic is shimmery, metallic, 70s-inspired glam.
The Midnights mom has been through a lot in the past few years but has remained strong and serene. Her unwavering positivity and appreciation for her family, friends, work, and community are a source of huge admiration for everyone who knows her. Her finger is firmly on the pulse of everything going on in San Antonio—restaurant soft openings, new museum exhibitions, art installations, workshops, and performances. Her favorite holiday is Thanksgiving and the gifts she gives for teacher appreciation week are the stuff of legend. Her coffee order varies day by day, season by season—sometimes hot, sometimes iced—she’s always ready to try something new. Her mothering style can only be described as “winging it”—taking each season as it comes, learning as she goes, and always focusing on the big picture. She is adored by all her kids’ friends—and their moms.
Favorite Restaurant: Best Quality Daughter
Favorite Landmark: Majestic Theatre
Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Fiesta medals
10 albums, 10 distinct vibes—which Era mom are you?
I am undoubtedly in my folklore mom era, cardigan and all. My transformation will probably not be as glamorous as Taylor’s, but I’m looking forward to seeing where she and I go next in life and motherhood.
It’s been a fun round-up for me to write. I hope you’ve had fun reading!