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Fashion Forward

Posted by Patience on March 24, 2009 at 7:00 AM in PatienceRaising Girls
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lucy fashion

Lucy inherited these very fashionable shoes from her older cousin Madeleine. They were singing karaoke together and Mada very kindly let Lucy try them on. It helps to have the right outfit on when you are rockin' your best song. Lucy was so in love with the shoes that Madeleine decided to let her keep them when she left. It's true love when a your girl gives you the shoes off of her feet.

This fashion forward toddler has worn them every single day since. Did I mention it was winter? We have had many a drama about why high heel flip flops (3 sizes too big) might not be the best choice for pretty much any public outing. But ever since these shoes entered our house, I have felt a little crack in my uptight fashion parenting. They make her so happy. I started to ask myself why I even care so much. Is matching really a must? I'll admit, for me sometimes it is, but today maybe not so much.

This morning she came out in a striped turquoise 12-18 month sized cap sleeve shirt she found in a hand-me-down box (which made for a bare midriff), along with a mini skirt and brown and pink striped tights underneath. The sparkly flower sandals graced her feet. She was delighted and completely proud of her fashion ensemble.
I looked her up and down. "Well Luce, you might want to grab a jacket so you aren't cold." I said. I believe this was a matter of choosing my battles. She squealed with excitement and ran to grab her coat. She walked a little taller all day while I admired all her joy.

I still call the shots on dressing over here with a free day (like the one today) every once in awhile. What are the dressing and fashion standards at your place? Is it I'm-just-glad-you-have-clothes-on kind of vibe or do your kids have coordinating matching outfits? Or do you find yourself somewhere in between? Let us know your family fashion facts in the comments.

photo by jen


nicole writes...

My 5 yo daughter used to match all of the time. Then, she discovered her own "fashion sense." Let's just say that color coordination is not her strength. And, she likes to wear the same things over and over.

I used to get really stressed about it. How could I have her teachers think that she only had a few outfits?! How could I let them think that I was OK with her wearing a multitude of bows, bands and clips in her hair at the same time?!

Well, I got over it. I don't bend when it comes to seasonal appropriateness or safety. Otherwise, I let her go with her own flow.

tina writes...

i love seeing kids who have apparently dressed themselves, or in costumes, when i am out and about.

the best a boy in red footed pjs (the kind with the zipper on one leg all the way to the neck), wearing cowboy boots, a cape, a ski mask AND a snorkle mask, proudly fighting crime in the grocery store...he put a lot of smiles on peoples faces that day, i am sure.

while i am not a mom yet, i hope one day i have my own crime fighter putting smiles on the faces of strangers. at this point, unless it is an important event and as long as weather is factored, i believe i'd let my kids do their own thing - which probably stems from the opposite happening when i was a kid!

PatienceAuthor Profile Page writes...

The funny thing is it always makes me smile too. Capes are the best, don't you secretly wish you could wear a cape everywhere too? I've been lobbying PBS hard to make a Supersister cape! Any crafty designers out there?

Carrie writes...

My son is 19 months old, so I still control his clothing choices. And he dresses in coordinated, preppy outfits most of the time. But I know my days of that are numbered- when it comes to the point where he has an opinion, I think I'm going to fall into the "as long as you're covered and warm" camp.

Jennifer writes...

When my daughter was about 18 mos old she started having a preference not only about which clothing she wore, but which cloth diaper I put on her! Despite my high-strung, high-need-for-control self, I went with it. She's always been a very determined, do it myself kinda kid, and the effort to force her to wear what I chose, was more energy than I was willing to expend. For me it is simply not worth it.

She's pretty much dressed herself since then. One time we met my mom, who'd just arrived in town, at the grocery store. Maya wore plastic high heels, a crown, a dress, and a feathered dress-up jacket. My mother said "you let her come to the store like that?" She's 7 now, still has a funky sense of style- and even when it doesn't quite go together in my eyes she gets positive comments from others. She dresses according to the school dress code during the day, and usually changes outfits as soon as she gets home.

Barbara Coloroso talks about how important it is for kids to get practice making choices- they shoudn't just get a chance to do so when they are 'old enough'. It was pretty easy for me to give up the control of picking her clothing, and to realize that she's pretty competent to make various kinds of choices, or to be in charge of certain things without any input from me. In the long run it helps release me from being a control freak, but it also shows her what she is capable of.

Jennifer writes...

oops, meant to include one other tidbit from Barbara Coloroso.
In her lectures, and in Kids Are Worth It, Barbara asks:
is it life threatening?
is it morally threatening?
is it unhealthy?

When I am tempted to say no to something, simply as a reflex, I try to pause and ask myself these questions.

PatienceAuthor Profile Page writes...

I love Barbara Coloroso.

Carol writes...

My mother has a picture of me that was taken when I was two. We lived in Rochester, NY, and you can see the snow through the window. I am wearing shorts. In fact, I am wearing six pairs of shorts, one on top of the next. I guess that I wanted it to be summer, and that was that.

I used to love looking around library story time and deciding which children chose their own clothes and which ones where dressed by an adult. I loved the ones who clearly dressed themselves. When my daughter put together outfits that didn't match, I tried to remember this, and I resisted the urge to tell people, "She dressed herself today."

Now my daughter is 12, and she is a great help to her fashion-challenged mother. She does not hesitate to tell me if something needs to go straight into the Goodwill bin. I do follow her advice.

Bre writes...

Our fashion rules are that we are in charge of purchasing clothing (no licensed characters, no cutesy sexist slogans, age-appropriate styles), and Julia is in charge of dressing herself. I haven't chosen an outfit for her since shortly after she turned two. She has a very firm fashion vision, and I sort of love her wacky outfits and mixings of dots with stripes with patterns. We set up her closet so she could choose everything and dress herself- I'm not particularly gifted fashion-wise, and I'm happy to let her explore this passion fully.

We make weather and activity-related suggestions, but she's been known to wear her fancy winter party dress to preschool, and summer sandals (with socks) in the rain. We still have occasional arguments about clothes (no swimsuits in the snow), but they are rare. Most of the time she chooses Harper's outfits too. I'm curious to see when (and if) Harper starts wanting to make her own choices, and how her style will be different from her sister's :)

Amber writes...

My clothing requirements for my 4yo:
- appropriate footwear
- for school, she needs to wear something she can play outdoors in under current weather conditions
- sometimes I enforce a certain coat, or at least insist she bring it along

When I really lay my foot down about clothes it's usually because she will be out for a while, and I know that flip-flops in December might seem like a good idea but will quickly get old. I don't want her to miss out on fun because she doesn't have the right clothes for the weather. Sometimes that means I pack along backups, sometimes it means she really needs to leave the sandals at home.

Alice writes...

It's definitely anything goes around here. We have had to enforce some rules about wearing clean clothes, like if you spilled your ice cream sundae down that shirt yesterday it really should be washed before you wear it again, but other than that we don't really care. I do TRY to be seasonally appropriate but our four year old has been known to run around in the sprinklers in 40 degree weather.
I was known as "Batman's mom" by one woman for the two years we lived in GA. Thomas was never out of costume. Some people looked at me like I was a freak but I was always happy when I could be there for a dad to reminisce with about his grown son who always wore his cape out.
Our It's no holds barred for her. She too raids the hand-me-down bags and swears that too-small clothes fit. I ended up knitting her a pair of legwarmers so she wouldn't freeze when she wears skirts in the winter.
I love that she feels comfortable in her skin...and her clothes. Who cares what other people think.

Becky writes...

When my twin boys were little toddlers, they always matched and looked so cute (at least to me). But then they discovered they could take clothes out for themselves. At first, I cringed at some of the "outfits" but then i realized, hey, they are dressing themselves, no fighting to get them to do it and by age 2 1/2 or 3, they could put on everything including socks, shoes and underwear! Imagine how much time that freed up for me in the mornings while trying to get an older child off to school and fixing breakfast and lunch! Sometimes I try to work with them on colors that go better together but in the end, if it allows me a few extra free minutes to MYSELF in the morning, I'm all for it! However, they do understand that if we go somewhere special or event or church, there are separate clothes and mommy gets to coordinate. They are cool with that!

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