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High Fashion

Both of my kids dress themselves pretty much every day With Owen, this sometimes means he emerges from his room wearing a fresh new set of pajamas or a sweater in July or three shirts, his cherished pink hand-me-down socks from Mia and no pants and must be sent back to try again. But once he selects the appropriate number of the appropriate articles of clothing, he usually looks pretty acceptable. Sometimes he doesn't quite match, but since his wardrobe consists almost entirely of solid, neutral colored pants and shorts and an assortment of shirts, it is hard for him to go too far astray.

Now Mia, on the other hand. Mia. At five, she can pretty reliably select an outfit that is weather-appropriate and contains all the requisite pieces (although she did emerge this morning wearing a t-shirt, sweater and socks, exclusively), but her chosen outfits are nearly always outrageous. She loves color. She loves prints and patterns. She loves layering. She has this one multi-colored heart-print skirt that she loves and invariably pairs with a striped shirt and, if it is chilly, black and white striped leggings and a polka dot sweater.

Other than certain rare occasions where a nice outfit is socially required, I tend to let her go. As long as she is dressed for the correct season in clothes that fit and are clean, I consider her clothing choices to be a form of self-expression and one of the few places in life where a five year old may be allowed near-total responsibility for their choices.

But I got to wondering what the rest of you do. Do you let your kids go to school in egregiously mis-matched clothes? Do you gently suggest changes that may result in a more aesthetically pleasing combination? Do you just reserve veto power? And does age matter? Does what is cute on a two year old look more like irresponsible parenting on a five year old? Fill me in, please.

Comments (33)

I have 99.9999999999% of the time let my daughter (7)wear what she likes. One person's idea of a crazy outfit is another's happiness. Fortunately, it was limited to mismatched prints and layering as you describe. Fortunately she never tried to wear costumes or PJ's in public. Wait- there was the whole cat tail pinned onto her leggings phase, LOL!But that was cute.

When I was MUCH younger, and a new mom to my son who is now grown, I had more issues with control. I needed him to match. To look cute. Or whatever. But he grew up and I learned it isn't really important at all. One of the "small stuff" things we don't need to sweat.

My 5 year old is very opinionated on what she wears. I try and let her wear what she wants unless we're going to get pictures done or something, or it's 115 out and she wants to wear a parka. Now that she's in kindergarten though she wears a uniform, so she doesn't have much choice about her school clothes. She makes up for it though with crazy socks and shoes. :-)

And when she was around 3, I'm pretty sure she only wore pajamas for about 6 months. I was pregnant and then had a new baby, so I just went with it. :-)

My 5yo girl is the same, and I am so happy "letting them choose their own outrageous combinations" is currently in style, parenting-wise.

I don't have kids, but whenever I see a kid dressed hilariously mismatched, I grin and assume that it was the child, not the parent, who chose the outfit. (And I wouldn't think that was bad parenting.)

I generally let my daughter wear whatever she chooses, as long as it's weather-appropriate. I reserve my veto power (for that and her hair) when it comes to picture-taking occasions. And then I pull out my "I hardly ever tell you what to wear, but I'm paying for these pictures an so I get to decide what you're wearing" guilt trip.

Same with my son, though he has much less interest in choosing his own clothes. Actually, he'd prefer to go naked most of the time, so most of my coercing there is reserved for making sure he's wearing pants. And underwear.

i try to let lola (3) make a few choices on her own and sometimes i even let my husband (32) make a few choices too :)

I nearly always let my 7 year olds dress themselves. The both do a fairly good job, and in the instances where *I* would never have put those articles together, I often think "Wow, I actually kinda like it..." Once in awhile, though, if what they choose is hideous, I tell them they have to change. Really, they like picking their clothes, but they aren't really "into" clothes, so they usually say "will you go get me something" and I can pick a different top or bottom that goes better. My 3 year old prefers me to pick her clothes. I guess I got lucky (SO FAR) that my daughters aren't that picky.

I cannot let my kids go to school looking like they dressed themselves. I just can't do it. Of course, my 4-year-old would wear her most formal Christmas dress every day of the week if she were allowed and my 2-year-old would consider a pull-up and gloves to be acceptable school attire. But I can't even let my husband dress them. It's a bit of an OCD thing and clearly the ONLY OCD thing I inherited from my father.

We've always followed the live-and-let-live credo when it comes to our kids' fashion choices. They're young enough that they can get away with the occasional - or not so occasional - faux-pas.

When they grow up and get jobs, it'll matter. For now, they've got a golden opportunity to explore clothes choices for themselves, and to learn first-hand how to avoid fashion mishaps.

I let Harley dress himself until the past 2 years, minus school pictures or any occasion where good pictures were involved. He is 15, getting tall and wearing things that are getting too small, short and tight. He doesn't seem to notice and looks geeky often if I don't make the kid change.

I recommend giving them some freedom within limits. If you give them too much freedom and they really get into clothes--it could be a problem getting where you need to go quickly with 2 to get out the door.

i have no child to give fun stories...but i did dress myself all the time. and i was all about non-matching outfits. and my parents just let me do my thing! of course now, i'm all about matching.

All I know is that I wish this entry had pictures ;)

My daughter is 10 and has been dressing herself in "egregiously mis-matched" clothes since she was able to dress herself. She ADORES being mis-matched and it is definitely a big part of her personality. I wouldn't change it for the world. In fact, she even wears mis-matched stuff when it is time to dress up. As long as the style is appropriate for the situation, I say, "go for it!" and let your kids be who they are.

BTW: Did you know there is a company called "Little Miss Matched"?? If Mia really loves mis-matching, you should check it out - so, so cool.

I think you're on the right track, in that I do the same thing. My oldest is only 6, though, so I guess I can't really say for sure yet whether it's turned out to be a good strategy. I'll have to watch the comments to see if more parents of older kids weigh in...

Boys are so much easier when it comes to this one. You're taking the same approach I've taken for the 7.5 years my daughter has been dressing herself. I just tell her teachers early in the year that her clothing style choices are a battle I'm not willing to fight. If something really hurts my eyes, I'll say, "ooh! You know what looks fantastic with that shirt? Your white capris!" If that doesn't work, though, I drop it.

The staff generally gets it and appreciates the individuality. My daughter is now in third grade, and it has gotten a little better. The IA from her kindergarten class will still occasionally stop me in the the halls to share a giggle about recent clothing selections though.

Our only rules are that the outfit has to be weather-appropriate (we live in Minnesota) & occasion-appropriate (if it's some kind of event - wedding, concert, funeral, etc.). That means we have had combinations of plaid shorts, tie-dye t-shirt, & stripey socks on a number of occasions, but as several others have said, it's just not a battle that's worth fighting. Besides, it's a life-skill they need to learn - their own personal style & how choose an outfit. It's a learning process, like anything else!

Looks like I agree with nearly everyone else. I have always let my daughter (now 9) dress herself in whatever makes her happy. As long as it's weather appropriate, she can leave the house wearing what she likes. I thought her mis-matching would be a phase she outgrew, but she hasn't. I agree with what what someone else said here, when I see a kid dressed crazily, I assume the kid picked out the clothes, and it makes me grin. My daughter went through a phase at age 2 where she had to wear a tutu, too-big rain boots and a rain coat for weeks. The looks she got at my grandparents nursing home were of pure amusement.

I think it's awesome that your kids are able to choose their own outfits. My parents did the same for us when we were little, even when those outfits raised eyebrows. An infamous story in my family is of me in first grade - and I cringe to type it, though it makes me want to give my Mom a giant gold trophy - I was ADAMANT about wearing my favorite (white)sweatshirt, even though it was in the dirty laundry pile with some (blue) detergent on it. She let me wear it. To school. And she got comments from other parents and teachers for it, but she let me do it. To meet or know my (conservative in dress and manner) mother is to realize how shocking and awesome this is.

{Although now that I think about it, she didn't quite come to my defense as a teenager when I hadn't started dressing more like her. hmm. So, well, there's a lesson: I think it's awesome as long as you keep supporting her personality :)}

And count me among those who love seeing kids wearing outfits that they clearly chose. My cousin went through a phase at age 2 of wearing only her ladybug costume from Halloween. Imagine seeing that in the grocery store? Love!

Uh. Not that I wanted to wear dirty, detergent-covered clothes in Hike Skool. I just wasn't all about the polo shirts and khakis!

When my son was in preschool he wore his Batman Halloween costume EVERY day for about a year. Need I say more? We had to buy several of them to rotate. It was no big deal, he was happy, the kids certainly didn't care and he outgrew the phase-luckily the school he went to required uniforms...or he might otherwise still be wearing the Batman costume. He's 14 now :)

I let my daughter choose the major item (dress, shirt, whatever) and then I choose generally coordinated items. If she insists on something else I let her go with it. My interference is usually to help speed things along so that we can get out of the house in time.

My only rules are weather-appropriate, clean, and no pajamas. I encourage looking decent, but I've got bigger battles to fight.

I'm in the "let them run with it" camp, even when their running is a flat out horror show.

My now 10 year old used to ask constantly to wear his superhero jammies to kindergarten. I told him no for 3 or 4 months (and survived the ensuing shitstorm that followed each no) until one day, he very calmly said, "Well, Ryan does every day and it's okay for HIM to, so why not me?" And I realized he was right, and let him wear the stupid Hulk jammies (or whatever they were) and there was peace in the world.

My 5 year old daughter's style sounds a lot like Mia's. For the most part I let her dress herself even if it is mismatched. However, since she has started school I'm a bit more selective when it ocmes to what I'll let her out the door wearing. I generally pick out a couple pairs of shorts and a couple shirts and let her pick from there. After school and weekends are anything goes...

I have a fashion conscious 5 year old and a fashion disaster 3 year old. I let them go in whatever they choose (as long as they won't freeze to death) and hope to hell everyone knows I didn't dress them.

When my oldest started K, she let me pick her outfits for most of the year. In fact, she would often ask me to. By 1st, she was picking out her own outfits, and I only intervened if they made me physically ill.

My younger daughter has been less malleable, and has been picking out her own clothes for years. She rarely picks what I would, but I almost never ask her to change, unless, once again, her choice induces nausea.

I'm fine with letting them have control, except when we have a serious function. I think the toning down of the wardrobe will happen sort of naturally as they start copying, defying and trying to fit fit in with their peers.

Also, I like to buy solid, neutral colored bottoms when possible. Then they can go wacky with the tops and accessories, and I don't puke :)

This has nothing to do with your post, but I'm putting a bug in your ear to update your sidebar pictures. :)

I usually let my daughther choose her own outfit, even though I don't always agree with her choices, I never say anything, she feels like a million bucks and that's what really matters!

I let my 4 yo choose all her own clothes. I occassionally point out something that will match the other item she's already picked out, and she almost invariably tells me she'd rather not match, thank-you-very-much.

I let my 6 yo (almost 7) daughter pick out all her clothes all summer long, even if she looked like a goon. But my husband had a rough childhood and has started worrying that the other 1st graders will make fun of her, so he has suggested (rather strongly) that I oversee her choice of outfits and insure that they are, in fact, outfits, rather than a hodge-podge of random cothing items. I expected resistance from my duaghter, but she has enbraced the matching requirement, and it makes me wonder whether my husband actually has a point after all ??

When we are at home or on vacation and at bedtime, my kids pick their get to pick whatever tickles their fancy. If we are headed to school, a social visit or some other outing beyond the neighborhood, my husband and I are the designated "wardrobe coordinators". We don't gently suggest anything... It's our way or the highway. There is a time and place for self expression and when time is of the essence and looking presentable is a priority, that isn't the time for it. Someone has to step up be the parent. I'll be happy to oblige [to some degree] their sense of style at some point down the road, but not at the ages of 7 and 3.

So, I'm the minority here, and that's fine with me :)

I LOVE dressing my girls, I enjoy it so I dress them and they let me and they love it!

Just this morning I picked out Camille's dress and she ran over to me and gave me a huge hug and told me how much she loves having me get her dressed.

We don't battle over it, never has been an issue. They both just let me do it!!

I have my philosophy of why I dress them, but I won't share it here. People are more than welcomed to ask though :)

I think we could make millions if we created a button that we could put on our kids that reads "I dressed myself" and/or a hairbow that reads "I did my own hair". : )

I do exactly the same as you with my 5yo daughter. She went to kindergarten last week in a brown skirt with pastel paisley swirls, a white tank top with blue, yellow and orange butterflies with rhinestones around the neck, a yellow sweater, and hot pink leggings. I can't remember the color of her socks. My only regret is not taking a picture.

I have veto power. And I have had to use it a few times. Usually Daya puts together a good outfit but sometimes... not so much. I'll let it slide if it is borderline.

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So the Fish Said...

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