Tuesday, January 18, 2011

'I dressed myself'

My daughter walked up to me one day and said “Mom, don’t I look beautiful?”

I replied. “Always! But your clothes don’t match.”

“Yes they do,” she answered. “See—this shirt has every color of the rainbow, the pants have every color of the rainbow, and the skirt has every color of the rainbow.”

She had thought this through. I had nothing.

H. is going through what I call a “Madonna, mid-80s” stage. She has her own distinct sense of style, and is willing to fight for her right to layer. And boy, will she fight for that right. Just yesterday she was trying to put on another shirt over two non-matching striped shirts. As we were going to church, I had to put my foot down. “You have a choice—do you want to wear two shirts or just one? Three is not a choice.” She chose two.

There are the moments I am mortified by the choices my daughter makes. (Flashback to the day she wore only tights and a top to school. Had to talk to hubby about the difference between leggings and tights.) I could force my idea of what looks cute on her, but then I remember some wise counsel from a colleague many years ago: Kids should have the opportunity to express themselves. If it bothers me that much, I could create a button for her to wear that says “I dressed myself.”

It’s hard sometimes to remember that this isn’t about me. I want my daughter to be confident. I want her to have a strong sense of self. I want her to be able to explain her choices and support them. And it starts with something as personal as allowing her to pick out the clothes she wants to wear. The style battle isn’t the one I want to fight. I want to focus on manners, managing tempers and learning new skills. In the grand scheme of things, I’ll have some great pictures to torture her with when her daughter does the same thing.

I appreciate that people at my church and daycare are very understanding. H. will eventually give up this stage. She has to by kindergarten—we have uniforms at our school. In the meantime, I will enjoy my daughter’s creativity and self-expression. And I’ll continue to share the joy with friends and family.

How do you handle your kids’ clothing choices?

Reace Alvarenga-Smith is a Public Relations Manager for Texas Health Resources and mother to one son and one future fashonista.


  1. She looks better than some of the college students I see--wait until she wants to wear Nike soccer shorts, a tank top and Ugg boots! Now that's a fashion statement.

    I predict she'll move from the Madonna phase to the Annie Hall phase, which is less colorful but just as much fun. In the meantime, embrace the creativity and enjoy the show.

  2. So funny because our 3-YO is the same way. My only complaint about the layers is that she doesn't have that many shirts that fit her right now. Not worried about her style, but the laundry. I love it. It's hard to let her wear what she wants on picture days (she wore flip flops to the last one in November...GRRRR), but I let it go because I know when I look at those pics in 20 years, it will make me smile.