On Letting Kids Dress Themselves (and the eyesore ensembles that follow)

Before I had children, I had grand visions of what my life as a mom would look like.  It involved a home straight out of a design magazine, with hip furnishings and organic wooden toys. It involved children whose style was a perfect mix of bohemian chic and preppy cute. There was probably a meadow involved.  We were probably eating homemade granola.  This vision was so lovely, so ready for Pinterest. . . so perfect.


As it turns out, children have their own opinions on everything, from clothing to food to home decor.  Mine children seem to be instinctively drawn to mismatched clothing and clashing prints.  Unfortunately for me, their fashion taste rarely meshes with mine.

As shallow as this may sound, I’ve had to surrender my own desire for well-dressed children as my kids have developed their own sense of style.  My preference for simply appointed outfits in tasteful colors has been trumped by my daughters, who would prefer to be wearing cartoon-branded clothes in clashing neon colors, or leotards and tights paired with pieces from the costume bin.  While I try my best to keep their closet full of cute choices, I’ve also tried to encourage their independence as well as their creatively, which means that when they decide to wear boots with shorts and a leotard over top, we’re going with it.

Here’s a little retrospective of some of their worst outfits:

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    The outfit on the left had me cry-laughing, it was so bad. I think it was about 60 degrees out this night, but Karis insisted on wearing a tank top, clashing neon socks, and flip-flops. As amused as I was with her under-wear-over-the-pants look, I did draw the line at leaving the house that way. She's just so excited about her potty-training efforts . . . I think she feels it an injustice that those hard-earned big-girl panties are hidden away from view. On the right, she's rocking a leotard with striped knee socks . . . another signature look.
  • image-26 2 of 7
    In addition to choosing their own clothes, my daughters are also fans of accessories. Except that their philosophy is "More is more". They tend to prefer wearing all of the bows in their hair at one time. Same holds true for bracelets. It's also not unusual for them to wear costumes all day long. This is how they looked for a Target run the other day.
  • image-27 3 of 7
    This was another look she was quite proud of. A Hello Kitty shirt (one of the few character brands I can tolerate) with bloomers that belong under a dress, and the tights from a Strawberry Shortcake outfit. On the right, we've got another look she loved. Tights, with an inside-out leotard. Go ahead and tell her that she needs to reverse it. I'll wait.
  • image-20 4 of 7
    Lest you think the girls are the only ones expressing themselves through fashion, my sons have also taken an interest in his clothing this year. My oldest Jafta has worn a pair of purple skinny jeans nearly every day for the past couple of months, to the point that they are nearly threadbare. He likes to pair them with all manner of pattterns and colors. We're still working on the concept of only wearing one plaid at a time. And then there's Kembe he's pretty content wearing his school uniform every day. but he does manage to add his own little flair.
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    If they would let me, this is how I would LIKE the kids to dress. Simple cotton pieces, fresh colors, maybe a few stripes.
  • image-18 6 of 7
    On the other hand, this is how they dress themselves. Please note the clashing plaid on Jafta, and the pajama shorts that Karis insists on wearing several days of the week.
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    Here are those pajama shorts again, this time paired with cowboy boots and a fur-hooded vest. So practical.

When it comes to clothing, in my opinion this is not a battle worth dying over. Sure, I feel a little twinge of wistfulness when I peruse Pinterest and see kids dressed in a way that I’d love to dress mine, but at the end of the day I feel better about giving my kids some creative license than I do about being controlling.

How do you manage clothing battles with your kids?

A big thanks to Target for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion. Do you keep your family festively stylish during the holidays? We’re giving away three $50 Target gift cards to brighten the season! To enter for a chance to win, simply comment on this post with a personal tip on how you dress your children conveniently — and with style — during the holidays!


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You can find Kristen Howerton  blogging at Rage Against the Minivan, or avoiding housework over at Facebook or Twitter. Other posts you might enjoy:

Article Posted 4 years Ago

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