WardRObed: Bonus birthday edition

thegreatwardRObeexperiment

My 5-year old daughter is dressing me for one week. Today is the final day.
(Day 7Day 6 / Day 5 / Day 4 / Day 3 / Day 2 /  Day 1)

With shades, stripes and swaths of swishy fabric, so ends the Great WardRObe Experiment.

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Five years ago, on Rosie’s first birthday, I wrote this:

Rosie rules. She is spunky, she is scrappy, she is hilarious, she is punk rock, she is beautiful. She will CUTCHEW if you take something from her, but she’ll also give real kisses, right on the mouth, complete with smacking lips. Her devotion to Noah is unwavering, and “Da!” is the first word on her lips in the morning. When I come in a room she reaches for me, arms up and head flung back in joyful anticipation of the flight to my hip. She sings along to sound, be it radio or vacuum, and she is fearless in ways that make me enormously proud and terrified at the same time. She came into this world kicking all kinds of ass from the start, and I love every spiky hair on her head.”

All of that (save the hip-holding and “Da” calling)—rings just as true today as it did then. Her hair may no longer be spiky, but I still love every one on her head.

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There are a few more things I want to say to wrap up this week of being WardRObed (and some outtake shots to share), but right now, I have a 6th birthday party to plan.

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Rosie Mae, your cool is contagious. Six looks good on you, girlfriend. And six is looking pretty good on me, too. Keep on spreading that fearless flair—the world is a better place, colored with your special shade of Rosie.

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Love, Mom

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October 29, 2014   1 Comment

WardRObed, Day 7: Go confidently in the direction of your jeans

thegreatwardRObeexperiment

My 5-year old daughter is dressing me for one week. Today was Day 7.
(Day 6Day 5 / Day 4 / Day 3 / Day 2 /  Day 1)

Today marks one week of Rosie Outfits, and tomorrow will mark six years of Rosie. She’ll be picking out one last outfit for me on her birthday. I’m going to feel a little adrift on Thursday, left to my own devices to dress myself. Not gonna lie, I may still ask her for advice from time to time. (Though I may not always take it.)

A very insightful friend of mine left a comment on a previous post that I think got right down to the real substance of this whole shebang. She said, “I’ve decided that the reason that this experiment is working is because you wear whatever Rosie chooses with the same confidence with which Rosie picked it out. How awesome would it be if we all had the confidence to make choices (fashion or otherwise) that reflect who we really are?

Amen, sister. Preach. I’ve had clothes handed to me this week that I’ve put on with one eye closed, but every time I tried on a freshly assembled ensemble, Rosie would declare that I looked awesome. So I decided to believe her. Coral necklace over plaid shirt + green jeans and black ankle boots be damned.

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Rosie says:

“I like the necklace because it’s my favorite color. And I like the shoes because they’re high heeled and a little bit more shorter. I like the shirt because it’s my favorite color—wait. Well, it’s my second favorite color. I like the squares. I think the whole outfit looks good because I pick out outfits that look good on you.”

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At almost-6, confidence is not something Rosie needs a Wardrobe Challenge to find. Like a lot of kids her age, the world is still her oyster. She does what she does and she is what she is. I think most of us start out that way. And then, in appropriate developmental fashion, we realize we’re not the center of the universe (some people become aware of this more slowly than others) and we have to re-figure out how to be bold in the world. Too much confidence and we’re arrogant. Not enough, and we’re a pushover, left behind, left out. (And the boldness scale is calibrated completely differently for men than it is for women, but that’s another post for another day.)

This week’s experiment seemed to hover pretty close to the magical middle between those two places for me. I gave myself permission to dip my toe back into the waters of 6-year old abandon, and you know what? It felt mighty fine.

As we were stacking the day’s next outfit on top of my dresser this afternoon, I asked Rosie how she thought she’d feel tomorrow when the experiment was over and I went back to choosing my own clothes. She said, “Happy. Because it will be my birthday.”

Which, of course, is exactly the right answer.

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October 28, 2014   3 Comments

WardRObed, Day 6: Things fall apart

thegreatwardRObeexperiment

My 5-year old daughter is dressing me for one week. Today was Day 6.
(Day 5Day 4 / Day 3 / Day 2 /  Day 1)

Everything about my outfit today was sort of a disaster. Not because of the style pairings (I mean, seriously, what 5-year old picks this out? More on that in a minute.), but because almost all the clothes I own are bought at secondhand stores, Target, or I steal/borrow them from my sister. This is a great method for the ol’ wallet, and for changing up my wardrobe more frequently, but not so great for amassing quality apparel that will stand the test of time. I do try to look for nicer brands at secondhand stores, but they’re still secondhand, so you know. Old.

What this also means is that I have a portion of my clothes stash that I just don’t pick out to wear very often, because their dilapidated status requires they receive some sort of maintenance, pre-wearing. (Ironing, de-linting, lost button-finding, loose cuff hemming, etc.) As a work-from-home/coffeeshop-er, I cannot be moved to care enough about my appearance to get out a sewing kit and/or iron before dressing myself. And so, many things languish unworn in the dark corners of my drawers.

Rosie chose almost my whole outfit today from these dark corners. The JV squad. The B-team. The fixer-uppers. My shoes had to be Shoe Goo’d back together because of a falling apart strap, and the blazer looked like it had been wadded into a tight ball and stuffed into a garbage bag full of cats for storage. The shirt was stained in several places, and honestly, made me a little too aware of my midsection. This was the very same shirt, by the way, that started all of this in the first place. “Old Shirt,” if you will. Sad Old Shirt. And yet, Rosie selected it with glee. With glee! I totally called her on those shenanigans, asking why she’d called it an “old shirt” last week, but gave it her full endorsement this week. She was like, “That was this shirt? Oh, well it looked old that day.” OK THEN.

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Rosie says:

“I like the high heel shoes because they look good with so much stuff. [Ed. note: This is so completely true. They're great shoes. When they're not busted six ways to Sunday.] I wanted to pick these same colors because you can make patterns with same colors when you put them over and over again. Plus, sometimes I like to pick out cool things.”

Yes, girl. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that you are already fluent in the language of cool.

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Reasons I never would have put this outfit on in real time: 1. The shirt is stained, and a little threadbare. 2. The navys of the pants and blazer don’t match. (Quel horreur!) 3. The scarf is “too casual” for this overall look. 4. The shoes are black instead of navy. 5. The pants are too casual for a blazer. 6. Other nonsense.

I own a lot of extra clothes that I could very likely discard and never miss, but I own a lot of diamonds in the rough, too. I glued those shoes back together, and they look great. The blazer ironed out without a problem, and lint rolling is weirdly satisfying, so I don’t know why it’s morphed into some Big Chore in my mind. (It took me one whole minute? Maybe?) You can’t see the stains on the shirt (or my midsection) with the scarf and blazer, and as for the non-matching navy hues, well, sometimes you just gotta get over yourself about that stuff.

I asked Rosie what her favorite part about this project was so far, and she said she liked best the time we spent together in my room, laying out clothes and trying on and switching out an outfit. And then she said, “It’s just, I love the outfits I pick out for you. Every time I see you wearing what I picked it makes me think of … you!”

So glad we’re doing this together, Rosie M., and that when you see me, it makes you think of … me. Every time I see me, I think of you. <3

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(Go to Day 7)

October 27, 2014   6 Comments

WardRObed, Day 5: Wear it out

thegreatwardRObeexperiment

My 5-year old daughter is dressing me for one week. Today was Day 5.
(Day 4Day 3 / Day 2 /  Day 1)

Today was the first time my outfit(s) were chosen on the same day I wore them. We were busy most of the day yesterday, and it was bedtime before I remembered Rosie hadn’t selected the next day’s clothes. But though I’m impressed at the speed with which Rosie is able to pick out (some pretty stellar) ensembles, we’re talking about the clothes I’m going to wear in public, where other people are, so rushing through the process wasn’t my preference. It’s been warm here lately, and I really didn’t want to end up in the Myrtle Beach tank top I bought for fun from the Goodwill and a pair of paint-splattered yoga pants, just because they were closest to the top of the drawer. Especially since on Sundays, we tart ourselves up a little and go to church.

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For some reason, with every article of clothing she handed me this morning, Rosie got more and more giddy, like she was wrapping a Christmas present while unwrapping it at the same time. Initially she chose some peep-toe heels I’ve been meaning to get rid of, but luckily she saw during the try-on round how, uh, different they looked with tights and decided a swap out was in order. So I got … closed-toe heels instead. With mustard tights. And a much-patterned dress. And a grey and white striped cardigan, a turquoise necklace, and big blue earrings (that unfortunately you can’t see here)—a Mother’s Day present from my young stylist herself.

Before I walked over to the mirror, I thought, “That’s it, the jig is up. We’ve officially crossed over from Kinda Fun and Funky to Straight Up Weird.” And then I saw my reflection, and for the fifth day in a row thought, “Well, I’ll be dadgummed.”

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Rosie says:

“My favorite part is the sweater—I just think white and grey look good together with other clothes. It’s just the kind of outfit I like for church. It’s like the outfit you wear, but I put a little more things in it. [Ed. note: I've been known to wear this dress/tights combo before, but not with these shoes or with that cardigan] And I like the earrings I picked out because you almost never wear them! [Ed. note: My bad. :( But to be fair, I wear the same earrings for months at a time.] I like all these colors together, they’re really good.”

I mean, you’re not going to see this on any Banana Republic mannequins anytime soon, but I really liked it. It was another example of an outfit that felt like me at the core with enough Rosie flair on top to make it totally different.

Today was actually a two-fer, because after church we had a block party, so I asked Rosie to pick out another set of clothes for me to change into. The shirt I wore on Friday was back in the drawer again, and she didn’t hesitate before flinging it at me.

“You want me to wear the same shirt I wore on Friday?” I asked.

“Yep.”

“You like it that much, huh?”

“Uh, mom. It’s your favorite.”

Well then.

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We had a brief conversation about wearing something a lot of times, and whether she thought you could wear things too many times. She seemed to think it was preposterous to even consider not wearing something that was your favorite if A.) you wanted to and B.) it was clean. (If you’ve known Rosie for a while, you might remember her most beloved and well-worn Owl Hat, a true illustration of wearing a thing you cherish when you want to.)

Rosie says:

“It’s OK, because If it’s clean, and you don’t have to wash it again, then you can wear it. Some people might want you to wear different clothes every day. But I do what I do and I am what I am. I just pick out my clothes because I pick out my clothes. It doesn’t matter! If you wore different clothes every day, then some people might not see the ones that are your favorite.”

That’s actually a pretty insightful point, there, Popeye. Wear your favorites, and then wear them again. And then, heck, wear them another time. They are your favorites, after all.

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(Go to Day 6)

October 26, 2014   5 Comments

WardRObed, Day 4: Redshirted

thegreatwardRObeexperiment

My 5-year old daughter is dressing me for one week. Today was Day 4.
(Day 3Day 2 /  Day 1)

Rosie always goes straight for the top right drawer of my dresser when we get down to the business of outfit selection. It’s where my shirts live, and my guess is she likes them best because the palette is much more diverse there than, say, the dim, dark Drawer of Many Blue Jeans. The shirt I wore today was already “on deck”: After picking yesterday’s outfit, Rosie went back to the shirt drawer once more and gasped when she saw the bright red and blue plaid peeking out from the bottom of a stack. “I’m totally picking that shirt tomorrow,” she said. And she did, indeed, totally pick it.

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Rosie says:

“You have to peek your sleeves out like that at the ends, that’s how people will know that shirt is all the way there when you wear a sweater. I like the socks like that because you have to show them! Oh, I also like this shirt because it is soooooo soft. Soft is important. Clothes shouldn’t feel funny or bad, because it will make you get frustrated.”

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Today was the first day I thought it was obvious a 5-year old dressed me. Or at least, it was the first day I kind of hoped it would be obvious a 5-year old dressed me. (If you embiggen the picture, you’ll see my purple socks pulled up over my leggings. Plus, leggings as pants. I’m not anti-leggings-as-pants so much as I am pro-longer-than-this-shirts-when-wearing-leggings-as-pants.) Rosie definitely saw the scarf as the pièce de résistance of my ensemble, emerging from my closet during our outfit selection session and presenting it to me with a grand flourish and a gleam in her eye.

I did take off the cardigan at some point in the afternoon when it got warmer, leaving me with a redder and louder top half to my outfit. Red was in today, though, it seemed. So I was in good company.

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As far as my comfort zone is concerned, today was the biggest step away from it that I’ve had to take since the project began. But after a whole day of running into acquaintances at a soccer game and socializing at a birthday party and other run-of-the-mill Saturday shenanigans, it occurred to me that even if people noticed that my style was a little wacky, they didn’t mention it. Which means that they just accepted it as who I am. Because today, it is who I am. It’s a pretty freeing thing to realize you don’t have to dress the way you think people expect you to.

Viva la plaid shirts with chevron infinity scarves! Viva la socks over leggings!

And viva la whatever clothing concoction is coming up next.

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(Which is not to say that certain people who love you very much may not make pointed observations when you take a stab at changing your style. People like your caring, truth-telling sister who will point out that you look a little ridiculous when you try to wear a jumpsuit, for example, or harem pants, or shirts the same color of your pasty white skin. But you can wear those things anyway and just not tell her about it.)

(Go to Day 5)

October 25, 2014   4 Comments