WardRObed, Day 1: There will be patterns


My 5-year old daughter is dressing me for one week. Today was Day 1.

Rosie will be 6 in seven days, but sometimes I swear she’s 16. Or 26. Or some indeterminable grownup age where she just knows herself and what she’s about in a way that it’s taken me 36 years and counting to figure out. She goes through most days with a healthy dose of Kindergarten (or younger) behavior, so it’s not like I forget she’s 5, but there are moments when an older edge shows and she settles into herself all comfortable and confident-like.

Consistently, this comfortable place of Rosie confidence shows up when clothes are involved.

It’s not that she hasn’t had problems with clothing, because we’ve waged many a Mighty Battle over the ill-fit of a sleeve or the scratchiness of a seam, but for the most part, when it’s time to get dressed, she takes .5 seconds to decide what she wants—often because she’s thought about it already, or because she just knows what will work. She makes an outfit pop in a way I haven’t seen in many other kids. I think it’s (one of) her things: expression through outfitting.

And true to form, on this first day of dressing me, she does not hesitate when we throw open my closet and drawers. It honestly only took her about 2 minutes from shirt to shoes to pick out this:

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According to Rosie:

“I really like shapes. I wanted you to have lots of shapes, and you do! You have dots and stripes and cheetah. That makes it good.”

(This is what she wore to school today, by the way):


All that outfit choosing for today took place after school yesterday, because getting three kids and two adults out the door every morning leaves negative 15 minutes for shenanigans like letting your 5-year old pick your clothes out, so doing it the day before makes way more sense. This is a great system for two other reasons, too. One, it totally saves me 5 to 10 (or 20, depending on how much an outfit-choosing crisis I’m in) minutes in the morning, because my clothes are decided and ready for me. (Yes, I know I could have already been doing this for myself every night, but you hush now.) And two, because this morning, Rosie, who must have forgotten all about our new project, lit up like a Christmas tree when I walked into the room wearing “her” outfit. That’ll sure start a day off in the plus column, right there.

As for people’s reactions to what I was wearing, not one person commented on my outfit. I think it was “normal” enough (though not something I ever would have assembled myself) that it just looked like a more colorful/patterned version of outfits I already wear. I felt put together—differently put together, but put together. I commented to L just the other day that my drawers seemed to be full of black, grey, and navy, but Rosie showed me that there’s plenty of color, too, if I look hard enough. So … maybe my 5-year old has a great fashion sense, or maybe I have the fashion sense of a 5-year old. It’s too early in the week to tell.

But so far, with one day down, I’m totally digging this project. And Rosie and I are really having fun talking about my clothes and what she thinks looks good, and why. Seeing into the mind of any 5-year old is pretty spectacular, but getting a glimpse of the magic that makes Rosie Mae tick? Well, maybe I have found a point to this just-for-fun-no-point project, after all.

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(Go to Day 2)

October 22, 2014   8 Comments

The Great WardRObe Experiment


It all started one regular school morning, in the middle of our usual shoelace-tying, hairbrush-fumbling, backpack-slinging rush to get out of the house. Because of the nature of my new (incredible, life-changing) work schedule, I can decide most days whether I want to get up early and do school drop off looking like an actual person, or “sleep in” an extra 20 minutes and do the leggings/glasses/greasy hair walk of shame. I’d say I average around 50 percent person days and 50 percent greasy walk of shame days. This is me winning at life.

On this particular morning, I had actually put in effort to get dressed. Meaning: I showered and put on clean clothes. Thoughtfully selected clothes, though, mind you. Now, I’m no style icon, but I do enjoy a nice outfit. I don’t always have money or time to focus on curating a uniquely-me wardrobe, but I like expressing myself, in what little way I can, with my clothing. I have one rule for my personal fashion, and it’s this: If I like it, I wear it. That means that sometimes I’m wearing a shirt that 9 out of 10 people think is ugly and/or tacky, and sometimes I’m wearing boots that 9 out of 10 people also own. But I decided a while back that worrying about whether something was “in” or “too trendy” or “so last year” took way too much effort (and dollahz), so I decided to just wear what I want. Which isn’t revolutionary (or shouldn’t be), but I did actually consciously decide to do this, it wasn’t just innate. There is probably a whole book to be written about such things, but that’s not what this post is about.

What this post is about is an idea that was planted after Rosie made a comment to me just as we were about to walk out the door. If you’ve followed along here for any amount of time, or know me in real life, you know that Rosie is a girl who knows herself. She loves what she loves and does not love what she does not love. This is especially true when it comes to clothing herself.


(Rosie at age 2)

Sometimes the gaze of her eye for style rests on me, and that’s what happened on that harried morning: As I stood there, pleading with beckoning Max to come out the door, Rosie stood looking at me critically, and after a moment, said sadly, “I’m really sorry you had to wear that old shirt today, Mama.” And she was truly chagrined. I could see it. It was as if she knew I had so much to offer, but was just not living up to my potential. I think my 5-year old was … disappointed in my style.

Honestly, it didn’t bother me that much (it’s not my first critical-Rosie-comment rodeo, after all), but when I mentioned it in a Facebook forum, one of my (wise and witty) friends made a comment:  “Imagine if you let her pick your outfit. There would be … patterns. And accessories. Though, it would somehow work.”

And I thought: Yes. Yes, this is a thing we are going to do.

So that afternoon when I picked her up from school, I asked her if she wanted to help me with a special project where she picked out my clothes every day for a week. Initially she was apprehensive, until I explained that I would wear whatever she chose. She had free reign. After I told her that, she lit up like a Christmas tree, and it was ON. I think if you were to measure, at this point, who was more excited about the idea, it would be a draw.

AND SO, henceforth I declare, after a super-longer-than-I-intended intro, The Great WardRObe Experiment to be underway.


• Rosie (age 5 years, 11.75 months) will select my outfit for one whole week, beginning today (10/22) and ending on her 6th birthday (10/29).

• She will choose my whole (visible) ensemble, down to my shoes and socks. I will do my own hair.

• I will make no suggestive comments. The only comments I will make will be along the lines of “Am I wearing everything the way you want?” and “Is the outfit complete?”

• I have the right to request more or less clothing pieces due to temperature concerns. (But will do my best not to alter original suggestions.)

• I will tell no one who comments on my appearance that my 5-year old dressed me.

• I will take a photo and record my observations every day.


There is no point*. It’s just fun. There may be some Deeper Life Lesson learned, or I may just end up looking like a goober for seven days straight. Who knows. But I’m definitely more than a little intrigued to see what this girl will drum up as my stylist. If I had to make a guess, I’d say life is about to get a little more colorful. Let’s do it.


*Well, unless you count getting me to write for kicks again. Which I’ve been missing something fierce. So that’s a definite bonus.

(Go to Day One.)

October 22, 2014   5 Comments