Posts from — October 2014

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

WardRObed, Day 3: Be the color you wish to see in the world

thegreatwardRObeexperiment

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

OK, let’s get right to the outfit, because I’m really digging it today:

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Right? Nailed it. I got a lot of compliments on this one, and for good reason: it’s a great outfit. Five out of five high fives, Rosie Mae.

Rosie says: “This is my favorite shirt! (Ed. note: Mine, too!) I picked this scarf because I love the patterns, and scarves don’t make you hot or cold, they just make you good. I like this stuff because it’s not that boring. That’s why I choose these outfits. I think you should always try something new, things you haven’t done before.”

A common refrain that keeps coming up in response to the outfits Rosie has chosen so far is that she’s is doing a bang-up job, but the clothes are all pieces I bought, so I should take some of the style credit. (And let’s just pause for a minute here and recognize that a week-long challenge where I wear outfits Rosie purchased for me would be a whole different experience. Though maybe worth a Kickstarter campaign, because how funny/hilarious/rad would that be?)

So if you’re handing out style credit, I accept. (YOU TOO CAN GET THIS LOOK! Shoes: Target; Pants: Target; Shirt: Secondhand store; Scarf: Target; Hair: Target, etc.) But the impetus of this project, for me, wasn’t to showcase or reveal Rosie’s talents as a stylist. My thought process was literally: Rosie loves fun clothes—>she’d be tickled pink if I let her pick out my clothes—>let’s see what happens! And now it’s unfolding in a really wonderful way. Maybe she’ll grow up and do something related to fashion, maybe not. Maybe she’ll grow up and be really fashionable while leading archaeological digs in canyons or performing appendectomies. Who knows? I believe in her, either way.

What’s at the heart of this experiment for me is giving Rosie a chance to show me more of who she is by entrusting myself to her in a small but very visible way. It’s a kind of role reversal—one where I become the more vulnerable one in the relationship for a minute while she crafts me into the version of myself I’ll be for the day.

But also: She’s methodically choosing the most colorful, patterned, makes-a-statement pieces of my wardrobe, every day. (Not gonna lie, kinda worried once my fun clothes run out, she’ll be like, “There’s nothing for me to work with any more. We’re done here.”) Obviously, these are clothes I approve of—I’m the one who chose them in the first place. But when I bought bright green shoes, did I imagine wearing them with bright red pants and a bright blue shirt? Nope. In fact, it’s the opposite. The “louder” an article of clothing is, the more likely I am to wear muted colors for the rest of my outfit. I love fun clothing, but somehow now that I’m in my 30s/a mom/square/have life insurance/what have you, it’s like I’ve given myself a vibrancy quota. “Ok, have your fun, self, but don’t forget: you’re an ADULT.”

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What’s that about, I wonder? I mean, look at this outfit. It’s great. Wearing it made me feel great. I’ll probably wear it again. It reminds me of this set of colorful patterned bowls I bought once from a fancy store because I just loved them so much, I wanted to look at them every day. I brought them home and nested them together high up on a display shelf, red in blue in green in yellow, and went on eating my cereal and ice cream out of our plain-ol’, cream-colored, no-patterned, sensible dishes. Finally, after they’d been gathering dust for almost three years, I thought: why am I not using these bowls? They make me happy. I should be using them. So I picked up the red one with the flowers, washed it, and had a bowl of ice cream.

Thanks for reminding me how much better ice cream tastes in a pretty bowl with red flowers, Rosie Mae.

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(Go to Day 4)

October 24, 2014   8 Comments

WardRObed, Day 2: Stars and striped socks forever

thegreatwardRObeexperiment

My 5-year old daughter is dressing me for one week. Today was Day 2. (Here’s Day 1.)

When you’re 5, there’s not a whole lot you have control over. Someone else tells you when to go to bed, what you can watch on TV, when you can watch TV, whether you can have dessert. You have to clean up after yourself (or sometimes, when life is particularly unfair, after your little brother), make noise at the appropriate volume, eat your vegetables, and go wherever the vehicle you’re strapped into takes you. You wear a coat when someone else feels cold. You have to get in the bathtub right this minute, no excuses. You have to do your homework.

We have to do a lot of these kinds of things as adults, too, but we also have the freedom not to do them. Jail time for breaking laws and money constraints aside, we pretty much have the power to please our small everyday whims. No one’s going to send us to timeout for skipping our morning shower (thank god). And we might just decide to have dessert twice. Instead of dinner.

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I’ve made the comment many times that Rosie never liked being a baby, and I think it was completely and totally because of lack of control. As she’s gotten older and become responsible for more of her daily goings on, she seems to like life a lot better.

Already, by day two of this experiment, I can see how satisfying it is for Rosie to be calling the shots. After she chooses all the pieces of my outfit, I try the whole ensemble on, and she steps back with a finger to pursed lips, assessing her work. With an air of authority, she either declares it just right, or she switches out an element for something Just Righter. (In today’s outfit, it was the shoes.) I always do what she says, willingly. How often, as a 5-year old middle child, do you have A.) the full attention and B.) the complete cooperation of your mom? In this house, not very often.

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Today, she originally chose bright green ballet flats to complete this look, but it only took her one once-over to decide that they weren’t right. (Which, frankly, was a relief. Together with the pink and cream striped socks she picked out, I was looking a little bizarre.) So she dipped into my closet and emerged with black ankle boots. The entire outfit consisted of grey polka dot pants, blue shirt with black stars, a bulky wool cardigan in shades of light brown and cream, the boots, and pink, brown, and cream striped socks (not shown). I call it Rosie’s “Star Surprise.”

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Rosie says:

“I always try to do my best, so I just pick what’s perfect. I love blue and black, they go just right together. And high heels. High heels are the best.”

I was asked (by my sister) today if the shirt I was wearing was purchased with the intent to be a sleep shirt, and while I didn’t explicitly buy it as pajamas, it is from a store that markets almost exclusively to teenagers. (I bought it in a consignment shop, though. I have my dignity! Mostly.)

Again, this is not an outfit I would have put together myself, not even remotely. But I didn’t feel weird or dumb wearing it. I felt like I looked pretty alright. And I cannot overstate the confidence boost it is to have your 5-year old beam with pride when you present yourself for the day. It’s like the reaction you get when your kid witnesses you wearing their lovingly-crafted macaroni necklace to a fancy restaurant. Times 100.

I think she’s absorbing something good, sitting at the helm of this small decision-making ship. I’m not sure I can articulate exactly what that something is, but I hope it’s something along the lines of: Your opinion matters.

Because it does. And so does she.

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(Go to Day 3)

October 23, 2014   5 Comments

WardRObed, Day 1: There will be patterns

thegreatwardRObeexperiment

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):

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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

thegreatwardRObeexperiment

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.

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(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.

THE RULES:

• 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.

THE POINT

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.

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*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