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.
“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.
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
October 27, 2014 6 Comments
My 5-year old daughter is dressing me for one week. Today was Day 5.
(Day 4 / Day 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.
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.”
“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.
“You like it that much, huh?”
“Uh, mom. It’s your favorite.”
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.)
“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.
October 26, 2014 6 Comments
My 5-year old daughter is dressing me for one week. Today was Day 4.
(Day 3 / Day 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.
“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.”
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.
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.
(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.)
October 25, 2014 4 Comments
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:
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.”
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.
October 24, 2014 8 Comments
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
October 23, 2014 5 Comments