As a mother of daughters, I believe in fostering their creativity, letting them develop their own sense of fashion and design, and encouraging them to choose their own outfits. True, my youngest often heads to school in head-to-toe Gymboree, complete with matching socks and hair bows, but there are also days that I want to pin a button on her that says, "I'm FIVE and I dressed myself today!"
This morning, she came down wearing an ensemble of her own creation: an almost-too-small blue and green flowered dress, black capri leggings, pink polka-dotted Hello Kitty socks, and a brown Hannah Montana sweatshirt. She also sported a ponytail she did herself. And then she put on her pink cowgirl boots, because "these socks don't really match my dress, so I think I need my boots." Yep, pink cowgirl boots go with EVERTHING when you're five. Her much older, much wiser sister (who once went to the library in denim shorts, suede boots, and a red cape) told her, "You look like Harper!" I don't think she meant it as a compliment, but I couldn't really nail her for being insulting, either. (For those of you whose TVs aren't permanently tuned to the Disney Channel, Harper is Alex's best friend on "Wizards of Waverly Place." You know the one - she wears somewhat, um, eclectic outfits that showcase her, um, individuality and personal sense of style. To use the term loosely.)
Now, in my Super Mom days, I'd have sent that little girl back upstairs to find some clothes that matched. Or maybe I'd have marched upstairs with her, to pull out cute leggings and a coordinating shirt, or a dress that says November rather than April, or even a pair of jeans and a plain tee shirt to wear with the pink boots and Hannah sweatshirt. Heck, I'd probably have made her put on the same outfit her sister was wearing. (Yep, I'm one of those "matchy mommies" who buys her daughters matching outfits. At least I used to be. The oldest mutinied about the time she discovered Justice. Lucky for her, they start at size 5, so her sister couldn't get the same outfit. Score one for the kid.) But I stopped myself. Does it matter what she wears to the store? Really, we're getting diet Dr. Pepper and cookies for our tea party. Who cares what she's wearing?
This is a girl who, at 13 months old, refused to leave the house unless she was wearing a Disney Princess crown. Brand conscious even as a toddler, sad but true. At 2, she insisted on a pair of pink canvas Keds that she wore until her little feet wouldn't squish into them anymore. She'd wear her bright pink, feather-trimmed cowgirl hat to church if I'd let her. But in her defense, my mother-in-law (and I swear on my life that I am not making this up) thinks that if it's all the same color, it matches. Pale blue gauchos (yes, I said gauchos; see what I'm dealing with?) and a navy blue shirt that says "blue footed boobies!" on it - well, it's all blue, right? So there you go! And my husband? He just got rid of his circa-1985 black high-top Reeboks about a year ago.
So off we went to the grocery store, my little fashion plate undaunted by the smiles and chuckles of little old ladies and mommies of preschoolers. She thought she was stylin', looking good in her pink boots, feeling good that she dressed herself. And you know what? She had a big smile on her pretty face, she wore a dress she loves, and she was happy. Maybe we should all follow her cue. Wear what makes us happy, wear what we love. Shoot, pink cowgirl boots look good with everything, don't they? If I could pull them off, I'd have a pair, too.
If letting my kid out of the house in a crazy, mismatched outfit is a crime, lock me up. Soon enough, she'll have a clothing crisis every day before school. Soon enough, the world will end if she doesn't have the exact right shade of red lipstick before the prom. Soon enough, she'll realize that the world judges us by our clothes, our hair, our weight, our shoes, our bags, our cars, and everything else.
Slacker Mom Says...let go of the little stuff. Why make mountains out of molehills? In the time it would've taken me to talk her into a matching outfit, we were gone and back and having our tea party. And that was a much better way to spend an hour. Soon enough, she'll develop a sense of fashion that mirrors her peers - but I sure hope she retains that Harper quality that I've come to know and love.