I look back fondly on those days I could choose cute and coordinated clothes for my baby daughter, Elodie. Too young to understand the concept of choice, she happily accepted what I picked out for her to wear and was content. I thoroughly enjoyed buying outfits for her – way more than buying my own clothes.
Around the age of two and a half it began to slowly dawn on Elodie that she could perhaps ask for a certain top or pair of trousers. She began to develop favourites. This was manageable. As long as she had her favourite top we could throw on any trousers and shoes and everyone was happy.
We hit age 3 and suddenly I am living in a real life version of The Devil Wears Prada – only I am not Meryl Streep, the boss who is in control and calling the shots. I am Anne Hathaway, the assistant, running around like a headless chicken, bringing out lots of different outfits to try and please my little fashionista.
Jeans are a definate no no, shorts and summer dresses are clearly the best (another challenge when the weather gets cooler), we couldn’t possibly think about wearing matching clothes and anything with Tinkerbell on is a big hit (until I tumble dried it and melted the picture on the front – cue huge meltdown).
For several weeks I was stressed in the mornings. Dreading that moment I would have to battle to get clothes on that looked half decent. I decided I needed to do something to make life easier – for both her and me. I needed to take back some control – without crushing her creativity – what if we are raising the next Coco Chanel or Vivienne Westwood? The last thing I wants to do is dampen any dreams she might one day develop.
So what is the answer? For us its good old compromise. On the mornings she has nursery I lay out 2 outfits and she can choose what she wants from those options only. If she wants shorts that’s OK but she knows she has to wear tights. Its about still having some kind of choice and not being dictated to. Making them feel like they are in control – whilst still maintaining some kind of order. On the days she is with her grandparents she can wear what she wants – and I provide a bag for them with another outfit in, just in case. On the weekends she is pretty much free to wear what she wants.
This process has made me realise that a lot of the restrictions I was placing on Elodie were things I have a problem with myself, traditional fashion rules engrained into me when I was younger like no clashing patterns and colours, shoes that match and silly sayings like ‘blue and green should never be seen’. Kids don’t care about these things. They just like what they like – simple! Its actually quite liberating and maybe I should take a leaf out of her book.