Please, get dressed!

Please, get dressed!

Other than my role as an author, I am also a fashion stylist and a mother of two small children of six and four. As a stylist, I assist interested adults in discovering their personal style and shopping for clothing items that best express it. Professionally, I take great pride in helping others get dressed. As a mother, I simply want my kids to get dressed, unsupervised. However, most days the unsupervised part goes sideways.  A typical morning includes copious amounts of stalling and complaining about how the task of dressing themselves is too arduous. After a lot of convincing on my part (time well spent?), the independent wardrobing finally commences. Some time later, two little girls prance down the stairs, beaming with accomplishment, in clothing combinations ranging from the fantastical to the utterly distasteful. Now I would never want to diminish my children’s “sense of style” nor their sense of accomplishment but more often than not their clothing choices are downright inappropriate for time, place, and season. Sure, I could just dress them myself but that act flies in the face of my main motherly objective; raising self-sufficient people. So to continue down this path of self-sufficiency, I figured I needed a dressing plan that blends a bit of clothes-purging, organizing, and instruction.

Dressing Plan

Part 1: Purge

Donate unstylish gifts and hand-me-downs – Whether you have been gifted or handed-down an item of questionable style do not incorporate the item into her wardrobe as the piece’s weird vibe will attract your child and put her under a clothing hex. Soon enough, she will be insisting on wearing the piece daily.  At that point there is little hope of removing the offensive item from the wardrobe repertoire. Consider yourself warned!

Remove tight-fitting or revealing clothes – We all like a to stretch our dollar and sometimes that means getting the last few wears out of a smallish separate. However you know you have stretched her wardrobe items too far when her tunic now wears like a crop top or her Bermuda shorts are now short-shorts. Since most parents don’t want their young girls wearing revealing clothing, purge the outgrown stuff before the crop top trend comes back again (oops…too late).

Throw-out (or fix) stained and ripped clothes – Fix it or forget it. If big brother did a real number, stain-wise, on a t-shirt, don’t hand-it-down to little brother (unless there are sentimental reasons). Rather hit Target and buy little brother a fresh, new t-shirt that he can call his own. When it comes to ripped or torn clothes, my advice is a bit different. Repair the item before reincorporating it into her wardrobe. If you can’t patch it then trash it.

Dressing Plan

Part 2: Organize

Categorize dresser drawers – Arrange your child’s dressers drawers (or bins) by clothing category to enable dressing ease. For girls, consider a separate drawer for leggings, jeans, skirts, sweaters, clothing sets, underwear and socks, t–shirts and fashion tops.

Keep clothing sets together – Younger girls tend to have a lot of clothing sets like tunic and leggings combos. Keep these sets together for ease of coordination.

Divide and conquer the wardrobe – Let’s face it; clothing decorum is lost on small kids. This means when a child chooses to coordinate her day clothes with dress-up pieces or formal clothes or seasonal attire or pajamas it is simply a matter of whim. To help her decipher what to wear, when separate all of the above clothing types from her day clothes choices. Store clothing that is currently not weather appropriate and isolate dress-up pieces in her playroom (or other non-bedroom space). In her bedroom create a special place for storing her pajamas and hang formal dresses in her closet. When you create these physical divisions it is much easier for her to divide and conquer her wardrobe.

Dressing Plan

Part 3: Instruct

Give them a morning report – Before the kids get dressed in the morning, talk about what they will be doing that day and what the weather will be like. This news provides a good starting point for an outfit.

Go matchy-matchy – Young kids like to play games that involve matching items (Go Fish) and problem solving (puzzles). Hone this interest when matching an outfit. Matching starts with choosing the first item she would like to wear. If it is a top, ask your child to find a bottom, either solid colored or patterned, that matches back to one of the colors in her top. Remind her that if all else fails in finding a match, just add denim.

Explore their personal style – What is their favorite color? Do they like to wear skirts or pants more often? Do they prefer a top adorned with stripes or lace? Asking them about their style preferences solidifies their inner sense of style and confidence.

Let them shop – Set aside a small shopping budget for the kids to shop for themselves.  I suggest shopping at a place like H&M kids’ section. Their offerings are often stylish, mostly age appropriate, and always inexpensive. I think you will find that new clothes of their likening will inspire the act of getting dressed.

While my dressing plan will take some effort on your part, upfront, it will repay you by developing independent and stylish little dressers. Nobody’s kid is going to dress perfectly in every situation and that’s just fine. However somewhere between wild expressionism and clothing appropriateness lays a happy medium for kids and their adults. Now, please, get dressed!!!

dress up girls2

Piece originally featured in Pacific Sun


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